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Today Mayor Edwin M. Lee joined Supervisor Malia Cohen, Police Chief Greg Suhr, the City Administrator’s Office, community and religious leaders and service providers to announce a public safety initiative to address a recent increase in homicides in the City’s Southeast neighborhoods. The initiative, Interrupt, Predict and Organize (IPO), includes short, mid and long term strategies to reduce violence.

“We need to immediately interrupt the violence in order to keep our youth and our communities safe, and so that we can continue to work on longer term solutions to end violence in our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Lee.
“Building strong, safe neighborhoods and creating opportunities for our City’s residents are among my highest priorities, and we must take action in the short term while building partnerships for the long term to see results and keep San Francisco one of the safest cities in the nation.”

Several meetings with law enforcement, community-based agencies, youth serving organizations and clergy have been conducted over the past several weeks to develop an initiative with broad community support and partnership. Law enforcement and the City Administrator’s Office will help implement the IPO strategy engaging City agencies, social service providers, and the community to organize for longer term results.

“The recent violence that has happened in our Southeastern neighborhoods, particularly in Visitacion Valley is unacceptable,” said Supervisor Malia Cohen. “The public safety issues in these communities are not exclusive to Visitacion Valley or even District 10, rather they are citywide challenges that need a citywide approach and solution. I am committed to working with the Mayor, the Police Chief and all of our community partners to develop new strategies that build on past successes and recognize that the nature of violence in our neighborhoods is changing.”

In the first six months of 2012, there were 38 homicides compared to 28 during the same period in 2011. The IPO strategy was developed in response to the Mayor’s directive to law enforcement agencies to reassess standard practices to address the recent rise in violent crime.

“Using proven strategies and best technology, such as our Crime Data Warehouse that stores web-based real-time information, we can rapidly deploy resources to areas where crimes are most likely to occur,” said SFPD Chief Greg Suhr. “These tools and techniques will help us interrupt the violence in our neighborhoods to the fullest extent possible as quickly as possible. Sooner cannot come soon enough for all parties concerned.”

“San Francisco’s Adult Probation Department is working collaboratively with our criminal justice and public health partners to create short and long term effective interventions to provide offenders with meaningful opportunities to change their lives,” said Wendy Still, Chief Adult Probation Officer. “We are working with public safety and community based organizations to create a continuum of employment, education, and housing and mental health services that will enable individuals to break free from violence and long term criminal behavior, disrupting the intergenerational cycle of crime.”

The new IPO plan will:

Interrupt gun violence immediately with targeted interventions, such as employing an improved San Francisco Police Department Zone Strategy, expanding Gang Enforcement Interventions and Fugitive Recovery, enhancing Violence Response Teams and offering better Gun Buy Back programs.

The SFPD will attempt topredict where crime is most likely to occur in hopes of preventing criminal activity using technology and intelligence before it can happen. The Department’s new web-based Crime Data Warehouse will be used to contribute to this “Predictive Policing” strategy by mapping current crime in real time. In the very near future, the Department will map crime, include historical crime data, and use predictive policing software to predict where crimes are most likely to occur. Los Angeles and Santa Cruz have implemented such software and have seen a double-digit drop in crime as a result.

The crucial third component, organizing, will be undertaken by a broad spectrum of community based agencies, churches, social service providers and youth serving organizations coordinated by the City Administrator’s Office, focusing on increasing employment opportunities throughout the year as an interruption or alternative for youth and community; focused intervention on at-risk youth; offering direct one-on-one services to identified youth in specific neighborhoods in response to violence; involving clergy and community leaders; expanding apprenticeship programs; and increasing case management slots in high-risk neighborhoods.

“Our communities need a comprehensive and sustained community revitalization plan,” said Eric McDonnell, Executive Vice President of United Way of the Bay Area. “I am honored to partner with Mayor Lee and community partners across sectors, including residents, to help develop and implement a plan.”

“After several dialogues with the Mayor, this initiative is an important first step in working with San Francisco’s faith-based communities and involving them in the City’s solution to violence,” said Reverend Dr. Joseph Bryant, Jr, Pastor of Calvary Hill Community Church. “I am excited to stand with the Mayor and be part of the leadership focused on public safety not just in my neighborhood but for the entire City of San Francisco.”


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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



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More than $21 Million in Federal Funding to Further Modernize Muni Fleet & Improve SFMTA Transit Service throughout City

Mayor Edwin M. Lee today announced San Francisco awarded more than $21 million in U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Livability and State of Good Repair grants to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) for frontline Muni service enhancements and new, low-floor biodiesel-electric hybrid buses – critical investments that will optimize existing Muni transit service and improve the customer experience.

“As the FTA makes a tremendous investment in public transit across the nation, we are pleased are highlighting San Francisco, as we are making significant changes to improve transit service for Muni riders and sustain our system for many years to come,” said Mayor Lee. “I want to thank the Obama Administration and FTA Deputy Administrator McMillan for providing critical funds for San Francisco’s transit future and our Congressional delegation for their support in creating a 21st Century transportation system.”

“President Obama’s support for an America built to last is putting people back to work across the country modernizing our nation’s public transit systems,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood. “By investing in the transit infrastructure people depend on to get where they need to go each day, we will keep our economy moving forward well into the future.”

FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan was in San Francisco today to announce the $45.7 million in federal funding for the San Francisco Bay Area regional transit agencies including San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART), Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit), Monterey-Salinas Transit in Monterey, San Mateo County Transit District and Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, to replace aging buses and transit vehicles that will improve service for hundreds of thousands of people who take public transit every day.

“From San Jose to Oakland, these funds go a long way to put more comfortable, efficient, clean-fuel vehicles on the road to meet rising demand for service,” said Deputy Administrator McMillan. “These awards are a big win for everybody because they will reduce highway congestion, improve air quality, and help this region continue to offer balanced transportation options for millions of residents.”

“The SFMTA thanks the City’s leadership, Mayor Lee and Supervisor Campos, especially in his capacity as Chair of the County Transportation Authority, for their focus on improving Muni as well as the FTA for these funds that are so crucial to furthering our goals for making transit more reliable and efficient Citywide,” said SFMTA Board of Directors Vice Chairman Cheryl Brinkman. “A greener fleet, more efficient Muni system means less congestion, a reduction in harmful emissions and improved quality of life.

”Both grant awards, more than $6 million for improved bus facilities via the Livability Initiative and $15 million for new low-floor, biodiesel-electric hybrid buses via the State of Good Repair program, support and further the SFMTA’s plans for improved frontline transit service throughout San Francisco.

“Investments in optimizing existing service and enhancing the customer experience will not only help us better serve our current customers, but also will help attract new customers,” said SFMTA Director of Transportation Edward D. Reiskin. “Underscoring San Francisco’s Transit First policy, the SFMTA will direct these funds to frontline Muni service.”

With the oldest bus fleet in the nation, Muni needs to upgrade and update its fleet and will do so over the next eight to 10 years. The $15m State of Good Repair grant will allow the SFMTA to replace 18 20-year-old buses that will play an important role in expanding Muni’s Rapid Network service.

The new buses will be 40-foot low-floor biodiesel-electric hybrids that are 30 percent more fuel efficient, emitting 95 percent less particulate matter, 40 percent less nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide and 30 percent less greenhouse gas. These modern hybrid buses will begin the replacement of 45 Gillig 40-foot standard diesel buses that were first put into service in 1993.

Due to their flexibility, large passenger capacity, and durability, the 40-foot biodiesel buses are critical to the SFMTA’s ability to provide support service on any route or line, including other bus routes, light rail lines, the historic streetcar line, and the cable car lines. This type of flexibility is especially critical during large civic events, such as the America’s Cup races in 2013 and 2014.

The SFMTA expects to begin receiving the first of these buses in early 2013.

The Livability Initiative grant is part of the Fiscal Year 2012 Bus and Bus Facilities Program. The award of $6.4 million will fund the SFMTA’s 8X Mobility Maximization project. The project is part of a the Rapid Network that will target existing transit service along the most heavily travelled corridors of the city to improve service reliability, reduce travel time, and enhance customer experience. The 8X Corridor has more than 30,000 daily customers.

Funding will be used to implement:
  Coloring of existing dedicated transit lanes;
Transit signal priority;
Pre-payment fare collection;
Information panel and transit arrival prediction signs;
Vehicle branding and enhanced stop identification;  Cameras on buses to capture vehicles illegally occupying transit-only lanes.

By fostering the development of a premier service, the SFMTA will provide more transportation choices, support and value existing communities and neighborhoods, promote lower transportation and living costs, and enhance economic competitiveness. Assuming funding in Fall 2012, the project is anticipated to be completed in Spring 2014.



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Mayor Edwin M. Lee today issued the following statement on San Francisco and “Stop and Frisk Policy”: 

“The month of June in San Francisco experienced a spike in shootings and homicides in our Southeast neighborhoods. This is unacceptable and while I take this issue extremely seriously, I want to be clear that I have not considered implementing a policy in San Francisco that would violate anyone’s constitutional rights or that would result in racial profiling. I have stated that I am willing to look at what other cities are doing to reduce gun violence, including cities like New York and Philadelphia that both have stop and frisk programs.

I have been meeting with community leaders, have attended services to meet with congregants and have met with law enforcement about this issue. We share grave concerns about gun violence and its disproportionate impact on communities of color and youth in San Francisco. We need to do more.

Public safety can only be achieved through collaboration and partnership between law enforcement and the communities we all serve. Community policing and community development efforts have important roles to play in the prevention of violence, and I will continue to meet with community leaders and faith based organizations to advance these priorities.

I want to be very clear. As a former human rights director and civil rights attorney, I hold the individual protections afforded to us all under the 4th Amendment as sacrosanct. As we continue our discussions to reduce violence and get guns out of our communities, I will not support, nor will I put forward any proposal that will violate any such protections, but I am willing to move forward with bold ideas that get to results.

I will continue to work with the community to end gun violence in San Francisco.”



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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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New Federal Funds to Improve Transportation, Directly Support Mission Bay as Hub of Innovation, Job Growth & Neighborhood

 Today Mayor Edwin M. Lee joined Democratic Leader Nancy to announce a federal $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to improve transportation infrastructure in the City’s Mission Bay neighborhood.

The funding, called Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER), will support the Mission Bay/UCSF Hospital Multimodal Transportation Project by completing the remaining backbone transportation infrastructure necessary to support the dynamic Mission Bay community, representing $9 billion in combined investment from the State, the City and the private sector. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and San Francisco Building Trades joined the announcement.

“San Francisco’s dynamic Mission Bay neighborhood has become an international model for sustainable, transit-oriented development and a hub of innovation and job growth,” said Mayor Lee. “The TIGER grant award for Mission Bay speaks to the power of public-private partnerships. I am grateful to President Obama, Leader Pelosi, Secretary LaHood, Lieutenant Governor Newsom and our partners for making this project a success.”

Mission Bay is transforming from a blighted, abandoned rail-yard to a mixed-use, transit-oriented innovation center and thriving neighborhood. TIGER funds will complete the street grid, build pedestrian and bicycle facilities, improve the highway off-ramp and construct a short-run loop for the light rail that will enable SFMTA to double service to the area.

“San Francisco has always led the way in infrastructure investments that grow our economy and spur prosperity for local communities,” said Leader Pelosi. “This $10 million commitment for transportation at Mission Bay builds on that record: to create jobs in our city and serve as a model for sustainable development nationwide. I was proud to advocate on behalf of this worthy project and applaud Secretary LaHood for his continued commitment to rebuilding America.”

“President Obama’s support for an America built to last is putting people back to work across the country building roads, bridges and other projects that will mean better, safer transportation for generations to come,” said Transportation Secretary LaHood. “TIGER projects mean good transportation jobs today and a stronger economic future for the nation.”
“Mission Bay is revitalizing an entire sector of San Francisco and creating jobs. The TIGER grant for this project will build on state and local investment to support this important infrastructure,” said Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. “Transit-oriented development surrounding the biotech, medical and educational uses which serve as the core of this growing community provides a model for creating a vibrant and sustainable future for California.”

Mission Bay is an economic engine crucial to the region and state which, at full build-out, will be home to a projected 30,000 jobs in critical fields like healthcare, biotech and education. The Mission Bay/UCSF Hospital Multimodal Transportation Infrastructure project is shovel ready, with permits in hand and preparatory work underway, insuring that these funds will be leveraged immediately. Mission Bay includes a 43-acre UCSF research campus and state-of-the-art UCSF hospital serving children, women and cancer patients, now under construction. More than 40 private biotechnology companies – including Bayer, Fibrogen and Nektar – have moved to Mission Bay. The result is a booming economic cluster of statewide and nationwide significance, focused on innovative life science research and development.


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Big City Mayors Unite to Call On Mortgage Loan Servicers to Provide Relief Against Foreclosures

San Francisco, CA–Mayor Edwin M. Lee today asked the nation’s five mortgage loan servicers that settled in the joint federal-state mortgage settlement to voluntarily pause foreclosure proceedings against homeowners who are at risk for foreclosure but could be eligible for assistance under the terms of the settlement.

San Francisco was joined by Fresno, Oakland, Sacramento and San Jose in a letter to executives at Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally Financial to pause foreclosure proceedings against some borrowers until the settlement is finalized and the monitoring mechanisms are fully in place.

“A temporary pause in foreclosures provides relief to property owners and gives families an opportunity to remain in their homes,” said Mayor Lee. “We are calling on servicers to provide the time people need to access relief available to them under the federal-state settlement agreement that is now just months away.”

“Fresno is one of the cities hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis, and a significant percentage of our population is just now seriously delinquent and facing imminent foreclosure,” said Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin. “The costs of foreclosures on homeowners, neighborhoods and the cities are substantial. This pause will help people stay in their homes, resulting in an opportunity to stabilize our neighborhoods, and also have a positive impact on our economy.”

California State Attorney General Kamala Harris represented the residents of California at the bargaining table for the federal-state mortgage settlement and continues to advocate for opportunities to participate in the terms of the agreement.

The pause will allow cities to partner with servicing staff, the Attorney General’s office, and local HUD-certified counseling agencies to plan a comprehensive communication and outreach strategy to identify eligible borrowers and inform them of their rights under the settlement. As a result, borrowers will get the information they need to protect their rights, the time to organize their financial documentation, and time to evaluate their loans for modification.

Beginning July 1st, a monitor will oversee implementation of the servicing standards and consumer relief activities required by the agreement and identify where servicers are not in compliance.

While the process unfolds, Mayor Lee is asking to pause foreclosure proceedings against borrowers who could be eligible for relief under the judgments. The settlement is targeted at homeowners who could remain in their homes if a principal reduction or refinancing option were available. Under the settlement, borrowers must continue to make payments or risk losing protection from this temporary halt in foreclosures. Bank of America has already instituted a pause in foreclosure proceedings for its eligible borrowers. Wells Fargo previously instituted a pause in foreclosures until it had its consumer relief programs in place on March 1st.

Acknowledging that distressed borrowers are difficult to reach, Mayor Lee is forming a working group that will include the Attorney General, mortgage servicers, housing counselors, City agencies and community leaders to identify San Francisco homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure, but could be eligible for assistance under the terms of the settlement including immediate cash payments, principal reductions, short sales and refinancing.

Residents seeking modification will be able to use the City’s 311 system to find a housing counselor. The Mayor also announced that the Housing Trust Fund proposal has up to $15 million for housing stabilization for residents.

“As a City we have a collective responsibility to address the impacts of foreclosures on our communities,” said Supervisor Malia Cohen. “This collective responsibility includes the financial institutions and lenders that agreed to the state settlement. The myth that San Francisco is not suffering from the destabilizing effects of foreclosures is simply not true.”



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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


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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Mayor Lee’s Statement on the City’s unemployment drop to 7.4 percent

Mayor Edwin M. Lee issued the following statement on San Francisco’s unemployment rate dropping to 7.4 percent in April, the lowest unemployment rate since December 2008, based on preliminary unemployment numbers released today by the State Employment Development Department (EDD):

“Job creation remains my highest priority, and will remain so to continue our City’s economic recovery. As today’s unemployment report demonstrates, we are making significant progress putting people back to work in neighborhood small businesses, tech and innovation companies and active construction sites.

With the unemployment rate at 7.4 percent, the third lowest in the State and the lowest since December 2008, San Francisco is moving in the right direction, but our efforts to get people back to work will continue.

Already, this summer through Summer Jobs +, we are putting 5,000 youth to work and I am working hard to make sure all San Franciscans have access to good paying jobs as we keep our economy growing.”

Since January 2011, the unemployment rate has dropped steadily from 9.6 percent to 7.4 percent in April, reflecting the creation of approximately 22,500 net-new jobs in San Francisco over the last year, reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs and wage data for U.S. Counties. This report also found that jobs located in San Francisco County increased by 4.1 percent from September 2010 to September 2011 ranking San Francisco 10th in performance of the 323 largest counties in the nation.

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Mayor Lee presents proposed May 1st balanced budget

Two-Year Budget Proposal for Seven Enterprise Departments Creates

More Than 8,700 Jobs & Infuses $1.3 Billion into Local Economy Through Capital Projects

Mayor Edwin M. Lee today presented his proposed two-year balanced budget for seven City departments totaling $5.2 billion. The May 1st budget focuses on enterprise departments or agencies within City government that generate revenue.

“This May 1st budget focuses on putting San Franciscans back to work, investing in our City’s infrastructure and keeping San Francisco safe, solvent and successful,” said Mayor Lee. “By creating thousands of jobs, seismically strengthening our water system, improving our Airport terminals and runways, investing in Muni maintenance and upgrading our piers, we are ensuring that San Francisco will have a secure economic future. This budget proposal, and this year’s budget process, reflects my commitment to innovate to solve our City’s challenges, involve the public, and invest in our capital assets and workforce.”

The City departments included in this May 1st proposed budget are critical to the short-term and long-term economic health of the City. These enterprise departments include:

• Airport

• Board of Appeals

• Environment

• Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA)

• Port

• Public Utilities Commission (PUC)

• Rent Arbitration Board

This May 1st proposal is an important step toward crafting a balanced citywide budget for the upcoming years. By June 1st, the Mayor must propose a citywide budget that closes the $170 million General Fund budget shortfall in Fiscal Year (FY) 2012-13, and a $312 million General Fund shortfall in FY 2013-14. This budget reflects the City’s third year of two-year budgeting for our largest enterprise departments, and the first year that Airport, PUC, Port and MTA will all move forward with a fixed two-year budget.

Innovation. Cities like San Francisco thrive because of their ability to cultivate innovative ideas. This is why Mayor Lee has reached out across the City’s departments and communities to find innovative ways to bring costs down while allowing the City to continue providing the essential services that keep neighborhoods and diverse communities moving in the right direction.

Involvement. Mayor Lee recognizes that achievements as a City are founded in commitment to hear directly from residents, communities and neighborhood organizations about what matters most to them. This is why Mayor Lee co-hosted six district-based budget town halls with all of the members of the Board of Supervisors, met with numerous stakeholders and will continue to work for greater transparency around the budget process.

Investment. By choosing to live, work, and play in San Francisco, we are all investing in the City. The May 1st proposed budget reflects our City’s significant capital investments over the coming years. Over the next two years, for example, the PUC proposes spending $71.5 million to maintain and improve the water, wastewater and power resources for the City. In addition, the budget includes implementation of the San Francisco International Airport’s 10-year $206 million investment in the development of the Runway Safety Area Plan. The Port of San Francisco will continue to invest in our waterfront piers and facilities, including the Cruise Terminal project at Pier 27. These investments will provide much-needed jobs for San Francisco residents as the City works to emerge from the economic downturn. Over the next two years, these departments will support more than 8,700 jobs in San Francisco by infusing $1.3 billion into the local economy through capital projects.

Click here to view: Mayor’s proposed May 1st Balanced Budget

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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:

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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Mayor Lee launches ImproveSF – A civic problem-solving platform to challenge online community

Mayor Edwin M. Lee today launched ImproveSF, an online social media platform that engages community problem solvers to help solve civic challenges. ImproveSF underscores the Mayor’s commitment to using innovation to provide state of the art access to information, community engagement and government efficiency.

“With shrinking budgets and increasing demand on City services, ImproveSF allows us to engage the creative and entrepreneurial people of our City to help make it work better, smarter and more efficient,” said Mayor Lee. “By embracing innovation, we make San Francisco the ‘Innovation Capital of the World,’ and celebrate and reward the incredible talent and ideas that are fostered here.”

City departments and agencies in the coming weeks will post ImproveSF challenges to the new site, which invite users to submit problem solving solutions, vote on their favorite ideas and comment on concepts that will improve how San Francisco works. ImproveSF embraces a bottoms-up approach to problem solving and makes it easier for the public to communicate and collaborate with City government. ImproveSF can be translated into more than 50 languages.

The first ImproveSF challenge will ask the creative community to participate in San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA)’s Centennial Celebration by conceptualizing a new look for the second century of the City’s transportation agency. This challenge asks San Francisco’s designers, art students and graphic artists to submit designs, a new logo and color schemes that represent the SFMTA, which manages and operates the City’s multimodal surface transportation system that includes pedestrians, bicyclists, Muni, parking, traffic, streetscapes and regulates taxis.

The first challenge invites users to leave their mark on San Francisco by working with SFMTA to co-design a new look for their new century. Users have four weeks starting today to submit and vote on innovative design-concepts. The top submissions will be shortlisted and a panel of judges will select a winner from five finalists. The winning design-concept will be produced by SFMTA’s designer and implemented for all SFMTA printed and digital materials for bus fleets, trains and signage across the City. For those who are not the creative-type, residents can also participate by voting on SFMTA problem solving solutions including travel-time reduction proposals as part of the Transit Effectiveness Project.

“The SFMTA is unique in North America in that it oversees all modes of transportation in the city. This includes everything from the iconic cable cars to traffic signals,” said SFMTA Director of Transportation Edward D. Reiskin. “As we move into our second century of operation, it’s time for a new look, one that reflects today’s MTA and our role in managing mobility in the 21st Century. We look forward to civic-minded San Franciscans getting involved and making a lasting contribution to this great city and this historic agency.”

The ImproveSF challenges are hosted on the MindMixer platform.

“We are excited to be working with what we consider to be one of most innovative cities in the world, San Francisco,” said MindMixer CEO Nick Bowden. “In addition to the fantastic partnership with the City, we are also thrilled to announce that we are opening a San Francisco office. While we will always consider ourselves a Silicon Prarie based business, a physical presence in San Francisco gives us access to the best tech talent in the world, something we couldn’t be happier about.”

Upcoming ImproveSF challenges will focus on topics such as food justice, the environment and neighborhood resiliency. ImproveSF is part of Mayor Lee’s larger vision for civic innovation. In January, Mayor Lee announced a partnership with Code for America to launch the world’s first Civic Startup Accelerator that will support entrepreneurs who launch companies to make City government more responsive, efficient and connected.  Mayor Lee also joined technology company leaders to launch the San Francisco Citizens Initiative for Technology & Innovation ( to help leverage the collective power of the tech sector to make government more responsive, efficient and help residents find employment.
Click here for more information: <a href=” <> “><strong>ImproveSF<strong></a>

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Mayor Lee urges Congressional support of “Crowdfunding” for startups in Jobs Act

Mayor Edwin M. Lee today issued the following statement urging Congressional support for reforms to the regulatory process required for startups to raise capital through crowdfunding, a fundraising method which pools small amounts of money from many investors:

“Crowdfunding will fundamentally alter how entrepreneurs access capital, democratizing investment in our new economy to many more people. Access to capital is the engine for our startups and letting more people participate in helping growing businesses will be a boon for small investors and businesses alike.

Innovation is fueling San Francisco’s economic recovery and with crowdfunding, many more small businesses can start, grow and stay here in San Francisco.”

Mayor Lee is the first large city Mayor to support crowdfunding, an important mechanism in the incubation and development phases of many new economy start-ups. Mayor Lee supports the inclusion of provisions in recently-passed U.S. Senate version of the JOBS Act, which grant the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission greater oversight of crowdfunding to help reduce investor fraud. With the legislation back to the U.S. House for approval, the Mayor urges members of the House to include anti-fraud provisions and send the bill to President Obama to sign.

In addition to supporting crowdfunding, Mayor Lee has demonstrated his support of the growing innovation economy through his recent opposition to SOPA/PIPA, support for the “sharing economy” through the nation’s first Sharing Economy Policy Working Group with members of the Board of Supervisors and passing the Central Market / Tenderloin Payroll Expense Tax Exclusion in 2011 to help revitalize Central Market. Mayor Lee recognizes that smart policies can help San Francisco’s innovation economy grow will drive our economic recovery and create good jobs for San Francisco residents.

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Mayor Lee suspends Ross Mirkarimi, appoints law enforcement veteran Vicki Hennessy

Mayor Edwin M. Lee announced his suspension Sheriff Mirkarimi following his guilty plea for false imprisonment and appointing veteran law enforcement official Vicki Hennessy as Sheriff.

“Ross Mirkarimi has now pled guilty to falsely imprisoning his wife. After careful review of the City Charter and the evidence before me, I am suspending and formally charging Ross Mirkarimi with official misconduct,” said Mayor Lee. “I take this action with every conviction that I am acting on a firm legal basis and doing what is in the best interest of the people of San Francisco. I am appointing law enforcement veteran Vicki Hennessy as the Sheriff. With her nearly 35 years of experience, I have no doubt that she will get the job done, lead the Sheriff’s Department and support the good work of our Sheriff’s staff and deputies.”

Hennessy served as the Executive Director of the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management and Chief Deputy in the Sheriff’s Department. Hennessy joined the Sheriff’s Department in December 1975 and quickly rose through the ranks becoming the youngest captain in California law enforcement in 1983. She became Chief Deputy in 1997. She has worked in nearly every division of the Sheriff’s Department including Captain of the old San Bruno jail, City prison, the high security jail at the Hall of Justice and the intake jail at 425 7th Street. She was at various times in charge of Training, Administration, Field Services, and the Custody Division.

In 2006, Hennessy was the Deputy Director of the San Francisco Department of Emergency Services and Homeland Security where she developed a comprehensive Citywide strategic plan for preparing for, mitigating, responding to and recovering from disasters.

In 2008, Hennessy was named the Director of Emergency Management, where she brought a level of stability to the new department, oversaw the completion of the City’s state-of-the-art Emergency Operations Center, ensured the completion of the redesign and update of the 911 Emergency Call taking center, developed the first Combined Emergency Communications Operations Manual and decreased the DEM operating budget by $11 million. Hennessy retired in 2011. She is a native San Franciscan and a Lowell High School graduate. She currently lives in San Francisco with her husband, a retired San Francisco police officer. They have two grown children.

Mayor Lee initiated official misconduct proceedings against Mirkarimi by directing the City Attorney to prepare the appropriate documents and notify the Board of Supervisors and the Ethics Commission, suspending Mirkarimi as Sheriff as early as Wednesday. After five days, the Ethics Commission will begin a process to make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.

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Mayor Lee announces opening of Canadian Technology Accelerator in Mission Bay

Mayor Edwin M. Lee today joined by Canadian Ambassador to the United States Gary Doer and the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3) announced the opening of a Canadian Technology Accelerator (CTA@MissionBay), a new biotech incubator for Canadian life sciences firms. Located at UCSF’s Mission Bay Campus, the Canadian Technology Accelerator brings four new life sciences companies to San Francisco.

“San Francisco sits firmly at the intersection of cutting edge life sciences innovation and global collaboration,” said Mayor Lee. “The opening of the Canadian Technology Accelerator in Mission Bay underscores the strength of San Francisco’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and reinforces the City’s place as the ‘Innovation Capital of the World.’ I am thrilled to welcome these four new Canadian life sciences companies to San Francisco and want to thank Ambassador Doer and QB3 for their leadership in making the CTA a reality.”

“Collaboration is the lifeblood of life sciences, because it fuels inspiration, leverages research, and multiplies commercial opportunities across borders,” said Ambassador Doer. “This partnership is literally a technology accelerator – it marries Canada’s world-class basic research institutions and life sciences companies with QB3’s proven expertise in translating science to commercial success. Faster commercialization means greater ROI, and that means greater success for both our economies.”

With today’s announcement, San Francisco is now home to 108 life sciences companies, up from just two life sciences companies eight years ago. This growth has been driven by San Francisco’s aggressive focus on developing Mission Bay, attracting established biotech firms and supporting new start-ups and spinouts from UCSF. The City continues to build on the work of Mayors Brown and Newsom which included the approval of the Mission Bay Redevelopment Plan, the passage of the biotech payroll tax exclusion and the recruitment of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).

The opening of the CTA marks San Francisco’s fifth biotech incubator. The City through the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) has worked closely with QB3 through the BioSFinitiative to support the growth of new biotech companies in San Francisco.

“Mission Bay has established itself as a world center for bioscience entrepreneurs. These new companies join a community that is rapidly becoming a United Nations of innovation,” said QB3 Director Regis Kelly, PhD. “We welcome Canada’s entrepreneurs to the QB3 incubator network.”

Canadian companies are chosen for the accelerator based on their ability to grow locally and globally. The first group of four are: Aquinox, BioMark, Clinisys, and Precision Nanosystems.

“This initiative recognizes the continued importance of San Francisco as a global hub for the life sciences industry and an important entry point for Canadian companies like ours that have built strong international programs,” said Aquinox Pharmaceuticals Chief Medical Officer David Chernoff. “It provides a unique opportunity for a small company to formalize its presence and broaden its business relationships.”

The Canadian Technology Accelerator is joining QB3’s network of five bioscience incubators in San Francisco and Berkeley, and will be the newest members of the QB3 Digital PharmChem Garage, housed on the UCSF Mission Bay campus. Together, those incubators have helped launch 60 bioscience companies in the last six years, ranging in focus from biofuels to new therapeutics for cancer. Those startups have gone on to hire more than 280 employees and raise $226 million in follow-on funding during one of the sharpest recessions in the nation’s history.

The four companies located at the Canadian Technology Accelerator are:
Aquinox Pharmaceuticals – a private, venture-backed pharmaceutical company committed to the discovery, development and commercialization of novel and targeted small molecule therapeutics for the treatment of inflammatory disease and cancer.
BioMark Technologies Inc. – a Canadian based medical diagnostic technology company developing an inexpensive and non invasive screening test for cancer that detects intracellular enzyme activity. This technology is small molecule based versus proteomics-based, which reduces complexity and lowers cost to the health care/delivery industry.
BioMark Technologies Inc. – a Canadian health informatics company offering software and services to the healthcare industry. Its flagship product is a robust, secure, and scalable web-based Clinical Intelligence Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system.
Precision NanoSystems, Inc. (PNI) – has developed proprietary microfluidic devices for the simple, rapid, reproducible and cost-effective manufacture of next-generation lipid nanoparticles (LNP). LNP can be engineered to package and deliver a wide range of bioactive agents to cells and tissues in the body, including conventional or biologic drugs for disease treatment and imaging agents for disease diagnosis.

About CTA@MissionBay

The Consulate General of Canada in San Francisco and Silicon Valley developed the Canadian Technology Accelerator Program – a program designed to support growth in Canadian technology companies by giving them access to the unique resources of the Bay Area. The CTA consists of in-Canada qualification (e.g. preparation seminars); continued help for qualified companies in San Francisco (Maple Tree Life Science Forum held annually in May); and a longer stay in the Consulate-operated CTA@MissionBay. CTA also arranged mentoring with C100 members (successful expats in the Bay Area) and local venture and technology partners, and an opportunity to spend up to six months in San Francisco to pursue business growth objectives.

About QB3

QB3 is a cooperative effort among private industry and more than 220 scientists at UCSF, UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz. One of four technology institutes created in 2000 by former California Governor Gray Davis, QB3 has a joint mission of supporting science, driving the California economy and transforming scientific research into public good.

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Mayor Lee’s statement on Sheriff Mirkarimi’s plea to false imprisonment

Mayor Edwin M. Lee today issued the following statement regarding Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi’s Guilty Plea to Misdemeanor False Imprisonment:

“This clearly remains serious and troubling for our City. The Sheriff, one of our top law enforcement officials, has now pleaded guilty to an unexpected and very serious charge that has introduced a new set of legal issues that must be thoroughly reviewed. I am working with legal counsel to review the facts and determine what options are available to me under the City charter.

I understand the troubling nature that this guilty plea raises, given the Sheriff’s role in overseeing and incarcerating criminals in our county jails.

I intend to make a decision based on all of the facts as quickly as possible.”

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

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MOHAMMED NURU – Appointed Director of the Department of Public Works

Mayor Edwin M. Lee and City Administrator Naomi Kelly announced on Friday the appointment of Mohammed Nuru as Director of the Department of Public Works (DPW), the nationally accredited City agency responsible for keeping San Francisco beautiful, livable and sustainable.

“Mohammed Nuru is a dedicated public servant who has proven over the last decade to be one of the hardest working City employees keeping San Francisco clean, green and beautiful,” said Mayor Lee. “His track record of building bridges and partnering with the community aligns with our common commitment to maintaining the City’s infrastructure, delivering outstanding service to residents and visitors, and efficiently managing public works projects that will create jobs and help revitalize San Francisco’s economy.”

mohammed-nuruMOHAMMED NURU

“Mohammed has my full confidence to carry forward Public Works as a world-class organization,” said City Administrator Kelly. “San Franciscans will continue to benefit from his leadership and persistence, building on his numerous accomplishments from improving street and sidewalk cleanliness to the successful management of construction projects that reinvigorate and modernize the public realm.”

As Director of the Department of Public Works, Nuru oversees the care and maintenance of San Francisco’s streets and infrastructure. DPW serves residents, merchants and visitors 24 hours a day, seven days a week with 1,200 employees, providing mechanical and manual street cleaning, graffiti removal services from public property, and maintenance and care for street structures and the public right-of-way.

DPW also designs, constructs and maintains city infrastructure and public buildings, with 200 active public projects valued at $2 billion, including the San Francisco General Hospital Rebuild, the Cruise Ship Terminal at Pier 27, Moscone Center Improvements, the Public Utilities Commission Headquarters at 525 Golden Gate Avenue, the Chinese Recreation Center, the Bayview and North Beach Branch Libraries, and neighborhood Fire Stations through the Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response Bond Program.

Nuru became Interim Director of the Department of Public Works in August 2011 when former DPW Director Ed Reiskin left to become Executive Director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA). As Interim Director, Nuru has been coordinating the expansion of DPWStat, a management tool that helps enhance service delivery efficiency and has shown to improve the department’s responsiveness to street cleaning, landscaping and pothole complaints, and identify areas of opportunity for new and ongoing challenges. In addition, Nuru is overseeing a departmental technology transformation to maximize efficiency and interagency coordination.

In 2011, DPW engaged a record number of 6,600 volunteers in neighborhood cleanup and beautification efforts – a 66% increase in volunteers from the last year. Nuru manages and initiated several apprenticeship programs that give job training and have created over 150 jobs, and he also oversees the $248 million Road Repaving and Street Safety Bond, approved by voters in November 2011, that will repave streets and improve streetscapes throughout San Francisco.

During Nuru’s eleven years of service to DPW as Deputy Director for Operations, he worked closely with the City’s diverse communities, city agencies, businesses, and nonprofit groups to develop innovative programs to ensure and maintain a safe, clean, functional infrastructure. Nuru coordinated the popular Community Clean Team neighborhood volunteer cleanup events, ran the Mayor’s Corridors Program that maintains the City’s busiest merchant thoroughfares, and expanded partnerships with the communities to green sidewalks, street medians and underutilized street parks.

“Mohammed Nuru has shown an amazing capacity to recognize the needs of the neighborhoods, and he compliments that with a keen understanding of how the City operates,” said Middle Polk Neighborhood Association Chairperson Dawn Trennert. “This makes implementing solutions to complex, challenging issues easier and more timely. Our neighborhood group has worked with Mohammed on issues from simple, routine cleaning initiatives to piloting innovative new programs.”

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


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.”


“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, 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:

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:


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On Scene with Bill Wilson – Dr. Jill Biden’s SF Visit

By Bill Wilson
Sentinel Photojournalist
Bill Wilson © 2012

Dr. Jill Biden, wife of the Vice President during a visit to the Code for America offices in San Francisco Photo by Bill Wilson

Dr. Jill Biden, wife of the Vice President used her visit to the Bay Area to promote the Joining Forces initiative, a joint venture with the First Lady to promote efforts that support our troops and veterans and their families. After visiting the VA Palo Alto Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center, Dr. Biden traveled to San Francisco to visit the Code for America offices and learn how technology can be used to help veterans apply for jobs.

Aneesh Chopra, United States Chief Technology Officer, joins Dr. Jill Biden in listening to presentations on “Apps for Heroes” during her visit to the offices of Code for America. Photo by Bill Wilson

Dr. Biden’s visit actually had two parts to it. First she was shown presentations by several people on Apps for Heroes. The presentations ranged from finding the job postings to notifying companies that they are eligible for tax breaks because they hired a qualified veteran.

Jim Brikman, Sr. Software Engineer at Linkedin, shows Dr. Biden and Aneesh Chopra, US Chief Technology Officer, applications that can be used by veterans to locate job openings and other resources. Photo by Bill Wilson

Translating military training into marketable job skills that companies want can be daunting, but there is an app for that. Since so much of finding a job is about networking it makes sense to use technology to facilitate that communication.

Peter Levin (left), Senior Advisor to the Secretary and Chief Technology Officer for the U S Department of Veterans Affairs and Aneesh Chopra listen as Gunnar Counselman, (seated) CEO of Fidelis explains a point to Dr. Biden.

The second part of Dr. Biden’s visit was a brief talk to an assembled group of Code for America members who are providing the technical skills and energy to come up with the programs that help people and cities connect with solutions for their common problems, which is what Code for America is all about.

Dr. Biden talks with members of Code for America. Photo by Bill Wilson

I admit to being a tech dummy. So it took me a while to realize that Code for America is not only the name of the project, but a description of what they do. When you are writing a program you are basically writing code that tells the computer what you want it to do.

Dr. Biden and Code for America members. Photo by Bill Wilson

Most of Dr. Biden’s time was spent meeting people who had come to the event and learning what they were doing.

Craig Newmark and Dr. Jill Biden. Photo by Bill Wilson

On a personal note, after I had taken this picture of Craig with Dr. Biden I said to her, “This isn’t the first time I’ve taken your picture, the first time was at the wedding reception Senator and Mrs. Hollings gave for you.” She looked at me and said, “Oh my God!” Then as she come over and gave me a hug she said, “That was thirty five years ago.”

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Sentinel Photojournalist
Bill Wilson is a San Francisco-based veteran photojournalist. Bill embraced photojournalism at the age of eight. In recent years, his photos capture historic record of the San Francisco LGBT community in the Bay Area Reporter (BAR), The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Francisco Examiner, SFist, SFAppeal. Bill has contributed to the Sentinel for the past seven years. Email Bill Wilson at

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