SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – The candidates for Santa Clara County Sheriff squared off Tuesday night in their first forum, with one notable exception: incumbent Laurie Smith.
The five-term sheriff may actually be her own toughest competition.
This hasn’t been a smooth campaign for Laurie Smith, who is running for her sixth term as Sheriff of Santa Clara County.
A number of issues haunt her and those running against her point to the lack of leadership for the problems within the sheriff’s department.
The Santa’s Clara County Sheriff’s Department has been rocked by one scandal after another in recent years.
From ICE agents interviewing inmates to the conviction of three correctional officers for the murder of inmate Michael Tyree in 2015.
It has opened the window for possibly a new sheriff in town.
One of the leading opponents is former Undersheriff John Hirokawa.
“I never blamed other people. I explained I was part of that leadership group. I took responsibility,” Hirokawa said. “But nobody else, including the three who have now been convicted, have ever voiced or taken any responsibility, including any county official and the county sheriff who’s in charge of the jails.”
Four challengers took part in this forum in the heated race for Santa Clara County Sheriff.
Incumbent Laurie Smith had a scheduling conflict and couldn’t participate, but she did make herself available to KPIX 5 before the event.
Smith said, “We take it very seriously when there’s officer misconduct. We take it head on, we stand tall, we let the community know the mistakes that we make and we answer to the mistakes.”
Now, new allegations of sexual harassment and evidence tampering have surfaced. It stems from accusations made nearly 30 years ago, where Smith allegedly harassed a male coworker.
“Factually inaccurate. I have an unblemished record with the sheriff’s office. And again, 45 years of unblemished record. I’m really proud of everything that we have done,” Smith said.
Smith denies any wrongdoing, but Hirokawa believes there is some truth to her destroying key evidence decades ago.
“I believe that was an abuse of power basically because you are the assistant chair, at that time that’s the number two position in the sheriff’s office,” Hirokawa said.
The election is June 5 and if one candidate does not get more than 50 percent of the votes, there will be a runoff election in November.
SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — An exclusive statewide KPIX5-SurveyUSA Poll out Tuesday shows California’s gubernatorial race is heating up.
Voters appear to be fired up.
One thing that really stands out is how many people say they are certain to vote in this primary.
57 percent of registered voters say they will vote in June.
That’s a huge number for a primary like this one, where there’s no presidential candidate on the ballot.
In fact, California hasn’t seen numbers like this in forty years. Voter turnout for this election could be remarkable.
When it comes to who they’ll vote for, our poll shows the top two Democratic candidates for governor are in a statistical dead heat.
Gavin Newsom has 21 percent of the vote and Antonio Villaraigosa has 18 percent.
John Chiang trails at 9 percent.
The top two Republican candidates — John Cox and Travis Allen — have 15 and 10 percent of the vote respectively.
And this poll was taken before new ads hit the airwaves, highlighting Newsom’s past scandals when he was mayor of San Francisco.
Supporters of John Chiang slammed Newsom with an Internet ad about a relationship he had with his friend’s wife, Ruby Turk.
And a report this week in The Sacramento Bee revealed Newsom never went to rehab for problems with alcohol, despite reports that he had received treatment.
Meanwhile, 84-year-old Democrat Dianne Feinstein remains the leader for California’s Senate seat, polling at 39 percent.
But Democrat Kevin de Leon, once thought to be her biggest challenger has only 8 percent, behind Republican Patrick Little, who has 18 percent.
Another hot topic is whether California National Guard troops should be sent to the border, and what they should be doing there.
The poll found that 30 percent say troops should patrol for those crossing, while 36 percent say they should focus on gangs and drugs and 27 percent say troops should not be sent at all.
On another topic, voters may get a chance to weigh in on a measure to split California into three separate states.
It’s backed by Bay Area billionaire Tom Draper.
Only 17 percent said they would vote yes, to divide the state, while the overwhelming majority at 72 percent, said they would vote no. Ten percent remain undecided.
This initiative is different than CalExit, where California splits from the United States.
Cal-3 is the formation of three separate states, all within the United States of America.
SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Amazon is testing a new service that will unlock your parked car and put deliveries in the trunk.
The company’s in-car delivery service is available in 37 cities including San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose.
But, there are a few caveats: they won’t just deliver to any car, anywhere.
It’s an all too common complication for Amazon deliveries, packages get stolen right off your porch.
First, Amazon introduced Amazon lockers, then they launched in-home delivery, allowing drivers to drop the packages inside your home.
Now, Amazon is steering its delivery service in a new direction, delivering packages right into your car.
Using Amazon Key, customers can now request in-car delivery.
Amazon spokesperson Alyssa Bronikowski said, “Some of our customers don’t have a convenient or safe and secure location to deliver their packages…So this gives our customers yet another shipping option…”
Bronikowski says the service is free for Amazon Prime members, but that it only works with certain 2015 or later models of cars with a connected car service like OnStar.
To use the service you have to park your car within two blocks of your home or office, and then request delivery using the Amazon Key app.
CNET reporter Ben Fox Rubin said, “You include things like the make and model of your car, what color it is, what your license plate is, and then the delivery driver will be able to find your car wherever it is parked in that radius.”
Customers choose in-car drop off when placing the order and the they receive an alert on their app the morning of delivery, providing a four-hour window. A final notification comes when the car is locked with the package inside.
Amazon says its drivers will try to hide packages and will put them in the trunk if there’s room.
Amazon stresses the app and service is secure.
BERKELEY (KPIX 5) – Berkeley is considering a trailblazing idea when it comes to curbing the use of disposable food packaging and it could make people pay extra for to-go items.
Whether its your coffee cup, or your grilled cheese sandwich, if you’re taking it in a to-go container, it could soon cost you 25 cents more in the city of Berkeley.
Berkeley resident Alex Melendrez said, “That’s a little iffy, even non-plastic? Oh wow, yeah. I don’t know how I feel about that. That’s a little different.”
Consumers say they are unhappy about the idea of paying extra for anything in the Bay Area, especially the to-go containers that are already compostable.
Berkeley resident Dana Ellsworth said, “I think that’s a mistake.”
Alex Naka, also a Berkeley resident, said, “I think if it was more nuanced or biased towards plastic I’d feel more positively about it.”
Berkeley City Councilwoman Sophie Hahn said, “To-go food packaging is responsible for the vast majority of litter on our streets, of litter in our waterways.”
Hahn says the ordinance should save restaurants money in the long-term. She reminds people that the plastic bag ban reduced not just the use of plastic bags, but the purchases of paper bags in Alameda County by 85 percent.
Hahn said, “We know that this works and that’s why we’re doing it.”
If it passes, restaurants would be required to provide reusable, durable dishes for all food consumed inside the restaurant.
To-go containers would have to be compostable and each one would cost the consumer 25 cents.
Straws and single use items like coffee stirrers would only be provided upon request.
Hahn says the recycling system is overwhelmed and that not everything that can be recycled actually is recycled.
Hahn said, “Even though you have that little thing on the bottom of your cup or your container that says recyclable or compostable, it doesn’t mean that in your jurisdiction it is actually going to be recycled.”
Thank you City Council for passing the referral on the Single Use Foodware and Litter Reduction Ordinance. This is just a first step in this process and we will be asking for continual public input as we move forward on this groundbreaking legislation. #berkmtg
— Jesse Arreguin (@JesseArreguin) April 25, 2018
Our children. Our future. That’s why Councilmember Sophie Hahn and I authored the Plastic Free Dining ordinance. Our planet and the next generation cannot wait. #DisposableFreeBerkeley pic.twitter.com/NrvSu8zHZd
— Jesse Arreguin (@JesseArreguin) April 25, 2018
The ordinance will be heard for the first time at the Berkeley City Council meeting and if everything goes smoothly it could be enacted as early as this fall.
Oakland City Council also just considered a proposed ban on single-use plastic straws for customers. That ordinance passed unanimously.
CHICAGO (CBS) – Tyler C. loves his little sister and wants the world to know. In a video by Special Books By Special Kids (SBSK) that has been viewed on Facebook close to half a million times, Tyler talks about life with Emily, who is two years old and has Down syndrome.
“Why do you think your sister always likes to look at you?” Tyler is asked in the video. “Because she loves me,” Tyler responds.
Special Books by Special Kids, founded by Chris Ulmer, describes itself as an “organization that seeks to normalize the diversity of the human condition under the pillars of honesty, respect, mindfulness, positivity and collaboration.” SBSK’s Instagram account says it interviews “individuals with a diagnosis from across the world with hope of spreading empathy.”
“I was so excited not only for personal reasons for getting our story out there but was happy to get Chris the attention he deserves,” Tyler and Emily’s mother, Laurie, tells CBS 2. “He believes in these kids so much, that’s why he’s made it his life mission.”
Laurie believes Tyler and Emily embody the meaning of the hashtag #SiblingGoals. “He’s the most patient big brother in the world. He would not stop kissing her from Day 1.” Whether it’s celebrating Emily signing a new word or standing on her own, Tyler is there with a smile and encouraging word.
Recently, Emily has returned the favor. Tyler played in his first soccer game earlier this month and Emily cheered him on. “I feel so honored to be the one to watch them grow,” Laurie says.
Laurie regularly shares stories about her family on her Facebook page, Emily’s Heart.
When Laurie received the Down syndrome diagnosis during her pregnancy, she said she was terrified. When women reach out to her now, two years later, she tells them, “the second you hold that baby in your arms, all the broken pieces of your heart will be put back together.”
Laurie says that she hopes the video will dispel any notions that her son is “burdened” by having a sister with Down syndrome. “You can still have a beautiful life,” she says. “A diagnosis can’t take anything away from you.”
CHICAGO (CBS) — With suspected gunman Travis Reinking in custody after a fatal shooting in a Nashville-area Waffle House, attention now turns to his father, Jeffrey.
According to Metropolitan Police in Nashville, Jeffrey Reinking returned at least one gun to his son after the Tazewell County Sheriff’s department took multiple firearms away from Travis in August of 2017. Authorities are now investigating the Waffle House shooting weapons and how Travis Reinking got them.
What we know about Jeffrey Reinking:
1. He is a long-time resident of Morton, Illinois.
2. Neighbors describe Jeffrey and his wife as well-liked, well-established and churchgoers.
3. He is the owner of J+ J Cranes in Tremont, IL, which is just outside of Morton.
4. He has a valid FOID (Firearm Owners Identification) card.
5. In August of 2017, the Tazewell County Sherriff’s department took multiple guns taken away from Travis. According to state law, Travis was allowed to transfer those guns to anyone with a valid FOID card. He chose his father.
The AR-15 assault rifle used in the shooting at a Nashville-area Waffle House that left four dead and four wounded. (Credit: Nashville PD)
6. Will Jeffrey Reinking be charged with a crime? Federal authorities are currently investigating to determine if he broke any laws by returning the guns to his son.
Tazewell County State’s Attorney tells CBS 2’s Lauren Victory they will consider filing state charges after they receive information from the FBI. In Illinois, a person with a valid FOID card is not allowed to give guns to anyone who does not have a valid FOID card.
“At this point, our office does not possess enough information to determine if Jeffery Reinking committed a criminal offense. When our office receives information from the criminal investigation, particularly from the FBI, we will be in a position to determine if any violation of state law occurred,” says the Tazewell State’s Attorney’s office.
SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — San Francisco is cracking down on electric scooters while also trying to set some ground rules.
The number of confiscations is now in the hundreds.
San Francisco supervisors are on the verge of passing new regulations on thousands of scooters that have taken over city streets.
Meanwhile, the city’s Public Works Department continues to confiscate scooters that are breaking the law.
San Francisco resident Nors Davidson said, “Where are these things coming from? I mean, they’re literally landing from another planet. They’re everywhere.”
And when they are parked somewhere they are not supposed to be, San Francisco Public Works crews have been picking them up en masse.
San Francisco Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru said, “Every morning I send out a couple of trucks … I have complaints from 3-1-1. When we find them, we pick them up and take them to our facility.”
So far, San Francisco Public Works has confiscated 335 scooters.
Collectively, the three scooter companies have paid more than $15,000 to get them back. And Nuru says there are other rules that they’re breaking.
“If you have a scooter, you should be using the streets and not the bike lanes or the sidewalks,” Nuru said. “They’re motorized and they’re a different mode of transportation. In the vehicle code, they’re considered a motorized vehicle, which is like a motorcycle.”
A Bird spokesman disagrees.
“Mr. Nuru’s claim that scooter riders cannot be in bike lanes is inaccurate,” a Bird company spokesman said in an email to KPIX 5. “People may ride scooters like Birds on roads and bike lanes, but not on sidewalks. Bird instructs riders about this… Additionally, his claim that scooters like Birds are like motorcycles is inaccurate. They are regulated as “motorized scooters.”
San Francisco resident Amy Pierce said, “Hmmm … as a biker, I appreciate that … It’s nice that people are mobile in the city, but …”
The scooter companies began operations last month without asking permission from the city or sorting out rules about how they should operate.
They are convenient, but they can also be quite messy and when they’re on the sidewalks, downright dangerous.
San Francisco resident Amanda Simmons said, “I think it’s a positive thing … You can just pick it up on the side of the road, scan your card and you’re ready to go.”
Simmons added that the parking situation “is a little sketch.”
The Supervisors are expected to pass a new set of regulations at tomorrow night’s meeting. The mayor is expected to sign them into law.
San Francisco resident Nors Davidson said, “Like a lot of things, I think it’s time to make sure they’re safe. Because pedestrian safety is probably our number one problem in the city.”
SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — A network of security cameras in San Francisco is getting bigger.
The first cameras in this network were installed in 2012 and since then there’s been mixed reaction.
Some say it’s an invasion of privacy, but others say it’s a necessary step to fight crime.
In San Francisco’s quintessential Union Square, cable cars carry excited tourists and sidewalks are packed with shoppers, but watching it all from above are hundreds of high definition cameras.
Karin Flood with the Union Square Business Improvement District said, “What makes a difference really is, it’s not an individual camera, it is a network of cameras so we’re really able to help the police to tell the whole story.”
There are more than 350 cameras in all. The video goes onto servers where it’s stored for 30 days, then erased.
“We’re not actively monitoring these cameras. We really just pull footage after the fact,” Flood said.
The string of cameras captured the runaway double decker tourist bus that barreled down three city blocks out of control in November of 2015, which left 20 people injured.
The cameras also helped police break the case in the Rainbow Crew, a band of shoplifters who are accused of stealing more than $1 million in merchandise from Union Square stores.
“The cameras are being used for serious crimes. We’re not watching some of the quality of life instances that happen on the street,” Flood said.
Tourists we talked to said they like knowing the cameras are there.
Annette Edmunson, a tourist from England, said, “You don’t really know they’re there. So, if you’re not doing anything wrong, then you’ve got nothing to worry about.”
Terry West, a tourist from Australia, said, “I think it’s a great idea and I think it should be encouraged in all cities.”
The camera network around Union Square has been so successful in providing evidence to police, it’s now expanding to neighboring districts in Central Market and the Tenderloin.
San Francisco City Supervisor Jane Kim said, “Our residents are tired and fed up with the low level crimes that are occurring in their neighborhood on a daily basis.”
Supervisor Kim says she has talked with Tenderloin residents about their privacy concerns.
“As long as the video cameras, again, are not in the hands of government, but held by private property owners, and only given to us in the case of a criminal incident, our residents have been very comfortable,” Kim said.
All of the cameras are on public streets and sidewalks where, according to the law, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.
SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — The California gubernatorial race is suddenly getting personal.
New ads are hitting the airwaves and some are targeting front-runner Gavin Newsom.
The race to replace Governor Jerry Brown is kicking into high gear with both candidates and their allies singing praises and slinging mud for the June primary.
Former San Francisco Mayor and California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown said, “For the next five weeks. I think you are going to get some of everything.”
Frontrunner Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, selling his record as mayor of San Francisco.
But charter school advocates, like Netflix founder Reed Hastings who don’t agree with Newsom’s ties to the California Teachers Association, have hit the airwaves with a mega-million campaign promoting Newsom’s main democratic rival: former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
“They’re talking $20 million to be spent on Villaraigosa between now and the 5th of June, that’s awesome,” said Willie Brown.
And while Treasurer John Chiang is putting a friendly face forward on his Internet ads, Chiang’s supporters in the Asian community are slamming Newsom with an Internet ad on scandals that haunted Newsom for years when he was mayor.
An ad slamming Newsom says: “Gavin Newsom had an inappropriate affair with his employee” referring to his affair with his top adviser’s wife, Ruby Turk.
The ad goes on saying: “Did you know about the 19-year-old Gavin dated while he was mayor?”
In 2007, Newsom admitted that he had a problem.
“Everything you heard and read is true,” Newsom said in 2007.
Newsom sought help for his problem drinking, but his return to social drinking has raised questions.
Recently, Newsom told The Sacramento Bee, “I stopped because I thought it was a good thing to stop. And I stopped and I’ve had wine for nine years, eight years since…” When asked, Newsom said it was not a problem for him.
Willie Brown said, “It’s too late with that kind of stuff to make a difference.”
But the slam ads could make a difference.
In California, vote by mail begins in May.
SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — California has bounced from its worst drought ever, to record flooding to devastating wildfires, and now a new study says it will only get worse over the next several decades.
A group of climatologists at the University of California have published a study in Nature Climate Change, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, saying that California can expect to see a lot more of these dramatic weather swings.
We have seen many disastrous predictions when it comes to climate change, and this one is among the worse.
Adrian Covert is vice president of public policy for the Bay Area Council, a public policy advocacy organization, and spoke with KPIX 5 about the San Francisco Bay Area’s weather future.
“What we’re now seeing is that the climate science is saying that that volatile weather pattern is about to get more violent,”Covert said.
Precipitation whiplash, or extreme weather conditions instantly changing from brutal dry spells to intense rainfall.
Covert said, “It confirms what the science — that a lot of us that work in water policy — what we’ve been fearing for a long time.”
The Bay Area Council also studied the effects of climate change, specifically looking at the impacts to the Bay Area.
They pinpointed where in the Bay Area has the greatest flood risk.
“So the biggest vulnerability that we found in our storm event report is in Santa Clara County,” Covert said.
Santa Clara and San Mateo counties and most of Marin County are at the highest risk of flooding due to their low-lying areas.
They also have an increased threat of landslides because of numerous nearby creeks and rivers.
The Bay Area Council says projects are underway to protect the Bay Area from extreme flood events and sea level rise.
“In the Bay Area, I’m hopeful because in 2016 voters actually approved a measure by 70 percent, it was called Measure AA, that infused the Bay Area with $500 million for funding for wetland restoration and flood protection projects around San Francisco Bay,” Covert said.
The Wetland Restoration Project is now underway to help with flood protection, wildlife benefits and water quality in the Bay Area.
In San Francisco, voters could decide on a bond measure to bolster the Embarcadero seawall. The cost of San Francisco’s seawall repairs are estimated at $425 million.