Bay Briefs

Friday December 28, 2001

BART & MUNI gear up for New Year’s Eve


SAN FRANCISCO – BART and the Municipal Railway are gearing up to whisk funseekers on New Year’s Eve from venue to venue. 

BART will expand its service and is offering a $5 New Year’s Eve “Flash Pass” that allows unlimited rides on BART from 6 p.m. New Year’s Eve to 3 a.m. New Year’s Day. Passengers with a Flash Pass can simply show it to a BART station agent and then pass through the swinging gates. 

Muni will extend subway service until 4 a.m. and offer free rides on all routes from 8 p.m. New Year’s Eve to 6 a.m. New Year’s Day. 

Police Chief Fred Lau said but he hasn’t received any terrorist-related security warnings about New Year’s Eve and will put 1,000 officers on the streets. 


‘Racist’ window display causing furor


RICHMOND – Store owner Bill Knudsen just wanted to have an original window display. But furious neighbors are describing his decoration as racist. 

On one side, the Golden Gate Western Gear store depicts a Wild West prison cell holding one occupant: a bearded, turban-clad Arab sitting on straw, facing a hangman’s noose. Wearing dark sunglasses, the mannequin’s hands and feet are bound, a tarantula crawling on his shoulder, a rat nibbling at his fingers. 

The other side features marshals John Wayne and Matt Dillon calmly guarding the prisoner. 

Critics regard the display as a bigoted attack on Arab-Americans, intended to incite racial animosity toward a community already confronting waves of intolerance. 

Knudsen contends the Arab in chains represents an appropriate statement against America’s public enemy No. 1: Osama bin Laden. 

Critics are the racists, Knudsen said, because they equate his character with all Arabs. 

“We’re showing a patriotic scene of western judgment against someone who killed thousands of people,” Knudsen said. “How can it be construed as being against all Arabs? That’s a moronic leap.” 

The East Richmond Neighborhood Council sent Knudsen a letter asking him to reconsider the display. The scene could fuel negative feelings of people predisposed to seek out a target for retribution, said council President Nick Despota. 

Since Knudsen refused the neighborhood group’s request, there’s not much more it can do, Despota said. 

“He has a right to free speech,” Despota said. “As far as I’m concerned, this is a situation where people have to agree to disagree.” 


South Bay serial killer denied parole again


IONE – One of the state’s most notorious serial killers was denied parole Thursday for the ninth consecutive time and will continue serving a life sentence for the murders he said he committed at the command of voices in his head. 

Herbert W. Mullin said he killed 13 people before his arrest in February 1973. He was convicted of 11 killings in Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties. 

After a two-hour hearing, the California Board of Prison Terms determined Mullin was unsuitable for parole at this time and denied it for four years, said Sean McCray, employee relations officer at Mule Creek State Prison, where Mullin now is kept. 

In a written release, Santa Cruz County Assistant District Attorney Ariadne Symons said Mullin never should be released from prison “due to the number and magnitude of his crimes, their senseless and horrific nature, and the risk he would pose to the community if he were released.” 

Mullin, who claimed insanity, testified that he killed on telepathic orders from his father and that he did so to prevent a major earthquake predicted for January 1973. 

“He couldn’t understand why he was being prosecuted, even,” said Dr. Donald T. Lunde, a psychiatrist who in the past has testified in Mullin’s defense. 

There was no death penalty at the time of his trial, and Mullin was sentenced to life in prison, which meant a minimum of seven years. 

Edmund Kemper, who killed and dismembered his mother and seven other women between May 1972 and April 1973, was kept in a cell next to Mullin in the county jail. 

“Herbie was just a cold-blooded killer ... killing everyone he saw for no good reason,” Kemper said. “A creep with no class.” 

Mullin said he killed a drifter with a baseball bat and stabbed a hitchhiking student, but he was never tried for those slayings. He was convicted of stabbing a priest in his confessional, shooting four camping teens, and killing a drug dealer, his wife and the wife and small children of another drug dealer. 


S.F. increasing parking fines for new year


SAN FRANCISCO – Starting Jan. 1, the city is increasing more than a dozen parking fines for everything from parking illegally in yellow and red zones to meter violations downtown. 

The biggest jump – from $25 to $100 – is for driving with a missing license plate. 

In many cases, parking fines will double. For example, parking on a sidewalk will cost scofflaws $50, up from the current $25. Over the next three years, the fine will increase to $100. 

Pedestrian activists, tired of cars blocking their path, had lobbied for even higher fines, but the Board of Supervisors balked. 

Fred Hamdun, director of the Department of Parking and Traffic, said the goal is to improve public safety and help the Municipal Railway and trucks move more easily through the congested streets. 

Hamdun dismissed the idea that the fines are going up to generate more revenue for the city’s struggling budget. He said that if that had been the goal, the city would be raising fines for some of his department’s biggest cash fines: parking illegally in street cleaning zones and meter violations in neighborhood commercial corridors are two of the biggest.