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Bay Area news briefs
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Vintage SF Coke sign given OK to stay up

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A vintage Coca Cola sign that set off a neighborhood spat in San Francisco is being allowed to stay up.

The city's Planning Commission unanimously approved a conditional permit for the sign on Thursday.

The 15-by-7-foot sign — likely first painted in 1930 — is on the side of a home in Bernal Heights. It was covered with asbestos siding in the 50s and rediscovered in 1991.

Opponents say it promotes a sugary drink, sending a dangerous message to students at a nearby elementary school.

Supporters counter that it's a relic from the neighborhood's working-class past that should be preserved.

The city had deemed the sign illegal after someone filed a complaint about it.

Livermore teacher pleads not guilty to sex charges

LIVERMORE, Calif. (AP) — A Livermore math teacher has pleaded not guilty to charges that she had sex with a boy under the age of 15.

The Contra Costa Times reports ( that 41-year-old Marie Johnson entered the plea on Thursday. She is facing 24 counts in connection with what authorities say was a sexual relationship with the boy between December 2010 and May 2011.

Johnson, a teacher at Granada High School, was arrested in January.

Authorities say her relationship with the boy began with text messages, Facebook postings and instant messaging over the "Words with Friends" smartphone game.

She is being held at Santa Rita Jail on $950,000 bail.

Mom sues UC over son's overdose at Berkeley

BERKELEY  (AP) — The mother of a University of California, Berkeley student who suffered severe brain damage after a drug overdose on campus is suing the UC regents.

Madelyn Bennett says they knew about rampant drug use at the residence where her son overdosed, but did nothing to stop it. She filed her suit on Thursday.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that her son, John Bennett Gibson, was a 21-year-old junior when he overdosed at the Cloyne Court co-op in March 2010.

UC owns the co-op.

The suit also names the Berkeley Student Cooperative, claiming it established rules for the co-op that discouraged students from calling authorities when her son was found in distress.


Newsom questions role, impact of lt. governor

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California's lieutenant governor says his job should either change or be eliminated.

Gavin Newsom told the San Francisco Chronicle's editorial board on Thursday that he's been hampered by the role and the limited resources he's been given.

He wants to see the top two constitutional officers run as a ticket, rather than be elected separately, to allow them to work as a team.

Newsom noted previous governors and lieutenant governors who had contentious relationships that prevented them working together and acknowledged some friction between him and Gov. Jerry Brown.

Newsom drew criticism in 2010 when he questioned the importance of the lieutenant governor, then later ran for the post after dropping out of the governor's race.

This week, he is California's acting governor while Brown is in Washington, D.C.