WSJ Front Page: Bears in Tahoe

Courtesy WSJ.com

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev.—In hot pursuit of a notorious burglar along the shores of Lake Tahoe this year, Carl Lackey organized a night patrol to catch the perp. His tools included a fire extinguisher, pepper spray and two dogs that respond only to commands in Russian.

“These dogs were bred to hunt,” says Mr. Lackey, 45 years old.

Mr. Lackey’s nemesis: a 700-pound black bear dubbed Bubba.

The bear has been a longtime target for Mr. Lackey, a biologist with the Nevada Department of Wildlife. Recently, his quest search took on greater urgency . . . (more)

Judge to Allow Gay Marriage

Courtesy AP/WSJ.com
By Stu Woo, Marie C. Baca, and Tamara Audi

SAN FRANCISCO—The federal judge who struck down the ban on same-sex unions in California said that gays could start marrying Wednesday, unless a higher court steps in.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals could decide that Proposition 8, the 2008 voter-approved measure that banned gay nuptials in the state, should stay in effect while the measure’s defenders appeal the decision. The case is widely expected to eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court . . . (more)

SJC Airport Gets New Screening Machines

Courtesy WSJ.com
SAN JOSE—Later this month, the Transportation Security Administration will begin a formal testing period for a new baggage screening system at Mineta San Jose International Airport. The state-of-the-art baggage-screening system, made by Morpho Detection, could be rolled out to airports across the U.S. if the machines perform well.

The system is part of a federal initiative to replace older baggage-screening machines in U.S. airports with more efficient and accurate models. After a formal 45-day evaluation period, the agency will determine whether to purchase additional Morpho systems and at which airports they will be deployed, says TSA spokesman Nicholas Kimball.

National Story: SF Sting

Photo courtesy ICE

SAN FRANCISCO—Fisherman’s Wharf here has long been one of the West Coast’s major tourist destinations. Federal officials said Tuesday it also served as a major hub for the sale of counterfeit designer goods.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Department of Justice said they charged 11 people with trafficking in counterfeit items that were allegedly smuggled from China and offered for sale through eight Fisherman’s Wharf shops.

Officials said that they seized fake designer clothing, handbags, jewelry and other items with a value of nearly $100 million, based on manufacturer’s suggested retail prices, had the products been legitimate. The pirated goods sell for a fraction of the cost of legitimate ones . . . (more)

Small Business: It’s-It Ice Cream

Courtesy wsj.com

BURLINGAME—A Bay Area company has retained a recipe for success in a sluggish economy: Take a scoop of ice cream, squish it between two oatmeal cookies and apply dark chocolate.

The It’s-It Ice Cream Co., named after the signature ice cream sandwich, says sales through June this year are up 15% from the same period in 2009, a year sales grew 8%. Charles Shamieh, its president, says the difficult economy might have actually helped sales of his flagship product, as cash-conscious consumers looking for a “cheap thrill” chose an It’s-It instead of a more expensive dessert. He says the company has been profitable for the past 20 years, though declined to provide revenue figures . . . (more)

WSJ Restaurant Review

Courtesy wsj.com

A Slice of New York, in San Jose, is a Mecca for techies from the East Coast who are homesick for Big Apple-style pizza. Native New Yorker Kirk Vartan, a former engineer, says he grew tired of what he saw as overly complicated West Coast pies, so he opened a pizzeria that primarily features the ingredients that are familiar on the other coast: high-quality tomato sauce, mozzarella and flour.

“I just want to give people the type of pizza shop I grew up with,” he says  . . . (more)

Fire Chief Profile

Courtesy Nick Marinaro

Nick Marinaro experienced some strange things over the course of his nearly 40-year career as a firefighter. There was the time in the late 1970s that a herd of horses escaped from a stable and began galloping down Page Mill Road. There were the hydrogen fires that would occasionally break out at SLAC, fires that burned so clear that the only way to detect them was to stick a broom out in front of you and wait until it ignited.

As Palo Alto’s fire chief, Marinaro, who retired in June with plans to do volunteer work, supervised the 126 employees who respond to some 7,000 incidents every year in Palo Alto, Stanford and some parts of unincorporated Santa Clara County. About a third of the calls come from the Farm, mostly reports of small fires and requests for medical aid . . . (more)

Silicon Valley’s Toxic Past

WSJ.com

EAST PALO ALTO—Silicon Valley is home to one of the nation’s heaviest concentrations of toxic-waste sites. The costly effects of the region’s tainted industrial past can be seen in this city’s eastern outskirts.

Here a residential neighborhood sits 2,000 feet from a toxic-waste site once used as a chemicals-processing plant run by Romic Environmental Technologies Corp. Romic processed hazardous materials like solvents, fuels and inks from local technology companies and other manufacturers for nearly 50 years. The facility was closed in 2007 after a series of environmental and safety violations. Romic paid fines in two cases, but admitted to no. . . (more)

New Wall Street Journal Story

Photo by Pablo Abuliak for WSJ

ORINDA—The Sleepy Hollow Swim and Tennis Club has been embroiled in a controversy over whether to charge a hefty fee to fund a renovation that could attract new members but potentially force out older ones, prompting a deep split at the private club . . . (more)