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Local issues loom largest in election results

Thu, 10 Nov 2016 14:00:00 UT

At Mayor Ed Lee and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s fete, some 150 trendy politicos held their drinks and stared — shocked and slack-jawed — as the televisions played out the Donald Trump victory. [...] it will be the local issues that will have a greater effect on your life. [...] of what they may say now, there were those in the mayor’s office who thought it was possible that Lee could get a post in Hillary Clinton’s Cabinet as secretary of Housing and Urban Development. [...] they supported Wiener, a moderate. [...] there hasn’t been evidence of that, so if Lee had to replace Kim as supervisor, the political calculus would be whether to appoint a progressive, knowing that person probably wouldn’t play nice with the mayor’s office, or install a moderate, knowing that candidate might not win re-election in two years. Safai, who would replace contentious progressive John Avalos, is likely to be the swing vote on issues, making him a minor power player. Four were attempts to curb the power of the office — either by limiting the ability to make political appointments or creating new City Hall agencies. Voters heartily approved a measure to give $50 million a year to homeless issues and $100 million a year for Muni by a 66-35 percent ratio and congratulated themselves for being so compassionate. [...] Wynns has consistently fought the idea of making neighborhood schools a priority for school assignment. The current system uses a complicated system called the Census Tract Integration Preference to put students in schools — often far away from their neighborhood. Of the four top vote-getters, at least three of them, Mark Sanchez, Rachel Norton and Matt Haney (who voted against the change last year), support the concept of neighborhood schools. If the board votes to allow families to attend their neighborhood school, it’ll bring needed change to the city.

2 arrested at last in horrific beating of disabled homeless man

Mon, 31 Oct 2016 22:58:23 UT

2 arrested at last in horrific beating of disabled homeless man Tai Lam was a 67-year-old disabled homeless man who was kicked to death nearly two years ago in San Francisco as he slept in the middle of the night on Sutter Street in the Financial District. The video shows the assailants kicking Lam in the alcove of a building where he had been sleeping. The suspects appeared pretty clearly on camera, so San Francisco police publicly released the least violent and graphic parts of the videos, hoping to get help from the public to identify the attackers. Both were booked on charges of murder, robbery, elder abuse and assault with great bodily injury. Cagney declined interview requests, but department sources sketched out the details: DNA broke the case, but it took a while to get a match from evidence found at the scene. A routine DNA sample was taken and entered into the evidence database, which helped SFPD’s crime lab get its match, police said. Idaho, on charges of grand theft, possession of stolen property and more, and Cagney and his partner flew there to interrogate him on Sept. 21 for the Lam case. Stull, police said, gave explicit details about kicking and stomping Lam, and told the investigators there was no provocation by Lam or interaction with him beforehand. In a joint operation with Stockton police, they searched a Stockton residence on Friday and found additional evidence that police said linked him to the crime.

Wiener's new campaign song is latest attempt to become most SF Senate candidate

Tue, 4 Oct 2016 16:58:02 UT

Drag queens for Wiener: Supervisor Jane Kim got lots of attention for her martial-arts video. Now Scott Wiener, her opponent in the Nov. 8 election for state Senate, has come up with his own, very San Francisco, version.

Brisbane postpones vote on mega development

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 18:44:25 UT

Bay Area advocates for more housing attended the meeting and one of them, Tim Colen, executive director of the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition, said “There were more speakers in favor of housing than those saying ‘No, no, no.’” Many Brisbane residents favor a “community alternative” plan, which would create over 8 million square feet of commercial/industrial space, but no housing. A city-produced document on sustainability says, “There will be ample housing in the new developments planned across the border in San Francisco for those working in the Baylands who wish to live nearby.” The idea that Brisbane would consider this huge commercial project, but fail to provide living space has officials from both San Francisco and San Mateo Counties up in arms.

Supervisor tries to save naked Trump statue in SF’s Castro

Fri, 19 Aug 2016 04:58:38 UT

Supervisor tries to save naked Trump statue in SF’s Castro The figure is actually a full-size, nude statue of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Placed at the corner of Jane Warner Plaza, the figure is both realistic and grotesque. Perfect, say members of Indecline, a nonprofit activist group that installed five Trump statues in five major U.S. cities: A spokesman for the group said it took months of planning to install the statues. Each was placed in a prominent spot in each city Thursday morning at 8 a.m. sharp, then glued to the pavement with industrial epoxy for maximum staying power. [...] it was just a matter of blending into the crowd and letting all hell break loose. The New York figure was yanked down by city workers in a little over two hours. The crowds began to gather as soon as the paunchy, raunchy figure went up. Six hours later, people were still crowding around, taking selfies and making the obligatory jokes. On Thursday night, Supervisor Scott Wiener, who represents the Castro on the Board of Supervisors, tweeted that the statue was to be removed overnight, but that he was “working to save him so SF can be reminded of his ridiculousness thru election.” Monroe was recruited by the group because he works with people who create haunted houses, developing scary characters. Monroe worked on the statues for almost five months, using 300 pounds of Monster Makers oil clay and 400 pounds of concrete and rebar. “Trump was on our radar months back,” the Indecline spokesman said, but unfortunately it became more and more of a reality. [...] he said, he still has the mold and hopes “someone will want one of these for their collection.”

Group signals recall attempt against S.F. Mayor Lee

Wed, 13 Jul 2016 17:46:22 UT

In listing reasons Lee should be recalled, the San Francisco group cited recent Police Department scandals, tax breaks for corporations, the worsening homeless crisis and the city’s hosting of “frivolous revelries” such as the America’s Cup and Super Bowl. Organizers of the recall effort include Francisco Herrera, a candidate for supervisor in District 11 and a 2015 candidate for mayor. There’s not enough time for the group to make the November ballot, so any recall would go before voters in a special election. “There’s always an impulse to start,” he said, but they never seem to make it through. Since 2002 there have been three or four, and nothing has made the ballot. Arntz said the last special election in the city was in April 2008, to elect a replacement for Rep. Tom Lantos, who died in office.

Tadich Grill’s ex-owner: It wasn’t about Gene Upshaw being black

Wed, 28 Oct 2015 23:08:13 UT

Wednesday’s column about Steve Buich, one of the former owners of the Tadich Grill, refusing to speak to his daughter, Terri Upshaw, after she formed a relationship with — and later married — Raiders star Gene Upshaw kicked up a firestorm in the city. Tadich Grill was torched on Yelp, which got so many comments it posted a note saying, This business recently made waves in the news, which often means that people come to this page to post their reaction. The best place to share your thoughts is on Yelp Talk. Simply because a dispute involves people of different races does not mean that the dispute is racial in nature.

San Francisco hitting up graffiti vandals with costly civil suits

Sat, 22 Aug 2015 00:15:06 UT

[...] it’s nearly impossible to catch anyone in the act. [...] if cops do, a criminal case in the courts often results in minor consequences, like a few hours of community service. A walk down virtually any graffiti-tagged street in the city tells you criminal charges aren’t having much of an effect. In an innovative and clever legal maneuver, the city attorney’s office is asking the courts to treat the city like any other property owner and allow it to sue for damages to pay for graffiti cleanup. [...] that’s how San Francisco has filed a civil suit against a woman officials say is an infamous serial tagger. The city alleges that Cozy Terry (her real name according to the complaint) tags as “Coze” and is responsible for 28 separate acts of vandalism on city buses. The complaint also seeks to ban Terry from carrying tools that can be used for graffiti and from “entering into, or riding upon, any Muni bus, railcar, cable car, trolley or LRV.” [...] city officials tweaked local laws to make it easier to bring these cases to civil court. Supervisor London Breed pushed legislation in spring 2014 that, among other changes, amended “the Public Works Code to permit the City to pursue civil remedies, including injunctive relief, civil penalties, attorney’s fees and repayment of abatement costs.” [...] that’s where taggers’ desire for public attention works against them. Because taggers essentially sign their names on walls and buses, and want recognition, it’s easy for an expert, like SFPD’s graffiti officer Martin Ferreira, to identify them. Workers who spend every day painting over tags now use the city’s 311 phone app to photograph the graffiti before removing it, and send the image to Ferreira. [...] when Cannon and co-Deputy City Attorney Victoria Weatherford put the complaint together, they were able to show examples of tags and create a map showing locations where the person believed to be Terry had been tagging. Terry apparently disabled her Flickr, Tumblr and Instagram accounts after she was served with the suit last Saturday, but Weatherford and Cannon had already grabbed screen shots.

Jerry Brown says ‘California is burning,’ climate change to blame

Fri, 7 Aug 2015 19:21:51 UT

CLEARLAKE, Lake County — The imminent danger from the devastating Rocky Fire in Lake County diminished Thursday and hundreds of residents began to return to their evacuated homes, but Gov. Jerry Brown made clear in a visit to the area that California is still in danger. Brown traveled to the scorched hillside at Cowboy Camp, just off fire-ravaged Highway 20, and, as helicopters circled nearby, said the fire illustrates that climate change is both real and destructive. The message, he said, isn’t getting through. Asked what he would tell presidential candidates on the day of the Republican debate, Brown was emphatic. “California is burning,” he said.

Jerry Brown says ‘California is burning’ and climate change is to blame

Thu, 6 Aug 2015 19:40:08 UT

CLEARLAKE, Lake County — The devastating Rocky Fire in Lake County is showing signs that the imminent danger is diminishing, but the state faces an even bigger threat, Gov. Jerry Brown warned on Thursday. Brown traveled to the scorched hillside at Cowboy Camp, just off fire-ravaged Highway 20, and delivered news that was anything but optimistic. The worst is not over, he told a media scrum as helicopters circled nearby. “California is burning,” he said.

The question: How will Kathryn Steinle’s death push us forward?

Tue, 14 Jul 2015 23:28:43 UT

When it was announced that the parents of Kathryn Steinle, the woman fatally shot on the Embarcadero on July 1, were going to appear on Bill O’Reilly’s national news show Monday night, it was hard to imagine what they were going to say. [...] the Pleasanton couple didn’t say we need to tighten the borders or crack down on immigrants who are here illegally. [...] what they wanted, like any parent, is that their daughter, Kate, be remembered — that the vivacious 32-year-old woman might have a legacy. [...] I suppose it is also to be expected that Fox and O’Reilly used the moment as a political wedge for a larger agenda of complaints about lax immigration policy, spineless government and lack of action. O’Reilly stressed more than once that the penalty would be “mandatory,” so there would be no well-intentioned backtracking by liberals. The idea, made up in a TV studio, is a Fox fantasy that plays perfectly to the idea that there’s an easy fix for all these matters if we’d just stop with all the sympathy and violins and show a little good old-fashioned discipline. [...] nothing really happens until there’s a face, a person and a tragedy. Taking down the offensive Confederate flag at South Carolina’s State House has been debated for decades. [...] he told a reporter, he shot her; then said he was going to plead not guilty. There’s no doubting that this is a national story — it’s where it goes from here that will make the difference. [...] San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, who has done some O’Reilly-like blustering himself, is going to have to confront his stubborn refusal to contact immigration officials who asked to be notified when Lopez-Sanchez was released. Surely someone is going to mention the problem of a country where guns are so plentiful that a confused drifter like Lopez-Sanchez could find one on the street (according to his story) wrapped in a T-shirt.

Filing reveals split among S.F. supes for District 3 candidates

Wed, 10 Jun 2015 00:53:49 UT

Other supporters include former Mayor Art Agnos, state Sen. Mark Leno, state Democratic Party Chairman John Burton, the Sierra Club and Service Employees International Union Local 1021, which represents thousands of city workers. Since a win by Peskin would probably shift the board to a progressive majority, don’t expect his supporters to go out of their way to back any initiatives by Christensen that will boost her popularity in the district, which includes Union Square, the Financial District, Chinatown, North Beach, Telegraph Hill, Nob Hill and part of Russian Hill. [...] the mayor, who put his political capital on the line by appointing Christensen rather than a Chinatown activist like Planning Commissioner Cindy Wu, isn’t likely to do any favors for Peskin’s supporters either, since many of them are deeply suspicious of Lee’s pro-business approach to running the city. While a few other candidates were willing to pay the filing fee for a chance to share the ballot with Lee, none of them look to have the resume, the backing or the money to seriously challenge the mayor. Along with Lee, candidates for mayor include Francisco Herrera, a Mission District activist; Kent Graham, a retired hospital administrator; Stuart Schuffman, author of “Broke-ass Stuart’s Guide to Living Cheaply in San Francisco”; Amy Farah Weiss, who will describe herself on the ballot as an educator and activist; Keith Freedman, a teacher and businessman; and Reed Martin. Environmental activists have insisted that the golf course, owned by San Francisco, is incompatible with the frogs, which are an endangered species, and have turned to the courts to press their case. [...] this week the golf course supporters not only won some of the legal battles, but were able to begin work to construct a new frog pond, dredge cattails from wetland areas and reroute a golf cart path. In March the U.S. Court of Appeals dismissed an appeal of an Endangered Species Act lawsuit to close the golf course. In April, the California Coastal Commission granted a development permit to the golf course for habitat recovery and golf course protection. While the golfers agreed that the frogs and snakes need protection, they wanted to find a compromise that would preserve the wildlife and the golf course.

Fight over waterfront development continues, this time in court

Tue, 24 Mar 2015 22:51:57 UT

San Francisco waterfront politics hit the courtroom Wednesday when a state judge is to hear arguments about the legality of a 2014 ballot measure that requires developers to seek voter approval for any project on port land that exceeds height limits. The three-member State Lands Commission, which regulates waterfront development across California, has asked the court to nullify Proposition B, passed by San Francisco voters in June. B, also known as the Waterfront Height Limit Right to Vote Act, requires voter approval for projects that exceed current height limits, which range from 40 to 90 feet, depending on the area. The city’s legal team will be joined by Telegraph Hill activist Jon Golinger of the group No Wall on the Waterfront and former City Attorney Louise Renne, whose firm is representing the Sierra Club, and California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton. Groups backing the agency include the Housing Action Coalition, the Port of San Diego and the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association. B was “a sleepy little issue” in a low-turnout election. [...] he said it has had a cooling effect on development, causing Forest City to scale back its plans for Pier 70 and prompting the Golden State Warriors to drop plans to build a stadium on Piers 30-32 and move the project to Mission Bay. B “ballot box planning at its very worst” that will result in “less housing and less affordable housing.” B was a follow-up to a ballot initiative on a proposed development at 8 Washington St. that voters rejected. Last fall Forest City went to voters for approval of a plan to allow 90-foot buildings on the historic pier. If we did a rap video to introduce youth to their sewer system. The press release actually says it was done to “introduce youth to their sewer system.” Anyhow, a press release says that the “world premiere” of the video will be Wednesday afternoon at 4:30 at the San Francisco Main Library. The chorus, admittedly, is a bit of a toe-tapper, concluding with “We’re SF Sewers so remember our name,” which I believe is the first time those words have ever been put together in a rap or rock song.

City gets a big pile of fresh sand for Dolores Park — for free

Tue, 10 Mar 2015 02:08:23 UT

Cemex USA, which has 450 concrete plants across the country, donated 20 tons of sand to Mission Dolores Park to replace sand that had to be removed when some thoughtless idiots broke beer bottles in the sandbox about two weeks ago. The vandals smashed so many beer bottles that the play area was declared unsafe and the decision was made to remove all 20 tons of sand. In February, someone hot-wired a construction vehicle and went for a joyride around the construction site, causing over $100,000 in damage. “It’s a real pleasure to help ensure the prompt reopening of the sandbox,” said Cemex spokeswoman Sara Engdahl. Supervisor Scott Wiener’s bill to slow down the explosion of “monster homes” in Corona Heights is headed to the Board of Supervisors for a vote Tuesday. The legislation would require a conditional use hearing, a more in-depth environmental evaluation than is typical, for any new structure that exceeds 3,000 square feet or for any addition that increases the size of an existing home by more than 75 percent. Investors have snapped up a dozen lots in the neighborhood, taking advantage of large hillside “through lots” that run between States Street and Ord Court. Dozens of Corona Heights residents spoke in favor of the legislation at a Land Use and Transportation Committee meeting Monday, where the bill passed unanimously. Judith Hoyem, president of the Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association, said she supports density and affordable housing, but not oversized homes. Sonja Trauss, who heads the pro-development Bay Area Renters Federation, said if the city wants to reach its goal of 5,000 new housing units annually it’s going to be hard for every neighborhood. [...] Wiener, who is generally pro-development, pointed out that Upper Market is part of the explosion of building currently going on in the city, with 1,000 new units recently completed, under construction or planned. Rampant double parking is causing havoc on San Francisco’s streets, Supervisor Scott Wiener said Monday, calling on the city to issue more tickets to violators. [...] double-parking citations decreased from 2013 to 2014, said Camron Samii, enforcement manager for the Municipal Transportation Agency, who gave an update to the Land Use committee Monday.

S.F. Archbishop Cordileone wields controversy to promote agenda

Thu, 19 Feb 2015 01:14:21 UT

Recently, he’s stirred up a firestorm of controversy, including a vigil on Ash Wednesday — to protest what local Catholic school teachers say are “morality clauses” he wants to include in their handbook and labor contract. [...] a priest in the archdiocese, the Rev. Joseph Illo, pastor at Star of the Sea Church in the Richmond District, decreed three weeks ago that he would only allow boys to serve as altar servers, rather than both boys and girls, as has been the practice. Earlier, in December, the school handed out a bizarre — and some parents say inappropriate — pamphlet that asked elementary school students about their sexual practices. Cordileone, who declined an interview request, has perfected the long, complicated, eye-glazing response that basically boils down to “What’s the big fuss?” While he pretends to take the high road, he also told the Catholic Herald in 2013 that Catholics should only use the term “gay marriage” sparingly because “we might fool ourselves into thinking it is an authentic reality.” Legislating for the right for the people of the same sex to marry,” he said, “is like legalizing male breastfeeding. The opinions expressed in Illo’s media interviews and personal blog make it clear he’s out to incite. [...] earlier this month he had to write a “statement of apology” to the parents, children and faculty of Star of the Sea School after saying the anger and upset over the altar boy controversy was creating “a necessary purging.” Early on, some gullible reporters — raises hand sheepishly — took the bait and railed against the charade. [...] we realized that this was the idea — rile up the media, get lots of press attention and play to the red-meat true believers. [...] it looks like they saw that as a positive. Cordileone is using San Francisco as a backdrop to play to his real constituency — extremely conservative Catholics who are shocked by changing values in the country.