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No Debt Crisis in U.S. Now: There’s no immediate debt crisis, Boehner says, agreeing with Obama

By Christi Parsons, Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON — The country isn’t facing an immediate debt crisis, House Speaker John Boehner(R-Ohio) said Sunday, but he argued that Congress and the president must reform entitlements to avert one that lies dead ahead.

“We all know that we have one looming,” Boehner said on ABC’s “This Week”. “And we have one looming because we have entitlement programs that are not sustainable in their current form. They’re going to go bankrupt.”

Boehner expressed agreement with Obama’s statement in an ABC interview the other day that the debt doesn’t present “an immediate crisis.”

But Boehner took issue with Obama’s assertion that it doesn’t make sense to “chase a balanced budget just for the sake of balance.”

The new spending plan from House Republicans would balance the budget in 10 years, a priority Boehner said this morning is important to the economy.

“Balancing the budget will, in fact, help our economy,” Boehner said. “It’ll help create jobs in our country, get our economy going again, and put more people back to work.”

“The fact that the government continues to spend more than a trillion dollars every year that it doesn’t have scares investors, scares businesspeople, makes them less willing to hire people,” he said.

In a wide-ranging interview, Boehner said the House would “review” any gun control measure that came out of the Senate. He restated his opposition to gay marriage, and said that, unlike his fellow Ohio Republican, Sen. Rob Portman, he can’t imagine a situation in which he would change his mind. Portman said this week that his views had evolved since he found out his son is gay.

Dwelling on budget issues, Boehner said he has a good relationship with Obama and trusts him, and that a lack of good relations is not the problem getting in the way of a sweeping deficit-reduction plan.

The challenge is in overcoming big differences, he said.

“When you get down to bottom line,” he said, “if the president believes that we have to have more taxes from the American people, we’re not going to get very far.”

“Washington has responsibility, to our seniors and our near seniors, that we firm up these programs so that they’re there for the long term,” Boehner said.

“Because if we don’t do it, not only will they not get benefits, we will have a debt crisis right around the corner. We have time to solve our problems. But we need to do it now.”

 

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AutoReturn Uses Cloud-Based Technology to Simplify Police Towing Management and Reduce Municipal Costs in Concord, California

AutoReturn, the nation’s leading municipal towing management and logistics company, has announced the successful implementation of the company’s cloud-based technology, ARIES Online, as a stand-alone technology offering to the City of Concord, Calif.

“We are pleased to bring this technology to municipalities around the country who want to be more autonomous in their towing management, but need our technology to help them,” said AutoReturn CEO John Wicker.  “Our solution transforms the way cities and residents think about municipal services, making them more transparent, efficient, and cost effective.”

AutoReturn has three solutions to assist cities with their towing needs:

  1. AutoReturn Full Service, offering a turn-key municipal towing solution
  2. AutoReturn Logistics, which layers logistics support over our technology solution
  3. ARIES Online, which allows municipalities to utilize AutoReturn’s technology and continue to manage all operations internally.


ARIES Online provides municipalities with the technology to optimize the entire towing life cycle, from the dispatch request to storage and the final disposition of the vehicle. This cloud-based technology helps transform municipal towing services and streamline this important city service, resulting in lower costs for municipalities.

By leveraging Android and iPhone smartphone apps, AutoReturn is able to electronically dispatch tow trucks closest to the call, helping reduce costs incurred by the locally owned tow companies and reducing officer wait times, increasing public safety.

“We are pleased to begin using AutoReturn’s cloud technology in Concord to better serve our citizens,” said Concord Police Chief Guy Swanger. “The decision to work with AutoReturn was based on their strong municipal experience and their leading technology that enables the City to simplify a previously complex system,” he said.

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

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Republic Urban Development Moves Full Speed Ahead on Millbrae BART Station Transit-Oriented Development

Immediately after being selected by the BART Board of Directors as the exclusive negotiating partner for the Millbrae BART Station development by a 5-2 vote, Republic Urban has committed its team and attention to establish a process with BART and the City of Millbrae that will result in the entitlement of a Transit Oriented Development at the BART station here. The station currently serves Caltrain and BART and will eventually host California High Speed Rail.

“Republic is honored to have the opportunity to develop a project that everyone will be proud of.” said Michael VanEvery, President of Republic’s West Coast Division. “We have the experience, resources and talent to make this project a national model and a great asset to the City of Millbrae and its citizens.”

Republic has already begun its planning process that will include an extensive community engagement program to ensure that the development satisfies the goals of both BART and the Millbrae community. This process will begin with scoping sessions for public input to be incorporated into planning and environmental review.

Republic’s vision for the site is a transit-oriented project that weaves into the city fabric, complements the city’s downtown and creates an attractive gateway. Republic proposes transforming the Millbrae BART station’s surrounding property into a dynamic mix of housing, retail, office and solar energy generation. This mixed-use concept will leverage the local and regional transit connections provide by SamTrans, CalTrain and BART to become an important symbol of 21st Century, regionally focused urban development.

Republic’s master plan takes advantage of the strong existing components of the Millbrae BART station and provides the best use for BART delivering a TOD that will bring riders to the system.  It adds needed housing to the City of Millbrae to assist the City in its struggle to meet ABAG housing requirements.

About Republic

Republic is a privately owned, full-service real estate investment, management and development enterprise with more than 25 years’ experience delivering quality results throughout the United States. Republic has developed award-winning real estate projects ranging from land development to historic adaptive reuse to shopping malls. The company has developed and invested in real property transactions totaling over 17 million square feet with a value in excess of $4 billion.

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U.S. bolsters missile defenses to counter North Korea threat: Hagel

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel speaks at his news conference at the Pentagon in Washington March 15, 2013. REUTERS-Yuri Gripas

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel speaks at his news conference at the Pentagon in Washington March 15, 2013.

 

By Phil Stewart and David Alexander

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced plans on Friday to bolster missile defenses in response to “irresponsible and reckless provocations” by North Korea, which threatened a preventative nuclear strike against the United States last week.

Hagel said the Pentagon would add 14 new anti-missile interceptors at Fort Greely in Alaska – an effective reversal of an early Obama administration decision – and move ahead with the deployment of a second missile-defense radar in Japan.

The Pentagon also left open the possibility of creating a site on the East Coast where the Pentagon could field more interceptors capable of striking down an incoming missile. The 14 additional interceptor deployments would cost nearly $1 billion and must be approved by Congress.

“By taking the steps I outlined today we will strengthen our homeland defense, maintain our commitments to our allies and partners, and make clear to the world that the United States stands firm against aggression,” Hagel told a news conference.

North Korea issued its threat last week to stage a preemptive nuclear attack against the United States as the United Nations readied new sanctions against Pyongyang in response to its February 12 nuclear test.

Experts say North Korea is years away from being able to hit the continental United States with a nuclear weapon, despite having worked for decades to achieve a nuclear capability.

But Hagel said the moves announced by the Pentagon were justified to stay ahead of the threat, underscored by the nuclear test and a December rocket launch that analysts believe was aimed at developing technology for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

Hagel also cited North Korea’s display last April of what appeared to be a road-mobile ICBM.

The Pentagon said the United States had informed China, North Korea’s neighbor and closest ally, of its decision to add more interceptors but declined to characterize Beijing’s reaction.

U.S. SAYS SYSTEMS NOT AIMED AT CHINA OR RUSSIA

Officials say its missile defense systems are not designed to counter the large number of ICBMs in arsenals in China or Russia and are focused instead on the threat from North Korea or, potentially, Iran.

Friday’s announcement came with a key caveat – the Pentagon said it would only purchase the extra interceptors if they perform appropriately in tests. The interceptors in question have not hit a target since 2008, a defense official said.

Boeing Co. is the prime contractor of the system. Key Boeing subcontractors include Raytheon Co., which makes the kill vehicle, and Orbital Sciences Corp, which makes the rocket booster.

Admiral James Winnefeld, vice chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed confidence in the missiles and said he believed the steps taken by the United States would make North Korea’s young leader, Kim Jung-un, think twice before acting on bellicose rhetoric.

“We not only intend to put the mechanics in place to deny any potential North Korean objective to launch a missile to the United States, but also to impose costs on them if they do,” he told reporters.

“And we believe that this young lad ought to be deterred by that. And if he’s not, we’ll be ready.”

The addition of another 14 interceptors amounts to a reversal of an Obama administration decision in 2010 to stop expansion of the missile interceptor system at 30 interceptors. The Bush administration had planned to deploy a total of 44.

The United States currently has 26 interceptors deployed at Fort Greely and four at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Congressman Mike Turner, chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, said the Obama administration had began “to realize the shortcomings of its missile defense strategy.”

“Now that the administration has decided to see clearly, America can get back on the right course,” Howard McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement, lamenting lost time and resources.

In a sign of fiscal pressures facing the Pentagon, U.S. officials acknowledged they were also forgoing development of a new anti-missile interceptor that would have been deployed in Europe. They said European defense would be unaffected.

Officials said the United States would move forward with congressionally mandated environmental impact studies for alternative sites in the United States for deploying additional ground-based interceptors, if needed.

Winnefeld said locations on the East Coast were being considered but declined to offer details.

“We’re still looking at sites,” he said.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and David Brunnstrom)

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Singer Associates Public Relations in San Francisco Wins National Awards as PR Agency of the Year, Issues Management, Media Relations Awards

Sam Singer of Singer Associates Public Relations San Francisco

Singer Associates public relations and public affairs in San Francisco was awarded national honors this week for its work with the City of San Bruno to gain $70 million in restitution for the city after the PG&E explosion and fire of Sept. 9, 2010. Singer received both the award for best issues management campaign and best media relations campaign at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

“We are humbled to receive these awards on behalf of our client,” said Sam Singer, president of Singer Associates.  “Our victory was made possible by the work of Mayor Jim Ruane and the City Council of San Bruno, City Manager Connie Jackson, the people of San Bruno, and the law firm of Meyers Nave and its attorneys Steven Meyers and Britt Strottman, and the investment firm of Prager & Co. and its senior advisor Craig Bettencourt,” he said.

PRNews is one of the public relations leading trade publications in New York for professionals in the field of public relations, public affairs, issues management, corporate social responsibility, government relations and non-profit public relations and communications.

Singer’s PRNews awards were won on the heels of the PRWeek Awards in New York City where Singer Associates was selected as the runner up for “Best Public Relations Agency of the Year.” This is the eighth time in 10 years that the agency has been a finalist for this honor, ranking it consistently as one of the nation’s top public relations and public affairs agencies.

Headquartered in San Francisco, Singer Associates is a leading public relations and digital communications agency in California and the western United States specializing in issues management, public affairs, crisis communications,  and litigation, labor relations, healthcare, transportation, commercial and residential real estate, energy, industrial, agricultural, academic and educational and employee communications. Singer agency clients include Chevron, Recology, Stanford Hospitals & Clinics, Transbay Joint Powers Authority, Oracle, The Irvine Co., Golden State Warriors, Gladstone Institutes, City of Oakland, California Pacific Medical Center, Children’s Hospital of Oakland, Calpine, AIMCO, AutoReturn, Sims Metal Management, Airbnb, BART, AC Transit, CalTrain, City of San Bruno, City of Los Angeles,  and others.

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Symphony Concert Scheduled For 2:00 pm March 14 Cancelled Due To Work Stoppage By Musicians

Due to a work stoppage by the musicians of the San Francisco Symphony (SFS), the concert scheduled for 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 14 has been cancelled and will not be rescheduled.  Patrons can obtain up-to-the-minute information on concerts, ticket exchanges and customer service by calling the Symphony Box Office at (415) 864-6000 and on the Orchestra’s website at www.sfsymphony.org/press.

The Musicians Union of San Francisco, Local 6, American Federation of Musicians, representing musicians of the San Francisco Symphony, have rejected proposals from the Orchestra administration for a new three-year contract that would have kept the musicians among the three highest paid orchestras in the country.  The administration notified the musicians that a revised proposal would be presented Thursday, March 14 but the musicians decided to strike rather than continue negotiations overseen by a federal mediator.

The latest administration proposal offered a minimum base yearly salary of $141,700 in the first year, with multi-year increases to $144,560 by the end of the proposed contract.  During the most recent four-year contract, the musicians’ base minimum pay increased by 17.3%, an average of 4.3% per year.  In addition to the minimum base salary, other musician compensation such as radio payments, over-scale, and seniority raises the current annual average pay for SFS musicians to over $165,000.

The administration’s most recent offer also maintained all current benefit payment levels including 10 weeks paid vacation, a maximum pension of $74,000 annually upon retirement, paid sick leave, and a full coverage health plan with no monthly contribution for individual musicians.

“We are disappointed that the musicians have chosen to strike and deeply regret any inconvenience to our patrons,” said Brent Assink, Executive Director of the San Francisco Symphony.  “We will continue to work hard to develop a fair agreement that gives our talented musicians a contract that reflects our stature as one of the top orchestras in the country but also one that sets a prudent financial course for the future.”

Providing affordable health care options for musicians remains a key goal.   With the rising cost of health care, SFS administration proposed health care plan changes but still offered a health care plan option with no monthly contribution for individual musicians.  The latest proposal also maintained a maximum $74,000 annual pension for retiring musicians, with a slight increase in retirement age to draw full pensions.

In the current economic environment, the San Francisco Symphony is facing the same challenges that other major American orchestras around the country are facing.  For all four years of its most recent collective bargaining agreement with its musicians, operating expenses have outpaced operating income.  While concert and related revenues have increased 2.4% compounded annually during the term of the four-year agreement, concert production expenses have increased 8.1% compounded annually.  The Orchestra has incurred an operating deficit in each of those years.

“Many of America’s top orchestras are facing similar challenges with increased concert production, pension, and health care costs currently outpacing revenue growth.  We are developing a multi-year plan to achieve a balanced operating model, including identifying and growing new sources of revenue and at the same time reducing the growth rate of expenses,” said Assink.

As a non-profit organization, the Symphony provides transparency about its finances in fully audited and publicly available documents in accordance with the law.  The administration responded to all of the union’s specific requests for information in a timely manner throughout the negotiations.  Since September, this has included over 50 formal requests for which were delivered over 500 pages of documentation.

Patrons with tickets to the March 14 concert may exchange them for an upcoming concert, may donate their tickets, or receive a refund. Patrons can obtain up-to-the-minute information on concerts, ticket exchanges and customer service by calling the Symphony Box Office at (415) 864-6000 and on the Orchestra’s website at www.sfsymphony.org/press.

For more details on the negotiations please visit www.sfsymphony.org/press or contact Oliver Theil, SFS Director of Communications at (415) 264-1241 otheil@sfsymphony.org

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Mayor Lee Announces City’s Long-Term Infrastructure, Financial & Technology Plans To Build San Francisco’s Future


Ten-Year Capital Plan Together With Five-Year Financial Plan & Five-Year Information & Communication Technology Plan Continues & Improves Building a 21st Century San Francisco

Mayor Edwin M. Lee today introduced at the Board of Supervisors the City’s Ten-Year Capital Plan for Fiscal Year 2014-23 along with the Five-Year Financial Plan and the Five-Year Information & Communication Technology (ICT) Plan for Fiscal Year 2014-18.

“Whether we are investing in critical capital infrastructure, preparing for our long-term financial stability or planning for our innovation and technology needs, we must always consider how our City is growing and changing, so that we can best serve our residents,” said Mayor Lee . “With long term planning, we are better preparing ourselves to weather any economic impacts, maintain our fiscal stability, and create greater government efficiency. We can build and improve our City while creating jobs for our residents and supporting our continued economic recovery.”

The Ten-Year Capital Plan for FY 2014-23 recommends $25.1 billion in capital projects over the next ten years, including $4.7 billion for General Fund departments, $14.5 billion for enterprise departments, and $5.9 billion for external government agencies within the City and County of San Francisco. These proposed investments will safeguard and improve the City’s infrastructure, facilities, and parks, and will support roughly 223,000 local jobs over the next decade.

The City’s newest Capital Plan proposes a number of initiatives that have been key objectives since its inception in 2006, including fully funding the street repaving program at a Pavement Condition Index (PCI) of 70; funding facility renewals at levels that not only meet annual needs, but also reduce the backlog; relocating nearly all of the functions in the Hall of Justice to safer facilities; and continuing construction and planning on critical projects, including the Water System and Sewer System Improvement Programs, the new Acute Care San Francisco General Hospital, the War Memorial Veterans Building, Piers 27, 30-32, 70, Seawall Lot 337, the Central Subway, Transbay Terminal and Presidio Parkway (formerly Doyle Drive).

The Five-Year Financial Plan is required under Proposition A, a Charter amendment approved by voters in November 2009. The City Charter requires the plan to forecast expenditures and revenues during the five-year period, propose actions to balance revenues and expenditures during each year of the plan, and discuss strategic goals and corresponding resources for City departments. Over the life of the plan, revenues are projected to grow by $577.5 million or 13percent, at the same time, expenditures are expected to grow by $1,064.7 million or 25 percent resulting in a five year shortfall of $487.2 million. The plan proposes a package of balanced solutions to address the gap including, capital and debt restructuring, managing wage and benefits costs, identifying additional revenues, adjusting baselines, limiting non-personnel inflation, and implementing ongoing department solutions. In addition, the Plan identifies department specific issues including:

• Public Protection: The continued implementation of Public Safety Realignment; multi-year hiring plans to address retirements at the Police and Fire departments; and the continued planning and construction of large capital projects through the City’s General Obligation bond and General Fund debt programs, as well as the on-going costs associated with these large one-time investments.

• Public Works, Transportation & Commerce: Planning and construction of large-scale development and capital projects; identifying funding sources to meet development needs; and finding a sustainable funding source for street repaving.

• Human Welfare & Neighborhood Development: Managing increasing demand for services through Aid programs; the need for reauthorization of voter-mandated set-asides for the San Francisco Unified School District and the Children’s Fund; and continuing to monitor and adapt to large fiscal and policy changes enacted at the state and federal levels.

• Community Health: Managing the implementation of the Affordable Care Act; controlling rising General Fund costs; and completing the SF General Hospital rebuild project in addition to planning for other capital projects proposed through the City’s General Obligation bond program.

• Culture & Recreation: Managing losses in revenue due to the expected departure of the San Francisco 49ers from Candlestick Park; and continuing to implement large scale capital projects, including: the Veterans Building Seismic Retrofit, the Recreation and Park Department General Obligation bond program, and the Branch Library Improvement Program.

• General Administration & Finance: Continuing to implement major housing initiatives through the City Administrator’s Office and the Mayor’s Office of Housing; major technology system replacements; and the implementation of the Business Tax reform passed in November 2012.

The Five-Year Information & Communication Technology (ICT) Plan for FY 2014-18 builds on the progress made in the first Plan and provides a framework for how the City can proactively plan for and invest in technology. The Plan identifies four strategic IT goals: making government more efficient and effective through technology, improving public access and transparency, strengthening security and disaster preparedness, and maintaining and supporting critical city IT infrastructure. The Plan identifies IT projects above and beyond available funding and recommends improved project planning which will allow COIT to prioritize and appropriately fund projects during the annual budget process.

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Flax Art & Design Celebrates 75 Years

FLAX art & design (www.flaxart.com) , family-owned and operated since 1938, celebrates 75 years as San Francisco’s oldest locally-run supplier of quality materials for creative people. In 1938, Herman Flax opened Flax’s Artists’ Materials in downtown San Francisco, with $100 to invest in inventory and a used cash register, at first living in back of the shop with his family. From this humble beginning, FLAX gathered a loyal following of customers, and expanded to its current location, occupying 20,000 square feet at 1699 Market Street (at Valencia). Now operated by Howard Flax, who represents the family’s third generation along with his sister Leslie Flax Abel, FLAX art & design celebrates this business landmark with special events and promotions throughout 2013, and a grand birthday bash in August.

“FLAX has a long history of being connected to its customers, supporting artists and the Bay Area arts community,” says Howard Flax. “A lot has changed since the early days. Yet for an art store there is one constant, and that is the role we play in fueling a passion for the arts and inspiring creativity. I want to continue the family tradition of a store that is an essential part of our local art community.”

Like many American families, Herman and Sylvia Flax lost virtually everything in the Great Depression. Inspired by the success of Herman’s brother Sam in New York, who got his start selling art supplies out of the trunk of his car to vacationers in the Catskill Mountains, Herman took his family west from New Jersey and in 1938 opened a small art supply store on Kearny Street in downtown San Francisco. Flax’s Artists’ Materials was born and soon rose to success, buoyed by the artists’ movement that grew during World War II. Herman’s other two brothers also established independent, successful art supply outlets in Los Angeles and Chicago, and the Flax art supply presence spread to Phoenix, Orlando and Atlanta. In 1955, Herman passed away at an early age, and upon returning from military service, Herman and Sylvia’s youngest son Philip took over the San Francisco business alongside his brother Jerry.

The Flax brothers grew close to their local customers, becoming well known for their generous support of struggling artists and the Bay Area arts scene. Their retail store soon drew nationwide attention for its incredible breadth of products, its helpful and knowledgeable staff, and its ability to inspire creativity through inventive presentation of merchandise.

The FLAX store also played a role in one of the greatest films of all time, its back door providing the lead-in for Kim Novak’s scene in the Podesta Baldocchi flower shop in Alfred Hitchcock’s psychological thriller Vertigo (1958).

In 1981, having outgrown the downtown location, Flax moved to 1699 Market Street, right next to the historic trolley line. The warehouse behind this new retail store also afforded enough space to venture into the mail-order catalog business. In 1989, Flax’s Artists’ Materials became FLAX art & design, a different name to reflect its broader, more diverse products, and moved its distribution and customer service centers south to Brisbane. A bustling e-commerce website soon followed, earning FLAX a listing in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide of 2005. In 2007, FLAX discontinued its mail order and e-tail branches and once again focuses on direct in-store sales to its third generation of customers.

In its 75 years, FLAX has become an icon of creative inspiration and a San Francisco institution. Staffed by artists, designers, and musicians, the store is visited regularly by residents and tourists alike. From established professionals and serious students to weekend dabblers and hobbyists, FLAX art & design has tools, supplies and gifts for every artistic passion and all age levels. Described by one pleased customer as “a candy store for the creative,” FLAX art & design offers a treasure-trove of arts and crafts materials and products. www.flaxart.com

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

Jayne Williams of Meyers Nave Law Firm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pistorius Rebutes Murder Charge in Court

By LYDIA POLGREEN and ALAN COWELL From the New York Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Michael D. Goldhaber

The Litigation Daily

 

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

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


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


·      Ron Conway, Chairman, sf.citi

·        Craig Dalton, Co-Founder, DODOcase

·        Jack Dorsey, Founder/CEO, Square

·        Art Gensler, CEO/Founder, Gensler

·        Heather Hiles, Founder/CEO, Pathbrite

·        Lynn Jurich, Co-CEO, Sunrun

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

·        David Lee, Founder/Managing Partner, SV Angel

·        Laura Weidman Powers, Founding Executive Director, Code2040

·        Kevin Yeaman, CEO, Dolby

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

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

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

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

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Construction begins on Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

Work is underway on the future home of the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) in Berkeley’s downtown arts district, BAM/PFA officials announced today (Tuesday, Feb. 12).

BAM/PFA Director Lawrence Rinder acknowledged the generous donors who have contributed $95 million in pledges toward the $100 million campaign for the new facility for the campus and community visual arts center.

“This is an incredible milestone for this campaign, now a full decade in the making. We will be forever grateful to all of those individuals who have offered commitments to the campaign, not to mention the campus and Berkeley communities who have given their overwhelming support and goodwill to the project,” said Rinder.

Barclay Simpson, a member of the BAM/PFA Board of Trustees and ardent advocate for the arts said, “The arts are a critical part of civil society and education and this new building will ensure that UC Berkeley and the city of Berkeley have a world class visual arts center befitting these communities for at least the next century.”

Designed by the renowned New York City–based firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), the planned facility will unite a building that previously housed the UC Berkeley printing plant at the corner of Center and Oxford streets with a new structure that will anchor the corner of Oxford and Addison streets. Rinder has praised the design for its “bold new architectural form,” as well as for its beauty and accessibility.

Following a competitive process, UC Berkeley awarded the construction contract for the project to Plant Construction Company, which has begun work on site planning and mobilization. The early phases of construction focus on interior work in the existing building, including salvaging reusable materials and preparing for demolition of the adjacent parking structure. EHDD of San Francisco is the architect of record for the project.

More extensive—and more visible—work will begin this spring. Construction is targeted for completion in summer 2015 with the new facility opening to the public in early 2016.

Planning for the center began in 1997, after an engineering survey found that BAM/PFA’s current building on Bancroft Way does not meet present-day seismic standards and cannot be upgraded to do so without eliminating open exhibition spaces required for the galleries.

The new building will house BAM/PFA’s exhibition galleries, learning center, participatory art-making studio, works-on-paper study center, store, cafe, and offices. It also will also reunite the institution’s film theater, moved to an annex structure on Bancroft Way in 1999, with the galleries and operations areas. The center will be home to a 230-seat theater and a thirty-two-seat screening room, as well as a film library and study area.

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

An international arbitration tribunal issued an award yesterday finding that the Republic of Ecuador and the administration of President Rafael Correa has violated the Tribunal’s prior Interim Awards authorized under international law and a treaty between the United States and Ecuador by not preventing the attempted enforcement of a $19 billion judgment against Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX)  In prior rulings, the Tribunal put the Republic on notice that if Chevron’s arbitration ultimately prevails, “any loss arising from the enforcement of (the judgment) may be losses for which the (Republic) would be responsible to (Chevron) under international law.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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The Castro Street Fair Announces Date for 40th “Ruby Anniversary” Celebration; Prepare to Paint the Town Red! The 40th Castro Street Fair, October 6, 2013 at Castro & Market

The 40th Castro Street Fair, October 6, 2013 at Castro & Market

Today, the Castro Street Fair Board of Directors announced the date for their Ruby Anniversary, celebrating 40 years! The fair will take place on Sunday, October 6, 2013 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Castro & Market Streets.
“It’s such an honor to continue a tradition that was started by Harvey Milk almost 40 years ago,” said Fred Lopez, President of the Castro Street Fair Board of Directors. “This year, we plan to highlight how this incredible San Francisco tradition continues, year after year, to bring this wonderful community together. We will celebrate the unique spirit of the Castro as we move toward the day of the fair,” he continued.

The Castro Street Fair is a part of the enduring legacy of Harvey Milk, who founded the Fair along with other local merchants in 1974. Since then, the Fair has been a thriving celebration for the Castro neighborhood, and for all of San Francisco. Plans are under way to make this one of the biggest and best Castro Street Fairs ever. Live performances and dance areas will pay tribute to some of the original Castro Street Fair entertainers– such as disco legend, Sylvester.

Charity

Every year, the Castro Street Fair raises money for local charities and the 40th year will be no different. The 39th Annual Castro Street Fair was a huge success, amidst one of San Francisco’s busiest weekends in history. The Fair attracted huge crowds and raised over $76,000 for local charities.

More than 460 individuals logged nearly 2,000 volunteer hours to assist with the production of the event.

On December 11, 2012, the Castro Street Fair Board of Directors distributed $76,327.21 in proceeds to over thirty local beneficiaries.
“The Castro Street Fair takes its role as a fundraising vehicle for local non-profits very seriously, while ensuring that everyone who comes to the Fair has a seriously good time” said George Ridgely, Executive Director of the Castro Street Fair Board of Directors.

Sponsors and Exhibitors

There are many exciting sponsorship opportunities for the Castro Street Fair 40th Anniversary. Exhibitor booths are expected to go on-sale in late March. For more information, contact: info@castrostreetfair.org

About the Castro Street Fair

The Castro Street Fair is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization and all proceeds go directly to charitable causes important to the Castro community. Additionally, the Fair funds the rainbow flag that flies over the intersection of Castro and Market.

The Fair is located in the heart of San Francisco’s Castro District, at the intersection of Market & Castro Streets and the surrounding area. The Fair is a piece of the enduring legacy of Harvey Milk, who was a co-founder of the Fair in 1974. The Castro Street Fair is a community street celebration – with hundreds of local artists, vendors, craftspeople, and community organizations lining the streets to celebrate the diversity of the neighborhood. Stages with live entertainment and dance stages can be found throughout the fairgrounds.

For more information about the Fair, visit www.castrostreetfair.org

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Will Citizens United Repeal Begin in a Marin Carpool Lane?

From the Pacific Sun

A lone Marin driver’s naughty sneak into the carpool lane could spell the end of corporate personhood as we know it—or at least that’s San Rafael resident Jonathan Frieman’s plan, as he heads to Marin Superior Court next week to challenge a traffic violation and, ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

Frieman was heading south on Highway 101 through Novato on Oct. 2 when he was cited for violating California vehicle code 21655.5, which prohibits drivers from entering unauthorized vehicle lanes—in Frieman’s case, being a solo occupant in a lane requiring two or more persons. But Frieman plans to contest the $478 violation in court on Jan. 7, arguing that he had corporate incorporation papers in his car at the time and, he says, the state vehicle code views corporations as persons—therefore he and his corporation constituted a two-person carpool.

According to a press release from Kathleen Russell Consulting, the Mill Valley-based firm handling publicity for Frieman’s quest for justice, state vehicle code 470’s definition of a person includes “natural persons and corporations.”

If he loses in court on Monday, continues the press release, Frieman says he is prepared to appeal the ca se all the way to the Supreme Court “in an effort to expose the impracticality of corporate personhood.”

“Corporations are imaginary entities, and we’ve let them run wild,” says Frieman. “Their original intent 200 years ago at the dawn of our nation was to serve human beings. So I’m wresting back that power by making their personhood serve me.”

The concept of corporate personhood has been an ongoing controversy for years—but it hit the mainstream in 2010 following the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, which held that restricting political expenditures by corporations was a violation of their First Amendment rights to free speech. Implicit in such a ruling, some argue, is that the Constitution grants protections to corporations as if they were people.

Representing Frieman is attorney Ford Greene—he, too, says the state vehicle code treats a person and a corporation as equivalent.

“When a corporation is present in one’s car, it is sufficient to qualify as a two-person occupancy for commuter lane purposes,” says Greene, who’s also a San Anselmo city councilmember. “When the corporate presence in our electoral process is financially dominant, by parity it appears appropriate to recognize such presence in an automobile.”

Also unclear: If Frieman’s ticket is dismissed on the grounds that he and the corporation constitute a carpool–could the San Rafael activist then be fined for driving with an un-seat-belted passenger?

Frieman’s court appearance takes place Monday at 3pm at the Marin Superior Court, 3501 Civic Center Drive in San Rafael.

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St. Anthony’s Breaks Ground on Their New Dining Room on January 24 at 3 pm

After 60 years and almost 39 million free, hot meals, St. Anthony Foundation is partnering with Mercy Housing California to develop a new home for St. Antony’s dining room, crowned with 90 affordable apartments for seniors at 121 Golden Gate.

This partnership makes the most of the original Dining Room site by raising a new 10-story building that will bring St. Anthony’s Dining Room, Free Clothing Program, and social Work Center together under one roof and increase service and food storage space.

Above, Mercy Housing California will develop and operate 90 supportive studio and one-bedroom apartments for very low-income and formerly homeless seniors.  Residents will only have to take the elevator to get a nutritious meal or an emergenmcy grocery bag, a set of clothing. or advice from a social worker at St. Anthony’s.  Together, St. Anthony’s and Mercy Housing Califronia will enusre that seniors live in dignity in a safe, stable and accessible home.

Financing partners for the development include the CA Tax Credit allocation commitee, the US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, the City and County of SF, Citibank Community Capital, National Equity Fund, Silicon Valley Bank, Federal Home Loan Bank of SF, and the Kendeda Fund.

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Drakes Bay Oyster Company Gets Backing From Virginia-Based Interest Group

The Virginia-based Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund has agreed to administer a litigation fund to be used to help finance the Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s lawsuit against the United States National Park Service.

The oyster operation was ordered to close by the government after its long-term lease expired in November. Drakes Bay is fighting the issue in court. Drakes Bay will solicit support from its customers, supporters, restaurants and others from the Bay Area and Marin, Sonoma and Napa counties with the defense fund managing the money.

The money in the fund will be used to finance the company’s public interest litigation against the park service. Contributions to the fund are not tax deductible as charitable contributions.

 

From The Marin Independent Journal

 

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San Francisco-Based Company Leases Entire New Construction Downtown Office Tower at 350 Mission; Space for Thousands of New Employees in Transbay District; Also Signs 100,000 Square Foot Expansion at 50 Fremont


Salesforce.com has leased approximately 450,000 square feet of office space in a new office tower to be built at 350 Mission Street. The largest San Francisco lease transaction of 2012 to date, the building will break ground in January 2013 with anticipated occupancy in 2015. Salesforce.com also announced a 100,000 square foot expansion at 50 Fremont Street. This comes less than a year after salesforce.com’s January 2012 announcement of a 400,000 square foot lease in the same building.

“Salesforce.com’s major expansion downtown proves once again that investor confidence is driving San Francisco’s economic recovery,” said Mayor Lee. “This will bring thousands of new jobs and anchor the City’s Transbay District as a leading destination for innovative companies. Salesforce.com started in San Francisco, and I want to thank Marc Benioff and salesforce.com for their commitment to grow and add jobs in the City.”

“I’d like to thank Mayor Lee and his team for their continued support of Salesforce.com’s expanding downtown San Francisco campus,” said salesforce.com COO George Hu. “We are proud to have our global headquarters in San Francisco and are committed to continuing to grow and add jobs in the City.”

Owned by Kilroy Realty, the 27-story office building at 350 Mission is set to break ground in January 2013 becoming the first new high-rise building built in San Francisco since 2008 and will be the first new LEED Platinum office tower in San Francisco.

“Eight weeks from purchase to full pre-lease is a new record for Kilroy Realty Corporation” said Kilroy Realty CEO John Kilroy. “It’s an incredible outcome that couldn’t have been achieved without a phenomenal tenant in salesforce.com and the support of the Mayor’s office. We are so thrilled to have salesforce.com occupy this iconic tower in the heart of the South Financial District.

50 Fremont Street is owned by TIAA-CREF.

Today’s announced leases total more than half a million square feet and will provide space for thousands of new employees in San Francisco.  This move expands salesforce.com’s “downtown campus” and is adjacent to the new Transbay Terminal under construction.   Salesforce.com will have 1.6 million square feet of office space in San Francisco by 2016, reinforcing their status as one of the City’s largest employers. 

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Stanford’s Hoover Pavilion Gets a Beautiful Rennovation and Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Estate of Thomas M. Dross Makes Major Long Term Gift to AIDS Emergency Fund

The estate of San Francisco resident Thomas M. Dross intends to donate $1 million to the AIDS Emergency Fund (www.aef-sf.org) to be used over several years including for the solicitation of ongoing challenge grants. The gift was announced today in San Francisco as part of the 30th Anniversary gala benefiting the acclaimed nonprofit that provides ongoing support to the AIDS/HIV population.

“The AIDS pandemic has been with us for more than 30 years, and those living with the disease continue to need care, funding and support, especially as they age,” said AIDS Emergency Fund Executive Director Mike Smith. “This bequest, while the largest single donation ever made to AEF, does not eliminate the continuing and growing need for funding. In light of the continuing financial crisis and the challenge faced by the AIDS/HIV community to raise vital funds, we are especially grateful for the incredible generosity of the Dross estate, and the message it will send: AIDS is not over, and we still need your help in the ongoing fight.”

Dross, of Palm Springs and San Francisco, died following a sudden heart attack on January 7, 2012. Originally from Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, Dross moved to San Francisco in the 1970s where he became a well-known advertising and marketing professional, working for such prestigious firms as Pritikin & Associates. Later, he was the founder and owner of one of San Francisco’s most popular financial district restaurants, “Upstairs, Downstairs.” He attended Widner College in Chester Pennsylvania and received his degree from the University of Pennsylvania. As a youth, He went to St. Mary’s Parochial school, St. Matthew’s High School and was a member of St. Mary’s Church all in Conshohocken. Dross is survived by a family of friends in both Palm Springs and San Francisco and family in Pennsylvania.

“Tom was one of the kindest and most generous people we ever met,” said a joint statement from Alfredo Casuso and David Perry, co-executors of the Dross will. “His will stipulated that the main beneficiaries of his will would be AIDS charities. There is no greater example of the ‘San Francisco Model’ of AIDS care than the AIDS Emergency Fund. We look forward, over the next few years, to working with AEF to make sure these funds get put to good use.”

The AIDS Emergency Fund responds compassionately to the AIDS crisis by providing immediate, short-term financial assistance to help people disabled by HIV/AIDS to cover their basic human needs and stabilize their living situations. The AIDS Emergency Fund operates with low overhead to raise and distribute funding to those most in need who are experiencing genuine emergencies or have an opportunity to permanently stabilize their living situation. Short-term financial assistance from AEF is a key element of San Francisco’s continuum of care, and AEF collaborates with other service providers to insure that clients access all available resources and assistance.

Through compassionate intervention by AEF, people living with HIV/AIDS can maintain access to medical care and drug therapies, avoid eviction and homelessness, and live with greater stability and dignity during their illness. For more information go to www.aef-sf.org

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California Center for Sustainable Energy Appoints Rear Adm. Len Hering as Executive Director

Brings strategic leadership, business acumen and innovation in sustainability             

The California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) announced today, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, the appointment of retired Rear Adm. Len Hering Sr., a prominent military and civilian sustainability leader, as its new executive director.

Alan Ball, an energy consultant and chair of CCSE’s board of directors, said Hering was selected after a nationwide search to succeed long-time CCSE executive director Irene M. Stillings who served as the center’s executive director from 2002 to 2012. CCSE is a San Diego-based nonprofit organization that works with stakeholders throughout the state’s energy sector to meet California’s aggressive energy goals and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“CCSE’s entire board of directors is very excited to have an individual with Admiral Hering’s sustainability credentials take over leadership of our organization,” Ball said. “We are confident that Hering, working with CCSE’s talented staff, can provide the knowledge, skills and direction to take the organization to higher levels, offering its energy services statewide and beyond.”

“After extensive outreach and search, Len Hering’s outstanding leadership skills and proven track record in delivering renewable energy projects rose to the top from a group of very talented applicants,” said San Diego attorney John Moot, CCSE board member and search committee chairman. “CCSE is indeed fortunate to have someone of Hering’s skills follow in the steps of Irene Stillings.”

“Len Hering is an excellent choice to lead CCSE because of his broad experience and leadership role in planning and implementing a wide range of sustainable initiatives in both the government and private sectors,” Stillings said. “His passion and focus on saving the environment, becoming oil independent and reducing greenhouse gas emissions will serve well CCSE’s goals and will no doubt influence the business community and government agencies to move forward with programs and policies leading to a more sustainable energy future.”

Hering, a resident of Chula Vista, Calif., served 32 years in the U.S. Navy, retiring in 2009, and was noted as one of the Navy’s top experts in base operations and facility support with an emphasis on sustainability and the environment. He received several state, local and federal awards for efforts ensuring the Navy’s environmental responsibilities with fiscally sound practices, including the creation of the Federal Sustainability Network in the Pacific Northwest and Southern California.

Hering has also been recognized with awards for instituting numerous sustainable measures, including solar energy, water conservation and waste reduction, while vice president for business services and administration at the University of San Diego during 2009-2012.

Most recently, Hering has been an advisor to a number of boards and companies on matters of sustainability, energy use and water conservation. He was selected as one of San Diego’s Top 100 Influentials in 2006-7, 2008 San Diego’s Deal Maker of the Year, 2008 winner of the Spirit of San Diego Award and 2010 American Lung Association Climate Champion Award. He founded the San Diego Regional Sustainability Partnership, a consortium of business, government, academic and community organizations promoting practices that support a sustainable future for the region.

While in the Navy, Hering was responsible for building a team recognized throughout the Department of Defense as the best in environmental protection and sustainable innovation. Within three years, the team reduced energy consumption by nearly 42%, diverted 75% of Navy waste from landfills and reduced water consumption by more than one billion gallons, saving tens of millions of taxpayer dollars. Hering instigated wind, thermal, photovoltaic and conversion technology at all levels in Navy facilities. President Bush awarded Hering a 2005 Presidential Award for Leadership in Federal Energy Management for recognition of efforts reducing oil spills and for recycling.

CCSE has almost 90 employees and closed 2011 with more than $75 million in revenue. During 2011, CCSE awarded about $62 million in direct incentive payments to Californians who made investments in sustainable energy by purchasing solar electric, solar water heating systems, fuels cells and electric vehicles. For more information, visit www.energycenter.org <http://www.energycenter.org> .

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Program highlights in the 40th year include:

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

AutoReturn’s Municipal Towing Management Addresses Safety Logistics Issues

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

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

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

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

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

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

About AutoReturn

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

 

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Arthur Beren Shoes Supports Project Open Hand This Holiday Season

Arthur Beren Shoes, a retail luxury shoe store located in San Francisco’s Union Square, is excited to announce that it will be raising money for Project Open Hand this holiday season through a joint promotion on Facebook.  Through the months of November and December, for every new sign up on Facebook, Arthur Beren Shoes will donate $5 to Project Open Hand up to a total amount of $5,000.

In addition, each entrant will also have the opportunity to win a free pair of shoes valued up to $500 in our random shoe giveaway.

 

About Project Open Hand

Project Open Hand is a nonprofit organization that provides meals and groceries for people with symptomatic HIV/AIDS and breast cancer and meals for people who are homebound and critically ill. They also prepare congregate lunches for seniors over 60 years of age. They serve San Francisco and Alameda Counties, engaging more than 100 volunteers every day to nourish the community. Learn more at www.openhand.org.

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