San Jose is about to solve one of its biggest problems in its police department – hire a new chief -- with the hope it will also resolve other ongoing situations.
City Manager Debra Figone was expected to recommend interim Police Chief Larry Esquivel to staying in the post permanently on Tuesday morning.
The recommendation will be presented to the city council in closed session and, if approved as expected, Esquivel will be offered the job.
In an exclusive interview with KTVU on the eve of the big day, Esquivel joked his (office) “stuff is still packed because it's never been unpacked.”
“Hopefully, the move will provide some stability to the department,” said Esquivel. “It will allow me to go forward with some administrative hiring decisions.”
Esquivel was named interim chief almost a year ago.
He was in the post as the city conducted a nationwide search but all of the candidates were, essentially, rejected by community representatives.
Another search was supposed to take place but Figone decided Esquivel had proven himself dealing with staffing and morale problems.
“I did not plan on getting the chief job, so I take great pride in this,” said Esquivel. “It's a privilege sitting here. I don't take it lightly.”
Esquivel says he's trying to be realistic about solving staffing and morale situations tied to the ongoing fight with the city over pension reform.
The 28-year veteran and former Deputy Chief says he hopes he can help retain and recruit because he's not an 'outsider' coming in.
“I'm a native to this community,” said Esquivel. “I'm a native of this city and I've grown up in this department.”
Esquivel could get a welcome boost on his first day because the police labor agreement that restores a prior pay cut for officers could be approved at the same council meeting.
If Esquivel is approved, he will be sworn in publicly during Tuesday's afternoon session.
Benicia police are looking for the person they say stole thousands of dollars in holiday gifts intended for young cancer patients.
Surveillance video shows the suspect using a flashlight early Monday morning to peer into a car parked on James and Chadwick Courts.
The car that was broken into was parked down the street and the owner of that car was a nurse in the oncology department at Oakland Children’s Hospital.
The thief stole a load of gifts including toys, a skateboard and clothes. The gifts were supposed to go to two families with children undergoing cancer treatment.
Both the Benicia fire and police departments are working to help replace those gifts.
During a cold snap, like what the Bay has seen recently, many who work in home deliveries have found themselves taking on another role, checking on the welfare of the people they see each day.
Fremont Letter Carrier Colleen Meade knows her route like the back of her hand, so she’s often the first to notice when something’s amiss.
Meade once foiled a burglary in progress but often times the emergencies she spots are less obvious.
"If they notice there's a mail buildup or even newspapers that haven't been collected for awhile, they know that something's wrong," says Gus Ruiz, spokesperson for the USPS Bay Valley District.
And when the temperatures drop, those wellness checks become even more important.
"They're the eyes and ears of the neighborhoods they serve and the people know that," Ruiz adds.
They're not the only ones going door to door. Volunteers with SOS Meals on Wheels do more than drop off lunch.
"We're checking in. We're making sure that they're there, that they're safe, that they're warm," says Jessica Albonico with Alameda Meals on Wheels.
If they notice a problem, the drivers contact family members, supervisors and then police. Over the last few days they even contacted PG&E when they noticed a man's power had been turned off.
These visits can be invaluable for seniors and those at-risk.
"The drivers are oftentimes the only people they see during the day so they really count on us," says Connie McCabe, Executive Director of SOS Meals on Wheels.
The San Francisco Marriott Marquis has just launched its First Annual Gingerbread House Decorating Contest and San Francisco residents are invited to come vote on a winner.
The gingerbread houses are currently on display throughout the lobby of the hotel until January 2, 2014 and the public as well as hotel guests are asked to cast their vote for the most creative gingerbread house.
Each of the hotel's 22 was tasked with the challenge of crafting a unique gingerbread house display from identical pre-baked gingerbread house kits. Associates were allowed to add anything edible that they wanted to the kit as long as they did not exceed the pre-cut board base provided to display their finished masterpiece on.
The department, which created the winning gingerbread house display, will win a pizza party and bragging rights until next year.
Hundreds of students at Community United Elementary School in Oakland have had to endure the latest cold snap with no heat in their classrooms.
On Monday, the Oakland Unified School District confirmed the 65 year-old main building on International Boulevard had been without heat for a week.
When a boiler for the old building broke down, district officials say they ordered a replacement part right away, but it didn't arrive until Monday afternoon.
Community United's principal told KTVU the temperature in some classrooms may have dropped into the mid 40's.
“In my grandson's class there's no heat and it's freezing in there,” said grandmother Peggy Abraham who went inside the school to check out the conditions for herself after KTVU told her about the problem.
A district spokesperson said teachers had to “get creative” to keep everyone warm, asking students to bundle up.
While a few classrooms had space heaters, there were not enough for all of the 11 classrooms affected.
“We want to assure the public this is a top priority,” said OUSD spokesperson Sue Piper. “It's critical that our buildings be warm and comfortable, otherwise learning doesn't take place.”
When asked why it took so long for a replacement part for the boiler to arrive, a maintenance worker for the district said the part is not readily available and was ordered directly from a factory in Pennsylvania. The boiler was fixed by late Monday afternoon.
“We need that,” said School Officer Gloria Mendoza. “A lot of our teachers are getting sick and the children, so that's going to make attendance a lot better.”
The school district says teachers were told to alert parents about the cold conditions in the classrooms, but some parents told KTVU they never received the message.
“I didn't hear anything and I was in the office with the principal and a teacher and I still didn't hear anything,” said mother Marilyn Davis.
Community United Elementary School serves about 400 students in Kindergarten through 5th grades. About two-thirds of students are English Language Learners.