This Week’s Bay News: Sideshows and Train Wrecks (of all sorts)
As we publish this week’s Bay Area news wrap, the world is watching the Senate floor, but we’ll refrain from too much of that until we know how this all shakes out. Until then, here’s your dose of local and other important stories that impact us here at home. Let’s go..
Fatality on Caltrain Track
On Wednesday, just before the 5 p.m. commute rush, a person was struck and killed by southbound Caltrain No. 366 at the South San Francisco station. According to NBC Bay Area, none of the 743 passengers on board were injured. The San Mateo County Transit District described the person as trespassing in the area. This is the Caltrain eighth fatality of 2018.
Crackpot dreams: Transbay (Salesforce) Transit Center
Over $2 billion and nearly two decades were spent to construct the elaborate four-story Salesforce Transit Center. The beast of a project is designed as a commuter hub and social space decked out with shops, dining and a snazzy rooftop park, but none of those features are very appealing when you have to question the safety of the structure. A large crack was discovered in one of the steel beams supporting the center Tuesday, another crack was identified in an adjacent beam Wednesday, causing a shutdown of operations until at least next week in an effort to assess the damage and safety. Both compromised beams are located on the east side of the structure on Fremont Street, according to a statement Executive Director Mark Zabaneh made at a press conference Wednesday.
As buses are diverted through the old Temporary Terminal at Howard and Beale streets, Mayor London Breed has called for a “thorough and transparent investigation to determine the causes, severity, and impacts of this discovery, as well as a plan to re-open the Transit Center as soon as it is safe to do so.” Zabaneh has “no reason to believe” the cracks at Fremont Street impact the integrity of the remaining structure, but committed to expanding the investigation “out of an abundance of caution.” The transit center opened just last month on Aug. 10.
In a separate incident highlighting the awesomeness of San Francisco public transportation, the third annual Transit Week officially kicked off Monday morning in true Muni style, with delays.
Sideshows and Impounds
Saturday night was lit up in Oakland with numerous sideshows and all the trimmings: gunshots, burning rubber, flying objects and police clashes, including a patrol car that was rammed by a sideshow participant, according to CBS News. Twitter came to life with nearby hotel patrons ranging from interest in watching to pearl-clutching. By Sunday morning, about 100 cars had been towed and several people had been arrested.
Oakland police turned to social media, where videos of the illegal events reach wide audiences, to condemn and publicly shame participants, sharing their own videos of tow trucks hauling cars away – they hope their use of Twitter will discourage people from joining in on future sideshows. In one video posted, an officer is seen telling participants that “tear gas and all” will be used if guns are pulled out and police and citizens are threatened. It is reported that two officers were injured during Saturday’s incidents.
Berkeley police, Doxxing and Weirdness at City Council meeting
Berkeley City Council met Tuesday and voted to limit the police department’s practice of publishing mugshots and identifying information on social media for arrests made during “First Amendment” events such as those super fun clashes between alt-right groups and counter protesters that have become common in the city over the past two years. The posting of information for arrestees was an initiative by BPD to “create a counter-narrative” specifically around protest-related events, as was discovered in a series of internal emails made public in September.
Berkeley PD has been doxxing arrested protesters on twitter, opening them up to harassment.
Documents obtained by @lucyparsonslabs show that BPD published this information on social media in order to create a "counter-narrative" favorable to the police. https://t.co/hi5QME3273 pic.twitter.com/oYzWVwEI59
— Camille Fassett (@camfassett) September 13, 2018
The original proposed change put forth by Councilwomen Cheryl Davila and Kate Harrison, and supported by Mayor Jesse Arreguín, would have also restricted responses to Public Records Act requests “when doing so poses a risk to their safety as a result of threats against them,” according to Berkeleyside. However, the version voted in late Tuesday, without approval from Davila, Harrison and Councilman Ben Bartlett, does not limit PSA compliance.
Interestingly, a tense incident occurred at the end of Tuesday’s meeting between Sara Kershnar, Davila’s chief of staff, and Berkeleyside reporter Emilie Raguso. While Raguso sat at the media table and attempted to file a late report, with her recorder was still on, Kershnar walked up and jabbed the reporter in the arm and accused her of a racist lean in a prior article. When Raguso asked her repeatedly not to touch her, Kershnar got nasty: “I didn’t even mean to touch you. I wouldn’t want to touch you. You’re gross.” The full audio recording of the exchange was embedded in Berkeleyside’s updated article linked above.
So. Much. Sexual. Assault.
In a week already heavy with emotional discussion about sexual assault, Bill Cosby was sentenced Tuesday to 3 to 10 years in prison for being a sexual predator and rapist. The behavior went on for decades, as did his legal team’s intimidation of victims. In those same decades, Cosby continued to poise himself as America’s favorite dad. Turns out it was not so safe to sit on Dr. Huxtable’s lap. Speaking on behalf of 80s children everywhere, who grew up naively trusting Cosby and modeling the ideal family life after the fantasy that aired every Thursday at 8 p.m., I say, “Eat your f’n J-E-L-L-O, Bill!”
And then there’s the spectacle unfolding on national television today, where Christine Blasey Ford brings her accusations against SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the Senate floor. There is so much more to say about the allegations of attempted rape, the subsequent and unrelated sexual misconduct charges and the way our country treats victims, but we’ll bring you that full story, and whatever backlash will occur, after today’s hearing concludes. What happens today and over the course of the next week will dramatically impact the direction of this country, but for now, all we can do is watch and wait.
If you need some comic relief on this difficult day, you may find respite in this video from Donald Trump’s United Nations speech, where the crowd of world leaders are audibly shaken by his “really big brain.”
* Trump has since claimed in a rambling, incoherent and truly frightening press conference held Wednesday that the audience was laughing “with” and not “at” him – they were just having a good together. Mmmkay.
Weird shit to do on your day off
Make your own mutant gummy bear army! One BuzzFeed writer sacrificed her own sanity to explore the realm of homemade gummy possibilities and published her findings, recipes and all. If you’re keen on staying home and using gelatin to firm up your favorite cocktails into cute little bears you can bite the heads off of, check out the methods of blasphemy in her detailed report. And good luck to you.
Fleet Week events kick off on Monday, so if you’re into packing in with out-of-towners to see monster ships and buzzing Blue Angels, check out the schedule of events here and head down to the waterfront.