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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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ZOOSK – Social Network Company Moving Global Headquarters to Market Street


Mayor Edwin M. Lee has announced that social network company Zoosk has signed a 52,000 square-foot lease at the historic building at 989 Market Street to house their global headquarters. The new office space will accommodate Zoosk’s rapid growth as they expand from 102 employees in San Francisco to a planned 160 employees by the end of 2012.

“The decision by Zoosk to move to Central Market is yet another major validation of our strategies to revitalize the neighborhood with new jobs and technology,” said Mayor Lee. “It is only fitting that a social networking company with over 50 million members is now moving into this prime location to join social networking  pioneers such as Twitter in Central Market’s new technology cluster in San Francisco, the ‘Innovation Capital of the World.’”

“Zoosk is experiencing tremendous growth, having more than doubled its staff and revenue in the last year. We needed more room to grow and a location that will help attract top talent. We also wanted a space that was more in-line with Zoosk’s fun and creative culture instead of a traditional, corporate office. So when we saw 989 Market, it was definitely love at first sight,” said Zoosk Co-Founder and Co-CEO Alex Mehr. “We’re excited to join the growing roster of San Francisco’s most-innovative technology companies and the city to rejuvenate central market.”

This new lease more than doubles Zoosk’s current Financial District foot print of 21,000 square feet. The Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) estimates that this new lease will allow Zoosk to grow to more than 340 employees over the term of their lease with room to grow. Joining 989 Market’s other tenant, Zendesk, the building is now fully leased.

“The speed at which this building leased out speaks to the interest and demand for space in Central Market” said OEWD Director Jennifer Matz. “Not only do companies continue to Start, Stay and Grow in San Francisco but the dramatic rise in leasing, new construction and property sales in the Central Market shows that our efforts to revitalize the area are working.”In the wake of the Central Market payroll tax exclusion passed last year and the City’s coordinated efforts to revitalize Central Market, the neighborhood has seen increased leasing of office space from technology companies. Technology companies have leased over 380,000 square feet of office space on Central Market including Call Socket (30,000 square feet), One Kings Lane (52,000 square feet), Twitter (215,000 square feet), Zendesk (35,000 square feet) and Zoosk (52,000 square feet).


About Zoosk

Zoosk is the social network that helps members create and share their romantic journeys, with millions of members from around the globe enjoying the service each month. Zoosk provides members at different stages of their romantic journey with a fun and social set of tools such as Romantic Moments, Couple Profiles, and the Personals application. Members can easily access Zoosk’s services from its website, its Facebook app, mobile devices, and a downloadable desktop application. Zoosk is available in 25 languages and has members in more than 70 countries. Founded in 2007 by Shayan Zadeh and Alex Mehr, Zoosk, Inc. is based in San Francisco and backed by Canaan Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners, and ATA Ventures.

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Chevron loses tax appeal in Contra Costa County


By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
From the Contra Costa Times

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

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

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

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

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

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First Annual Local Hire Report: City reaches 34 percent local hiring on City-funded construction projects

Today Mayor Edwin M. Lee joined Supervisor John Avalos, City Administrator Naomi M. Kelly, City departments, construction industry partners and community supporters to celebrate the one year implementation anniversary of the landmark San Francisco Local Hiring Policy for Construction. The Mayor released the first Local Hire annual report showing the City reached 34 percent local hiring on City-funded construction projects, significantly exceeding the first year goal of 20 percent. Mayor Lee also announced the formation of a Local Hire Advisory Committee and the appointment of new Local Hire Director Pat Mulligan to ensure that the Local Hire policy continues provide jobs to San Francisco residents who need them most.

“On the first anniversary of our historic Local Hire law, we are proving that we can rebuild our City’s infrastructure and ensure our public investments are creating local jobs for San Franciscans,” said Mayor Lee. “As our economy recovers, we must continue implementing the next steps of our Local Hire law to ensure that City investments in rebuilding our roads, parks and sewers keep putting City residents back to work. I want to thank members of the Board of Supervisors and the community for their strong support and advocacy for reaching our Local Hire goals in the last year.”

In December of 2010, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors adopted the Local Policy for Construction, which amended Chapter 6.22(G) of the San Francisco Administrative Code. The Policy transitioned from “good faith” efforts for local hiring on City construction projects to mandatory levels of San Francisco resident participation. The Ordinance is among the most ambitious and far-reaching policies on local hire in the country.

“We are rebuilding San Francisco and putting San Franciscans to work with the strongest local hire ordinance in the country,” said Supervisor Avalos. “Today’s report highlights that we are doing just that, hiring within our communities and working together as a City to make sure that we are putting San Franciscans back to work.”

“San Francisco’s local hire law is putting San Franciscans to work, and we have implemented the program in a cost-efficient manner,” said City Administrator Kelly. “This report shows the community the progress we’ve made and charts a course for sustaining our economic recovery. Our new Local Hire Advisory Committee and Local Hire Director will help ensure we stay the course and meet our goals under the Law next year as well.”

The first Local Hire annual report, produced by the City’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, found that the City reached 34 percent local hiring on City funded construction projects, 14 percent above the first year goal of 20 percent. On March 25, 2012, the requirement goal escalated to 25 percent. Overall, 153 San Francisco residents out of a total of 542 workers have worked on 22 of the active Local Hiring projects in the first year of the Policy’s implementation.

In its first year in implementation, City-funded public works and improvement projects were required to meet 20 percent local resident participation by trade, and 50 percent local apprentice participation by trade. The report shows that the 22 City construction projects performed work hours that have yielded 34 percent in San Francisco resident participation across all trades, and 68 percent for apprentice hours.

The first Local Hire annual report can be found at:

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SEC Says Wells Fargo Should Be Forced meet Supoenas

BLOOMBERG — Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) failed to hand over documents demanded in U.S. subpoenas and should be forced to cooperate with a probe into its sale of almost $60 billion in residential mortgage-backed securities, regulators said.

The Securities and Exchange Commission asked a federal judge to compel the bank, the largest U.S. home lender, to deliver documents it agreed to produce under subpoenas dating from September, the agency said yesterday in a statement. The SEC said it’s looking into possible fraud by the San Francisco- based company and hasn’t concluded that anyone broke the law.

“Up until now, Wells has escaped some of the accusations that most of its competitors have suffered,” said Guy Cecala, publisher of the Inside Mortgage Finance newsletter. “It’s a credit to them that they’ve escaped as many lawsuits or challenges as they have. This may knock them off their pedestal.”

Almost four years after mounting mortgage defaults prompted unprecedented government bailouts of the financial system, regulators are still examining how banks packaged and sold home loans to investors. The SEC is looking for evidence that firms failed to disclose underlying credit weaknesses in mortgage pools and delinquencies, and has also told Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) that they may face civil claims.

The agency’s request, if granted, would give Wells Fargo 14 days to hand over 1,365 e-mails and attachments it has withheld from the SEC, according to a court filing. The bank said in a statement that enforcement action is unwarranted and that it will defend itself in court.

The watchdog is examining whether Wells Fargo misrepresented or omitted facts in offerings from September 2006 to early 2008, according to the statement. While the bank reviewed a sampling of loans and excluded those that failed to meet its standards, Wells Fargo may not have taken steps to address flaws in the remainder of the pool, the agency said.

Investigators are seeking information on the bank’s underwriting guidelines and on due diligence, according to the statement. The agency filed its request in federal court in San Francisco. Marc Fagel, the head of the SEC’s office in that city, declined to comment on the request.

“Wells Fargo believes the subpoena enforcement action is inappropriate and unwarranted and will vigorously defend itself in court,” Mary Eshet, a Wells Fargo spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement. The bank has cooperated with the agency and believed it had an understanding on the requested documents, which was violated by yesterday’s filing, she said.
“Wells Fargo is also confident that the SEC staff has inaccurately described its conduct with regard to residential mortgage-backed securities,” Eshet said.

Wells Fargo said in its annual report filed Feb. 28 that it received a so-called Wells notice from the SEC warning the bank that it may face civil claims tied to the sale of mortgage- backed securities. SEC lawyers send the notices when they intend to recommend that the agency take action.

Four days before, on Feb. 24, the SEC told the lender that it was considering enforcement measures, the agency said in yesterday’s court filing. The bank has attempted to use that as an “excuse to avoid complying with the subpoenas,” the SEC said in the filing.

Wells Fargo’s lawyer told the SEC that given the Wells notice, “We assumed the investigation was over and we had moved to a different phase,” according to the filing. The lawyer told the SEC that he might agree to “revisit the issue of any additional document production” after the SEC reviewed the bank’s submission.

The passages were quoted from an e-mail sent to the SEC by Wells Fargo’s outside counsel, Michael Missal of K&L Gates LLP, according to a copy provided by spokesman Ancel Martinez. Missal declined to comment.

“There is no basis for Wells Fargo’s refusal to comply with the subpoenas because a Wells notice, such as the staff provided, does not terminate the commission’s investigative power,” the SEC said in its filing yesterday.

The scope of the SEC’s probe “involves not just Wells Fargo’s own potential violations of the securities laws, but the roles played by other persons associated with the bank’s residential mortgage-backed securities offerings,” according to the filing.

The SEC said it has sent Wells notices to two individuals associated with the bank’s mortgage offerings. They weren’t named.

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Another Reason to Love SF: Condom Company Supports Racing Vibrator Start Up

San Francisco’s Tastee’s Condoms, the original flavored condoms that are manufactured in California, is announcing its sponsorship of a local startup venture that is producing fun vibrator racing tracks.

“As a Californian condom manufacturer, we are keen to help other local and small businesses grow,” David Ashforth of Tastee’s Condoms said. “We want to support American trade, manufacturing and the community in which we are based.”

Tastee’s Condoms has sponsored local entrepreneur Raymond Tuzi by buying manufacturing equipment in order for him to launch his business and by helping Tuzi push his product to the market by offering it to distributors who already have a business relationship with Tastee’s Condoms.

“Sponsoring Raymond’s vibrator racing track business is a win-win, buying his manufacturing equipment and introducing him to our distributors will ensure his business is a success,” Ashforth said.

These racing vibrators on racetracks will be amusing and cutting-edge entertainment for bachelorette and bachelor parties, nightclubs, bars, and college dorm parties. The Vibrator Racing Tracks are handcrafted in Northern California. Each is packaged separately and customers must self-assemble the track. No extra tools are needed, but a small screwdriver is supplied. Assembly takes about 5 to 10 minutes and the instructions are included in the package.

For more information about the Fun Vibrator Racing Tracks, view the product on the web at www.vibratorracingtrack.com.

For more information about any of Tastee’s Condom’s products, call 888-852-2833 or buy condoms on the web at http://tasteescondoms.com.

About Tastee’s Condoms

Located in San Francisco, Tastee’s Condoms is one of the best-selling condoms in the U.S. and is known to be the first creator of flavored condoms. The Tastee’s Condoms brand was acquired in 2011 by a San Francisco adult novelty company with 12 years of experience in the industry. Tastee’s Condoms is expanding its market and will soon be introducing a natural condom, a ribbed and studded condom, an Atomic Sour flavored condom and more.

For the original version on PRWeb visit: www.prweb.com/releases/prweb2012/3/prweb9325666.htm

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2012/03/24/prweb9325666.DTL#ixzz1q49XxOZm

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SIMS METAL MANAGEMENT ANNOUNCES PROPOSED MAJOR COMMITMENT AT PORT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For further information contact

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

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SF TRAVEL ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP GRANT PROGRAM FOR “ONLY IN SAN FRANCISCO” BUSINESSES

For the third year, the San Francisco Travel Association (SF Travel) will award up to ten Neighborhood Partnership Grants to unique “Only in San Francisco” businesses located throughout the city, with an emphasis on those operating outside the traditional visitor areas. The program is open to businesses that are of interest to visitors and not currently San Francisco Travel partners

Grant recipients will receive a complimentary one-year San Francisco Travel partnership (a $50 setup fee is required), including admission to events such as the San Francisco Travel Annual Luncheon, Market Briefings, Outlook Forums and Partner Business Exchanges. They will receive all of the benefits of San Francisco Travel partnership such as listings online and in publications, and access to the Convention Calendar.

The Neighborhood Partnership Grants also include mentoring by San Francisco Travel professional staff and partners experienced in working with the association.

The deadline for applications is May 1, 2012. The application is available online under “Forms” athttp://www.sanfrancisco.travel/partners/resources.html.

“Over the past two years, we have discovered some wonderful businesses in our city’s diverse neighborhoods. The Grants program helps us to include more of these lesser-known gems in our marketing programs,” said San Francisco Travel President and CEO Joe D’Alessandro. “Our overall goal with the program is to draw more visitors into the city’s unique and fascinating neighborhoods, while helping small businesses grow and succeed.”

Grant recipients will be selected based on several criteria, including the unique-to-San Francisco nature of the business, the potential to attract visitors to their neighborhood and their commitment to participate fully in the program.

A panel including representatives of the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, the San Francisco Office of Small Business and San Francisco Travel staff will interview finalists.

The businesses selected for the 2011/2012 class of Neighborhood Partnership Grants will be honored at SF Travel’s Annual Luncheon on June 21. Businesses selected in this year’s class are:

Bayview Opera House – 4705 Third St. (Bayview District), 415-824-0386, www.bvoh.org The only theater in San Francisco to survive the 1906 earthquake, the Bayview Opera House was inducted to the National Register of Historic Places on March 23, 2011. Today, it is home to multi-cultural artistic events, celebrating the diversity of Bayview Hunters Point.

Favor, featuring Hotcakes Design – 2420 Polk St. (Russian Hill), 415-563-2741, www.shopatfavor.com Upstairs, original jewelry is designed, carved and assembled in cast resin, silver and acrylic. Downstairs, shoppers delight to colorful and unique vintage-inspired and modern accessories.

Grub Crawl – Citywide, 415-515-6256, www.grubcrawl.com Perfect for San Francisco, Grub Crawl combines a walking tour with a progressive dinner among three restaurants per evening. The three-hour tour appeals to everyone from single visitors to groups.

Real Food Company – 2140 Polk St. (Russian Hill), 415-292-3345, www.realfoodco.com Since 1969, Real Food Company has been a natural grocery store that is ahead of the curve in providing healthy, organic, seasonal, sustainable, locally grown food. This may be the only grocery store in the world that offers guided tours by a certified nutritionist.

STUDIO Gallery – 1815 Polk St. (Russian Hill), 415-931-3130, www.STUDIOGallerySF.com For eight years, this gallery has featured local artists and accessible, representational works, often of local scenes. Special shows are inspired by topics such as food and drink, California landscapes and urban scenes.

Swankety Swank – 289 Divisidero St. (Lower Haight/NOPA), 415-932-6615, www.swanketyswank.com “Honoring Beauty, Earth & Age,” the boutique offers art furniture, green home décor and upcycled fashion for women, men and children – all locally produced.

Tacolicious – Recently opened at 741 Valencia St. (Mission District), www.tacolicioussf.com Conceived at the Ferry Building Farmers Market and born in the Marina district, Tacolicious brings the Mission an irreverent menu, authentic Mexican cuisine and robust cocktails like “Tickle Me Telmo.”

Under One Roof – 518A Castro (Castro District), 415-503-2300, www.underoneroof.org Volunteer-staffed, the store raises funds for 23 different AIDS service organizations in the Bay Area through sales of its unique gift merchandise. The store features cards, San Francisco and Pride items, humorous gifts and holiday merchandise, much of it from local artisans or donated by generous manufacturers.

Urban Bazaar – 1371 Ninth Ave. (Inner Sunset), 415-664-4422, www.UrbanBazaarSF.com Each of the items at the boutique has a story, told on tags attached. Locally handmade and Fair Trade items change by the season and include jewelry, baby goods and San Francisco-themed gifts.

The San Francisco Travel Association is a private, not-for-profit organization that markets the city as a leisure, convention and business travel destination. With more than 1,500 partners, San Francisco Travel is one of the largest partnership-based tourism promotion agencies in the country. Tourism, San Francisco’s largest industry, generates in excess of $7.8 billion annually for the local economy. San Francisco Travel’s business offices are located at 201 Third St., Suite 900, San Francisco, CA 94103. San Francisco Travel also operates the Visitor Information Center at Hallidie Plaza, 900 Market Street at the corner of Powell and Market streets. For more information, call 415-974-6900 or visitwww.sanfrancisco.travel.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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On Scene with Bill Wilson HRC Goes AFER Chad Griffin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

imagecRob Reiner  (Photo by Bill Wilson)

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

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

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

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