CYCLISTS RIDE FOR CRITICAL MASS 20TH ANNIVERSARY: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A throng of cyclists has hit the streets of San Francisco, where hundreds, likely thousands of people are commemorating the 20th anniversary of the raucous, leaderless ride and street party known as "Critical Mass."
San Francisco police are monitoring the ride and recommended that people avoid driving in downtown San Francisco Friday before the riders left Justin Herman Plaza at 6pm to take over city streets.
The monthly event has inspired similar rides in other cities across the globe, and participants in Friday's anniversary ride came from as far away as Italy and Mexico. Critical Mass also helped spur a suite of city policies that encourage bicycle commuting, including more bike lanes and bicycle parking spots.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency says ridership grew 71 percent from 2006 to 2011 alone.
NORCAL MAN CHARGED IN MORTGAGE FRAUD: BRENTWOOD (AP) — A Northern California man is facing charges that he bilked more than 1,000 homeowners in a multi-state, multi-million dollar mortgage scam.
Authorities say 44-year-old Alan David Tikal was arrested at his home in the Contra Costa County city of Brentwood on Friday, the same day prosecutors filed a complaint in federal court against him.
Tikal is accused of operating a sham mortgage rescue company that offered homeowners cheaper mortgages and promised to cover their existing, more expensive home loan.
Prosecutors say he collected more than $3 million from the victims, most of whom lived in California. The homeowners were allegedly instructed not to pay their original mortgages and ignore correspondence from the lender. Prosecutors say many lost their homes to foreclosure.
Tikal was due in court on Friday afternoon. It was not clear whether he had retained an attorney.
PLAN CALLS FOR SLASHING COSTS AT SF CITY COLLEGE: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The City College of San Francisco has released a plan to slash costs and redirect resources in a bid to keep its accreditation and remain open for business.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports the turnaround plan calls for laying off faculty and staff, increasing employee work weeks, eliminating paid sabbaticals, offering fewer enrichment classes and cutting salaries by 1 percent.
City College also plans to start collecting unpaid student fees that cost the school at least $400,000 a year.
The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges has given City College until Oct. 15 to produce a final action plan to address 14 fiscal and managerial deficiencies detailed in a July report.
The 86,000-student community college has until March 15 to turn itself around and prevent closure in June.
FEDS TO DECIDE PROTECTIONS FOR GREAT WHITE SHARKS: SANTA CRUZ (AP) — Federal fisheries regulators will consider whether to list West Coast great white sharks as an endangered species, a designation that could spur more research into the mysterious sea creatures.
The National Marine Fisheries Service has agreed to study the issue after a petition by conservation groups.
The great white population off the West Coast is estimated at less than 400, though little is known about the sharks' reproductive success and actual numbers.
Ocean conservation groups hope the new research will lead to greater protections; especially stricter rules regulating the use of gill nets by fishermen.
NMFS will begin researching the issue and make a final determination in a process that usually takes about a year.
MOM ABANDONS DAUGHTER DURING GROCERY HEIST: MORGAN HILL. (AP) — A mother abandoned her 10-year-old daughter during a Northern California grocery heist.
Morgan Hill police say employees spotted the girl rolling a shopping cart with $150 worth of groceries, including alcohol, out the door of a Safeway supermarket last week. The mother and daughter had loaded the cart.
The mother had gone to fetch her sport utility vehicle so the pair could load the groceries and escape.
But 38-year-old Marcy Keelin drove off when she saw her daughter was being questioned.
PIMP TAKES PLEA DEAL IN MISTAKEN IDENTITY KILLING: SAN RAFAEL (AP) — A pimp who killed a Northern California man in a mistaken identity shooting has agreed to a plea deal.
The Marin Independent Journal (says 21-year-old Michael Marshawn Powell Jr. of Pinole pleaded guilty on Thursday to voluntary manslaughter with a firearm for the 2009 death of Donald Espinoza Ordonez.
Powell also pleaded guilty to pimping involving a child under 16 years old.
Investigators say Powell was running a teen prostitution operation and he got into an argument with two people outside Espinoza's apartment building.
Investigators say Powell left, got a gun and returned to hunt down the people he was arguing with. The 22-year-old Espinoza was hanging Christmas lights outside the apartment building and he was shot to death by Powell.
POLICE PROBING MONTEREY SLAYING FIND GORY SCENE: MONTEREY (AP) — New court documents show investigators came across a gruesome scene when probing the slaying of a Northern California woman whom Monterey police allege was dismembered by her ex-husband, a professor at a Navy graduate school.
According to a search warrant filed in Monterey County Superior Court this week, an FBI evidence response team found an ax and hand saws at the home where Monterey police say Norife "Janie" Herrera Jones died from multiple gunshot wounds before her body was mutilated.
Jones' remains were found Sept. 7, one week after her divorce from 69-year-old Lawrence Jones became final. Lawrence Jones has been a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School for 25 years.
A shotgun shell was also found in Jones' bloody, two-story home. He is in custody without bail in Monterey County Jail.