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Phase One Completion of Pier 27 James R. Herman Cruise Terminal

On Time, On Budget Completion of First Phase of New 60,000 Square Foot Facility at Pier 27 Improves Port Infrastructure & Will Serve as Headquarters for 34th America’s Cup Races in 2013

Mayor Edwin M. Lee today celebrated the completion of Phase One of the James R. Herman Cruise Terminal at Pier 27, which will be used as the headquarters for the 34th America’s Cup Races in 2013.

“The new Cruise Terminal is a legacy project that will not only boost tourism and create jobs this summer during the America’s Cup races, but it will welcome visitors and residents to our waterfront for generations to come,” said Mayor Lee. “This major infrastructure project that is being delivered on time and on budget is the centerpiece of the America’s Cup Park and when it begins serving the cruise industry next year, it will provide a significant economic impact to our City.”

After the America’s Cup event in 2013, the Port will complete the James R. Herman Cruise Terminal by 2014 (Phase 2) to make it operational for cruise ships, and create a new 2.5 acre public park known as the Northeast Wharf Plaza.

“With its expansive vistas and centralized waterfront location, the new James R Herman Cruise Terminal is the perfect picture frame for all that is both iconic and exciting about San Francisco: from the spires of the Bay Bridge and Ferry Building, to the Transamerica Building and Coit Tower and the wonderful homes nestled into Telegraph Hill,” said Port Director Monique Moyer. “From the moment of arrival, visitors will be beckoned out to the experience that is San Francisco.”

The new Cruise Terminal will be sized to handle vessels up to 1,200 feet long and carrying 2,600 passengers and has the capacity at key areas to allow it to service vessels carrying as many as 5,000 passengers. On non-cruise days, the terminal will be used as a special event facility.

The Pier 27 Cruise Terminal is to be named in honor of James R. Herman, former Port Commissioner and President of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. The James R. Herman cruise terminal has been designed to meet modern ship and operational requirements of the cruise industry.

The Cruise Terminal project provides an ongoing stimulus to San Francisco’s economy by attracting visitors and contributing tax revenue to the City’s General Fund. It is estimated that the cruise industry in San Francisco supports $31.2 million annually in economic activity and generates 300 jobs within San Francisco.

The Department of Public Works, along with the Port is responsible for construction management of the Cruise Terminal project. The number of direct labor jobs created for the construction is expected to be over 1,000 jobs.

“The new terminal will be a more beautiful and functional experience for passengers, and keep San Francisco as a world-class destination for the important cruise-ship industry,” said DPW Director Mohammed Nuru. “The Department of Public Works is a proud partner in enhancing our vibrant waterfront not just for the upcoming America’s Cup event but for the generations beyond.”

DPW is providing construction management and landscape architectural services for the Pier 27 project. The contractor is Turner Construction with designers and architect team of KMD Kaplan McLaughlin Diaz, Pfau Long Architecture, JV, Bermello Ajamil & Partners, cruise terminal design consultants. The local hiring goal is 20 percent, and currently is at 26 percent. The Local Business Enterprise (LBE) participation goal is 17 percent, currently at 17.5 percent and anticipated at 19 percent.

The Port of San Francisco, an enterprise agency of the City and County of San Francisco, oversees a broad range of commercial, maritime and public access facilities along the City’s waterfront that are held in public trust for the people of California.

About America’s Cup

The America’s Cup, at 161 years old, is the oldest trophy in international sport. The 34th America’s Cup, hosted by the City and San Francisco, brings the competition back to the US for the first time in 18 years. Set on the natural amphitheater of San Francisco Bay, the 2103 races are designed to be viewed from land for the first time in their history and promise an exciting “Summer of Sailing” for Bay Area visitors and residents alike.

About ONESF

ONESF is a civic engagement effort to mobilize the City’s businesses, entrepreneurs, philanthropists and other organizations around the legacy and community benefits of events like the 34th America’s Cup races. Hosting national and international events can be a catalyst for infrastructure, open space and environmental enhancements to the City and the Bay

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Jayne Williams and Richard D. Pio Roda of Meyers Nave Law Firm Re-Retained by City of San Leandro

Jayne Williams of Meyers Nave Law Firm

The City of San Leandro’s City Council will continue to retain the law firm of Meyers Nave and City Attorney Jayne Williams and Assistant City Attorney Richard D. Pio Roda as the City’s legal advisers.   The Council on Tuesday Feb. 19 asked that Williams and the City Manager Chris Zapata develop a new contract between Meyers Nave and the City to continue its contractual services to San Leandro.

The Meyers Nave firm was founded in 1986 in San Leandro by Steve Meyers, Michael Nave, Libby Silver and Mike Riback.  San Leandro City Attorney Jayne Williams has served as City Attorney to San Leandro for the past 10 years and Assistant City Attorney Richard D. Pio Roda, a principal with the Meyers Nave firm, has served San Leandro for the past four years.

Ms. Williams previously served in this role for the City of Suisun City and as Interim City Attorney for the cities of Stockton and Merced. A former Managing Principal of Meyers Nave, she now heads the firm’s Crisis Management, Public Policy, Ethics and Investigations Practice Group.

Ms. Williams led the Meyers Nave team in the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) confidential internal affairs investigation of the officer-involved shooting death of Oscar Grant. This New Year’s Day 2008 incident gained public attention throughout the Bay Area and the nation, sparking protests that extended for a number of weeks following the shooting. The investigation reviewed the actions of police officers involved in the incident to determine any potential misconduct. Before joining Meyers Nave, Jayne served at all levels of city government for the City of Oakland, eventually attaining the City Attorney position, which she held from 1987 to 2000. She began her tenure with the Oakland City Attorney’s office in 1974, specializing in housing and redevelopment. She then served as the City’s Director of Personnel from 1978 to 1980, before returning to the City Attorney’s office as Assistant City Attorney. As Assistant City Attorney, Jayne managed the litigation division of the office. As City Attorney, she directed a staff of 36 attorneys.

Through her career as a practicing public lawyer and leader, she has gained extensive experience and expertise in strategic planning, innovative public project initiatives, and managing and coordinating attorneys throughout complex legal transactions and civil litigation. She is an acknowledged expert in all aspects of the representation of elected and appointed public officials as well as public agencies. She is a past president of the City Attorney’s Division of the League of California Cities, and has served as an elected representative to the executive committee of the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference and co-chaired the Northern District lawyer representative delegation to the Ninth Circuit.

The Recorder legal newspaper selected Williams for its 2012 “Women Leaders in Law” list. The Recorder selected 40 female lawyers who have been innovative and active in networking in order to create opportunities for their firms and for others.

“Jayne has accomplished both. First, Jayne is a remarkable attorney and her prominence in this field has paved the way early on for many other female and minority lawyers in California,” said Managing Principal David W. Skinner. “Second, Jayne has helped the firm expand significantly over the last decade. Without a doubt, she leads a busy life as both a leading attorney and a community leader.”

While this recognition is not her first, Ms. Williams noted that The Recorder’s criteria is significant.

“I think networking is vital for anyone who wants to leave an impact in the legal field and in their community. This includes both social networking — LinkedIn, Facebook, blogs etc.—and the personal connections. Not a week goes by that I am not meeting with a client, a colleague, or a mentee and attending a community event or client function,” Ms. Williams said. “I find these experiences to be both personally and professionally rewarding.”

Ms. Williams began her legal career in 1974 in the City Attorney’s Department for the City of Oakland. She eventually headed the department and served as Oakland’s City Attorney for 14 years. In 2000, Ms. Williams joined the Oakland-based firm Meyers Nave and served as the firm’s Managing Principal for six years.

During her tenure in the firm’s chief position, Meyers Nave experienced significant growth: opening regional offices in Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco, and Santa Rosa; growing the attorney staff to over 80 attorneys; and taking on high-profile matters, notably the confidential internal investigation on behalf of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) in the officer-involved shooting death on New Year’s Day in 2008, which attracted attention nationwide and sparked numerous protests. Ms. Williams led the Meyers Nave team in the investigation.

Ms. Williams has also been a leader for law organizations, including as president of the City Attorney’s Division of the League of California Cities and as chair of the State Bar’s Public Law Section.

In addition to The Recorder’s recognition, her alma mater, UC Hastings College of Law previously selected her as “Black Alumni of the Year” and the school’s Clara Foltz Feminist Association gave her the “Award of Excellence.” Ms. Williams has also received awards from the California Association of Black Lawyers and the National Association of Black Public Administrators, among several others.

Ms. Williams actively participates in professional and civic organizations, including the Board of Trustees of Holy Names University, the Women Managing Partner Roundtable, Black Women Lawyers Association of Northern California and the SF Bay Area African American Partners in Majority Firms networking group.

Assistant City Attorney Richard D. Pio Roda, a principal with the Meyers Nave firm, practices in the areas of municipal and special district law, public contracts and construction, land use, real estate, and education law. He specializes in matters relating to the Brown Act, the California Public Records Act, construction, public contracts, public bidding and procurement, prevailing wage law, land use and planning, ethics, and conflicts of interest.

In the City of San Leandro, where he serves as counsel to the City’s Board of Zoning Adjustments and Planning Commission, he is also General Counsel to the Mendocino County Community Development Commission and the Rodeo Hercules Fire District. In addition to providing legal advice on public contracts, construction, public law and corporate transactions, Richard handles all aspects of advice and counsel to board members, commissioners, councilmembers and staff regarding public law and governance. He also routinely advises on risk and litigation management. From 2004 to 2007, he served as the Assistant City Attorney for the cities of Milpitas and Oakley.

In addition, he serves as Special Counsel to the San Francisco Unified School District’s 2003, 2006, and 2011 Proposition A Construction Programs, and the District’s Citizens Bond Oversight Committee. Prior to joining Meyers Nave, Mr. Roda was a Deputy General Counsel for the District. He advised the District’s Facilities, Business, and Operations Departments in school construction, real estate, procurement, finance, bidding and contracting, and transportation. He frequently counseled on all aspects of school construction, from design to close-out. He also served as Board Counsel for the District’s successful passage of its 2003 $350 million general obligation bond. He interfaced with City and County representatives, various community groups, bond counsel, financial consultants, the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee, and other District stakeholders as the Board’s representative.

He is frequently requested as a trainer and speaker on government ethics, conflicts of interest, public contracting, construction, and public procurement. He is also on the Lorman Educational Services faculty for topics such as government ethics; conflicts of interest; the Brown Act and the Public Records Act; and public contracting, procurement and construction.

Mr. Roda is also a professional auctioneer and fundraiser. He has raised money for various organizations, charities, foundations, and nonprofits throughout the world. A partial list of these organizations includes the Tokyo-English Life Line, the ABS-CBN Foundation, Inc. (“The Filipino Channel’s” international philanthropic entity), the American Cancer Society, the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center, Children’s Heritage Foundation, various Boys and Girls Clubs throughout the Bay Area, Books for the Barrios, and the USF School of Law Public Interest Law Foundation.

Founded in 1986, the law firm of Meyers Nave is recognized for its work with all types of public entities in California. The firm provides the full scope of legal services to cities, counties, special districts, school districts, and successor agencies and oversight boards to former redevelopment agencies statewide. Meyers Nave’s areas of practice include labor and employment, city attorney and general counsel representations, economic development, eminent domain, litigation, torts, writs and appeals, public contracts, land use and environmental law, public finance, and crisis management.

The law firm is one of the most highly respected public law firms in the United States.  It’s representation of the City of San Bruno against PG&E resulted in the groundbreaking settlement of $70 million in restitution for San Bruno.  Other significant projects include work for the Cities of Reno, Nev.; San Jose, Calif., Pittsburg, Calif.; Inglewood, Calif.; Milpitas, Calif.; Petaluma, Calif.; Larkspur, Calif.; Dublin, Calif., Richmond, Calif.; Rancho Cordova, Calif.; Union City, Calif.; and other prominent cities, municipalities and government agencies.

In 2012, the Daily Journal legal publication selected Arthur A. Hartinger, a principal at Meyers Nave, as one of the “Top 100 Attorneys” in California. Mr. Hartinger chairs the firm’s Labor and Employment Practice Group and represents public entities statewide.

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Pistorius Rebutes Murder Charge in Court

By LYDIA POLGREEN and ALAN COWELL From the New York Times

PRETORIA, South Africa — Facing a charge of premeditated murder in the death of his girlfriend, Oscar Pistorius, the double amputee track star and one of the world’s best-known athletes, denied on Tuesday that he had intended to take her life when he opened fire at a closed bathroom door at his home last week, saying he did not know that she was on the other side.

“I fail to understand how I could be charged with murder, let alone premeditated,” he said in an affidavit read to the packed courtroom by his defense lawyer, Barry Roux, “I had no intention to kill my girlfriend.”

His assertion contradicted an earlier accusation from the prosecutor, Gerrie Nel, that Mr. Pistorius committed premeditated murder when he rose from his bed, pulled on artificial legs, walked more than 20 feet from his bedroom and pumped four bullets into the door, three of which struck his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on the other side.

It was the first time that either the prosecution or Mr. Pistorius had publicly provided details of their radically divergent accounts of a killing that has shocked the nation and made news around the world.

The case broke open last Thursday when the police arrived at Mr. Pistorius’s house in a gated community here in Pretoria to find Ms. Steenkamp dead from gunshot wounds.

Developments since then have been all the more dramatic, since Mr. Pistorius had been an emblem of triumph over adversity, his sporting achievement on a world stage blending with the glamour of celebrity at home. Mr. Pistorius, 26, and Ms. Steenkamp, 29, a model and law school graduate, had been depicted as a golden couple.

“We were deeply in love and I could not be happier,” said Mr. Pistorius’s affidavit, read at a bail hearing. “I know she felt the same way.” As it was read out loud, the athlete wept so uncontrollably that the magistrate, Desmond Nair, ordered a brief recess to permit him to regain his composure.

Magistrate Nair adjourned the case until Wednesday without ruling on whether the athlete would be granted bail.

Mr. Pistorius said he and Ms. Steenkamp had gone to bed early on Wednesday night, but in the middle of the night he heard a noise from the bathroom and went to investigate on his stumps, not his artificial legs.

“I am acutely aware of violent crime being committed by intruders entering homes,” he said in the affidavit. “I have received death threats before. I have also been a victim of violence and of burglaries before. For that reason I kept my firearm, a 9 mm Parabellum, underneath my bed when I went to bed at night.”

He was nervous, he said, because the bathroom window did not have burglar bars and contractors who had been working there had left ladders behind.

The room was dark, he said, and he did not realize that Ms. Steenkamp was not in bed. He felt vulnerable and fearful without his prosthetics and opened fire at the door, he said, calling to Ms. Steenkamp to telephone the police.

Only then did he realize that she was not in bed, he said. He put on his artificial legs and tried to kick down the door before breaking it open with a cricket bat to discover Ms. Steenkamp.

He carried her downstairs, he said, and “she died in my arms.”

Earlier, Magistrate Nair said he could not exclude premeditation in the killing, so Mr. Pistorius’s bail application will be much more difficult. But he said he would consider downgrading the charges depending on evidence at subsequent hearings.

Mr. Nel said Ms. Steenkamp, who had just made her debut in a reality television show, had been in a tiny room measuring less than 20 square feet when the shots rang out. “She could not go anywhere,” he said. “It must have been horrific.”

“She locked the door for a purpose. We will get to that purpose,” he said.

But Mr. Roux, a lawyer representing Mr. Pistorius, said the defense would “submit that this is not a murder.” He said there was no evidence that Mr. Pistorius and Ms. Steenkamp had fought and no evidence of a motive. He also challenged the prosecution to produce a witness to corroborate its version of Mr. Pistorius’s actions.

“Scratch the veneer” of the prosecution case, he said, and there is no evidence to support it.

“All we really know is she locked herself behind the toilet door and she was shot,” Mr. Roux said.

Mr. Nel, the prosecutor, however, declared: “If I arm myself, walk a distance and murder a person, that is premeditated. The door is closed. There is no doubt. I walk seven meters and I kill.”

He added: “The motive is, ‘I want to kill.’ That’s it.”

If convicted of premeditated murder, Mr. Pistorius would face a mandatory life sentence, though under South African law he would be eligible for parole in 25 years at the latest. South Africa abolished the death penalty in 1995.

Mr. Pistorius was appearing in court for the second time since Friday. He arrived looking grim-faced, his jaw set. But, as during his earlier appearance, he broke down in tears when the prosecutor said that he had “killed an innocent woman.”

As the court went into a midday recess, Ms. Steenkamp’s private funeral service began in the southern coastal city of Port Elizabeth, her hometown, with six pallbearers carrying a coffin swathed in a white cloth and white flowers as mourners expressed dismay and rage. More than 100 relatives and friends attended the funeral at the Victoria Park crematorium.

“Why? Why my little girl? Why did this happen? Why did he do this?” June Steenkamp, the victim’s mother, told The Times of Johannesburg.

Gavin Venter, a former jockey who worked for the victim’s father, a horse trainer, said on Tuesday: “She was an angel. She was so soft, so innocent. Such a lovely person. It’s just sad that this could happen to somebody so good.”

The killing has stunned a nation that had elevated Mr. Pistorius as an emblem of the ability to overcome acute adversity and a symbol of South Africa’s ability to project its achievements onto the world stage.

Mr. Pistorius was born without fibula bones and both of his legs were amputated below the knee as an infant. But he became a Paralympic champion and the first Paralympic sprinter to compete against able-bodied athletes at the 2012 London Olympics.

But several companies have now withdrawn lucrative sponsorships and his case has played into an emotional debate in South Africa about violence against women.

Members of the Women’s League of the ruling African National Congress protested outside the building, waving placards saying “No Bail for Pistorius,” Reuters reported.

Lydia Polgreen reported from Pretoria, and Alan Cowell from London.

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Closing in on Truth and Justice in the Chevron Ecuador Case: Overwhelming Evidence of Fraud by Plaintiffs Against Chevron: The Global Lawyer

On Jan. 28 Chevron Corporation filed overwhelming new testimonial and documentary evidence of fraud by the Ecuadorian plaintiffs who hold a $19 billion judgment against it–including a declaration by a former judge that the judgment itself was procured through bribery. “Truth and justice are elusive,” ran the headline by Thomson Reuters. With all due respect to my former colleague Alison Frankel, who sets the standard for litigation journalism, this reaction is deeply wrong.

The first time I met the plaintiffs’ lead lawyer, Steven Donziger, I asked him if he was prepared to denounce the lawyers who rigged their cases against Dole Food Company in Nicaragua. Ironically, he answered yes. In refusing to condemn Donziger, many of us are now failing the same test.

Commentators continue to find balance where there is none, with the honorable exception of Roger Parloff. Human rights advocates, excepting Douglas Cassel, have rallied behind the allegations that Chevron is responsible for an environmental calamity in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Distinguished counsel in the U.S., Canada, Brazil, and Argentina are avidly seeking to enforce the Ecuadorian judgment. And most disturbingly, the enforcing courts are listening, with an Argentine court ruling on Jan. 30 that 40 percent of Chevron’s local affiliates’ revenues should be frozen pending enforcement.

Plaintiffs spokesperson Karen Hinton fairly notes: “We have not put forth every argument that we will make in briefs and arguments to jury if there ever is a jury trial.” And indeed, for a journalist to weigh evidence that will be considered by a jury is often inappropriate. But in this case it’s imperative. I aim to show here that the documentary evidence of fraud (nevermind the testimony) is now virtually unanswerable. To pretend otherwise is to encourage irresponsible courts to reward the alleged fraud.

Even before last week’s evidentiary bombshells, adjudicators outside Ecuador who have weighed the evidence have consistently condemned the plaintiffs. Eight U.S. courts have now found a prima facie showing of fraud under the crime fraud exception to privilege. In allowing Donziger to be deposed in November 2010, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in New York found “substantial evidence” of misbehavior. The verdict against Chevron came on Valentine’s Day 2011, and three weeks later Kaplan enjoined worldwide enforcement based on “abundant evidence” that due process had been violated. It is vital to note that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in no way questioned this factual finding when it reversed Kaplan in January 2012 after examining New York’s law on recognizing foreign judgments. (Seehere and here.) Finally, a panel of international arbitrators found the fraud allegations persuasive enough to order the Republic of Ecuador, also in January 2012, to take all measures to suspend enforcement.

In 2010 I disagreed with Roger Parloff that the plaintiffs’ suit was crippled, and I queried whether Chevron’s lawyers at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher had “botched the kill step.” The central fraud allegation at the time was that the plaintiffs had ghostwritten the damages recommendation of the main court-appointed expert, which they had for years passed off as independent. Chevron’s evidence on the “Cabrera report” was so strong–the expert was essentially caught on film taking orders–that the plaintiffs eventually admitted this ghostwriting (without admitting to fraud). I was among the first to decry this scandal, and to take seriously the companion allegations of judicial intimidation. But the plaintiffs found new experts, and, when the verdict later came down, they could say it was untainted by Cabrera. I reasoned that Chevron had delivered its knockout punch too soon, and had made a potentially fatal mistake by giving the plaintiffs time to try curing the taint before a final judgment.

My logic was sound. But it seems that I was too kind in assuming that these plaintiffs were capable of taint-free litigation.

After a long windup, the real knockout punch landed last week. Although few noticed except Parloff, Chevron has over the past year amassed serious evidence of ghostwriting in the Ecuadorian judgment itself. Last week Chevron added to that evidence, and a former judge in the case, Alberto Guerra, stepped onto center stage with a firsthand account of the alleged judicial ghostwriting arrangement. Guerra swears that parties routinely paid him (after his own removal from the bench) to ghostwrite orders in their favor for Judge Nicolas Zambrano, and that (after Chevron declined his services) the Ecuadorian plaintiffs paid Guerra to play that role in the Chevron case. Finally, Guerra says that the plaintiffs promised Zambrano a half million dollar bribe to let them ghostwrite the judgment themselves, with a few tweaks by Guerra. At least no one can say that these allegations are curable.

The plaintiffs’ initial response was to deny all, while noting–correctly–that Guerra has been disgraced on multiple counts, and that Chevron is paying him a king’s ransom. Hinton also finds it implausible that Chevron, in all its desperate efforts to discredit the case, never previously disclosed Guerra’s overtures to Chevron.

Personally, I would not expect the bag man to be a boy scout and a philanthropist. But let’s concede for the sake of argument that Guerra’s testimony will be completely discredited by the New York jury that is set to hear Chevron’s claims of fraud and racketeering at a trial before Judge Kaplan starting Oct. 15. And let’s suppose that the jury discounts the egregious Cabrera affair and all the other multifarious allegations that appalled Judge Kaplan and the arbitrators. What is the new documentary evidence of incurable fraud?

Most importantly, Chevron has forensically traced passages on 60 pages of the 188-page final judgment to seven files from Donziger’s hard drive, and one from his associate’s. According to Chevron, these files were not in the court record. This is confirmed by two Chevron experts–one who reviewed the 200,000-page record electronically, and one who reviewed it by hand.

After reviewing most of this evidence in a discovery action, a Maryland federal court concluded on Jan. 25: “Chevron has shown to anyone with common sense that this is a blatant cut and paste exercise.”

The plaintiffs have not shown any pages to the contrary, and they have not produced court-stamped copies of their supposed filings. Plaintiffs’ spokesperson Hinton says, “We believe that those documents were entered into the court record.” However, Chevron says that that plaintiffs have taken no such position in U.S. court, and Hinton was unable to show me otherwise. Instead, she directed me to a July 2011 filing by plaintiffs lawyer Pablo Fajardo in Lago Agrio, where he argued that Chevron must be behind the mysterious alien passages in the judgment. Fajardo reasoned that Chevron knew from my “Botched the Kill Step” column that it needed to discredit the final ruling, and suspiciously began to claim that Zambrano received “secret assistance” on the day after the verdict, before the record could be reviewed. I am flattered that the plaintiffs lawyers are aficionados of my work, and not just overplotted spy fiction.

It seems that the only response plaintiffs can make in court is to grasp at a speculative theory. At a discovery hearing on Dec. 21, a lawyer representing the Ecuadorian parties in New York, Larry Veselka of Smyser Kaplan & Veselka, floated the idea that Chevron itself might have secretly “slipped” Donziger’s files to the judge who handed down the $19 billion verdict. Judge Kaplan was bemused: “So they wrote parts of this decision hammering them as bad as anybody in world history has ever been hammered so that they could then attack it because the judge copied the bad stuff from them. Oh, please, Mr. Veselka. No. If I misunderstood you, please tell me….I have to give you credit for imagination on that, Mr. Veselka. I mean, really.”

Besides adding to its unanswered evidence showing plaintiffs’ fingerprints on the final judgment, Chevron last week produced files from Guerra’s hard drive showing that he ghostwrote for Zambrano nine preliminary judicial orders against Chevron, amounting to about 300 pages, and two non-Chevron judgments, including one shortly before the $19 billion verdict.

In response to the evidence from Guerra’s hard drive, Hinton offers a speculative theory similar to the one mocked by Judge Kaplan. “Is Chevron capable of intentionally placing information on Guerra’s computer?” she asks. “Yes. Do we know that? No. Other unethical and illegal conduct by Chevron during and after the trial would lead me to believe it’s possible.” The plaintiffs’ accusations against Chevron are reviewed in recent press releases (here and here), with links to court filings that discuss them more systematically. To date, none of the plaintiffs’ allegations of illegality by Chevron has been accepted by a U.S. court.

To top it all off, Chevron has produced two deposit slips showing $1000 deposits to Guerra’s bank account, with a signature and national identity number that Chevron attributes to an administrative assistant for the plaintiffs. On Oct. 27, 2009, two days before the first deposit, plaintiffs lawyer Fajardo emailed Donziger: “The puppeteer won’t move his puppet until the audience doesn’t pay him something.” Exactly a month later–on the same day as the second deposit–another plaintiffs’ advocate, Luis Yanza, emailed Donziger: “[T]he budget is higher in relation to the previous months, since we are paying the puppeteer.” Chevron interprets other emails to show that “puppet” and “puppeteer” were code for Zambrano and Guerra.

Hinton denies this, and says “puppeteer” may simply have been a bantering reference to one of the plaintiffs’ consultants. She says that no one “representing the Ecuadorians” made a deposit to Guerra, and that both the signature and ID number on the bank deposit slips are too visually obscure to prove the depositor’s identity. (I find the ID number on one slip quite easy to read. Readers can judge for themselves at the bottom of this image.)

So the documentary evidence seems to show that Guerra received two payments from the plaintiffs at roughly the same time that the plaintiffs chatted about paying a puppeteer; that Guerra ghostwrote nine preliminary orders for Zambrano in the Chevron case; that Guerra had a continuing ghostwriting relationship with Zambrano during the relevant period; and that the plaintiffs’ electronic fingerprints are on nearly a third of Zambrano’s final judgment against Chevron. The only significant point in Guerra’s testimony that’s not directly corroborated is Zambrano’s bribe.

Nor is Chevron done. It is seeking further bank records through its discovery action in Miami. Presumably, it will depose Donziger again before the close of New York discovery on May 31. And if Guerra’s arrangement with Zambrano was as extensive as his testimony suggests, then I suspect that Chevron will put into evidence a very large number of other ghostwritten judgments.

If proven, the relationship between Guerra and Zambrano would not be unique. In its 2010 report on Ecuador, the U.S. State Department stated that judges there are sometimes corrupt, and referred to media accounts on “the susceptibility of the judiciary to bribes for favorable decisions and resolution of legal cases and on judges parceling out cases to outside lawyers, who wrote the judicial sentences and sent them back to the presiding judge for signature.” Back in the day, experts for the plaintiffs presciently warned U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan that he should not ship the case back to Ecuador because of pervasive judicial corruption.

All this might incline a jury to credit ex-judge Guerra’s account of bribery. My point is that the existing documentary evidence, on its own, leads inescapably to the conclusion that the judgment is unenforceable as a result of corruption. Of course each party is entitled to a full legal defense on each legal theory in the New York civil trial (and any possible future criminal proceedings). I am not trying to hang the plaintiffs in advance. I am trying to expose the worthlessness of the judgment that, even now, they are racing to enforce.

The “truth” here is not elusive. On the contrary, we will rarely find a case where the truth may be established more fully. It took the discovery of documentary film outtakes due to an on-camera slip by the plaintiffs; the green light given to Section 1782 discovery as a result (see here and here); the near-complete piercing of Donziger’s privilege; and the extraordinarily high stakes that have justified Chevron’s unprecedented commitment of resources and unwillingness to settle.

In calling “justice” elusive, Alison Frankel is on firmer ground. But even there, I do not fully agree.

Some may resist Chevron’s protestations of victimhood because they believe that corporations are evil. It should be self-evident that seeking corporate accountability from this perspective is little better than racist prosecution. Others inexcusably assume that even if the plaintiffs were overzealous, Chevron must be guilty of the underlying charges, because it seems plausible and because the plaintiffs exaggerate so loudly and often. Frankel makes the more respectable argument that we will simply never know.

Actually, we have a large body of scientific evidence. I condemn Texaco (Chevron’s predecessor) for using the long-disfavored industry practices of dumping toxic sludge into unlined pits and pouring the water used in oil production back into the environment. But it cannot simply be presumed that massive contamination spread and led to massive health consequences. I believe that litigation is a horrendous context for scientific sampling, and I hope that the U.N. Environmental Programme’s alternative factfinding model in Nigeria is emulated. But the fact is that even the plaintiffs’ samples show no significant groundwater contamination except below the pits.

After wading into the scientific evidence on both sides–see here and here–I previously concluded that, setting aside the legal defenses, a factfinder in a trial conducted under the rule of law might find Chevron liable for a soil cleanup with a maximum plausible price tag of $1 billion. Douglas Cassel later reached a similar conclusion.

So, no, we will never know the outcome of a just trial on the billion-dollar claim of environmental devastation that passes the straight-face test. I agree with Frankel that this is a great shame. But we do know that the next $18 billion of the judgment is unjust to Chevron–and that wrong can be righted.

By far the greatest injustice is that the indigenous residents of the Ecuadorian Amazon suffer serious health and social problems. But we do not have the evidence to pin much blame for this on Chevron. And we should not forget the responsibility of Ecuador, which has operated the oil project at issue since 1990 and was the majority owner for most of the period when Texaco was the operator. What’s more, Ecuador collected so much in taxes that, when Chevron won an arbitration for diverted oil revenues, the award needed to be reduced from about $700 million to $100 million. Ecuador chose to spend precious little of its oil windfall on social services in the Amazon region. Sadly, this injustice is not amenable to litigation, except at the far frontiers of economic and social rights.

The likely truth of Chevron’s core allegations should now be evident to anyone who studies the evidence without ideological blinders–including the attorneys and judges. If the enforcing lawyers no longer believe in good faith that the judgment is pure, then they should withdraw from the case. That includes Patton Boggs, which is not implicated in any fraud (discounting Chevron’s most aggressive theories), but certainly finds itself in an awkward position. The litigation funder that brought Patton Boggs into the case, Burford Capital, has not only sold its interest, but accused the plaintiffs of defrauding them. Patton Boggs might wish to ponder what its lead lawyer on the case, James Tyrrell Jr., told me in December 2010: “I’m certainly not here to join in any fraudulent effort….My mission is to see that a judgment on the merits, warranting international respect, is entered in Ecuador, and, if we win, to enforce it.”

My most fervent hope is that Ecuador’s National Court of Justice reclaims its nation’s dignity by overturning this disgraceful and doomed judgment in the pending appeal. If it does, the enforcement actions will go away. If it does not, I optimistically believe that the enforcement actions will be dismissed, because they are now too shameful for even the most renegade court to approve.

Come what may, I expect Chevron to seek revenge on the plaintiffs’ team in the New York fraud trial, and to demand in arbitration that Ecuador cover its record legal bills. It would be fitting if Chevron donated such a recovery to environmental and health projects in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Chevron is closing in on truth and, in a very partial way, closing in on justice.

Clarification: With regard to bank slips that Chevron contends support its accusations of bribery, plaintiffs spokesperson Karen Hinton clarifies that she doesn’t contest that a national ID number is distinctly visible on the documents. Rather, Hinton told us she was referring to an account number that is partly redacted.

By Michael D. Goldhaber

The Litigation Daily

 

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On Scene Bill Wilson America’s Cup Youth in Action

 

Russell Coutts

An award-winning line-up of sailors from ORACLE TEAM USA and Artemis Racing greeted the youth sailors competing in the first selection series of the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup Wednesday, February13  at a special media function.

The stars – Russell Coutts, Jimmy Spithill, Ben Ainslie, Iain Percy and Nathan Outteridge – together have a collected resume beyond excellence: five America’s Cup victories, 14 Olympic medals and countless other titles.

Coutts might be the most experienced of the group with four America’s Cup victories to his credit, but it was Spithill who put the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup into perspective.

Eric Heil

“My pathway to the America’s Cup was one of good luck,” said ORACLE TEAM USA skipper Jimmy Spithill, who at age 30 in 2010 became the youngest skipper to ever win the America’s Cup.

“When I was a youth sailor there wasn’t a clear pathway to the Cup. But the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup gives these guys a great opportunity, and the game’s opened up to much wider participation,” said the now 33-year-old Spithill. “Their level of organization is impressive.”

Ben Ainsile

Added Ainslie, the four-time Olympic gold medalist: “The Olympics used to be the avenue to get into professional sailing and the America’s Cup. But now the Cup is becoming more accessible for youth sailors, and that’s great for the sport.”   The Red Bull Youth America’s Cup has been developed to give youth sailors a pathway to the America’s Cup. In years past youth sailors have had a difficult task ascending the hierarchy of an America’s Cup team. Youth sailors simply weren’t viewed as having enough experience to compete at the high level demanded by America’s Cup crews. The Red Bull Youth America’s Cup aims to change that.

Jimmy Spithill

“It’s been very exciting to come here and get an opportunity to race the AC45. It’s just fantastic,” said Erik Heil, the 23-year-old helmsman for Germany’s STG/NRV team. “But at the same time it’s disappointing that we only get one week here. We’d like to have more time.”

Teams from New Zealand (left), Germany (center) and Australia (right) compete during trials

STG/NRV is one of six teams participating in the first selection series. Another six teams are scheduled for the second series next week, Feb. 18-24, after which at least four teams will be selected for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup scheduled Sept. 1-4.

Hans-Peter Steinacher

“The Red Bull Youth America’s Cup is the best chance for young sailors to make history,” said Hans-Peter Steinacher, one of the Red Bull sailing directors. “We will select the best of the best.”

The six teams in this first selection series represent Australia, Austria, Denmark, Germany, New Zealand and South Africa. Some of the crews have put up their own money to enter the selection series, while others have raised money to help offset the costs.

All of them have shown more skill and poise than expected, which could be considered surprising given that most of the sailors have raced one-design dinghies and not the powerful AC45 that is used at the events of the America’s Cup World Series.

Philip Buhl

“Yesterday in the big breeze, around 17 knots, it was more difficult than I expected,” said Philip Buhl of STG/NRV, a champion Laser sailor. “Every time we completed one maneuver we had to prepare for the next, there was no time to catch your breath.”

The teams have been sharing San Francisco Bay with ORACLE TEAM USA and Artemis Racing, which have been practicing on their AC72s the past couple of days. As if the AC45s weren’t captivating enough, the sight of AC72s speeding past on foiling daggerboards has left the youths’ mouths agape.

“We want to push the AC45s, but yesterday we had to decide whether to keep pushing or stop and watch the 72s sail by,” said Buhl. “At home we’d say it was a ‘problem of luxury.’”

 

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Mayor Lee Announces New Videos to Celebrate San Francisco Companies & Innovators

Mayor Edwin M. Lee today launched the San Francisco is Where the World Changes Campaign with a six minute video celebrating the San Francisco-based companies and innovators and promoting San Francisco as the ideal place for doing business for potential companies and entrepreneurs and for workforce and investment.


“It is important that we celebrate and publicize the people and companies that make San Francisco the Innovation Capital of the World,” said Mayor Lee. “These great San Franciscans and their companies are continuing San Francisco’s history of changing the world. From our immigrants who built the railways, to the hippie culture that spawned a generation of social change to the products and ideas these innovation companies are currently growing, San Francisco is and will continue to be the place to come to create the next thing.”
The campaign kicks off with today’s six minute short film and two 60 second commercials highlighting some of San Francisco’s innovative companies and entrepreneurs. The cast of the film includes:


·      Ron Conway, Chairman, sf.citi

·        Craig Dalton, Co-Founder, DODOcase

·        Jack Dorsey, Founder/CEO, Square

·        Art Gensler, CEO/Founder, Gensler

·        Heather Hiles, Founder/CEO, Pathbrite

·        Lynn Jurich, Co-CEO, Sunrun

·        Regis B. Kelly, Ph.D., Director, California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3)

·        David Lee, Founder/Managing Partner, SV Angel

·        Laura Weidman Powers, Founding Executive Director, Code2040

·        Kevin Yeaman, CEO, Dolby

“Cities, states and even countries round the world are competing to be centers of innovation but thankfully, largely because of Mayor Lee’s enthusiastic support, San Francisco is in the lead,” said QB3 Director Dr. Regis Kelly. “In his Where the World Changes campaign, the Mayor is encouraging innovators in diverse fields ranging from social media, to biotechnology, to design, to see themselves as members of a single, creative San Francisco based, community. I feel honored to participate.”

“San Francisco brings innovation, entrepreneurship, collaboration and vision together in a way that I have not experienced anywhere else,” said Sunrun co-CEO Lynn Jurich. “Where the World Changes highlights this unique environment, a setting that has helped Sunrun thrive.”

Distribution of the videos will include the running of the thirty second spots in local taxi cabs and on SFGTV, as well as distribution through our partners in local and international trade offices. This coincides with the launch of www.wheretheworldchanges.com <http://www.wheretheworldchanges.com> , a website inviting people to learn more about moving or starting their businesses in San Francisco.

About the Where the World Changes Campaign
The Where the World Changes Campaign is a partnership between the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, San Francisco Center for Economic Development and San Francisco Travel designed to promote San Francisco as an ideal location to start and grow a business.  With financial contributions from Alexandria Real Estate Equities and in kind services from Automattic/Modern Legend/Vreeland Productions, this campaign serves to capture a collective understanding of what makes San Francisco such an incredible place to start and grow a business, to hold a conference, to shoot a film, to live and play, to raise a family and to just enjoy a visit.

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SF Symphony Wins a Grammy

Recording of music by Bay Area composer John Adams wins for
Best Orchestral Performance

Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) and the San Francisco Symphony’s (SFS) live concert recording of works by Bay Area composer and longtime collaborator John Adams has won a 2013 Grammy® Award today in the category of Best Orchestral Performance. The recording of Harmonielehre and Short Ride in a Fast Machine was released in March 2012 in conjunction with the Orchestra’s month-long American Mavericks festival and tour. This award marks the 15th Grammy win for the San Francisco Symphony and the 8th award on its own SFS Media label. MTT and the Orchestra garnered seven Grammy awards for their recent recording cycle of works by Gustav Mahler.

The SFS commissioned, premiered, and recorded Harmonielehre in March 1985 during Adams’ tenure as SFS composer in residence. Hear Adams and MTT’s insights about the work at http://bit.ly/YTHarmonielehre.

Michael Tilson Thomas commissioned Short Ride in a Fast Machine from John Adams in 1986. A video excerpt of the Grammy winning performance from the Orchestra’s Centennial Season Opening Gala in September 2011 can be viewed at http://bit.ly/13fiNce. Adams and Tilson Thomas talk about the genesis of Short Ride in a Fast Machine in a short video found at http://bit.ly/YTShortRide.

MTT and the SFS’ releases on SFS Media reflect the artistic identity of the orchestra’s programming, including its commitment to performing the work of American maverick composers alongside that of the core classical masterworks. The recording is available as a hybrid SACD, playable in conventional CD players as well as in SACD stereo and SACD surround formats for audiophiles who want a greater range of premiere sound options, and as a studio master quality digital download. All SFS Media recordings are available from the Symphony Store in Davies Symphony Hall and online at sfsymphony.org/storeas well as other major retailers. The recordings can also be purchased as downloads from iTunesand other digital outlets. SFS Media recordings are distributed by harmonia mundi in the U.S., SRI Canada, IODA digitally and Avie internationally.

For more information about this and other Grammy awards visit www.grammy.com

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Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt Mammoth Fundraiser

The annual fundraiser for the Golden State Bonsai Federation (GSBF) Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt (BGLM) will be held on Saturday, February 23rd, 12 Noon & Sunday, February 24th, 2013, from 9 AM to 4 PM, at the Lakeside Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Ave., Oakland, California.

The auction of fabulous bonsai – Saturday, February 23rd will have preview of items start at 12 Noon and auction begins at 1 PM. On Sunday, February 24th bonsai and pre-bonsai material, bonsai soil, tools, pots, and other bonsai related items will be on sale. The vendor area will be open from 9am to 4pm. The BGLM Plant Sale Area where traditionally awesome deals can be found will be open from 10 AM to 4 PM. Demonstrations by Sensei Kathy Shaner and team start at 11:30 AM – 3:00 PM, raffle drawings at 1 PM, 2 PM,  and 3 PM.

This year the items to be auctioned on Saturday will include over 20 bonsai trees from the private collection of Frank Bardella, long time and honorary member of Redwood Empire Bonsai Society (REBS), Santa Rosa, California. The auction will include bonsai tools, stands, and bonsai pots in addition to the bonsai trees. There are several Japanese Black Pines and an exceptional Olive tree up for auction.

Those interested may view the bonsai items to be auctioned at http://www.gsbf-bonsai.org/lake-merritt/MammothFund1.htm. For general questions, contact Randi Keppeler at 650-598-0127 or email bonsailakemerritt@gmail.com, attn: Randi Keppeler. Please help support the BGLM in this once a year event. Ensure we have operating funds for the entire year.

All donations are tax deductions as a 501 (c) (3) organization.

 

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Chevron Ecuador Lawsuit: International Tribunal Cites Ecuador and President Rafael Correa in Breach of its Obligations Under International Law

An international arbitration tribunal issued an award yesterday finding that the Republic of Ecuador and the administration of President Rafael Correa has violated the Tribunal’s prior Interim Awards authorized under international law and a treaty between the United States and Ecuador by not preventing the attempted enforcement of a $19 billion judgment against Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX)  In prior rulings, the Tribunal put the Republic 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.”

This decision is a stunning rebuke to President Correa and his re-election campaign in Ecuador and casts a pall on all efforts by the plaintiffs in the case  because of the illegal behavior of Ecuador and the plaintiffs.

Convened under the authority of the U.S.-Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty (the BIT) and administered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, the Tribunal found Ecuador in breach of the Tribunal’s prior rulings and ordered the Republic to explain why it should not be ordered to compensate Chevron for all harm resulting from the plaintiffs’ attempts to enforce a judgment resulting from an environmental trial against the company in Lago Agrio, Ecuador.

Almost one year ago, the Tribunal issued a Second Interim Award ordering the Republic of Ecuador—and all of its branches, including the judiciary—to take all necessary actions to prevent enforcement and recognition of the Lago Agrio judgment, both inside and outside of Ecuador.  That award expanded upon a prior award requiring Ecuador to “take all measures at its disposal to suspend or cause to be suspended the enforcement or recognition within and without Ecuador of any judgment.”

“The Tribunal’s decision confirms that the enforcement actions being pursued against Chevron in Argentina, Brazil, and Canada fly in the face of international law,” said Hewitt Pate, Chevron vice president and general counsel.  “Yet Ecuador has consistently aligned itself with American trial lawyers who have used corrupt courts to advance an unprecedented fraud.  It is not too late for the Republic to reverse course, declare the Lago Agrio judgment illegitimate, and address the real challenges facing its citizens.”

Despite the Tribunal’s Awards, the Republic of Ecuador has facilitated the plaintiffs’ pursuit of enforcement in Argentina, Brazil, and Canada.  These actions are the result of Ecuador’s failure to meet its international law and treaty obligations.

Chevron’s arbitration claim stems from the government of Ecuador’s interference in the ongoing environmental lawsuit against the company in Ecuador and its courts’ failure to administer justice in a trial that has been marred by fraud.  Additionally, Chevron maintains that the government of Ecuador has failed to uphold prior settlement and release agreements that the government of Ecuador entered into with Texaco Petroleum Company (now a Chevron subsidiary) when the consortium between Texaco Petroleum and Petroecuador was terminated.

In its ruling, the Tribunal found that “Neither disagreement with the Tribunal’s orders and awards on interim measures nor constraints under Ecuadorian law can excuse the failure of the (Republic), through any of its branches or organs, to fulfil its obligations under international law imposed by the Treaty, the UNCITRAL Rules and the Tribunal’s orders and awards thereunder, particularly the First and Second Interim Awards on Interim Measures.”

In August 2011, a different international arbitration tribunal convened under the BIT awarded Chevron and Texaco Petroleum $96 million, plus interest, in a claim against the Republic of Ecuador related to past oil operations.  The Tribunal found that Ecuador’s courts violated the BIT and international law through their decade-long delays in ruling on certain commercial disputes between Texaco Petroleum and the Ecuadorian government.  A court in the Netherlands has upheld the award and Ecuador has filed a second appeal.

 

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Code for America Develops San Francisco App to Tackle Unused Public Benefits

From the Huffington Post

San Francisco nerds aren’t taking revenge. Instead, they’re giving back.

Programmers from Code for America, also known as the Peace Corps for Geeks, announced plans to create a $360,000 app to connect low-income San Franciscans with unused public benefits.

Each year, Code for America awards fellowships to nine American municipalities. The money is used to fund a tech product that addresses a local issue.

This year, San Francisco, Oakland and San Mateo County made the cut.

Four programmers will arrive in San Francisco this month. Between now and November, they will develop an app to match veterans, homeless individuals and other low-income residents with applicable goods and services. Ideally, the app will be completed by November and turned over to the Human Services Agency.

“We know of a lot of low-income San Franciscans who could be taking advantage of these benefits, but are not,” Human Service Agency Director of Contacts David Curto told the San Francisco Examiner.

The programmers will be paid through city funds and a grant from Code for America. In total, they will receive $35,000 for the year. Utilizing this program is believed to be cheaper than enlisting the help of private companies.

Since its founding in 2009, Code for America has become a highly competitive program. Only 28 programmers were selected to participate from a pool of 550 applicants.

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Mayor Lee Releases Reserve Funds To Protect Critical City Services


City to Use $7.2 Million in Reserves to Reverse State Cuts to Continue Services

Mayor Edwin M. Lee today introduced a supplemental appropriation which includes the release of $7.2 million to backfill State budget reductions and to protect the City’s social safety net for its most vulnerable residents, including children and seniors.

“Even in a challenging economic environment, we have balanced our budget, made tough decisions and, most importantly, planned for the future,” said Mayor Lee. “We are now in a position to protect critical City services and programs and offset cuts from the State to some of our most vulnerable residents. However, it is critical that we judiciously maintain and spend our reserves, especially with the threat of more than $40 million in Federal sequestration cuts looming.”

To backfill cuts to programs made by the State, $7.2 million from the City’s State Reserve will continue In-Home Supportive Services, Adult Day Health Centers and mental health services and, in addition, protects more than 800 childcare slots slated that would have been eliminated. The State Reserve will go from $15 million to $7.8 million. 

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APEX Art Show in San Francisco Featuring Dynamic Artworks from Renowned Street Artist Ends Jan. 12 at 941 Geary Gallery

APEX at 941 Geary Gallery San Francisco

 

941 Geary gallery’s show that features renowned street artist Apex will come to an end Jan. 12. Don’t miss this show which presents some vital and compelling works by the young artist in a show entitled Reflected, a collection of his new works. It opened in Novmeber and its scheduled completion is next week.

Consisting of two 10×6’ and ten 6×6’ latex and spray paint on canvas paintings, 12 framed sketches on transparencies and a large-scale wall mural, Reflected is the next step in the artist’s evolving look into abstraction.

With a focus on mirrored images, the exhibition explores the beauty of symmetry in nature and in design.

The artist’s sharp-edged compositions contain a visual interplay of organic and structural form, Influenced by architecture, graphic design and the Fibonacci sequence.

The multilayered, intricately stylized letterforms appear in Rorschach-like arrangements, characterized by a flurry of self-contained energy. In two paintings, layers of color build upon each other in bright bursts, but for the majority of the work the artist will employ a monochromatic palette, incorporating earth tones into a body of work for the first time.

San Francisco-based artist Apex has quickly made a name for himself in the world of street art, in both the Bay Area and abroad.

Having coined the term “Super Burner,” his pieces are most commonly huge, multi-layered productions, packed with patterns and a vivid array of colors. The relationship his pieces have to the built environment creates moments of intersection, and opens up complex fields of color, as if they have somehow transcended into their own form of architecture. The work is most certainly its own form of typography – his pieces are careful explorations of abstract letterforms.

White Walls Gallery has worked for nearly a decade to exist as the premiere destination for urban art in the Bay Area. Combined with the Shooting Gallery just next door, this 4,000 sq ft space is one of the largest galleries on the west coast. Justin Giarla founded the gallery in 2005 with a commitment to furthering the urban art movement, drawing directly from street art and graffiti culture. Named for its plain white walls, the gallery takes a backseat to the real focus: the work of our artists.

 

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Mayor Lee Proposes Citywide Ban On Extra-Lethal Hollow Point Ammunition & New Notifications


Hollow-Point Ammunition Designed for Law Enforcement, Already Illegal to Purchase in San Francisco, Would Be Illegal to Possess Under New Laws; Announces School Safety Training for SFPD Officers

Today Mayor Edwin M. Lee joined by Supervisor Malia Cohen and Police Chief Greg Suhr announced proposed new laws to make it illegal for civilians in San Francisco to possess certain types of particularly dangerous hollow point ammunition, bullets specifically designed for use by law enforcement, but commercially available for legal purchase. Mayor Lee also announced a proposed ordinance to require automatic notification to police when a person in San Francisco purchases 500 rounds or more of any type of ammunition in one transaction.

The proposed new San Francisco laws will complement anticipated State and Federal gun control legislative efforts. Mayor Lee strongly supports U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s efforts to restrict weapons of war on America’s streets and will support legislative proposals on gun control anticipated in 2013 at the state level.

“The tragic mass-murder in Connecticut broke the heart of the nation, and now is the moment to take aggressive action against the most egregious types of hollow-point ammunition,” said Mayor Lee. “These bullets do not belong in the hands of civilians, and we want to make possession of them illegal. We also need to create an early warning system to alert us when individuals make a massive purchase of ammunition, because we must do everything we possibly can to prevent another tragedy. I strongly support Federal and State efforts to enhance gun control laws, but in the meantime, we’re doing what we can locally to get the most offensive types of ammunition off of our streets.”

“All of us wept with the parents and families of Newtown Connecticut last week,” said Supervisor Malia Cohen. “But the legislation and police efforts we announced today are about much more than the tragic incident that occurred last week, it is also about the senseless violence that is occurring in our neighborhoods here in San Francisco. As a City we must use every legislative and executive power available to us to continue to address the causes and impacts of senseless gun violence occurring in our neighborhoods, and I believe that these two pieces of legislation are a strong step forward in this effort.”

The San Francisco Police Department, under the leadership of Chief Suhr, also announced plans to train all new Academy recruits in the tactics of school safety. Every current officer in the department will undergo retraining in similar tactical skills. Chief Suhr also announced another gun buyback event after the success of this weekend’s event.

“The reduction of violent crime in San Francisco remains our #1 priority,” said Police Chief Greg Suhr. “Obviously, our work with children demonstrates our commitment to keep San Francisco safe for them. We appreciate the efforts of our elected officials, particularly Senator Feinstein and Mayor Lee for their work in banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines that have no place in today’s civilized society.”

“At San Francisco General Hospital, the City’s only trauma center, we treated 381 gunshot victims in 2007 and 182 last year,” said Dr. Andre Campbell, a surgeon at San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center.  “While this is a significant drop, I would submit to you that one is too many.”

The City recently defeated the National Rifle Association’s motion for a preliminary injunction to stop San Francisco from enforcing its laws requiring safe storage of handguns in the home and prohibiting the sale of hollow-point ammunition.  The district court found that municipal safe-storage laws and bans against the purchase of “enhanced-lethality ammunition” did not violate the Second Amendment and therefore remained valid. These new proposed laws against possession hinge on the same legal concept that certain kinds of ammunition, manufactured and marketed for law enforcement, do not belong in the hands of the public.

Earlier this week, more than 750 mayors from across the country, led by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition, sent a letter to the President and Congress calling for comprehensive gun control reform, including three specific strategies: requiring every gun buyer to pass a criminal background check, getting high capacity rifles and ammunition magazines off our streets, and making gun trafficking a federal crime. Mayor Lee was a signatory on that letter. 

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Mayor Lee Launches “Peace At Home” Campaign To End Domestic Violence

Public Awareness Campaign Launches During Holidays, City Increases Services for Domestic Violence Victim

Today Mayor Edwin M. Lee joined by Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, District Attorney George Gascón, the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women and anti-domestic violence advocates launched San Francisco’s “Peace at Home” campaign to raise awareness about domestic violence.

“With this concerted effort to get the word out about domestic violence hotlines and services, we are striving to create peace in every San Francisco home, making sure we reach our immigrant communities,” said Mayor Lee. “After ten years of reforms and partnership with community agencies, San Francisco has finally had a year without a single case of domestic violence homicide. Now, more than ever, we need to continue this important work.”

“I’m pleased that my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors have expressed support for $750,000 in additional funding for legal services for immigrants who are victims of this crime, additional public outreach, and expanded policy work to advance our citywide effort to end domestic violence,” said Board President Chiu.

“Domestic violence is a serious and dangerous crime that knows no economic, racial, sexual or ethnic boundaries,” said District Attorney Gascón. “San Francisco is certainly not an exception. Over the last two years my office has seen a 98 percent increase in domestic violence cases. We want people in the community to know that domestic violence will not be tolerated and we are working together to stop the cycle of violence.”

The “Peace at Home” campaign is the first in a year-long series of actions to heighten public awareness about services for victims of domestic violence. In January, the campaign continues through ads in English, Spanish, and Chinese in high-traffic MUNI and walking routes throughout San Francisco. The ads feature a diverse array of women and with a message that “Domestic Violence is a crime, and no one deserves to be abused. You have options. San Francisco Responds 24 Hours A Day.”

Anti-domestic violence advocates also unfurled a flag and artwork of images, words, and symbols from the 24 anti-domestic violence agencies funded by the City. Printed cards bearing the artwork and hotline numbers in multiple languages will be distributed to schools, libraries and recreation centers.

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Vima Ballroom’s Holiday Dance Boasts A Favroite Christmas Character Costume Contest

“This is our first Christmas in our new space,” says Vima owner, Photis Pishiaras.  “Now that we have the space – over 5,000 square feet — we want this to be the center for holiday dances and activities.”  Hosts for the party are instructors Ron Jenkins and Sandra Junoz.  There will be a costume contest for people dressed like their favorite holiday character, and performances by the Vima Vice Squad and several guest dancers.

The party begins with a Festive Fox Trot lesson at 8:10 followed by the evening’s activities, which includes a social dance, performances and costume contest.

Music includes Foxtrot, Waltz, Tango, Salsa, Rumba, Cha-Cha, Swing, Country and more.

WHO:                Bay Area Ballroom Dancers and their fans

WHAT:              Vima Dance Holiday Party

WHERE:            Vima Dance Studio  
                         820 26th St. (At Third)

WHEN:             Thursday, December 13

                         8:10p.m – Fox Trot classes  ($15)

                         9:00p.m – dance, performance, costumes ($10)

 

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Stanford’s Hoover Pavilion Gets a Beautiful Rennovation and Update

After more than half a century, the rooftop of the Hoover Pavilion is once again graced with a finial, an architectural ornament akin to the cherry on a sundae. On a cold and overcast morning in late November, a crane hoisted the 500-pound aluminum sculpture more than 105 feet off the ground. It was then lowered onto a kind of pedestal — a cube-shaped concrete stack, sheathed in copper, that sits atop the Hoover Pavilion’s tower — and bolted into place by construction workers.

The undertaking capped a 14-month, $50-million renovation of the Art Deco building, which stands at the corner of Quarry and Palo roads on the Stanford campus. The Hoover Pavilion will house several community physicians, a medical pharmacy, the Stanford Neurology Clinic, Stanford Internal Medicine, Stanford Family Medicine, the Stanford Center for Integrative Medicine, the Stanford Coordinated Care Clinic, the main branch of the Stanford Health Library and a café.

“This was Palo Alto’s skyscraper in 1931,” said Laura Jones, PhD, director of heritage services and university archeologist at Stanford, referring to the year the building first opened. She stood in the parking lot watching the crane, her hands stuffed into the pockets of a brown leather jacket. “It’s such a great building,” she said. “I think it’s pretty exciting that it’s been revitalized and will be reopening soon. People will have a chance to see how fabulous it is.”

The edifice, which has a 105-foot-tall tower and 50-foot-tall wings, had become dilapidated over the decades. Before renovation work began last year, the façade was faded and dirty, with air-conditioning units protruding from windows. Now the roughly 82,000-square-foot building has been restored to its former glory on the outside and refurbished to accommodate modern medicine on the inside. (Those AC units are gone, too, thanks to the installation of centralized heating and cooling.)

The building is scheduled to reopen Dec. 17. Originally constructed as the Palo Alto Hospital, the building was designed in the style of a ziggurat — a terraced pyramid built by Babylonians and other denizens of ancient Mesopotamia. Its south and east wing, which was added in 1939, are each four stories and connect to a five-story tower, atop of which sits a sixth-story penthouse. The ziggurat form can be seen in many Art Deco skyscrapers and large structures constructed in the early 20th century.

An iron finial once stood atop the tower of this old hospital: The adornment consisted of a spherical object, resembling a cross between a gyroscope and an armillary sundial, on a pole supported by a four-prong base. But then the finial was removed, possibly for use as scrap metal during World War II. Nobody knows for sure.

In any case, the new finial is an exact replica, except that it is made of aluminum. “Fortunately, on this project we had significant documentation to show what it originally looked like,” said Erin Ouborg, a designer and materials conservation specialist at Page & Turnbull, the architectural firm in charge of restoring the building’s historic façade. “We had the original construction drawings with all the details.”

“It’s an interesting building without the finial,” Jones added. “But with the finial, it’s just superb.”

The original, decorative terra-cotta paneling that covers portions of the building’s facade was in remarkably good shape, said Rachel DeGuzman, a senior project manager at Stanford Hospital & Clinics who oversaw the renovation project. The same couldn’t be said of the steel-reinforced concrete making up the building’s floors; decades of remodeling had left a motley array of boreholes in many of the slabs, and they needed extensive patching, she said.

Some repair work also was needed to decorative relief panels in the façade, and hundreds of repairs had to be made to the exterior walls, Ouborg said. In addition, the clay tiles on the sloping roof of the tower were replaced. Original Art Deco grillwork and other embellishments, such as a rectangular metal angel above the entrance to what is now the health library, remain intact.

But the interior of the building has been largely reconfigured to support the clinics that will be there. The building appears to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and the California Register of Historical Resources, according to Architectural Resources Group Inc., a San Francisco-based firm. The Hoover Pavilion renovation is part of the Stanford University Medical Center Renewal Project.

 

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Curry Senior Center’s Ends Fortieth Year with Increased Caseload, Increased Volunteer Hours and Ever-increasing Need

Curry Senior Center began operations in 1972 to assist the city’s most vulnerable population with medical assistance, housing and meals.   Completing its 40th year of operations this month, Curry’s mission is as important today as it was in 1972.

“As we begin our 5th decade of service, there is a growing population of seniors who need our in the neighborhood,” according to Dave Knego, Executive Director.  “The senior population is most concentrated in the Tenderloin and these people need a place where all of their needs – medical, nutritional, social, and housing – can be met.”

Medical visits to Curry have increased over 10% over 2011, serving 1,625 clients with 10,509 visits. Of these statistics, this includes 166 in-home visits by physicians and nurse practitioners for seniors too frail to leave their homes.

Curry’s meal site served 49,320 breakfasts and 61,480 lunches.

The housing arm of the agency was working overtime this year securing housing for 42 seniors who were previously homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless.  And the occupancy rate for Curry’s Senior Housing was 97.5%.

The mission of Curry is not possible without the dedication of it s volunteers who have donated over 10,000 hours of time serving the agency.  This includes over 540 hours of medical translation into languages including Cantonese, Lao, Mandarin, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.

Program highlights in the 40th year include:

  • Recruited  a new group of daily volunteers who help serve seniors and socialize with them
  • The addition of mental health services.
  • Enhanced the infrastructure with new kitchen equipment, sturdy chairs, an expanded bathroom, and a refurbished elevator
  • Preparing for electronic health records and transitioning to team-based care.
  • Health education efforts included the addition of pain management and smoking cessation classes and expansion of one-on-one and group education on diabetes.
  • Started a new after-lunch walking group and a monthly raffle in the Dining Room.

 

 

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AutoReturn of San Francisco Wins New Contract with Kansas City to Start Municipal Towing Program

Kansas City, MO.– After a nationwide procurement search and selection process, Kansas City selected AutoReturn, the nation’s leading municipal towing management and logistics company, to oversee the city’s towing operations and handle, track, and report on towed vehicles.  Kansas City selected AutoReturn for its unique municipal towing management and logistics program.

Kansas City’s choice of AutoReturn highlights the city’s dedication to transforming its municipal towing services and streamlining city operations. The contract represents a prime example of public and private entities coming together to share best practices to simplify government services.

“We believe our solution fundamentally transforms the way cities and residents think about municipal services,” said AutoReturn CEO John Wicker. “We have been working closely with city officials and the police department in Kansas City to provide superior service and make the sometimes unfortunate experience of towing a lot easier for everyone.”

AutoReturn’s Municipal Towing Management Addresses Safety Logistics Issues

“AutoReturn’s software, people and processes have already addressed some of Kansas City’s most difficult public issues related to towing,” said Gary Majors, manager of Kansas City’s regulated industries division.  “By shortening the time it takes for equipment to reach a tow scene, the city reduces officer wait times, decreases traffic congestion, and limits the chance of secondary accidents, saving money and increasing safety.”  The average response time from dispatch to arrival since going live in October, 2012 has been reduced measurably to approximately 11 minutes.

Additionally, said Lesly Forsberg, Manager of Kansas City’s Tow Services Division, “AutoReturn’s model has relieved Kansas City of the day-to-day management of towing operators and tow requests from the Police Department, allowing city staff and police to focus their time on different important public safety issues.”

AutoReturn Technology Benefits Small, Local, Women and Minority-owned Tow Companies

By leveraging Android applications, AutoReturn is able to electronically dispatch tow trucks closest to the call, helping reduce costs incurred by the small, local, women and minority-owned tow companies.  Timothy Marshall, owner of Recovery Tow Service, Inc., said, “AutoReturn technology runs on our existing smart phones, streamlining our business.  Their fair and transparent process provides me the tools to exceed service level expectations.”

AutoReturn currently manages municipal towing and logistics operations in Baltimore County, Maryland, San Francisco, San Diego and, now, Kansas City, Missouri.

The company was founded a decade ago in San Francisco and continues to grow its business nationally. AutoReturn has been praised by cities and municipalities for bringing transparency and efficiency to what the notoriously disorganized business of municipal towing.  AutoReturn uses a proprietary computerized system and software that allows the company to efficiently tow vehicles, reducing time and manpower of police departments and municipal staff while at the same time creating fast and efficient service in returning cars to owners. AutoReturn is expected to continue to grow as other municipalities, police departments, city and regional government review the advances that AutoReturn has made to the industry.

About AutoReturn

AutoReturn is the leader in municipal towing management and logistics solutions, partnering with municipalities and existing local tow operators to help achieve efficiency, superior service, and increased cost recovery. Founded in 2002 as a technology-enabled towing management and logistics company, AutoReturn has revolutionized municipal towing, making sizable investments in technology, repeatable processes, training programs and other infrastructure. Learn more at http://www.autoreturn.com.

 

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Mayor Lee’s Statement Commemorating Transgender Day of Remembrance

Mayor Edwin M. Lee today issued the following statement on the 14th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance:

“Today we memorialize those who have been killed because of intolerance, and bring needed attention to the continued bullying, harassment, discrimination and violence endured by the transgender community.

Throughout the world, the Transgender Day of Remembrance provides a public forum to mourn, honor and memorialize the lives of the transgender community who might otherwise be forgotten. This Day of Remembrance serves as a reminder for all San Franciscans that transgender people are our brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, parents, spouses and friends.

In San Francisco, we continue to make landmark progress to ensure equal rights and access to quality education, healthcare and employment for the transgender community. We will continue to make sure that no one is subjected to violence, discrimination or hatred simply because of one’s gender identity and no one should be denied the basic rights that ensure their safety and security. These are the values of our City and we will never forget.”

In honor of the transgender individuals who lost their lives because of hatred, Mayor Lee has proclaimed today as Transgender Day of Remembrance Day in San Francisco. The 2012 Transgender Day of Remembrance also marks the 10th anniversary of the death of Gwen Araujo who died in a hate crime that shocked the Bay Area community, led to a prolonged murder trial and drew a national spotlight on the violence faced by the transgender community, particularly transgender women of color. While much progress has been made in the last 10 years in the area of transgender rights, anti-transgender violence sadly remains.

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California Center for Sustainable Energy Roadshow Guides Californians to Home Energy Savings

Center for Sustainable Energy’s mobile Energy Center travels around California.

 

The California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) wrapped up the Energy Upgrade California Roadshow on Sunday, Nov. 18 in Cupertino, California, the eleventh stop on the energy education tour. The program, Energy Upgrade California, took energy education for homeowners on the road with the Energy Upgrade California Roadshow, a statewide mobile exhibit on energy efficiency. The roadshow started in San Diego on Nov. 1 and ended in Cupertino last Sunday reaching hundreds of homeowners throughout the state.

The Roadshow spent the last two weeks of November traveling the state to educate homeowners on the Energy Upgrade California program, how to increase home efficiency, provide energy cost savings and improve home comfort.

The roadshow made eleven stops in nine cities including Woodland Hills, Pacific Palisades, Lompoc, Santa Barbara, Sacramento, San Francisco, Antioch, Oakland and Cupertino. The stops included local farmers markets, community workshops and UC Santa Barbara. In the Bay Area, the Roadshow stopped at the Greenbuild Global Conference in San Francisco, a Contra Costa Homeowner Workshop at the Antioch Community Center, Oakland Tech High School and Sears at the Vallco Shopping Center in Cupertino.

Energy Upgrade California provides a “whole house” approach that focuses on a house as a system and looks at how various elements affect energy use. The program presents residents with an array of improvements to increase home health, comfort and safety while saving money on their utility bills.

The program educates homeowners on basic improvements to increase home efficiency and provides eligible homeowners a chance to sign up for an assessment, the first step towards improving their home and receiving rebates. Rebates range from $1,000 to $4,000 depending on the energy savings achieved.

Eligible California homeowners can sign up for a home assessment by visiting the Energy Upgrade California website at EnergyUpgradeCA.org and typing in their county name or zip code.

About Energy Upgrade California

Energy Upgrade California™ is a program of the California Public Utilities Commission and California Energy Commission to reduce residential energy use, curb greenhouse gas emissions and create more comfortable and healthy homes. For more information on Energy Upgrade California, visit www.energyupgradeca.org.

About Energy Upgrade California Roadshow

The Energy Upgrade California Roadshow is a mobile exhibit in a trailer designed to inform and inspire Californians to learn about and install energy-saving improvements in their homes. The Energy Upgrade California Roadshow is funded in part by the Department of Energy in support of the goals of its Better Buildings Neighborhood Program. It was built by CCSE, an independent nonprofit organization that accelerates the adoption of clean and efficient energy solutions, based in San Diego.

About the California Center for Sustainable Energy

The California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) is an independent, nonprofit organization that accelerates the adoption of clean and efficient energy solutions via consumer education, market facilitation and policy innovation. For more information and workshop listings, visit www.energycenter.org or call (866) 733-6374.

 

 

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Airbnb Study Finds Online Travel Service Has Positive Effects on San Francisco Economy, Neighborhoods

Airbnb, the world’s leading marketplace for booking, discovering, and listing unique spaces around the world, today released a study that highlights Airbnb’s impact on local economies.

The study was conducted by HR&A Advisors, an industry-leading real estate and economic development consulting firm, and demonstrates that Airbnb provides a major economic boost both to its users and the neighborhoods and cities where they visit and live.  HR&A conducts sophisticated economic impact analyses for a wide variety of industries and clients, and cities around the United States come to HR&A for guidance on fostering strong and sustainable local economies and attracting new sources of economic activity.  Drawing on this expertise, HR&A developed a customized approach to quantify the unique impacts of the new kinds of tourism that Airbnb brings to San Francisco.

The study found that people who rent their homes on Airbnb use the income they earn to stay afloat in difficult economic times. Additionally, the study determined that travelers who use Airbnb enjoy longer stays, spend more money in the cities they visit, and bring income to less-touristed neighborhoods.

“Airbnb represents a new form of travel,” says Airbnb CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky. “This study shows that Airbnb is having a huge positive impact – not just on the lives of our guests and hosts, but also on the local neighborhoods they visit and live in.”

The economic impact study underscores the significant benefits that Airbnb, a pioneer of the new sharing economy, has on cities and their residents. Some highlights from the study’s findings:

- From April 2011 to May 2012, guests and hosts utilizing Airbnb have contributed $56 million in total spending to San Francisco’s economy, $43.1 million of which supported local businesses throughout the city’s diverse neighborhoods.

- 90% of Airbnb hosts rent the homes they live in to visitors on an occasional basis, and nearly half the income they make is spent on living expenses (rent/mortgage, utilities, and other bills).

- Airbnb guests stay an average of 5.5 days and spend $1,045 during their stay on food, shopping and transportation, compared to hotel guests who stay an average of 3.5 days and spend $840.

- 72% of Airbnb properties in San Francisco are located outside the central hotel corridor. More than 90% of Airbnb guests visiting San Francisco prefer to stay in neighborhoods that are “off the beaten track.” Over 60% of Airbnb guest-spending occurs in the neighborhoods in which the guests stay.

Founded in August of 2008 and based in San Francisco, Calif., Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world – online or from a mobile phone.  Whether an apartment for a night, a castle for a week, or a villa for a month, Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences at any price point, in more than 30,000 cities and 192 countries.  And with world-class customer service and a growing community of users, Airbnb is the easiest way for people to monetize their extra space and showcase it to an audience of millions.

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President Obama, John Boehner begin year-end duel on taxes

Washington (CNN) — Flush with re-election vigor, President Barack Obama on Friday will provide his first public comments on the upcoming negotiations with Congress on how to deal with pending tax hikes and spending cuts that create the so-called fiscal cliff facing the economy at the end of the year.

Obama and House Speaker John Boehner are positioned as the lead negotiators in a showdown between Democrats and Republicans over the issue identified by voters as a top priority: reducing the chronic federal deficits and debt considered a threat to economic prosperity and national security.

Boehner, R-Ohio, has signaled a willingness to deal but also maintained hardline GOP opposition to any tax increase. He will speak to reporters two hours before Obama delivers his statement on the economy Friday afternoon at the White House.

His hand was weakened by the election results Tuesday that returned Obama to the White House, broadened the Democratic majority in the Senate and slightly narrowed the Republican majority in the House.

Retiring GOP Rep. Steve LaTourette of Ohio told CNN that a poll commissioned by centrist Republicans showed that voters wanted Congress to fix the nation’s fiscal problems rather than cling to political orthodoxy.

“They didn’t send the same bunch back to town in this election because they love what they’re doing,” LaTourette said. “They sent him back because they don’t trust either side, but they do expect them to get this thing done.”

While the result was another split Congress like the current session that has become a symbol of legislative dysfunction, both sides have signaled a possible new openness to an agreement that was unreachable in the past two years.

In the final days of the campaign, Vice President Joe Biden referred to private talks with members of Congress on the pending fiscal impacts of expiring tax cuts and mandatory budget cuts. This week, Boehner called on Obama to work with him to complete a comprehensive deficit reduction agreement — the “grand bargain” that eluded them last year.

LaTourette said both Boehner and Obama were held back from a deal back then because of pressure from their respective bases — Republicans who signed a pledge against any new taxes stopped Boehner, while liberal defenders of entitlement programs halted Obama.

“The ‘no tax pledge’ people in the Republican Party yanked Boehner back and the ‘don’t you dare touch the middle class’ entitlement people in the president’s party pulled him back, and as a result those talks collapsed,” LaTourette said.

Boehner made clear this week that a comprehensive agreement won’t happen by the end of the year in the lame-duck session of Congress. He proposed that the two sides use that time to set up a framework for substantive negotiations when the new Congress comes in next year while taking short-term steps to avoid the fiscal cliff.

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, a top Democrat in the chamber, said such a timetable could work.

“We have a chance in the lame duck to at least start the process, and I think there’s a chance to rally bipartisan support,” he said. “These are basic issues we can work out, and the president is in a position to do that.”

The fiscal cliff comprises two main elements. Tax cuts from the administration of President George W. Bush will expire on December 31, triggering a return to higher Clinton-era rates for everyone.

In addition, $1.2 trillion in mandatory across-the-board budget cuts — known in legislative parlance as the sequester — will take effect next year unless Congress finds a way to offset that amount in the federal budget.

Another looming issue will be the need to again increase the nation’s debt ceiling sometime in the spring, creating the potential for more political brinksmanship that contributed to last year’s first-ever downgrade of the U.S. credit rating.

Both sides agree the best outcome would be a broad deal addressing the overall need for deficit reduction, including reforms to the tax system and entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

However, they remain far apart on exactly how to forge such an agreement.

Obama campaigned on having wealthy Americans contribute more to deficit reduction efforts, and administration officials say the president will veto any package that extends the Bush tax cuts for income over $250,000.

“I’ve already signed a trillion dollars’ worth of spending cuts. I intend to do more, but if we’re serious about the deficit, we also have to ask the wealthiest Americans to go back to the rates that they paid when Bill Clinton was in office,” Obama said last week on the campaign trail.

In an e-mailed statement, Obama campaign policy director James Kvaal said the president wants “a balanced plan that cuts the deficit by $4 trillion with $2.50 worth of spending cuts for every dollar in revenue and reduces spending on Medicare, Medicaid and other entitlements.”

Boehner and Republicans oppose raising taxes on anyone, and instead back a broad reform of the tax system that would lower rates further for everyone while eliminating some deductions and loopholes.

While Boehner said this week that his side was open to increasing revenue from such reforms, he made clear that such increases should come from resulting economic growth instead of higher tax rates.

In essence, Boehner proposed the kind of tax reform championed by failed Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney, whose plan was criticized by Obama and many economists for being unrealistic in assuming that the combination of closed loopholes and economic growth would equal the lost revenue of tax cuts.

Obama’s victory gives him new leverage in the budget battles after Republicans forced the president and Democrats into prolonged and sometimes bitter showdowns in the last two years, including threats of government shutdowns and default.

One top Democrat with close ties to leaders on Capitol Hill and the White House said that the imminent expiration of the Bush tax cuts means Obama “doesn’t have to do anything and everyone’s taxes go up,” which is a GOP nightmare.

Such an increase would affect personal income tax, the estate tax, dividends and capital gains taxes.

In addition, some officials are hinting the feared sequester cuts don’t have to be implemented right away in the new year, giving at least a few months for a deal to be worked out.

By Tom Cohen, CNN. CNN’s Jessica Yellin and Allison Brennan contributed to this report.

 

 

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City Arts & Lectures is pleased to announce the line-up for “Conversations on Science 2013.”

The 7 – event series, presented in association with the California Academy of Sciences, features leading scientists on a range of topics including the power of sleep, the science of yoga, the effects of social networks, and the science behind love & attraction.   Tickets ($20-$27) are currently available to City Arts members only and will go on sale to the general public November 15.

All shows are 7:30pm at the Herbst Theatre, with the exception of The Social Network Effect (May 14) and The Science of Love & Attraction (June 4) both at 7:30pm at the Nourse Theatre.  To purchase tickets or for more info, go to www.cityarts.net/science <http://www.cityarts.net/science>

Below you’ll find a chronological list of programs with hyperlinks to guest bios and more info.  You can also access the list of events online here <https://www.cityarts.net/science> .

The Science of Yoga: A Mind-Body Practice with Jon Kabat-Zinn
<https://www.cityarts.net/event/the-science-of-yoga-a-mind-body-practice/> In Conversation with Kelly McGonigal
Wednesday, January 9, 2013, 7:30 pm
Venue: Herbst Theatre
Tickets: $20/$25 (California Academy of Sciences members)  |  $22/$27 (non-members)

Stroke of Insight: Strengthening the Brain with Jill Bolte Taylor <https://www.cityarts.net/event/stroke-of-insight-strengthening-the-brain-with-jill-bolte-taylor-2/>
In Conversation with Thomas Goetz
Monday, January 28, 2013, 7:30 pm
Venue: Herbst Theatre
Tickets: $20/$25 (CAS members)  |  $22/$27 (non-members)

The Brilliance of Sleep with Matt Walker <https://www.cityarts.net/event/the-brilliance-of-sleep-with-matt-walker/>
In Conversation with Amy Standen
Wednesday, February 27, 2013, 7:30 pm
Venue: Herbst Theatre
Tickets: $20/$25 (CAS members)  |  $22/$27 (non-members)

The Power of Language with Lera Boroditsky <https://www.cityarts.net/event/the-power-of-language-with-lera-boroditsky/>
In Conversation with Roy Eisenhardt
Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 7:30 pm
Venue: Herbst Theatre
Tickets: $20/$25 (CAS members)  |  $22/$27 (non-members)

Unlocking the Mysteries of Neuroscience with David Eagleman <https://www.cityarts.net/event/unlocking-the-mysteries-of-neuroscience-with-david-eagleman/>
In Conversation with Kirsten Sanford
Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 7:30 pm
Venue: Herbst Theatre
Tickets: $20/$25 (CAS members)  |  $22/$27 (non-members)

The Social Network Effect with Nicholas Carr <https://www.cityarts.net/event/the-social-network-effect-with-nicholas-carr/>
In Conversation with Thomas Goetz
Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 7:30 pm
Venue: Nourse Theatre
Tickets: $20/$25 (CAS members)  |  $22/$27 (non-members)

The Science of Love & Attraction with Helen Fisher <https://www.cityarts.net/event/the-science-of-love-attraction-with-helen-fisher/>
In Conversation with Michael Krasny
Tuesday, June 4, 2013, 7:30 pm
Venue: Nourse Theatre
Tickets: $20/$25 (CAS members)  |  $22/$27 (non-members)


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FISHERMAN’S WHARF CELEBRATES THE 2012 HOLIDAY SEASON

The Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District (FWCBD) announces a full calendar of family fun for the 2012 Holiday Season. From Sunday, November 18, 2012, through January 2, 2013, Fisherman’s Wharf will be a center of holiday lights and activities for visitors of all ages, from unique special events to year-round attractions. Events organized by the FWCDB include a Lagoon Concert & Lighting Event on Saturday, December 1; Fisherman’s Wharf 2012 Crab Fest on Sunday, December 9; the Lighted Boat Parade on Friday, December 14; Tree to Shining Tree Walking Tour and Activities throughout Fisherman’s Wharf from November 18 through January 2; and much more. For a complete schedule of events, visit www.visitfishermanswharf.com.

“With so many family friendly events, shopping, special decorations, holiday lights and the beginning of Crab Season, Fisherman’s Wharf is truly a magical place for both children and adults to visit during the holiday season.” says Troy Campbell, FWCBD Executive Director.

Sunday, November 18, 2012, 6pm — PIER 39 Tree Lighting Celebration
Welcome the holiday season with a day of holly-jolly magic and merriment at PIER 39! Engage in fun for the whole family with interactive exhibits, special meet-and-greets, live holiday music sing-alongs, and more. The festivities culminate at 6pm, as PIER 39’s majestic sixty-foot tree, adorned with glistening ornaments, bows, and twinkling lights, is illuminated against the stunning backdrop of the San Francisco skyline.

Friday, November 23, 2012, 1pm-7pm — 48th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony at Ghirardelli Square
FREE lives entertainment throughout the day, with the lighting of the Ghirardelli Square Christmas tree at 5:30pm, hosted by Christina Loren of NBC Bay Area, with singing by The Yuletide Carolers from 6pm-7pm. Scheduled performers also include the Contra Costa Chorale (2pm-3pm), City Opera SF (3:15pm-4:15pm), Kevin Toqe (4:30pm-5:15pm), and more. Between 4pm and 6:30pm, Lola Toy Stop will offer a small gift for each child who stops by the store. Ghirardelli Chocolate and special guests will pass out Peppermint Bark Squares after the Ceremony.

Saturday, December 1, 2012, 5:30pm-6:30pm – FWCBD presents Lagoon Concert & Lighting Event
The FWCBD invites the community to gather at the Inner Lagoon on Jefferson Street between Taylor and Jones to sip on hot cocoa, compliments of Ghirardelli, and enjoy the sounds of the San Francisco City Chorus as they perform holiday songs. For the first time ever, a special addition to this year’s festivities includes a countdown and lighting of the Fisherman’s and Seaman’s Memorial Chapel located in the heart of the lagoon, a most picturesque sight alongside the twinkling lights of the decorated fishing fleet and surrounding restaurants. We have also received word that a certain jolly visitor from way up north will make a special appearance. Please join us for this FREE family friendly event.

Saturday, December 8, 2012, 5:30pm-6:30pm — Light the Menorah at Ghirardelli Square
In partnership with the Jewish Learning Institute of San Francisco, Chabad, Ghirardelli Square will light a 9-foot Menorah at 6pm, celebrated with music and good company. The program begins at 5:30pm with Live Music by Jordan Feinstein, a Kid’s Craft Table by Peekadoodle KidsClub, and Orthodox Chews Salt Water Taffy Sampling & Sale.
From 4:30pm-6:30pm there will be a Lucky Lollipop Pull at Lola Toy Stop in Ghirardelli Square’s Lower Plaza.

Sunday, December 9, 2012, 12 noon-3pm — FWCBD presents the Fisherman’s Wharf 2012 Crab Fest, 3rd Floor of the Wax Museum, 145 Jefferson Street in the heart of Fisherman’s Wharf.
Come celebrate the start of crab season with a special crab tasting event! The FWCBD 2012 Crab Fest hails this most sought-after tasty crustacean with three hours of eating, drinking and celebrating the season, with signature crab dishes prepared by chefs from renowned Fisherman’s Wharf restaurants, complimented by local sustainably-produced wines. Participating restaurants include Alioto’s, Bistro Boudin, Blue Mermaid, Cafe Pescatore, Capurro’s, Fog Harbor Fish House, The Franciscan, McCormick & Kuleto’s, and Scoma’s. Tickets for this local food and wine feast are $25 per person, with proceeds to benefit the SF Fire Fighters Toy Program and the SFPD Youth Fishing Program. Tickets are available at http://sfcrabfest.eventbrite.com/ more information is available at www.visitfishermanswharf.com

Friday, December 14, 2012, 6pm — FWCBD presents Lighted Boat Parade
The Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District and the St. Francis Yacht Club join once again to present the oldest and largest lighted holiday boat parade on San Francisco Bay. Beginning at 6pm, more than 60 boats festooned with lights and holiday decorations will parade along the waterfront. A holiday tradition since 1994, the parade includes members of the St. Francis Yacht Club, Fisherman’s Wharf Fishing Fleet, Golden Gate Yacht Club, PIER 39 Marina, and the Sea Scouts. The Fisherman’s Wharf Fishing Fleet will remain lit throughout the holiday season.
The parade route will begin just off of PIER 39, and proceed west past Fisherman’s Wharf, Fort Mason, and the St. Francis Yacht Club, turning around at Crissy Field to return along the waterfront. Restaurants along Fisherman’s Wharf, in addition to offering a fantastic vantage point, will feature traditional holiday menus. Spectators can also enjoy wonderful views from Aquatic Park, PIER 39, the Marina Green, and Crissy Field, with best viewing of this spectacular display at the Sport Fishing Harbor along Jefferson Street between Jones and Taylor.

November 18, 2012 through January 2, 2013 – FWCBD presents Tree to Shining Tree Walking Tour and Activities
Fisherman’s Wharf is truly a magical place to visit during the Holiday Season. This year, the Wharf boasts two decorated Christmas Trees, a lit Menorah, Dickens Carolers, Santa, elves, lights, unique attractions and shopping experiences, and endless choices in restaurants. Special holiday displays and activities will be found all throughout Fisherman’s Wharf, including Ghirardelli Square; The Cannery; the charming Conrad Park; Anchorage Square, featuring Dickens Carolers performing the first three Saturdays in December from 12 noon to 3pm; Sport Fishing Boats lit for the holidays on the lagoon along Jefferson Street; The Crab Wheel wrapped in multi-color lights; Boudin Bakery with help from Santa and his elves, and live piano music; The Wax Museum; Taylor Street with three blocks of trees wrapped in lights; Northpoint Centre with entries for the 7th Annual Gingerbread House Decorating Contest, and entertainment by Santa and the Dickens Carolers in the main concourse on the first three Saturdays in December; PIER 39 with decorated shops and a 60-foot tree adorned with bows, ornaments and glistening lights; and MORE. Full details are available at www.visitfishermanswharf.com

Hosting 8 million visitors a year, San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf is a world famous tourist attraction and a thriving and vibrant local neighborhood and commercial area. Home to world-class dining, shopping, hotels and endless entertainment opportunities, Fisherman’s Wharf is truly the place to start your San Francisco experience.

For more information visit www.visitfishermanswharf.com

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OSCAR QUALIFIED SHORT, “FOR SPACIOUS SKY” TO SCREEN AT HISTORIC CASTRO THEATRE

 Local Filmmakers Announce November 3 Screening of Film

Shot and Co-Produced in Bay Area

Lobo Production Group, Lucky Dragon Productions – Oscar qualified short film, “For Spacious Sky” is scheduled to make its San Francisco premiere on Saturday, November 3, 2012, at the historic Castro Theatre (429 Castro Street, San Francisco, CA 94114) at 5:30 PM, as part of the Scary Cow Productions Indie Co-Op Festival. Shot in Chico, CA, and co-produced by San Francisco based production company, Lucky Dragon Productions (in association with Lobo Production Group), “For Spacious Sky” tells the true story of three estranged brothers who reunite on November 2, 2008, the day that President Barack Obama was elected to his first term in office.

Inspired by actual events and set on Election Day 2008 against the sweeping landscape of rural America, For Spacious Sky is the inspiring story of three lost brothers finding their way back to each other – one from hate, one from addiction, and one from discrimination. Eli, an ex-con white supremacist struggling to start his life over, and Clay, a gay novelist, must set aside their differences for the day to bring their drug- addicted younger brother, Kevin, to rehab. On this day of our nation’s most important decision, these three estranged brothers find themselves at a similar crossroads and must choose either to remain broken or to change.

Lucky Dragon Productions commented “To bring this piece to the Scary Cow Indie Film Co-op Festival here at the Castro where many of the crew met and honed their craft is an honor. The film, a very human story, is our contribution to the dialog for the Presidential election on November 6th and we are thrilled to engage with a large San Francisco audience three days before the voting begins”

“For Spacious Sky” will open the concluding phase of the 18th annual Scary Cow Productions Indie Co-Op Festival (www.scarycow.com) at the historic Castro Theatre on Friday, November 3, at 5:30 PM. The festival features short films made by Bay Area filmmakers. Following the screening of “For Spacious Sky,” the filmmakers will be available for a Q&A with audience members and will attend an after party at The Castro Theatre immediately following the program where they will be available for further questions and discussion. Lucky Dragon Productions will also be premiering their latest short, “Christian & The Boss” at the festival.

For more information on the Scary Cow Indie Co-Op Festival and to purchase tickets to see “For Spacious Sky,” please visit http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/287188. For the full festival schedule at the Castro Theatre, please visit http://www.castrotheatre.com/p-list.html.

To learn more about “For Spacious Sky” please go to www.forspaciousskythefilm.com. For more on Lucky Dragon Productions, www.luckydragonproductions.com, and you can learn more about Lobo Productions at www.lobopg.com

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