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Anthony Turney Succumbs to Cancer

December 23, 1937 – July 4, 2014

Surrounded by family and friends, the Venerable Anthony Turney died peacefully on July 4, 2014 at Coming Home Hospice in San Francisco following three years living with cancer. He was 76 years old. His death came on the 38th anniversary of his becoming a United States citizen.

Throughout his esteemed and varied career, and most recently as Archdeacon for the Arts at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, Anthony epitomized what it was to be a servant minister, both in the church and in the wider community. He was a profoundly gifted man, a lover of the arts, a gardener, a Brit, and a committed leader in non-profit endeavors. His career included positions as Deputy Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, DC; Executive Director of the Dance Theater of Harlem; Administrative Director of the San Francisco Opera; and CEO of the NAMES Project Foundation. He was ordained to the Episcopal diaconate in 1996 and continued to serve through his work at Grace Cathedral and in the Diocese of California.

Anthony was born in Sutton, England, on December 23, 1937, second oldest of three children within a family that soon broke up. His first years were spent in a Church of England children’s home for ‘waifs and strays,’ although he claimed he was never certain which of those he truly was. At the age of four, he was adopted by the Turney family who lived in Aylesbury, about 40 miles northeast of London. That same year marked the beginning of the Blitz, thus defining his childhood in wartime England. In his mid teens, he served as a police cadet and thought of joining the force. Then at the age of 17, Anthony joined the Grenadier Guards, an infantry regiment of the British Army and the most senior regiment of the Guards Division. Besides serving in the Guards’ iconic ceremonial duties outside of Buckingham Palace, Anthony also saw distinguished service under fire during the Suez Crisis. Afterwards, he spent his 20s at various jobs in London, “lost in the wilderness,” as he put it.

Anthony spoke often of the defining moments in his life, and the most significant of these was his move to the United States in 1968. He jumped right in to the non-profit world, discovering his talent for leadership in the arts. First establishing himself in New York City, Anthony made a name for himself as an independent event producer, especially proud to have once presented Buckminster Fuller at Carnegie Hall. Over the years he also lived in St. Louis, Atlanta, Washington, DC, and finally, San Francisco. He became a United States citizen on July 4, 1976, the bicentennial of his adopted country.

With the onset of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, Anthony’s life changed course once again. In mid 1991, he quit his work to care for his partner, James Brumbaugh, who was dying from AIDS-related complications. It was a devastating loss. In 1992, after completing Jimmy’s AIDS Memorial quilt panel, he asked, “What would you have me do now, God?” Within months, he moved permanently to San Francisco, was appointed CEO of the NAMES Project Foundation, and after only three years, would bring more than 42,000 panels of the Quilt to Washington, DC for display on the National Mall. It was viewed by 1.2 million people.

In 1996, Anthony was appointed to the San Francisco Arts Commission. In 2000, he was a consultant to the United States Agency for International Development, assisting in the agency’s efforts to partner with faith-based organizations in responding to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa.

In San Francisco, Anthony found his spiritual home at Grace Cathedral, where he served as parishioner, as Canon for Development, and then, through his vocational calling, as clergy. Several years before his retirement, Anthony was appointed Archdeacon of the Diocese of California, as such serving the whole community of deacons, administratively and pastorally, and was very much a person on whom the Bishop relied centrally and heavily. Afterwards, Anthony was named Archdeacon for the Arts at Grace Cathedral. He also served as Chaplain to the Dean’s Search Committee for Grace Cathedral. As an openly gay member of the clergy and a vocal advocate for marriage equality and other social justice issues, Anthony was a tireless champion of the LGBT community. An energetic volunteer and traveler, Anthony spent a month walking across Spain along the Camino de Santiago and successfully biked, three times, from San Francisco to Los Angeles as part of the AIDS LifeCycle. After Hurricane Katrina, he volunteered with a group from Grace Cathedral to assist in rebuilding a home for a young woman who had lost her home.

As accomplished as he was, his friends and family will remember Anthony most fondly for his commanding personality. He filled a room with grace and dignity – and then used his keen humor to destroy any remaining decorum. Anthony was an extraordinary friend and companion, always caring for those around him. He listened intensely and valued each person who came into his life. His friends and colleagues were blessed by his giving nature. Those who loved and admired Anthony continue to do so with passion and loyalty.

A final gift that Anthony bestowed on his friends and family was the way in which he lived out his dying. He did so with integrity, dignity and humor. Those who witnessed his journey learned with him. Dying often reveals a great many things about a person, especially those who are in the public arena. We watched him from a distance as he made his private journey, and, when invited, we walked part of that pilgrimage alongside him. We are grateful for both the public and the private blessings.

Anthony is survived by his San Francisco, St. Louis and Los Angeles family; his Episcopal Church friends and colleagues; beloved friends from across the world; his canine companion, Drew; and his newly found – and greatly loved – biological family in England and in Canada. His, truly, was a life well lived: in love, friendship and grace.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Anthony’s memory may be made to one of the following: The Sacred Dying Foundation (www.sacreddying.org), The Rainbow Honor Walk (www.rainbowhonorwalk.org), the Ghiberti Foundation, the arts and culture foundation at Grace Cathedral (www.gracecathedral.org) or the San Francisco Opera Archive (www.sfopera.com)

A funeral and celebration of Anthony’s life will be held at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral (1100 California Street) on Monday, July 14 at 11am.

Anthony’s body in closed coffin will lay in the Cathedral’s AIDS Interfaith Chapel beginning at 7am for all those wishing to pay their respects prior to the funeral.

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Oakland Mayor’s Race: Candidate Bryan Parker is Focus Of Unfair Domestic Violence Attacks

Bryan Parker, Candidate for Oakland Mayor, Faces Unfair DV Attacks

Bryan Parker, Candidate for Oakland Mayor, Faces Unfair Domestic Violence Attacks

Bryan Parker, the man I’m backing in the Oakland Mayor’s Race, is the focus of an unfair and hidden attack, writes Oakland blogger Zennie Abraham in his Zennie62.com blog. The rest of his post from yesterday is a fascinating overview of the silent attacks in political campaigns in Oakland, and in general.  We publish the column here for our readers:

For months, there’s been a whisper campaign brewing among Oakland insiders about the problems and issues of most all of the candidates. One of the most insidious rumor campaigns is about Bryan Parker. With 20 candidates now in the race for Oakland Mayor (not including Charlie The Dog) it was only a matter of time before the attacks started.

Soon after those whispers started, I received an anonymous package with two unverified, but authentic looking police reports filed against Parker a decade ago that describe two separate domestic issues between him and two different women, one in 2003 and one in 2006.

I have reached out to both of these women for comment and noticed that one is actually a volunteer on his campaign. I have chosen not to identify the women involved until at least I have the chance to discuss it with them.

As for the allegations in these reports, they show heated arguments between Parker and the women involved. They paint a less-than pretty picture and allege such things as harsh words and the brandishing of a hand gun used for intimidation purposes.

Bryan and I have talked about this issue before.

I reached out to Parker and he provided me with the statement that appears here (Bryan Parker Statement On Smear Campaign), saying he, too, had also received these police reports anonymously several months ago when someone left them in his fiancé’s mail box (which, if you think about it, is a form of harassment and intimidation).

 

Although Bryan was not surprised these incidents had come forward given the competitive mayoral campaign, he also had no awareness that these reports existed until now.
This made me curious as to the source of the information.

Considering the timing, all logic would suggest it was an operative of Mayor Jean Quan who was distributing these reports in an attempt to eliminate potential competition. Parker was one of the first candidates to announce and has remained a formidable frontrunner, although the field has recently grown widely.

Whether or not Quan’s campaign is behind this (and I’m told that it is, so Mayor Quan’s going to have to stop texting and driving and talking) there’s no doubt that the distribution of these reports are tactics being used by an opposing campaign.

For me, the question becomes should this be an issue?

These police reports were taken at the request of the women involved. No follow up investigation or reports exist about whether Parker was ever personally contacted by police about these allegations.

More important, no charges were ever filed against him because it appears the facts of both cases did not merit further investigation or action.

If all that is true – and these reports do in fact document heated disagreements between Parker and past partners – should they matter in this Mayor’s race?

As so often the case in politics, opponents are prone to cast broad and damaging allegations supported by little proof. Those of us who cover politics are accustomed to smear campaigns.

Character does matter and while it seems that Parker may have had some anger issues as a young man, but by all accounts there is just no semblance of that by anyone who has worked or dealt with him currently, including his fiancé Kamala Peart. (Kamala Peart Statement On Smear Campaign)

When reached for comment, Peart told me that she and Parker have shared the ups and downs expected of long-term relationships, saying: “While Bryan is not perfect, I know he is a man of kindness and compassion who has never been in trouble with the law or otherwise. I am proud to know that I am marrying a man who cared enough about his own self-improvement to seek counseling and work on his spirituality so that he could learn how to be the best man and partner he can be. I would never expose my children to a person who was anything other than kind and loving.”

I also spoke to some of my friends in law enforcement. They said that that they take and such reports seriously – if they had any merit, they would have followed up on them with urgency. The fact that they did not can only mean that officers found the allegations to be less than credible.

As I considered my pick for Oakland’s next mayor, I’ve weighed all of the issues against my own experience as Economic Advisor to Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris, and President Of The Super Bowl XXXIX Bidding Committee, including character, vision and, more important, a candidate’s ability to lead. Bryan Parker is still my top contender, and in rank choice fashion followed by Oakland Councilmember Libby Schaaf and Joe Tuman, 1, 2, and 3.

Not only does this latest incident demonstrate personal growth in Bryan, but it also shows integrity – here’s a candidate who is not shying away from his past and who is using personal experience to become a better person and leader in the future.

Meanwhile, Mayor Quan still has to talk about the active lawsuit filed against her by Donna White, who asserts that an “entourage” representing Oakland Mayor Jean Quan blocked Ms. White from sitting in an area that’s normally designated for the disabled.

Stay tuned.

By Zennie Abraham of Zennie62.com, an Oakland political blogger and opinion leader.

 

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Sister attacked on Pink Saturday. Police need your help

Police need the community’s help in identifying the attacker(s) of one of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and her husband during Pink Saturday festivities in the Castro near 18th and Castro Street.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are the main hosts of Pink Saturday festivities and widely push their “Stop The Violence” campaign year round to help curb violence against LGBTQ people and offer safe places for victims of violence to seek refuge and support. It is unfortunate that one of the do-good Sisters and her husband would be a victim of violence themselves.

According to a Castro Community on Patrol email alert, the Sister and her husband were physically and verbally assaulted by a group of up to seven people at the intersection of Castro Street & 18th Street. Both received some injuries and were very shaken by the incident, but fortunately neither required hospitalization.

The unnamed Sister allowed a photo of her from Saturday to be released on the Stop the Violence campaign Facebook Page (below) to help jog the memory of people who may have witnessed the incident. If you witnessed this incident, or if you have photographs or video of the incident, please contact Mission Police Station:

MISSION POLICE STATION:
630 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 558-5400
Email: SFPDMissionStation@sfgov.org
Non-emergency, dial: (415) 553-0123
TIP LINE: (415) 552-4558

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Sister who was attacked (photo: Stop The Violence Facebook Page)

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Editorial: Good Riddance to George Lucas Vanity Museum: Chicago Be Careful What you Pray For

 

Alfred E. Neuman artwork is part of George Lucas 'art collection."

Alfred E. Neuman artwork is part of George Lucas “art collection.”

 

It was great to read the San Francisco Chronicle today and see two of its leading writers, Chuck Nevius and John King, both essentially say “Hasta la Vista, Baby!” to the vanity museum that Star Wars filmmaker George Lucas wanted to build in San Francisco’s Presidio.

The real story isn’t that Chicago “won” the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum, but rather that San Francisco was victorious in rejecting a poorly-designed monstrosity that would have housed the personal collection of George Lucas’ kitschy art collection.  Chicago has “won” Lucas’ oversized ego, his childish behavior, his grumpy development team, and his collection of art that would be best exhibited in a suburban mall.

All we can say is: Thank goodness for the leadership of the Presidio Trust which turned down this monument to Lucas’ bad taste.

The Presidio park is a jewel and is enjoying nearly 20 years of success by doing the right thing and planning properly for this National Landmark and Bay Area treasure.  The cheap and cheesy museum proposed by Lucas didn’t belong on a bluff overlooking the Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean.  We should all thank The Presidio Trust for acting in the best interest of the public and not in the interest of a vein Hollywood millionaire and rejecting what Chicago has all-too-quickly accepted.

Bravo Presidio Trust. Good luck Chicago.

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Recology Wins Resounding Victory Over False Claims by Disgruntled Ex-Employee

San Francisco, Calif. – A San Francisco jury today cleared Recology, San Francisco’s recycling and resource recovery provider, of all 154 allegations of filing false claims to the State of California in a lawsuit filed by a disgruntled former employee that claimed the company mischarged the State of California’s recycling redemption program.

The same jury returned a verdict against the recycling company on one of the five separate allegations of filing a false claim to the City and County of San Francisco. This verdict, if it stands, claims the company wrongly benefited in the amount of $1,366,933. Recology disagrees with this finding and will appeal.

“We are thankful for the jury’s determination that cleared Recology of 158 of the 159 allegations of false claims,” said Sam Singer, a spokesman for Recology. “This is a resounding victory for our company and its employee-owners.”

“Unfortunately, the complicated nature of this case has resulted in one finding against the company,” he added.  “We will be appealing the one verdict, as the facts simply do not support it.”

Recology is an industry leader in recycling and resource recovery programs and has helped San Francisco become the greenest city in North America, diverting 80 percent of its waste away from landfill. Recology programs have been replicated throughout the country and serve as a national model for resource recovery initiatives.

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SF Symphony Concludes Season with Three Weeks of Concerts Celebrating Benjamin Britton’s Centenary

 First concert week includes Britten’s Prince of the Pagodas and a special appearance by the Balinese performing arts group Gamelan Sekar Jaya

Second week of concerts feature Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings with Toby Spence and SFS Principal Horn Robert Ward, along with works by Copland and Shostakovich


Season concludes with semi-staged production of Peter Grimes, the first SF Symphony performances of the complete opera, and Four Sea Interludes with an SFS co-commissioned video accompaniment by Tal Rosner
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CPUC PG&E Chicanery? California Commission Sudden Halt into PG&E Gas Pipeline Safety Raises Serious Questions, San Bruno Says

San Francisco, Calif. – The City of San Bruno today criticized a decision by the California Public Utilities Commission to halt its investigation into thousands of missing Pacific Gas & Electric Co. pipeline strength test records – a sudden and shocking reversal that’s prompted concerns of a possible backroom deal brokered between PG&E and the state agency tasked with regulating it.

 

The CPUC’s Safety Enforcement Division this week quietly halted its inquiry into the safety of 435 miles of gas pipelines across California after PG&E refused to turn the information over to regulators— causing speculation that PG&E may have applied outside pressure to compel the regulatory agency to end its investigation.

 

San Bruno officials are now calling upon the CPUC to immediately re-open the investigation to force PG&E to produce accurate strength test records for 23,761 segments of pipe covering more than 435 miles – records that PG&E explicitly told the CPUC it would produce by 2013.

 

State and federal investigators identified PG&E’s faulty recordkeeping as a leading cause of the fatal 2010 pipeline explosion and fire in San Bruno that killed eight, injured 66 and destroyed 38 homes.

 

“PG&E continues to play a lethal game with the lives of the public. We are deeply concerned by their persistent failure and unwillingness to produce accurate pipeline records, without which we cannot know whether our communities remain at risk for the same devastating and fatal explosion that we experienced in San Bruno,” said San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane. “Yet even more troubling is the CPUC’s decision to not pursue an investigation of these missing records even after preparing a motion to do so.”

 

“We question the CPUC’s sudden decision this week and are concerned it may be the result of inappropriate pressure applied by PG&E at the expense, once again, of public safety,” Ruane said.

 

The CPUC’s latest inquiry came about as part of the ongoing penalty proceeding to determine how much PG&E will be forced to pay for its gross negligence that caused the fatal explosion and fire in San Bruno. The CPUC’s administrative law judges are now considering penalties and fines against PG&E of up to $2.45 billion.

 

Yet, following unsuccessful attempts to obtain missing strength test records for more than 435 miles of pipeline directly from PG&E, the CPUC’s safety and enforcement division submitted a motion on May 30 to re-open the penalty proceeding’s record for the sole purpose of forcing PG&E to produce the documents.

 

San Bruno strongly supported the CPUC’s motion and its inquiry of the missing records, which city officials say are critical to instilling the public’s confidence in the safety of PG&E’s embattled pipeline system. San Bruno filed its own motion officially supporting the safety enforcement division’s request to obtain the missing records.

 

City officials are now questioning the division’s sudden decision to withdraw the motion and suspend the inquiry – a decision the city can only speculate as resulting from outside attempts by PG&E and its proxies to influence the CPUC’s actions.

 

“We are concerned that this decision is just further evidence of the cozy relationships that continue to jeopardize the CPUC’s ability to objectively regulate PG&E,” Ruane said.

 

San Bruno officials say this latest incident further underscores the need for an Independent Monitor, who would serve as a vigilant third-party watchdog over both PG&E and the CPUC.

 

“Only an independent monitor – free of the CPUC’s conflicts of interest and cozy relationships with PG&E that have jeopardized pipeline safety – can help guarantee that PG&E maintains good records and ensure that the CPUC provides the adequate and consistent oversight needed to keep our communities safe so that what happened in San Bruno never happens again,” Ruane said.

 

Ironically, PG&E has been spending millions of dollars on advertising its new “culture of safety,” with advertisements that stress the utility’s gas pipeline safety improvements since the San Bruno explosion and fire.  Yet, Ruane said, the utility can’t back up their advertising with proof that what they are telling the public is true.

 

Also this week, PG&E revealed that the U.S. Federal Prosecutor’s office expects to file additional legal actions against the utility for its gross negligence in the San Bruno case.  In April, the federal government charged PG&E with 12 felony violations of federal safety laws.

 

Is there a dirty deal between CPUC Michael Peevey and PG&E Executives?

Is there a dirty deal between CPUC Michael Peevey and PG&E Executives?

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Sikh Community Commemorates Massacre that “Never Happened”

  • Imagine five bombings in the United States similar to the Oklahoma City bombings — all going off simultaneously at the largest churches in the country during Christmas. 
  • Imagine young people who criticize the Federal Government’s response disappearing permanently with no explanation. 
  • Imagine a citizen who collects data to bring the bombers to justice also disappearing
  • All signs point to the Federal Government being behind the bombings, only to have officials tell citizens basically “That is old news. Get over it.”

The Sikh community has been commemorating the infamous Golden Temple massacre annually since June 6, 1984.   This year on the 30th anniversary, there will be a rally at SF City Hall on Sunday June 8 at noon.

The bombings — coupled with troops tying up and shooting worshipers — has haunted the minority Indian community for three decades.   The death toll was more than double the World Trade Center and Oklahoma City bombings combined.   And since that day, over 250,000 Sikhs have been killed by the Indian Government.  Yet the Government refuses to acknowledge the incident, forcing a media blackout.  So it is as if it never happened.  (Not according to Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch).

We won’t forget 9/11.  Jews don’t forget the holocaust.  Armenians don’t forget the slaughter of their communities.  And Sikhs will not forget the brutal Government atrocities that have continued till date.

We don’t trade with Myanmar.   We sanction Putin.   We deny passports to leaders of the Iran hostage crisis.   What are we going to with the terrorists that have just come to power in India?

The US government should seriously sanctions against a regime that has sponsored killings of minorities.

If the US wants to lead the world in justice and human rights, we have to bring these murderers to justice.

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Measure AA “Yes for Open Space” Campaign a Winning Proposition for Silicon Valley Economy

Business organizations, Facebook execs come out in support of measure to preserve and enhance access to the region’s natural areas

A bond measure to preserve open land and increase public access to thousands of acres of nature preserves in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties is being touted by local businesses as an inexpensive way to insure their professional and personal investments while maintaining a high quality of life on the Peninsula.

“The Peninsula is not only a center of innovation, it is also an incredibly beautiful place to live and work. Measure AA will help keep it that way,” said Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, Vice President of Advertising and Pages at Facebook and the grandson of Vince Garrod, a well-known advocate of open space protection in the South Bay.

The $300 million bond championed by the “Yes for Open Space” campaign would improve and enhance 25 open space areas throughout the Midpen district, which covers 550 square miles stretching from Los Gatos and Redwood City to north of Half Moon Bay.  If voters approve the measure on June 3, it would result in the restoration of thousands of acres of regional open spaces, forests, watersheds and farmland. Bond money would also be used to add 200 miles of public trails, increasing recreational opportunities for families and residents of all ages. In fact, all funds would be reserved for capital expenses and would not fund administrative overhead or compensation.

“This is a one-of-a-kind place, people want to live here because of the natural setting that surrounds us,” said Bosworth. “The fact that people from around the world want to live here is why businesses love to invest here, and it also explains why the Peninsula was able to fend off the impacts of the Great Recession better than almost anywhere else in the country.”

The quality-of-life benefit of Measure AA is one of the primary reasons it has received overwhelming support from the Peninsula business community, including such organizations as the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Half Moon Bay Coastside Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, Los Altos Chamber of Commerce, Mountain View Chamber of Commerce, and Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce.

The natural beauty of the region has helped lead to an influx of new workers, many of whom already take advantage of Midpen’s conservation efforts. Midpen now sees more than 1.5 million visitors per year and parking lots overflow at recreation staging areas on the weekends.  Measure AA would work to change that, improving infrastructure and opening access to thousands of acres of preserved land.

Measure AA would also support and enhance San Francisco Bay wetlands restoration with local, state and federal partners. Projects in the baylands would help ensure the slow release of storm water into local creeks, and reduce the risks from bay rise and potential flooding.   The measure would also protect regional wildlife and ecosystems threatened by sea-level rise and other global environmental concerns.

And the bond carries a modest cost – from $1 to a maximum of $3.18 per $100,000 of a property’s assessed value, or a maximum of $21 a year in property taxes for the owner of a $700,000 home.

“Measure AA is a common-sense commitment to the environment and will help the region attract and maintain a high-quality workforce,” Bosworth said. “That kind of foresight and commitment is one of the reasons businesses invest here and are proud to call the Peninsula home.”

For a complete list of campaign endorsements, click here. For a complete list of the 25 top open space projects that will benefit from this measure, click here.

For questions or to sign up for a tour, please contact Alex Doniach at (415) 806-8566 or alex@singersf.com. For more information visit yesforopenspace.org.

 

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PG&E is Playing Russian Roulette with Gas Pipeline Safety

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. continues to operate unsafe gas transmission pipelines in California and is playing “Russian roulette with the lives of Californians,” said civic leaders in San Bruno, where PG&E’s gross negligence led to the death of eight residents, significant injuries and the destruction of a residential neighborhood.

San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane and the City of San Bruno made the announcement to coincide with a scheduled announcement by Pacific Gas & Electric Company President Christopher Johns today where PG&E will publicize that it allegedly received “two international certifications for best in class operational standards for its gas operations.”

“PG&E must stop deceiving itself, the public, the press and the communities and cities it operates in,” Ruane said. “The gross negligence that led to the tragic and unnecessary death and destruction in San Bruno is as big a threat today as it was Sept. 9, 2010” when PG&E’s line 132 exploded, creating a shock wave with the magnitude of a 1.1 earthquake and walls of flames that reached 1,000 feet in the air.

Ruane pointed to newly released audits last month by the California Public Utilities Commission, which showed that more than 50 percent of the quality assurance and quality control records by PG&E were wrong.

The State report showed among the 20 sets of PG&E pipeline records that auditors picked at random, documentation on 11 of them was either missing, erroneous or rife with inconsistencies.

PG&E is currently facing federal criminal charges and as much as $2.5 billion in CPUC regulatory fines and penalties stemming from the San Bruno explosion and fire.

Ruane reiterated San Bruno’s call for:

1.       An independent monitor to assess and provide honest evaluation in overseeing the CPUC and PG&E’s alleged pipeline safety improvements to ensure progress is actually being made, public safety is being improved, and PG&E funds earmarked for pipeline safety are not again being diverted to executive compensation.

2.      Fully automated Gas Shut-Off Safety Valves to ensure the public’s safety in the event of future PG&E catastrophes

3.      The strongest fine possible by the CPUC of $2.5 billion against PG&E for its gross negligence in San Bruno to ensure the utility takes gas transmission safety seriously.

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Mayor Lee Unveils New Initiative To Improve Behavioral Health Services For Vulnerable Populations

New Contact, Assess, Recover & Ensure Success (CARES) Initiative Provides Comprehensive, Citywide Approach to Strengthen Current Behavioral Health System with Community Independence Placement Project Expansion, New Psychiatric Respite Center, New Peer and Family Support & Additional Case Managers to Care for Residents with Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

 Mayor Edwin M. Lee today unveiled the CARES (Contact, Assess, Recover & Ensure Success) initiative that provides a new comprehensive, citywide approach to helping residents suffering from severe mental health and substance abuse issues.

The CARES initiative will expand the Community Independence Placement Project, add a new psychiatric respite center at San Francisco General Hospital that includes peer counselors; provide new support for family members and Transitional Aged Youth; and additional case managers to care for residents with severe mental health and substance use issues. This initiative will also support a longer-term effort to advance Citywide data-sharing and coordination practices.

“We have the strongest social safety net in the nation, spending $2.7 billion every year, yet we still have far too many people unable to make the choices they need to save their own lives because of severe mental health and substance abuse issues,” said Mayor Lee. “These hard-to-reach individuals oftentimes do not access the vital treatment they need and the new CARES initiative will help by strengthening our current behavioral health system of care for those that need it most.”

“The collaborative and engaging meetings of the CARES task force helped to refocus the City’s much needed attention on those suffering from mental health issues in our community who are currently falling through the cracks in the City’s mental health services system,” stated Supervisor Mark Farrell. “I fully support the policy and programmatic recommendations that came out of the CARES task force and look forward to working with the Mayor, my colleagues, and the community to better provide care for those who are most vulnerable.”

In an effort to ensure recovery and success for this population of residents, Mayor Lee directed Health Director Barbara Garcia to form the CARES Task Force, a 21-member advisory body charged with developing a range of policy and programmatic recommendations designed to serve those residents with the most challenging symptoms—those with a severe mental health diagnosis and/or a history of substance use, a chronic medical condition, unstable housing, underemployment, and limited family connections. Oftentimes the same person is simultaneously engaged with police, service providers, probation officers and clinicians, without getting the real consistency in services that they need. The prevailing conclusion from the CARES Task Force is that San Francisco has a robust service mix that can prevent increased engagement with the criminal justice system, but current coordination efforts do not embrace the full reach of the system. The CARES Task Force recommendations developed the CARES initiative.

In the past year alone, San Francisco jails have served almost 800 inmates diagnosed with a psychotic, bipolar or major depressive order. This number excludes individuals on probation or Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS), or the roughly 2,300 individuals served at any given time through our Behavioral Health Court, Drug Court, or the Community Justice Center combined. San Francisco also has regularly 750 people conserved because their disease has progressed to that of a grave disability—which means that a person is unable to utilize the means available to provide for basic necessities, such as food, clothing or shelter.

To address this, Mayor Lee is making permanent and expanding the Community Independence Placement Project, which relies on the court system to compel treatment but takes the additional step of requiring medication compliance. Expansion may include incorporating patients from other hospitals (program is currently limited to San Francisco General Hospital) and those participating in probation-related and re-entry programs. Health experts estimate that there are hundreds of people who could immediately benefit from a stronger public conservatorship program encompassing mental health and substance abuse like this one.

To engage individuals before they reach an acute crisis point, Mayor Lee is creating a new psychiatric respite center at San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, which will provide a secure and safe environment within the community for those that need support in staving off a crisis. DPH will employ a scaled launch starting in Fall 2014, and will staff the facility primarily with peer counselors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. At its eventual maximum capacity the program will accommodate up to 12 individuals for over-night stays and up to 25 individuals during the day.

“We are world renowned for our trauma and crisis care response and the CARES advisory council has provided recommendations to improve the use of these services by recommending new program ideas that can improve our care to those  impacted by addiction and mental illness earlier and more  effectively,” said Barbara Garcia, Public Health Director.”

Not all of these individuals show-up in the City’s data systems, and therefore pose a unique challenge to outreach workers trying to make meaningful initial and ongoing contact. To address this, Mayor Lee has asked the health department to explore advanced data-sharing and coordination practices. The Mayor will also adopt a peer-based approach at the psychiatric respite center, as well as fund a family specialist to support families impacted by a loved one’s disease and a new caseworker to engage Transitional Aged Youth specifically. DPH will also add two Intensive Case Managers to absorb this increased and coordinated service reach.

 

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NEMA Tried To Erase The Castro And Chinatown From Their Map Of S.F.

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Luxe apartment complex NEMA, whose ridiculous and vaguely offensive marketing efforts have already inspired plenty of blog ire as well as a satirical Twitter account, published a map of San Francisco on their website that seems to want to pretend that gays and Chinese Americans don’t exist here anymore.

The map, which you can see above as it was three days ago, turns the Castro into “Eureka Valley/Dolores Heights” and washes over Chinatown altogether. It appears to be a co-opting of the neighborhood designations made by the San Francisco Association of Realtors and MLS a few years ago on this map, because realtors also like to pretend there’s no such thing as The Castro, for all the man-sex and dildo shops that that name connotes. But it’s another fine example of how NEMA’s marketing team is clueless.

After Twitterer EC and Vanishing SF called out the map, and after the satirical Rent Enemamocked it, the NEMA folks quickly published a new map which you can see below. Now there is no Eureka Valley, only The Castro in big letters, and they managed to squeeze Chinatown in there after all.

Nice work, everyone. Can’t wait for the next gaff.

 

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LGBT Youth Advocate Wins 2014 SF Peacemaker Award

Anayvette Martinez of LYRIC to be honored at Community Boards Luncheon on June 6

Anayvette Martinez, Founder of the School-Based Initiative for Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center (LYRIC), has been named as the 2014 winner of the Raymond Shonholtz Visionary Peacemaker Award, given to an outstanding individual who has made or is making significant contributions to peacemaking, community building and/or anti-violence work in her or his respective San Francisco neighborhood and community. She will be recognized by Community Boards, San Francisco’s non-profit conflict resolution center, during the fourth annual San Francisco Peacemaker Awards luncheon on Friday, June 6.

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“Martinez exemplifies the Raymond Shonholtz Visionary Peacemaker Award by turning a problem for LGBT students into an opportunity for all students to make peace and build community in San Francisco schools,” says Community Boards Executive Director Darlene Weide. “We are thrilled to recognize her contribution to making San Francisco a more peaceful and better place to live.”

Martinez will be honored alongside two other winners of the 2014 SF Peacemaker Awards. Lincoln High School Senior Sasha Rodriguez, peer mediator and peer counselor, will receive the Gail Sadalla Rising Peacemaker Award, which is awarded to a youth peacemaker (ages 12-24) who is making a difference in his or her school or community, setting an example for other youth in anti-violence and peacemaking activities. Bayview Hunters Point Foundation for Community Improvement will be presented with the Community Boards Leadership Peacemaker Award, presented each year to an organization that is making a meaningful track record in contributing to community building and peacemaking in San Francisco. Bios of all the winners are included below.

The 2014 Peacemaker Awards luncheon is slated for Friday, June 6, from 11 am to 1 pm, at the City Club of San Francisco, located at 155 Sansome Street. Tickets are available online for $175 for individuals, with discounts available for additional guests and for Community Boards members. Table sponsorships are also available, starting at $1000 and including 10 tickets to both the awards luncheon and the morning workshop with continental breakfast.

The Honorable Judge Cruz Reynoso, first Chicano Justice of the California Supreme Court, will present the keynote address, focusing on Restorative Justice. Claudia Viera, Esq., will teach the morning workshop at 9 am, focusing on implicit bias in the mediation process and in court.

About Community Boards

The mission of Community Boards is to empower the communities and individuals of San Francisco with the strength, skills and resources needed to express and resolve conflicts peacefully and appropriately for their culture and environment. Mediation, training and facilitation services are offered in English, Spanish, Mandarin and Cantonese to all San Francisco residents. Community Boards serves over 2,000 residents, nonprofits and businesses a year with its pool of 300+ volunteer mediators. Since 1976, Community Boards has assisted 46,000 San Francisco residents and trained more than 16,000 community members to be skilled mediators. More information is available at www.CommunityBoards.org.

About the Peacemakers  Anayvette Martinez: The Raymond Shonholtz Visionary Peacemaker Award

Anayvette Martinez believes every student deserves a safe learning environment, including the 3,000+ lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQQ) youth in the San Francisco United School District. That’s why she joined Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center (LYRIC), and it’s why she founded the organization’s innovative School-Based Initiative.

According to Martinez, “To create LGBTQ and gender-inclusive schools, we need a holistic strategy. School community transformation doesn’t happen with once a year workshops; we need to envelop these conversations in school norms, curriculum, monthly activities, and bring everyone to the table.”

So, three years ago, she launched and took the helm of LYRIC’s School-Based Initiative. Based on a Restorative Justice approach, the program promotes allyship over tolerance, while giving participants practical tools to address harassment, bullying, and other violence against LGBTQQ youth. Under her leadership, the initiative is making public schools in San Francisco safer for LGBTQQ students by providing a year-long gender/sexuality-emphasized social justice course for students, a professional development training track for teachers and school staff, and discussion circles and support groups for families. Not only has her work made a substantial and immediate impact at Everett Middle School, Balboa High School, Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8, and Mission High School, it serves as a model for schools throughout California and across the nation.

Sasha Rodriguez: The Gail Sadalla Rising Peacemaker Award

“I like feeling like I am actually helping; it brings me satisfaction. I am helping make a difference by helping people make a difference in themselves. When I help other people it actually helps me figure out ways to solve problems in my own life,” she explains.

As a Peer Mediator and Peer Counselor, the Lincoln High School senior helps her fellow students by offering a safe venue and expert mediation skills to resolve conflict between students and with teachers. As one of only two student members of the Restorative Practices Leadership Team, she is working with teachers and staff to introduce and promote Restorative Practices at her school. As a Peer Mentor, she has taken a Freshman under her wing, working one-on-one with her in a support role. And as a Peer Educator, she teaches other young people – at Lincoln High and city-wide – to know their rights with law enforcement.

Teachers and peers describe Rodriguez as a bridge-builder, bridging the often-wide gulf between adults and youth. She actively and consistently amplifies the youth voice at Lincoln High, where she is seen as a role model for collaborative problem solving, effective communication and peacemaking in a diverse environment.

After graduation, she plans to attend Skyline College and work part-time, eventually transferring to a University to study and pursue a career in Marine Biology.

 

Bayview Hunters Point Foundation for Community Improvement:  Community Boards Leadership Peacemaker Award

Residents of Bayview Hunters Point are far too familiar with violence and crime in the neighborhood. And one organization has been working for more than 40 years to ensure they’re just as familiar with resources and opportunities to create an empowered, clean, safe and healthy community. Established by Bayview citizens in 1971 to serve the needs of residents of the community, Bayview Hunters Point Foundation for Community Improvement tackles youth gang violence and other crime head-on by connecting community members with – and fostering collaboration between – existing neighborhood services. Their Community Response Network (CRN) provides counseling at crime scenes as well as continuing support at the hospital, in the home, and in the neighborhood, connecting crime victims, their families, and witnesses with trauma recovery and mental health services, job training and placement, alternative education, health services, and recreation opportunities.

Their Youth Services program provides a safe space for 11-18 year olds to congregate and connects them with counseling and treatment, community beautification projects, and positive educational and recreational opportunities. The ROSIE Project provides hands-on, ongoing support to help 14-25 year old women meet court obligations and follow up with positive life choices in school and the community. The programs are all modeled on a vision of youth advocacy which honors the individual needs of participants, and supports and enhances individual, peer, and family life.

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Shipwreck: San Francisco’s Worst Remains Undiscovered — Along with Millions in Silver

Amazing scenes were witnessed today when it was revealed the elusive wreckage of the City of Chester has been located 216 feet beneath the waves, not far from the Golden Gate Bridge.

That ship’s 1888 sinking killed 16 people; it was the second-worst disaster recorded on the waters of San Francisco Bay.
The worst disaster, however, vanished without a trace. And, as is the case with so many horrendous incidents later rendered insignificant by the Great Quake of 1906, it has equally vanished from public memory.
There is, however, a story to tell. It was 1901. It was the extreme tail end of a journey from Hong Kong to San Francisco.
And it was foggy.
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Golden Gate National Recreation Area Archive
Happier times

 

On Feb. 22, 1901, the City of Rio De Janeiro steamed through the Golden Gate; had it not been so perilously foggy the city’s lights would have beckoned.

The voyage from the Far East was ostensibly 99.9 percent complete. But 99.99 percent is not 100 percent. Some 130 people would soon learn this in the most unforgiving manner possible.
San Francisco’s worst maritime disaster didn’t take long to unfold. The City of Rio de Janeiro sank in just eight minutes after striking submerged rocks near Fort Point. The ship’s underside was ripped nearly completely open and its hold flooded rapidly. Rescue crews only hundreds of yards away remained oblivious due to the dense fog; their first clue of the unfolding tragedy came when lifeboats floated by two hours later.
By the time rescue vessels could be dispatched, it was too late to save many passengers. A few were found clinging to scattered bits of wreckage, but, of the 220-odd people aboard the boat, only 82 were saved — many by Italian fishermen on the scene far sooner than official personnel.
Captain William Ward, who always said he’d go down with his ship, went down with his ship. So did silver ingots with a present-day value exceeding $22 million.
Detritus from the wreck washed up throughout the bay; luggage and chairs were found as far off as Suisun. In 1931, a man known to history only as “Captain Haskell” told gawping news reporters that he’d discovered the vessel with a two-man sub of his own devising. He filed a claim on the wreckage and hatched plans to become a millionaire.
Instead, in July of that year, he would disappear, never to be seen again.
The City of Rio de Janeiro has long since been forgotten. Its wreckage was never recovered.
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Mayor Lee & Board President Chiu Launch Ellis Act Housing Preference Program

New Law Gives Displaced Tenants Preference for City’s Affordable Housing

Mayor Edwin M. Lee and Board of Supervisors President David Chiu today launched the Ellis Act Housing Preference Program (EAHP) for tenants who are evicted under the State Ellis Act. Displaced tenants will now be given preference for the City’s affordable housing programs.

“This gives San Francisco’s longtime tenants and working families the much needed and urgent help they need after an Ellis Act eviction,” said Mayor Lee. “While we work on Ellis Act Reform to eliminate speculative evictions in our City, we are also providing some relief to tenants who can now more easily participate in San Francisco’s affordable housing programs, so that we remain a City for the 100 percent.”

“We must do everything we can to help San Franciscans facing Ellis Act evictions,” said Board President Chiu, who began this legislative effort in October 2013. “This safety net measure assists our most vulnerable tenants and reinforces our commitment to building more affordable housing as quickly as possible.”

The Ellis Act Displacement Emergency Assistance Ordinance, which responded to concerns in the rise of Ellis Act Evictions that paralleled rising market-rate housing prices, was unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors and signed into law by Mayor Lee on December 18, 2013.

Landlords subject to the Rent Ordinance must have “just cause” to evict existing tenants. Of several allowable reasons for eviction that are not the tenant’s fault (“No-Fault Evictions”), Owner Move-In and Ellis Act Evictions are historically the most numerous. No-Fault Evictions rose significantly in 2013.

In response, the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development created the EAHP to assist the rising number of tenants displaced due to Ellis Act evictions and for whom a market rate rental unit is unaffordable.

The EAHP gives displaced tenant preference in City affordable housing programs. Tenants who have been or may be displaced by Ellis Act Evictions that took place in 2012 or later may apply for an EAHP certificate from the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development. An EAHP Certificate will give tenants priority consideration to obtain a housing unit in a City-funded or Inclusionary housing development. Applicants must meet program eligibility rules.

For more information on the EAHP and the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, go to sf-moh.org.

 

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Officials from the Netherlands Come to SF to Kick Off Project Senior Vitality – Based on a Successful Dutch Model


Program Connects Seniors to Social Workers and Family via Internet

The Mayor of Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan, and San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim join Curry Senior Center Executive Director Dave Knego to kick off Project Senior Vitality.    The program is a joint effort between the two cities to assist 4,800 of San Francisco Tenderloin’s 14,000 seniors who live alone and are susceptible to states of loneliness, depression, acute and chronic illness and lower vitality.

The program builds on a successful Dutch model, where socially-isolated seniors living in the Netherlands were provided a tablet and a one-on-one coach, who gave 2 hours of weekly tablet training over a period of three months.  After the three months, the seniors were able to easily access the internet, connect with family and friends, create their support network and eventually access specific resources that helped to improve their overall health and nutritional habits.    Results for the Dutch program found that 51% of the seniors experienced less loneliness, and 63% felt safer and more secure in their environment.

Project Senior Vitality is designed to start with Curry Senior Center residents and grow to the surrounding Tenderloin community.  Over three years, Project Senior Vitality will put 250 seniors on an upward quality-of-life spiral focused on peer and community support, less loneliness, better wellness, and self-management of chronic conditions.

“Curry Senior Center has an in-house computer center filled with seniors learning and exploring technology every day.  The Dutch Model takes the desires of seniors toward positive steps in managing their health and wellness, and extends digital access to their own homes.  I see Project Senior Vitality as a win-win for the city of San Francisco and its resident seniors,” said Knego.  “The expected outcomes include: less loneliness, more community connectivity, better resident health at a lower cost and a reduction in the use of emergency health care services. We fully anticipate this scalable effort to grow far beyond our own community. “

Mayor van der Laan, a long-time supporter of the needs of the elderly, will hand out the first tablets and sensors to begin the process of improvements in low-income senior health and well being to two formerly homeless seniors living in Curry Senior Center Housing, Linda Rosependowski and Judith Vincent. Both women were the first two who leaped at the opportunity because they hope to reconnect with family as well as be empowered to be more active in the process of managing their own healthcare. Many other seniors have already signed up on the waiting list even though the program is just getting started.

The pilot is facilitated by Healthcare Innovation Transfer, a Dutch public-private program hosted by the Dutch Consulate General in San Francisco., with additional tangible support offered by two tech companies: San Francisco’s Salesforce.com and Withings in France.

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Powerball Winner to Use $425 Million to Travel, Start Charity

Ray Buxton, the winner of the $425 million Powerball lottery, wants to use his new found fortune to travel and start a foundation to do good by fighting child hunger and promoting pediatric health and education.

Buxton claimed his prize today from the California Lottery and is still overwhelmed with excitement. “Unbelievable” is the best word, he said, to describe his winning the sixth largest Powerball jackpot in history.

“Once the initial shock passed I couldn’t sleep for days,” is how the senior citizen described his feelings after realizing on Feb. 19 that he was sole ticket winner.

Since winning, he said, he has sat in front his computer in disbelief frequently re-checking the numbers across multiple sources. While validating the numbers at the California Lottery web site, he came across the “I Won! Now What? Winners Handbook,” and started to put a plan in motion. As advised in the handbook, it took some time to solidify legal and financial representation.

Buxton said his short term goals are to “spend time with my family and friends, start a charity and consult with professionals on how to pragmatically utilize this windfall.”

“My longer term plan is trying to find a way to live a normal and discreet life,” Buxton added.

Who was the first person he told about winning? Nobody, he said.

“Sitting on a ticket of this value was very scary. It’s amazing how a little slip of paper can change your life. I’m going to enjoy my new job setting up a charitable foundation focused on the areas of pediatric health, child hunger and education,” he added.

Buxton estimates he has been playing the lottery for 20 years. He beat the odds, which were one in 175 million, to become the winner of the $425.3 million Powerball Lottery on Feb. 19. He purchased his ticket at the Dixon Landing Chevron in Milpitas.  His winning Powerball numbers were 17, 49, 54, 35, and 1, with a Powerball number of 34.

He said played the lottery regularly under the mantra: “You can’t win if you don’t play.” The Feb. 19 Powerball jackpot was big – so he decided to test his luck twice purchasing a second ticket for the week’s draw. He had previously purchased an entry for the draw, but luckily chose to purchase a second Powerball ticket while picking up food at the Subway inside Milpitas Chevron on California Circle. It was a smart choice because he ended up matching six of six Powerball numbers to win.

He has selected the cash option, which according to Lottery officials, is around $242.2 million before Federal taxes.

Buxton waited until today to claim his prize. Since winning in February, he has been working with his attorney Susan von Herrmann at the law firm of Schiff Hardin LLP to establish bank accounts, a charity, and work on tax issues.

Buxton does not want to do media interviews at this time and referred all media to his public relations representative Sam Singer of Singer Associates Public Affairs and Public Relations in San Francisco.  Phone: 415-227-9700. Email: Singer@SingerSF.com

 

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Gluten Free Crepes Contest Winner at Squat and Gobble

Jessann Cohn, a trained chef who works as a caterer, has just moved the Gluten Free bar a bit further.   The Haight resident is the winner in the Squat and Gobble gluten free crepe contest and won $300 and a years worth of monthly meals.  Cohn currently works as a caterer with one of the larger SF catering companies.

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“”Crepe’ and ‘Gluten Free’ are rarely heard in the same sentence” according to Squat and Gobble managing partner Issa Sweidan.   “Because we specialize in crepes, we wanted to include an alternative for people with gluten issues.  So we conducted this contest to get some new ideas to make sure all of our customers can enjoy our family-friendly menu.”

Cohn’s winning recipe replaces traditional flour with chickpea flour among its chief ingredients.   Beginning this month a version of her crepe will appear on the menu at all five Squat and Gobble locations.

At the same time, all locations will offer gluten-free pasta, as well.

Squat and Gobble has served the Upper Haight, Lower Haight, Marina, Castro and West Portal since 1994.  Www.squatandgobble.com.

 

 

 

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In San Francisco, Plastic Bottles Going the Way of Plastic Bags

Bottled water is no longer welcome in San Francisco.

The City by the Bay earlier this week scored yet another environmental first when legislators here unanimously voted to end the sale and distribution of plastic bottled water on municipal property—a move that will bring the city nearer its goal of diverting all its waste from landfill or incineration by 2020.

The sales ban takes San Francisco a step beyond former Mayor Gavin Newsom’s 2007 executive order forbidding it to purchase bottled water with city funds. While six states and at least 140 other American cities, such as Seattle, have also officially stopped buying bottled water with municipal money, San Francisco is the first major city to prohibit vendors on its property from selling the item.

The city estimates that worldwide, tens of millions of single-serving plastic water bottles are sent to landfills every year. More than 75 percent of the 50 billion plastic bottles of water consumed by Americans each year—167 per person—are not recycled, according to journalist Charles Fishman.

“Given that San Franciscans can access clean and inexpensive water out of our taps, we need to wean ourselves out of our addiction to plastic water bottles,” said David Chiu, the county supervisor who introduced the ordinance. “The bottled water industry spends millions of dollars to undermine the public’s faith in tap water,” said Lauren DeRusha, an organizer with Corporate Accountability International, whose organization worked with San Francisco on the legislation as part of a national campaign to protect public water systems.

The legislation—which applies to bottles 21 ounces or smaller—will become official if signed by Mayor Ed Lee later this month and will be applied only to new leases and permits granted by the city. Exceptions will be made for events in areas with restricted access to public water until October 2016. Footraces and public sporting events will always be exempt, as will special circumstances where public health and safety are of concern.

The development in San Francisco is part of a growing movement to ban the bottle. Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New York, and Vermont have prohibited use of public money to buy single-use plastic bottled water. In January 2013, the town of Concord, Mass., stopped sales of any plastic bottled water 34 ounces or smaller within city limits. Dozens of colleges and universities have rid themselves of the bottles in their stores and vending machines. And U.S. national parks, such as Mount Rainier in Washington state, are getting in on the cause as well. Fourteen have already enacted a ban, says DeRusha, who is working on a national effort with Corporate Accountability International.

Not surprisingly, an industry group expressed opposition to the San Francisco ordinance.

“Water is good for you, and people should be able to choose how they drink it—whether from a tap, a fountain, or recyclable container,” the American Beverage Association expressed in a statement.

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Mayor Lee Announces Doubling Of City’s First Time Home Buyer Down Payment Home Loan Assistance Program

City’s Housing Trust Fund Grows Homeownership Opportunities for San Francisco Residents

Mayor Edwin M. Lee today announced the doubling of loan amounts for San Francisco’s Down Payment Assistance Loan Program (DALP), a homeownership program that provides financial assistance to low- to moderate-income first time home buyers, by offering a deferred-payment loan that requires no repayment for 40 years or at the re-sale of the unit. Starting this week, individual loans of up to $200,000 will be available to qualified buyers.

“The expansion of the DALP program proves the immediate and tangible impact of the Housing Trust Fund to assist the City’s first time home buyers and provide homeownership opportunities for San Francisco residents,” said Mayor Lee. “This down payment assistance program has assisted many working families in our City and will continue to support our diverse workforce that is so critical to our economy.”

Originally created through the passage of Proposition A in 1996, the program has traditionally provided loans of up to $100,000 for down payment assistance. However, given the high cost of homes in today’s market, a higher loan amount is need to enable low to moderate income borrowers to keep up with market conditions, especially families. Increased DALP amounts will enable San Francisco low to moderate income, first time homebuyers to better compete in today’s housing market, where the current median sales price is in excess of $800,000.

Through the passage of the Housing Trust Fund, the DALP will have available funds of $2 million this year, which will enable the larger downpayment amount to be available for individual down payment loans. The Housing Trust Fund will also provide an additional $1 million for the First Responders Program this year. Altogether, during the first five years following the passage of the Housing Trust Fund, through loans provided through the DALP and the First Responders Program, San Francisco will be able to help at least 100 households buy their first home.

The Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) offers qualified buyers a number of programs that can assist first time homebuyers. In addition to the DALP, the BMR – DALP Downpayment Assistance Program (CalHome) aids first time home buyers purchasing a Below Market Rate unit. To date, MOHCD’s homeownership assistance programs have helped almost 3,000 families to buy a home. More than 600 DALP loans have been made, and since this program’s launch in 2013, MOHCD has funded four First Responder loans totaling nearly $500,000, with six other loans in process to close in 2014.

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Squat and Gobble Returns from the Ashes

After nearly 17 months of reconstruction, the West Portal         Squat and Gobble restaurant has returned from the ashes.  The corner of West Portal and Ulloa had turned to rubble in November of 2012 from a fire that has consumed the restaurant and adjacent businesses.

After a new design team headed up by architect Suhel Shatara and interior designer Rod Rossi, created a second floor to be used as a separate meeting/dining space to be used by community groups and private parties along expanded seating areas.

“The new restaurant will be able to serve more customers in a contemporary dining room from a efficient and gorgeous new kitchen,” according to Managing Partner Issa Sweiden.  “Our rebirth also includes a new menu that includes gluten free crepes and pastas and new dinner items.

To celebrate the opening of the new space, Squat and Gobble will offer free coffee to commuters as they go to work all week through March 15.  Also there will be reception for the neighboring businesses and non-profit groups to show them the new space and invite them to book the new private meeting/dining area upstairs.

 

 

 

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Build My Heart Foundation Hosts Major Sports Memorabilia Auction to Raise Money to Support Children with Congenital Heart Disease

Fourth Annual Heart and Soul Gala & Auction scheduled for March 15, 2014 in Emeryville

The Build My Heat Foundation will host a sports memorabilia auction at its upcoming gala from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, March 15 at St. Columba Rectory, 6401 San Pablo Ave, Emeryville.

The free gala event will feature drawings, giveaways, and a silent auction for signed sports memorabilia from notable Bay Area sports teams such as the San Francisco 49ers, the Oakland Raiders, the San Francisco Giants, and the Golden State Warriors. The proceeds will help to support families with children who are affected by heart disease in the Bay Area.

BryceBryce, a Build My Heart Foundation Client

“We are honored to be hosting the Fourth Annual Heart and Soul Gala to spread awareness of congenital heart disease, and raise money to support those families who have been most impacted by it,” said Ella Bell, the founder of Build My Heart.  “We are deeply touched by the generosity of our local sports teams who have provided autographed memorabilia and other auction items that will go toward helping families cope with this disease.”

The Build My Heart Foundation is a non-profit that provides emotional, social, and financial support to at-risk, low income, families with children affected by congenital heart disease. A congenital heart defect is an abnormality in any part of the heart that is present at birth. Heart defects originate in the early weeks of pregnancy when the heart is forming. The Foundation was established in 2010 when Ms. Bell’s son, Bryce Malik House, was born and diagnosed with heart disease. She became inspired to help other struggling families in similar situations by raising money to offer them gas cards, hotel accommodations, food, and care packages. To date, the Foundation has worked with over 20 families in the Bay Area to offer their support and services.

This event is free and open to the public. For more information about the Build My Heart Foundation and the Fourth Annual Heart and Soul Gala, please visit www.buildmyheart.org or call 1.866.838.9490.

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Build My Heart Foundation Clients and Friends

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Ecuador Plaintiffs, Steven Donziger, Committed Fraud against Chevron in Ecuador Case

Berlinger and Donziger

Joe Berlinger’s (left) Film “Crude,” paid for by Ecuador Plaintiff Attorney Steven Donziger, ultimately led to a crushing victory for Chevron Corporation in the Ecuador Case

Chevron Corporation won a major victory today when a New York federal judge ruled that the case against the oil company in Ecuador was procured by fraud.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in New York found that lead plaintiff attorney Steven Donziger used bribery, coercion, fraud and other illegal means to create a fraudulent case against Chevron in Ecuador.

Donziger, whose fraudulent lawsuit was supported by environmental organizations such as AmazonWatch in San Francisco, Rainforest Action Network, Earthrights International, and other alleged environmental groups, might have gotten away with the crime if it were not for the sloppy work of Hollywood movie director Joe Berlinger.

Berlinger, who was paid by the plaintiffs to produce a film that lambasted Chevron for alleged pollution in Ecuador, ultimately and ironically, became Chevron’s savior.

Berlinger’s movie “Crude” produced evidence that led Chevron to its important court victory today in New York.

In making his ruling, Judge Kaplan  said Donziger and the Ecuador plaintiffs used “corrupt means” to secure a multi-billion-dollar pollution judgment against Chevron Corp in Ecuador, giving a major setback for attorneys hoping to collect on the award.

Kaplan said he found “clear and convincing evidence” that attorney Steven Donziger’s legal team bribed an Ecuadorean judge to issue an $18 billion judgment against the oil company in 2011.

The villagers had said Texaco, later acquired by Chevron, contaminated an oil field in northeastern Ecuador between 1964 and 1992.  Ecuador’s high court cut the judgment to $9.5 billion last year.

Kaplan’s decision bars Donziger and environmental groups like AmazonWatch and public relations agent Karen Hinton from enforcing the Ecuadorean ruling in the United States. It may also give Chevron legal ammunition in other countries where the plaintiffs could try to go after Chevron’s assets.

At a six-week trial last year, Chevron accused Donziger of fraud and racketeering and said Texaco cleaned up the site, known as Lago Agrio, before handing it over to a state-controlled entity.

Below is the full text of U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan’s opening judgement today against Steven Donziger and the Ecuador plaintiffs:

“Steven Donziger, a New York City lawyer, led a group of American and Ecuadorian lawyers who brought an action in Ecuador (the “Lago Agrio” case) in the names of 47 plaintiffs (the“Lago Agrio Plaintiffs” or “LAPs”), on behalf of thousands of indigenous peoples of the Orienté region of Ecuador, against Chevron Corporation (“Chevron”).

They claimed that Chevron was responsible for extensive environmental damage caused by oil activities of Texaco, Inc. (“Texaco”), that ended more than twenty years ago and long before Chevron acquired Texaco’s stock.

After years of pressuring Chevron to settle by a variety of both legitimate and illegitimate means, Donziger and his clients obtained a multibillion dollar judgment (the“Judgment”) in the Ecuadorian courts and now seek to enforce it around the world.

Chevron then brought this action, contending among other things that the Judgment was procured by fraud.  Following a full trial, it now seeks equitable relief against Donziger and the two of his Ecuadorian clients who defended this case in order to prevent any of them from profiting from the alleged fraud or from seeking to enforce the Judgment in the United States.

This case is extraordinary. The facts are many and sometimes complex. They include things that normally come only out of Hollywood – coded emails among Donziger and his colleagues describing their private interactions with and machinations directed at judges and a court appointed expert, their payments to a supposedly neutral expert out of a secret account, a lawyer who invited a film crew to innumerable private strategy meetings and even to ex parte meetings with judges, an Ecuadorian judge who claims to have written the multibillion dollar decision but who was so inexperienced and uncomfortable with civil cases that he had someone else (a former judge who had been removed from the bench) draft some civil decisions for him, an 18-year old typist who supposedly did Internet research in American, English, and French law for the same judge, who knew only Spanish, and much more. The evidence is voluminous.

The transnational elements of the case make it sensitive and challenging. Nevertheless, the Court has had the benefit of a lengthy trial. It has heard 31 witnesses in person and considered deposition and/or other sworn or, in one instance, stipulated testimony of 37 others. It has considered thousands of exhibits. It has made its findings, which of necessity are lengthy and detailed.

Upon consideration of all of the evidence, including the credibility of the witnesses– though several of the most important declined to testify – the Court finds that Donziger began his involvement in this controversy with a desire to improve conditions in the area in which his Ecuadorian clients live. To be sure, he sought also to do well for himself while doing good for others, but there was nothing wrong with that. In the end, however, he and the Ecuadorian lawyers he led corrupted the Lago Agrio case.

They submitted fraudulent evidence. They coerced one judge, first to use a court-appointed, supposedly impartial, “global expert” to make an overall damages assessment and, then, to appoint to that important role a man whom Donziger hand-picked and paid to “totally play ball” with the LAPs.

They then paid a Colorado consulting firm secretly to write all or most of the global expert’s report, falsely presented the report as the work of the court-appointed and supposedly impartial expert, and told half-truths or worse to U.S. courts in attempts to prevent exposure of that and other wrongdoing. Ultimately, the LAP team wrote the Lago Agrio court’s Judgment themselves and promised $500,000 to the Ecuadorian judge to rule in their favor and sign their judgment. If ever there were a case warranting equitable relief with respect to a judgment procured by fraud, this is it.

The defendants seek to avoid responsibility for their actions by emphasizing that the Lago Agrio case took place in Ecuador and by invoking the principle of comity. But that warrants no different conclusion.

Comity and respect for other nations are important. But comity does not command blind acquiescence in injustice, least of all acquiescence within the bounds of our own nation.

Courts of equity long have granted relief against fraudulent judgments entered in other states and, though less frequently, other countries. Moreover, the United States has important interests here. The misconduct at issue was planned, supervised, financed and executed in important (but not all) respects by Americans in the United States in order to extract money from a U.S. victim.

That said, considerations of comity and the avoidance of any misunderstanding have shaped the relief sought here. Chevron no longer seeks, and this Court does not grant, an injunction barring enforcement of the Lago Agrio Judgment anywhere in the world.

What this Court does do is to prevent Donziger and the two LAP Representatives, who are subject to this Court’s personal jurisdiction, from profiting in any way from the egregious fraud that occurred here. That is quite a different matter. Indeed, the LAP Representatives’ lawyer recently conceded before the Second Circuit that the defendants “would not have a problem” with “the alternative relief that [Chevron] would be seeking, such as enjoining the person who paid the bribe from benefitting from it,” assuming that the judge was bribed.

Defendants thus have acknowledged the propriety of equitable relief to prevent individuals subject to the Court’s jurisdiction from benefitting from misdeeds for which they are responsible. And while the Court does enjoin enforcement of the Judgment by these defendants in the United States, that limited injunction raises no issues of comity or international relations. It is the prerogative of American courts to determine whether foreign judgments may be no different conclusion.

Comity and respect for other nations are important. But comity does not command blind acquiescence in injustice, least of all acquiescence within the bounds of our own nation.

Courts of equity long have granted relief against fraudulent judgments entered in other states and, though less frequently, other countries. Moreover, the United States has important interests here.  The misconduct at issue was planned, supervised, financed and executed in important (but not all) respects by Americans in the United States in order to extract money from a U.S. victim.

That said, considerations of comity and the avoidance of any misunderstanding have shaped the relief sought here. Chevron no longer seeks, and this Court does not grant, an injunction barring enforcement of the Lago Agrio Judgment anywhere in the world.

What this Court does do is to prevent Donziger and the two LAP Representatives, who are subject to this Court’s personal jurisdiction, from profiting in any way from the egregious fraud that occurred here. That is quite a different matter. Indeed, the LAP Representatives’ lawyer recently conceded before the Second Circuit that the defendants “would not have a problem” with “the alternative relief that [Chevron] would be seeking, such as enjoining the person who paid the bribe from benefitting from it,” assuming that the judge was bribed.1

Defendants thus have acknowledged the propriety of equitable relief to prevent individuals subject to the Court’s jurisdiction from benefitting from misdeeds for which they are responsible. And while the Court does enjoin enforcement of the Judgment by these defendants in the United States, that limited injunction raises no issues of comity or international relations. It is the prerogative of American courts to determine whether foreign judgments may be laws of any nation that aspires to the rule of law, including Ecuador – and they knew it. Indeed, one Ecuadorian legal team member, in a moment of panicky candor, admitted that if documents exposing just part of what they had done were to come to light, “apart from destroying the proceeding, all of us, your attorneys, might go to jail.”2

It is time to face the facts.”

Link to the judgement: http://tinyurl.com/o8p6gve

 

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San Bruno Files Court Petition for Expedited Hearing for CPUC Public Documents in PG&E Explosion Case

 The City of San Bruno has been assigned a March 27 court date to argue why the California Public Utilities Commission should be ordered to immediately turn over public records believed to show improper contact between senior management and judges, among other public records, related to the Sept. 9, 2010 Pacific Gas & Electric pipeline explosion in San Bruno.

Also, last week, attorneys for San Bruno filed a separate order asking that a Superior Court judge expedite the court’s review and–due to the urgent nature of this case and impending decision by the CPUC’s administrative law judges–quickly demand that the CPUC turn over records connected to the PG&E penalty and fine for the 2010 San Bruno explosion and fire that killed eight people, injured 66 and destroyed scores of homes.

San Bruno believes these records may demonstrate the ongoing “cozy relationships” between the CPUC and PG&E that federal investigators determined to be a leading cause of the explosion and fire.

The hearing in Superior Court is at 9:30 a.m. March 27 in room 203 of the San Francisco Superior Court, 400 McAllister St.

“This lawsuit calls for full transparency so that the people of San Bruno and the citizens of California can be confident about the integrity of this long penalty process against PG&E,” said San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane. “Due to the urgency and importance of this matter, we’ve asked that the court  expedite the process so that the public can have full knowledge of conversations behind the scenes that may directly affect the outcome of the case to hold PG&E and its shareholders fully accountable for their gross negligence that caused tragedy in our community.”

San Bruno filed the original public records lawsuit in Superior Court on Feb. 4 after the CPUC refused to fulfill four separate public records requests dating back more than 10 months, in violation of the California Public Records Act.

At the center of San Bruno’s legal filing is an email correspondence from Executive Director Paul Clanon to the Administrative Law Judges that allegedly violates the CPUC’s own rules and is believed to demonstrate improper communication and influence between the CPUC’s senior management and the judges tasked with determining whether to levy a recommended $2.45 billion penalty and fine against PG&E.

The CPUC’s excuses for not producing the records have ranged from the deliberative process privilege to arguing that it was “very busy” and would respond when it had free time – a “response that makes a mockery of the value of public participation within its own government,” according to the suit filed on Feb. 4. Every public agency in California has an obligation to respond to requests for public records as a result of legislation that was adopted by the state more than 40 years ago.

San Bruno officials say these records are important because they may reveal the very problems that federal investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board identified as a cause of PG&E’s persistent and troubling inability to maintain accurate gas pipeline records, which continues to threaten the public’s safety by keeping the utility at risk for future pipeline failures.

“An open, honest and fully transparent process is the only way that we can ensure the safety of PG&E’s gas pipelines so that what happened in San Bruno never happens again, anywhere in California,” Ruane added.

San Bruno city officials have just launched an online petition drive that seeks the public’s participation in calling on the CPUC to hold PG&E and its shareholders accountable for the 2010 pipeline explosion.  San Bruno’s petition – which already has more than 15,000 signatures – is available at: www.gaspipelinesafety.org.

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This Map Shows Why People Should Stop Freaking Out About Rent Prices In San Francisco

From outrageous listing prices to Google Bus protests, soaring rents in San Francisco have been all over the news lately.

But new data from online real estate marketplace Zumper tells an altogether different story.

Zumper compared median prices for 1-bedroom apartments from hundreds of listings posted on their site during the month of January. They then calculated the change from January 2013 to January 2014. What they found was that while some neighborhoods certainly did see an increase in rents year-over-year, rents in other neighborhoods stayed the same or even decreased significantly.

 

11Jan14rentchangesf_RENTCHANGESFZumper

 

Instead of taking information from Craigslist or other boards, Zumper’s platform allows realtors to post their listings directly to their site. According to Zumper Co-founder and COO Taylor Glass-Moore, this means that listings are more accurate, and there’s no duplicate information.

 

Glass-Moore says that one reason for the frenzy surrounding San Francisco rent is that the media tends to focus on certain neighborhoods that have historically been popular with residents, including techies.

“A lot of the focus is on overall prices and trying to identify unit types where there’s been the most appreciation to have a number that is really dramatic,” Glass-Moore said to Business Insider. “Multiple factors are causing the changes, but only one is being discussed.”

The tech sector has largely been blamed for causing rents to rise and longtime residents to be evicted from their homes, but that’s only one part of the problem, according to Glass-Moore.

“Yes, tech is driving demand and prices for apartments, but only in specific neighborhoods,” he said. “A lot of focus is placed on SOMA or the Mission where a lot of tech workers have moved, but that’s not representative of the city as a whole. There are plenty of neighborhoods where people aren’t wearing Google Glass and jumping into a Google shuttle.”

Other factors contributing to high rents include rising construction of luxury condos, increase in short-term rentals (which tend to be more expensive than long-term), and rent-controlled housing. Most units in San Francisco are protected under rent control, but that locks up housing supply, according to Glass-Moore.

Though rents in San Francisco were up 2.74% as a whole over the last year, Downtown and the Financial District were two neighborhoods that saw a decrease of up to 10% in rent prices. Sunset is another desirable neighborhood with relatively reasonable rent.

He also emphasized that high rents in San Francisco are nothing new.

“Rentals were expensive in San Francisco last year as well, so it’s not like they were cheap last year and now they’re much more expensive,” Glass-Moore said. ”The message that I think should be made clear is that San Francisco is still an affordable city to live in if you’re open to other neighborhoods.”

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/san-francisco-rent-map-2014-2#ixzz2uh5h6Id0

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