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San Bruno, Ratepayer Advocates Challenge California Public Utilities Commission, PG&E: Demand CPUC Rescind Appointment of Sen. George Mitchell in Blockbuster PG&E Announcement

A blistering attack by the City of San Bruno, ratepayer advocates and Assemblyman Jerry Hill called into question the California Public Utility’s appointment of Sen. George Mitchell and his law firm DLA Piper as mediators in the PG&E explosion and fire settlement.

Mayor Jim Ruane of San Bruno, Thomas J. Long, Legal Director of consumer advocacy group The Utility Reform Network (TURN), and Karen Paull, Acting Legal Counsel, The Division of Ratepayer Advocates (DRA) all stood in front of the CPUC this morning and lambasted the “unholy and cozy alliance” between regulator CPUC and the regulated Pacific Gas & Electric Co.

The City of San Bruno and consumer advocates signed a letter demanding the CPUC rescind the appointment of Sen. Mitchell immediately because the CPUC  went behind their backs in appointing the mediator to oversee the talks and presented evidence that CPUC and PG&E had ex-parte contact in making the decision. The groups objected to the choice of mediator and said they should have been consulted before regulator CPUC appointed the mediator.

The California Public Utilities Commission had announced Monday that it had appointed former U.S. Senator George Mitchell to serve as mediator in the talks.

San Bruno City Manager Connie Jackson and attorneys with San Francisco and the consumer groups said the CPUC had notified PG&E before it appointed Mr. Mitchell, but didn’t notify San Bruno, San Francisco, or ratepayer advocates and officials.

“The unilateral announcement by the CPUC Monday that it had selected a mediator without consulting any of the parties at the negotiating table is consistent with the cozy and unholy relationship between the CPUC and PG&E.  This action is symbolic of the broken, dysfunctional and dishonest relationship between PG&E and the CPUC, the agency that is supposed to be the watchdog and protector of the public’s interest,” said Mayor Ruane of San Bruno.

“San Bruno is rightly concerned that the DLA Piper law firm has previously represented utilities–and that the firm was selected unilaterally by the CPUC and PG&E without the participation of any other party, which goes against the fundamental principles of mediation,” said Mayor Ruane at the press conference today.

“It also is of deep concern to us that DLA Piper has a lengthy list of corporate clients, including Southern California Edison, which the current chairman of the CPUC, Michael Peevey, once headed, according to news media reports about the appointment.

“In order for any mediation to succeed, the mediator will have to assure all the parties to our satisfaction that they have no conflicts, that they can be an unbiased mediator, and that the process will be open, transparent and fair,” Mayor Ruane said.

He continued: “We find that there is too much of a coincidence that one week before the announcement of DLA Piper as mediator, we were told that “a mediator with gravitas” is necessary to settle the negotiations, and now, with the unilateral start of mediation, that PG&E shareholders are paying for the mediation. This leads us, we rightly believe, to the conclusion that the CPUC and PG&E have had improper ex-parte contact as part of this process.

“We state unequivocally for the record that no fine or settlement with PG&E will ever be legitimate or credible without the participation of the City of San Bruno.

“We call into question the integrity of the entire CPUC process that has occurred over the past two years since our community was ripped apart by the negligent and systematic safety failures of PG&E and the inability of the CPUC to independently protect and represent the interests of the residents of San Bruno and the people of California.

“The healing process has physical manifestations in the reconstruction of our Crestmoor neighborhood. However, the scars and horrors of the explosion and fire remain. The City committed to its citizens that it would be an active and relentless participant in all of the investigations that followed.

“We remain at the table to represent the interests of the citizens of San Bruno, the memory of those whose lives were taken by PG&E’s negligence, their families and friends, and equally important, every other city, town and community in the State of California so we can help others prevent what happened to us,” Mayor Ruane concluded.

Mayor Ruane and the consumer advocate attorneys said Sen. Mitchell’s previous work for Southern California Edison, a utility where CPUC Chairman Michael Peevey was formerly an executive, made them question whether he would be impartial.

PG&E and CPUC investigators said Friday that they had started fresh talks to settle the investigators’ allegations that the utility violated numerous state and federal safety rules prior to the fatal 2010 pipeline explosion in San Bruno.

The CPUC had been holding public hearings following three investigations investigators completed after a section of the utility’s gas pipeline in San Bruno ruptured on Sept. 9, 2010, igniting a giant fireball that killed eight people and injured 58. The fire destroyed 38 homes and damaged 70 others. The neighborhood where the blast occurred hasn’t been fully rebuilt, although some houses have been rebuilt.

Both federal and state investigators blamed PG&E for the blast and found that defects in the utility’s aging pipeline and inadequate pipeline safety management contributed to the pipe’s rupture.

A CPUC judge suspended those hearings last week, after state investigators, who are employed by the CPUC, asked to stop the hearings to allow time for a fresh round of talks with PG&E.

Members of the CPUC have said they plan to order fines and possibly other penalties against PG&E over the San Bruno disaster.

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FINAL RECONCILIATION: SPECIAL SERVICE FOR FIRST UNITED CHURCH TO REJOIN LUTHERAN SYNOD

It has been 23 years since First United Lutheran Church began its long time of separation from the Sierra Pacific Synod of the ELCA.  In 1989, the local congregation became the center of a controversy when it (along with St. Francis Lutheran Church) was expelled by the synod for refusing to comply with ELCA policy banning the ordination of openly gay pastors.

Earlier this year, two years after the ELCA changed the policy, FULC decided to return. After much internal discussion, the congregation decided that it was important to affirm the decision of the denomination and to make a commitment to continuing to work for change in the church from within.

A religious service of Reconciliation and Healing will be held on Sunday, October 14 at 5 pm.  Featured clergy include both the current bishop of the synod, Bishop Mark W. Holmerud, as well as the Rev. Jeff R. Johnson, the pastor who was at the center of the controversy (redundant?).  Johnson currently serves as pastor to the University Lutheran Chapel in Berkeley.

Lutheran congregations from all over the bay area have been invited.  The October 14 liturgy was developed by FULC music director Orion Pitts, from music culled from different faiths to emphasize the coming together and unity to which we all aspire.

October 14

5 pm

2907 Turk (at Lyon)

 

 

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The 2012 FOG Rally Benefits Blue Planet Network: September 13-15 San Francisco to Los Angeles

The 2012 FOG Rally is comprised of 50 Ferraris departing from The Fairmont San Francisco atop Nob Hill, Friday September 14, at 8:30am on a media intensive charity road rally to Los Angeles. The rally will showcase Ferraris of all models and years and provide enthusiasts several opportunities for up close and personal encounters with the cars and their drivers.  This event will bring together the largest number of Ferraris that have ever been assembled in one public place in San Francisco!   To register for the Rally go to; http://fogrally.com/register/

For 2012 the FOG Rally is supporting Blue Planet Network, an award-winning nonprofit headquartered in the Bay Area.  Blue Planet Network’s mission is to exponentially increase the impact of safe drinking water programs for people around the world. Founded in 2002, Blue Planet Network and its 94 member organizations have helped more than 993,000 people in 25 countries with safe drinking water and sanitation. Visit Blue Planet Network for more information.

Ferrari Owners Group (FOG) Inc. is a membership organization of motorsports enthusiasts. While members enjoy the freedom of the open road and the spirit of California’s rich road rally history, the FOG Rally is an event that calls together charitable people from within and without the FOG community for the common purpose of supporting a worthy cause.  Drivers compete to raise the most funds for the benefiting charity.  Last year an impressive $60,000 was raised for Opportunity Impact during the inaugural FOG rally. An award will be given to the top three fundraisers at the closing banquet dinner, auction, and award ceremony held at the Hyatt Century Plaza in L.A., sponsored by Novitec Rosso, Saturday, September 15. This year organizers hope to raise $100,000 for Blue Planet Network.

“The Ferrari Owners Charitable Foundation values the opportunity to support the work of Blue Planet Network because it enables us to affect change simultaneously in our three areas of focus – public health, education, and youth-at-risk. Two of the features of Blue Planet Network that we find attractive are its dedicated oversight and its transparent implementation of water projects.”  – Joe Keon, Founder & President, Ferrari Owners Charitable Foundation, Marin   County CA

The Launch Party, held at The Fairmont San Francisco hotel on Thursday September 13th at 6:00pm, will kick off the long weekend event.  Participants will enjoy fine wine tasting, sumptuous hors d’oeuvres and live musical entertainment set amid the hotel’s stunning Gold Room.  Wine will be poured by Andretti Winery, founded by retired world champion race car driver Mario Andretti, as well as Grgich Hills Estate, one of the few truly bio-dynamic wineries in California.

The Keith Crossan Big Band will get the party swinging and will then offer the stage to Gabriel Angelo, San Francisco’s up-and-coming 12 year old trumpet player, who was recently featured on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”  Gabriel, who dresses quite dapper in Brooks Bother suits and tap dances while he plays, says his inspiration is Fred Astaire.

Robin Woolard Precious Jewels in The Fairmont Hotel is inviting launch party guests to a champagne reception and will be giving away a Dior cosmetics gift bag to each female guest.

The Launch Party is open to the public.  Tickets are only $125 and  must be purchased in advanced:  Launch Party Tickets

The Rally of 50 Ferraris departs from The Fairmont San Francisco at 8:30am Friday, September 14, 2012.  Mason Street will be closed to traffic so the public can safely view the cars before they take off.  The rally continues to Santa Barbara for the night, and arrives in LA on Saturday afternoon.

For more information please visit the FOG Rally website: FOG Rally

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Photo credit: Michelle Geer

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Communications Workers of America in California Question CWA Union Leadership Over Failure to Sign Contract with AT&T

 

There is growing dissent among California Communications Workers of America against their union leaders’ intransigence and failure to approve a new contract with AT&T.

While every single CWA District and Local in the United States, with the exception of Connecticut and California, has signed a new contract deal with pay increases and generous health care benefits, California AT&T workers are starting to strike back at their own union and demand settlement.

Just this week, more than 20,000 AT&T workers in California, Nevada and Connecticut started two-day strikes Tuesday to protest what the union called harassment by the company. But a number of union members opposed the two day strike and question their union leadership’s action, which cost them two days of pay.

The phone company is negotiating new contracts with the Communications Workers of America. The company is restricting standard bargaining-support activities such as wearing union stickers and buttons, said Libby Sayre, president of the CWA district covering California and Nevada.

The contracts expired in April, and negotiations have been going on since February.

Dallas-based AT&T Inc. is the country’s largest employer of unionized workers. About 140,000 of its 256,000 employees are union members.

California AT&T workers are quietly saying they don’t care about the ‘sticker issue’ raised by CWA District 9 President Libby Sayre and are pushing back at union leadership and demanding an immediate conclusion to contract negotiations with AT&T.

“We are at odds with our own union leadership, not with AT&T,” one worker, requesting anonymity, said.  “The deal that was accepted by AT&T workers in other states is a good one and we want it here, too.”

The growing dissent by CWA workers against their leadership was visible in northern California this week as a number of members protested the two day strike and instead held signs protesting against CWA’s leadership, holding signs that read: “Our Union Has Us Striking Over a Stupid Sticker!” and “We Just Lost 2 Days Pay: Thanks CWA.”

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San Bruno Institutes Additional Safeguards to Prevent Future Gas Pipeline Incidents–Contractor Apologizes to San Bruno Residents for Gas Pipeline Break

San Bruno, Calif. – City of San Bruno leaders and staff met with the contractor responsible for a gas line break today and demanded and received additional measures to ensure safety and prevent future incidents.

The contractor hit a PG&E gas line prompting concerns and evacuations in the neighborhood ravaged by the deadly 2010 pipe explosion, but the leak did not spark a fire or cause any injuries.

The owner of the contracting company responsible apologized to the citizens of San Bruno for the incident and agreed to additional safety and digging protocols to prevent future accidents.

“I offer my sincerest apologies to the citizens of San Bruno on behalf of myself, my crew and my company,” said Matt Shaw, owner of Shaw Pipeline Co. of San Francisco.  “We understand how sensitive this community still is from the PG&E explosion of September 2010 and we are deeply sorry to have caused additional and unnecessary concern.”

Shaw Pipeline was hired by the City to replace and repair water and sewer lines destroyed in the Sept. 2010 PG&E explosion and fire.

He pledged his full cooperation with City officials to institute additional safety measures and promised to personally join his crew each morning prior to the start of work until the project is completed in October.

Shaw’s crew clipped a two-inch line near Earl Avenue and Glenview Drive, nearly the same location as the deadly September 2010 PG&E explosion and fire, while digging with a backhoe at this morning. Utility crews responded quickly to shut off the gas. Although there was no fire, authorities evacuated some homes as a precaution.

“We reminded Mr. Shaw and his crew of the importance and sensitivity of our community and this particular neighborhood,” said City Manager Connie Jackson.  “He apologized and accepted responsibility for the accident.  We also met with PG&E to ensure they are comfortable with the construction procedures being performed.”

The work has been halted by the City on the project until at least Monday, Jackson said, to give the City and authorities the opportunity to review the accident and to implement additional new safety protocols.

New safety measures include a daily review by the contractor on how they will layout and execute their work where they are excavating.  They must re-verify all utility locations before starting work each day. In the event there are any questions about utility locations in the field, they cannot do work until re-checking with utility authorities to verify the exact locations of underground lines, Jackson said.  PG&E has also agreed to re-mark utility locations.

“We are relieved that no one was injured, but this incident caused significant distress and alarm throughout our City and community,” Jackson added. “We believe Mr. Shaw and his company more fully understand the importance of safety for our community and his own crew.”

 

 

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San Francisco Herb & Natural Food Company Makes Statement on Mice Infestation at its factory at 47444 Kato Road, Fremont, Calif.

“San Francisco Herb and Natural Food Company is saddened by the recent discovery of a mouse infestation at its Fremont warehouse.  Since its discovery, and in full cooperation with the regulatory authorities, the company has taken immediate steps to isolate and remedy the problem.

“The company has been under an embargo since July 11th that has ensured that no impacted goods were shipped.  Today, we are working with the California Department of Health and other authorities to issue a voluntary recall notice within the next 24 hours regarding products that may be impacted by the situation.

“San Francisco Herb and Natural Food Company has enjoyed 40 years of providing quality herbs, spices and teas to wholesale and specialty producers.  We hold ourselves to a high standard.  Unfortunately we believed this problem was under control, but it unexpectedly grew into a larger issue.  We apologize to our loyal customers and fans and will fully refund any products that have been impacted.”

This news bulletin was just issued by the company in response to media inquries and lists  Sam Singer and Adam Alberti at Singer Associates Public Affairs and Public Relations as contacts at:  Singer@SingerSF.Com and Adam@SingerSF.com.

 

 

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Blu Homes Protest Greets 30,000 at Pacific Coast Builders Conference Opening Day in San Francisco

The 30,000 attendees today at the annual Pacific Coast Builders Conference (PCBC) were greeted by a major protest from the employees of a green home building company seeking unionization of its northern California production facility.

More than 100 Blu Homes employees and members of the Carpenters Union Local 180 armed with giant 30-foot tall inflatable effigies of The Grim Reaper and a pig leafleted outside the largest gathering of the home building industry in the western United States today, the opening day of PCBC.

Blu Homes’ production workers are in a labor dispute with Blu Homes after company management has refused to recognize the union even after 38 of 45 workers at the company’s Vallejo signed a petition this year demanding representation by the Carpenters Union. More than 17 unfair Labor Charges have been filed with the National Labor Relations Board against Blu Homes.

The Carpenters Union charges that Blu Homes’ President Bill Haney and his behavior toward its workers and environmental practices do not match the pro-environment and pro-worker projects that have marked Mr. Haney’s career or the efforts of people on the company’s Board of Advisers, including Robert Kennedy, Jr., whose father played a pivotal role in the unionization of California farm workers.

Blu Homes Inc., a Massachusetts-based company that designs and builds pre-fabricated single family green homes, opened a new facility inside Vallejo’s historic Factory Building 680 on Lennar Mare Island in December 2011.

Shortly thereafter, workers approached Carpenters Local 180, asking for help in resolving issues of poor bathroom facilities, lack of gender specific bathrooms, job safety and the lack of a retirement plan.  The overriding factor was a lack of respect for the workers from management, according to Carpenters representatives.

Haney has been described in the NY Times as one of America’s leading environmental entrepreneurs.  In addition to his business and investment successes that made him a multi-millionaire, he is also a documentary filmmaker, taking his camera to places where social injustice was met with resistance by those on the ground.

From the Dominican Republic, where he focused on the struggle of Haitian sugar workers in “The Price of Sugar,” to the mountains of West Virginia, where he chronicled a community’s fight against mountain top removal mining, Haney’s films emphasize the power of ordinary people. Along the way, he has spoken forcefully against the evils of corporate greed, against environmental degradation and union busting, and for the powers of workers organizing into a union.

Haney, being interviewed about his documentary, “The Price of Sugar” and the struggle of Haitian sugar workers in the Dominican Republic said: “…one of the most interesting things that took place for me was to be present at the birth of a union. It was extraordinary to see the power and vitality of a union and how desperate these workers were without it and what improvements could be ripped from the plantations owner’s hands if there was one…”

Haney, commenting on Massey Energy and the fight against mountaintop removal mining: “…you know, there are miners working there who are getting a pathetic fraction of what they would have gotten even 10 years ago when they had protection with the unions. So, they’ve destroyed the unions, they’ve beaten up on the environment, they’ve violated federal health and safety standards, to what appears to be really the enrichment of a very small number of people, primarily the executives of the company.”

The Carpenters’ union thinks Haney is a hypocrite. Haney has positioned himself as a champion of the environment, an ally of the poor, and a defender of unions. So one must ask: why can’t he live up to his own words at his own company?

The Blu Home workers in Vallejo have overwhelmingly petitioned for union representation and they are being denied this right by the very same man that encouraged unionization in the Dominican Republic and in the hills of West Virginia. That’s not irony–that’s hypocrisy, some on the picket line said today.

In March 2012, Blu Homes raised $25 Million in Capital from new investors Brightpath Capital Partners and The Skagen Group in the Netherlands. According to the company, this brings total investment in Blu Homes to $50 million since 2007.

One can only hope that Mr. Haney and Robert F. Kenney Jr. and the other board members will recognize the right of workers to organize and have decent and safe working conditions and benefit from the growth of Blu Homes.

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Chevron Rolls with the Punches as Ecuador Lawsuit Gets Filed in Canada: Motley Fool Reports Case Has No Impact on A Good Stock

Motley Fool is one of the most highly read and valued financial newsletters in the U.S.  A story posted today by The Fool shines a light on the fraudulent case against Chevron in Ecuador.  See story below.

By David Lee Smith, The Motley Fool

In the National Hockey League, the term “dropping the gloves” indicates that fisticuffs are imminent. And since there was a day when the NHL was populated almost exclusively by Canadians, it seems appropriate to observe that Chevron (NYS: CVX) and its Ecuadorian plaintiffs have dropped the gloves in Canada. Their two-decades-long bout of legal pugilism has now moved north of the border.

During the past wild and woolly week, which ended with the market’s Friday plummet, lawyers for residents of an Amazonian rain forest filed a lawsuit against the big oil company in Canada. Their intention is to help themselves to Chevron’s assets in Canada to satisfy an $18.2 billion judgment that was slapped on the California company — which ranks second in size only to ExxonMobil (NYS: XOM) among U.S.-based fossil fuels producers.


Chevron has no assets in Ecuador. In Canada, however, it’s an active operator on land and off the shore of the country’s eastern provinces. It also refines product and cooperates with a host of other companies in producing crude oil from Alberta’s tar sands. Approximately 3% of its worldwide production emanates from the land of our northerly neighbor. As a result, the plaintiffs and their attorneys could go a long way toward satisfying their questionable judgment, were they able to gain acquiescence from Canadian courts.

Perhaps the only thing that’s completely clear about this bizarre case is that Chevron isn’t guilty in the slightest of any sort of pollution in the country that constitutes OPEC’s runt. What it did do was to acquire Texaco Petroleum in 2001. Texaco had worked in Ecuador until 1992, nine years before it became even a twinkle in Chevron’s eye. Before it ceased its operations and departed the country, Texaco received certification from Ecuadorian government agencies that it had completed all necessary remediation for its share of environmental impacts from its operations in the country.


Three other significant aspects of the case deserve notation here:

  • State-owned Petroecuador owned a majority 62.5% interest in the consortium of which Texaco was a part. It      has continued to work in the affected area during the 20 years since Texaco departed.
  • Before and during the trial in Ecuador — which sported a succession of about a half-dozen judges —      evidence of apparent fraud was uncovered by Chevron on the plaintiffs’ side, including reports by “independent” environmental consultants likely having been ghostwritten by plaintiffs’ attorneys. Indeed, the Ecuadorian court’s judgment may have benefited interested attorneys’ penmanship.
  • The case and the related judgment are currently being considered by a three-judge panel under the      auspices of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. The impetus for that action involves a treaty to which both Ecuador and the United States are signatories.

It also turns out that Chevron isn’t the only U.S. oil company crying foul in the face of Ecuadorian tactics. A half-dozen years ago, Occidental Petroleum (NYS: OXY) filed a suit for damages following the country’s cancellation of the company’s operating contract there. In a skirmish that also lingers on, Ecuadorian authorities claimed that Oxy violated the contract by failing to gain the country’s approval before transferring its 40% stake in a project to Canada’s Encana Corp. (NYS: ECA) . Like its bigger compatriot, Oxy also maintains that Ecuador violated the U.S.-Ecuador bilateral investment treaty.


It’s progressively becoming more apparent, however, that if Chevron didn’t stumble onto bad luck in South America, it probably wouldn’t have any luck in the region. On the other side of the continent, the company continues to joust with Brazilian authorities over a pair of relatively small oil spills from its Frade field operation in the Campos basin. Indeed, the second — and tinier — of the spills may have resulted from natural seepage, rather than from the effects of drilling operations.

Nonetheless, Brazilian authorities have grabbed a big stick, including levying criminal charges against a dozen Chevron employees in Brazil. That’s occurred despite Brazil’s state-run Petrobras (NYS: PBR) having “skated” in the face of a trio of more sizable spills in the past several months.

Regarding Ecuador, however, I continue to scratch my noggin regarding a few significant, but unanswered, questions relating to the lingering Chevron contretemps:

  • Why has Petroecuador — like Petrobras in Brazil — been absolved of culpability for environmental damage in Ecuador, despite its holding a majority position in the original consortium and its continuing to work in the affected area long after  Texaco had bid adios to the country?
  • Based on their bi-lateral  treaty with the U.S., Ecuadorian authorities have been ordered by the  judges in The Hague to disallow the plaintiffs from attempting to collect on the judgment until the panel’s work has been completed. Doesn’t the Canadian suit place Ecuador in violation of its treaty with the U.S.?
  • Why, if their claims are legitimate and untainted by the sort of fraud that’s already been turned up in the      case, haven’t the plaintiffs’ attorneys sought enforcement of their claim in Chevron’s home country, where the largest amount of its assets is  located?


Ideally these questions will be answered before another pair of decades has passed. In the meantime, you may have a question about the attractiveness of Chevron as an investment in the face of sliding oil prices and its disputes in South America. My response: The company is solid, with quality management and sound operations globally. Further, while Exxon’s shares have declined by just over 10% since mid-March, Chevron’s have fallen by nearly 14%. As such, Chevron now trades at a 7.2 times forward P/E ratio, versus 8.8 times for Exxon

With all that in mind, along with my admittedly unlawyerly contention that the dual imbroglios discussed above will ultimately prove frivolous, I’m inclined to urge Fools to place Chevron on their individual versions of My Watchlist.

At the time this article was published Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn’t own shares in any of the companies named in this article. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Chevron and Petrobras. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

From the Motley Fool online post.

 

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Campaign and Ethics Violation Filed Against Prop A Proponent Quentin Kopp for Hiding California Waste Solutions as True Source of Prop A Last Minute Mailer

Kopp uses long dormant Committee to fund Prop A mailer

The No on Proposition A Campaign will file an ethics complaint today over the unethical action of Quentin Kopp’s Good Government Alliance committee. The complaint, filed with both the Fair Political Practices Commission and the San Francisco Ethics Commission, states that the long dormant group accepted a large contribution by California Waste Solutions, Inc., an out of town waste company, for the express purpose of distributing a Yes On A campaign mailer intended to mislead voters without disclosing its source of funding. This is a violation of state and local government election laws that require the disclosure of the true source of funds in political advertising.

“Since Prop A closed their campaign committee for lack of funding, we’ve been on the look out for inappropriate expenditures and sure enough – the last minute blitz of mail paid for by Waste Solutions,” said Gale Kaufman, the No on A campaign consultant. “You would think Quentin Kopp, a former Judge, who funneled this money through a long dormant committee he controls — would know the Ethics Laws and would abide by them.”

In addition to asking the FPPC and the Ethics Commission to rule on the violations of good government laws requiring the disclosure of the true source of funding for the mailer, the No on A campaign is also asking both enforcement agencies to look at other potential violations in which the committee falsely re-established itself as a general purpose committee in order to deceive the public by sounding like a neutral sounding third-party instead of as a primarily formed ballot measure committee supporting Proposition A.

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Fraud in Chevron Ecuador Case at Center of Controversy for Amazon Watch, Rainforest Action Network and New York’s Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli

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At right, Atossa Soltani, founder and director of Amazon Watch, with her arm around “Crude” director Joe Berlinger. The movie has exposed the case against Chevron by Amazon Watch, Rainforest Action Network and attorney Steven Donziger as a fraud.

 

Environmental groups Amazon Defense Coalition, Amazon Watch and Rainforest Action Network’s attempt to blame Chevron for alleged damage to the Ecuador rainforest took a major blow this past year as evidence counted to mount that they are simply front groups for the plaintiffs in a fraudulent lawsuit.

While the three groups are planning protests against Chevron at its annual shareholders’ meeting this week in San Ramon, Calif., all have been exposed as front organizations that have been funded by the plaintiffs in the case against Chevron.   Equally damning, New York’s comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli, who is leading a small shareholder’s challenge to Chevron, was paid with campaign contributions by the plaintiffs for his support of their cause, according to a New York Times story.

Chevron Corp. recently released a series of public information videos which provide never-seen-before evidence documenting the legal and scientific deceptions committed by the plaintiffs in the fraudulent $18 billion legal case against Chevron in Lago Agrio, Ecuador.

The case against Chevron in Ecuador was brought by U.S. plaintiffs’ lawyers, and funded by hedge funds and other speculators.  They even produced their own documentary film, Crude, as part of their multi-billion-dollar scheme.

But through legal discovery in the United States, Chevron has exposed the fraud using the plaintiffs’ own videotapes, emails, and internal documents.  This unimpeachable evidence—including over 600 hours of video outtakes from Crude—vividly depicts the falsification of evidence, judicial corruption, and government collusion permeating this litigation.

The videos contain outtakes from the movie “Crude” by Hollywood director Joe Berlinger as well as new video from depositions of lead plaintiff attorney Steven Donziger, plaintiffs’ Philadelphia attorney Joe Kohn, environmental experts Douglas Beltman and Ann Maest from Stratus Consulting in Denver, and other plaintiffs’ experts who admit that their submissions to the court in Ecuador were falsified and that no contamination exists by Chevron.

The evidence also shows that Amazon Defense Coalition, Amazon Watch and Rainforest Action Network are not independent environmental organizations, but in fact paid front organizations that represent the plaintiffs and do their bidding, according to the court documents.  DiNapoli’s meetings and the contributions that he received from the plaintiffs against Chevron were also exposed in the materials obtained by Chevron and submitted to the court.

At the heart of the fraud in Ecuador against Chevron is ‘independent’ environmental expert Richard Cabrera, who was appointed as an expert in the trial. The Lago Agrio court ordered him to “perform his duties . . . with complete impartiality and independence vis-á-vis the parties.”  Yet the same day as his appointment, lead plaintiffs’ attorney Steven Donziger arranged to have a secret bank account opened to pay bribes and hush money to Cabrera.  Donziger then arranged to have Philadelphia attorney Joe Kohn transfer $100,000 to the secret account once Cabrera’s work was underway, the videos prove.

Despite the secret agreements and his filing of plaintiffs’ work as his own, Cabrera emphatically stated his independence before the Ecuadorian court:  “I should clarify that I do not have any relation or agreements with the plaintiff, and it seems to me to be an insult against me that I should be linked with the attorneys of the plaintiffs.”

While having Cabrera pose as the Court’s independent expert, Donziger and attorney Joe Kohn hired U.S. contractors at Stratus Consulting to secretly draft Cabrera’s ‘independent’ report.  Stratus Consulting ghostwrote the Cabrera report in English, a language Cabrera does not speak, with the opening line – “This report was written by Richard Cabrera…to provide expert technical assistance to the Court in the case of Maria Aguinda y Otros vs ChevronTexaco Corporation.”

Shortly before the report was to be filed, it was translated into Spanish.  A forensic analysis of Plaintiffs’ lawyers’ computers revealed that on March 31, 2008 – the day before the Cabrera Report was filed – plaintiffs’ lawyers were putting the finishing touches on the report.

The “Cabrera Report” found on plaintiffs’ lawyers’ computers matches word-for-word the $16 billion damage assessment filed by Cabrera the next day, on April 1, 2008.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers continued their fraud by employing Stratus Consulting in Denver, an environmental consulting firm, to draft objections criticizing the Cabrera Report as “unjustly favorable to Chevron.” Plaintiffs’ lawyers and Stratus then ghostwrote a second report in Cabrera’s name, responding to their own criticisms and inflating the damages to over $27 billion.

In all, Stratus was paid nearly $1 million to secretly draft Cabrera’s report, criticize that report, and then respond to that criticism in Cabrera’s name. Commenting on their deception, Stratus Principal Douglas Beltman wrote:  “Oh what a tangled web…”

Ecuadorian attorney Pablo Fajardo denied the Plaintiffs’ relationship with Cabrera to the court and stated publicly:  “Chevron’s claim that Professor Cabrera is cooperating with the plaintiffs is completely false….Chevron is frightened by Cabrera precisely because he is an independent and credible expert.”

After reviewing this mountain of evidence of wrongdoing, one of the plaintiffs’ newly recruited U.S. lawyers concluded in a memo sent to fellow counsel that plaintiffs and Cabrera “can be charged with a ‘fraud’” and that Stratus “was an active conspirator.”

And in a discovery proceeding brought by Chevron against Stratus Consulting, at least two of the U.S. law firms representing plaintiffs withdrew from the case citing ethical reasons. With their case crumbling, the plaintiffs’ lawyers scrambled to devise a cover up.  They decided to try and “cleanse the record” by laundering the Cabrera Report’s conclusions through the mouths of six new experts.

Under oath, lead plaintiffs’ attorney Steven Donziger admitted that none of the new experts ever visited Ecuador, or “did any kind of new site inspection,” “new sampling,” or “environmental testing of any kind.” And the new “experts” admitted when deposed that they relied on the data and conclusions in the discredited Cabrera Report and did not conduct any independent.

Presented with evidence of the Cabrera report and cleansing expert frauds, courts across the United States have concluded that the plaintiffs’ Ecuador litigation is a massive fraud.

Reflecting the views of courts across the country, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina wrote:  “While this court is unfamiliar with the practices of the Ecuadorian judicial system, the court must believe that the concept of fraud is universal, and that what has blatantly occurred in this matter would in fact be considered fraud by any court.”

The video exposes that when the Ecuadorian lawyers found out that a US court had authorized discovery of their internal documents demonstrating their collusion with Cabrera, one wrote to Steven Donziger, “The effects are potentially devastating in Ecuador.  Apart from destroying the proceeding, all of us, your attorneys, might go to jail.”

Even though video and email evidence from the plaintiffs’ lawyers and consultants secretly acknowledged they have no evidence of environmental contamination in internal e-mails, the Ecuadorian court swept aside the undeniable evidence of fraud and issued an $18 billion judgment later proven ghostwritten by the plaintiffs’ lawyers.

Based on the same evidence of fraud ignored by the Ecuadorian court, an International Treaty Arbitration Tribunal ordered the Republic of Ecuador “to take all measures at its disposal to suspend or cause to be suspended the enforcement or recognition” of the Ecuadorian Judgment against Chevron.

Despite the fraud in the lawsuit, the corruption of Cabrera, and the clear evidence that the $18 billion judgment itself was ghostwritten, Ecuador claims the judgment is legitimate, and that Chevron should pay.  But Chevron remains committed to exposing the truth about the Lago Agrio lawsuit, and ensuring that the perpetrators of the fraud are brought to justice.

Filled with intrigue, accusations of corruption, bribery and dirty tricks, the complex case is now being fought on three fronts: Ecuador’s Supreme Court; a New York court handling the racketeering lawsuit filed by the Chevron against Steven Donziger and the plaintiffs and their experts; and an international arbitration tribunal in The Hague.

And, back here in the United States groups like Amazon Defense Coalition, Amazon Watch and Rainforest Action Network continue to present themselves as environmental organizations when the reality is that they are paid front groups that do the bidding of the plaintiffs in the case. New York comtroller DiNapoli is in the same boat.

As the New York Times reported: When Mr. DiNapoli took office in 2007…Mr. Donziger sent an e-mail to allies in the environmental movement, according to the court records.

“The advantage of a guy like this,” Mr. Donziger wrote, “is that he is political, meaning, if we show him how he can look good going after Chevron, he might be even more likely to help us.”

In a January 2009 e-mail, Mr. Donziger told an assistant to deliver a number of campaign contributions to Mr. DiNapoli, and to write one check from Mr. Donziger’s personal account.

“Take checks to his office and deliver them personally,” he wrote. “However, call me before u do this — I am worried this might not be a great idea.”

State campaign filings show that several thousand dollars were contributed to Mr. DiNapoli’s campaign at the time by Mr. Donziger and others on the plaintiffs’ side.

In May 2011 Mr. Di Napoli said that the case “is looming like a hammer over shareholders’ heads,” and called on the company to settle it to repair its “grave reputational damage.”

Last month he repeated the demand. A spokesman for Mr. DiNapoli, Eric Sumberg, said the comptroller’s involvement in the case had nothing to do with lobbying or campaign contributions.

It “is directly attributable to the potential impact of a negative legal outcome that would have an economic impact on the Common Retirement Fund,” Mr. Sumberg said.

Ms. Hinton (the publicist for the Amazon Defense Coalition) pointed out that Chevron had contributed millions of dollars to political campaigns during the course of the lawsuit.

“It’s Chevron’s right to do that, but when we contribute a few thousands, it’s a criminal conspiracy,” she said.

 

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The Gold Dust Lounge in San Francisco is History: Tourist Bar to Move to Fisherman’s Wharf

 

The Gold Dust Lounge will shut its doors Wednesday, May 23, and move into a new location at Fisherman’s Wharf sometime in the next four months, according to a source close to the bar.

A press conference will be held at 2:30 Wednesday at the bar, 247 Powell St., to announce that the bar and lounge will fold its tent and move to an undisclosed location at Fisherman’s Wharf.

Recently, the bar was sued by its landlord, the Handlery family, which owns the building where the bar is situated for failing to abide by the terms of its lease and staying beyond the term of its lease.  The bar and its owners, the Bovis brothers, lost a series of legal rulings this past week that sealed its fate.

The Gold Dust tried to use public relations tactics to overcome the fact that the bar didn’t have a lease.  One of its previous attempts to remain on Powell Street was to seek historic status from the City of San Francisco, but the bar suffered a setback when the Historic Preservation Commission decided against granting it landmark status.

Supporters of the 47-year-old bar near Union Square hoped the designation would help save the business from being evicted by the building’s owners, the Handlery family. Next, the bar’s supporters sought help from Supervisor Christina Olague, who said she planned to introduce legislation that would override the agency, whose members said the bar had cultural significance but did not meet criteria for historic landmark designation.

But the supervisor changed her mind. She told the board she’d “respect the process” and stay out of the fight.

The day after the Historic Preservation Commission’s ruling, attorneys for the Handlery family filed a lawsuit against Jim and Tasios Bovis, who run the bar, accusing them of intentionally breaching their contract. The Bovises, in turn, sued their landlords, saying they were intimidated into signing their contract.

The battle over the watering hole started in December last year, when the Handlery family, who wants to put an Express store in the Gold Dust’s space, exercised a clause in its lease and gave the Bovises three months to clear out. The Bovises refused to leave.

At that time, Lee Houskeeper, a spokesman for the Bovises, said bar supporters would appeal the Historic Preservation Commission’s decision to the Board of Supervisors within a month. But the bar never did.

At that time, Houskeeper bragged: “We’re going to keep pouring,” he added. “We’re not going anywhere soon.”

But the Bovises and Houskeeper changed their tune this week after the bar lost a series of three important legal decisions this past week to the Handlery family.

Now the tourist bar is moving to a tourist location, Fisherman’s Wharf, where it can continue to pour drinks like it has since 1966, when the Bovises first started the lounge in the Handlery building on Powell Street.

The biggest question is why the Bovises (and their mouthpiece Houskeeper) didn’t move in the first place, except that they would have lost the publicity and income that comes from flogging a dying bar.  And, of course, who in San Francisco doesn’t like a good ‘ol tenant landlord dispute? It only makes everyone drink more. Just ask the Bovis’ attorney Joe Cotchett who got his hat handed to him by the court and led to the bar finally giving up the ghost and moving to Fisherman’s Wharf.  He will most likely be drowning his loss with a few drinks at the Gold Dust Bar in its final hours, courtesy of the Bovis brothers, no doubt.

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San Francisco Welcomes America’s Cup Fever Construction at Pier 27 for Spectator Village Begins with Mayoral Welcome, Crowds, Digital Sailing Competition

The first blush of San Francisco’s excitement for the 2013 America’s Cup was made evident today as hundreds of fans and dignitaries joined in celebrating the ceremonial signing of the agreement for the City to host the America’s Cup in 2013, complete with popping champagne corks, the America’s Cup itself and a digital competition between Mayor Ed Lee and four time America’s Cup winner Sir Russell Coutts.

pier-271

The event celebrated the start of construction on Pier 27, which will serve as the heart of the spectator village for the America’s Cup as well as the start and finish line for the Louis Vuitton Cup race from July 4 to Sept. 1, 2013, and the America’s Cup Match Finals from Sept. 7 to 22, 2013.

“The America’s Cup will bring new life, new amenities and new excitement to San Francisco’s waterfront,” said Mayor Lee. “This great race, this grand tradition, this remarkable 161-year-old competition is part of the revitalization and refurbishment of this pier and our City’s waterfront.”

Mayor Lee signed the agreement for San Francisco to host the America’s Cup in front of hundreds of people gathered together to celebrate the momentous occasion that makes way for this world-renowned competitive sailing event to be held in the natural sailing amphitheater of the San Francisco Bay and be broadcast worldwide by NBC Sports and a host of international television networks.

“Never in the history of the sport has there been such an extraordinary opportunity to bring competitive sailing to the people,” said Sir Russell, head of ORACLE TEAM USA. “This venue will be transformed into the starting and finish line, an amphitheater and a racing village highlighting the excitement of the America’s Cup. This is where the action and magic of the America’s Cup will come alive.”

Construction at Pier 27 is now under way and will be completed in February 2013. The Racing Village will feature an amphitheater for 10,000 fans, entertainment including live music and dance, exhibitions of past America’s Cup winners, and other exciting celebrations of the America’s Cup festival.

In addition, Pier 30/32 will provide a real “pit row” experience for fans to see the sailors, boats and international teams up close and personal.

After signing the agreement, Mayor Lee and Sir Russell competed in a friendly ‘digital sail-off’ on “The America’s Cup: Speed Trials” app available free on iPhones and iPads via the Apple App Store.

“I might have a hard time keeping up with Russell in a real race, but with this game I feel like I have a chance,” joked Mayor Lee. “But he’s still pretty good and I think I need some more practice.”

Also featured at the celebration was the America’s Cup itself, which is the oldest trophy in international sport, and is affectionately known as the “Auld Mug.” It was on display for public viewing after the event, one of a number of stops throughout the world leading up to the America’s Cup in 2013.

San Francisco will begin to experience America’s Cup racing later this year as part of the 2012-2013 America’s Cup World Series. The World Series brings the best sailors in the fastest boats to cities around the world. The next event will take place next month in Venice, Italy, May 15 to 20 before moving to Newport, R.I. in June and then coming to San Francisco in the Fall.

About the America’s Cup

One of the most fiercely competitive and sought after trophies in all of sport, the America’s Cup was first raced in 1851, 45 years before the modern Olympics. The U.S. yacht America won, giving the international sailing competition its name.

The next Louis Vuitton Cup (July-August 2013) and America’s Cup Match (September 2013) will be held for the first time in San Francisco Bay, a natural sailing arena where more than one million spectators are expected. The entry deadline is June 1, 2012.

Sponsors and partners of the America’s Cup include Louis Vuitton, Puma, YouTube, Hanson Bridgett Law Firm, Garmin, Moet, Althelia, PWC, Napa Valley visitors authority, SPG.

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New Chevron Videos Expose Evidence of Fraud Against Oil Company In Ecuador Case

Chevron Corporation today released a series of videos to demonstrate that the case against the oil company in Ecuador is based on fraud and deceit. Visit: http://www.theamazonpost.com/video

Chevron released seven videos that provide a never-seen-before look at the case in Ecuador. From the history of oil production in region to the pervasive fraud plaguing the litigation, the videos detail all aspects of the legal and scientific deceptions committed by the plaintiffs’ team in pursuit of a misguided and meritless lawsuit, according to the company.

The videos allow viewers to see new footage from Hollywood Director Joe Berlinger’s movie “Crude,” which was made and financed by plaintiffs against Chevron, but turned into their greatest weapon in proving the fraud behind the case.

Also, evidence shows for the first time, lead plaintiff attorney Steven Donziger in deposition videos personally describing how he directed a number of questionable actions that promoted the fraud against Chevron and Texaco, its predecessor in Ecuador.

Under oath, attorney Steven Donziger admits on tape that none of the recent environmental experts ever visited Ecuador or “did any kind of new site inspection,” “new sampling,” or “environmental testing of any kind.” And the new plaintiffs’ experts admitted when deposed that they relied on the data and conclusions in the discredited Cabrera Report and did not conduct any independent sampling.

Also featured in the videos are the plaintiffs’ Philadelphia attorney Joe Kohn, environmental experts from Stratus Consulting in Denver, and other plaintiffs’ experts who admit that their submissions to the court in Ecuador were falsified and that no contamination exists by Chevron.

Most importantly, the videos present unassailable evidence and admissions by the plaintiffs, on tape and in emails, that the ‘independent report’ by Richard Cabrera that found alleged contamination in Ecuador was mostly written by plaintiffs themselves. The “Cabrera Report” found on plaintiffs’ lawyers’ computers matches word-for-word the multi-billion damage assessment filed by Cabrera the next day, on April 1, 2008.

The videos reveal that the final judgment for $18 billion against Chevron in Ecuador was crafted and ghostwritten by the plaintiffs who provided it to Judge Nicholas Zambrano to make it appear as if it was the opinion of the Ecuadorian justice system.

The videos are proof positive that Chevron will likely prevail in the courts and legal systems outside of the corrupt Banana-Republic of Ecuador, which has been manipulated by the plaintiffs. Now that courts in the United States and the World Court in Den Hague are looking into the case, Chevron has a real opportunity continue to expose the fraud and turn the tables on the plaintiffs and the environmental organizations, such as Amazon Watch and Rainforest Action Network, that fronted for the unethical and fraudulent case concocted against Chevron.

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Rita Moreno to Host Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s ONSTAGE Gala

By Bethany Rickwald, TheaterMania
Award-winning actress Rita Moreno will host Berkeley Rep‘s ONSTAGE Gala, beginning at 5:30pm on April 28 at the Four Seasons San Francisco.

The evening will feature a gourmet dinner prepared by Mark Richardson, wines and spirits, and bidding led by Fritz Hatton on getaways and culinary adventures.

The honorary committee for the event includes Gerson and Barbara Bakar, Rena Bransten, Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson and Maria Carson, Narsai and Venus David, State Senator Loni Hancock and Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, Daniel Handler and Lisa Brown, Doug Housley, David Henry Hwang, U.S. Representative Barbara Lee, Michael Mayer, Mandy Patinkin, State Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, Garen and Shari Staglin, and Michael Tilson Thomas and Joshua Robison.

Moreno won an Academy Award for West Side Story and received a Tony Award for her performance inThe Ritz. She has also won two Emmys for her work on The Muppet Show and The Rockford Files. Her performance on The Electric Company Album earned her the Grammy Award in 1972.

For more information and tickets to Berkeley Rep’s ONSTAGE Gala, click here.

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Chevron loses tax appeal in Contra Costa County


By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
From the Contra Costa Times

MARTINEZ — Chevron has lost an appeal of the property values assigned to its Richmond refinery and will pay an additional estimated $26.7 million in taxes rather than collect a refund worth nearly three times that amount.

The county, cities and special districts heaved a big sigh of relief at Monday morning’s Assessment Appeals Board decision, which could have forced public agencies to repay Chevron as much as $73 million.
Chevron had accused Contra Costa Assessor Gus Kramer of intentionally driving up the refinery’s taxable values between 2007-2009.

But the three-member panel said the evidence showed Kramer actually undervalued the Richmond operation by 10 to 23 percent. It raised the refinery’s fair market values, respectively, at $3.7 billion, $4.4 billion and $3.8 billion for 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Chevron put the values substantially lower at $1.8 billion, $1.4 billion and $1.1 billion for the same years.
Two years ago, the oil company received a $17 million refund on its 2004-2006 property taxes based on a prior appeal’s board decision. Chevron filed a lawsuit in Superior Court, which is still pending.

Chevron has also appealed its 2010 and 2011 assessed values. Hearings start April 16.

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SIMS METAL MANAGEMENT ANNOUNCES PROPOSED MAJOR COMMITMENT AT PORT

Redwood City, California Shredding and Export Facility Proposed for Enhancement & Expansion

Sims Metal Management’s North American Metal’s business (Sims) announced today a proposal to strengthen its commitment to a working waterfront in the Port of Redwood City (Port) by announcing its proposed plan to embark on a major expansion and upgrade of its Redwood City facility to increase export and processing capacity, improve efficiency and further strengthen its environmental sustainability. Sims is proposing to invest upward of $10 million dollars to make its Port facility a fully integrated scrap metal export powerhouse: a full-service shredding, processing, and export facility. The proposed growth is an extension of the more than $10 million worth of investments already made to improve operational efficiencies and reduce its environmental footprint in the last two years.  Sims is a division of Sims Metal Management Limited, the world’s largest publicly traded metal and electronics recycling company, and the 11th ranked company on the Global Top 100 Most Sustainable Corporations as announced at the 2012 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The contemplated expansion will help reinvigorate Port infrastructure and create much needed sustainable “green collar” industrial jobs. The potential job growth not only benefits the Port and the regional economy, but also the environment, through increased and improved recycling. This proposed expansion will potentially double the number of long-term “green collar” jobs at the facility from 60 to approximately 120, in addition to numerous construction, engineering and supporting function jobs.  It also would constitute a significant infrastructure investment in Port property, and would include both improvements to existing equipment and the addition of new types of scrap processing equipment.  The contemplated expansion will yet again allow Sims to set the bar higher on leading edge recycling in the Bay Area and Northern California.

This potential investment would also bring significant benefits to the Port, the only working deep-water port in the South San Francisco Bay and one of the few bulk cargo ports in the entire Bay Area. In continuous operation for more than 160 years, the strategically located Port is accessible by ship, rail and truck. These attributes have enabled the Port of Redwood City to become the fastest growing “small” bulk port in California and to deliver on a host of environmental and economic benefits to Redwood City and the Bay Area Region.

“Due to its mid-Peninsula location, the Port of Redwood City has shown that it is an ideal location for a major recycling operation, as evidenced by the success of our current operations. The enhancements we propose to make could double the number of well-paying “green-collar” recycling jobs, while also increasing environmental safeguards and protecting the Bay,” said Steve Shinn, President – West Region, North America Metals. “We share the belief of the Port, the City of Redwood City and the County that it is important for the region to sustain a mix of industries that offer Bay Area residents a variety of well-paying jobs, while maintaining the critical jobs/housing/open space balance.  We are committed to being part of that working waterfront and will continue to responsibly deploy our public shareholders precious capital with respect to this commitment.”

“Sims’ plan to expand its operations in Redwood City would amplify the benefits that the Port already provides to the community and region.  Redwood City can be proud of the fact that its Port is one of the largest centers of recycling in Northern California, and greater capacity for metal recycling would certainly enhance this environmental asset,” stated Greg Greenway, Executive Director of Seaport Industrial Association. “It would also advance the City’s vision of job diversity and a thriving industrial sector as part of the long-term growth of the local economy.  The New General Plan embraces the value of a working waterfront and the need to plan for a healthy Port long into the future.  Sims’ proposal is forward looking and directly in line with that goal.”

In addition to the improvements proposed for its recycling facility, Sims is supporting and would assist with other improvements to enhance the value of the Port and its utility for all users.  At the top of this list is the proposed dredging plan to deepen the Port channel and allow access by larger draft vessels. Additional priorities are the installation or improvement of other Port infrastructure and the establishment of a much-needed buffer zone through the siting of additional industrial businesses such as warehouses and light industry or through the restoration of wetlands that would separate the heavy industrial operations in the Port from other land uses located to the east of Seaport Blvd.

Sims is committed to the Port, to the region and to recycling.  Last year, Sims Metal Management shipped more than 300,000 tons of recycled steel out of the Port of Redwood City.  As one of the top 20 exporters from the United States, Sims is recognized as an important engine in the restoration of the balance of payments of the United States economy. The proposed improvements at the Port of Redwood City would increase the export tonnage from the Port considerably, resulting in more jobs and more revenue for the Port and Redwood City.  Recycling is as vital to the environment as it is to the economy: The use of recycled steel avoids the need for mining virgin iron ore for the production of new steel products. The recycled materials are captured from end-of-life vehicles, appliances and other end-of-life metal products that would otherwise end up in landfills, or left along the sides of roads or in abandoned lots.   Sims looks forward to continuing to engage in dialogue with those stakeholders interested in seeing more recycling, more jobs and an improved, stronger Port in Redwood City.

# # #


About Sims Metal Management
Sims Metal Management is the world’s largest listed metal recycler with approximately 270 facilities and 6,600 employees globally. Sims’ core businesses are metal recycling and electronics recycling. Sims Metal Management generated approximately 85 percent of its revenue from operations in North America, the United Kingdom, Continental Europe, New Zealand and Asia in Fiscal 2011. The Company’s ordinary shares are listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX: SGM) and its ADRs are listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: SMS). Please visit our website (www.simsmm.com) for more information on the Company and recent developments.

For further information contact

Daniel Strechay
Group Director – Communications & Public Relations
Tel: +1 212 500 7430

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Mayor Lee and BOS Announce Series to Engage Residents in the City’s Budget

Mayor Edwin M. Lee has announced a number of Community Engagement events to get the public more involved in the budget process and educate residents about the Mayor’s budget principles as he builds a balanced two-year budget. The Mayor will co-host District Based Budget Town Halls with the Board of Supervisors and will also provide online forums to hear directly from San Franciscans about their budget priorities and ideas; and their issues and concerns as the City balances its first ever two-year budget.

“We need to hear directly from our residents about the issues that matter most to them,” said Mayor Lee. “We must build a balanced budget that not only ensures that San Franciscans get the city services they need, but one that will set the City on a steady course to fiscal solvency. My goal is to stimulate the local economy, create good jobs, and encourage innovative efficiencies within City departments and programs, and I am eager to share these principles with the public and hear directly from them.”

As part of the budget process, Mayor Lee will continue to meet with the Board of Supervisors, community based organizations and advocacy groups, neighborhood leaders, labor representatives, representatives of City Commissions, and Department Heads to discuss budget priorities and innovative cost savings ideas. He will also begin a series of Community Coffees that will last throughout the year where the public can call in and schedule an appointment to discuss specific topics with the mayor in their neighborhood.

Schedule of Town Halls with District Supervisors

Districts 5 & 6 with Supervisors Christina Olague & Jane Kim

Thursday, March 29, 2012 (6:00 – 7:30 p.m.)

Tenderloin Community School, 627 Turk Street

Districts 8 & 9 with Supervisors Scott Wiener & David Campos

Wednesday, April 4, 2012 (6:30 – 8:00 p.m.)

Horace Mann Middle School, 3351 23rd Street

Districts 2 & 3 with Supervisors Mark Farrell & David Chiu

Monday, April 9, 2012 (6:00 – 7:30 p.m.)

Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center, 660 Lombard Street

Districts 4 & 7 with Supervisors Carmen Chu & Sean Elsbernd

Saturday, April 14, 2012 (10 – 11:30 a.m.)

San Francisco Zoo, 1 Zoo Road

Districts 1 & 5 with Supervisors Eric Mar & Christina Olague

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 (6 – 7:30 p.m.)

County Fair Building, Golden Gate Park

District 10 & 11 with Supervisors Malia Cohen & John Avalos

Saturday, April 28, 2012 (10 – 11:30 a.m.)

City Arts and Technology High School, 325 La Grande Avenue

To join Mayor Lee for Citywide Community Coffees, residents are invited to call 311, where they can leave their name, contact information, and brief details about the issue they would like to discuss with the Mayor. Participants in the community coffee with Mayor Lee will be selected at random. Residents will be notified of their appointment the Thursday prior to the meeting.

Schedule of Community Coffees with Mayor Lee

Saturday, March 10, 2012 – District 11

Saturday, April 21, 2012 – District 6

Saturday, May 19, 2012 – District 1

Saturday, June 9, 2012 – District 8 & 9

Saturday, July 14, 2012 – District 10

Saturday, September 15, 2012 – Districts 4 & 7

Saturday, October 13, 2012 – District 5

In the coming weeks, Mayor Lee will launch a new and innovative series of budget outreach efforts to engage San Francisco residents around the budget and introduce a suite of technologies to support these efforts including a more robust City employee driven ideas portal called ideas.sfgov. In coordination with the Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation, Mayor Lee will engage a wide audience in ways that can create exciting avenues for members of the public to participate in the budget process. Social media tools like Twitter and Facebook, ideation platforms and live streaming will make it possible to dialogue with the City in this important process that affects us as we continue to deliver vital City services.

As part of the goal to create an inclusive budget process, Mayor Lee will also hold a lunchtime digital townhall on Google+ following the success of the White House Google+ Hangout with President Obama. Recognizing that it is sometimes difficult to make it to the traditional community townhall meetings, Mayor Lee is creating an alternate mode to get the public engaged in the process. Mayor Lee will be the first Mayor of a large city to engage residents using the Google+ Hangout platform. The Mayor will sit at the Hub, a San Francisco co-working space, where he will field live questions during the Google+ Budget Hangout. More details to come.

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San Francisco Awarded Major Grant to Train and Reskill City Residents to Fill Growing Number of High-Tech Jobs

This week Mayor Edwin M. Lee launched TechSF to train and reskill San Francisco residents for the City’s growing number of technology and IT jobs, announcing a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Technical Skills Training Grants program to jumpstart funding for the City’s major new workforce training initiative. Mayor Lee was joined at the announcement at Year Up Bay Area by members of the Board of Supervisors, U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s Office and partners from technology companies and workforce training organizations.

“Ensuring San Francisco residents have the skills and training they need to work in our City’s growing number of high tech jobs is a cornerstone of our economic strategies and critical to making sure our economic recovery reaches every neighborhood of our City,” said Mayor Lee. “This major grant from the Department of Labor for our TechSF initiative will bring City residents, technology companies and our workforce training partners together to train and reskill our residents to ‘win the future’ for San Francisco, in the words of President Obama. I want to thank the President, Secretary Solis and Leader Pelosi for strengthening public-private partnerships and investing in workforce training for our residents so that they can get the good jobs so many of our tech companies are creating right here in San Francisco today.”

“Securing this grant and investing in TechSF will train San Franciscans for the jobs of tomorrow; spur our fast-growing IT industry; strengthen and create new career and educational pathways for San Francisco’s workforce; and meet the needs of entrepreneurs and businesses large and small,” said Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. “With this grant, we can put more people to work in high-growth, high-tech occupations, and we can ensure unemployed San Franciscans have the skills and background necessary to secure and keep good-paying jobs.”

“The federal grant awards announced today will provide U.S. workers with the training they need to succeed in the high tech, high-growth jobs of the future,” said U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. “Developing a strong and vibrant workforce that fits the needs of American businesses is critical to forming an America built to last.”

In San Francisco, the TechSF grant will serve local jobseekers that are currently underrepresented in the IT sector, especially the long-term unemployed. In addition to providing education, training and job placement assistance, the grant will enhance sector partnerships, create new pathways to high-wage and high-growth careers, and integrate San Francisco’s education, training and industry efforts in the local Information Technology sector.

The San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) partnered with WestEd, IBM, AT&T, City College of San Francisco and a consortium of San Francisco-based employers and community-based organizations to apply for this grant to create the TechSF Initiative to raise the technical skill of San Francisco workers.

The TechSF initiative is based on a highly successful program model, which includes building career pathways and training for in-demand skills in the rapidly changing technology industry. The partnership targets two groups of workers. One target group is local workers seeking jobs in the technology sector, at least 75 percent of whom will have been unemployed for longer than six months. The project intends to train and place more than 300 workers in this category into positions paying $25 – $50 per hour. The project’s employer consortium will help recruit participants, provide internship and work experience opportunities, and interview and hire participants who successfully complete the program.

The other target group is more than 1,400 employees in the San Francisco offices of IBM and AT&T who need training to remain competitive in their current jobs and advance into more highly skilled positions. Employees trained through this program currently earn an average hourly wage of $28 -$60 per hour. The TechSF initiative will result in 97 percent of all participants earning an industry recognized credential or degree, and 93 percent working in IT jobs after they complete training.

WestEd will serve as the project manager partner for this grant. WestEd is a national non-partisan, not-for-profit agency headquartered in San Francisco. Since 1966, WestEd has developed research, products, and policy for improving learning and human development.

“This workforce development project addresses the real needs of many San Franciscans,” said WestEd CEO Glen Harvey. “We’re proud and excited to collaborate with such innovative partners to increase career education opportunity in our community.”

Other companies participating in the grant program and initial TechSF initiative include AT&T, IBM Corporation, Riverbed Technology, Sega, CBS Interactive, UCSF Medical Center, Artisan Creative, CAL Insurance, The Exploratorium, Responsys, MicroMenders, Mozilla, Send Me, salesforce.com and Atlassian.

“The tech community in San Francisco is proud to play a leading role in making sure City residents get the skills and training they need to move into the City’s growing number of tech jobs, and this grant is a real boost to our collective efforts,” said Chair of the San Francisco Citizens Initiative for Technology & Innovation (sf.citi) and Special Partner of SV Angel Ron Conway. “sf.citi is looking forward to a continued partnership with Mayor Lee and the City’s TechSF initiative to create good jobs and focused IT training programs to employ City residents.”

Creating apprenticeships and job training initiatives – whether for young people coming out of high school and college or for those in need of reskilling in the middle of their careers – are critical parts of Mayor Lee’s 17-Point Economic Plan for Good Jobs & Opportunity for San Francisco.

SEE RELATED ARTICLES:

http://www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/?p=167281 ONE KINGS LANE – Brings 220 Jobs to Central Market

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Obama’s Proposed Federal Budget Recommends $150 Million for Central Subway Project

Obama’s Proposed Federal Budget Recommends $150 Million for Central Subway Project

RIVERBED TECHNOLOGY – Signs Long Term Lease for World Headquarters at 680 Folsom Street

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On Scene with Bill Wilson HRC Goes AFER Chad Griffin

Los Angeles, CA – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) announced that Chad Griffin, Founding Board Member of the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), will become the next president of HRC.

imagea Chad Griffin (Left)listens to Ted Olsen and David Boies respond to questions after a session of the federal trial. (Photo by Bill Wilson)

AFER is the sole sponsor of Perry v. Brown, the federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8. After bringing together Theodore B. Olson and David Boies to lead its legal team, AFER successfully advanced the Perry case through Federal District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Foundation is committed to achieving full federal marriage equality for all Americans.

HRC is the nation’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

“I cannot think of anyone better to take the helm of the Human Rights Campaign than my dear friend and colleague Chad Griffin,” said AFER lead co-counsel Theodore B. Olson. “There is no one more passionate, more resourceful or more effective than Chad. His brilliant and visionary leadership makes me confident that one day, very soon, every American will be treated equally under the law. HRC is extraordinarily lucky to have him.”

imageb David Boies and Ted Olson (Photo by Bill Wilson)

“Time after time over the past several years, Chad has proven that he is easily one of the most skilled strategists and tacticians in American politics today,” said AFER lead co-counsel David Boies. “That is a rare combination of skill sets for one person to have. His diplomacy, his intellect and his passion for issues of equality are second to none. I cannot think of a better person to lead HRC into the future.”

imagecRob Reiner  (Photo by Bill Wilson)

“The federal constitutional challenge to Proposition 8, Perry v. Brown, would never have happened without the vision and tenacity of my dear friend Chad Griffin,” said AFER Founding Board Member Rob Reiner. “His incomparable leadership has brought us one step closer toward completing America’s last great civil rights struggle. My congratulations go out to Chad on this great honor and to the Human Rights Campaign for picking a brilliant leader as its next president.”

imaged AFER team on way to trial in District court Adam Umhoefer (left) and Chad Griffin (right) (Photo by Bill Wilson)

“Chad is a visionary leader who not only dreams the impossible, but also accomplishes it,” said AFER Executive Director Adam Umhoefer. “His bold determination to challenge Proposition 8 in federal court combined with his ability to transcend partisan and ideological boundaries have forever changed the way the nation thinks about equality for LGBT Americans. There is no better person than Chad Griffin to lead the Human Rights Campaign and their millions of supporters.”

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Gold Dust Landmark Submission is Pyrite Effort Property Owners Speak Against ‘Historic’ Designation for Tourist Bar

The tenants of the Gold Dust Lounge, a tourist bar since 1966, are seeking historic landmark status, but the owners of the property call the effort a mockery of historic preservation.


The Handlery family, which owns the Elkan Gunst Building at 301 Geary Street, already designated a Category 1 Significant Landmark, is speaking out to oppose the application by their tenant, the Gold Dust Lounge, to have the bar inside the building listed as an historic landmark itself.


“The attempt to use San Francisco’s important landmark process to give historical status to the Gold Dust Lounge is a cynical attempt to misuse the process in a landlord and tenant dispute,” said Sam Singer, a spokesman for the Handlery family which owns the property.


The proposal by the Gold Dust Lounge for historical preservation comes on the heels of the landlord providing notice to the Bar, according to the agreed upon conditions of their lease, that it had 90 days to find a new location for their establishment. The land marking effort is a tactic by the bar to remain in the building, but it won’t work because the lease for the Gold

Dust Lounge expires in early March and they must be out by that date or face significant legal and financial penalties.


The materials to landmark the bar, submitted by the Gold Dust Lounge, appear to be grasping to pull together a comprehensive history of this schizophrenic bar. In the report the author tried to explain how the bar is an example of an “American’ cocktail lounge of the mid-twentieth century’ with art deco overlaid by ‘Gay Nineties’ and a bar ‘associated with important aspects of the San Francisco nightlife culture.’” The description begs the question, what exactly is the historical importance of the Gold Dust Lounge?


Back in the 1985 submittal to landmark the entire Elkan Gunst Building, the interior of the Gold Dust Lounge was rated as “fair/poor” and was not deemed worthy of inclusion into the historical designation of the Handlery’s building as a character-defining feature then, and should not be considered one now, Singer said.


The 1960’s bar does not convey, nor contribute to the historical significance of the Elkan Gunst Building. The baroque style of the historic building and the Kearny-Market-Mason-Sutter Conversion District is historically respectable unlike the tawdry exterior of the Gold Dust Lounge, he added.


The proposition that the bar could be individually eligible for the land marking status under the well-established National Register Criteria is meritless and is discouraged by the Office of Historic Preservation and various National Register Bulletins. The criterion for this honor applies to properties significant for their design or construction, including such elements as architecture, landscape architecture, engineering or artwork. It cannot be sufficient that a bar is an example of an “American’ cocktail lounge of the mid-twentieth century,” as suggested – there is no scarcity of those. There, Singer added, the landmark status should be rejected by the preservation board.



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Obama’s Proposed Federal Budget Recommends $150 Million for Central Subway Project


Mayor Edwin M. Lee and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) announced on Tuesday that the federal government has once again demonstrated strong support for planned improvements to public transportation in San Francisco. President Barack Obama’s federal budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2013 includes a recommendation for $150 million in funding for the Central Subway Project and $10 million to implement bus rapid transit on Van Ness Avenue.

“These crucial investments in our City’s transportation infrastructure continue to receive strong support from the highest levels of the federal government,” said Mayor Lee. “We thank President Obama, Democratic Leader Pelosi, Senators Feinstein and Boxer and all our federal partners for their consistent leadership and their commitment to improving public transit, creating jobs and investing in San Francisco.”

“President Obama’s budget reinforces the federal government’s commitment to creating jobs and reducing congestion in San Francisco with the Central Subway,” said Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. “I will continue my work, along with Mayor Lee and local business and community leaders, to ensure the Central Subway becomes a reality for San Franciscans.”

ctRendering of Union Square/Market Street station – north entrance

The New Starts program of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recommended funding for the Central Subway. The FTA’s Annual Report on Funding Recommendations, which was released today, demonstrates the federal government’s support for the Central Subway Project. For the fifth consecutive year, the planned 1.7-mile extension of the T Third Line received a rating of medium-high – the highest rating given this year to projects currently undergoing the New Starts review process.

According to the FTA report, the Central Subway Project is one of only six projects nationwide that are on track to receive a Full Funding Grant Agreement, the formal agreement of federal financial assistance through New Starts, by the end of FY2013. The submitted an application for full funding in September 2011 and is expecting a decision this Spring.

New Starts has awarded $92.4 million to the Central Subway Project to date. The project is expected to cost about $1.6 billion in total, with the federal government contributing close to $1 billion.

The Central Subway Project is the second phase of the SFMTA’s Third Street Light Rail Project. So far, the Third Street Light Rail Project has received $256.8 million in federal funding, including $123.4 million for Phase One of the project. Phase One constructed the 5.2-mile segment of the T-Third Line currently in service between the Sunnydale Station in Bayshore and SoMa’s 4th Street Caltrain Station. The SFMTA will receive 50 percent of the funding for the Third Street Light Rail Project from federal sources.

The FTA report also gave a medium-high rating to the Van Ness Avenue Bus Rapid Transit project, recommending $10 million in funding in FY2013 through the Small Starts program. The Small Starts program invests up to $75 million in transit projects with total projects costs of less than $250 million.

The total cost of the Van Ness Avenue Bus Rapid Transit project is projected to be $125.6 million, including about $75 million in planned federal support. The project would improve bus travel along this crowded corridor by creating a dedicated bus lane along a two-mile stretch of Van Ness Avenue, from Van Ness Avenue and Lombard Street in the north to South Van Ness Avenue and Mission Street in the south. The project will also enhance pedestrian safety, upgrade bus shelters and optimize traffic signal operations, among other improvements.

“These projects will reduce congestion, decrease emissions and improve access to jobs, education and cultural amenities for the communities they serve,” said SFMTA Director of Transportation Edward D. Reiskin. “We are incredibly grateful for the continued support of the federal government, and we look forward to more good news from Washington.”

ct1Rendering of Mezzanine, Chinatown Station

About the Central Subway Project

The Central Subway Project will extend the T-Third Line from the 4th Street Caltrain Station to Chinatown, providing a direct, rapid transit link from the Bayshore and Mission Bay areas to SoMa and downtown. Four new stations will be built along the alignment—an above-ground station at 4th and Brannan Streets and three underground stations at Moscone Center, Union Square and Chinatown.

The Central Subway Project is the second phase of the SFMTA’s Third Street Light Rail Transit Project. The first segment of the T-Third Line began revenue service in April 2007, restoring light rail service to a high transit-ridership area of San Francisco for the first time in 50 years. Service on the Central Subway is expected to begin in 2019.

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Name Project Quilt Returns to SF


SAN FRANCISCO’S CASTRO DISTRICT HOSTS LARGEST SHOWING OF AIDS MEMORIAL QUILT IN 25 YEARS

images

To occur the week of Valentine’s Day, free exhibition will honor those loved and lost over the past three decades

San Francisco, CA – Courtesy of Under One Roof (www.underoneroof.org), the NAMES Project Foundation (www.aidsquilt.org), the AIDS Emergency Fund (www.aef-sf.org), and San Francisco businessman Petyr Kane, sections of the renowned AIDS Memorial Quilt will be shown at various locations in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood the week of February 12 – 20, 2012.

Timed in concert with Valentine’s Day when many reflect on those they’ve loved, the exhibition is the largest San Francisco showing of the Quilt since its original home on Market Street closed in 1999. Sections of the Quilt will be shown at five locations throughout the week: the primary exhibition will take place the former Tower Records store at 2278 Market Street; other locations include the Under One Roof gift shop at 518A Castro Street, Catch restaurant at 2362 Market Street (where the Quilt and Under One Roof were initially housed), Bank of America at 501 Castro Street and BODY clothing store at 450 Castro Street.

The 2278 Market Street exhibit will feature 35 12’ x 12’ ‘Blocks’, or completed quilts, each comprised of eight 6’ x 3’ memorial panels – each panel created especially for one individual stricken by the AIDS crisis. The additional Quilt exhibits will house one 12’ x 12’ Block each.

The main Market Street exhibit will be open to the public free of charge from 12:00 noon – 8:00pm from Sunday, February 12th through Monday, February 20th.  At 12:00 noon on the 12th, a traditional unfolding ceremony will be held, during which a traditional ‘reading of the names’ of those memorialized will take place.

“While the AIDS and HIV community has made tremendous progress across the last three decades in fighting this devastating disease, our battle is far from over and there is still much work to be done,” said Beth Feingold, executive director of Under One Roof. “We wanted to do something big that would draw attention back to this critical issue, and combat what we’re seeing as a decreasing concern about getting infected. We’re so grateful to all involved for their hard work in getting this event off the ground, and hope the Quilt will remind the community of the thousands of friends and loved ones we’ve lost through the years. They are still, and will continue to be, dearly missed.”

AEF executive director and NAMES Project co-founder Mike Smith says, “In a war against a disease that has no cure, The AIDS Memorial Quilt has evolved as our most potent tool in the effort to educate against the lethal threat of AIDS. By revealing the humanity behind the statistics, The AIDS Memorial Quilt helps teach compassion, triumphs over taboo, stigma and phobia; and inspires individuals to take direct responsibility for their own well-being and that of their family, friends and community.”

The following sponsors are credited for their support of the Quilt exhibition:

· Bank of America

· The Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District (CBD)

· Petyr Kane, owner of BODY and Citizen clothing shops

· The Merchants of Upper Market and Castro (MUMC)

· Catch restaurant

Other contributors include Clubcard and the Jeffrey family, the provider of the space for the exhibition. Any donations collected at the exhibition will be distributed among local AIDS and HIV service organizations.

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NICOLA LUISOTTI – Music Director of San Francisco Opera signs with Teatro di San Carlo


sean-martinfield-18-august-2011

Sean Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

Nicola Luisotti has been appointed Music Director of Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, Italy, effective immediately. The news was announced over the weekend by General Director Rosanna Purchia and the Board of Directors of the Teatro di San Carlo Foundation following a meeting where the unanimous decision was taken. Maestro Luisotti succeeds former Principal Conductor Maurizio Benini and Music Director Jeffrey Tate. Born and raised in Tuscany, the 50-year old Luisotti is currently Music Director of San Francisco Opera and Principal Guest Conductor of the Tokyo Philharmonic.

nicola-luisotti
NICOLA LUISOTTI. Photo, Terrence McCarthy

The oldest theater in Europe and one of Italy’s most prestigious opera houses, Teatro di San Carlo is renowned not only for its beauty but for its legendary acoustics. Founded in 1737, many of opera’s most famous composers spent significant time at the theatre, including Rossini, Donizetti and Verdi. In 2010, the theater was re-opened after an important period of restoration where the magnificent five-level horseshoe of boxes which are upholstered in red and decorated in gold leaf, frescoed ceiling and beautifully painted stage curtain were renewed to their original glory.

Full details of the appointment will be announced at an official ceremony and press conference on March 7th when Maestro Luisotti will be at San Carlo to begin rehearsals for Verdi’s I Masnadieri, in a production directed by Gabriele Lavia.

giacomo-puccini-composer-nicola-luisotti-conductor
GIACOMO PUCCINI, Composer – NICOLA LUISOTTI, Conductor

“I have spent a good deal of time abroad in the last ten years of my career. My heart fills with joy at the thought of spending so much more time in my home country with such a prestigious appointment,” said Maestro Luisotti speaking from Philadelphia where he is leading concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra. “And the joy is even greater when I think of how deeply this Theatre was influenced, in recent years, by the presence of a man such as Riccardo Muti, with whom I had the honor of working at La Scala.”

General Director Rosanna Purchia commented, “Nicola is young and enthusiastic and has had a bright career that took him to the most important theatres in the world, from Covent Garden to the Met, from La Scala to our San Carlo. In the United States he is recognized as one of the best interpreters of Italian opera. With his appointment, we want the San Carlo to aim higher and higher.”

Naples Mayor Luigi de Magistris, the foundation president, expressed his satisfaction: “We chose Luisotti because he is a high profile conductor, young, Italian…and this is a source of great pride for us. We are sure he will contribute to the success of this great theatre both in Italy and the rest of the world.”

“We at San Francisco Opera are thrilled that Nicola Luisotti has been appointed music director of the San Carlo, one of the world’s great lyric theaters,” said San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley. “This announcement is a tribute to his musical talent and leadership.” Nicola Luisotti’s position as San Francisco Opera’s music director began in September 2009 and continues through the 2015-16 season.

la-fanciulla-del-west
LA FANCIULLA DEL WEST
Roberto Frontali, Deborah Voigt, and Salvatore Licitra
Photo, Cory Weaver

Since his international debut in 2002, Conductor Luisotti has garnered enthusiastic praise from both audiences and critics throughout the world, especially for his work in Puccini’s Tosca and La Bohème and the rarely performed La fanciulla del West at both San Francisco Opera and the Met. In conjunction with these 100th Anniversary performances Luisotti was awarded the Premio Puccini Award.

Luisotti’s third season at San Francisco Opera’s Music Director of San Francisco Opera continues in June with a new Gabriele Lavia production of Attila, co-produced with Teatro alla Scala. In addition to I Masnadieri and concerts with the Orchestra del Teatro di San Carlo in late March, Maestro Luisotti’s operatic engagements this season include a return visit to La Scala for Turandot in April. Luisotti will also make appearances with six great orchestras this season including his own San Francisco Opera Orchestra presented by Cal Performances, the Berliner Philharmoniker, Orchestra del Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, Madrid’s Orquesta Nacional de España and the orchestras of Cleveland and Philadelphia.

Click here for more information on the 2012/13 Season at: San Francisco Opera

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RIVERBED TECHNOLOGY – Signs Long Term Lease for World Headquarters at 680 Folsom Street


sean-martinfield-18-august-2011

Sean Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

Mayor Edwin M. Lee today announced that Riverbed Technology, the leader in IT performance solutions, has entered into a 167,788 square-foot lease at 680 Folsom Street to house their world headquarters. Riverbed is expected to move into the building in 2014.

Riverbed, currently at 199 Fremont Street, will expand by 65,430 square feet into five floors at 680 Folsom Street with a 10-year lease term. This expansion will allow for Riverbed’s continued successes as they grow their offices here in San Francisco. Currently with 503 employees in San Francisco, representing almost a third of their worldwide workforce, Riverbed continues to see growth. The Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) estimates that this expansion will allow for Riverbed’s local workforce to grow to 1,157 employees, more than doubling their local presence.

“Riverbed’s long term commitment to keep their worldwide headquarters in San Francisco through 2024 demonstrates once again that we are the location of choice for high tech companies,” said Mayor Lee. “With dynamic leaders like Riverbed’s Jerry Kennelly, we are making San Francisco the ‘Innovation Capitol of the World.’ I want to congratulate Riverbed, TMG and JLL on the completion of this successful real estate transaction that will create jobs and drive innovation in our City.”

mayor-ed-lee
MAYOR ED LEE

“This is yet another example of how we are working with CEOs like Jerry Kennelly,” said Mayor Lee. “It was last fall that we sat down and we knew they were looking, they knew they were growing. Was it going to be here in San Francisco? Or some other place that we would lose them to? Our staff went to work right away. We found a great partner with TMG and Michael Covarrubias. We just came together very well and focused on what we could do to make sure they stayed here. They know there is talent here – that is unquestioned. The question is, are there other things that stabilize their ideas and their interests in working here long-term and staying here and growing here. We want IT companies to start here. We want them to stay and we want them to grow. As a result, we are evolving our policies on a weekly basis to continue attracting companies like Riverbed and making sure they feel comfortable. The end result is a lot more people get employed.”

jerry-kennelly
JERRY KENNELLY, Riverbed Co-Founder and CEO

“Riverbed is proud to have had its headquarters in San Francisco for the past 10 years. We’re making this investment to support our long-term growth and cement our commitment to the City of San Francisco,” said Riverbed Co-Founder and CEO Jerry Kennelly. “Like many prosperous technology companies headquartered in San Francisco, we think the City is the right location to attract the best talent and provide a thriving environment for our current employees. It is about time San Francisco becomes the capital of Silicon Valley and we want to be a part of that.”

“Riverbed is the ideal tenant not only for this space, but to complement the increasing tech growth in San Francisco’s SoMa area,” said TMG Partners Chairman and CEO Michael Covarrubias, the developer for 680 Folsom Street. “It’s very exciting to be a part of this renewed vitality here in the City and we believe it not only indicates the strengthening of our local economy, but indicative of the positive trending in both the residential and commercial space within this area of the City.”

Riverbed was represented in the transaction by the real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle. “The Riverbed real estate team was excellent throughout this entire process and took a very strategic approach to their future real estate requirements. By being proactive, they executed a headquarters strategy and netted a superb block of quality space which will be the finest development in San Francisco in the last decade,” said Jones Lang LaSalle’s HQ practice leader and International Director David Churton.

With construction now underway at 680 Folsom Street, the building will be fully renovated in time for Riverbed’s occupation. The new headquarters will feature a clear glass wall skin replacing the current concrete façade, a new public plaza and is pursuing LEED Gold certification.

About Riverbed
Riverbed delivers performance for the globally connected enterprise. With Riverbed, enterprises can successfully and intelligently implement strategic initiatives such as virtualization, consolidation, cloud computing, and disaster recovery without fear of compromising performance. By giving enterprises the platform they need to understand, optimize and consolidate their IT, Riverbed helps enterprises to build a fast, fluid and dynamic IT architecture that aligns with the business needs of the organization. For more information about Riverbed, go to: Riverbed.com

About TMG Partners
TMG Partners, founded in 1984 and headquartered in San Francisco, is a full-service real estate development and management company. TMG has developed more than 18 million square feet of property throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, including Emeryville, Marin City, Novato, Palo Alto, San Bruno, San Jose and San Francisco. One of the most active developers in this area in the last decade, the company has developed a variety of office, retail, residential and industrial properties, ranging from office campus and multi-story properties in urban, infill locations to mixed-use retail and single-story suburban buildings. For more information, go to:
tmgpartners.com

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LEAH CROCETTO – An Interview with “Liu” in SF Opera’s TURANDOT
HENRY PHIPPS – A Conversation with Featured Boy Soprano in SF Opera’s “Heart of a Soldier”
“HEART OF A SOLDIER” – A Rapturous World Premiere At San Francisco Opera
MEET MAESTRO NICOLA LUISOTTI – San Francisco Opera opens 2011/12 season with Puccini’s “Turandot”
“The Glory of Love” – A Salute to Jacqueline Fontaine
“MOZART’S SISTER” – Third string cinema
MEROLA OPERA’S GRAND FINALE – Meet Daniel Curran and Mark Diamond
“CASABLANCA” – The SF Symphony accompanies screening tonight, 7/22
“HE WHO GETS SLAPPED” – A conversation with composer and pianist Matti Bye
ABEL GANCE’S “NAPOLEON” – San Francisco Silent Film Festival to present complete restoration by Kevin Brownlow in 2012
HEIDI MELTON – An Interview with “Sieglinde” in San Francisco Opera’s DIE WALKÜRE
MARY GIBBONEY – An Interview with the star of “ABSOLUTELY SAN FRANCISCO”
SONDHEIM’S “ASSASSINS” – Ray of Light Theatre is right-on target
TIIT HELIMETS – An Interview with “Prince Edvard” of SF Ballet’s THE LITTLE MERMAID
NEW CENTURY CHAMBER ORCHESTRA – Presents “Mastery of Schubert”, Featuring Soprano Melody Moore, 3/24–27
ZHENG CAO – A Conversation with A Miracle Artist
MELODY MOORE – Soprano shines in SF Ballet’s “Nanna’s Lied”
MARNIE BRECKENRIDGE – An Interview with “La Princesse” of Philip Glass’ Orphée
GISELLE – And the Legend of the Wilis
A Conversation with Elza van den Heever
CLUB FOOT ORCHESTRA – A Conversation with Richard Marriot
PLÁCIDO DOMINGO – An Interview with the Tenor turned Baritone for “Cyrano”
Dr. ELISA STEPHENS – A Visit with the President of the Academy of Art University
CUBAN BALLET – An Interview with Octavio Roca
A Look At “Giselle” with Ballerina Lorena Feijóo
SABINA ALLEMANN – Former SF Ballet Ballerina Returns In A.C.T.’s “The Tosca Project”
AMANDA McBROOM – A conversation on her recording of songs by Jacques Brel
CAMERON CARPENTER – An interview with Grammy-nominated organist
HANDEL’S “ORLANDO” – An Interview with Conductor Nicholas McGegan
PIANIST MISHA DICHTER – A Conversation
ZUILL BAILEY – A Conversation
DAVID PERRY – On the “Dos and Don’ts of Social Media”
CAMINOS FLAMENCOS – A Conversation with Yaelisa
JANE MONHEIT – An Interview
DIANE BAKER – Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK
CAMERON CARPENTER – An Interview with Seán Martinfield
AT LAST! – ANN HAMPTON CALLAWAY – An Interview with Seán Martinfield
A Conversation with Ruben Martin Cintas, Principal Dancer with SF Ballet
THIS GUN FOR HIRE, 1942 – Looking at “Now you see it, now you don’t” sung by Veronica Lake
“My Silver Dollar Man” – from MARKED WOMAN (starring Bette Davis, 1937)
“Would You Like A Souvenir?” – Sean Martinfield and Janet Roitz explore a song from Film Noir classic NORA PRENTISS (1947)

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If Corporations are People, Why not Whales?

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A California federal court is to decide for the first time in US history whether amusement park animals are protected by the same constitutional rights as humans.

The issue arises from a lawsuit filed by rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in a San Diego court on behalf of five orcas named Tilikum, Katina, Corky, Kasatka and Ulises.

The whales perform water acrobatics at the SeaWorld amusement parks in San Diego and in Orlando, Florida.

PETA argues that continuing the whales’ “employment” at SeaWorld violates the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, which prohibits slavery.

District Judge Jeffrey Miller heard arguments in the complaint Monday and reviewed the response from SeaWorld, which asked that the lawsuit be dismissed. His ruling is expected to come later.

The suit, filed in October 2011, asked that the court declare that the orcas are “held in slavery and/or involuntary servitude by defendants in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

“It’s a new frontier in civil rights,” said Jeff Kerr, PETA general counsel, who described the hearing as a “historic day.”

“Slavery does not depend on the species of the slave any more than it depends on race, gender or ethnicity,” he argued. “Coercion, degradation and subjugation characterize slavery and these orcas have endured all three.”

The complaint says the five killer whales are represented by their “friends” at PETA, which include three former killer whale trainers, a marine biologist and the founder of an organization that seeks to protect orcas.

The complaint demands that the court “appoint a legal guardian to effectuate plaintiffs’ transfer from defendants’ facilities to a suitable habitat in accordance with each plaintiff’s individual needs and best interests.”

SeaWorld’s motion to dismiss argues that, the aendment “only protects people, not animals, from slavery and involuntary servitude.”

The courts lack authority to extend the amendment to animals, which could “open a veritable Pandora’s Box of inescapable problems and absurd consequences,” SeaWorld argued in motion to dismiss last year.

The case is unprecedented not because no laws cover the issue but because PETA’s claims “are so baseless that no party has ever wasted the time, energy and expense of any court in making such claims in a lawsuit,” SeaWorld argued.

In 2010, Tilikum drowned a trainer after a show in Orlando and was kept in “complete isolation” in a small concrete tank afterward, PETA said.

SeaWorld denied any implications of cruelty to animals, instead accusing PETA of trying to get attention for itself with its lawsuit.

“While PETA continued to engage in this publicity stunt, SeaWorld San Diego was returning four rescued and rehabilitated sea lions to the wild,” SeaWorld said in its response.

(From RawStory.com)

“SeaWorld remains the standard for zoological stewardship of marine animals and we reject any challenge to the conditions and quality of care for these remarkable animals,” SeaWorld said.

“The welfare of our whales is enshrined in numerous federal and state laws, including the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Animal Welfare Act.”

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