Wells Fargo accused of new fake-accounts scam in lawsuit alleging racketeering, identity-fraud

San Jose Mercury - Wed, 08/02/2023 - 16:45

Bernard “Jay” Patterson had never done business with Wells Fargo, so when he received a statement for a checking account in his name, he had questions. And as a forensic accountant and certified fraud examiner who has applied his expertise in numerous lawsuits — including several involving the San Francisco-based bank — he knew where to look for answers.

A lawsuit Patterson filed Tuesday in California accuses Wells Fargo of creating fraudulent accounts for thousands of people, including many non-customers. Regulators fined the bank $3 billion in 2020 for creating millions of fake accounts to generate millions of dollars in fees and interest.

“Just as one Wells Fargo fake account scandal concludes, another emerges,” the lawsuit alleges.

Patterson claims that Wells Fargo, working with a Sacramento credit reporting agency also named as a defendant, used fake and real personal-identification information to open unauthorized accounts. In Patterson’s case, his real name and social-security number were combined with faked driver’s license data and a false birth date, the lawsuit alleges.

Opening the fake accounts allowed Wells Fargo to obtain confidential information from the Sacramento agency, Early Warning Services, which gathers consumer and business banking information from nearly all U.S. banks and credit unions, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. Early Warning is accused of providing fraudulent identity-verification services that gave the fake accounts “a false veneer of legitimacy.”

Among the allegations in the lawsuit is that the bank used the accounts to secretly process electronic funds transfers in a money-laundering scheme.

Patterson, of Arkansas, is seeking class-action status in an effort to bring thousands of others into the lawsuit, which accuses Wells Fargo and Early Warning of offenses including racketeering in violation of the federal RICO Act. Patterson is seeking unspecified damages and a court order forcing Wells Fargo to destroy his and others’ data, and to notify third parties that they received fraudulently information.

The lawsuit accuses Wells Fargo and Early Warning of profiting from their actions, but does not detail how. Wells Fargo said Wednesday it was reviewing the lawsuit, and declined to comment on it. Early Warning, co-owned by Wells Fargo and six other major banks, also declined to comment.

Purported victims’ identity information and banking balance and transaction histories going back years are described as “valuable consumer data for Wells Fargo, which specializes in marketing its financial products to consumers.”

The surprise bank statement Patterson received from the bank arrived as he and his wife were seeking a home mortgage and it advertised Wells Fargo’s mortgage loan products, the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit cited Wells Fargo’s “history of abusing consumers” through the fake-accounts scandal resulting in the 2020 regulatory action and hundreds of millions of dollars in other settlements. The bank was also hit with a $1 billion fine in 2018 for mortgage and auto-loan abuses, and refunded tens of millions of dollars to customers that year over fees for “add-on” products, including pet insurance.

In June 2022, Patterson received a monthly checking account statement from Wells Fargo, for an account showing a $12 balance, the lawsuit alleges. He called the bank, and a staffer told him the account was opened three months earlier, then transferred him to a representative who said the bank would freeze the account, but did not provide further information, according to the lawsuit. A week later he received a letter from the bank acknowledging he had not opened the account, the lawsuit said.

Concerned about identity theft, Patterson began obtaining credit reports from agencies including Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, and none showed a new account with Wells Fargo, according to the lawsuit. But when he pulled his report from Early Warning, he found that months before he received the checking account statement, Wells Fargo had used the account to process four electronic funds transfers, the lawsuit claimed. Those transactions had not appeared on the statement, the lawsuit alleged.

In March 2022, Wells Fargo used the account in Patterson’s name to move $4,992 to an account at another bank where Patterson had no account, the lawsuit alleged. In April and May, Wells Fargo sought three times to transfer $5,000 from the Patterson checking account, but all failed to go through because of “insufficient funds,” the lawsuit claimed. The bank reported the failed transfers — “derogatory statements that hurt Patterson’s credit rating” — onto Patterson’s credit report with Early Warning, the lawsuit alleged.

It was not until September that Early Warning corrected its credit report for Patterson, and by then, the agency and Wells Fargo had reported the insufficient-funds incidents at least 14 times, to at least five third parties, the lawsuit claimed.

Filed with the lawsuit are 54 purported complaints to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from March to June 2022 from people — two in California — reporting Wells Fargo opened unauthorized accounts in their names, with more than 40 alleging they had no pre-existing banking relationship with Wells Fargo. The lawsuit said the bank and Early Warning — which owns money transfer platform Zelle — have never told purported recipients of the fabricated consumers reports that the information they provided was false.

Categories: Local News

Evacuation orders issued in San Pablo after hazardous materials incident

San Jose Mercury - Wed, 08/02/2023 - 16:42

Residents of several blocks in San Pablo were ordered Wednesday afternoon to immediately evacuate their homes after a hazardous materials incident in the area.

The evacuation orders were issued by the San Pablo Police Department for an area bordered by Giant Road to the west, Miner Avenue on the north, 11th Street to the east and Palmer Avenue to the south.

Evacuees were told they could go to an emergency shelter at Contra Costa College’s gymnasium, located at 2600 Mission Bell Drive.

Residents were told to take only what they could carry with them, and to stay off phone lines — unless they were reporting a life-threatening emergency or could not leave their home.

ABC7 news reported that potentially hazardous substances were found in containers in a shed and garage of a home on the 900 block of Stanton Avenue and that a bomb squad is en route to inspect containers.

Details about the hazardous substance were not immediately known.

Check back for more information to this developing story.

Categories: Local News

Should Trump be jailed? 2024 election may decide that

San Jose Mercury - Wed, 08/02/2023 - 16:32

By Jill Colvin | Associated Press

NEW YORK — The 2024 election will determine whether Donald Trump returns to the White House. It could also decide if he’ll face time behind bars.

For Trump, who’s now facing his third criminal indictment — this time for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and block the transfer of presidential power — winning is about more than ego, redemption, score-settling or the future of the country.

“This election may very well be about Donald Trump’s personal freedom,” said Ari Fleischer, a longtime Republican strategist. “It’s not an exaggeration to say, if convicted, he could be sentenced to prison unless he wins and he uses the levers of justice to reverse it or stop it or drop it.”

The deeply personal stakes for Trump add to what is already an election unlike any other in modern history. It’s now not only a debate over the country’s challenges, but a partisan fight over whether the 77-year-old former president and GOP frontrunner should spend time in prison. Putting that issue out front, Trump ally Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., tweeted that she “will still vote for Trump even if he’s in jail.”

Critics have long alleged that Trump’s fear of prosecution was a chief motivator for his decision to mount another campaign. While Trump denies that — insisting that charges never would have been brought had he decided against running — the new indictment ensures his campaign and legal issues are now intertwined.

“The legal messaging is the political messaging and the political messaging is the legal messaging,” Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said of the new reality. “It’s part of what we’re running on. Trump has made the legal issues a big focus of his campaign and from our standpoint, it’s messaging that works.”

The combined 78 state and federal charges against Trump are already dominating his stump speeches as he seeks to portray himself as the victim of a politicized Justice Department bent on damaging the prospects of President Joe Biden’s chief political rival. At his rallies, he tries to frame the charges as not just an attack on him, but his supporters.

“They’re not indicting me, they’re indicting you,” he told the crowd at a weekend rally in Erie, Pennsylvania.

On a more practical level, Trump is confronting an unprecedented balancing act, campaigning while facing possible trials in at least three different jurisdictions.

He will appear in federal court in Washington Thursday to face the latest charges before headlining an Alabama Republican Party dinner on Friday. He faces another arraignment next week in Florida after special counsel Jack Smith filed additional criminal charges against him there in the case related to his handling of classified documents. That will come between a campaign stop in New Hampshire and a possible trip to the Iowa State Fair.

Trump also faces the potential of new charges in Atlanta related to efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia and must also decide whether to attend the first Republican presidential debate on Aug. 23.

Trump campaign officials said they weren’t worried about such logistical challenges.

“President Trump’s campaign will not be impacted by the deep state’s efforts at election interference no matter how hard they try,” said Trump senior campaign adviser Jason Miller, who, like others, argued Trump and his team are well-practiced at being on defense.

Cheung noted that, to date, no campaign events had been rescheduled or canceled because of legal proceedings and that, if anything, more stops have been added.

“It’s full speed ahead,” he said before the latest indictment.

But the challenge for Trump goes beyond politics. Each of the cases against him — ranging from the classified documents case in Florida to allegations in New York of making improper hush-money payments to women and the indictment released on Tuesday — will require intense preparation.

“Obviously, under normal circumstances, it’s impossible to prepare for more than one criminal trial at a time,” said Barry Boss, a leading white-collar criminal defense attorney. “Usually that’s overwhelming in and of itself. So the notion of having multiple indictments that you’re facing is just to me inconceivable.”

In general, rules require defendants in federal cases to be present for major events like their initial appearances and when a verdict is returned, but give them leeway to decide when else to appear.

“There are some people who are very engaged in their defense and want to talk to you every day, and there are others that leave it to you and will be available if you need them,” Boss said.

The investigations are also dominating Trump’s campaign spending. So far this year, the former president’s political operation has spent more on legal fees defending him, his staff and his allies than on travel, rallies and other campaign expenses combined, an AP analysis found.

Under Department of Justice guidelines, sitting presidents are generally shielded from indictment and criminal prosecution. But winning back the White House would not protect Trump indefinitely.

If he is elected anew, he could direct his attorney general to dismiss the federal cases, fire prosecutors or test the limits of presidential power by trying to pardon himself. But those efforts would only apply to the federal cases, not the state criminal charges he faces in New York or could face in Georgia.

Even if Trump does not end up the nominee, a different Republican president would likely face enormous pressure from Trump to drop the charges to placate his supporters — a type of pressure no president has faced since Gerald Ford pardoned his predecessor, Richard Nixon, for his Watergate crimes.

In all, “It’s extraordinarily bad news and the impact internationally would be devastating. That’s why people need to come to their senses,” said John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser and now critic, who believes the reality heightens the pressure on Republicans to find an alternative candidate. “Somebody better take the initiative and say we are heading off the edge of a cliff here.”

But so far, Trump has faced little political fallout from his indictments, his big lead over Republican challengers even growing as they struggle to respond. At the same time, he has used the prospect of jail time to try to raise cash.

The “Department of ‘Justice'” he complained in a recent fundraising email, “is trying to put ME in JAIL for the rest of my life as an innocent man.” Other solicitations have arrived with subject lines like “re: 400 YEARS in prison.”

Fleischer said voters will begin to view Trump’s legal triumphs and losses through the lens of the campaign.

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If charges in one case are dismissed, for instance, “it will be like he won this legal primary,” and if a judge rules against him, “people will feel like he lost the first day of the court primary.”

Fleischer said that, if Trump ends up having to spend significant time in court, he can imagine the former president holding forth on the courthouse steps, telling voters watching at home, “I’m not on trial, you’re on trial. And I’m in this courtroom fighting for you.”

“It can take him off the road, but he just has another platform on which to have his voice be heard. To him it’s all one campaign.”

Categories: Local News

Single family residence sells for $1.6 million in Alameda

San Jose Mercury - Wed, 08/02/2023 - 16:30
1015 Buena Vista Avenue - Google Street View1015 Buena Vista Avenue – Google Street View

The property located in the 1000 block of Buena Vista Avenue in Alameda was sold on June 15, 2023 for $1,600,000, or $869 per square foot. The house, built in 1930, has an interior space of 1,841 square feet. This two-story house offers a spacious layout with four bedrooms and three baths. In addition, the home provides a two-car garage, granting ample space for parking and storage purposes. The lot of the property is substantial, measuring 8,212 square feet.

Additional houses that have recently been purchased close by include:

  • A 1,114-square-foot home on the 1400 block of Ninth Street in Alameda sold in May 2023, for $1,140,000, a price per square foot of $1,023. The home has 2 bedrooms 1 bathroom.
  • In January 2023, a 1,860-square-foot home on Fitch Court in Alameda sold for $1,275,000, a price per square foot of $685. The home has 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms.
  • On Sherman Street, Alameda, in June 2023, a 2,408-square-foot home was sold for $1,912,500, a price per square foot of $794. The home has 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms.


Categories: Local News

Letters: Unasked questions | Deputize ex-officers | Climate bills | Republicans fiddle | Vegas plan | Trouble with truth

San Jose Mercury - Wed, 08/02/2023 - 16:30

Submit your letter to the editor via this form. Read more Letters to the Editor.

DA meeting leaves
questions unasked

Re: “People question leaders over muggings and carjackings” (Page B1, July 29).

We attended the community meeting on July 27 hosting DA Pamela Price at the Montclair Presbyterian Church. The line of people attempting to enter snaked around the block and many people were unable to enter the facility.

We were asked to submit questions to Price in advance and I did so. However, the meeting devolved into a shouting match with aggrieved citizens airing their issues with violent crime in Oakland. I left in frustration after more than 1 1/2 hours with the moderator asking no questions, properly submitted, of Price challenging her on her performance in office: for instance, her refusal to transfer juvenile killers to adult court and her refusal to charge legislatively mandated enhancements.

When I left in frustration no one had challenged her on her office’s soft stance on illegal weapons charges, reducing felony charges to misdemeanor dispositions with little time served, etc.

Charles Jameson

Oakland should deputize
ex-corrections officers

Considering the enormous increase in criminal activity in Oakland, it seems it would have been reasonable that the city government would have utilized their correctional officers in the capacity of deputized officers to assist on the streets along with the police officers.

At the jail level, they functioned as peace officers under the direction of police sergeants, but their service was terminated in 2005.

They were, somewhat, cast to the wind out of their classification.

Stanley Flemmings

For transparency’s sake,
pass two climate bills

The California Legislature will vote on two very important bills.

SB 253, the Climate Corporate Data Accountability Act, requires companies with a minimum of $1 billion in revenues to report greenhouse gas emissions they’re responsible for, including emissions from the use of their products once sold. SB 261, Greenhouse Gases: Climate-Related Financial Risk, requires companies with $500 million or more in revenues to prepare an annual financial report explaining the consequences they face by taking measures to reduce climate risk. This will inform investors if they should invest in these companies.

Both bills provide for civil penalties for noncompliance or inaccurate reports. Both measures must pass. In tandem, they will provide essential data to investors as the global economy adapts — as it must — to the realities of global warming and transitions away from fossil fuels. Please call your state legislators in late August and demand that they pass both SB 253 and SB 261.

Marcia Liberson
Walnut Creek

Republicans fiddle
while planet cooks

Re: “July takes its toll on scorched Earth” (Page 1A, July 28).

The GOP has lost touch with reality. “Rome” is burning, and the MAGA Republicans ignore climate change while playing their fiddles. Even former Vice President Mike Pence is running on a platform to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency and any Joe Biden incentives to fight climate change.

Our planet has just suffered the hottest July in history. Let’s let that sink in — in history. The oceans are like hot tubs, and all the Republicans want to do is stick it to the liberals. Banning books, gays and abortions will not end global warming.

The time for political games has come to an end. We have only one election left to get it right before greenhouse gases make our planet unbearable.

Your mission: please vote for Democrats if you want to save our world from what many consider impossible. This planet will self-destruct if you disregard this message.

Sandy White

A’s Vegas plan
doesn’t look too smart

Here’s how really dumb the A’s Vegas move is:

• The stadium will only have a capacity of 30,000, possibly 33,000, requiring sellouts every game to make a profit.

• The average temperature in Las Vegas is above 100 degrees in the summer, so people might not even go out of their houses to attend day games in July and August.

Oh and, by the way, the current site turns out to be too small for adding a retractable roof, so attendees will have to endure the burning heat during games as well. No true major league player will play games under these conditions.

As they say, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

Gene St. Onge

Related Articles Technology exacerbates
our trouble with truth

The post-truth era in America today is bad enough, with lying by public figures so widespread and accepted by too many Americans. Photoshop and other technological “advances” have enhanced such false communications. And now we find ourselves on the brink of the AI era with another election looming in 2024.

I can only think of the wisdom of American biologist and science fiction writer Isaac Asimov: “The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.

Bob Benson

Categories: Local News

New York Covid Cases Are Rising Slightly, Officials Warn

N.Y. Times - Wed, 08/02/2023 - 16:29
A small uptick in Covid cases has led to more hospitalizations, but the numbers, about 800 statewide, are still far below previous waves.
Categories: Local News

3 key Seattle City Council election updates

Seattle Times - Wed, 08/02/2023 - 16:21

Newly counted primary ballots highlighted the importance of three races in a field of 45 candidates for seven Seattle City Council districts seats on Wednesday.
Categories: Local News

Severe flooding follows days of record rainfall in Beijing

San Jose Mercury - Wed, 08/02/2023 - 16:15

By Andy Wong and Huizhong Wu | Associated Press

ZHUOZHOU, Hebei — China’s capital has recorded its heaviest rainfall in at least 140 years over the past few days as remnants of Typhoon Doksuri deluged the region, turning streets into canals where emergency crews used rubber boats to rescue stranded residents.

The city recorded 744.8 millimeters (29.3 inches) of rain between Saturday and Wednesday morning, the Beijing Meteorological Bureau said Wednesday.

Beijing and the surrounding province of Hebei were hit by severe flooding because of the record rainfall, with waters rising to dangerous levels. The rain destroyed roads and knocked out power and even pipes carrying drinking water. It flooded rivers surrounding the capital, leaving cars waterlogged, while lifting others onto bridges meant for pedestrians.

The number of confirmed deaths from the torrential rains around Beijing rose to 21 on Wednesday after the body of a rescuer was recovered. Wang Hong-chun, 41, was with other rescuers in a rubber boat when it flipped over in a rapidly flowing river. Four of her teammates survived.

At least 26 people remain missing from the rains.

Among the hardest hit areas is Zhuozhou, a small city in Hebei province that borders Beijing’s southwest. On Tuesday night, police there issued a plea on social media for lights to assist with rescue work.

Rescue teams traversed the flooded city in rubber boats as they evacuated residents who were stuck in their homes without running water, gas or electricity since Tuesday afternoon.

“I didn’t think it would be that severe, I thought it was just a little bit of water and that it would recede,” said 54-year-old Wang Huiying. She ended up spending the night on the third floor of her building as the water seeped into the first floor, which holds her steamed bread shop. All the machinery is now underwater.

It’s unknown how many people are trapped in flood-stricken areas in the city and surrounding villages. Rescue teams from other provinces came to Zhuozhou to assist with evacuations.

“We have to grasp every second, every minute to save people,” said Zhong Hongjun, the head of a rescue team from coastal Jiangsu province. Zhong said he had been working since 2 a.m. Wednesday when they arrived, and expects to work into the night. They’ve rescued about 200 people so far. “A lot of the people we saved are elderly and children,” he said.

On Wednesday, waters in Gu’an county in Hebei, which borders Zhuozhou, reached as high as halfway up a pole where a surveillance camera was installed.

Gu’an county resident Liu Jiwen, 58, was evacuated from his village on Tuesday night. “There’s nothing we can do. It’s natural disaster,” he said.

Two other people were trying to pass through the flooded areas to rescue a relative trapped in a nearby village.

Nearly 850,000 people have been relocated, local authorities in Hebei province said.

The previous record for rainfall was in 1891, the Beijing Meteorological Bureau said Wednesday, when the city received 609 millimeters (24 inches) of rain. The earliest precise measurements made by machines are from 1883.

Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, called the recent rainfall “extreme.” Last year’s total rainfall in Beijing did not even top 500 millimeters (19.6 inches).

Ma said there should be a review of how cities are planned because some places experience repeat flooding. “We need to avoid building large-scale construction … in low-lying areas,” Ma said.

The record rainfall from Doksuri, now downgraded to a tropical storm, may not be the last. Typhoon Khanun, which lashed Japan on Wednesday, is expected to head toward China later this week. The powerful storm, with surface winds of up to 180 kph (111 mph), may also hit Taiwan before it reaches China.

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Thousands of people were evacuated to shelters in schools and other public buildings in suburban Beijing and in nearby cities. The central government is disbursing 44 million yuan ($6.1 million) for disaster relief in affected provinces.

The severity of the flooding took the Chinese capital by surprise. Beijing usually has dry summers but had a stretch of record-breaking heat this year.

Wu reported from Taipei, Taiwan. Associated Press news assistant Caroline Chen and researcher Wanqing Chen contributed to this report.

Categories: Local News

Part Thriller, Part Whodunit: The Trump Indictment Is a Must-Read

N.Y. Times - Wed, 08/02/2023 - 16:05
The document isn’t a pleasant read, but it’s surprisingly readable.
Categories: Local News

49ers officially hire Frank Gore, make personnel department changes

San Jose Mercury - Wed, 08/02/2023 - 16:05

SANTA CLARA — The 49ers made official Wednesday the hire of former running back and franchise all-time leading rusher Frank Gore as a special assistant to general manager John Lynch, one of eight changes made to the personnel department.

Aside from Gore’s addition, which was previously reported by ESPN, here are the other seven personnel department moves:

Jeff Diamond, senior manager, salary cap: Diamond is in his eighth season with the 49ers and was promoted from manager to senior manager. His role should increase with executive Paraag Marathe’s increased involvement with the Leeds United soccer team.

Hayden Frey, area scout: Previously a college scout for two years, Frey will provide all-star game and pro day evaluations in preparations for the NFL Draft.

Crowley Hanlon, area scout: Previously a pro scout, Hanlon in his eighth season will travel to schools for player evaluations in preparation for the draft.

Ekene Olekanma, coordinator of football research and development: In his second season, Olekanma works on analytical projects for the coaching staff including self-scouting and opponent research in addition to metric creation and player evaluation.

Matt Ploenzke, director of football research and development: Polenzke, in his fourth year with the 49ers, oversees research strategies for the personnel department and develops player valuation metrics.

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Montre Davis, software developer: Hired from a website operations company, Davis will collaborate with pro and college scouting departments, the research and development department and the video team for scouting application.

Peyton Greve, football systems personnel analyst: Greve previously served software engineering internships with various companies and will monitor the software used by coaches and staff.

Jack Quagliarello, scouting assistant: Quagliarello arrives from Northwestern University, where he was a recruiting assistant. He coordinated recruiting travel for coaches as well as assisting with on-campus visits. He has worked with both the New York Jets and Indianapolis Colts as a football operations intern.

Categories: Local News

Letters: Focus on basics | New model | ‘Residents’ Remedy’ | Results count | Medicare expansion

San Jose Mercury - Wed, 08/02/2023 - 16:00

Submit your letter to the editor via this form. Read more Letters to the Editor.

S.J. leaders must
focus on the basics

Enough with the headline-grabbing antics. I am weary of continually reading about councilmembers chasing shiny objects.

How about focusing on the basics for the good of all residents? For starters, emergency preparedness — our community is ill-prepared for the “big one,” or weather disasters. Illegal dumping is out of control. More trees should be planted. Were earlier proposals followed up on? Public safety numbers must grow. Streets should be cleaned thoroughly and regularly. Animal care and services need attention. Parks need ongoing maintenance.

Basics aren’t “sexy,” and I doubt that focusing on bringing them to fruition would garner front-page news. But that’s what our electeds are supposed to be doing … focusing on the running of the city, right?

Thank heaven for Mayor Matt Mahan, who understands the importance of focusing on the basics. All  San Jose City Councilmembers need to get behind him for the good of the whole community.

Tina Morrill
San Jose

Planet needs new
economic model

Re: “Golden State’s glow is fading” (Page A1, July 26).

How about publishing an article on the pros of a shrinking population, and the cons of the idea that infinite growth is the only path to a healthy economy?

It’s a well-established fact that we are rapidly sucking the life out of our “spaceship Earth” by more and more densely packing our species into every nook and cranny of the planet. Government, business and the media have us all sold on the model of growth as the economic end-all and be-all.

“End-all” is, unfortunately, probably accurate. We need a new model.

Paul Cole
Palo Alto

Where is ‘Residents’
Remedy’ for developers?

The California State Legislature has crafted a “Builder’s Remedy” for developers seeking to maximize profits with megacomplexes and high-density housing projects squeezed into our suburban neighborhoods.

But it’s local control that made our suburbs a haven of safe, tranquil neighborhoodsand good schools to raise our families and to enjoy quiet contentment in retirement.

Santa Monica, where an ungainly builder’s remedy recently tested these waters, effectively dissuaded the developer, resulting in a settlement that both sides can live with, and saving the neighborhood that was at risk.

Now Menlo Park, with a population one-third the size of Santa Monica, faces irreparable damage from a builder’s remedy proposed 27-story megacomplex — taller than the Statue of Liberty. And that’s one of three similar abominations that would tower over this town of mostly one- and two-story buildings.

What we need is not carte blanche for greedy developers, but a “Residents’ Remedy.”

Cherie Zaslawsky
Menlo Park

Results, not intentions,
justify state policies

Re: “Democrats keep repeating the same mistakes” (Page A6, July 18).

It may not resonate with other members of the party, but state Sen. Steven Glazer, D-Orinda, has hit upon a very important aspect of how and why we spend the government’s money.

He points out that this year’s state budget is “dedicating spending to getting homeless people off the street, supporting schools, keeping public transit afloat and treating mental illness.” He does not dispute the necessity to do so, but he also states that “we have spent billions of dollars on the same problems — with very little to show for it.” For him “good intentions” are not enough — there must be an accompanying element of accountability.

I applaud this sentiment. The Legislature must accept the responsibility of not only improving the lives of people, but it must also ensure that the processes they are funding are producing the results they are designed to address.

Manny Morales
San Jose

Medicare expansion
isn’t hurting mental health

Re: “Medicaid expansion hurts mental health of the needy” (Page A7, July 26).

It’s hard to imagine a more twisted response to the lack of mental health services for low-income people than saying that the expansion of Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) is responsible. Rather it is the poor reimbursement of Medicaid providers, the privatization of public insurance and the commodification of health care that are responsible

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The authors are associated with The Mercatus Center, which “advances knowledge about how markets solve problems and help us lead happier, healthier, and richer lives.” Would their recommendations — deregulation, telehealth and not pursuing universal coverage — really lead to happier and healthier lives for the most vulnerable? No.

What would work is the establishment of a rational single-payer health care system such as Medicare for All or CalCare, covering everybody for all medically necessary treatment. Money would be saved by eliminating parasitic health insurance companies and enabling price negotiation for pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and hospitalization.

Peggy Elwell
San Jose

Categories: Local News

‘Kill the Boer’ Song Fuels Backlash in South Africa and U.S.

N.Y. Times - Wed, 08/02/2023 - 16:00
Right-wing commenters claim that an old anti-apartheid chant is a call to anti-white violence, but historians and the left-wing politician who embraces it say it should not be taken literally.
Categories: Local News

King County levy for seniors and vets wins voter approval

Seattle Times - Wed, 08/02/2023 - 15:59

Voters have agreed to renew King County's Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy through 2029. The tax's support climbed above 70% in Wednesday's count.
Categories: Local News

Federal Appeals Court Further Limits Abortion Access on Guam

N.Y. Times - Wed, 08/02/2023 - 15:57
The court ruled that women seeking abortion pills must first see a doctor in person. The catch: The nearest abortion doctor is an eight-hour flight away.
Categories: Local News

On Anti-Trumpers and the Modern Meritocracy

N.Y. Times - Wed, 08/02/2023 - 15:52
How the modern meritocracy made Trump inevitable.
Categories: Local News

Photos: Blue Angels arrive in Seattle

Seattle Times - Wed, 08/02/2023 - 15:51

Categories: Local News

Silicon Valley is “stabilizing” as tech layoffs wane: top real estate exec

San Jose Mercury - Wed, 08/02/2023 - 15:35

SAN JOSE — The owner of San Jose’s Santana Row is seeing optimistic signs for the company’s retail, restaurant, office and housing business — including stability for the Silicon Valley economy — as tech layoffs start to fade.

The encouraging outlook includes the iconic Santana Row mixed-use complex, executives with Federal Realty Investment Trust, said during a conference call with Wall Street analysts to discuss the company’s second-quarter financial results. Federal Realty is the principal owner and developer of Santana Row.

“It feels like Silicon Valley is stabilizing,” Donald Wood, Federal Realty’s chief executive officer, said Wednesday during the conference call.

The hopeful signs have emerged primarily because the pace of tech layoffs has dramatically decreased in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley, according to Wood.

The improving picture for the tech industry and high-tech jobs has also brightened the prospects for the brand-new but empty One Santana West office building that Federal Realty has developed at 3155 Olsen Drive in San Jose, on the west side of Winchester Boulevard across the street from Santana Row.

Tenant inquiries and tours have hopped higher for One Santana West, according to Wood. The office building totals 375,000 square feet.

“We are in earnest and advanced negotiations with tenants” to take space in the office building, Wood said during the conference call. “I’m pretty confident we will have some leasing success in the near future” at One Santana West, he added.

During 2022 and so far in 2023, tech companies have revealed plans to cut slightly more than 26,500 jobs in the Bay Area, according to this news organization’s analysis of the official WARN notices received by the state Employment Development Department.

Over the first seven months of 2023, tech companies have announced plans to eliminate about 16,100 jobs in the Bay Area.

But in a potentially positive trend, 10,100 of those occurred in the first three months of 2023. During the April-through-June second quarter, tech companies cut a much smaller number — about 5,200 Bay Area jobs.

This has translated into a sense, at least for the Santana Row and One Santana West owners, that the worst is over in Silicon Valley in terms of layoffs.

“It feels palpably different,” Wood said. “There is a stabilization happening in Silicon Valley.”

Categories: Local News

49ers QB coach Griese on Purdy’s recovery and the challenge of juggling four quarterbacks

San Jose Mercury - Wed, 08/02/2023 - 15:29

SANTA CLARA — Four is a crowd?

Brian Griese, who coaches quarterbacks for the 49ers, doesn’t seem to think so.

Players had the day off Wednesday, but through their first six practices the 49ers have given presumptive starter Brock Purdy the most work in full-team periods with 88 snaps (all with the first team), with Trey Lance getting 80, Sam Darnold 76 and — surprise — Brandon Allen 48.

That is with Purdy sitting out two practices as he remains on a “pitch count” following UCL surgery last March 10.

Although players were off, the 49ers made some assistant coaches available to speak with reporters, giving position coaches such as Griese a voice on how their units are faring.

“You’d always want to have more reps,” Griese said. “I think it’s a great challenge that we have a lot of guys that are getting better and we’ll do the best we can with that.”

Although no one has come out and said it, Purdy is the obvious starter with Lance and Darnold battling for the No. 2 spot and Allen a potential practice squad player following a dream season that ended with the nightmare of zero healthy quarterbacks.

Griese conceded he wasn’t sure what he’d get from Purdy at the outset.

“I didn’t really know what to expect with Brock, to be honest with you,” Griese said. “I tempered my expectations as to when he might be back. I knew he was going to do everything he possibly could to get back in time, but you never know. I was genuinely happy to see him out there the first opportunity he had.”

Purdy looked polished beyond all expectations after taking over from the injured Jimmy Garoppolo on Dec. 4 against Miami and winning five starts, then two playoff games. Griese conceded what Purdy accomplished was “not normal” but warned the sample size is small and the quarterback spent the offseason rehabbing his elbow.

“It was not perfect by any stretch,” Griese said. “We went back and looked at it, identifying all the areas Brock could improve off what he did last year. You start to get excited about that. We won 12 games in a row, we get into the NFC Championship Game and there’s still so much room for improvement.”

While Purdy shakes off the rust, Griese is pleased to see a healthy Lance throwing with authority. General manager John Lynch believes working with a single quarterback coach (Jeff Christensen) in the offseason has helped. Griese thinks a broken finger as a rookie and last year’s broken ankle temporarily derailed his progress as a passer.

“It gives him a platform to find his natural rhythm, find his natural motion,” Griese said. “I’m really happy he’s at the point where he’s healthy enough to do that. And he’s put in work on top of that with his motion to give himself a chance to be more accurate. He looks a lot better, there’s no question.”

The biggest test will be preseason games beginning Aug. 13 in Las Vegas as well as joint practices against the Raiders, where Lance can expect to get lots of work to gauge where he’s truly at as a passer.

As for Darnold, who has looked very good one day and then erratic the next, Griese can see progress in terms of learning coach Kyle Shanahan’s system.

“My biggest hope was he’d be able to digest the information and verbiage and the nomenclature to a point where he could go out in camp, be comfortable and execute and play off his instincts,” Griese said. “And he’s getting to that point.”

Griese is heartened that the quarterbacks genuinely seem to like each other and have pushed each other to be better, disregarding speculation about the quarterback pecking order.

“I don’t think that noise as you go through camp impacts quarterbacks at all,” Griese said. “It’s a competitive room. Everybody wants to be out there playing. If they weren’t like that they wouldn’t be in that room.”

San Francisco 49ers' Christian McCaffrey (23) runs against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first quarter at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)The 49ers bucked an NFL trend with last season’s in-season trade for Christian McCaffrey, the NFL’s highest-paid running back. Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group

Turner on the vanishing running back

Bobby Turner, the 74-year-old assistant who has coached running backs in the NFL since 1995, has watched as philosophies regarding backfields have changed dramatically, coming to a head this offseason.

“Unfortunately the whole running back position isn’t as valuable, and many teams have omitted fullbacks,” Turner said.

While the 49ers bucked the trend in 2022 with an in-season trade for the NFL’s highest-paid back in Christian McCaffrey, other quality backs such as Saquon Barkley of the Giants and Josh Jacobs of the Raiders couldn’t secure long-term deals and were given franchise tags. Jonathan Taylor of the Colts requested a trade, kicking off a spat of sorts with team owner Jim Irsay.

Several NFL running backs — including McCaffrey — participated in a Zoom conference call before camps opened to discuss the issue.

“Selfishly, I’m coaching the position and I want to see everyone make as much as they possibly can,” Turner said. “But those guys are talking and showing why the running back position should be paid. But I’m not going jump on the table one way or the other. I want the position in general to get what it’s worth and every player individually is different.”

With McCaffrey as the lead back, Kyle Juszczyk as a perennial Pro Bowl fullback and returnees Elijah Mitchell, Ty David-Price and Jordan Mason healthy, the 49ers appear stacked with runners to execute Shanahan’s zone running system.

McCaffrey, who along with Marshall Faulk and Roger Craig are the only backs to rush for 1,000 yards and catch passes for 1,000 yards in the same season, appears poised to be the first to do it twice.

“Yes, it’s a possibility, but I’ve never in all my years gotten into the stats,” Turner said. “The bottom line is that we win and not only go to the Super Bowl but win the Super Bowl.”

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 09: San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle puts on his football helmet wrapped in a Guardian wraparound cap during practice, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Santa Clara, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)49ers tight end George Kittle is healthier and more explosive than he was last year during training camp. Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group

Kittle could be primed for quick start

Tight end George Kittle hit the ground running in the first six practices in a way that wasn’t possible a year ago when he was rehabbing various injuries. He wound up missing the first two games with a groin strain.

“Last year he didn’t have the chance to do much in the offseason,” tight ends coach Brian Fleury said. “He was getting up to speed during training camp and we were managing his workload and giving him appropriate rest, whereas this past year, his offseason was entirely full-go. He’s said to me over and over again how great he feels and he’s just ready to eat up all the reps he can.”

Brandon Aiyuk (11) catches a breather during the San Francisco 49er's first training camp practice, Tuesday, July 25, 2023, in Santa Clara, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11) takes a rare break during a recent practice at training camp. Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group

Aiyuk has taken to hard coaching

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Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk has been a standout during the offseason program and early in training camp in part because he gradually accepted the demands of a staff that wanted him to be at his best every day.

Aiyuk, a first-round pick in 2020, has seen his yearly receiving yardage totals climb from 728 to 826 to 1,015.

“We were still coaching him hard, and as a younger player, you’re like, ‘Why are you coaching me hard if I had 800 or 900 yards?’ ” wide receivers coach Leonard Hankerson said. “He has now realized that the coaching we’re giving him is going to get him over the hump even more, to go from 1,000 yards to 1,400 yards and be that Pro Bowl player.”

Categories: Local News

Crash ends in fire near Preston, closing down westbound I-90

Seattle Times - Wed, 08/02/2023 - 15:25

Drivers should avoid the area and use alternate routes. Traffic is backed up for about four miles.
Categories: Local News

Four face felony gun charges in Oakland illegal casino bust; police say one man was armed lookout

San Jose Mercury - Wed, 08/02/2023 - 15:22

OAKLAND — The Alameda County District Attorney’s office has filed felony gun possession charges against four men who were arrested during a raid on an illegal casino in Oakland, court records show.

The four men, all Bay Area residents aged 19 to 23, were charged with illegal gun possession or illegal firearm activity in the five-count felony complaint. All four have since been released from jail, either on bail or on their own recognizance, court records show.

The four were arrested July 5 during an Oakland police raid on a suspected gambling establishment inside a residence on the 2300 block of East 16th Street, court records show. As police were casing the home, they observed a 20-year-old Fremont man “loiter in front of the residence while looking up and down the street, behavior consistent as acting as a ‘lookout’ for the casino, a detective said in court filings.

Police seized three guns, several magazines, undisclosed amounts of cash, pay/owe ledgers, and slot machines during the raid, authorities said. Though only three guns were found, police say they observed all four men holding a gun at different parts during the surveillance of the residence. Another suspect’s possession of a gun was allegedly confirmed through a DNA test.

Illicit casinos have been around Oakland basically since the city’s formation, occasionally coupled with rumored ties to organized crime, and the trend shows no sign of stopping. Over the past two years police say they have identified more than a dozen suspected gambling dens in Oakland, several of which continued to operate after law enforcement raids or violent crimes. In October 2019, a suspected gambling shack on the 1800 block of Solano Way was robbed twice in two days by masked gunmen who made off with multiple gaming machines and other items. The following year, a 16-year-old Pittsburg girl was shot and killed at that location, allegedly by her boyfriend, authorities said.

Last year, four people were arrested and charged with stripping a patron nude and torturing him during a dispute inside an illegal casino. In that case, the evidence included surveillance camera footage set up within the casino, ostensibly for patrons’ protection, court records show.

Categories: Local News