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On Scene with Bill Wilson


As the government shutdown enters the second week, I attended three events last weekend that emphatically reminded me about the greatness of the human spirit that seems so not in evidence on the national political scene. The three events might at first seem unrelated – a 75th birthday party, a worship service honoring marriage equality and President and Mrs. Carter joining hundreds of Habitat for Humanity volunteers in Oakland, California to build hones for people who need them. However they were united by common use of the words like love, humanity, dignity and rights.

 

 Joy Bianchi celebrates her 75th birthday at the Fairmont

 

Joy Bianchi is an incredible woman who has spent 60 of her 75 years helping people with developmental handicaps. She founded Helpers of the Mentally Retarded, (a name which will soon be changed to just plain “Helpers”) a group devoted to helping provide for people with handicaps with safe places to be. From 1966 until 2003 they ran group homes. Their fundraising efforts included a boutique store in Ghirardelli Square and a Haute Couture Boutique on Fulton Street. Her birthday dinner was held at the Fairmont and preceded by a reception in the penthouse. She spoke very movingly of what it is that a person with developmental handicaps needs. I would do a disservice to Joy’s eloquence to try to paraphrase or summarize her words, but as I listened I was struck that the needs were universal – a place of safety, stability and interaction with people.

Both President Carter and Joy Bianchi understand the basic need for housing. Providing a safe place for people to live should be a basic human right that needs to be recognized by our society. Our society also needs to recognize the right of any individual the right to marry the person they love. That was the point of the annual Witness Our Welcome service held Sunday October 6 at the Walnut Creek United Methodist Church were John Lewis and Stuart Gaffney, marriage equality advocates,  were honored with the Spirit Award.

 

 John Lewis and Stuart Gaffney at Walnut Creek United Methodist Church

 

After partying Saturday night, worshipping Sunday afternoon, Monday morning dawned bright and early as I made my way across the new Bay Bridge to Oakland to the Brookfield Village neighborhood in Oakland. The Carters were already at work when I arrived at 8:30am and I was able to get some photos of the Carters working on putting in window frames on the first floor of a two story home on Brookfield Court. For me both the Carters and Joy Bianchi exemplify the kind of people who live their faith through example rather than words and whose actions have made the world a better place for all.

 

President Carter measuring for a window sill.

 

There was a personal highlight of the day for me. One of the volunteers on the project was a nephew of Mrs. Carter. He bought his family over to where the President and Mrs. Carter were working to say hello. President and Mrs. Carter came outside to talk with them. After several minutes President Carter went back inside to go back to work but Mrs. Carter stayed a little longer to talk with them. The saw for cutting various pieces of wood were located in what will become the front yard. So when President Carter came back outside with a piece of wood that needed to be cut, he looked around to see where Mrs. Carter was. Seeing that she was still talking with her relative he turned to the group of media and said, “Can I get some help holding this?” Since I was the nearest person I ended up holding the wood while he made the cut.     

 

 President Carter gets an assist from Mrs. Carter as he cuts wood for a window frame.


If someone were to ask me what makes America great I would cite these three examples of people volunteering to make the world a better place for everyone.  

 

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This Is Why People Who Live In San Francisco Are So Happy And Healthy

The Huffington Post  

san francisco
Rudyard Kipling once said that the only drawback to San Francisco is how hard it is to leave.

Many San Franciscans would agree with Kipling: Bay Area natives and transplants alike tend to be fiercely loyal to their city, and most SFers would tell you that they could never imagine living anywhere else. With sweeping vistas on every hill, beautiful beaches, year-round free concerts and cultural activities — not to mention some of the best food, music and art in the country — it’s easy to see why so many have been lured by the siren song of the San Francisco Bay.

Besides being one of the most visually stunning seven-by-seven square miles on earth, San Francisco has also topped rankings of the happiesthealthiest and fittest cities in America, and Bloomberg Businessweek called San Francisco the best city in America in 2012.

Here are 12 reasons that San Francisco is one of the happiest and healthiest places in the U.S. — and lessons that it can teach the rest of America about living well.

It’s veggie-friendly.

vegan stew recipes

Considered one of the most “veg-friendly” cities in the US by PETA, San Francisco is not only an oasis of vegetarian and vegan restaurants, according to VegSF, but also has myriad vegetarian and vegan-friendly menus, even at restaurants with meat dishes. You can even eat the fruit that grows on the trees in certain public parks in San Francisco. And with the vegan paradise that is Berkeley right across the bay, herbivores will never run out of dining options.

It has a vibrant spiritual life.

buddha lessons

Meditation, yoga and Eastern philosophy are a part of the city’s DNA, thanks to a long history of Eastern religious studies at its cultural centers. The Buddhist philosopher and writer Alan Watts, a transplant to San Francisco from England, introduced thousands to Eastern philosophy in the late 1950s and early 1960s (his TV series “Eastern Wisdom and Modern Life” aired in San Francisco and helped spread Zen ideology in the U.S.). But no matter your faith, an emphasis on spiritual belief systems has been found to reduce stress levels and increase well-being, making it a likely contributor to its San Franciscans’ good health.

San Francisco is also home to the oldest Buddhist temple in the U.S., and it’s the birthplace of Burning Man, an event that attracts many seeking spiritual release. Centers like Mount Madonna, Green Gulch Zen Center, Spirit Rock and the Esalen Institute also offer workshops and retreats within a short drive of the city.

It’s organic.

farmers market berries

The city by the bay was voted the number-one best city to live the organic foodie lifestyle by the online magazine Organic Authority. Farmer’s markets, community farms, organic restaurants and food co-ops (Rainbow Grocery in the Mission has been sharing organic food with the community since 1975) are easy to find.

An organic diet can help to reduce the synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics and hormones that we consume from conventional food sources. And while the link between these compounds and human health isn’t definitive, most researchers agree that we don’t know what the long-term health consequences of eating these could be.

It’s home to some of the country’s best public parks.

golden gate park

San Francisco’s parks — ranging from Golden Gate Park to the Presidio to Dolores Park — were ranked the best in the country last year by nonprofit conservation group, The Trust for Public Land. Public art is also everywhere, including the famous Heartsdotted all over the city, commissioned in 2004 by the San Francisco General Hospital. Recently, Parkets – parking space-sized mini-parks that have copped up across town, offering greenery and seating to passersby — have become the latest addition to the SF park scene.

Maybe that’s why San Franciscans can seem so zen and so fit: Walking through green spaces, even in the middle of cities, can put the brain into a state of meditation,according to a recent UK study. And research has shown that public parks contribute to physical activity rates among city residents.

And speaking of fitness, outdoor activities are everywhere.

crissy field

Outdoor recreational activities and exercise options help make the San Francisco Bay Area the seventh-fittest metropolitan area in America. Between doing tai chi in Washington Square Park, surfing at Ocean Beach and practicing yoga in Golden Gate Park, there’s an outdoor activity for every fitness personality. The city’s beautiful public trails and temperate weather make it easy to fit in daily workouts without a gym membership. (Not to mention that San Franciscans also build quads of steel from walking up the city’s many steep hills.)

It has the “culture cure.”

outside lands lineup

Live music, art, theater and literary events are all over the Bay, all year round — and attending these cultural events could have some big health benefits. Studies have found that attending cultural events could lower blood pressure and also promote mental health by warding off anxiety and depression.

“When it comes to nourishing the soul, [San Francisco's] vibrant arts, entertainment, and recreational offerings set it apart,” wrote Sarah Mahoney and Susan Coenen as part of a Prevention study of the 25 healthiest, happiest cities in America. “While it may seem obvious that those options make people happier, they also make them healthier.”

It’s close to nature.

point reyes

The stress-relieving and happiness-boosting benefits of spending time in nature are well documented. Aside from the many green spaces and beaches within San Francisco proper, SFers can easily reconnect with nature by driving only a short distance from the city. Marin Headlands, Point Reyes National Seashore, Muir Woods and Mount Tamalpais State Park offer miles of hiking and biking trails in some of the most beautiful natural landscapes on the West Coast.

Yoga is everywhere — even in the airport.

airport yoga meditation

Yoga studios are nearly as ubiquitous in San Francisco as coffee shops. The city’s New Age roots gave rise to a number of yoga and meditation centers and many of them are still popular today. And that’s great for city residents, who can enjoy the practice’sstrength and flexibility training as well as it’s calming effect on stress. Now, it’s easy to find nearly any type of yoga in the city, including naked yoga in Noe ValleyTerminal Two of the San Francisco International Airport also has a yoga room for travelers looking for a little on-the-go zen.

It’s one of the best cities for biking.

bike san francisco

As residents of the eighth-best city for bikers by Bicycling Magazine, Bay Area drivers are used to sharing the road with bikers: Since 2010, San Francisco has installed 20 new miles of bike lanes, 25 bike-parking areas, and traffic signals giving riders the right-of-way. The new Bay Bridge even included the installation of a $500 million hanging bike lane, the first of its kind.

And the research shows that biking and bike commuting can have a huge impact on health. One Danish study found that bikers had a lower risk of death from any cause than their more sedentary counterparts. And in a separate Australian study, researchers found that people who replaced their car commute with biking lowered their risk of stroke and heart attack, improved their cholesterol and their aerobic fitness within one year, NPR reported.

Locals enjoy the health benefits of moderate wine consumption.

napa wine

Thanks to world class vineyards in nearby Napa and Sonoma, wine is a part of the Northern California culture. We’ve all heard that one glass of red wine a day can improve your health, and it’s true: Numerous studies have linked moderate wine consumption with a lower risk of becoming overweight or obese. Red wine also contain heart-healthy antioxidants and Resveratrol, which may reduce bad cholesterol, according to the Mayo Clinic.

It’s a dog-friendly city.

dog san francisco

It’s commonly said that there are more dogs than children in San Francisco, andaccording to the San Francisco Chronicle, it’s actually true. As of 2007, census data showed that the city’s dog population trumped that of children.

“Nobody beats San Francisco when it comes to doting on dogs,” the Chronicle wrote. “It’s a city with luxury dog hotels, rooftop dog cocktail parties, a pet cemetery and City Hall plans to turn dog droppings into alternative energy.”

And that isn’t just good news for pooches: Pet ownership has been linked to reduced levels of stress and relief from mild depression, and improved heart health

It’s a place that celebrates community.

san francisco baker beach

As HuffPost San Francisco Editorial Fellow Lydia O’Connor points out, the “event to be at” in San Francisco is frequently free, outdoors and well-attended. Free events ranging from concerts to yoga classes are easy to come by, as are group volunteering activities and community art projects like the 16th Avenue tiled steps in the Sunset.

These community events don’t just benefit the city as a whole, they can have an effect on individual residents. Strong social ties and community bonds have been linkedwith lower stress levels and increased well-being and longevity.

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Pablo Heras-Casado Leads The SF Symphony And Chorus, Leila Josefowicz, And Guest Vocal Soloists In Two-Week Festival Pairing Music By Thomas Adès And Mendelssohn October 3-13 At Davies Symphony Hall

Festival program is inspired by Shakespearean and literary themes, dance, and the Baroque

Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado, whose compelling command of the repertoire ranges from early music through core classical works and new music, returns to the SF Symphony to lead the Orchestra and Chorus with violinist Leila Josefowicz and guest vocal soloists in a two-week Mendelssohn-Thomas Adès festival October 3-13 at Davies Symphony Hall. The festival’s musical focus explores and juxtaposes the works of the two composers in orchestral and chamber settings of music influenced by Shakespeare, dance, literature, and the artists’ mutual fascination with the Baroque. Thomas Adès performs two of his own works and music by Ravel at the piano and harpsichord in an October 3 chamber concert with SF Symphony musicians.

Week 1: October 3-6

The festival’s opening orchestral program, beginning October 3 at 2 pm, features the first SFS performances of Adès’ Three Studies from Couperin and Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3, Scottish on a program with Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto, performed by Leila Josefowicz. Illuminating Mendelssohn and Adès’ shared enthusiasm for the Baroque, the program also includes the first SFS performances of Jean-Baptiste Lully’s Overture and Passacaille from Armide (1686).

Also on October 3, at 8 pm, Thomas Adès will perform two of his compositions, Piano Quintet, and Sonata da Caccia for Oboe, Horn, and Harpsichord, at the keyboard with members of the Orchestra in a chamber concert at Davies Symphony Hall. Debussy’s Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp and Ravel’s Chansons madécasses, with Adès on piano, round out the program.


Week 2: October 10-13

In a program inspired by William Shakespeare and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Heras-Casado conducts the SF Symphony and Chorus with a cast of soloists including soprano Audrey Luna (Ariel), mezzo-soprano Charlotte Hellekant, mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, tenor Alek Shrader, and baritone Rod Gilfry in the Orchestra’s first performances of scenes from The Tempest, Adès’ acclaimed second opera (his first was Powder Her Face). Luna sang the role of Ariel at the Metropolitan Opera in 2012 under Adès’ direction. The program also includes Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the first SFS performances of Die erste Walpurgisnacht.

Hellekant’s SFS debut and only previous performances were in 1992 under Conductor Laureate and then-Music Director Herbert Blomstedt, performing Mahler’s Symphony No. 2. Luna, Leonard, Shrader and Gilfry will all make their SFS debuts with these performances.


About Pablo Heras-Casado

 

Pablo Heras-Casado enjoys an unusually varied conducting career, encompassing the great symphonic and operatic repertoire, historically-informed performance, and cutting-edge contemporary scores. In 2011 he was appointed Principal Conductor of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s in New York, beginning a four-year term, including an annual concert season at Carnegie Hall. He made his first conducting appearances with the SF Symphony in 2010, conducting the music of Mendelssohn, Shostakovich, Liszt, and Kurtág. He returned in 2012 and 2013, with programs encompassing Stravinsky, Prokofiev, de Falla, Ravel, Liszt, Magnus Lindberg, and Luigi Dallapiccola.

In the 2013-14 season, Heras-Casado debuts with the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, and Gewandhaus Orchester Leipzig, as well as at the Metropolitan Opera, where he conducts Verdi’s Rigoletto. He returns to Carnegie Hall and the Caramoor Festival with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and conducts Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 at the New Year’s concerts of Staatskapelle Berlin. Other highlights, in addition to his performances with the San Francisco Symphony, include engagements with Münchner Philharmoniker, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and Ensemble Intercontemporain. He also tours with Freiburger Barockorchester and guest conducts a series of concert and opera performances at the Mariinsky Theatre.

This month, Harmonia Mundi releases Heras-Casado’s recording of Schubert’s Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4 with Freiburger Barockorchester. A second album, featuring Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks in Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 2, Lobgesang, follows in March 2014. Also this fall is the release of a disc on Sony featuring Plácido Domingo in baritone arias by Verdi with the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana, conducted by Heras-Casado.

Recognized also for his work with contemporary music, Heras-Casado is a laureate of the 2007 Lucerne Festival conductors’ forum. In summer 2013, he returned for the third time to co-direct the festival’s Academy at the personal invitation of Pierre Boulez.

Heras-Casado is the holder of the Medalla de Honor of the Rodriguez Acosta Foundation, and in February 2012 was awarded with the Golden Medal of Merit by the Council of Granada, his hometown, of which he is also an Honorary Ambassador. His 2011 DVD recording of Kurt Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny from Teatro Real received the Diapason d’Or.

About Thomas Adès


 

 

Renowned as both a composer and a performer, Adès works regularly with the world’s leading opera companies and festivals. He has conducted the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, the BBC, Finnish and Danish Radio Symphony Orchestras, the London Sinfonietta, and many others. The SF Symphony co-commissioned and performed his work Polaris with original video from Tal Rosner during its 2011-12 Centennial season. The Orchestra and Leila Josefowicz performed Adès’ Violin Concerto (Concentric Paths) in 2009.

Last season, Adès made his Metropolitan Opera debut both as a conductor and as a composer, leading the Met premiere of his 2004 masterpiece, The Tempest, in a new production by Robert Lepage that was also seen internationally as part of “The Met Live in HD” cinemacast series. He also led the Boston Symphony in performances of his piano concerto In Seven Days and Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 1 – both with Kirill Gerstein – as well as Sibelius’s Sixth Symphony and Luonnotar with soprano Dawn Upshaw. During the 2013/2014 season, Adès returns to the Boston Symphony to conduct a program of Mendelssohn, Ives, Franck, and his own Polaris.

Adès’ first opera, Powder Her Face, has been performed all around the world, was televised by Channel Four, and is available on a DVD and an EMI CD. Most of the composer’s music has been recorded by EMI, with whom Adès has a contract as composer, pianist and conductor. Recently released to outstanding reviews, The Tempest is also available on an EMI CD. The disc was awarded the prestigious Diapason d’Or de l’année and Adès won the 2010 Classical Brit Award for Composer of the Year.

Adès’ most recent works include In Seven Days, a collaboration with video artist Tal Rosner, commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and London’s Southbank Centre, and Lieux Retrouvés, a work for cello and piano written for Steven Isserlis and commissioned by Aldeburgh Festival and Wigmore Hall. Adès’ music has attracted numerous awards and prizes, including the prestigious Grawemeyer Award (in 2000, for Asyla), of which he is the youngest ever recipient.

About Leila Josefowicz

An outstanding advocate and champion of contemporary music for the violin, Leila Josefowicz is a frequent collaborator of several leading composers, and works with orchestras and conductors at the highest level around the world. She has also been awarded a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, joining prominent scientists, writers and musicians who have made unique contributions to contemporary life.

Violin concertos have been written especially for Leila Josefowicz by Colin Matthews, Steven Mackey and Esa-Pekka Salonen, while John Adams and Luca Francesconi have recently been commissioned to write new pieces for her. The latter will be given its world premiere by Josefowicz in February 2014 with Susanna Mälkki and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. The Salonen concerto was first performed by Josefowicz with the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by the composer, before subsequent performances throughout Europe and North America. She also gave the premiere of Matthews’ Concerto with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra before performing the piece with the Orchestre national de Lyon and the BBC Symphony and Finnish Radio Symphony orchestras.

During the 2013-14, season Leila Josefowicz performs John Adams’ Violin Concerto with the Sydney Symphony and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the composer. Elsewhere, she appears with the BBC Symphony, Finnish Radio Symphony and Toronto Symphony orchestras, the Orchestra della Scala, and the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai. In addition to her San Francisco Symphony performances, Josefowicz also has engagements this season with the Chicago Symphony and Baltimore Symphony orchestras, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and National Symphony Orchestra. Josefowicz also appears in recital at London’s Milton Court Concert Hall and Handelsbeurs Concertzaal in Belgium.

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CPUC Should Fine PG&E, Orrick Law Firm Millions for Gas Pipeline Safety Cover-Up Says City of San Bruno

CPUC Should Sanction and Fine PG&E and its law firm Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe and Attorney Joseph M. Malkin in Public Gas Line Safety Cover-up

San Francisco, Calif. – City of San Bruno officials this week called on the California Public Utilities Commission to sanction Pacific Gas & Electric’s legal team for deliberately covering up for PG&E after it used faulty records to determine that two Bay Area pipelines could safely operate – a decision demonstrating the continued problem with PG&E record keeping practices. Bad record keeping was one of the causes of the 2010 PG&E disaster in San Bruno and continues to threaten public safety.

In a filing late Sept. 26 with the CPUC in response to an order to “Show Cause Why It Should Not Be Sanctioned,” San Bruno asked that PG&E’s legal team, including top attorney Joseph M. Malkin of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, be sanctioned for discreetly filing an “errata” – the legal term for a minor correction – on the status of two pipelines, located in San Carlos and Millbrae, nine months after a gas leaked revealed those pipelines. The legal correction was made quietly on the afternoon of on July 3, 2013, a day before the CPUC took off for the July Fourth holiday, as a strategy to hide the fact that PG&E had relied on faulty records to determine the specifications for those pipelines to handle gas at high pressure.

Calling the July 3 filing by Malkin a “brazen and calculated act of damage control,” San Bruno attorneys say PG&E’s latest legal maneuver illustrates PG&E’s ongoing attempts to cover its tracks as it continues to use natural gas pipelines at inappropriate operating pressures, without accurate records and with the same flawed materials that caused a tragic explosion and fire in San Bruno that killed eight, destroyed 38 homes and damaged scores more.

“Gross negligence and bad recordkeeping by PG&E resulted in a fatal tragedy in our community, and now we’re discovering that PG&E is paying its legal team to perpetuate their deception at the risk of public safety,” said San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane. “PG&E and its lawyers continue to play Russian roulette with people’s lives, and we are calling on the CPUC to issue sanctions and send the strong message that this behavior will not be tolerated. How many communities must endure tragedy before PG&E and our state utility regulators wake up and put safety first?”

Faulty recordkeeping was found to be a major contributor to the explosion and fire in San Bruno after federal and state investigators found that PG&E had maintained bad or nonexistent pipeline safety records for much of its 1,000+ miles of urban natural gas transmission lines. As a result, state regulators required PG&E to lower pressure on its other Peninsula gas pipelines until safety records could be verified.

In 2011, PG&E declared that the pipeline construction records were accurate for both Line 101, which runs from Milpitas to San Francisco, and Line 147, which runs in the San Carlos area. Based on PG&E’s representations, the CPUC allowed PG&E to increase the pressure back to pre-explosion levels.

In reality, PG&E’s pipelines were not rated to operate at higher pressure, as revealed after an October 2012 corrosion-related leak in San Carlos revealed seams in the pipeline previously not thought to exist. Yet, it took nine months for company attorneys to admit – by way of the subtle errata filing — that the records it had relied on to make that determination were faulty.

At a Sept. 6 hearing at the CPUC, state regulators pressed PG&E attorney Joseph Malkin over the “profoundly troubling” oversight, which occurred despite “the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars for record review and validation.” PG&E now faces fines of up to $250,000 for its mistake, on top of a possible $2.25 billion penalty and fine stemming from the fatal 2010 explosion and fire in San Bruno.

San Bruno officials say this is just the latest example of PG&E expending millions on top attorneys – more than $120 million by PG&E’s own admission – to subvert the truth and put profits over people.

At the Sept. 6 hearing, the PG&E legal team was selectively unresponsive to questions posed by the CPUC’s administrative law judges, invoking “attorney-client privilege,” which allowed them to dodge tough questions. Attorneys for San Bruno are asking that the CPUC conclude that PG&E waived its attorney-client privilege.

“Enough is enough. San Bruno will not sit by and watch PG&E willingly take advantage of public trust any longer,” Ruane said. “Three years after tragedy struck our community, we will continue to serve as a vigilant watch dog for public safety so that what happened in our community never happens again anywhere.”

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On Scene with Bill Wilson: Leather Week

 

The start of the 22nd Annual LeatherWalk

 

A spirited kick-off to Leather week in San Francisco – that week before Folsom Street Fair -  has been the LeatherWalk which starts at the Harvey Milk Plaza at Castro and 17thStreet and ends at the Eagle on 12th and Harrison with stops at several bars along the way.  Appropriately occurring on Sunday, the 22nd of September, this year’s LeatherWalk was the 22nd annual walk. The event raises funds for the Aids Emergency Fund and the Breast Cancer Emergency Fund.

 

 

Executive Director of Folsom Street Events, Demetri Moshoyannis

 

TUESDAY September  24 – Roxie Theatre (3117 – 16th Street) at 7 pm.

Celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Folsom Street Fair with a special Leather Week edition of Frameline Encore at this commemoration of San Francisco’s iconic kinky street festival! Join us for a sneak preview of the documentary FOLSOM FOREVER, plus a discussion with filmmakers and kinksters about Folsom Street Fair, its history, and its meaning to the leather community. Panelists: Mike Skiff, filmmaker, FOLSOM FOREVER, Race Bannon, Paul Lester, Gayle Rubin and Rachele Sullivan

This is a free event!

Please email RSVP@frameline.org or RSVP on Facebook to let us know you’ll be attending.

 Thursday September 26, 2013 The Armory at 1800 Mission 6 pm Admission $125.00

The Board of Directors of AIDS Emergency Fund has announced its choices for honorees at its 2013 annual event, “LEATHER and FEATHERS: AEF turns 31” to be held at the Armory on Thursday Sept. 26 at 6 pm. Hosted by Donna Sachet and Sister Roma with a special performance by Brian Kent  tickets include a VIP tour of the Kink.com Armory. Representing a cross-section of donors, volunteers and activists, the list continues a tradition dating back to 1987 of highlighting community heroes in the fight against AIDS. This year’s honorees are: 

• Empress Marlena (Garry McLain,) who has been active in the community for nearly 40 years, first as Empress of Modesto in 1976 and then as the 25th Empress of San Francisco. Retired owner of Marlena’s bar, she has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for HIV/AIDS and LGBT causes over the decades. 

• Troy Brunet, outgoing president of the Castro Lions, proud member of Mama’s family and tireless fundraiser for AEF and other causes. Disabled by HIV/AIDS and along-time client of AEF, Troy make’s it his life’s calling to speak about his life on disability and to provide a face and voice for the marginalized in our community 

• Cynthia Hester, who recently stepped down after nine years of board service to AEF and BCEF – six as President. Prior to Board service, Cynthia had nearly a decade of operations experience captaining volunteer teams for the AIDS Ride and Avon Breast Cancer Walks. 

• Neil Figurelli, who has led AEF’s Christmas Eve Dinner committee for 25 years, and has recently completely nine years of Board service to AEF. Among his many accomplishments, Neil created This Old Bag, BCEF’s largest annual fundraising event

And as always for the past 30 years – ENJOY FOLSOM!

 

Harnessing fun at Folsom

 

 

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Chevron: “Game Over” in Ecuador Fraud Case with New Legal Ruling

An international arbitration tribunal yesterday issued a Partial Award in favor of Chevron (CVX) and its subsidiary, Texaco Petroleum Company (TexPet). The Tribunal found that the Settlement and Release Agreements that the government of Ecuador entered into with TexPet released TexPet and its affiliates of any liability for all public interest or collective environmental claims. The Lago Agrio plaintiffs’ lawyers have repeatedly admitted, and the relief in the Lago Agrio judgment makes clear, that their claims are exclusively collective and not individual. The arbitration stems from the government of Ecuador’s interference in the ongoing environmental lawsuit against the company and its courts’ failure to administer justice in a trial that has been marred by multiple instances of fraud.

“The game is up. This award by an eminent international tribunal confirms that the fraudulent claims against Chevron should not have been brought in the first place. It is now beyond question that efforts by American plaintiffs lawyers and the government of Ecuador to enforce this fraudulent judgment violate Ecuadorian, U.S., and international law,” said Hewitt Pate, Chevron vice president and general counsel. “Continuing to support this fraud only increases the government of Ecuador’s growing liability to Chevron and we urge Ecuador to reconsider its position and pursue a more responsible course.”

Convened under the authority of the U.S.-Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty and administered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, the Tribunal found that the Settlement and Release Agreements that the Government of Ecuador entered into with TexPet in 1995 and 1998 released TexPet and its affiliates of any liability for all public interest or collective environmental claims. In its decision, the Tribunal found that: 1) Chevron and TexPet are “Releasees” under the 1995 Settlement Agreement and the 1998 Final Release; 2) Chevron can invoke and enforce its contractual rights as a Releasee; and 3) the Government settled all public interest or collective environmental claims, including collective claims asserted by third parties.

This Award comes after the Tribunal’s February 2013 finding that Ecuador is in breach of its obligation to “take all measures necessary to suspend or cause to be suspended the enforcement” of the Lago Agrio judgment—an obligation that the Tribunal had imposed on Ecuador in 2011, andreinforced and expanded in 2012, but which Ecuador has continuously ignored. In prior rulings, the Tribunal put the Republic of Ecuador on notice that if Chevron’s arbitration ultimately prevails, “any loss arising from the enforcement of (the judgment) may be losses for which the (Republic) would be responsible to (Chevron) under international law.”

The next arbitration hearing regarding the collusion between the Ecuadorian courts and the Lago Agrio plaintiffs and their lawyers is scheduled for January 2014.

Chevron filed the international arbitration claim against the government of Ecuador on September 23, 2009, claiming violations of Ecuador’s obligations under the United States-Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty, investment agreements, and international law. Chevron’s subsidiary, TexPet, participated until 1992 as a minority member of a consortium that explored for and produced oil under contracts with Ecuador and Ecuador’s government-owned oil company, Petroecuador. Through the arbitration, Chevron seeks to hold Ecuador accountable for the denial of justice that occurred through the Lago Agrio court’s actions during the litigation and the issuance of the fraudulent $19 billion judgment.

Chevron Corporation is one of the world’s leading integrated energy companies, with subsidiaries that conduct business worldwide. The company is involved in virtually every facet of the energy industry. Chevron Corporation’s subsidiaries explore for, produce and transport crude oil and natural gas; refine, market and distribute transportation fuels and lubricants; manufacture and sell petrochemical products; generate power and produces geothermal energy; provide energy efficiency solutions; and develop the energy resources of the future, including biofuels. Chevron Corporation is based in San Ramon, California. More information about Chevron is available atwww.chevron.com.

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HBO Filming in Castro-Upper Market This Week

MUMC Members who were at our September 5 Members Meeting heard about plans for filming a new HBO cable series (working title “Looking”) in several parts of San Francisco, including The Castro this fall.  Filming begins in our area this week:

Tuesday, September 17 from 8:00am thru 3:00pm, inside Eros at 2051 Market.  Equipment trucks may arrive as early as 10:00pm on Monday 9/16.  To accommodate the project, “No Parking” will be posted on Market and 14th Streets between Church and Dolores, and the intersection of 14th and Church Streets.  Equipment trailers also will be parked on Hermann between Buchanan and Webster Streets.

Wednesday, September 18, from 11:00am thru 10:00pm inside The Cafe at 2369 Market.  “No Parking” will be posted for spaces in front of and adjacent to The Cafe, on the south side of Market between Castro and Noe Streets.  See also overlapping activity in the 400 Block of Castro Street, below.

Wednesday, September 18, from 12 noon thru 9:00pm (filming 5:00pm to 9:00pm) in the 400 block of Castro between Market-18th Streets) around Cafe Mystique (464 Castro). See also overlapping activity, above and below.

Wednesday, September 18, from 12:00 noon thru 9:00pm in certain areas on Noe Street between 14th-Market Streets and Duboce Avenue, to park equipment trucks and as an operations base for the day.  See also overlapping activity in the 2300 block of Market Street and 400 block of Castro, above.

We understand that the Producers have distributed information flyers about this work to residents and business in the affected areas.  All work is coordinated and permitted with the San Francisco Film Commission (415/554-6241) and S.F.  Police Department (415/553-7942).  If you have questions about the work, contact the Production Company’s Asst. Locations Manager, Heather McLean at 650/704-7624 or the Company’s Locations Office at 415/241-9031.

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On Scene with Bill Wilson: Cayuga Playground Opening

Eric Powell’s Cayuga Portal opening to the Cayuga Playground.

 

To walk through the recently reopened Cayuga Playground and view the sculptures by Demetrio (Demie)  Braceros is to experience art at its most powerful and accessible. In my life I have experienced that “ah” moment of reacting to art that takes the breath away several times. The one most memorable was my first view of Michelangelo’s DAVID. I literally had to stop and catch by breath as I turned and saw the larger than life sculpture before my eyes. That Michelangelo was able to take a block of marble and create such a moving piece left me in awe.

 

 

Natural wood and fallen logs become works of art at the hand of Demetrio Braceros.

  

I felt some of that same awe while walking around the Cayuga Playground looking at the sculptures by Demie. Some are very visible and others you miss if you don’t look close enough. They emerge from fallen logs or stand tall and proud on their pedestals. Yes, I dare to compare Michelangelo and Demie, because I believe it is the same vision. What some may see as a rock or a log, the artist sees a vision and brings that vision to life. I believe that both artists have succeeded because their work moved me.

 

Demie sits in his sculpted seat.

 

After having spent about 30 minutes just walking around and seeing the sculpture I realized that the opening ceremony was scheduled to begin in about ten minutes so I needed to head back toward the clubhouse. As I started down the walk who should I run into but the artist himself, Demetrio Braceros. So I followed him as he went around to look at his sculptures and to greet friends.  His joy was contagious and it was clear that he did his work with love.  

 

 

Demie and his self portrait as a Giant player.

 

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On Scene with Bill Wilson — Fond Farewell to Jose Sarria

A lifetime of memories on display at the viewing of Jose Sarria

It didn’t come so much as a shock, when one is ninety years old death isn’t an unexpected visitor. It just seemed a disappointment that what I knew was going to happen at some time was now a reality – Jose Julio Sarria would no longer take his annual trip to Colma to visit the grave of Emperor Norton as the Widow Norton. He would take just one more trip to be laid to rest in front of the grave of Emperor Norton beneath the tombstone marked with his name, Jose Sarria. There was now a final date to be added to the tombstone that for the past seven years had only a date of birth.

 

 

Empress Marlena

 It was a journey marked with dignity, pomp and circumstance starting with a viewing at the Halsted N. Gray-Carew & English Funeral Home on Sutter Street Thursday afternoon and evening. The open casket was draped with a rainbow flag on which a black sash imprinted with Empress Jose formed a base for one of his crowns.  The American flag stood to the left behind the coffin, the California flag to the right and two huge beautiful colorful large bouquets flanked the coffin. The banner on the left bouquet read “To our beloved Jose Emperors of San Francisco” the one on the right read, “To Our Beloved Jose Empresses of San Francisco.”

 

 Empress Galilea and the pallbearers before the procession into Grace Cathedral.

Royalty from Courts across the nation made their way to the funeral home. The reception room was filled with memorabilia, photos, gowns, crowns and paintings. It all stimulated conversations and memories as is the custom when a family gathers to say farewell to their patriarch or matriarch. Make no mistake we might not have shared common ancestors but Jose had a large family designated by love. They loved him as a father figure, a grandfather, a mentor, and some even as a fellow performer.

The funeral was scheduled to begin at Grace Cathedral at 11 am but people had already begun to gather at 9:30. As I was walking toward the California Street side entrance a woman came up to me and asked, “What is the event?” I must admit that I was tempted to say, “You think people dressed in drag is an event? – this is just San Francisco!” However I replied, “It is the funeral of Jose Sarria the founder of the Imperial Court System.” 

 

 Right Reverend Marc Andrus blessing the casket of Jose Sarria

 

It was certainly an event. The variety of crowns and gowns is probably unprecedented in the annuals of funerals at Grace Cathedral. The spectacular cathedral is a place where emotions and thoughts can soar. It was a perfectly fitting place for the final send off of Jose. The procession of clergy that preceded the casket included retired Episcopal Bishop Otis Charles and the service was presided over by Right Reverend Marc Handley Andrus. The living Emperors and Empresses of San Francisco followed the casket as it proceeded up the center aisle of the Cathedral.

 

State Senator Mark Leno was one of the speakers.

The speakers each admirably keep to the script of poignant memories sprinkled with a laugh or two. Certainly Jose’s life had provided enough material to make it possible. State Senator Mark Leno echoed the thought I had the night before as I realized that all the victories we have been celebrating this year – the SCOTUS ruling on Prop 8 and DOMA. In fact none of the victories we have had that have moved the GLBT movement forward would have been possible without that first person having the courage to stand up and say, “I’m gay and I’m okay. If you have a problem with that it’s your problem not mine.” Jose had that kind of courage He was the first openly gay man to run for public office – anywhere.   

           

 Motorcade to Woodlawn Cemetery in Colma

 “Going home, going home, I’m just going home.” The haunting strains of the 3rd movement of Dvorak’s New World Symphony echoed through the Cathedral as the procession returned down the center aisle. The casket, which was draped with an American flag, was again placed into the hearse.  A full police escort led a procession of sixteen cars and six buses to the Woodlawn Cemetery in Colma.

 

 Workers making the final adjustments.

 The brief ceremonies at Colma presided over by Jose Cisneros and Donna Sachet included a presentation of the American flag to Empress Galilea, a blessing by Reverends Beckman, Fox and Lewis of the San Francisco Night Ministry and a performance by the San Francisco Lesbian Gay Freedom Band. For people who had made the Trek to Colma while Jose was still alive, Robert Sunshine at the keyboard was a familiar sight. Donna Sachet sang the new verses written by Gail Wilson to the theme from “The Addams Family” appropriately named “The Norton Family”   

 

The final spot.

 

 

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Drakes Bay Oyster Company Remains Open and Will Petition for Rehearing by Ninth Circuit’s Full Eleven Judge Panel

The historic oyster farm and last oyster cannery in California announced today that it plans to file a petition requesting that their case be reheard in front of a full eleven-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit. Drakes Bay Oyster Company has assured its supporters that this is not the end for them and has pledged to continue the fight to remain open.

The farm announced that, within 45 days, it will file a petition for an En Banc rehearing.  In the meantime, the farm remains open for business.

The small, family-owned farm, which has been in a heated legal battle with federal regulators for its survival, is adamant that the majority opinion got it wrong. “After reading the Court’s decision — and especially the dissent from Judge Watford — we are more convinced than ever that we will prevail based on the merits of our case” said Kevin Lunny, owner of Drakes Bay.

While the Ninth Circuit’s three-judge panel ruled 2 to 1 yesterday against the oyster farm, the company believes the dissenting opinion of Judge Paul J. Watford was absolutely correct.  In that dissenting opinion, the Judge admonished the majority’s decision, asserting that it consisted of “hand waving,” containing “nothing of any substance” and that “Drakes Bay is likely to prevail on the merits” (see pg. 47 from the Ninth Circuit decision).

In his dissent, Judge Watford also agreed with the oyster farm that, in enacting the 1976 Point Reyes Wilderness Act, “all indications are that Congress viewed the oyster farm as a beneficial, pre-existing use whose continuation was fully compatible with wilderness status” (see pg. 44 of the decision).  Only recently, he observed, did the Interior Department “bizarrely” change position and insist that the law required the oyster farm to leave in 2012 (see page 43 of the decision).

Drakes Bay remains optimistic that the farm will be successful in the next stages of its legal battle. “With the support of thousands of environmentalists, community members and elected leaders around the nation, we will continue to fight for what’s right and remain committed to succeeding in our fight to remain open and serve our community,” Lunny said. “Although we strongly disagree with the panel’s decision, we remain steadfast in our opinion that we can prevail based on the merits of our case,” Lunny said.

About Drakes Bay Oyster Company

Oyster farming in Drakes Estero, located in Point Reyes, Marin County, has been part of the region’s history for nearly 100 years. The Lunnys, a fourth-generation ranching family, purchased Drakes Bay in 2004 to revive a historical part of the local community and ensure the continued environmental health of Drakes Estero.  Drakes Bay currently employs nearly 30 community members, and farms sustainably in Drakes Estero, producing approximately one-third of all oysters in California. The Lunny family works hard to participate in keeping the agricultural economic system in West Marin alive. Drakes Bay actively participates in the creation of a more sustainable food model that restores, conserves, and maintains the productivity of the local landscapes and the health of its inhabitants. For more information, please visit www.drakesbayoyster.com.

 

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Drakes Bay Oyster Co: Judge Slams Majority Opinion, Calls it a “Hand Waving” decision

INVERNESS, CALIF. — Owners of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company today said they strongly disagree with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision to eject the historic oyster farm, and that attorneys for Drakes Bay are now reviewing all options before announcing the farm’s plans moving forward.

The Ninth Circuit’s three-judge panel ruled 2 to 1 today against the oyster operation, with Justice Paul J. Watford writing a dissenting opinion in support of the oyster farm. In the dissent, Watford wrote that Drakes Bay should have prevailed on its claim that Secretary Salazar’s decision was, “arbitrary, capricious or otherwise not in accordance with law.” Watford also stated that the majority opinion consisted of “hand waving” containing “nothing of any substance”, and that the injunction should have been granted (see pg. 47 from the Ninth Circuit decision).

The well-loved oyster farm asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to prohibit the Federal Government from ejecting Drakes Bay from its property, destroying its business and taking away the jobs of its 30 employees before the case was even fully litigated.

“As community farmers and environmentalists, we continue to hold firmly in our belief that we have taken the appropriate measures to protect and preserve the waters of Drakes Estero and the wildlife that calls the National Seashore home,” said Kevin Lunny, owner of Drakes Bay.

For years, Drakes Bay has been fighting against false science and unsupported accusations from the Interior Department and the National Park Service in their attempts to close down the farm.  In a decision made last November, then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar refused to issue a permit to allow Drakes Bay to continue farming upon the expiration of its 40-year-lease. The lease allowed the farm to operate on public land within the Point Reyes National Seashore, which was created decades after the oyster farm’s inception.

Drakes Bay asserts that the Ninth Circuit panel failed to consider several critical issues in their decision. Drakes Bay alleges that Salazar illegally determined that the Estero’s “potential wilderness” designation prevailed over Congress’ more recent direction, which authorized the renewal of the farm’s permit due to the fact that Salazar’s decision relied heavily on scientific misconduct and false science.

“The Ninth Circuit’s decision to deny this injunction is a step backwards not only for Drakes Bay, but also for Marin County, proponents of sustainable agriculture and farmers around the country. Our attorneys are now reviewing all of our options before we announce our plans moving forward.” Lunny said.

About Drakes Bay Oyster Company

Oyster farming in Drakes Estero, located in Point Reyes, Marin County, has been part of the region’s history for nearly 100 years. The Lunnys, a fourth-generation ranching family, purchased Drakes Bay in 2004 to revive a historical part of the local community and ensure the continued environmental health of Drakes Estero.  Drakes Bay currently employs nearly 30 community members, and farms sustainably in Drakes Estero, producing approximately one-third of all oysters in California. The Lunny family works hard to participate in keeping the agricultural economic system in West Marin alive. Drakes Bay actively participates in the creation of a more sustainable food model that restores, conserves, and maintains the productivity of the local landscapes and the health of its inhabitants. For more information, please visit www.drakesbayoyster.com.

 

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America’s Cup Race Jury Decision Makes Oracle Team USA Underdog in Most Contested America’s Cup in History

 

Oracle Team USA Now Is The Underdog in Most Heated America's Cup in History

 

An international jury has levied the harshest penalties in the 162-year history of the America’s Cup, docking defending champion Oracle Team USA two points in the finals against Emirates Team Zealand and expelling a key sailor.

The penalties announced against the syndicate Tuesday are for illegally modifying prototype boats in warmup regattas last year and earlier this year.

Oracle Team USA must win 11 races to retain the silver trophy. Team New Zealand must still win nine races in the series, which starts Saturday on San Francisco Bay.

Dirk de Ridder, who trims the wing sail, is barred from sailing in the regatta, and two shore crew members also have been expelled. Grinder Matt Mitchell has been barred from the first four races.

Oracle Team USA also was fined $250,000.

“The rules infractions involved only a few of our 130 team members, and were done without the knowledge of either our team’s management or the skippers who were driving the boats,” said team CEO Russell Coutts in a statement. “While we disagree with the unprecedented penalties imposed by the Jury, we have no choice but to make the necessary changes to personnel on our race boat and do our best to use the next four days for the new team to practice and get ready for the start of the 34th America’s Cup.”

The scenario creates the most hotly contested America’s Cup race in the storied history of the sport, clearly placing the Oracle Team USA as the underdog in the series against Emirates Team Zealand.  Despite the stupidity of Team USA members for participating in the boat weighting affair, the hard lesson learned has created a more than healthy rivalry with the Kiwi team.

The Kiwi team and the New Zealand media may have overplayed their hand and protested too much, creating an animosity with the American team.  American’s fight best when they are down, and they are assuredly down now, having lost three members of their team and two match points.

The New Zealander team has been together for four years and now the Oracle Team USA has only been selected and together for four days.  That’s quite a contrast, and, combined with the jury’s penalties, puts them in a fight, win or die position.  And, it also adds excitement and a new angle to what has been, up until now, a rather lackluster sporting event in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Hand it to Larry Ellison. Even when his team screws up, they make the best and most exciting things out of it.

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America’s Cup: Is Emirates New Zealand Team Celebrating America’s Cup Jury Decision Too Soon?

America’s Cup: Jury Rigged?

The level of glee by the Emirates New Zealand  team and news media over foibles of Oracle Team USA has taken such a decidedly nasty turn that members of the International Jury have delayed their decision over what penalties, if any, should be given to defending America’s Cup champion team in the “weighting scandal.”

Clearly, Oracle Team USA made a serious mistake. Who in Hell puts weights on a ship to make it go faster? And, who in Hell does it in “pre-season” matches when it doesn’t matter in scoring America’s Cup races?

It was a stupid move by someone/s on Team USA, but it shouldn’t impact the most sought after silver trophy in the World, The America’s Cup.

But the New Zealand team, and the media down-under, have gone “John Bull Mad” over the alleged scandal and created such an ugly scene they have brought disrepute on themselves as much as Team USA. It’s embarrassing to read the ‘homer” news copy from the Kiwis.

The N.Z. media’s fawning stories about the “cheating scandal” and how it has harmed the sport are hogwash.  The America’s Cup is always controversial and the Kiwi’s namby-pamby media patter has made the entire sport look amateurish, low-class and soft.

The jury should make its decision and it should be fair and square–something that has not been so far with leaks from the Jury and other questionable allegations making their way into the media.

The Jury’s pending decision should not be delayed any longer and the decision must be commensurate with the alleged wrong doing: if no harm and no impact was had on the America’s Cup race itself, why should any of the sailors or Team USA be penalized? Really?

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Did PG&E CEO Tony Earley Lie to Bloomberg News on Bankruptcy Statement on CPUC San Bruno Fine?

 

Did PG&E CEO and Chairman Tony Earley Knowingly Mislead Bloomberg News and Wall Street?

 

Pacific Gas & Electric Company CEO Tony Earley’s statement to Bloomberg News this week has landed the utility executive between a rock and hard place.

The City of San Bruno today criticized statements by the top executive of Pacific Gas & Electric Company who told Bloomberg News on Tuesday that a proposed penalty and fine by the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) for the deadly 2010 PG&E gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno could force the utility into bankruptcy – statements that contradict the sworn legal testimony of PG&E’s own finance expert.

PG&E Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Tony Earley told Bloomberg in a news interview the proposed $2.25 billion penalty and fine for the Sept. 9, 2010 explosion in San Bruno that killed eight, destroyed 38 homes and damaged the community could not be funded with equity alone. He told the news service the penalty would require PG&E shareholders to sell billions in additional stock and, if shares failed to sell, could land PG&E in bankruptcy.

San Bruno city officials said these comments contradict the findings of multiple experts, including PG&E’s own paid finance consultant.

“Mr. Earley’s comments are inconsistent with the company’s own sworn testimony made before the CPUC on March 5 this year,” said San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane. “PG&E’s own expert said the company has the financial capability to withstand a penalty of this magnitude. We are deeply concerned that these comments could mislead the market, shareholders, and the public, and we hope these were not made in a deliberate attempt to influence the outcome of the ongoing penalty process.”

Earlier this year, PG&E’s paid expert, Eric O. Fornell of Wells Fargo Securities, said during a penalty proceeding under oath that it was “doable” for PG&E to issue equity or raise enough capital to cover a $2 billion penalty. His statements followed a separate, impartial report by Overland Consulting, independently commissioned by the CPUC in 2012, which similarly found that PG&E would be able to afford a $2.25 billion penalty without hurting its creditworthiness.

Meanwhile, PG&E stock prices remain strong. PG&E Corp.’s second-quarter earnings rose 39 percent as the utility reported stronger revenue and lower charges related to its natural-gas pipeline efforts, among other items.

The company’s solid financial footing and multiple expert findings are partly what guided the $2.25 billion recommendation of the CPUC’s safety division, which issued its revised penalty proposal in July. The proposed $2.25 billion penalty would fund ongoing safety improvements and include a $300 million fine to PG&E shareholders, which is not tax deductible and would be paid directly to the State of California’s general fund. In addition, the proposal also curtails PG&E’s ability to deduct “credits” for safety repairs made since the 2010 explosion and fire – a provision San Bruno has advocated strongly for.

San Bruno officials said they support elements of the CPUC’s proposed penalty, but given the scope and magnitude of PG&E’s misconduct, they are pushing for a penalty of $3.8 billion, which would amount to $2.45 billion in after-tax dollars. This penalty would also fund ongoing safety improvements and give no credits for past expenses. San Bruno based its recommendation on the Overland report, which determined that PG&E could bear a maximum financial consequence of $2.45 billion and remain solvent.

San Bruno said it will also continue pushing the CPUC to direct PG&E to adopt and fund a series of remedial measures that will ensure systemic regulatory change in the future. These include $5 million per year for a “California Pipeline Safety Trust,” an Independent Monitor to make sure PG&E follows its own safety plan in the face of possible lax enforcement and the installation of lifesaving Automated Shutoff Valves.

The CPUC’s five-member commission is expected to issue its final recommendation in coming months.

“As we approach the three-year anniversary of this devastating tragedy, we remain firm in our belief that the only way to prevent future accidents is by penalizing PG&E to the maximum,” Mayor Ruane said. “The independent experts – even PG&E’s – have agreed that PG&E is financially able to weather a penalty of this magnitude—and then some. We are now looking to the CPUC to do the right thing and penalize PG&E in order to send a strong message that public safety cannot be compromised by the bottom line.”

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Castro Street Fair Announces Peaches as Headliner for 40th Anniversary Celebration


Performance and Electronic Music Artist, Peaches, makes Castro Street Fair Debut

 The Castro Street Fair Board of Directors announced today that they have signed Peaches, world renowned and sexually progressive pop-star, to perform at the 40th anniversary of the Castro Street Fair on October 6th.

Peaches, along with her Peachettes, will be headlining the Castro Street Fair Main Stage. Her performance will include a never-before-seen tribute to disco legend Sylvester, who performed at the second annual Castro Street Fair in 1975. The Peachettes are a group of local performers produced by Midnight Mass choreographer, Rory Davis

“The Castro Street Fair is beyond thrilled to have Peaches as part of our Ruby Anniversary celebration,” said Executive Director George Ridgely. “She will undoubtedly deliver a show stopping performance,” he said.

Since the release of her debut album in 2000, Peaches has spread her smart and progressive lyrics to the pop culture landscape, harnessing a worldwide audience and, along with the countless followers, shaped the mainstream into a more inclusive and sexually progressive surrounding. 2013 saw the release of Peaches’ critically acclaimed feature film debut, Peaches Does Herself.  Of the film, The Hollywood Reporter stated that it was, “A loosely biographical rock opera featuring outlandish costumes, transsexual dancers, lashing of smutty humor and simulated hardcore sex, this self-directed carnival of carnal excess feels like The Rocky Horror Picture Show with a postgrad doctorate in Queer Theory.” Over the years, she’s built a reputation for her suggestive and intelligent lyrics, her amalgamation of rock and electro sounds, and her balls-out performances; while continuing to outdo herself with each brash step.

“I am so proud to be part of Castro Street Fair, especially because it was started by the fearless Harvey Milk.  This year, being the 40th anniversary, I will help honor another fearless incredible San Fran LGBT Legend, Sylvester. I can’t wait to be a part of this! Yes!!!!”

Entertainment at this year’s fair will pay homage to the 40 years of music and entertainment that has been the fabric of the Castro Street Fair since its inception. A full line-up of performers and set times will be published on the Castro Street Fair website (www.castrostreetfair.org) in the weeks prior to the event.

The Castro Street Fair is a not-for-profit community street celebration that was founded by Harvey Milk in 1974. Hundreds of local artists, vendors, craftspeople, and organizations line the streets and celebrate the diversity of the neighborhood. Stages with live entertainment and dance stages can be found throughout the fairgrounds. The Castro Street Fair is held the first Sunday of October every year and this year will be held on October 6th from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. at Market and Castro Streets.

Proceeds from the Fair, including gate donations, will be shared with these beneficiaries in 2013: AIDS Emergency Fund/Breast Cancer Emergency Fund, AIDS Housing Alliance, AIDS Legal Referral Panel, Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center, Bay Positives, Castro Community On Patrol, Community United Against Violence (CUAV), Castro/Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association, Castro Country Club, Ducal Council of San Francisco, The Family Link, Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, Haight Ashbury Community Nursery School, Hartford Street Zen Center, Imperial Council of San Francisco, Instituto Familiar de la Raza, Metropolitan Community Church-San Francisco, McKinley Elementary School – Parent-Teacher Association, Most Holy Redeemer – AIDS Support Group, Project Open Hand, Queer Life Space, and the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.

Sponsors of the 2013 Castro Street Fair include Miller Brands, Chevron, US Bank, the GLBT Historical Society, The Bay Area Reporter, Whole Foods, Via Media and Recology; along with additional funding and support from Grants for the Arts and the SOMArts Cultural Center’s Technical Services Program.

To learn more about Peaches, please visit her website at: www.PeachesDoesHerself.com 

To learn more about the Castro Street Fair, please visit our website at: http://www.castrostreetfair.org.

To follow the Castro Street Fair on Facebook, please visit the following page: https://www.facebook.com/CASTROSTREETFAIR

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ODC/Dance presents its popular annual summer event SUMMER SAMPLER 2013


Featuring the world premiere of Two If By Sea by Kimi Okada; Triangulating Euclid, the critically acclaimed collaboration between Brenda Way, KT Nelson and Kate Weare; and The Light Has Not the Arms to Carry Us, a three-part work by Kate Weare

August 2-3, 2013, 8pm ODC Theater

3153 Seventeenth Street, San Francisco 

Tickets: $30-$45, 415.863.9834

ODC/Dance, San Francisco’s internationally acclaimed contemporary dance company, presents its popular annual summer event, Summer Sampler, August 2-3, 2013.   The three works on this summer’s program include Triangulating Euclid, the 2013 collaboration between Brenda Way, KT Nelson and New York-based choreographer Kate WeareTwo if By Sea, a world premiere duet by ODC Associate Choreographer Kimi Okada; and Weare’s celebrated work, The Light Has Not the Arms to Carry Us.

Summer Sampler also marks the retirement of ODC dancer Vanessa Thiessen, who joined ODC in 2008.

Thiessen is featured in the world premiere of Okada’s Two If By Sea, a duet with dancer Jeremy Smith, that explores the mystery of signs a couple uses to communicate, as intimates and as compatriots signaling to an outside world. Using code languages as diverse as base coaching, semaphore signals and aural transmissions, this rhythmic, physical work unveils the power of hidden or overt signals in our lives.

Triangulating Euclid, the 2013 work by Way, Nelson and Weare, was inspired by a rare original edition of Euclid’s Elements, one of the most influential works in the history of mathematics. This highly physical and emotive piece was celebrated as “beautifully enigmatic” (Huffington Post) and “an exuberant celebration of the way dancers inscribe themselves into space” (San Francisco Bay Guardian) and premiered to sold-out audiences at ODC/Dance Downtown earlier this year. The first-ever collaboration between Way, Nelson and Weare, and the beginning of bi-coastal collaboration between the three artists, Triangulating Euclid provided the choreographers an opportunity to disrupt their processes and explore new artistic territory.

ODC partners with Weare once again when the ODC dancers perform The Light Has Not the Arms to Carry Us. An abstract exploration into primitive states, The Light Has Not The Arms To Carry Us delves into abasement, wariness, sensuality and tenderness.

Summer Sampler is an intimate event designed to clear the summer fog and satisfy your appetite for art. Choreographers Way, Nelson and Okada will also be on hand after the performances to shed some light on the dancing in a talkback session with the audience.

About ODC/Dance

ODC is known throughout the world for its athleticism, passion and intellectual depth. Among the many awards ODC’s three resident choreographers–Brenda Way, KT Nelson and Kimi Okada–have received are a Guggenheim, six Isadora Duncan Dance Awards — including two lifetime achievement awards — a San Francisco Examiner Golden Slipper Award, and a Tony nomination. Brenda Way was selected as the first choreographer to serve as Resident of the Arts at the American Academy in Rome for 2009/10 and recently received a prestigious leadership award from the San Francisco Foundation. ODC has been hailed as “Best Dance Company” in the San Francisco Bay Guardian’s Best of the Bay 2002, 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2012 editions. In 2009 ODC was selected by BAM as one of three dance companies to tour internationally under the aegis of the U.S. State Department’s inaugural DanceMotion USA tour.

Founded in 1971 by Artistic Director Brenda Way, ODC (Oberlin Dance Collective, named after its place of origin, Oberlin College in Ohio) loaded up a yellow school bus and relocated to San Francisco in 1976. Her goal was to ground the company in a dynamic, pluralistic setting. ODC was the first modern dance company in America to build its own home facility in 1979, from which it operates a school, a theater, a gallery, and a health clinic for dancers. In September 2005, under Way’s leadership, ODC opened a second performing arts facility, the ODC Dance Commons. And in the fall of 2010 ODC unveiled its newly renovated and expanded Theater. Through its dozens of programs ODC strives to inspire audiences, cultivate artists, engage community, and foster diversity and inclusion through dance performance, training, and mentorship.

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On Scene with Bill Wilson at Dore Alley Fair

Demetri Moshoyannis, Executive Director of Folsom Street Events

The annual Up Your Alley Street Fair took place last Sunday. A warm up to the more massive Folsom Street Fair in September, this year’s edition wasn’t the coldest or hottest on record although plenty of hot people added to the atmosphere. No matter what your “type” there was someone to satisfy your longings or pique your curiosity.

 

 

 Learning the ropes at Dore and Folsom

No pain, no gain as they say at the gym.

Even though most of the day the sun hid behind the overcast sky, sunscreen was still a necessary protection against ultraviolet rays. I came home with a little redness that benefitted from some moisturizer on my arms and forehead. I’m now a redhead but that doesn’t refer to my hair color!

 

Medical volunteer helps apply sunscreen.

Up Your Alley is the fair to go to if you want to avoid the massive crowds of Folsom. It doesn’t attract the international or suburban crowd of the September event, but it does provide an enjoyable afternoon.

 

Dore and Folsom is meeting spot for the Leather communities.

I love the fact that at Folsom Street events even the whips come in colors of the rainbow.

 

Close-up of a vendor’s display of leather whips.

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CAL PERFORMANCES PRESENTS BERKELEY/OAKLAND AILEYCAMP’S GRAND FINALE PERFORMANCE OF LISTEN… THURSDAY, AUGUST 1 AT 7:00 P.M. AT ZELLERBACH PLAYHOUSE

 Middle-school participants in the tuition-free six-week dance program demonstrate

their new skills in a free and open-to-the-public performance on the UC, Berkeley Campus

 

Celebrating its twelfth summer, the Berkeley/Oakland AileyCamp at Cal Performances will culminate in a 50-camper strong finale performance titled Listen… on Thursday, August 1 at 7:00 p.m. at Zellerbach Playhouse. Complete with professional staging, lights, costumes and live music, the 2013 session of the nationally acclaimed program showcases the youths’ training in ballet, jazz, modern and African dance. The camp was conceived by Alvin Ailey, founder of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and is locally produced by Cal Performances under the direction of David McCauley. “AileyCamp is arts education at its very best,” says Cal Performances’ Director Matías Tarnopolsky. “It has a transformative effect on every single participant’s life. They take back to their families, their schools and to their communities the essential values they have learned.” Comprised of 10 boys and 40 girls this summer, campers participate in a curriculum that includes dance instruction in addition to personal development, creative communications classes and field trips. The tuition-free camp admits underserved middle-school students from the Berkeley, Oakland, Richmond and Albany Unified School districts. Subject to availability, tickets for the performance of Listen… are free and available to the public at the Zellerbach Playhouse ticket office.

David McCauley, who has served as Director of the camp since its beginning in the 2001-2002 season, has titled this year’s end-of-camp performance Listen…. “As AileyCampers begin to create art this summer, we want to hear the their voices, to listen to stories about life from their perspective.”  He continues, “I’m also thinking of all the ways we use the word listen. Parents admonishing their child, “You’ve got to listen to what I tell you!” Or the command, “Listen!” The warning, “Hey, Listen….” And the start of a story, “Listen to the tale I have to tell you.” So many ways to listen, and so many things to listen to.”

The Thursday, August 1 performance is free and open to the public.  Tickets may be obtained in person at Cal Performances’ Ticket Office at Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley campus starting Tuesday, July 23; remaining tickets may be available at the door, depending on demand.

BERKELEY/OAKLAND AILEYCAMP AT CAL PERFORMANCES

The first AileyCamp was founded in 1989 by Alvin Ailey and the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey; there are now ten camps throughout the country. Berkeley/Oakland AileyCamp at Cal Performances opened its doors in June 2002; it is the only AileyCamp on the West Coast and on a major university campus. The campers receive two meals each day, a camp uniform and dance clothes. They participate in a curriculum that includes daily technique classes in ballet, Horton-based modern dance, jazz and West African dance. Dance and creative communications classes deepen the students’ awareness of their potential for self-expression; personal development classes provide counseling in nutrition, conflict resolution, drug abuse prevention, personal hygiene, decision-making and goal-setting. “I will not use the word can’t to define my possibilities,” is just one of the affirmations repeated daily to reinforce their goals, build self-confidence, and guide them on a path to becoming a productive and motivated individual. AileyCamp is not a training ground for professional dancers but instead uses dance as a vehicle for developing self-esteem and critical thinking skills in underserved 6th, 7th and 8thgrade students. An important aspect of the program’s success is providing positive adult and peer role models.  “When camp is finished, students will leave with valuable life skills and a sense of accomplishment that will help them navigate through the challenging years ahead,” McCauley says.

David W. McCauley began his dance training while a student, first at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, and later at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He has trained in ballet, modern, jazz, and ethnic dancing. As a dancer based in New York City, McCauley spent 15 years with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, as student, instructor and performer. He also performed with the Pearl Primus Dance Company and Omega Liturgical Dance Company. Since 1990, he has been a resident of San Francisco, and has performed with Wing It! Performance Ensemble and Omega West Dance Company. Recently, McCauley became an adjunct faculty member of the Center for Art, Religion, and Education, an affiliated center of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and was awarded the AileyCamp Award of Excellence from the AileyCamp Foundation in recognition of his exemplary leadership and commitment, 2002-2011. The AileyCamp Award of Excellence was the first award of its kind from the AileyCamp Foundation and McCauley was the first one to receive it. A full time staff member at Cal Performances who also serves as a teaching artist, he has directed Berkeley/Oakland AileyCamp at Cal Performances since its inauguration.

Rica Anderson is the Education and Programs Manager and a Teaching Artist for Cal Performances and the AileyCamp Administrator. Prior to Cal Performances, she worked for Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theater programs; was School Liaison and a Teaching Artist at the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts; created educator guides for KQED’s Spark program; and participated in Harvard’s Project Zero Classroom.

Kenny Wang, a UC Berkeley junior double majoring in Theater and Performance Studies and Media Studies joins AileyCamp as the Administrative Assistant.

 

The whole teaching staff from last Summer is returning: Naomi Johnson Diouf (African dance), West African dance and culture teacher at Berkeley High School and Artistic Director of Diamano Coura West African Dance Company in Oakland; Derrick Minter (modern dance), longtime AileyCamp teacher and dance professor at the University of Oklahoma; Priya Shah (ballet), a former faculty member of Ballet Pacifica Academy with a MFA in Dance and a BA in Psychology; Zari Le’on (jazz dance), dance instructor at Grand Canyon University, Middlebury College, Mills College and Scripps College and founder and creative director of Zari Le’on Dance Theater; Shawn Nealy (personal development), a percussionist with a Masters of Education from UCLA and a teacher with  multiple years in the classroom in the Los Angeles, Oakland and Fremont Unified School Districts and Erika Padilla-Morales (creative communications), MFAs in Screenwriting and Creative Writing, previously a Media Arts Coach with Streetside Stories supporting educators and young people through video. Bronwyn Wrobel (guidance counselor), is a new member to the team, earned her Masters in Integral Counseling Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies and has counseled children and their families for three years with a focus on art, play, and movement therapy. Returning musicians include pianist Frederick Harris and percussionists Madiou Sao Diouf and Darian LaFoucade.

Returning AileyCamp group leaders include LaKiesha Golden and former AileyCampers Tamara McCree (2002 alum) and Spencer Pulu (2005 alum). Newcomers Beth Ellis Dickson and Christine Velez join the AileyCamp team this year. Providing strong leadership, consistent support and guidance to each camper within their group, AileyCamp group leaders oversee AileyCampers throughout their camp day.

AileyCamp Diary, a webpage on Cal Performances’ website, will feature writings and images by staff and campers updated throughout the six-week camp. Go to www.calperformances.org/aileycampdiary.

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Major Victory for Drakes Bay Oyster Co. as Marin Court Allows Farm to Remain Open Until Federal Lawsuit is Resolved

Amy Trainer, Environmental Action Committee of West Marin executive director, discredited by false statements against Drakes Bay Oyster Co. Court makes favorable  judgement for DBOC

A Marin County Superior Court Judge put two orders by the California Coastal Commission on the back burner that would have forced the historic Drakes Bay Oyster Company (DBOC) to shut down prior to the resolution of a pending federal lawsuit.

“We are pleased that the court stayed the restoration order, recognizing that it was inappropriate for the Commission to act while the federal permit is still  under review by the Court,” said DBOC owner, Kevin Lunny.  “We are  troubled, however, that the Commission continues to misrepresent the oyster farm operations to the public and the Court. We are confident that theirmisrepresentations will be revealed for what they are—completely unfounded and contradictory with their own reports—when the hearing on the merits occurs,” he said.

In February 2013, the Commission issued a Cease and Desist Order and Restoration Order against Drakes Bay, alleging that the historic farm was not complying with required standards and was harming harbor seals, eelgrass and the environment of Drakes Estero. These allegations were  repeatedly proven to be false by the Nation’s top scientists and the Commission’s own reports.

A special Commission Trip Report, prepared in 2007, directly contradicts the two major claims the Commission has made in court. The Commission argued that the oyster farm harms harbor seals because “there are boats cruising around near harbor seals”, but its report admits that “servicing the oyster bags located several hundred yards away from the haul-out sites probably would not result in disturbance to the seals.”  The Commission also argued that DBOC is “expanding” operations, but its own report admitted that the historical production cap was 700,000 pounds/year, a recommended level of production which DBOC has not violated.

Even the Commission’s own vice-chair, Steve Kinsey, has called the Commission’s treatment of DBOC “morally disturbing.” Kinsey stated that the Commission has “repeated the same disproven assertions that the operation was harming harbor seals and eelgrass” and “chosen to portray the Lunnys as irresponsible operators to aid and abet the Park Service’s myopic interest in terminating the lease.”

“With the support of our employees, thousands of environmentalists, community members and elected leaders around the nation, we will continue to fight and remain confident and hopeful that we will be successful in the next stages of our legal battle,” Lunny stated.

Recently,  Amy Trainer, Director of the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin, has been  exposed in a series of false statements against Drakes Bay Oyster Co.  Trainer has issued a series of false news releases and made statements regarding  the scientific evidence about the benefits of oyster farming.  She and the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin, were also behind the false statements that the DBOC was being funded by the conservative Koch brothers.  It has been proven there was no tie or link between the Koch brothers and DBOC and Trainer and her environmental group have been discredited.

About Drakes Bay Oyster Company

Oyster farming in Drakes Estero, located in Point Reyes, MarinCounty, has been part of the region’s history for nearly 100 years. The Lunnys, a fourth-generation Point Reyesranching family, purchased Drakes Bay Oyster Company in 2004 to revive a historical part of the local community and ensure the continued environmental health of Drakes Estero.  DrakesBaycurrently employs nearly 30 community members, and farms sustainably in Drakes Estero, producing approximately one-third of all oysters in California. The Lunny family works hard to participate in keeping the agricultural economic system in West Marin alive. DrakesBayactively participates in the creation of a more sustainable food model that restores, conserves, and maintains the productivity of the local landscapes and the health of its inhabitants. For more information, please visit www.drakesbayoyster.com.

 

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San Bruno Commends Improved CPUC Recommendation to Punish PG&E, Demands Even Tougher Remedies from Regulators

San Francisco—The City of San Bruno today commended the latest legal filing by the California Public Utilities Commission’s safety division and called the improved penalty and fine proposal of $2.25 billion against Pacific Gas & Electric Company “a step in the right direction” to punish the utility for its gross negligence that caused the Sept. 9, 2010 San Bruno explosion and fire.

 

San Bruno officials have long demanded that PG&E pay the maximum for the tragic explosion and fire that took eight lives, destroyed 38 homes, and damaged scores more.  The City today said it will continue its push for additional remedies, including lifesaving fully automated safety shutoff valves and an independent safety monitor to serve as a watch dog for the completion of required system safety improvements.

 

San Bruno is also asking that the CPUC mandate that PG&E fund a Pipeline Safety Trust in California, an independent group that would advocate for pipeline safety and would serve as a legacy to the tragic explosion.  San Bruno has until Aug. 1 to file its formal response to the CPUC.

 

“The latest penalty proposal is a long-awaited step in the right direction for public safety, and we commend the attorneys within the CPUC’s safety division for exhibiting the courage to significantly strengthen the division’s previous, and inadequate, penalty recommendation,” said San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane. “While we wholeheartedly support the tougher penalty and fine, the City of San Bruno will continue to fight for additional and ongoing safeguards to protect the public and help us ensure that what happened in San Bruno never happens again, anywhere.”

 

The City cautioned that it just received the CPUC safety division filing this morning and needs to review it thoroughly before fully commenting on the revised proposal.

 

The CPUC’s revised $2.25 billion penalty and fine proposal replaces the CPUC’s original — and now discredited — recommendation announced with much hype by Jack Hagan, director of the CPUC’s safety division, in May but which was soon revealed to be 100 percent tax-deductible and littered with credits and perks to benefit PG&E, amounting in a net penalty of almost nothing for the utility.

 

Not one of the CPUC safety division’s senior attorneys agreed to sign the original penalty recommendation, calling it “unlawful” and “contrary to what our team had worked to accomplish in the last two and a half years.” Those attorneys were reassigned off the investigation as a result of their protest.

 

The shocking internal turmoil at the CPUC led San Bruno to call for an investigation by the California Attorney General and the State Legislature and, ultimately, forced the recusal of the CPUC’s chief counsel and the lead attorney on the case, Frank Lindh, a former PG&E attorney.

 

The formerly reassigned attorneys returned to the investigation and last week they requested to withdraw the old filing and “correct certain inaccuracies,” characterizing the events as “unorthodox.”

 

The amended filing not only imposes a tough penalty of about $2.25 billion that will fund ongoing safety improvements but it also incorporates a $300 million fine to PG&E shareholders, which is not tax deductible and would be diverted into the State of California’s general fund. In addition, the proposal also curtails PG&E’s ability to deduct “credits” for safety repairs made since the 2010 explosion and fire – a provision San Bruno has advocated strongly for in the past.

 

And while city officials say they generally support the monetary component of the CPUC’s revised proposal, given the widespread dysfunction at the CPUC, they will continue to push for PG&E to adopt and fund a series of remedial measures to ensure systemic regulatory change in the future. These include funding for a California Pipeline Safety Trust advocacy organization, an Independent Monitor to make sure PG&E follows its own safety plan in the face of possible lax enforcement, and the installation of lifesaving fully Automatic Shutoff Valves.   The City also opposes the proposed $435 million credit to PG&E shareholders which effectively reduces the  penalty against PG&E to $1.815 billion.

 

“While we continue to applaud those CPUC attorneys who displayed exceptional courage in their effort to uphold justice for the people and victims of San Bruno, we believe the level of chaos and disarray at the CPUC is proof that additional, going-forward remedies are needed, specifically an Independent Monitor to oversee the CPUC’s activities and correct the overly cozy relationship with the CPUC,” Ruane said. “We will continue to fight for additional safeguards so that, as the legacy of the City’s involvement in this process, we can feel confident that the state’s regulatory and public utility systems are changed for the better.”

 

 

Contact: Connie Jackson, City Manager

Phone: (650) 616-7056

Sam Singer, Singer Associates

Office: (415) 227-9700

 

 

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Roger Penrose Puts Prints on San Francisco Transit Center

Transbay Transit Center incorporates famed mathematicians design into newly approved façade

The Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) has received approval from Dr. Roger Penrose, the eminent British mathematical physicist, to incorporate his groundbreaking geometrical pattern in the design of the exterior walls of the future Transbay Transit Center (TTC) designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects (PCPA). Dr. Penrose and PCPA are working in tandem to incorporate Dr. Penrose’s elegant design, known as the Penrose Rhombus Tiling, in the skin of the TTC. The design is remarkably simple but unique because it can be extended infinitely without repeating itself. The Penrose system is ideal for the perforations in the metal panels that will form the curved exterior of the Transit Center.

Discovered in 1974, the Penrose Rhombus Tiling was heralded by mathematicians and physicists ultimately helping to give birth to the new field of quasicrystals which spawned discoveries in material science and biology. Dr. Penrose’s discovery initially yielded designs that were only known to exist in synthetic materials. Patterns similar to Dr. Penrose’s design, however, have recently been found in natural materials such as those in meteorites. The rhombus pattern can be elegant and beautiful to the eye. When used at the scale of the new Transit Center, it creates a delicate, lace-like screen that is an ideal contrast to the monumental structure of the Transit Center. PCPA notes that the Penrose pattern on the exterior of the building will symbolize the interconnections among mathematics, science and art which are so deeply ingrained in the rich, technologically advanced culture of the Bay Area.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to incorporate Dr. Penrose’s mathematical pattern in the flowing design of the new Transbay Transit Center,” said Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan, Executive Director of the TJPA. “The addition of Dr. Penrose’s pattern to the skin of the Transit Center will provide additional educational opportunities for the public who visit the new station,” she said.

The Penrose tiling, with its non-repeating pattern, is well suited to the complex, curved form of the Transit Center exterior. To achieve the undulating sensation of the Transit Center exterior, PCPA has designed multiple metal panels of varying sizes and trapezoidal shapes that require seamless visual transitions from panel to panel—a visual effect that can be achieved only with a non-periodic pattern . The pearlescent white metal skin of the Transit Center will be perforated with the Penrose pattern, letting 35 percent of the wall surface remain open to light and air. The passenger experience from the inside will be one of openness and diffused light.

“I am delighted that the Transbay Transit Center has chosen to employ a non-periodic 5-fold quasi-symmetric mathematical pattern that I discovered in 1974, in order to adorn the exterior skin of their magnificent project, in this most impressive design,” said Dr. Roger Penrose. “The existence of such patterns was very unexpected, since they appear to violate the standard symmetry rules of crystallography. Yet they reveal hidden aspects of mathematical structure, some of which had been hinted at earlier in the works of the great 17th Century astronomer Johannes Kepler, and also, to some extent, in ancient Islamic designs,” he said.

Sir Roger Penrose is a British mathematical physicist and philosopher. Over the course of his career, Penrose has worked and collaborated with great minds such as Stephen Hawking and M.C. Escher. In 1988, Penrose and Stephen Hawking were both awarded the Wolf Prize for their contributions to the understanding of the universe. Penrose developed the famous “Penrose Triangle” which Escher used in much of his artwork, including his piece The Waterfall in 1961. He is currently the Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the Mathematical Institute of Oxford as well as an Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College. To learn more about Sir Roger Penrose and the Penrose Rhombus Tiling please visit: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/450252/Sir-Roger-Penrose

The Transbay Transit Center is scheduled to be complete in the fall of 2017.

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America’s Cup Shocker in San Francisco: Louis Vuitton Wants its Money Back for Race Sponsorship

One of the most prestigious and longest running sponsors of the America’s Cup wants some of its money back, according to the San Francisco Business Times.

Louis Vuitton, the posh French retailer that has been a primary financial backer of the competition, wants $3 million refunded because so few teams have entered.

Louis Vuitton’s initial sponsorship was for $10 million, according to an America’s Cup source. Its contract was based on at least eight teams taking part in the Louis Vuitton Cup, a round-robin playoff to determine which team will ultimately sail against Oracle Team USA in the America’s Cup championship.

There are three teams entered in the Louis Vuitton Cup: Italy’s Luna Rossa, Sweden’s Artemis Racing and Emirates Team New Zealand.

Since the 1980s, there have been anywhere from 7 to 13 teams taking part in the competition. Several potential challengers — from Korea, France, Australia, Spain and Italy — pulled out of the America’s Cup, many citing the financial burden of competing at sailing’s highest level.

Louis Vuitton can get a $1 million rebate for each team less than six that participate, the Cup source said. That would mean the company is entitled to get $3 million back.

Should any of the remaining teams pull out of the competition — which they have hinted they might do — Louis Vuitton would be entitled to even more money back.

A spokesman for the America’s Cup, which began this week and runs until September, was not immediately available for comment.

A Louis Vuitton spokesman was not immediately available for comment. But a Louis Vuitton representative told a New Zealand newspaper that the company was “not happy” with the Louis Vuitton Cup so far.

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Audubon Society Accused of Fraudulent Land Grab By Ranchers: How Audubon Society Used “White Out” To Change Boundries

MAYACAMAS MOUNTAINS, Calif. — A group of California families are accusing the National Audubon Society of whiting out parts of maps to swindle them out of their best land. This is property that in some cases has been in the families’ hands since the 1920s.

The Cervieres brothers, immigrants from France, came to California in 1895. By 1924 they had money to buy beautiful plots of land high up in the Mayacamas Mountains, towering over Sonoma wine country in northern California.

They wanted a place of retreat and refuge for what they hoped would someday be a large and extended family of Cervieres. Their descendants became five families who bought even more land in the Pine Flat area of these mountains.

And they did form a tradition across the decades of enjoying almost every major family occasion, summers and holidays in this mountain paradise. They built five homes they collectively dubbed “the ranch.”

“The ranch was like the lifeblood, the glue that held the family together,” said Lea Raynal, now one of the extended family’s matriarchs.

But a fire swept through in 2004 and burned down three of the houses.

“Torched this whole thing,” Lea’s son Mike Raynal said, looking up at a bare chimney that’s all that’s left of one home.  “We lost everything.”

Family members felt horrible but fanned hope by deciding to rebuild as quickly as possible.

Another Blow

Then came another devastating blow from a surprising source. A neighbor had bequeathed thousands of acres next door to the National Audubon Society, best known for its love of birds and conservation.

To rebuild, the families would need to upgrade the roads leading across Audubon land to accommodate their heavy construction equipment.

But after decades of everyone sharing these roads, Audubon said no and then hit the families with yet another bombshell: It said it had proof their very best acres, the flat ones where their houses had been, were actually Audubon land.

“It was like being hit in the stomach, the wind knocked out of you,” Lea recalled.

Audubon representatives showed the family survey maps that appeared to bolster Audubon’s claim, maps that years later family members would find had parts whited out by Audubon.

According to the family’s lawyer Peter Prows, the reps gave them an ultimatum:  “We’re not going to let you rebuild your homes unless you agree to the boundary as we’re claiming it to be on our drawings.”

Mike’s brother, Phil Raynal, said that would have pushed family members’ new houses “approximately 300 yards up the hill, way up in an upper meadow – virtually impossible to build on.”

“This is the only flat area,” he said, pointing to the area around him where their houses had been.

Prows said Audubon then informed the families, “If you don’t agree, we’re going to go out and build a fence on that line, and if you try to interfere, we’re going to call the police.”

Legal Battle Begins

In court documents later, Audubon insisted it believed its claim that it truly owned the best acres of its next-door neighbors.

And since it was legally bound to preserve the wilderness acres bequeathed it, the company said it couldn’t just hand those acres back to the families if it really owned them.

Audubon said it held meetings and bent over backwards to work out a deal with the families.

But here’s what Phil heard from an Audubon representative at one of those meetings: “This property has never, ever been yours. Get over it.”

“That haunts me. I tell you what, that haunts me every day,” he said.

Phil and his family accuse Audubon of simply coveting their land.

“It really bothers me that they’d come up here and try to take something that’s ours,” Phil’s young son Ryan said.

So the families decided to fight, with Mike and Phil Raynal leading the way. They threw themselves into a years-long effort to prove the ancient boundaries were correct and their land was indeed theirs, not Audubon’s.

A Costly Fight

Their efforts cost them and their families hundreds of thousands of dollars across several years, and much more than just money but “thousands and thousands and countless hours,” Phil said, shaking his head.

The brothers for years cut their way through rugged brush to find the original surveyors’ landmarks, facing rattlesnakes, ticks, poison ivy, and exhaustion.

They both already had full-time jobs. This fight became another one. Mike’s daughter Danielle feels it cost her her father.

“I’ve lost a father pretty much,” she said. “Me and my dad were very close, and it’s been hard. We’ve all drifted apart.”

Some family members were not only spending every spare hour fighting to prove Audubon wrong. But while all this was working its way through the legal system, the families couldn’t rebuild and were cut off from their piece of paradise and all those family gatherings like they’d had for decades.

“You have family reunions. You’re always having holidays,” Danielle remembered as she recalled how the five families would spend months of each year together on the ranch.

“And then it’s just an abrupt stop,” she said.

“Everybody getting together. It was just absolutely amazing,” Danielle’s mother Carin Raynal recalled. “And this whole debacle has just torn all of it apart.”

Another family member, Bruce Young, testified in a sworn declaration.

“There’s no doubt in my mind whatsoever that the emotional stress and aggravation to which Audubon subjected me is the cause and underlying reason for the three strokes I have suffered and survived,” he said.

‘White Out’ Gate

Then another stunning surprise in 2010 after years of legal wrangling: Audubon caved and said it would accept the original property lines and let the families use the roads unimpeded.

“They completely capitulated,” Prows stated.

No one outside of Audubon knows why this capitulation, but one more shock was ahead. In 2012, the families’ lawyers discovered with a subpoena that at the start of all this, Audubon had held back from family members some of the surveying maps it had commissioned.

They had also altered the maps they presented to prove Audubon’s claim.

“Audubon had actually doctored the drawings that it showed to our clients,” Prows said. “It took white out, and we have emails from Audubon’s very top people talking about putting white-out on the maps – removing the lines that its surveyors had put on the maps that Audubon didn’t like, showing that the boundary really was in the right place all along.”

This screamed lies and coverup to the families.

“We actually call it ‘White Out Gate’ now,” Phil said.

He still gets mad thinking of those thousands of hours he and Mike spent researching, gathering documents, combing through the thick brush on their land.

“Really what sunk in was all those years – seven, eight years of hard work when they knew from day one this was never their property. Ever! They knew it,” Phil fumed.

“I couldn’t believe anybody would do that,” Mike Raynal said. “I wouldn’t do that to another human being, period.”

A Bid for Restitution

Now the families are suing for fraud. Audubon admitted in court documents it didn’t give them all the surveyor’s maps but said that was because not all were relevant. It said it did white out lines on the maps but only lines it said were extraneous.

Audubon calls this lawsuit frivolous, demanding the families pay its legal bills.

Family members refuse to give an inch because all these years of legal war have certainly cost them.

“It’s affected everybody mentally, physically, emotionally,” Carin Raynal said.

When CBN News asked repeatedly for an interview or written comments, Audubon suggested researching the court documents and would only give the following mission statement:

“Audubon is fully committed to its mission as a non-profit organization dedicated to faithful care of the earth. We believe that every person on earth is a steward of land, air, water and wildlife. We believe that safeguarding America’s great natural heritage builds a better world for future generations, preserves our shared quality of life, and fosters a healthier environment for all of us.”

Lea Raynal summed up her family’s feelings about Audubon: “They came in and stirred up all this mess, and we’re left with nothing.”

From a CBN News Report

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CPUC Filing by City of San Bruno Calls for PG&E to Pay Maximum Penalty without Credits for San Bruno Blast and Fire

San Francisco—The City of San Bruno filed legal arguments this week calling for the California Public Utilities Commission to levy the maximum penalty against the Pacific Gas & Electric Co. without granting it hundreds of millions in past repair credits for its gross negligence that caused the explosion of PG&E’s line 132 in San Bruno on Sept. 9, 2010.

San Bruno’s motion filed late Monday calls on the CPUC to strike the vague “credit” concept altogether from the CPUC safety division’s so-called penalty proposal of $2.25 billion – which has been revealed to provide significant tax benefit rewards in addition to huge credits to PG&E – and to prohibit PG&E from deducting an ill-defined list of safety improvements made to date since the 2010 explosion and fire.

“These credits would let PG&E off the hook for more than 50 years of  systematic safety failures that caused the 2010 explosion and fire, which took the lives of eight citizens of our city, destroyed 38 homes, and left a hole in the heart of San Bruno,” said Mayor Jim Ruane. “We ask that this ill-defined provision be struck completely from the penalty recommendation so that PG&E can be held accountable for this tragic disaster and justice for the victims of San Bruno can finally be served.”

The concept of allowing PG&E to deduct for past safety repairs made since the 2010 explosion and fire surfaced first in the so-called penalty recommendation of Jack Hagan, director of the CPUC’s safety division.  That recommendation is now mired in controversy after it was revealed to be 100 percent tax-deductible and littered with credits and perks to benefit PG&E, amounting in a net penalty of almost nothing for PG&E.

Senior attorneys on the CPUC’s safety division refused to sign the proposal – calling it “unlawful” and “contrary to what our team had worked to accomplish in the last two and a half years” – and, bowing to political pressure, the lead attorney on the case, Frank Lindh, a former PG&E attorney, has since recused himself entirely from the investigation.

San Bruno city officials contend that allowing PG&E to reduce its penalty by amounts already spent on safety improvements since 2010 will result in a calculation that is an “untested, unaudited, unverified back of the envelope calculation of alleged PG&E shareholder expense,” according to San Bruno’s filing with the CPUC.

“To award PG&E a massive, and in San Bruno’s view, undeserved ‘credit’ against the significant fines, penalties and remedies warranted by PG&E’s decades of irresponsible and deadly mismanagement in this manner does not comport with due process or offer the residents of San Bruno any measure of justice,” the filing states.

San Bruno has instead called for PG&E to be penalized a total of $3.8 billion – or $2.45 billion in after-tax dollars – the maximum financial consequences that the CPUC safety division experts determined it can bear without giving PG&E the benefit of significant state and federal tax breaks and no credits for past expenses.

San Bruno has also demanded that the CPUC direct PG&E to adopt and fund a series of remedial measures to ensure systemic regulatory change in the future. These include funding  for a California Pipeline Safety Trust advocacy organization, an Independent Monitor to make sure PG&E follows its own safety plan in the face of possible lax enforcement, and the installation of lifesaving fully Automatic Shutoff Valves.

“The concept of granting so-called credits for safety improvements that PG&E should have been making for the past 50 years is a slap in the face to the residents of San Bruno and the citizens of California who place trust in our public utility system to keep our gas lines functioning safely,” Ruane said. “We ask that the CPUC do the right thing by eliminating this onerous credit concept and by penalizing PG&E so that we can ensure this tragedy never happens again, anywhere.”

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On Scene with Bill Wilson

So much history has happened over the past week it is difficult to know where to begin. The Supreme Court decisions and the annual Pride Celebrations on top of the resumption of gay weddings in City Hall make it a week that will not be soon duplicated in the annuals of civil rights struggles. 

 

 Day of Decision Rally in the Castro Wednesday, June 26, early in the evening when the crowds were smaller. 

On the day of the Supreme Court Decisions on Prop 8 and Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) there was an afternoon press conference held at Grace Cathedral by faith leaders to highlight the fact that not all spiritual people condemn GLBT people. There are welcoming congregations that accept people where they are on their journey. With everything else happening that day at City Hall in the morning and in the Castro that evening, many may have missed the importance of the event, but for me it put the entire week in the proper perspective and gave me a chance to be reinforced in my beliefs.

 

 Reverend Amos Brown at Grace Cathedral on June 26, 2013

There were speakers from many faith traditions who talked of the importance of love and acceptance. As people were asked to come together for the final prayer, Reverend Amos Brown spoke up. He preached a sermon that will remain with me for the rest of my life. No, he didn’t go on for twenty minutes, but what he said was profound. He related that he was one of eight students who attended a graduate course on morality ands social ethics at Morehouse College taught by Martin Luther King, Jr. He said that if the GLBT community wanted to build bridges with the Black community they would have to acknowledge that without the Black Civil Rights there would be no GLBT right movement. He also went on to say that the Black community would have to acknowledge that there have always been GLBT people involved in the civil right struggles. Martin Luther King, Jr. provided the inspiration and motivation for the March on Washington, but it was Bayard Rustin who was the architect  of the MOW, which happened 50 years ago this August.

 

Reverend Brown confronting Linda Harvey with Peter La Barbera in background. They and other right wingers were protesting the Folsom Street Fair in  2008

Listening to Reverend Amos Brown speak I was reminded that when Peter La Barbera, Linda Harvey and other right wing commentators came in 2008 to San Francisco to protest the Folsom Street Fair. They had a press conference n the steps of City Hall. Reverend Brown was passing by and he stopped to listen. He went up to the person holding the banner, who happened to be Linda Harvey. He told her basically that if they were going to quote the Bible they should actually have read it. He countered her every argument so effectively she had the police come over and tell Reverend Brown he had to move on.

 

Former Mayor Willie Brown and Bill Weaver, Pride Photographer at the start of the Parade on Sunday, June 30.

I had the opportunity to recognize some of the bridges Reverend Brown was talking about just before the SF Pride parade started on Sunday morning. Former Mayor Willie Brown attended the Alice B. Toklas Pride breakfast and it was acknowledged that without his repeal of the sodomy law none of the advances we have made as a GLBT community would be possible. So that was on my mind when I was at the start of the march where the Dykes on Bikes were lining up. I was talking with Bill Weaver, a fellow photographer, when up walks former Mayor Willie Brown. He was excited because he realized that there were three wheeled motorcycles, which meant he could get back on a motorcycle and not have to worrying about his balance. As he turned to talk with me I said, “I hope you get satisfaction from the fact that without your repealing the sodomy law none of this would be possible.” He said he did. Then I went on to say, “I’m old enough that I know the story but probably ¾ of the people here today only know it from history books, which is why it is so important we tell our stories.”  He agreed again.

 

SF Pride CEO Earl Plante and California Attorney General Kamala Harris at the Alice Breakfast on Sunday June 30, 2013

The other person I got to thank was California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris. It was her request to the Ninth District court of Appeals that got the same se marriages going on Friday, June 28. In 2004 after I had been told that the first same sex marriage had taken place I ran back to the Clerk’s office. When I said I wanted a license for a same sex wedding the person behind the desk said, “I am not saying whether or not we will be issuing licenses today, but if we were to start giving them out we would not start until noon.”  I looked at my watch and saw it was 11:20. So I said to the person, “I’ll wait.” She said, “Oh, no. You have to come back at noon.” I replied, “No you don’t understand. If there is any chance, no matter how remote, that you might start giving licenses at noon, I will wait because when you get them I want you to hand the first application to me.” She said, “You can’t stand in front of the desk.” When I turned around to step back there were already about ten couples in line behind me. When they had been told to come back they listened and went away. I told Attorney General Harris that I was really grateful we had an elected official who understood the urgency of allowing people to get married without waiting another month.

 Intersection of 17th, Castro and  Market on  Wednesday,  June 26, 2013  

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