<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Top Stories]]> Copyright 2016 http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com en-us Thu, 11 Feb 2016 02:49:13 -0800 Thu, 11 Feb 2016 02:49:13 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Human Remains Found in Gilroy]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 23:26:06 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0210-2016-GilroyRemains.jpg

Human remains were found in the outskirts of Gilroy on Wednesday, according to the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office.

It is not known if the remains found are that of a male or female, Sgt. James Jensen said.

The remains were found in the area of Santa Teresa Boulevard and Castro Valley Road. The area is just south of Gilroy, next to the Gavilan College Golf Course and near Highway 101.

Jensen said deputies responded to the scene just before 4 p.m.

Investigators plan to be at the scene overnight.

No other information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Feared for Her Life When Concrete Fell in Bay Bridge Tunnel]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 23:24:43 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0210-2016-LizGustin.jpg

A woman said she feared for her life when a huge chunk of concrete came crashing down while she was driving in the Bay Bridge tunnel through Yerba Buena Island.

The chunk of concrete, described as the size of a tire, fell in front of Liz Gustin's car on Jan. 30.

"It was big enough to totally take up the windshield," Gustin said in an exclusive interview with NBC Bay Area. "I definitely thought it would be a head-on collision crash.

Gustin, who was driving on the eastbound lanes, said she slammed on her brakes bracing for impact.

"We were screaming in the car," she said.

The two-foot chunk on concrete scraped along one her vehicle's tires and popped it.

The incident left Gustin, a teacher from Kansas City, wondering about the safety of the bridge.

"I thought the purpose of the rebuild was to make it sound for what I heard for earthquakes, but it wasn't an earthquake that Saturday. That piece just fell."

The piece of concrete fell from the arch inside the Yerba Buena Island tunnel, which is the link between the new eastern and western span of the Bay Bridge.

A report now said the 80-year-old tunnel is showing signs that some of its steel reinforcements are corroding.

Caltrans have said investigators are looking into the issue.

"If it were unsafe we'd shut it down," Caltrans spokesman Robert Haus said. "We've been out there since, inspecting the areas of damage and looking for other ares where the concrete doesn't look as strong as it should."

Gustin said she would like to get help from Caltrans to replace her tire.

Caltrans said there is a process she must go through online and apply for a refund, which will take about six weeks.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[FBI Surrounds Protesters Occupying Oregon Refuge]]> Thu, 11 Feb 2016 02:11:38 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/oregonGetty-507448598.jpg

FBI agents have converged on the Oregon wildlife refuge where the last four followers of Ammon and Ryan Bundy remain holed up, the agency confirmed Wednesday night.

The FBI's Portland office said it has set up barricades in front of and behind the area of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge where the remaining occupiers are camping, NBC News reported.

Negotiations were under way, and no shots have been fired, bureau said.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pope Calls for Tolerance, Loving Gestures, in Final Mass]]> Sun, 27 Sep 2015 15:05:45 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-490326864.jpg

Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims gathered in the heart of Philadelphia to watch as Pope Francis culminates his historic visit to the United States by celebrating Mass and talking once again about the importance of the family — the theme of the World Meeting of Families event that brought him to the country for the first time.

Francis used the Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in downtown Philadelphia to stress tolerance, patience and the acceptance of others.

"To raise doubts about the working of the Spirit, to give the impression that it cannot take place in those who are not 'part of our group,' who are not 'like us,' is a dangerous temptation," he said in a homily. "Not only does it block conversion to the faith; it is a perversion of faith."

According to an "unofficial estimate" by people working the event, a crowd of 860,000 started making its way to security lines early in the day for a chance to get to see His Holiness up close. Even more watched on about 40 large TV screens that were set up in the city. Most of those screens were located about 25 blocks away from the Mass location.

Francis told the pilgrims that "our common house can no longer tolerate sterile divisions."

On family, he said love is shown by small daily signs which make people feel at home, and that faith grows when it is lived and shaped by love.

"That is why our families, our homes, are true domestic churches," he said. "They are the right place for faith to become life, and life to become faith."

He added: "Anyone who wants to bring into this world a family which teaches children to be excited by every gesture aimed at overcoming evil -- a family which shows that the Spirit is alive and at work -- will encounter our gratitude and our appreciation. Whatever the family, people, region, or religion to which they belong."

Toward the end of his homily, he asked the audience a simple question.

"In my own home, do we shout? Or do we speak to each other in love and tenderness? That is a good way of measuring our love."

At the end of the Mass, Francis had one final message to those in attendance.

"Thank you very much for your participation and your love for the family," he said in English. "And I ask you to pray for me. Don't forget."

The Mass ends Francis' whirlwind six-day U.S. trip in which he has visited the White House, addressed a joint session of Congress, participated in a multi-religious service at Ground Zero, addressed world leaders at the United Nation's General Assembly and met privately with victims of clergy sex abuse at a seminary just outside of Philadelphia. The pontiff, who is known as the people's pope for his outward display of humility, also met with the homeless at a shelter and inmates at a jail.

The City of Brotherly Love opened its doors this weekend not only for Francis (Archbishop Charles Chaput even joked about renaming the city "Francisville"), but to the thousands of people who arrived in the city to catch a glimpse of him at one of his many city-wide events.

Among those in attendance at the final Mass was 61-year-old Junior Isaac, who arrived in Philadelphia without tickets.

"I wanted to be part of history," said Isaac, who was wearing a U.S. Army hat. "I came all the way from Rhode Island without tickets. Within two hours I had four. I think God is a miracle and a feast.”

Latonya Williams, a childcare provider from Philadelphia, attended the event with her three children.

“I think he’s the best," Williams said of Francis. "I love his humble spirit. I wasn’t that interested in the other popes, and I’m not Catholic."

A Grand Arrival

The "Popemobile," a white Jeep Wrangler, began carrying Francis toward the alter at about 3:15 p.m. to the roars of scores of people lining the streets of Philly. His motorcade stopped briefly to view the "Knotted Grotto," a public art installation at the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul.

The Grotto is a place anyone can go, write their intentions down, and tie them onto one side of the courtyard fence to be "undone" by another person. People leaving intentions tie their own and then untie someone else's to move it to the other side in homage to Francis' favorite image of the Blessed Mother as Mary Undoer of Knots.

Some 500 students from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, boarded buses Saturday night for their pilgrimage to the World Meeting of Families event.

The students, part of the university's campus ministry group, arrived in Philadelphia around 7 a.m.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Nicole Steiner, 19, a sophomore originally from Massachusetts. "It's cool we're able to see him in our own country. He's an inspiring figure."

The students will board buses back to Notre Dame Sunday night.

Courtney Morin, 19, also a sophomore, said she's excited to be part of something so big.

"He's such a huge figure in the world," said Morin, who is from Indiana. "For me, it's being part of a moment when so many things can happen."

The two young woman and several other students from Notre Dame stopped to pose for a photo at Philly's iconic LOVE sculpture before heading to the Parkway to find a spot to watch the Mass. They have tickets to get into the closer areas, they said.

Students from Notre Dame have been following the pope's movement throughout his historic visit to the United States.

"We had papal pancakes Thursday to watch his address to Congress," Morin said.

A flock of Father Thien Nguyen's pilgrims donned bright yellow shirts and waited eagerly in front of a Jumbotron outside Philadelphia's City Hall on Sunday morning.

Nguyen said the group of about 150 people from the Vietnamese Catholic community in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Canada traveled to Philly for Francis' public Mass. Nguyen heard confession from a woman as many of his older pilgrims hunked down by the bigscreen to watch the Mass.

"This group decided to stay here near the screen, food and bathrooms because they're older," Nguyen explained. "One group had tickets and went all the way up (the Parkway)."

Nguyen said the Vietnamese faithful love the pope because of his care for the poor and the way he "represents Christ in the world."

The group celebrated a Vietnamese Mass Sunday morning before the papal service later, he said.

"We pray the pope will continue to be a great leader," Nguyen said. "We love the pope."

Up Next

After the Mass the Pope will travel back to Rome. His exit also means the World Meeting of Families ends. It was announced at the Mass that the next chapter in the religious event will take place in Dublin, Ireland, in 2018.

Photo Credit: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Michigan Governor Includes $195 Million for Flint in New Budget]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 23:47:39 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/RICK_GettyImages-507090446.jpg

Michigan's lawmakers are welcoming a proposal that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder made on Wednesday to send hundreds of millions more dollars to address Flint's water crisis from lead contamination and to update pipes there and across the state

Calling it a "seed investment," Snyder plans to direct $195 million more toward the Flint emergency and $165 million for statewide infrastructure needs, at least a portion of which could replace lead and copper water lines elsewhere. He said $25 million of the Flint funding would replace 5,000 known old lead lines running from city streets to houses.

The Republican governor cited aging infrastructure as a pressing priority, along with restructuring the troubled Detroit school district and addressing skyrocketing specialty medicine costs.

"These areas merit special attention," Snyder said, in a departure from his typically rosier focus on traditional budget spending. "These are issues that we need to take head-on, in a positive, constructive way, with solutions."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA['It's Like a Top-Shelf Whiskey': Bay Area Buzzing Over $15 Coffee]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 23:35:50 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0210-2016-Coffee2.jpg

A Bay Area coffee shop is charging $15 for a cup of coffee -- and apparently people cannot get enough of it.

The not-your-ordinary cup of Joe is called Finca Sophia and can be found at Equator Coffee, which has locations in San Francisco and Mill Valley.

The beans are from the Gesha variety, grown way up in the mountains of Panama. It took eight years to produce the first crop, which was not much and prompted a spike in price.

Equator Coffee educator Akaash Saini said different fertilizers are used to grow the coffee beans.

"Doing different things when it comes to farming and harvesting techniques," Saini said. "Whatever we can do to get the best cup of coffee."

The Equator Coffee location in San Francisco's Market Street has already sold out of Finca Sophia.

"Amazing, very amazing," San Francisco-resident Myron Tate said of experiencing the premium dark liquid.

In downtown Mill Valley, several people tasted Finca Sophia for the first time on Wednesday.

"I don't really like it," said Heidi Connelly, a Mill Valley resident, adding that the coffee was bitter.

Steve Jordan drove to Mill Valley from San Francisco just to get his cup of Finca Sophia.

"It's amazing, I really like it," Jordan said. "It's more like a tea mix than a true coffee.

Meanwhile, Saini said when it comes to Finca Sophia, you get what you pay for.

"It's almost like a top-shelf whiskey, or a $40 bottle of wine compared to an $8 bottle of wine," Saini said.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Sharper Future Halts Efforts for New Sex Offender Facility in SF]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 20:55:36 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0208-2015-SexOffenderMtg.jpg

Operators of a sex offender clinic will no longer set up shop in a San Francisco neighborhood after plans of the move sparked outrage in the community.

Sharper Future, a rehab facility for sex offenders, wanted to move into a building at 100 Church Street, near Duboce Park. Angry residents in a meeting on Monday spoke in strong opposition to the facility.

"Sharper Future has decided to immediately halt efforts to move into 100 Church Street," said Mary-Perry Miller, company president. "After Monday evening's meeting, it is clear that our presence would be divisive for everyone concerned. Out of respect for the community and the very critical work that we do, we've elected to seek an alternative location."

Sharper Future is looking to relocate because its office at Market and Van Ness is being demolished. 

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Some Good News for Dementia: Rates Might be Going Down]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 21:52:42 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/DEMENT_GettyImages-472947990.jpg

Researchers have found a small piece of good news for people at high risk of some kinds of dementia: it might be possible to delay it or even prevent it.

They found falling rates of vascular dementia in people who also happened to improve their heart health. The findings, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, support the idea that what's good for the heart is good for the head.

"Our study offers cautious hope that some cases of dementia might be preventable or at least delayed," Claudia Satizabal of the Boston University Schools of Medicine and colleagues wrote in their report.

They looked at more than 5,000 people who have been having their health tracked in minute detail as part of the Framingham Heart Study. The multi-generational study has been going on since 1948 and in 1971 children of the original volunteers signed up. Their memory has been tested since 1975.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Twitter User Growth Stalls in Fourth Quarter But Company Still Optimistic]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 21:31:41 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/222*120/503572706.jpg

Twitter shares fell in Wednesday after-hours trading as the company revealed that its user numbers had declined sequentially.

The company reported fourth quarter earnings of 16 cents per share on $710 million in revenue. Analysts had expected Twitter to report earnings of about 12 cents per share on $710 million in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

Twitter said its monthly active users (MAUs) excluding SMS-only users were 305 million for the fourth quarter, down from 307 million in the previous quarter.

"We saw a decline in monthly active usage in Q4, but we've already seen January monthly actives bounce back to Q3 levels. We're confident that, with disciplined execution, this growth trend will continue over time," the company wrote in a shareholder letter.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Yolo Co. Resident Tests Positive for Zika Virus: CDC]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 16:38:13 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Mosquito-AP_750626106311.jpg

A person in Yolo County has tested positive for the Zika virus, health officials said Wednesday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the person recently traveled out of the country and had a mild case of Zika.

Zika is transmitted from infected mosquitoes to people and from pregnant mothers to babies. The virus usually causes a mild illness, but babies born to mothers with the virus can have microcephaly, a condition associated with small, undeveloped brains.

Check back for updates.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: AP/file]]>
<![CDATA[More Jail Deputies Accused of Beating Inmate]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 20:06:36 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0210-2016-Elmwood.jpg

The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office is investigating more allegations of correctional deputies beating an inmate.

Sources tell NBC Bay Area two female correctional deputies allegedly beat up a female inmate last summer at Elmwood Jail. Sources also said that when another correctional deputy approached the scene, the two guards told her to go away.

The sheriff's office on Wednesday released a statement saying it is aware of the allegations and is conducting an investigation. The sheriff on Wednesday would not say if the deputies in question are still working or on leave.

The allegations come as the jail system tries to recover from other abuse allegations against inmates, including the death of Michael Tyree last August. Three inmates face homicide charges in Tyree's case.

"It is my belief that we have important recommendations to give the county and the sheriff about how to improve the jail system," said Judge LaDoris Cordell, who chairs a blue-ribbon panel looking into the practices and procedures inside the jail system.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Makes Electability Pitch Since N.H. Victory]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 19:11:11 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/TrumpSouthCarolina-AP_446723142501.jpg

Donald Trump is making his first pitch of electability after a landslide victory in New Hampshire.

Trump told nearly 5,000 people in South Carolina that he could win beyond the Palmetto State, NBC News reported.

"You're next," Trump said to the South Carolinians assembled, citing his large margin of victory in the Granite State and promising that a win here would propel him on to run the table.

He also didn’t miss the chance to swipe at Hillary Clinton for her loss to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, whom he called “wacky socialist guy Bernie” 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Gunman Wounded After Killing 2 Women in Alabama]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 18:37:46 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/police+lights+%282%291.jpg

Police wounded a gunman in Alabama who fatally shot two women with whom he had business ties Wednesday morning, NBC News reported.

The victims were shot outside a law office and at an accounting firm, according to NBC affiliate WVTM. Two deputies caught up with Jimmy Cooper, who was armed with a handgun, as he ran down the street. He was shot in the leg and grazed in the arm.

Cooper, 57, will be charged with capital murder in the killings of Donny Miller and Linda Cole, the county prosecutor said.

Police would not give any other information, citing an ongoing investigation.

<![CDATA[Booker, Newsom Holding Event at SF Commonwealth Club]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 18:22:55 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP741539817769.jpg

Cory Booker and Gavin Newsom will appear jointly at San Francisco's Commonwealth Club. 

The New Jersey senator and California's Lieutenant Governor are scheduled to hold a conversation at 7 p.m. on Feb. 19.

The appearance is in support of Booker's first book, "United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good," which will be released by Ballantine on Feb. 16.

Tickets range from $30 for general admission to $50 for admission plus a copy of Booker's book.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's Closes Restaurants in Bay Area]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 18:14:43 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/mcdonalds19.jpg

McDonald's closed more restaurants than it opened last year, including several locations in the Bay Area.

BuzzFeed News reports the fast-food chain closed 154 restaurants in the United States in 2015 — and only opened 63 new franchises. That's compared to 2014, when 222 new McDonald's restaurants opened in America.

In Walnut Creek, the city's last-standing McDonald's restaurant shuttered in January 2015, according to the San Jose Mercury News. The closure came just weeks after closing a location in downtown Martinez.

A location on San Francisco's Van Ness Avenue followed suit, closing after 36 years of business. An outpost on Mission Street closed suddenly in June, the same month that a McDonald's on Stanyan Street in the Haight was named a "public nuisance" in a letter San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera sent to McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook.

In San Jose, a McDonald's on East San Carlos Street also closed in December.

<![CDATA[Senate Votes to Block North Korea's Nuclear Ambitions]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 17:38:21 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/NorthKoreaBill-AP_993302026652.jpg

Senators backed a bill Wednesday to derail North Korea’s quest for a nuclear weapon, NBC News reported.

The bill would mandate sanctions against those involved in North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile development program, require a renewed focus on cyber-attacks by North Korea on the U.S. and target those responsible for human rights abuses committed by the country’s government.

The vote was 96 to 0.

The passage of the bill comes days after North Korea launched a long-range rocket and a month after the country claimed to test a hydrogen bomb.  

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Teardown of Super Bowl City Ahead of Schedule]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 17:32:38 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/SB-CITY-CLEANUP.jpg

San Francisco city leaders say the teardown of Super Bowl City is ahead of schedule and road closures implemented ahead of the big game will end one day sooner than expected.

Super Bowl City along the Embarcadero closed at 3 p.m. Sunday, minutes before the kickoff of Super Bowl 50. Commuters stuck trying to get around roadblocks might see relief Thursday, a day before scheduled.

"We're anticipating that the road closures will be open Thursday night," said the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's Paul Rose. "Muni reroutes go to normal schedule on Friday morning."

Muni ridership jumped 40 percent over the nine days leading up to the Super Bowl, according to Rose. The agency had 70 parking control officers stationed at 32 intersections, with the cost projection at about $2.5 million, but the final numbers aren't in yet.

San Francisco's police chief was expected to give a summary of Super Bowl activities Wednesday night.

SFPD spokesman Sgt. Michael Andraychak said the department made a total of 12 arrests at Super Bowl City and another 12 at the Moscone Center where the NFL Experience event was being held. Most of those arrests were for public intoxication, Andraychak said.

The final numbers on the cost to the police department are expected in about two weeks.

Super Bowl 50 Host Committee CEO Keith Bruce says 1.1 million people visited Super Bowl City and the NFL Experience.

San Francisco officials said it could be months before they know the full economic impact of Super Bowl 50.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[San Jose Apartment Tenants Claim 'Retaliatory' Evictions]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 18:51:29 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0210-2016-Eviction.jpg

Residents of numerous apartment complexes in east San Jose are staging a tenant revolt against property management.

The tenants allege unhealthy living conditions as well as threats of evictions whenever a complaint is lodged. The issue has garnered the attention of top city leaders.

"I'm said because I don't have anywhere to go and I have three kids," said Nancy Alvarado, an evicted tenant.

Alvarado was given a 90-day notice to leave her apartment in the Santee neighborhood, where she and her family has lived for nine years.

Residents around 45 fourplexes around Santee Drive said they are fed up with unhealthy living conditions and "retaliatory" evictions. The apartments are run by Realty World Premier Properties.

The neighborhood is used to an unsettled atmosphere.

About 20 years ago, a court injunction required landlords to hire security guards to protect against street gangs. Realty World was asked by the city to run the complexes because of what was considered a good reputation.

The management company said it was told to, in essence, clean up the neighborhood.

Alvarado said she believes her eviction is due to a homeless brother who hangs around the complex.

"Security tells me 'if I can't get your brother out from this place, I have to get you out first for him to leave,'" Alvarado said.

Mayor Sam Liccardo was so concerned about what he heard form some tenants he came to meet them at a private meeting.

"I think when they see the mayor is there, it hopefully encourages more of them to step up and be able to speak out," Liccardo said. "As we try to evaluate what the facts are, and also as we're contemplating legal action, to have people willing to testify. That's important."

Realty World said it welcomes the scrutiny and has held numerous meetings with the city housing department, which has not found any retaliatory evictions.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Palo Alto Unified to Appoint School Renaming Committee]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 17:59:50 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Jordan+Middle+School1.jpg

The Palo Alto Unified School District will officially appoint community members to consider renaming all 17 district schools.

The school board voted unanimously Tuesday night to create a Citizen’s Advisory Committee to recommend which schools, if any, should be renamed.

The renaming committee will be responsible for researching the names of all PAUSD schools, deciding whether school names need to be changed and identifying potential new names.

The decision is in response to a Jordan Middle School parent’s campaign to change the name of his son’s school. Jordan Middle is named after David Starr Jordan, a leader in the eugenics movement and supporter of sterilization and racial inequality. Starr was also the found president of Stanford University.

Parents from Terman Middle School and Cubberly Middle School have also asked the board for their schools to be renamed as well, as namesakes Lewis Terman and Ellwood Patterson Cubberly were also supporters of eugenics.

"I think the names should be changed," said Jordan Middle School parent Lars Johnsson, who started a petition to rename the school. "But, I respect and understand that there is a process and there is more time needed to reach out to the community, to look at all opinions and make sure that both students and long term residents and every other constituency has the opportunity to participate."

PAUSD spokesperson Jorge Quintana said the board is creating the process to seek committee applications, and will soon decide how many people need to be on the committee. Quintana said the board plans to appoint a committee by the end of March.

Board members have expressed a mix of long term Palo Alto residents, current students and parents are ideal for the committee.

Once the committee is formed, PAUSD says it will be given a December 2016 deadline to decide which schools need to be renamed.

Photo Credit: Ryann Vargas
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<![CDATA[Congressional Black Caucus to Endorse Clinton]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 16:38:21 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/508448996-Hillary-Clinton-necn-Viewer-Question.jpg

The Congressional Black Caucus PAC will endorse Hillary Clinton on Thursday, NBC News has confirmed.

The group will help her campaign to win over minority voters in upcoming primary contests.

Clinton has a strong advantage over rival Bernie Sanders among black voters, and the endorsement could help her solidify support in states where the group plays a key role, like in the upcoming South Carolina Democratic primary.

South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn — an influential voice in the state — is still neutral, telling NBC News he will not endorse ahead of the state primary.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Zika Found in Fetus With Birth Defects]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 16:26:06 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/ZikaLab-GettyImages-506977656.jpg

Doctors have found the Zika virus in the brain of a fetus with severe microcephaly, which may help experts understand the relationship between the virus and how it affects developing babies, NBC News reported.

A 25-year-old woman was volunteering in Natal, Brazil, and became pregnant. During her 13th week, she came down with a high fever, muscle aches and a rash.

Her first ultrasound looked normal. But after returning home to Europe, another ultrasound in her seventh month showed evidence of microcephaly. The woman terminated the pregnancy.

Researchers conducted an autopsy and found Zika in the brain. The fetus was small and had an abnormally small head, with an underdeveloped brain with scarring throughout.

The report’s publication has been rushed by the New England Journal of Medicine.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Suspect Strikes 'Several Dozen' Cars, Pregnant Woman]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 11:25:58 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/OPD-pursuit-ends.jpg

Police arrested a man, who they said was armed and driving recklessly, Wednesday morning in Berkeley, after he seemed to intentionally ram into a pregnant woman, other citizens and "several dozen" cars, perhaps as many as 30, in Oakland and Berkeley.

The man, who police said is a 37-year-old Berkeley resident, hit several private and four police cars.

Oakland Police Lt. Chris Bolton said that in Oakland alone as many as eight cars were struck, including two Oakland patrol cars near E. 23rd Street and Coolidge Avenue in Fruitvale. A woman was injured near 39th Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard as well, Bolton said.

Officers received a report about 8:45 a.m. that the suspect was "actively pointing a firearm at citizens in West Oakland," Bolton said.

Added Oakland police spokeswoman Johnna Watson: "Some witnesses said he intentionally looked at them and drove his car at them." Bolton also said the car was "being driven in an erratic matter."

Witnesses said the 55-year-old driver with addresses in Berkeley and San Pablo had been armed during the bizarre event, though the handgun was missing when police arrested him shortly before 9:30 a.m. near Ohlone Park in Berkeley on Hearst Avenue.

Police said he ditched his car and was walking with his hands in his pockets. After initially ignoring officer commands to stop, the suspect was stopped when police fired a foam bullet at him, Berkeley spokeswoman Jennifer Coats said at a joint news conference.

Police say the man faces multiple charges, including felony evading police and assault with a deadly weapon.

The suspect's identity was not immediately made public, though Coats said he was known to the department. According to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, however, the car is registered to a man with a criminal history. He was charged with felony vandalism in 2013 for smashing cars with a baseball bat, officials said.

Watson urged anyone whose car was damaged during the spree to call authorities so that they can piece together just how many vehicles were affected. One of the victims was a pregnant woman, she said.

Oakland police tweeted a picture of a the back of the man, who was wearing jeans and red sneakers, shown walking in handcuffs to an Alameda County Sheriff's patrol car. Oakland police were assisted by Berkeley police and the California Highway Patrol, who sent up a helicopter to spot him from the sky.

The drama began about 8:30 a.m., and soon after, Bolton began tweeting about a "critical incident spanning multiple locations" in West Oakland. He said the suspect had "intentionally" struck a person and patrol cars.

Police later described the suspect vehicle as a black four-door Mitsubishi sedan. 

Uber driver Duryea Tracy had just picked up a client when the suspect slammed into his brand new Chevy. 

"He was coming down this street pretty hard," he recalled. "It's crazy, but like my wife said, it could have been worse — I could have been getting out of the car when he hit me."

Watson said that someone called police just before midnight describing a similar car and suspect to police. Officers are trying to determine if the two are related.

Investigators canvassed the area looking for the suspect's gun, but came up empty as of Wednesday evening.

"We're all going to have to work together to try to figure out why he was doing this and what led up to this," Coats said.

The investigation is ongoing and people with information are asked to call the Oakland Police Department Felony Assault Unit at (510) 238-3426.

Photo Credit: OPD
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<![CDATA[Suit Says Principal Warned on Porn]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 20:35:55 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Deonte+Carraway+020816.jpg

Parents and teachers raised concerns about an elementary school volunteer and youth choir director accused of recording "vile sexual acts" between children on school grounds, but the principal took no action, claiming the teachers lacked proof, according to a lawsuit filed by the guardian of a victim.

The family that alerted police about possible sex abuse at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School last week is suing the school district and the suspect.

"This is a painful situation for the county to think a person that we entrusted would deliver everlasting harm to our young people, our babies," Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker said at a news conference Wednesday evening.

The accused teacher's aide, 22-year-old Deonte Carraway, had children openly perform sexual acts in various parts of the school where the abuse should have been obvious, like the school auditorium and bathrooms, according to the lawsuit.

The civil complaint claims a 9-year-old boy was told by Carraway that he was part of a "club" in order to persuade him to participate. The boy was pulled out of his fourth-grade class by Carraway on multiple occasions, the suit says, and Carraway directed a fifth-grade girl to perform a sexual act on him while Carraway recorded the act with his cellphone and shared it with students using the Kik app. 

In January, the 9-year-old's uncle learned Carraway was using Kik to communicate with the boy and other students, according to the lawsuit. The uncle saw inappropriate pictures of students on the boy's phone. 

The complaint also says the uncle and the guardian who filed the suit told Principal Michelle Williams about the abuse Thursday and were told to return to the school in Glenarden, Maryland, for a meeting the next day.

They called police, instead, and Carraway was arrested Friday.

Williams was placed on leave Wednesday morning, Prince George's County Public Schools confirmed. PGCPS CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell said that was done out of an "abundance of caution."

"When people say things to us, we don't necessarily have to wait until the entire answer is out," he said. "We can take proactive steps."

If anyone at the school had concerns about Carraway and failed to step forward, they could be criminally charged, Prince George's County State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said.

"We have a very sacred obligation to the children of this community to protect them, to educate them, to do everything that we can to make sure that they have lives that are productive, and these kids in this case did not receive that protection," Alsobrooks said at Wednesday's news conference.

Police said they have identified 11 victims, including seven directly abused by Carraway. The lawsuit says there could be up to 30 victims. Authorities are investigating whether there are more victims.

A task force of several law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, has interviewed 18 children and more than two dozen families, Prince George's County interim Police Chief Hank Stawinski said.

Since the allegations surfaced, the school district has provided counseling and psychological support for the victims and their families upon request and reviewed policies on abuse with teachers, Maxwell. A meeting with parents to outline additional measures that will be taken is scheduled for Thursday evening.

The district also created a safety hotline for parents and students to report incidents. The hotline, 301-618-8342, opens Thursday morning. 

Several letters to parents were posted Wednesday on the school's website, including one that tells parents how they can work to protect their child from abuse.

Carraway is charged with 10 counts of child pornography charges, one count of sex abuse of a minor and one count of second-degree sex offense. More charges are coming, Stawinski said.

Police, who are being assisted by the FBI, said they found about 40 videos showing victims ages 9-13 performing sex acts with each other or alone. Carraway can be seen in one video molesting a child, according to the documents. In other videos, he can be heard directing the victims.

Carraway, of Glenarden, has admitted being involved in producing child pornography, police said.

Detectives said videos also were created at the Glenarden Municipal Center, the Theresa Banks Memorial Aquatic Center and in private homes.

Carraway also was the director of the Glenarden Voices of Youth Choir at the municipal center, police said. He was a paid assistant at the school during the 2014-15 school year.

Carraway is being held on $1 million bond.

The investigation could take months, police said.

Anyone aware of other possible victims should call Prince George's County police at 301-772-4930, or the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI.

Photo Credit: Prince George's County Police]]>
<![CDATA[Zika Will Spread Like Chikungunya: CDC]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 14:44:33 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Mosquito-AP_750626106311.jpg

The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is looking towards a virus in Puerto Rico to track how Zika may spread, NBC News reported.

The CDC says Zika is spreading the same way as chikungunya, a virus that’s also spread by mosquitos. Chukungunya, though,causes racking pain, so doctors paid attention to its spread.

The virus was first identified in the U.S. territory in May of 2014, but was spread in almost all of Puerto Rico by October. It has now spread in 45 countries with more than 1.7 million suspected cases reported. 

CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said the organization is expecting to see “a significant number of cases” in Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories.  

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Snowball Preserved in SJ Family's Freezer for 40 Years]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 14:05:11 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/new+snowball1.JPG

What is unofficially the world's oldest snowball is finally over the hill.

"If I were 40, I'd be happy," says Betty Shamus, who looks nowhere near her true age of 82.

For the last four decades, she has preserved in her freezer a snowball her then 14-year-old son Jeffrey created on Feb. 5th, 1976 – the last time the floor of the Santa Clara Valley, in California, saw any significant snowfall.  

The Shamus family built a snowman on the front lawn of their Almaden home before the snow quickly melted. And then, at her son's suggestion, they compacted what little remained into a round clump and saved it.

What was once a ball shape of snow has morphed into a crystalline blob of ice that takes up most of the space of an old Skippy Crunchy Peanut Butter twist-off glass jar.

Shamus believes that if she moved from the home, she would've eventually disposed of this oddity that has garnered the attention of the National Enquirer and Ripley's Believe It or Not.

The family, however, stayed in that house – and so did their 40-year-old reminder of that 1976 weather anomaly.

Shamus did receive a phone call a few years ago from someone interested in her snowball.

"I said, 'What?'" she recalled. "And he said, 'Yes, I want to buy your snowball.'"

Shamus hung up before the caller could make an offer, which drew a rebuke from her husband Larry over what could've have been a nice offer of some "cold" cash.

The family plans to celebrate the snowball's milestone with a small neighborhood celebration this weekend.

Photo Credit: Bob Redell ]]>
<![CDATA[Man Charged in Decapitation of Grandmother in Okla. City]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 14:20:10 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/QuintonLaster-AP_956657136434.jpg

Police arrested a young man accused of shooting and decapitating his grandmother and her husband in Oklahoma City, police said Wednesday.

Police found Quinton Deshawn Laster outside the home of Sharon Reed and James Earl Reed when they went to do a welfare check on Tuesday, NBC News reported.

Police said three young children were in a covered garbage bag in the home that was being used as a daycare at the time of the murders, but they weren’t injured. They weren’t related to the victims, according to the victims’ relatives.

Laster, 20, was arrested on two counts of first-degree murder.  

Photo Credit: Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office via AP]]>
<![CDATA[Trump's Win Came Even as He Ignored New Hampshire's Famed Retail Politics]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 14:10:08 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-509216262.jpg

The governors competing for the Republican presidential nomination all tried to outdo each other in time spent in New Hampshire, staking their campaigns on an electorate more moderate and less religious than in Iowa. But when the polls closed on the country's first primary, it was the candidate who barely stopped for a cup of coffee in the Granite State making the victory speech.

Businessman Donald Trump, who skipped much of the retail politics for which New Hampshire is known, the intimate meet-and-greets at diners, in living rooms and at town meetings, came out on top with 35 percent of the vote. He captured the lead when he announced he was running and held it throughout the race.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who finished second, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who finished fourth, both left New Hampshire for the next contest in South Carolina, while New Jersey’s Gov. Chris Christie, so often in New Hampshire that he was criticized for ignoring his own state’s problems, was dropping out.

“If you look at [Trump's] circumstances, you could say that spending time in the state doesn’t matter, and when he did come it was for very large rallies where there was no give-and-take between the candidate and the citizens,” said Linda Fowler, a professor of government at Dartmouth College. “On the other hand, John Kasich really did show that retail politics can still make a difference.”

Kasich began with 2 percent of the voters and ended up with 16 percent in a very crowded field, she said. The governor of a swing state who ran a campaign based on issues instead of insults, he was able to capitalize on his appeal to moderates unhappy with Trump and U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, exit polling showed.

The outspoken Christie, meanwhile, was overshadowed by the even more brash and controversial Trump, and he struggled to gain his footing with voters. He finished sixth in the Republican pack.

“We came here to say that speaking your mind matters, that experience matters, that competence matters, and that it will always matter in leading our nation,” Christie told supporters Tuesday night. “That message was heard by a lot of folks and it was stood for by a lot of folks here in New Hampshire, just not enough. Not enough tonight.”

Christie, who focused most of his resources on a strong showing in New Hampshire, returned to New Jersey on Wednesday to announce he was suspending his campaign.

Bush was pushing ahead to South Carolina after a fourth-place finish despite also failing to stir much excitement around his campaign. At the start of the year, his super PAC, Right to Rise, still had about half of the $118 million it raised last year.

The three governors had trouble differentiating themselves, and some Republicans worried that Christie had the least chance of winning the nomination, Fowler said. In the past, retail politics have been critical for candidates — Sen. John McCain in 2000 and 2008, for example — but at the same time, the field was much less crowded.

“Meeting voters doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to support you, when they had so many options to choose from,” she said.

New Hampshire’s voters famously demand a chance to see the candidates up close. The state makes a case for its first-in-the-country status by pointing to the scrutiny candidates get as they criss-cross the state for the small gatherings.

On the Democratic side, the primary winner, Sen. Bernie Sanders, swept the state with 60 percent of the vote to 38 percent for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The two each made about 90 stops in the state, according to necn's candidate tracker.

Among the Republicans, in the hours before the polls closed, Christie was claiming to have topped Kasich in days on the ground in New Hampshire and town halls attended.

Kasich and Christie each spent about 70 days in New Hampshire to about 55 for Bush. During those visits, Kasich and Christie made 190 stops each at breakfasts, fundraisers, dinners and other events over the course of the campaign, while Bush made 111, according to the necn candidate tracker.

Trump, by contrast, had only 46 stops over 30 days, though his campaign intensified its ground game in the final days.

“We learned a lot about ground games in one week,” he joked after his win.

Fowler cautioned against drawing too much from Trump’s victory, relying as it did on his celebrity.

“It’s hard to generalize because his candidacy is breaking so many rules, not just the one about retail politics,” she said.

Meanwhile, by Wednesday, Carly Fiorina had also suspended her campaign. She had campaigned heavily in New Hampshire, making 149, stops but came in seventh, with only 4 percent of the vote. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Tennessee Mom Says Hospital Performed Procedure On Wrong Baby]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 17:22:25 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/NateHarper.jpeg

A Tennessee mother is planning to sue after she says the hospital where she went into delivery accidentally performed a frenulectomy — an incision in the tissue that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth — on her 1-day-old son, NBC News reported.

Jennifer Melton, 31, of Hartsville, says a nurse encouraged the mother to put her baby in the nursery for a few hours so she could get some rest.

"The nurse brought our son back into the room, and she began to explain the care process for the procedure that [the doctor] had done while he was away," Melton told NBC News on Wednesday. "I was like, what are you talking about? What procedure?"

Melton said she panicked and demanded an explanation. The pediatrician explained to Melton that he did perform the procedure, and had asked for her baby "in error."

<![CDATA[SATs to be Offered in Summer Starting Next Year]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 13:33:00 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/SAT-AP_377374190109%281%29.jpg

College-bound students will have the option to take the SATs next year in August, as the standardized test will be offered over the summer, NBC News reported.

The College Board shared the news earlier this month when it rolled out test dates for 2017. It also revealed the elimination of the January SAT test date as of 2018.

The move comes after the Assessments for The College Boards added a September exam date before college applications are due.  

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[70 Percent of BART's Cameras Are Decoys, Records Show]]> Tue, 09 Feb 2016 08:00:00 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/bart-cam-split-jodi.jpg

Out of nearly 700 BART cars with cameras on board, 70 percent are decoys, NBC Bay Area has learned.

An additional 7 percent are either not working or not active, leaving 23 percent of the agency's surveillance cameras in good working order.

Those numbers came to light officially on Tuesday following a California Public Records request seeking information regarding the transit agency's working cameras. The San Francisco Chronicle first reported that Bay Area Rapid Transit used some percentage of fake cameras after a fatal shooting at the West Oakland BART station on Jan. 9.

Until now, the total number of real and fake cameras was not formally made public.

But, in a letter from BART's counsel, the transit agency acknowledged that 470 of the 669 BART cars have decoy cameras, nine aren't working and 39 are in an experimental stage. BART says all the cameras on its platforms are real and in working order.

The fact that the vast majority of BART cameras are plastic decoys with blinking LED lights surprised politicians and leaders when the news was revealed in mid January.  BART then announced the agency would buy real cameras on the trains, a fact that spokeswoman Alicia Trost reiterated on Tuesday.

"Once the public felt they weren't safe, we said we'd buy the cameras," Trost said. She said the decoy cameras were originally bought in the 1990s as anti-graffiti crime deterrents. "And they worked," she added.

Still, the public outcry pushed BART to purchase the new cameras, which need to be installed a few at a time during off hours. Trost said she did not know just how long that would take. BART said the new cameras would cost $1.42 million and come out of the agency's operational budget.

She also added that many transit agencies do not use any cameras at all on their trains, though the Chicago Transit Agency boasts 23,000 working surveillance cameras, which have led to the arrests of 926 people since June 2011.

But when 19-year-old Carlos Misael Funez-Romero of Antioch was killed on a BART train -- the first such death since the 1990s -- the public wanted video of it. It was then that the news about BART's non-working cameras came to light.

There is a $10,000 reward for information in the case.

Photo Credit: Jodi Hernandez/NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Chinese Railroad Monument Steams Toward Next Phase]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 13:03:36 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/artist+and+art.jpg

Plans for a monument near Tahoe that honors the thousands of Chinese laborers who helped build the Transcontinental Railroad is edging a little closer to reality.

At a project launch in San Francisco last week, the public got a chance to see works by the 18 artists vying to build the monument near Gold Run off Interstate 80.

Currently, a plaque affixed to a rock is the sole memorial to the estimated 12,000 workers who toiled at dangerous jobs etching the railroad across the Sierras in the mid-1800s. An estimated 1,200 workers died in the process.

"It’s a chapter of American history that has been forgotten," said Sue Lee, executive director of the Chinese Historical Society in San Francisco. "Frankly, a plaque at a rest stop near Sacramento is not enough."

Inside a hotel in San Francisco’s Chinatown, members of the public filed past large posterboards featuring artist renderings of some example designs — mostly to just get a feel for the artists’ work.

Steven Lee, the San Francisco nightclub owner who launched the effort, said the final design won’t be decided until an artist is chosen later this year.

"It’s my dream just to get a monument there," said Lee. "It’s my dream to make sure that nobody forgets."

Lee said a community vote currently underway will whittle down the potential artists to five with a committee selecting two artists to compete for the final job.

"It’s really up to the emotional factor," Lee said of the process. "It’s also about techniques."

For the opening, artist Edward Fraughton brought a bronze sculpture of a railroad worker he created for a similar monument in Utah. The figure stood lean and tall — his muscled chest and arms ripped by months of grueling labor.

"It’s a great history," Fraughton said. "It’s a story that just has to be told."

The monument will replace the current plaque which sits at a rest stop off Interstate 80 just west of Tahoe. The rest stop is across the interstate from where tracks wind through thick forests, along jagged cliffs and in tunnels dynamited through granite mountains.

Descending into holes in the mountains to set the dynamite was among the laborers' dangerous duties.

"Dynamite through the Sierras?" said Sue Lee. "That’s humongous. And so that’s where the monument should be."

Steven Lee hopes to have the project completed by the end of 2017, in time for the 150th anniversary celebration of the opening of the Transcontinental Railroad in 2019. He said the fact Chinese-Americans have more political clout is helping to gain support for the project.

"We’re now in a position," he said, "that we can actually remember."

Photo Credit: Joe Rosato Jr.
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<![CDATA[New Zika Virus Test Could Fast Forward Results]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 11:57:56 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/ZIKA-UCSF-TESTING.jpg

Blood samples containing the Zika virus arrived at University of California, San Francisco laboratories Tuesday morning. A team of researchers there is working overtime to devise a new test for the virus, a test that would mean results in hours instead of weeks.

And it could be ready soon.

"We're hoping we can develop a test which can identify the Zika virus within six hours of receiving the sample," said UCSF's Dr. Charles Chiu. 

To do this, he and his team of researchers are using a nanopore sequencer -- a device small enough to fit in your pocket but powerful enough to sequence DNA and identify viruses in real-time - by Oxford Nanopore, a UK-based biotech company. The sequencer also detects other viruses, which can prove useful because symptoms of Zika can be similar to other illnesses such as dengue and yellow fever.

This comes as health officials confirmed new cases of the Zika virus in Indiana, Ohio and Alabama, where health officials on Wednesday said they've confirmed the first travel-related case of the Zika virus in the state.

The World Health Organization estimates that three to four million people may beinfected by the mosquito-borne virus by year's end. Thousands of Brazilian babies have already been born with defects tied to the virus, including abnormally small heads and brain damage.

Nearly 30 countries have reported outbreaks, and the White House has now asked Congress for $1.8 billion to expedite a vaccine. 

However, before there's a cure, there must be a better test. 

Right now, in the U.S., blood samples are sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and it takes at least two weeks to get results.

Chiu says even though there is no cure for Zika at the moment, "two weeks is considered a long time for diagnosis and clearly we need to make tests for Zika more widely available."

He hopes the rapid test, if effective, will help prevent the spread of Zika and help those working on a vaccine. 

"I suspect that at the very earliest it's going to be a matter of a year or two or probably longer before we see an effective vaccine," Chiu said. 

If the rapid test proves successful, Chiu hopes to send it to Brazil and other local agencies dealing with outbreaks by the end of the month.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Tax Season: What Your CPA Needs From You]]> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 11:46:19 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/210*120/GettyImages-88160312.jpg

Nobody benefits from wasting an hour rifling through receipts and guessing about numbers with your Certified Public Accountant during tax time.

Your CPA needs the following four categories of information to prepare your taxes properly. Make sure to bring all the necessary forms and receipts and organize them so that they may be found quickly.

Identification and Basic Information 
For any new relationships, you will need to supply identification for you, your spouse, and all dependents claimed. Social Security cards are preferred, but other government-issued ID is usually acceptable. Check with your preparer before you visit.

Other basic information includes your address, your previous year’s tax form, and any information relating to a change in your tax status such as inheritance, marriage/divorce, and change in dependents. The IRS is cracking down on cases of divorced spouses filing separately but claiming the same child as a dependent, so make sure that situation is clarified if it applies to you.

Income Documents
Most taxable income will be summarized in standard IRS forms sent by payers – W-2 forms for traditional salaries, wages, bonuses, and tips; 1099 forms for self-employment, independent contracting, and most investment and interest income; and K-1 forms for personal taxes relating to ownership (S-corporations, partnerships, LLC’s, and trust/estate incomes).

Each income source owes you a corresponding form. There are many variations of the 1099 form related to specific sources; check the IRS website if you are missing a form and are not sure what type of form you should receive.

It is up to you to supply documents, such as bank statements, spreadsheets, or written summaries, for any income not covered by these forms. These sources include rental income, alimony, and self-employment income below the $600 limit that triggers a 1099-MISC.

Expense Documents
Expenses such as mortgage interest, larger charitable contributions, and student loan interest will be documented on a 1098 form. Many other potential deductions such as medical expenses, property taxes, moving expenses and childcare/daycare costs require verification through receipts, cancelled checks, statements, or spreadsheets.

Your CPA may be able to help you find extra deductions that make itemizing worthwhile or save money on your current itemizing, but he or she must know what types of expenses you have. Ask for a checklist of potential deductions in advance so you can research possibilities prior to your meeting. If your CPA doesn’t have a checklist, there are many available online.

Do your homework to consider all possible deductions, then organize and bring any documentation you think may be relevant.

Don’t forget to include documents relating to unusual or catastrophic claims such as theft and casualty losses and losses from natural disasters. If you deduct these losses, be sure you include any reimbursements toward your losses when tallying your income.

Health Insurance Information
If you purchased health insurance through the Marketplace, you will need to bring the 1095-A form issued by the exchange. It contains the insurance premium and subsidy information for you and your family members. Your CPA will use it to fill out other forms that may apply to your situation, such as the Premium Tax Credit form (Form 8962) and the Health Coverage Exemption form (Form 8965).

If you qualified for subsidies, it may be helpful to have the income estimate used to calculate your tax subsidy. Your tax preparer may need that estimate if your income differed greatly from the estimate and you end up with a large subsidy repayment to defend (or refund to claim).

You may also need to provide information on payment or refund methods. If you intend to use electronic payment methods, you will need information such as your account number and the bank’s routing number. That is not necessarily the number printed on your check – verify the correct information with your bank.

With proper preparation, nothing will go wasted during your tax preparation trip to the CPA – none of your time, your CPA’s time, or your money.

This article was provided by our partners at moneytips.com

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