Meet the Man Who Makes Tuesday Emergency Siren Tests Go “WAAAAAAAAAAAA!”

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Every Tuesday at noon, for about as long as anyone cares to remember, the City of San Francisco has conducted a test of its emergency alert siren system. If you need  reminder of what that sounds like, just listen right here. Or, wait a few minutes, and the siren will play today. At noon. Like always.

If you’re out of town, and feeling nostalgic for the weekly test, you can also get it via Twitter:

San Francisco’s Outdoor Public Warning System has been in place since 1942, and the system now includes 109 siren towers sprinkled around the City. Here in Bernal, there’s one (strategically) perched on Bernal Hill right next to Sutrito Tower, as well as one atop Leonard Flynn Elementary School in Precitaville.

The Tuesday tests are managed from the Department of Emergency Management headquarters in Western Addition. The test features a 15 second “wail” tone, followed by a recorded message that says, “This is a test. This is a test of the Outdoor Public Warning System. This is only a test.” (FUN FACT: Apparently, the voice on that recorded message is Dave Morey, the former KFOG DJ.) In the event of real emergency, the sirens will play continuously for 5 minutes, followed by instructions and announcements for the general public.

Another fun fact: The Tuesday siren tests are actually conducted manually, by a guy named Cesar. This awesome little video will introduce you to Cesar and show you how he makes the siren tests go “Waaaaaaaaaaaa!”

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

City Finalizes $15 Million Settlement for Svanemyr Family in Holly Park Hit-and-Run

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The City of San Francisco has finalized a $15.1 million settlement with the surviving family of Christy Svanemyr, the woman who was killed in the heartbreaking 2013 hit-and-run incident involving a Recreation and Parks Department truck in Holly Park.

KCBS has the details:

The family of a 35-year-old woman who was run over and killed by a city employee driving on the grass in San Francisco’s Holly Park last September has been issued a settlement by the city of $15.1 million.

Vegar and Isa Svanemyr, the husband and toddler of Christine “Christy” Svanemyr, will receive the settlement as a result of a claim filed in November 2013.

The settlement was approved by the city’s Recreation and Park Commission in July and adopted by the city’s Board of Supervisors Tuesday.

The funds will be paid to the family in three installments.

PHOTO: Incident scene at Holly Park on Sept. 5, 2013. Inset, Christy Svanemyr

Recovery Continues for Jackie Jones, Celebrity Music-Maker of the Alemany Farmer’s Market

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Bernalwood has received several requests for an update on the health of Bernal neighbor Jackie Jones, the Alemany Farmer’s Market musical celebrity who took a bad fall last year.

Neighbor Hannah spearheaded the previous fundraising effort for Jackie, and she’s been checking in on Jackie regularly. Neighbor Hannah shares this candid report:

Dear Neighbors,

Thank you for your concern about Jackie Jones. She gave me permission to share this update:

“I had thought getting over my broken bones would be the end of my problem, but not so. My feet turned up with posterior tibial tendon disfunction. In other words, collapsing feet. The bones start to fall apart. I had to stay off my feet for so long, so I lost my balance. I will have to do exercises to regain this. I’m on my way. Next they will have new foot and ankle braces made for the right foot because the broken bones healed crooked. It’s been an awful thing to happen to me. But my spirits are up and I do want to figure ways to play music again.”

Jackie is happy to know that her “spot” is still open at the market and she still hopes to get back. When I asked her if she needed anything, she said “Bring me tales from the market!”

So if you’d like to send her your tales, email them to messages4jackie@gmail.com, I’ll pass your notes along to her.

With warmth and gratitude,
Hannah

PHOTO: Jackie Jones in 2006, by Telstar Logistics

Bernal Neighbor Seeks Samaritans Who Helped After Bad Fall

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Neighbor Cecilia lives on Putnam, and she’s searching for the helpful souls who helped her after a very bad fall while crossing a very busy Bernal street:

I had a bad injury just over a week ago and it could have been much worse if a man and a woman hadn’t come to my rescue.

On Aug 29, coming back from my commute, I was crossing Mission at Virginia – coming from the Safeway parking lot – at about 5:30 pm to go get my car on Coleridge when I tripped on a small lip of the pavement. My husband later photographed it; it is an old crack going lengthwise on Mission.

I could not catch myself quickly enough with an extra step, and so I fell flat like pancake. I laid flat, belly down, my arms open, on the pavement, in deep pain, scared, my glasses broken, for what seemed quite a while. Meanwhile the light must have turned red against me and surely the drivers on Mission were eager to move on.

A man and a woman knelt down near me and gently helped me up. She put my car keys back in my jacket pocket and he walked me to La Altena taqueria to get me a cup of water, while I sat on the window ledge outside.

I later spent the whole night at the ER where I was diagnosed with fractures at my shoulder and at my knee. I am home-bound now, feeling every day a bit better, thank god. I am an active person and I do yoga, so I trust I will heal fast.

Now I would like to find and thank my rescuers personally. I don’t know what I would have done without them. I am hoping this message will reach them.

Thank you, Good Samaritans! If you would like to come forward, contact us at bernalwood @ gmail, and we will gladly connect you with one very grateful Neighbor Cecilia.

Medical Examiner’s Report in Alex Nieto Case Details 10+ Gunshot Wounds, Mental Health History, Taser Discharge

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After a long and disgraceful delay, the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s office finally released its report on the March 21 officer-involved shooting death of Bernal resident Alex Nieto on Bernal Hill.  Yet in the style of a politician or corporate bigwig who seeks to disclose information while blunting its impact, the medical examiner’s report in the Nieto case was released on Friday — just as San Francisco headed into the low-attention weekend.

So now, on a paying-attention Tuesday, let’s consider what the report says, and what it might tell us about the case of Neighbor Alex Nieto.

If you’re a primary-source kind of person who wants to read the medical examiner’s report in unfiltered form, you can find the full text of the report right here (courtesy of KQED).

If you want the digest, we’ll share the SF Appeal’s version, which highlights both Nieto’s injuries and the section of the report detailing his mental-health history:

The San Francisco medical examiner’s office released a full autopsy report Friday for 28-year-old Alejandro “Alex” Nieto that confirmed he was struck by at least ten bullets when he was fatally shot by police at Bernal Heights Park in March.

Nieto, a San Francisco native who lived on Cortland Avenue in the Bernal Heights neighborhood, was a security guard who attended City College of San Francisco. He had aspirations of being a probation officer.

Nieto was killed on March 21 by San Francisco police officers and the autopsy report indicates that Nieto suffered as many as 15 gunshot wounds from as few as ten bullets.

The Nieto family’s lawyer, civil rights attorney John Burris, said Friday that he has never seen an autopsy report that released so much information about the deceased’s alleged history regarding mental health problems and police contact.

The medical examiner’s office notes numerous details in the autopsy report, such as an incident in 2011 in which Nieto was not taking his medication and received 72-hours of involuntary psychiatric treatment after allegedly “attempting to burn his parents’ house down.”

Burris said he was surprised to see that the medical examiner’s office included medical records from San Francisco General Hospital that, according to the autopsy, “revealed a history of aggressive and bizarre behavior, auditory hallucinations,” as well as Nieto’s noncompliance to prescriptions for two atypical anti-psychotic drugs.

The medical examiner’s office reported traces of cannabinoids in Nieto’s system at his time of death and no trace of anti-psychotic medications.

The other item of note in the report is the assertion that Nieto’s pistol-shaped Taser had been discharged at some point during his confrontation with the SFPD. Here’s how that section reads in the report’s case history:

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Justice for Alex Nieto, the committee formed by Alex’s family and friends in response to his death, has published a lengthy response to the medical examiner’s report that seeks to refute many of its key assertions. Here’s an excerpt:

There is no reason or authority for the Medical Examiner to act as a police detective investigating any possible rationale for anything that happened on Bernal Heights on Friday, March 21. Their job is simply to conduct an examination of the body and notify the public of the medical examination concerning the cause of death. The San Francisco Medical Examiner is not a detective agency; if they were, then they should also be investigating the background and disciplinary records of the police officers who killed Alex Nieto, yet we still do not even have those officers’ names. The San Francisco Medical Examiner is supposed to be unbiased and transparent in safeguarding the public good, yet here they are obviously attempting to besmirch the character of Alex Nieto, even though that is not their job.

The report also claims that Alex brandished his taser, yet it is not the medical examiner’s job to make any determinations on possible brandishing of tasers. In an unbiased manner, they are simply supposed to determine cause of death. Their statement about brandishing obviously shows that they are using the police account as fact, which is not part of the medical examiner’s job.

The long-awaited release of the medical examiner’s report is an important milestone in the Nieto case, because it’s first time in almost six months that new information about the shooting has been officially released. Moreover, the medical examiner’s report plays an important role in the parallel (but opaque) investigations underway to ascertain if officers acted legally when Nieto was shot on March 21.

The investigation process as a whole is slow, cumbersome, secretive, and far from ideal. Unfortunately, it’s also the only process we currently have.

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

Scenes from the Great 2014 Bernal Heights Mini-Blackout

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There was a power outage last night in some parts of Bernal Heights. Streets were dark in many areas of Bernal, but Twitter lit up as our neighbors huddled over their mobile devices for succor and social-sharing. Neighbor Carlo filed the first report at 11 pm:

PG&E provided this well-intentioned but not particularly accurate map of the blackout area:

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The map says my house should have been dark, but the lights were still on throughout.

Not so much for Neighbor Willa, however. But she used the situation to create a romantic atmosphere:

Neighbor Ros turned her blackened home into a spa:

Bernal celebrity rockstar Jeremy Passion had no juice at his house (“just like us!”), so he had to be extra-creative to make music:

Neighbor Chuck had electricity, which he used to gloat about his south Bernal microhood:

Glen Park had power but Bernal did not, so some of our neighbors to the southwest considered launching an invasion under cover of darkness:

Upon hearing this, the Bernalwood Intelligence Agency rallied to activate our devilishly effective Eye of Sautrito defense system:

Unfortunately, Neighbor Joe reported the blackout had exposed a serious gap in our defenses:

Your Bernalwood editor decided to step outside to assess the situation. The photo at the top of this post shows the view looking south up Bernal Hill from Folsom, at the corner of Bessie. That’s Hillside Supper Club on the left. Notice the candles burning inside? So cozy! We wandered in to chat with Chef Tony Ferrari.

There was a big party gathered around the candle-lit table, and Chef Tony was in fine spirits — although he worried that his freezers could be vulnerable if the blackout lasted a long time. But then, as we were talking… the lights came back on! (Whew!)

Others reported the same:

But not everyone was so lucky. Apparently, the blackout then spread to Cortlandia:

https://twitter.com/RachelRockaway/status/506704760624676864

And this morning, Neighbor Nancy was still without power:

PHOTO: Folsom at Bessie, looking south up Bernal Hill during last night’s blackout, by Telstar Logistics

Friends Remember and Mourn Bernal Neighbor Mary Atchison

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Before she died one week ago, Neighbor Mary Atchison was active with the Miller Dogpatch Community Garden in northeast Bernal Heights.  Since then, her garden plot has become a focal point for her many friends to memorialize her life and mourn her passing.

Bernalwood visited Miller-Dogpatch last week, as two of Mary Atchison’s fellow volunteers were on hand to tend the  garden. She was always a ray of sunshine, they said. She had been involved at Miller Dogpatch in its early days, “before urban gardening was a thing.” She was a huge fan of the Giants and the 49ers, and she loved to wear extravagant boas and paint her fingernails in team colors. She didn’t like tomatoes, but she grew lots of them — mostly to give away to friends and colleagues at work.

There was a notebook tucked under a vegetable plant in Mary’s garden where friends have been mourning her. A sample from inside:

Thanks for always being the warmest and kindest person in the office. “Babes Who Bike” will never be the same without you. I always appreciated that you were so passionate about bikes and bike advocacy. Rest well, Mary.

Another:

My forever friend. I don’t know what happened, and I never will. All I know is I love you, my birthday girlfriend. Oh God, No. Love you forever.

One of Mary’s friends at Miller-Dogpatch expressed frustration that it will be a long time until they learn more about what happened. “We won’t really know until the trial,” she said, and that won’t be for quite some time. Mary died from blunt force traumatic injuries, and according to the SF Examiner, her boyfriend, Jules Sibilio, will be in court today for arraignment on homicide charges.

Heather Mayer Fakouri lives in Concord, and she was Mary’s longtime friend. Heather wrote to Bernalwood to share these thoughts:

I am a friend of Mary Atchison. We attended Carondelet High School and San Diego State together. Her death has hit all of us hard. I wrote a piece and was wondering if you would be kind enough to post it, in regards to her death and all those that suffer from domestic violence:

The piercing slap, the pain from the blow…oh the agony I endure! I cry out, but no one listens. I am strong, he loves me! Things will change, he had a bad day. I must go on!

I keep it to myself for the Shame and embarrassment let’s me deny the truth of the reality. I can’t tell too many my anguish. For what would they think? I’ve always endured, why can’t I now? I have too! I will go on.

I am no one’s burden…I suppress the darkness that falls upon me with amusement, laughter and drink. I hide. I must go on.

He loves me! It’s not that bad. Maybe I deserved it. I love him. How could I leave this life we created? I hurt though, inside and out. I mask it with gardening… bringing peace to my planet. I hide it though, with a drink that soothes my thoughts and numbs my pain.

I must go on.

Look Lord, I tried! I kept my love strong, but it wasn’t enough. Enough!! Enough! He went further than I ever thought. This time the pain is deep. Lord my wounds won’t heal this time. Did I do something so wrong this time? Why can’t I mask it one last time..he will change! Am I not able to go on?

Wait something is different. I feel no pain. My heart isn’t bruised. I am at peace. I am with you! Thank you for letting me see the light!

Heather also shared this photo of Mary from their last girls’ night out. That’s Mary, second from the left:

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PHOTOS: Garden memorial, by Telstar Logistics. Girls Night Out, courtesy of Heather Mayer Fakouri