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Archive for May, 2008

California may boost payouts to workers injured on the job

SACRAMENTO (AP) – California workers permanently injured on the job would get an average 16 percent increase in disability payments under proposed new rules.

The state Division of Workers’ Compensation says its disability formula is based on data that links wage losses to the type of injury.

The formula proposed Friday would be used to estimate how much a disabled worker could have earned if he or she wasn’t permanently injured. That would determine how much the employee should be paid.

Critics say the current disability formula is already too low, so a small increase isn’t nearly enough.

The proposed change will go through several months of public hearings and revisions before a final formula is adopted.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

Posted on Saturday, May 10th, 2008
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Potential record breaking bass found dead

ESCONDIDO, Calif. (AP) – The last time angler Mac Weakley saw Dottie, the 25-pound big bass that gained worldwide attention for its size, she was on the end of his hook.The legendary big bass, which was released after its 2006 capture, was found belly-up this week in Escondido’s Dixon Lake. The Florida-strain largemouth bass had been dead about a day.

Nicknamed Dottie for a distinctive birthmark spot below her jawline, the dead fish measured 29½ inch long and weighed about 19-pounds. When Weakley caught Dottie two years earlier, she was bulging with eggs that significantly added to her weight.

Weakly never officially submitted the fish to shatter the bass record because he had foul-hooked the fish. He had accidentally hooked the fish below its dorsal fin instead of the mouth, something that would have stirred controversy in the fishing world.

After word got out about Dottie’s girth, catching the elusive bass became an obsession for many anglers who traveled to Escondido from as far away as Japan with their poles.

The biggest bass on record was caught at Georgia’s Montgomery Lake and weighed 22 pounds, 4 ounces.

For the past week, a camera crew working for the National Geographic Channel had been recording attempts by Weakley, 35, and Jed Dickerson, 35, to find and catch Dottie again.

Instead, the anglers were called in to identify the fish, which now sits in the ranger’s freezer.

Someone found Dottie floating among weeds, netted her and left her with an attendant at the boat dock. She had apparently died after spawning.

“That’s it that’s the fish,” Weakley said.

California Fish and Game officials are expected to come by Monday and take tissue samples so they can determine the fish’s age. Dottie was estimated to be between 15 to 17 years old at the time of her death.

Weakley and Dickerson said they were not unhappy that their two-year pursuit was over. Finding the big bass proved that they had not killed her in 2006 and that she had lived out her natural life.

Park ranger supervisor Jim Dayberry predicted that Dottie’s progeny could provide the next record fish.

“It could come tomorrow,” he said.

___

Information from: The San Diego Union-Tribune, http://www.signonsandiego.com

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

Posted on Saturday, May 10th, 2008
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Study finds increase in nursing graduates in California

SACRAMENTO (AP) _ A new study finds that more Californians are becoming nurses, thanks to a government initiative to address the state’s nursing shortage.

The report released Friday by the state Labor and Workforce Development Agency found that California nursing programs are projected to graduate nearly 10,400 registered nurses this year. That’s a 68 percent increase from the 2003-04 academic year.

The study attributes the increase to the California Nurse Education Initiative, which Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger launched in April 2005 to expand the number of nursing programs.

The state’s community colleges account for about 70 percent of registered nurse graduates.

But experts warn that it’s too early to say the state’s nursing shortage is over.

___

Information from: San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

Posted on Saturday, May 10th, 2008
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Two men rescued near Bethel Island after boat crash into levee

    By Bay City News Service

Two men were rescued from waters near Bethel Island this morning
after their boat capsized, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The men, both in their 40s, were riding in a 23-foot ski boat when
they apparently crashed into the Bethel Island levee, Coast Guard Petty
Officer Danielle Couture said.

Both were ejected into the water at about 5 a.m., and rescued
about 45 minutes later, Couture said. The boat sunk.

The men were sent to a nearby hospital, Couture said. One was
experiencing hypothermia and the other hurt his leg, she said.
    
Copyright © 2008 by Bay City News, Inc. — Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

Posted on Saturday, May 10th, 2008
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SoCal counties mull ice cream truck ban for sex offenders

By Associated Press

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) _ Riverside and San Bernardino county leaders are considering laws to ban sex offenders from driving ice cream trucks.

A proposed ordinance was scheduled to be considered Tuesday by the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors while Riverside County is drafting a similar proposal.

The laws would apply to unincorporated county areas. They would require background checks for drivers and bar those convicted in the past five years of sex offenses or other crimes, including burglary and drug dealing.

“These guys are totally unregulated,” said John Field, chief of staff for Riverside County Supervisor John Tavaglione, who is drafting the law.

“Their trucks look pretty bad. The guys inside look pretty sketchy,” he said. “Maybe it’s time to make them go through some kind of process so we know who’s out there dealing with our kids.”

Last year, residents of a Perris neighborhood waged an awareness campaign after discovering that a registered sex offender was driving an ice cream truck there. He has since left the area.

The campaign prompted Assemblyman Paul Cook to sponsor a state ban on sex offenders driving ice cream trucks. The measure effectively died recently and Cook has not decided whether to reintroduce it, said Matt Knox, a spokesman for the Yucca Valley Republican.

Several cities and at least two states, New York and Illinois, have in recent years have adopted such bans.

There are more than 250 ice cream trucks in San Bernardino County, said David Zook, spokesman for Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt. None of the drivers are on the state’s list of registered sex offenders, he said.

Riverside County has 346 ice cream trucks registered with the county Environmental Health Department, Deputy Director Steve Van Stockum said.

___

Information from: The Press-Enterprise, http://www.pe.com

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

Posted on Saturday, May 10th, 2008
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AP: Ex-manager says OJ Simpson confessed

By LINDA DEUTSCH
AP Special Correspondent

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A memorabilia dealer who profited from O.J. Simpson for many years is the latest former crony to write a tell-all book, this one alleging a groggy Simpson, high on marijuana, confessed to killing his ex-wife after he was acquitted.

Mike Gilbert also claims he helped his former friend wiggle out of the murder charges by suggesting how to bloat his hands so they wouldn’t fit the notorious bloody gloves.

Gilbert’s book, “How I Helped O.J. Get Away With Murder: The Shocking Inside Story of Violence, Loyalty, Regret and Remorse” (Regnery Publishing, 232 pages, $27.95), is due in stores Monday. It was released to The Associated Press in advance.

He said Simpson had smoked pot, took a sleeping pill and was drinking beer when he confided at his Brentwood home weeks after his trial what happened the night of June 12, 1994. Simpson said he went to his ex-wife’s condominium, but did not bring a knife with him. Simpson told him Nicole Brown Simpson had one in her hand when she opened the door.

In a soft mumble, Simpson told him: “If she hadn’t opened that door with a knife in her hand … she’d still be alive.”

“Nothing more needed to be said,” Gilbert writes. “O.J. had confessed to me. There’s no doubt in my mind.”

Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman were stabbed to death at the entrance to her condominium. The knife was never found.

Simpson’s current lawyer Yale Galanter said none of Gilbert’s claims are true and that Gilbert is “a delusional drug addict who needs money. He’s fallen on very hard times. He is in trouble with the IRS.”

“I’ve talked to O.J. about it,” said Galanter, who refused to allow Simpson to comment directly because of his upcoming robbery trial in Las Vegas. “This stuff not only didn’t occur but it’s not factually supported by the evidence.”

The name calling and accusations on both sides showed that deep wounds persist.

In a phone interview, Gilbert called Galanter “an ambulance chaser and an enabler and denier for O.J. I know. I used to do the same thing. I understand the game.”

He acknowledged he has IRS problems which he says were caused by Simpson but said, “I could take a drug test and pass it. I highly doubt that O.J. could.”

Gilbert is the second sports memorabilia dealer to write a Simpson book this year. Thomas Riccio, who arranged a Las Vegas memorabilia sale that led to Simpson’s armed robbery arrest, penned “Busted” last month.

Simpson himself participated in the controversial book, “If I Did It,” which he claimed was not a confession. It was withdrawn by the publisher and eventually released last year by the Goldman family to help satisfy a $33.5 million wrongful death judgment.

Gilbert said he continued to represent Simpson for another decade after the alleged confession, hawking items with his autograph, hiding the profits and helping Simpson shield his possessions so they could not be seized by the Goldman family.

Gilbert also claims that he counseled the jailed Simpson during his murder trial to stop taking his arthritis medicine so his hands would swell up and not fit the bloody gloves in court. He offers no proof Simpson followed his advice or that he was taking any medicine, but the drama that played out in court when the gloves didn’t fit was central to Simpson’s defense.

The prosecutors in Simpson’s murder trial, Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden, could not immediately be reached for comment on Gilbert’s claims.

Former Gilbert partner Bruce Fromong, who was involved in the Vegas incident, said Gilbert is known for spinning tall tales.

“Mike makes up a lot of great stories,” said Fromong. “Mike Gilbert has a ton of skeletons in his closet. He’s as dirty as anyone.”

Gilbert said he broke with Simpson two years ago because he felt cheated, didn’t approve of his lifestyle and was repulsed by “If I Did It.” He writes that he was guided to do his own the book by dreams in which he saw the ghosts of his dead grandmother and of Nicole Brown Simpson.

He refers to himself in the book as a “Judas,” and says he is betraying Simpson because he’s ashamed of what he did and wants to soothe his conscience. He responded to Fromong’s criticism by saying he’s made mistakes and isn’t trying to clean up his image with the book.

He writes that he was not alone in helping Simpson beat the murder charges, but “I hope to be the first to finally confess.”

Gilbert said he funneled money from autograph signing appearances to Simpson under the table so the Goldman family could not get it. Gilbert said he paid Simpson 80 percent, kept 20 percent but had to pay taxes on the whole amount. He said Simpson repeatedly told him they’d settle up later.

But they never did and when pushed Simpson reminded him of the Goldman debt: “Hey, at least you don’t owe $33.5 million.”

“Yeah, I didn’t kill anybody either,” Gilbert replied. Simpson scowled.

He offers apologies to the dead Nicole Simpson, whom he said he never liked, and to the Goldman family.

“He offers an apology for money laundering?” said Goldman attorney David Cook. “I don’t think we want the apology. I think we need the money. Send us a check, not an I’m sorry.”

He said he plans to use the book as a treasure map to Simpson’s hidden assets.

Gilbert, 53, was a childhood fan of Simpson who was thrilled when another client, football great Marcus Allen, introduced them and they began doing business together.

Gilbert wrote in his book that he was admitted to a world of privilege and he got caught up in a power trip in which he believed he was better than “ordinary people.”

Gilbert blames himself and other Simpson friends for failing to act when they detected domestic violence in the Simpson marriage. But he says each time there was a fight between the couple or a call by Nicole to police it was dismissed as part of their obsession with each other or they pretended it didn’t happen.

“O.J. mattered more,” he said. “The fringe benefits that came with being one of O.J.’s friends mattered more — or at least we thought they did.”

Gilbert wrote the book for many reasons. It wasn’t just to make money or hurt Simpson.

“Nothing can hurt O.J.,” he said in an interview. “He doesn’t have the emotions we have.”

In a chapter on the Las Vegas case, he acknowledges that Simpson was in search of memorabilia he believed Gilbert stole from him, including the suit he wore the day he was acquitted.

“I never sold the suit, not even when I was dead broke,” he writes. “At least that’s something small to be proud of.”

But Gilbert does acknowledge that he unsuccessfully tried to sell the suit at one point — before he sold his book.

___

Associated Press Writer John Rogers contributed to this report.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

Posted on Saturday, May 10th, 2008
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Dublin: Sig alert canceled on I-580

By Bay City News Service
  
Interstate Highway 580 in Dublin reopened at about 9:40 a.m. today
after two eastbound lanes were closed for more than an hour due to debris
from a multi-vehicle accident, the California Highway Patrol said.

An accident occurred just east of Fallon Road around 7:30 a.m.,
the CHP reported. Medical personnel responded and no major injuries were
reported.

Debris was blocking the Nos. 1 and 2 lanes, and a Sig-alert was
issued at 8:27 a.m. It was canceled at 9:38 a.m.

Copyright © 2008 by Bay City News, Inc. — Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

Posted on Saturday, May 10th, 2008
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Second BART fire in East Bay; more delays

By Bay City News Service

A second fire ignited at a Bay Area Regional Transit substation
this morning, which means there will be no train service for several more
hours for passengers traveling between the Fremont and Hayward stations,
spokesman Linton Johnson said at 11:35 a.m.

A test train was running between the Hayward and Fremont to see if
mechanical problems from the first fire were resolved, according to Johnson.

When the train turned around in Fremont and headed back to Hayward it crossed
over something that apparently caused the second fire at the South Hayward
substation.

Fire crews quickly put out the flames, and BART crews were
continuing to work and find out what was going on in that area, Johnson said.

A fire at about 4:35 a.m. in the South Hayward train yard cut
power to the Hayward, South Hayward, Union City and Fremont stations, Johnson
said.

Bus bridges began operating at about 6:30 a.m., with two buses
running south and two running north between the Fremont and Bay Fair
stations, Johnson said. Service was restored to the Hayward station at about
7:30 a.m.

Other BART service is operating regularly.

Copyright © 2008 by Bay City News, Inc. — Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse
without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

Posted on Saturday, May 10th, 2008
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Oakland man shot three years ago dies after more than 50 surgeries

By Angela Hill
Oakland Tribune

OAKLAND — During a street robbery in East Oakland on Nov. 4, 2004, in which the thief got away with $7, 18-year-old Michael Angelo was shot once in the lower abdomen.

It took him 39 months to die.

Michael drew his last breath Feb. 4, surrounded by his family in a hospital room at UCSF Medical Center. The finality was unexpected. Family members were sure the 21-year-old would make it, would continue his limited, but happy, life.

After all, he had survived all this time since the shooting, pulling through more than 50 surgical operations and procedures — including an intestinal transplant and open-heart surgery at medical facilities here and across the country. But in recent months, his body had begun to reject the transplant. He was scheduled to be transferred to the University of Pennsylvania for a second transplant in February when an infection set in, and his life came to an end.

Yet through it all, the young man never complained, relatives said. Never asked, “Why me?”

“That’s one thing I commend Michael for highly, that he never felt sorry for himself,” said his aunt, Adria Angelo, who served as Michael’s patient advocate and liaison with hospitals and insurance agents.

“He really just focused on trying to get better and really enjoyed every moment of his life,” she said.

The Tribune wrote about Michael in 2005, noting how a seemingly minor — even commonplace — incident of gun violence could dramatically alter someone’s life, even when it hadn’t resulted in death. At the time of that article, Michael was hopeful. He said he even felt lucky, was expecting his transplant and had plans for the future.

“Maybe after the transplant, I’ll look into going back to school,” he said.

It’s not clear if Michael’s death will be counted as a homicide statistic. The gunshot would have to be declared the direct cause of his death, authorities said, and with so many medical procedures in between, it would be difficult to say for sure. And certainly no one would be charged in the case — the gunman was never caught.

But Michael’s family knows he died as a the result of the shooting.

“He never would have had a transplant, never would have been so susceptible to infection,” his aunt said. “This was a normal high school senior on the way to his cousin’s house when he was shot. He was not in any gangs. Not involved in any drugs. It was a terrible, tragic thing.

“But in a lot of ways, we feel very blessed,” she said. “He lived 39 months to the date after the incident. It was a gift to have had him all that time.”

To be sure, Michael, didn’t just spend his life not dying. Even though he was in the hospital more than out — the longest stretches at home with his father in Oakland were about a week or two at a time — Michael’s experience actually served as a period of personal growth and closeness with his dad.

“We both had so much spiritual growth,” said his father, Noil Angelo. “Sick as he was, we never knew how long he would be here, so we enjoyed everything. We would have long talks. He wanted to know what went on in my life. I got to know him better in four years than in the whole 18 before that.”

Michael had just turned 18 the month before the shooting. He had started a job at a landscape company in San Leandro.

Because of the work, he quit Fremont High School — where his dad is the head baseball coach — and started taking independent study classes. He wanted to get his own place and a car. He and his girlfriend of three years were so devoted they had each other’s names tattooed on their respective left arms.

Despite his dad’s love of baseball, Michael liked to shoot hoops. He didn’t play sports in high school, but he liked little tournaments at the Y and places around town. Liked to play point guard.

He was an average kid, and officers investigating the shooting said it appeared to have been just a random robbery.

On Thursday, Nov. 4, 2004, Michael had left his grandmother’s house and taken the bus to 98th Avenue and International Boulevard.

He was planning to stay at his cousin’s place because it was closer to his job. So about 8 p.m., he got off the bus and started walking in the dark.

“This guy was walking behind me, then got out in front of me and turned around,” Michael said in 2005. “I gave him the money I had, and he just shot me.”

Michael barely survived the night at Highland Hospital. He lost most of his intestinal tract. There was shock and contamination and major blood loss.

“The doctors gave him up twice during that time,” his aunt said. “One time, they told us he had a 5 percent chance to live. So we called in the reverend. We felt we needed to send up some prayers. And it worked.”

Still in the hospital the following January, Michael got an infection, requiring open-heart surgery for a valve replacement. After recovering from that major operation, he was allowed to go home for a while.

When dressed in street clothes and not a hospital gown, he looked the picture of health. There was one entire month when he was “infection-free,” his aunt said, and during that time, he was able to attend Fremont High’s senior ball. His dad got him a ticket. He wore a white tux.

But life was far from normal. Fourteen hours a day, he had to wear a nutrition tube with a saline solution because he could not eat solid food. His only hope for normalcy would be an intestinal transplant.

But it would be a rare procedure, one that only specialists in Chicago could perform.

That’s when his family became red-tape warriors, engaged in constant combat with insurance companies and state agencies. “People have no idea how hard something like this is,” Adria Angelo said. “Just to get access to services, to get SSI, to get paratransit to help with his appointments. And to get his transplant approved. It was unbelievable.”

Frustrated, Michael’s aunt reached out to the community. U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee’s office sent a letter to the insurance company, as did Oakland City Councilmember Desley Brooks. Southwest Airlines donated plane tickets for the trip to Chicago. And the Angelos’ church did a lot of praying. “We had a lot of community support,” Michael’s aunt said.

Still, months went by. Michael developed more complications. Finally, the insurance company approved the operation, and Michael was flown to Chicago in January 2006.

His older brother was the donor, and the transplant was considered successful, for both of them.

Michael spent months recovering in the Chicago hospital. He was on lots of medication, taking 70 or 80 pills a day. Family members and sometimes his girlfriend would fly out for weeks at a time to be with him. The family even considered moving there.

Michael came home in May 2006. Then, he was in and out of local hospitals — Summit, UCSF, Stanford. Again suffering more complications, he ended up returning to Chicago at least two more times. Then last May, doctors discovered his system was rejecting the transplant, and preparations were under way to find another donor.

“In February, he was at UCSF and was going to be transferred and have the new transplant,” his aunt said. “We had talked that Friday. Then the hospital called us that Saturday and said they were concerned.”

His dad went over right away. “We watched the Super Bowl together that Sunday,” he said. “He was just getting real tired and sleepy. And then the next day he was gone.”

“It’s been really hard, but the whole family learned something from this,” Adria Angelo said. “I have such sympathy for other families. My heart is just burdened to see a homicide or a shooting on the news. Like the young boy (10-year-old Christopher Rodriguez) who was shot near Piedmont Avenue when he was playing the piano. He’s probably paralyzed for life, and I think about what he and his family will have to deal with from now on.”

Noil Angelo agreed. “Like on the homicide map,” he said, referring to the Tribune’s ann
ual publication of photos of homicide victims for the preceding year. “I see so many faces of kids from my school district on there. It’s just not right,” he said.

Contact Angela Hill at ahill@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Posted on Friday, May 9th, 2008
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Shooting was unlawful, lawsuit against city alleges

By Angela Woodall
Oakland Tribune

OAKLAND — The family of 20-year-old Gary King Jr., who was killed by a police officer last year, has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the city, saying the use of deadly force against him was unjustified and unlawful.

No amount has been specified in the lawsuit, but attorney Michael Haddad, who is representing the family, said he expected it to be a multimillion-dollar claim.

King was killed Sept. 20 by police Sgt. Pat Gonzales after Gonzales stopped him, believing he fit the description of a man wanted for questioning in an August homicide.

The ensuing altercation remains under review, with both sides strongly contesting the events that led up to the shooting.

Police officials said Sept. 24 that it appeared Gonzales feared for his life when he fired at King.

Police said King was wielding a loaded weapon and was fighting with Gonzales.

Witnesses have said King was trying to get away from the officer.

Haddad said King was not holding a weapon during the struggle and that the officer used excessive force.

The claim was filed on behalf of King’s parents, Gary Sr. and Catherine, as well as an unborn child with whom the claim says King Jr.’s girlfriend is pregnant. It lists Gonzales, police Chief Wayne Tucker, the police department and the city of Oakland as parties responsible for the incident.

Oakland police Sgt. Michael Poirier said three separate inquiries are being conducted into the incident.

The inquiries are being handled by the department’s homicide detail, its internal affairs division and the Alameda County district attorney’s office. Gonzales has been cleared in two previous shootings, one of them fatal, since 2002.

Alex Katz, a spokesman for City Attorney John Russo, said Russo’s office could not comment because they had not yet been served with the papers. The Oakland Police Department did not return calls seeking comment Friday.

A jury trial date has yet to be set, but the case will be heard in Oakland by Judge Saundra Armstrong, according to Haddad, whose firm Haddad and Sherwin has handled numerous civil rights and officer-involved shooting lawsuits.

Contact Angela Woodall at 510-208-6413 or awoodall@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Posted on Friday, May 9th, 2008
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