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VC sex-abuse scandal: Lawsuit against former Sequoia partner thrown out


A yearslong, multimillion-dollar sex-abuse lawsuit against a former Sequoia Capital venture capitalist has been thrown out after the plaintiff failed to submit to medical examinations and turn in documents.

In March 2016, Amber Baptiste filed a lawsuit against Michael Goguen in San Mateo County Superior Court, alleging physical, emotional and sexual abuse — including rape and sodomy. According to the lawsuit, which included graphic details, the two had been in a 13-year relationship after meeting at a Texas strip club. Baptiste accused him of paying only $10 million out of a promised $40 million settlement to keep her from filing a personal injury lawsuit against him.

Goguen, who had been at Sequoia for 20 years, left the Silicon Valley VC firm immediately after the allegations were made public. He filed a cross-complaint denying the claims and accusing Baptiste of extortion. In his complaint, he said the relationship was consensual and that Baptiste became bitter after he refused to leave his wife.

Last week, the arbitrator threw out Baptistes lawsuit against Goguen, saying she has failed to comply with a number of discovery orders since 2018.

“The record presented further establishes that Baptistes failures were willful,” wrote Read Ambler, the arbitrator who formerly was a judge in Santa Clara County Superior Court, in his 33-page order filed Sept. 18.

Goguen continues to pursue his complaint against Baptiste. “Mr. Goguen looks forward to complete vindication when his countersuit and the related federal criminal prosecution are complete,” Diane Doolittle, Goguens attorney, said in a statement.

Efforts to reach Baptiste, a Los Angeles resident who said in her lawsuit that she was trafficked into the United States, were unsuccessful.

Baptiste, who claimed she fell out of bed and broke her arm in 2017 because of night tremors related to being repeatedly raped by Goguen, has said she is very ill. Her last known lawyer, William Paoli, said in a filed declaration that he believed she had “become dependent on prescription narcotic medications.” A doctor who examined Baptiste in 2018 made the saRead More – Source

Tesla driver goes the wrong way across Bay Bridge


A man has been arrested after driving the wrong way across the Bay Bridge early Monday, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The CHP said multiple reports came in around 2:45 a.m. of the Tesla Model 3 going the wrong way – eastbound in westbound lanes – on Interstate Highway 80 near Fremont Street in San Francisco.

The driver, who wasnt identified, continued for about 10 miles: He drove the full length of the bridges upper deck, through the toll plaza and onto Interstate 880, where a CHP spike strip stopped him around Fifth Avenue in Oakland, police said.

The driver is Read More – Source

East Bay kindergarten student, teacher reunite as educators 20 years later at same school


PLEASANTON — Its been more than 20 years since Megan Soldati sat in her kindergarten teachers class, her hand shooting to the sky during reading time.

Today, Soldati is standing in front of her own students reading to them at the same school, where her former teacher and mentor, Heidi Deeringhoff, is now the schools principal.

Its come full circle that the two women are at the same school, Fairlands Elementary in Pleasanton, both in their first years at their new jobs — Soldati teaching kindergarten for the first time, and Deeringhoff leading the school as her first year as principal.

Soldati was in Deeringhoffs kindergarten class at Lydiksen Elementary in the district in 1998, early on in Deeringhoffs career. Now, the women are colleagues.

Soldati is the same age that Deeringhoff was when she first started teaching at the Pleasanton Unified School District 24 years ago. Deeringhoff went on to teach other grade levels, even consulted for the district for a bit, was an early intervention online coach, and in the past two years was a vice principal at both Fairlands and Mohr elementary schools.

The two kept in touch through the last 20 years — Soldati would come and visit her former teachers classrooms, at times even volunteering during her high school or college breaks.

Although Soldati always knew her life would lead her to teaching, she took a different route after graduating from college: She first went to the private sector, working for a company doing events and programming.

Then, suddenly, she knew it was time to go where her heart was leading her for most of her life — teaching.

“I thought Now Im ready for my own classroom, Im ready for own kiddos. ” Soldati said in an interview Friday.

Although its Soldatis first teaching job at Fairlands, Deeringhoff said of her now-colleague that it doesnt seem like it at all.

Letter: Walters once wrote on good government–what happened?


What happened? Walters
used to be non-partisan[hhmc]

What happened to Dan Walters? I used to love to read his column, because he seemed to be the only non-partisan columnist around, concerned solely with good government, the best interests of residents of California and common sense.

Sadly, he seems to have become reflexively conservative. As just the most recent example, his Sept. 17 column (“Newsoms action on states housing crisis just half-a-loaf” (Opinion section) – again – attacks Gov. Gavin Newsom, this time because the Legislature hasnt yet accomplished the goals that the governor laid out regarding housing.

How about blaming the Legislature for its inaction? Or even better, blame owners for defeating measures that were designed to alleviate the housing crisis?

The same column states as fact several hotly disputed arguments that landowners and other members of the privileged class regularly make against rent control, such as that rent control will reduce the housing stock for renters.

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Letter: The Downtown Oakland Plan Draft is a big deal


Downtown Oakland plan
will shape citys future[hhmc]

The Downtown Oakland Specific Plan Draft was released to the public on or about Aug. 30. It gives us 45 days from that date to give feedback.

It seems to be a big deal. Its a document that is going to shape the future of downtown Oakland for 20 years to come.

Its going to impact all our lives here in Oakland and elsewhere in the Bay Area.

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Editorial: How Californians can help win auto emissions fight


It was gratifying Friday to see 22 states join California in filing suit Friday against the Trump administrations effort to revoke the states authority to set fuel efficiency standards.

Californias foresight has helped set the nations clean energy standards for decades. The original federal waiver granted to the state in 1970 not only led to dramatic reductions in carbon emissions, but it also forced U.S. automakers to innovate and remain competitive with their foreign counterparts.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced Thursday that the Transportation Department and the Environmental Protection Agency will jointly revoke the most recent waiver the Obama administration granted to the state in 2009. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Friday that he looks forward to challenging the Trump administrations move, noting that two courts have already upheld Californias emissions standards.

Its hard to see how weakening fuel efficiency standards is in anyones best interests — other than oil companies. The Trump administrations argument that tighter fuel efficiency and tailpipe emission standards raises the price of a new car ignores the fact that the higher cost is offset by saving on fuel purchases over the life of the car.

Fifty years ago, when Republican President Richard Nixon signed the Clean Air Act into law, American cars, on average, got only 12 miles per gallon and spewed leaded gas into the air. The smog in California was so bad that another Republican, then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, worked with a diverse group of California leaders to create the California Air Resources Board. Reagans willingness to listen to the best available science led in turn to California winning the original waiver from the federal government allowing the state to set stricter vehicle emissions standards.

The Trump administrations desire to roll back standards took a heavy hit in July when Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a deal with four automakers — Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen — that will reduce tailpipe emissions from their vehicles by 3.7% a year between 2022 and 2026. California has an ambitious 2030 goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from 1990 levels. Reducing tailpipe emissions is a key element in meeting that goal.

Legal experts say its anybodys guess how the Supreme Court will eventually rule in the states rights case. The current court is not Read More – Source

Highway 17 crashes remain on troubling rise


Collisions on Highway 17 continue to skyrocket, wiping out nearly a 20-year trend of fewer crashes and deaths on the unforgiving 26 miles of twists and steep turns from Scotts Valley to Los Gatos.

And the future looks bleak despite millions spent on dozens of road and safety improvements. Traffic is projected to rise from 64,000 today to 74,000 by 2040. More cars and SUVs could lead to more fender benders and worse.

“Highway 17 can be a scary road to drive because the people who do commute it on a regular basis make it feel like a race track,” said Denice Austin of Ben Lomond.

High collision rates on Highway 17 precipitated the formation of the Safe on 17 Task Force in 1999. It was convened to identify conditions and behaviors contributing to collisions on the corridor and to recommend solutions. The task force drew from a broad set of strategies that would reduce the high collision rate. Crashes fell by 40%.

But over the last three years, the number of fatal and injury collisions on Highway 17 has increased substantially.

In 2018, the number of fatality and injury collisions was 8.5% higher than the preprogram average each year of 249 between 1996 and 1998. The most recent three-year average of fatal and injury collisions is 258, which does not meet the goal of the Task Force to maintain the reduced three-year collision rate average achieved of 165 injury and fatal collisions.

High numbers of crashes and fatalities in the 1990s spurred a safety campaign that led to nearly $250 million in spending since 2003 on various roadway improvements, including median barriers, wider shoulders, anti-skid pavement, flashing warning signs and tree removal. It was spurred by a particularly bloody 1996 that saw 793 crashes, 151 injuries and nine deaths.

Those numbers dropped dramatically until recent years. There were 983 collisions in 2016 during a winter of heavy rains and reduced enforcement, producing the highest tally since the intensive safety campaign kicked off.

“We need to reduce vehicle accidents along this particular stretch of highway,” said State Sen. Jim Beall. “Ensuring our roads are in top condition for fire and rescue crewRead More – Source

Opinion: Humane policies are being dismantled and increasing hunger


Second Harvest of Silicon Valley provides fresh nutritious food to thousands of families every month and works to connect our community to important federal safety net programs. And yet, 1 in 4 people in Silicon Valley are still at risk of hunger. Over the last 50 years, the United States has created programs that reduce hunger and increase health. Despite decades of success with these anti-poverty programs, the current federal administration is working to restrict access and attempting to drive people away from using benefit programs. We need our community to mobilize and comment.

The latest challenge to SNAP (the federal grocery program known as CalFresh in California) is the administrations proposal to eliminate “categorical eligibility.”

Santa Clara County estimates that this change would remove 7,000 people from CalFresh – including almost 3,000 children and nearly 2,000 seniors. “Categorical eligibility” is utilized by more than 40 states to qualify people for benefits across programs without having to file separate applications. This is a huge administrative savings for counties and states and an immense time savings for people in need.

“Categorical eligibility” also allows states to take cost-of-living into account when screening for benefit eligibility. Without this rule, far fewer people in Silicon Valley would qualify for CalFresh. This policy change was explicitly rejected by Congress in the Farm Bill that passed last fall. The administration proudly estimates that this would remove 3 million people from SNAP/CalFresh. We believe that removing food assistance from people in need should not be a source of pride.

Second Harvest works to decrease hunger in many ways, including assisting our school districts to feed more children through federal school and summer meals programs. School meals improve attendance and behavior so children can learn and thrive. Children whose families qualify for federal benefit programs can be automatically qualified for school meals under categorical eligibility. With the removal of this rule, approximately 170,000 children statewide would risk losing federally funded school meals. In addition, this loss of school meals Read More – Source

Letter: Newsoms plan wont protect just Bay Area water users


Newsoms plan protects
water for all Californians[hhmc]

Re: “Governor Newsom must show commitment to protecting the Delta” (Editorial, Sept. 19):

Signaling his intent to veto SB 1, Gov. Gavin Newsom is doing exactly what the Sept. 19 Mercury News Editorial seeks — he is demonstrating his commitment to protecting water, not just for the Bay Area, but for all California water users.

As the paper points out, “Newsom, to his credit, has been seeking a grand bargain on water issues that calls on the major water players to reach a “voluntary agreement” on water flows.”

Those agreements are a generational change in water and environmental management and a result of cooperation between all California water users.

Once in place, these agreements will bring reliability to water users large and small, allow water policy to utilize new science and provide annual funding for environmental projects from farmers and urban water users.

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Barron Hilton, hotel magnate and AFL founder, dies at 91


By Stefanie Dazio | Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Barron Hilton, a hotel magnate who expanded his fathers chain and became a founding owner in the American Football League, died Thursday at his Los Angeles home. He was 91.

Hiltons family said he died of natural causes. He transformed Hilton into the industrys top brand during his 30 years as its chief executive. The Blackstone Group bought the international chains 2,800 hotels — including its famed Waldorf-Astoria — for $26 billion in 2007.

“The Hilton family mourns the loss of a remarkable man,” said Steven M. Hilton, his son and chairman of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, said in a statement. “He lived a life of great adventure and exceptional accomplishment.”

An avid pilot who served as a Navy photographer during World War II, Hilton didnt begin working for his fathers company until 1951, after hed made his own fortune in orange juice products, an oil company and an aircraft-leasing business. Hilton also founded the Los Angeles Chargers in the AFL and oversaw the AFL-NFL merger.

William Barron Hilton was born in Dallas in 1927 to Conrad N. Hilton, the founder of Hilton Hotels, and Mary Adelaide Barron.

Hilton challenged his fathers will — arguing the foundations shares of Conrad Hiltons fortune that were being used to help Catholic nuns could leave the company open to a hostile takeover— in 10-year legal battle Read More – Source

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