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Francis Xavier “F.X.” Crowley For San Francisco District 7 Supervisor

Editorial: Sentinel Endorses Francis Xavier Crowley for District 7 Supervisor

There is only one candidate that truly represents the west of Twin Peaks neighborhoods and that is F.X. Crowley. We give Crowley our strongest endorsement as the best candidate to succeed outgoing Supervisor Sean Elsbernd and represent District 7.

Crowley is the right leader to represent the District and to ensure public safety by adding more police and fighting crime in our neighborhoods as well as being a voice of fiscal responsibility on the Board of Supervisors.  Having grown up in the District, there is no better candidate to represent D7 than F.X. Crowley.

Crowley is a native San Franciscan who was born and grew up in the District in Miraloma Park–and graduated from St. Ignatius College Preparatory (SI) in 1977. He is a longtime Stagehands union leader who has won the respect of the business community and a highly regarded civic leader, having served as the President of the Public Utilities Commission and a Port Commissioner with distinction.  He fought to rebuild and protect Hetch Hetchy on the PUC and was a strong leader for growth and fiscal responsibility as a member of the Port Commission.

Crowley has won the endorsement of Sen. Diane Feinstein; Lt. Gov. and former Mayor Gavin Newsom; San Francisco Police Officers Association; San Francisco Firefighters; Sen. Leland Yee; Assembly Speaker Pro Temp Fiona Ma; Former Mayor and Police Chief Frank Jordan, Retired Judge and former Senator Quentin Kopp; Planning Commissioner Mike Antonini; Justice Harry W. Low; Thomas “Tippy” Mazzucco, President, San Francisco Police Commission; Diarmuid Philpott, President, United Irish Societies, and retired SFPD Deputy Chief; Joe Russoniello, former United States Attorney; and Kevin Ryan, former United States Attorney.

And he has our endorsement as well.

Crowley’s leadership is in sharp contrast to the other candidates in the race, one of them being Mike Garcia, a retired Louisiana options trader who until recently was a registered Libertarian who expressed his desire to legalize drugs.  Garcia is clearly out of step with the voters of the District who favor strong enforcement of drug laws to prevent home break-ins; and Norman Yee, a left-wing/ Progressive member of the school board and advocate of legalizing prostitution, has demonstrated that he is out of touch with voters. Lastly, there is candidate Joel Engardio, who has at least been honest in admitting he is a carpetbagger who only moved into the district over a year ago to run for this seat.

There is only once choice for District 7 voters and that is district native Francis Xavier Crowley.

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DLA Piper, Sen. Mitchell Tainted by PG&E San Bruno Case: Recusal is the Only Path to Integrity for Law Firm, California Public Utilities Commission

George Mitchell: Reputation at Stake

Editorial

This week’s unilateral announcement by the California Public Utilities Commission to select DLA Piper—a global law firm that has represented the company headed by the current CPUC President Michael Peevy and worked to defend utility companies in major litigation—has sent shock waves throughout California’s legal community, elected leaders, the public and the media.

The fact that none of the parties at the negotiating table–with the exception of the ‘defendant’ in the case, Pacific Gas & Electric Co.–knew of or agreed to mediation nor was a party to the selection of the mediator, has raised ethical and legal questions that stun even the most passive observers in this monumental national public safety case.

The most fundamental basis of mediation is the agreement by all parties that it is necessary, closely followed by the mutual agreement of an unbiased and neutral mediator.  That very principal has been broken in every conceivable fashion by the California Public Utilities Commission and admitted as such to the Associated Press when CPUC Commissioner Mike Florio said in an interview he felt the move to inform PG&E first about the selection of DLA Piper had not been well thought out: “I think we handled this rather poorly. Announcing it before people were brought into it was not a good idea,” Florio said.

In our opinion, it’s beyond not being a ‘good idea,’ it breaks the very foundation of mediation and ruins the integrity of the CPUC process and DLA Piper’s participation.

If DLA Piper and Senator George Mitchell hope to retain any integrity and their reputations in the legal community, they must immediately resign this assignment now they have become aware of the unethical and potentially illegal manner in which they were selected.  We urge them to resign even before the CPUC leadership has the opportunity to rescind their appointment. It is not only the honorable thing to do, but it is the only thing that will preserve their reputation and demonstrate that they are not simply stooges for the utility industry and CPUC President Michael Peevy.

We commend San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera for standing up and demonstrating his leadership in joining the challenge to demand the CPUC decision to unilaterally appoint DLA Piper and Sen. George Mitchell as mediators when they have conflicts not only with their representation of utility companies, but directly with the interests of San Francisco itself.

As always, San Bruno must win praise for being a leader in its attempt to protect public safety and its citizens in opposing this dubious appointment.  And The Utility Reform Network and the California Division of Ratepayers Advocates should be justly proud that they stood up and truly represented the ratepayers in calling attention to this disgraceful appointment of the clearly conflicted DLA Piper and Sen. Mitchell.

We hope for the sake of Sen. George Mitchell and DLA Piper that they resign now that they know their appointment was tainted, their position conflicted, and their very reputation is at stake.

Their integrity is in their hands and their decision.

 

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San Francisco City Attorney Blasts CPUC, PG&E Over DLA Piper Law Firm Selection in San Bruno Blast: Will DLA Piper Recuse Itself?

DLA Piper Law Firm Conflict in CPUC PG&E Case

More Bad News for DLA Piper: Conflict is raised by SF City Attorney. DLA Piper is adverse to S.F. in litigation, claims several utilities among its clients. CPUC Has Refused Comment on Conflict, Call for DLA to Recuse Firm

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera today expressed serious concerns about the California Public Utilities Commission’s unilateral appointment of former U.S. Senator George Mitchell and DLA Piper to mediate a settlement of enforcement actions against Pacific Gas and Electric Company over the deadly September 2010 explosion of its natural gas pipeline in San Bruno, Calif.

Mitchell currently serves as chairman emeritus of DLA Piper LLC, an international law firm that represents multiple parties currently involved in separate litigation against the City and County of San Francisco. The firm’s utility sector clients include Southern California Edison and Exxon Mobil.

“I have the highest regard for U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, and I greatly admire him for a distinguished public service career that includes major diplomatic achievements in Northern Ireland and the Middle East,” said Herrera. “But the legitimacy of an enforcement action involving one of the deadliest gas pipeline catastrophes in California history must be beyond reproach. What’s at stake in these proceedings is the safety of millions of Californians, and they deserve a process untainted by the appearance of utility industry bias. I don’t doubt Sen. Mitchell’s integrity or good intentions.”

Herrera continued “But the fact is, he leads a law firm that is both adverse to San Francisco in litigation, and that represents major gas utilities involved in cases before the CPUC. Moreover, the commission’s decision to unilaterally appoint a mediator raises larger questions about why the CPUC elected to appoint an outside mediator in the first place. It’s possible that mediation could prove helpful. But it is far more important that CPUC live up to its obligations as an industry regulator that protects the public interest.”

Herrera has been sharply critical of the CPUC following revelations from an independent review panel’s 2011 investigation into the San Bruno tragedy, which concluded that the commission’s “culture serves as an impediment to effective regulation,” and which went on to fault state regulators who “did not have the resources to monitor PG&E’s performance in pipeline integrity management adequately or the organizational focus that would have elevated concerns about PG&E’s performance in a meaningful way.” In July 2011, Herrera initiated steps to sue the CPUC along with federal regulators for failing to reasonably enforce federal gas pipeline safety standards as required by the U.S. Pipeline Safety Act. Herrera later elected to omit CPUC as a defendant after the commission showed signs of progress.

DLA Piper LLC contacted Herrera’s office last Friday, before the CPUC announced its appointment of Mitchell to serve as mediator, to inform city lawyers about litigation and other matters in which DLA Piper is currently adverse to the City and County of San Francisco. Those cases include litigation involving hotel chains and airlines.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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MAYOR LEE & KEY FEDERAL OFFICIALS ANNOUNCE $942.2 MILLION IN FEDERAL FUNDING FOR CENTRAL SUBWAY PROJECT

Funds from Federal New Starts Program to Finance Extension of Muni Metro T Third Line through

SoMa, Union Square & Chinatown Neighborhoods

Mayor Edwin M. Lee and several key officials today announced Federal approval of an agreement dedicating $942.2 million in federal funds to the Central Subway Project. The agreement finalizes the financing for extending Muni Metro’s T Third Line through South of Market, Union Square and Chinatown and is the latest in a series of rigorous Federal, State and local approvals.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Administrator Peter Rogoff, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu and other Federal, State and local officials joined Mayor Lee at a ceremony held today at the future site of the Central Subway’s Union Square/Market Street Station to announce the approval of the New Starts funds.

“This historic investment in San Francisco’s modern public transportation system will not only connect our City’s diverse neighborhoods and create thousands of jobs today, but it will vastly improve our transit system for our City’s growing population and workforce,” said Mayor Lee. “We thank President Obama, Secretary LaHood, Democratic Leader Pelosi, Senators Feinstein and Boxer and all our Federal, State and local funding partners for their vision and support.”

“When the Central Subway is complete, our City will see a stronger economy, a larger workforce, decreased pollution, less congestion, and faster, safer commutes,” said Leader Pelosi. “Working with partners and leaders from government, business, and the community, this project will serve as an economic engine for our City, improve and enhance our infrastructure, and connect the diverse communities of San Francisco.”

“This federal grant will fund San Francisco’s first new downtown subway in decades, transforming the Third Street line into the busiest in the city and moving tens of thousands through the central business district every day,” said Senator Feinstein. “With bus traffic, rush-hour congestion and pollution on the rise, this quick, emission-free alternative will be a vital addition to our infrastructure. It’s a key investment to modernize San Francisco’s public transit system.”

“There was a time when the transcontinental railroad was finished and the nation was knit together,” said Congresswoman Speier. “The Central Subway Project is one of those moments—bringing San Francisco closer to the Peninsula and Santa Clara counties.  This is a great vision and a great day for all commuters.”

“By extending the T Third Line through SoMa, Union Square and Chinatown, we will connect major job, retail and cultural centers to rapid transit and speed up transportation through two of the City’s most congested corridors,” said Board President Chiu. “The Central Subway is an essential addition to our local transit network. We look forward to realizing the decades-long vision of bringing fast, efficient transit to the 4th and Stockton corridors.”

The Central Subway’s Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA), the formal agreement of financial assistance through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) New Starts program, was approved by FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff on October 11th. The investment will help fund construction of the subway tunnels, subway stations, surface-level station, train tracks and operating systems that make up this critical transit extension. New light-rail vehicles, utility relocation and project design, planning and administration are also included in the total project cost, to be financed in large part by New Starts.

New Starts contributed $92.4 million to the Central Subway Project to date. The remaining $849.9 million will be distributed in annual allocations as the project progresses. The second phase of the two-phase Third Street Light Rail Project, the Central Subway is expected to cost about $1.6 billion, with the federal government contributing close to $1 billion and state and local funding sources providing the remaining amount. Combined, the SFMTA will receive 50 percent of the funding for Phases 1 and 2 of the Third Street Light Rail Project from federal sources.

The Central Subway will extend the T Third Line from the Caltrain Station at 4th and King streets to Chinatown, providing a direct, rapid transit link from the Bayshore and Mission Bay areas to SoMa and downtown. Traveling north from 4th and King streets, T Third Line trains will enter a subway tunnel on 4th Street between Bryant and Harrison streets, beneath the I-80 overpass. They will then continue north under 4th Street, stopping at the Yerba Buena/Moscone Station before passing beneath Market Street and the existing Muni and BART tunnels. Trains will then travel below Stockton Street, stopping at the Union Square/Market Street Station before continuing to the line’s terminus in Chinatown.

A major improvement over existing transit service along the congested 4th Street and Stockton Street corridors, the Central Subway will cut travel times by more than half. Peak-hour travel times along this 1.7-mile route now average more than 20 minutes on Muni buses. Travel times on the Central Subway will average less than eight minutes.

With the addition of the Central Subway, the T Third Line is projected to become the most heavily used line in the Muni Metro system by 2030. About 65,000 customers per day are projected to ride the T Third Line in 2030 – about 20 percent more than are projected to ride the most heavily used existing Muni Metro line, the N Judah Line.

Construction is currently underway at four sites along the Central Subway Project alignment. Tunneling contractor Barnard Impregilo Healy Joint Venture is constructing a major excavation known as a launch box at the site in SoMa where tunneling will begin next year. Also in SoMa, work has begun to build below-ground walls, called headwalls, at the future site of the Yerba Buena/Moscone Station on 4th Street between Folsom and Howard streets. At Union Square, two blocks of Stockton Street between Ellis and Geary streets are currently closed to vehicle traffic to allow for headwall construction at the site of the future Union Square/Market Street Station. In addition, crews are working to relocate utility lines in North Beach to prepare to construct a retrieval shaft – an excavation on Columbus Avenue where the project’s two tunnel boring machines (TBMs) are planned to be removed in 2014.

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

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Shuttle Ridership from SF to Silicon Valley up to 14,000 daily

If you live in San Francisco and work at a tech company in Silicon Valley, you probably take a shuttle to work.

A fantastic new map by design company Stamen Design shows just how extensive these shuttle services are.

Google, Yahoo, Apple, Facebook, eBay, and Electronic Arts all operate shuttles that go up and down the San Francisco Peninsula every workday. It’s a substantial employee benefit: You can live in culturally-rich San Francisco, surrounded by young, well-off techies like yourself; you get to work in the heart of Silicon Valley where the biggest and best-paying companies are located; and instead of spending hours a day driving, you pass the time in air-conditioned comfort.

Companies win, too: With Wi-Fi on these buses, employees can start working the instant they hop on the bus instead of waiting until they walk in the door an hour later.

Stamen estimates that the number of people taking these shuttles is huge: over 14,000 people per day, or 35 percent as many as train service Caltrain, which also runs between San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

That could be a sign that something is not working with public transit. If so many companies are forced to pay buses to carry workers to and fro, it’s probably a safe bet the existing train systems aren’t convenient enough.

On the other hand, at least those 14,000 people aren’t driving their own cars up and down 101 and 280, adding to traffic congestion and pollution.

The story of how Stamen assembled this visualization is pretty cool. Its researchers used a site (and open-source project) that Stamen created called Dotspotting to collect information about the locations of shuttle stops around the city (using information from Foursquare to help it ID locations). Then it sent field workers out into the city, riding bicycles and armed with data-collection forms created using another Stamen site, Field Papers, which simplifies getting field notes in the proper geographic locations. Then the notes were scanned (or camera-phoned) and imported into a database.

Finally, Stamen designers assembled and massaged the data until they had a good sense of the main shuttle routes and the volume of passengers on each.

The resulting visualization is on display at the ZERO1 Biennial Exhibition, “Seeking Silicon Valley,” in San Jose, through December 8.

Via Waxy.org and All Things D

 

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In Conversation with David Perry

How Do You Do That?

David Perry, founder/CEO of David Perry & Associates, Inc. (www.davidperry.com),  will be interviewed at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club on Thursday, August 23.

Perry has been entrusted to manage public, media and community relations for signature events on behalf of the City and County of San Francisco, ranging from the 2008 Olympic Torch Relay to the 2011 Fleet Week to the current America’s Cup Races. How does he juggle thousands of moving parts to consistently deliver consistently excellent results, and how can you, too, get a job traveling the world and meeting fascinating people? Come find out!

Location: The Commonwealth Club of California 595 Market Street, 2nd Floor, Gold Room San Francisco Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer/Moderator Julian Chang

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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San Francisco comes together to support America’s Cup

Creation of ‘One-Stop-Shop’ will allow smooth flow of information

to benefit San Francisco businesses, Cup teams, and public

 

The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce (SF Chamber), the San Francisco Travel Association, and the America’s Cup Organizing Committee (ACOC), in partnership with several City agencies, including the Port of San Francisco, 311, the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) and the Office of Small Business, are promoting the smooth flow of information and boosting local business opportunities generated from the 34th America’s Cup through the creation of a ‘One-Stop-Shop’.

 

Opening this week at the new America’s Cup offices at Pier 23, and managed by the OEWD, the One-Stop-Shop is a place where visitors, teams, stakeholders and Bay Area businesses can access information, get assistance on local issues related to the America’s Cup, and learn about business opportunities.

 

“The ‘One-Stop-Shop’ at Pier 23 is another tangible example of how the economic benefits of the America’s Cup races are coming to San Francisco.” said Mayor Edwin M. Lee. “I congratulate all our partners for developing this exciting new center to serve the America’s Cup teams, local businesses and local visitors and deliver a world-class series of events.”

 

The new initiative will also streamline the procurement process and help connect contractors with local and small businesses in San Francisco and across the nine-county Bay Area. The America’s Cup is expected to deliver nearly 9,000 jobs and $1 billion in economic activity across the Bay Area.

 

“The One-Stop-Shop is an important tool in disseminating information about the America’s Cup to all interested parties,” said Stephen Barclay, CEO, America’s Cup Event Authority.

 

A key component of the One-Stop-Shop will be the Business Connect web portal, which will be managed by the SF Chamber to help facilitate the procurement process for work contracted by ACEA, the City and County of San Francisco and the America’s Cup teams. The SF Chamber will also serve as an in-house resource for America’s Cup competitors to help streamline and fulfill procurement needs.

“The 34th America’s Cup is providing unprecedented opportunities for local businesses here in the Bay Area,” Barclay continued. “Our partnership with the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce helps to ensure that local organizations can take full advantage of our ongoing commitment to supporting the local economy.”

 

“The Chamber is proud to partner with the America’s Cup to make sure that local and small businesses benefit from the anticipated $1 billion economic impact soon coming to the Bay Area along with the America’s Cup,” said Steven Falk, President & CEO, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. “We are committed to providing an inclusive, responsive and transparent process that will boost local business participation and help drive job and economic growth throughout the region.”

The One-Stop-Shop opened on August 1st at the new America’s Cup offices at Pier 23 on the Embarcadero and will be open each weekday from 10am to 2pm.

 

The America’s Cup World Series kicks off its second season with races in San Francisco from August 21-26 and October 2-7, 2012. The Louis Vuitton Cup, the America’s Cup Challenger Series, will be held in San Francisco from July 4 – September 1, 2013 and the America’s Cup Finals will be held September 7 – 22, 2013.

 

Businesses interested in staying informed of America’s Cup business opportunities are encouraged to register with AC Connect at http://sf.americascup.com/business. More information on the America’s Cup is available at: http://www.americascup.com. More information on the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce is available at http://www.sfchamber.com.

 

About the America’s Cup

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

 

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

 

About the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce

Founded in 1850, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce is recognized as the pre-eminent business organization for advocacy, networking and economic growth. The Chamber delivers on its mission to attract, develop and retain business in San Francisco by representing companies and organizations that make San Francisco a preferred destination for businesses and visitors.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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MAYOR LEE ANNOUNCES NEW FUNDING FOR TECHSF INITIATIVE TO TRAIN S.F. RESIDENTS FOR HIGH TECH JOBS

U.S. Department of Labor Grants Provide Additional Funds for San Franciscans to

Receive Job Training for New Economy

San Francisco, CA—Mayor Edwin M. Lee today announced that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) awarded San Francisco with an additional $3 million in Workforce Innovation grants to train and reskill San Francisco residents for the City’s growing number of technology and IT jobs. The City’s TechSF Initiative received $5 million from DOL in March.

“Making sure that San Franciscans receive the skills and training they need to compete in the 21stcentury job market is a cornerstone of my economic strategy and critical to our City’s economic recovery,” said Mayor Lee. “I thank the Obama Administration for investing in public-private partnerships that strengthen workforce training and bridge the skills gap between our residents and the good paying jobs that many of our tech companies are creating right here in San Francisco.”

“The Workforce Innovation Fund was created to cultivate and test innovative approaches to workforce training and encourage the replication of evidence-based practices in the workforce development field,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “Developing new and creative strategies and expanding existing programs we know work will help make the workforce system more effective to unemployed Americans and employers looking for qualified employees.”

The DOL Workforce Innovation Fund, in part, focuses on partnerships with specific industry sectors to develop programs to provide current and future job skill needs and the grants help develop the most effective strategies in workforce development. San Francisco was one of only 26 grant recipients nationwide.

Mayor Lee launched the TechSF initiative in March. The new $3 million funding will pilot the TechSF—Workforce Innovation project to transform workforce service delivery by leveraging and building upon San Francisco’s tech industry and TechSF Initiative. TechSF—Workforce Innovation uses best practices and pilots technological innovations and non-traditional workforce training methods in the IT and digital media sectors to bridge the current skills gap. The initiative will be replicable beyond the IT sector; relevant to other labor markets throughout and beyond the regional economy; and will diversify the workforce.

The City will work with industry employers to identify job needs—including mentoring, internships, interviews, curriculum development and co-teaching.

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MAYOR LEE LAUNCHES U.S. MAYORS OPEN GOVERNMENT INNOVATION PARTNERSHIP

Mayor Lee Joins the White House to Urge Mayors Across the Nation to Pledge

Innovation-Led Drive for Job Growth, Improved Government Efficiency & Greater Collaboration

Today, Mayor Edwin M. Lee, as Chair of the first U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) Technology and Innovation Task Force, announced the Open Government Innovation Partnership – a call to action to help cities advance and prioritize innovation to drive job growth, economic development, improved efficiency and collaboration. The USCM Technology and Innovation Task Force will be asking Mayors to join the partnership as active and committed partners to help build an ecosystem that will help cities advance and prioritize innovation to improve government.

“This is a time for cities to confront challenges by taking risks and embracing innovation,” said Mayor Lee. “In San Francisco, we are using technology and innovation to improve city services that impact our everyday lives, from transportation to education to civic engagement.”

The USCM Open Government Innovation Partnership will:
· Strengthen and increase civic use of innovation, cross-collaboration and improved accountability through open government initiatives;
· Showcase the leadership of cities highlighting innovation and creative best practices to increase opportunities for collaboration with the private sector;
· Secure commitments that will make city governments more efficient, effective, and responsive by embracing the use of open government innovation; and
· Empower private sector organizations to partner with government to make services more efficient, effective, and responsive to residents.

The action plans promote transparency, support a marketplace for entrepreneurship, energize civic engagement and collaboration, and leverage new technologies.

Last week, Mayor Lee hosted a forum recognizing the critical role that technology and innovation play in cities by sharing best practices to enable innovation at the 80th Annual Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Orlando, Florida. The forum included former White House Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, White House Deputy Chief Technology Officer and former San Francisco Chief Information Officer Chris Vein and Code for America Executive Director Jen Pahlka.

The USCM Technology and Innovation Task Force also passed a resolution to support open government and the release of data at all levels of government to spur entrepreneurship, foster economic growth and create jobs. The mayors resolved to work closely with Congress and the Obama Administration to expand funding to support initiatives that direct resources to harness the capability of local economies nationwide in developing regional industry, innovation and export clusters.

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Family Demands StoneMor Cemetery Buy Back Mausoleum After Son’s Ashes Stolen in California

 Gonzales Family Blames StoneMor Partners (NYSE: STON) Cemetary for Desecration and Theft of Son’s Tomb

Lafayette, Calif. – A family is demanding a StoneMor California cemetery take back a $3.2-million mausoleum once containing their son’s ashes.

The family of technology pioneer and Commerce One founder, Thomas Gonzales II, says pure negligence allowed thieves to plunder the family’s mausoleum at the Oakmont Memorial Park Cemetery in Lafayette, Calif., in January of 2011 and steal an urn containing Gonzales’ remains.

Thieves walked off with the remains only days after an initial break-in attempt went unreported by the cemetery to police.

Now the $3.2-million marble mausoleum in the Lafayette cemetery stands empty with only broken glass on the floor—relatives say it’s a cold reminder of their son’s tragic and untimely loss. Gonzales died on Dec. 5, 2001 at the age of 35, after an eight-month battle with gastric cancer.

The Gonzales family poured four years and multi-millions into the design and custom-build of a white marble mausoleum befitting their son’s memory.

“Now, the mausoleum has no value to my family,” said Gonzales’ father, Tom Gonzales, Sr. “The sight of it causes my family so much pain and suffering we think it’s only right for Oakmont to be held accountable.”

The family sued StoneMor California, a division of StoneMor Partners LP (NYSE:STON), on Tuesday (6/12/12) for a minimum of $3.2 million, accusing the national cemetery operator of negligently allowing thieves to walk off with their son’s remains and for failing to alert the family of a previous security breach.

Days prior to the January 16, 2011 theft, a groundskeeper at the Oakmont Cemetery noticed damage to the mausoleum’s steel frame doors. Yet, no one from Oakmont cemetery notified the Gonzales family.

Three days later, thieves once again broke onto the property and stole the bronze urn containing Gonzales’ remains. Police never recovered the ashes, despite a full-scale investigation and a large reward, which the family still is offering today.

“The sheer lack of regard for the Gonzales family and the unconscionable negligence of the StoneMor operators has led to this tragic theft,” said the Gonzales family attorney Harvey Stein of Oakland.

“No monetary value will be enough to compensate the family for the pain caused by this tragedy. The sadness of Thomas’s early death is only compounded by the desecration of his tomb,” Stein added.

Gonzales and his father co-founded Commerce One Inc., a pioneering Internet company in Pleasanton that became one of the fastest-growing firms in Nasdaq history.

 

 

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Barbara Morrison, Advocate for Women and Small Business, to be honored as “Financial Woman of the Year” by the Financial Women’s Association of San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO, June 8, 2012 – The Financial Women’s Association (FWA) of San Francisco has selected Barbara Morrison, Founder and President of TMC Financing, as the 2012 Financial Woman of the Year. This award recognizes Morrison for her decades of leadership and significant contributions during her career in small business financing. TMC Financing is an SBA-Certified Development Company (CDC) based in San Francisco that has specialized in providing commercial real estate financing to businesses via the SBA 504 loan program for more than 30 years. Morrison also founded Working Solutions, a nonprofit organization committed to providing microloans, coaching and education for Bay Area entrepreneurs.

“The Financial Woman of the Year Award, presented by the FWA Scholarship Fund, recognizes and applauds the role women play in the field of finance in the Bay Area,” said Erin McCune, president of FWA of San Francisco. Morrison’s selection as the 2012 award recipient will be announced at a private reception on the evening of May 31, 2012 at San Francisco restaurant Galette 88, a recipient of TMC funding.

“This award is especially meaningful to me,” exclaims Morrison. “I believe the FWA is recognizing a body of work that is particularly important today – providing access to capital for growing small businesses, and promoting job creation and economic recovery.”

Presentation of Morrison’s award will take place at The Financial Woman of the Year Luncheon to be held on October 2, 2012 at the Hyatt Regency, San Francisco. This award luncheon directly supports the FWA’s Scholarship Fund. Since 1985, the FWA Scholarship Fund has awarded over $1,750,000 in scholarship grants to more than 200 Bay Area women who show promise as future financial leaders.

“We are honored to have Barbara represent our organization as Financial Woman of the Year,” President McCune said. “For over three decades she has lived out our theme of ‘Lead. Mentor. Inspire.’ by demonstrating intense commitment to developing small businesses, supporting the local economy through job growth, guiding future leaders, and creating environments and opportunities where women can excel.”

Throughout her professional career, Morrison has earned numerous awards for her leadership and advocacy for women and small business owners, including being recognized as one of Northern California’s Real Estate Women of Influence in 2011, being named among “Women Who Make a Difference” by the SF Commission on the Status of Women, and being a recipient of the San Francisco Business Times Women in Leadership Award, the Arthur Goodman Achievement and Diversity Award from the National Association of Development companies, and a U.S. Small Business Administration Women in Business Advocate Award.

Among her many professional affiliations, Morrison serves as a member of the California Small Business Task Force of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, a Board Member of the Women’s Leadership Board of the Harvard Kennedy School, and a Board Member of the Buck Institute. She has been a member of the Financial Women’s Association (FWA) since 1996.

A former mayor of the city of Belvedere and former City Council member, Morrison has provided leadership for a number of community organizations, including the Belvedere-Tiburon Library Foundation. She currently serves as an advisory trustee for the Belvedere Community Foundation.

As the 2012 Financial Woman of the Year, Morrison joins a distinguished list of previous honorees including Katie Hall, Hall Capital Partners; Rebecca Macieira-Kaufmann, Citibank California; Janet Lamkin, Bank of America California; Leslie Tang Schilling, Union Square Investments Company; Ann Winblad, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners; and Marie Berggren, U.C. Regents.

 

 

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Delivery.com Expands Footprint in San Francisco

Connects Bay Area Residents and Companies with

Local Restaurants and Stores For Easy Online Ordering and Delivery

Delivery.com, an e-commerce platform for ordering from local restaurants and stores, today announced expansion into San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area with a dedicated local staff and office. The company’s growth in the San Francisco Bay Area is part of Delivery.com’s larger expansion efforts to increase reach nationwide.

Delivery.com already offers San Francisco residents access to hundreds of restaurants, including local favorites such as Urban Curry, Red Jade, Pizzelle di North Beach, Fuji Sushi, and Naan ‘n’ Curry. In the coming months, the site plans to more than double its presence by adding new restaurants, caterers, grocers, and stores in order to provide a greater variety of delivery options to new and existing users in San Francisco and other Bay Area neighborhoods.

To mark the expansion effort, Delivery.com is running a special promotion for San Francisco users. By visiting Delivery.com’s San Francisco page, users will find local restaurants and stores offering 25% off first time qualifying orders and details on the promotion.

“As a leading e-commerce site, it’s only natural that we expand our business in a city that’s pulsing with connected, tech savvy people,” said Jed Kleckner, CEO of Delivery.com. “Delivery.com’s presence in San Francisco will help our team build and strengthen relationships with local restaurant and shop owners and also connect with Bay Area residents and companies, all of which will help us increase our offerings to meet the needs of new and existing customers.”

Delivery.com looks forward to expanding its San Francisco network of restaurants and other small businesses. Local restaurant owners, including Joe Chan, the manager of Tai Chi Restaurant in San Francisco’s Russian Hill neighborhood, are also thrilled about the growth. “Our restaurant has been on Delivery.com for nearly five years, and as a result we’ve seen both our customer base and our revenues increase. I’d highly recommend Delivery.com for other restaurant and store owners looking to expand their reach.”

The initiative also includes an expansion into San Francisco workplaces with Delivery.com Office™, a corporate offering designed to make ordering food and other office essentials simple. “Delivery.com Office offers an easy, convenient, and reliable way for our employees, either individually or as groups, to order all sorts of cuisines at the click of a button,” said Ambar Castro, an employee at Undertone, a San Francisco-based digital advertising company that currently uses Delivery.com Office.

Delivery.com provides consumers and companies with fast, convenient delivery and takeout from local restaurants, caterers, grocers, and stores. Users can easily search for nearby merchants, browse menus and inventories, read reviews, and place orders. Customers in major U.S. cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia, can access Delivery.com’s growing network of merchants online at Delivery.com or through the iPhone® or Android™ applications.

About Delivery.com

Delivery.com, LLC is a leading destination for local online and mobile ordering that connects users to restaurants and stores in their neighborhoods. Since 2004, the mission of Delivery.com has been to provide consumers and companies access to fast, convenient delivery and pickup from all of their favorite local businesses while at home, at work, or on the go. Today, Delivery.com has over half a million users and a network of nearly 10,000 restaurants, caterers, grocers, and other businesses in over 50 cities nationwide – and is growing every day.

Follow Delivery.com on Twitter, @deliverydotcom, or like Delivery.com on Facebook® at www.facebook.com/deliverydotcom.

Delivery.com™ and Delivery.com Office™ are trademarks of Delivery.com, LLC. Other designated trademarks are the property of their respective owners. SOURCE Delivery.com Source: PR Newswire (http://s.tt/1dl7P)

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

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

By David Lee Smith, The Motley Fool

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

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


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

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


Three other significant aspects of the case deserve notation here:

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

From the Motley Fool online post.

 

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

crude-nov-1

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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San Francisco’s Economy Is Growing


Mayor Edwin M. Lee today issued the following statement on the City Controller’s Office Report on FY 2011-12 Nine-Month Budget Status Report, providing the most recent expenditure and revenue information and projections for the Fiscal Year End and an ending available General Fund balance of $172.4 million, representing a $43.3 million increase from the Six-Month Report projection:

“The Controller’s Report released today reaffirms that San Francisco’s economy is moving in the right direction, and our City’s economic policies are working.

San Franciscans are getting back to work and the City’s economy is growing and improving. However, the report also shows that even with a recovering economy, the City continues to face budget deficits in the years ahead.

Over the next month, we will face difficult decisions as we present a balanced budget. We will take action to ensure that as we protect vital City services, we also protect our continued economic recovery.”

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FAIRMONT HOTEL – Oaktree Capital Management and Woodridge Capital Partners Purchases Historic Hotel for Nearly $200 Million

The world renowned Fairmont San Francisco Hotel atop Nob Hill was sold today for close to $200 million to a consortium led by an affiliate of Oaktree Capital Management LP and real estate investor Michael Rosenfeld and his Woodridge Capital Partners LLC. The hotel was purchased from Maritz, Wolff & Co., which acquired its investment in the hotel in 1998 in partnership with Kingdom Holding, which is retaining its interest. Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, based in Toronto, Canada, will continue to manage the storied hotel.

The Fairmont San Francisco opened in 1907. The Beaux Arts-style building was designed by New York architectural firm McKim, Mead & White and Julia Morgan, also well known for her design of Hearst Castle. Over its 105-year history, it has been home to many “firsts” from the drafting of the United Nations Charter to Tony Bennett’s premier of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”. The Fairmont was home to America’s first concierge, and since its opening, has served as the San Francisco residence for U.S. presidents, world leaders and entertainment stars.

fairmont-hotel1THE FAIRMONT
John Brady, head of global real estate for Oaktree Capital Management, said, “We look forward to joining Oaktree’s significant real estate experience and an investor base that includes prominent public and corporate pension funds together with longstanding relationships with Woodridge, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, Kingdom Holding and our new partners – the hotel’s outstanding employees and the City of San Francisco, one of the truly great cities of the world.”

With 591 guest rooms and suites and over 55,000 square feet of conference and function space, the hotel is renowned for its three restaurants and lounges including the Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar with its thunderstorms and floating stage. Its location at 950 Mason Street atop Nob Hill offers spectacular views of the city and the Bay, and is the only spot in San Francisco where each of the city’s cable car lines meet.

Michael Rosenfeld stated: “The Fairmont San Francisco hotel’s rich history, elegance and beauty make it a one-of-a-kind property that cannot be replicated today. We are excited to be in such a distinguished partnership with a property that symbolizes the great City of San Francisco.”

ABOUT OAKTREE
Oaktree is a leading global investment management firm focused on alternative markets, with $77.9 billion in assets under management as of March 31, 2012. The firm emphasizes an opportunistic, value-oriented and risk-controlled approach to investments in distressed debt, corporate debt (including high yield debt and senior loans), control investing, convertible securities, real estate and listed equities. Headquartered in Los Angeles, the firm has over 650 employees and offices in 13 cities worldwide. For more information visit: OaktreeCapital

ABOUT WOODRIDGE CAPITAL PARTNERS, LLC
Woodridge Capital Partners, headed by its CEO Michael Rosenfeld, is a Los Angeles based real estate investment and development company with hotel, residential and commercial assets throughout the United States. Woodridge and Rosenfeld have been active in the real estate industry for more than 25 years. Rosenfeld also has other hotel interests with Oaktree, including the iconic Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, and the recently acquired Fairmont Orchid Resort on the famed Kohala Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii.

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Mayor Lee Announces Major Expansion of Sharing Economy Leader Airbnb

Company Signs 169,000 Square Foot Lease in

Showplace Square with Capacity for more than 1,000 New Jobs


Today Mayor Edwin M. Lee and Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky announced that Airbnb has signed a 169,000 square foot lease at 888 Brannan Street in Showplace Square. Airbnb’s lease will allow their company to grow from their current 125 employees to more than 1,000 staff. The ten year lease will quadruple Airbnb’s square footage and allow for an eight fold increase in jobs as they continue to grow in San Francisco.

“San Francisco is at the forefront of the sharing economy and companies like Airbnb are creating real jobs for San Franciscans,” said Mayor Lee. “The sharing economy was born here, and I am committed to ensuring that San Francisco supports this emerging sector’s growth and success. Congratulations to Airbnb on their new Showplace Square home joining the growing innovation hub in the neighborhood.”

“The entrepreneurial spirit of San Francisco is what inspired us to create Airbnb, and the Mayor’s commitment to the sharing economy made us decide to strengthen our roots here,” said Airbnb CEO and Co-Founder Brian Chesky. “This lease not only signifies a 10-year commitment to San Francisco, but also to this neighborhood, where we want to be a great neighbor to the local community. We hope to create an inspirational space that brings people together and promotes the sharing of ideas.”

In April 2012, Mayor Lee formed the nations first Sharing Economy Working Group, bringing together City departments, neighborhood and community stake holders and sharing economy companies. The first working group discussions will focus on how to better support parking and car sharing while discussions between policy makers on the appropriate level of taxation and regulation of both short term vacation rentals and year round rentals are ongoing.

Today’s announcement solidifies Showplace Square as a hub for technology companies. Airbnb will join technology leaders including Adobe Systems, Advent Software, Dolby, Eventbrite, Flixter, Jawbone, Sega and Zynga in the neighborhood.

About Airbnb

Founded in 2008 and based in San Francisco, Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world – online or from a mobile phone. Whether an apartment for a night, a castle for a week, or a villa for a month, Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences, at any price point, in more than 19,000 cities and 192 countries. And with world-class customer service and a growing community of users, Airbnb is the easiest way for people to monetize their extra space and showcase it to an audience of millions.

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DROPBOX – Opens new headquarters in SOMA, estimated space for more than 500 new jobs

Mayor Edwin M. Lee and Dropbox CEO Drew Houston have officially opened the new office of Dropbox, a tech company that provides a sharing service for users to store photos, documents, and videos. The company’s new headquarters is located at 185 Berry Street, occupies 87,000 square feet and provides space for future growth. The Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) estimates this new office can accommodate approximately 550 employees, a five-fold increase over current employment.

“From cloud to mobile to social to gaming, San Francisco is ground zero for innovative companies like Dropbox,” said Mayor Lee. “Dropbox’s decision to locate their headquarters in San Francisco demonstrates what we already know – that San Francisco is the ‘Innovation Capital of the World.’ The tech ecosystem we are nurturing now has the best local talent, is helping us create jobs and reinvigorate our local economy. I am thrilled to officially welcome them to their new home in SoMa.”

“We’re proud to call San Francisco our home; there’s no better place in the world for creative thinkers and builders,” said Dropbox CEO and Co-Founder Drew Houston. “We’d like to thank the Mayor for joining us today and for the City’s support.”

The new Dropbox location in the China Basin Landing Building provides the company with an opportunity to create their own office space, is located next to convenient transit, is adjacent to AT&T Park, and enjoys access to the best talent and creativity of the San Francisco workforce.\

About Dropbox

Dropbox simplifies millions of people’s lives by letting them bring their docs, photos, and videos anywhere and share them easily. The service has more than 50 million users in over 175 countries. Dropbox was founded in San Francisco in 2007 by Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi.

Click here for more information: Dropbox.com


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Mayor Lee and Supervisor Olague announce seven new businesses and increased investment in Fillmore

Mayor Edwin M. Lee and District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague today celebrated the arrival of seven new businesses in the Fillmore, announced a dramatic 21 percent decrease in the vacancy rate from 35 percent to 14 percent in the Fillmore and highlighted several City programs aimed at continuing the momentum in the Fillmore.

Standing at the historic African-American bookstore Marcus Books, Mayor Lee and Supervisor Olague announced that the City is also partnering with merchants and property owners to improve the storefronts of 23 businesses from McAllister to Post Streets and is initiating a neighborhood marketing and events program aimed at celebrating the Fillmore’s culture and history and driving additional foot traffic to the area.

“With new businesses, storefront improvements, events programming and the leadership of business owners and the community, today there is renewed energy and optimism in the Fillmore, one of our City’s great historic neighborhoods,” said Mayor Lee. “We still have much work to do, but the dramatic drop in commercial vacancies and the progress we are seeing in the Fillmore demonstrates the promise of our Invest in Neighborhoods strategy to transform our neighborhood commercial corridors through targeted City and community resources, assistance and leadership. I want to thank Supervisor Olague for her tireless efforts since taking office to champion the needs of the Fillmore and bring new resources and focused attention to the neighborhood.”

“As we gear up for Small Business Month in May, we have a great opportunity to highlight The Fillmore’s thriving business community,” said Supervisor Olague. “I am thrilled to support the diverse merchants in the Jazz District, many of whom have been here for decades, as well as newcomers who see the limitless potential in this growing corridor.”

Three new businesses – State Bird Provisions, The Social Study café and wine bar, and 1307 Gallery, a multi-media space in the Fillmore Center owned by two local Fillmore residents – opened in late 2011 and early 2012.  State Bird Provisions has already made the San Francisco Chronicle’s Top 100 Restaurants. Hapa Ramen and Prime Dip will open in the end of May, and Progress and City Grange restaurants, will open in Fall 2012.

Progress will be the second project of the owners of State Bird and will be located two doors down. City Grange will be a second project of the owners of Phat Angel, also in the Fillmore. Hapa Ramen is a food truck that will make its first permanent home on Fillmore. Prime Dip is expanding from its first location on Larkin Street to the Fillmore. The City has been working with property owners since 2010 to diversity the business mix in the area and fill vacancies, and has provided financial and technical assistance to many of the new entrepreneurs.

The City’s investment in the Fillmore builds on efforts by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency to restore the area as a cultural center for African Americans and for music and entertainment in the aftermath of Urban Renewal. The Redevelopment Agency’s investments led to new development and anchor businesses such as Yoshi’s, 1300 on Fillmore, Sheba Lounge and Rassela’s. The City’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) has continued to build on these investments by implementing initiatives aimed at supporting long-time Fillmore businesses; providing resources for area residents who wish to start their own businesses; bringing in new neighborhood-serving businesses; and activating the street with festivals and other events that showcase the culture of the district. OEWD’s Fillmore work started in early 2010 and has shown a decrease from 35 percent vacancy rate to 14 percent, showing a declining change of 21 percent.

Monday’s Fillmore merchant walk coincides with the recent kick-off of the Mayor Lee’s new Invest in Neighborhoods initiative, which will coordinate the City’s many programs and neighborhood resources to make targeted improvements in key neighborhood commercial districts.

In each participating commercial district, City services—including business retention and attraction programs, community planning activities, cleaning, greening and beautification services, public safety programs, and neighborhood art projects—will be deployed in a focused, customized manner that responds to the corridor’s unique challenges and opportunities. Invest in Neighborhoods will create infrastructure to leverage programs like the Small Business Revolving Loan Fund, which Mayor Lee recently recapitalized with $1 million with unanimous support from the Board of Supervisors.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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