Archive | Front Page

SMUIN BALLET 2007 SEASON – Opens May 11th at SF’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

SMUIN BALLET, 2007 – Carmina Burana

By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Fine Arts Critic
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel

The upcoming season for SMUIN BALLET features CARMINA BURANA plus two World Premieres on May 11th at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, a stage that Michael Smuin helped launch as an internationally-recognized dance venue. The popular, richly theatrical ballet Carmina Burana returns as the headliner, taking one to a savage, sleek and sensual world where the laws of ballet take fresh, mysterious turns.

In addition to this powerful ballet are two world premieres: one choreographed by Michael to Schubert and an original ballet Falling Up, to Brahms by Smuin Company member Amy Seiwert and a reprise of Michael’s pas de deux from his Emmy Award winning Romeo and Juliet.



On Sunday, May 20th, the Company will host its annual gala at San Francisco’s Four Seasons Hotel, preceded by a special performance at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The season will continue with Bay Area performances in Walnut Creek (May 25th & 26th at the Lesher Center for the Performing Arts), Mountain View (May 30th – June 3rd at the Mountain View Center for the Arts) and in Carmel (June 8th & 9th at The Sunset Center). August 13th – 18th the company returns to the New York City’s Joyce Theatre with performances of SCHUBERT’S SCHERZO, BELLS OF DUBLIN, SHINJU, and OBRIGADO, BRAZIL.


701 Mission Street, San Francisco
(415) 978-2787
Friday, May 11th at 8:00 pm
Saturday, May 12th at 8:00 pm
Sunday, May 13th, 2007 at 2:00 pm
Sunday, May 13th at 7:00 pm
Tuesday, May 15th at 8:00 pm
Wednesday, May 16th at 8:00 pm
Thursday, May 17, at 8:00 p.m.
Friday, May 18th at 8:00 pm
Saturday, May 19th at 2:00 pm
Saturday, May 19th at 8:00 pm
Sunday, May 20th at 4:00 pm – Dancin’ for Smuin Gala

500 Castro Street, Mountain View
(650) 903-6000
Wednesday, May 30th – Sunday, June 3rd
To order tickets on-line: SMUIN BALLET, Program 2

Friday, May 25th – May 26th
1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek
(925) 943-7469
To order tickets on-line: SMUIN BALLET, Program 2

Friday, June 8th – Saturday, June 9th
San Carlos Street, Carmel-by-the-Sea
(831) 620-2048
To order tickets on-line: SMUIN BALLET, Program 2

See Seán’s recent articles and reviews:
SPIDER-MAN 3, An All-American Cinematic Marvel
DON QUIXOTE – An Impossible Dream at SF Ballet
THE DAMNATION OF FAUST – Absolute Heaven at Davies Symphony Hall
RIGOLETTO – SF OPERA Broadcasts on Classical 102.1 KDFC
JEANETTE MacDONALD – First Lady of “San Francisco”
ALTAR BOYZ – In San Francisco
An Interview with PASCAL MOLAT – Principal Soloist, San Francisco Ballet

San Francisco Sentinel’s Fine Arts Critic Seán Martinfield is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Ask him a question on . If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at:

Continue Reading

SAN FRANCISCO CHILDREN: Mayor Newsom announces $25.1 million increase in after-school programs, youth employment and violence prevention services

By Tamara Barak
Bay City News

San Francisco’s after-school programs, youth employment agencies and violence prevention services will be among the beneficiaries of $25.1 million in grants over the next three years.

The money will be distributed to 258 programs through the city’s Children’s Fund. Mayor Gavin Newsom announced the beneficiaries at a Tuesday press conference at the Excelsior Family Resource Center.

“San Francisco’s youth and families will be greatly served by these grants,” Newsom said. “From after-school programs to college and career preparation, or programs for homeless youth and families or to reduce violence in the city, we have addressed all the different areas that are near
and dear to my heart.”

The grant decisions were the result of two years of planning, which included a needs assessment approved by the Board of Supervisors in January, according to Margaret Brodkin, director of the city’s Department of Children, Youth and their Families.

The programs benefiting from the $25.1 million include childcare, youth-run businesses, peer outreach, summer camp, athletics and recreation programs, many in low-income neighborhoods.

About 20 percent of the agencies funded have a close, formal relationship with the San Francisco Unified School District, either providing on-campus services or collaborating with school officials, according to the mayor’s office.

About $3.4 million will be allocated for programs for teens, from college and career preparation to cultural programs and leadership development.

A panel of young people selected three youth businesses to fund, including a gardening a food distribution businesses, a financial literacy project and a youth art business.

Continue Reading

STREET VIOLENCE: Tenderloin residents demand safe streets

Photos by Bill Wilson
Sentinel Photographer
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel

By Tamara Barak
Bay City News

Two coalitions converged on San Francisco City Hall yesterday to call for the city to invest in struggling families and make the streets safe for Tenderloin residents.

More than 100 Tenderloin residents marched to City Hall through their troubled streets, stopping at the sites of recent murders to honor victims with moments of silence.

Dina Hilliard of Safety Network Organize, one of the groups sponsoring the rally and march, said she and her neighbors are fed up with escalating violence in the Tenderloin.

Dana Hillard
In April alone, three people were murdered in the neighborhood.

“It’s time for change, it’s time for a new Tenderloin,” Hilliard said.

Caesar Garcia, who has lived in the neighborhood for a decade, put the blame for the violence on liquor stores, rampant prostitution and drug sales.

Cesar Garcia

“It brings in people from outside the neighborhood. The Tenderloin has become a paradise to do all sorts of travesties,” Garcia said.

“We’re demanding a secure neighborhood. We cannot allow our children to live in this sort of environment. We need to finish with all of this.”


Residents decried the lack of parks and recreation facilities in their neighborhood, the drug dealing on their sidewalks and the lack of protection for seniors and children.

“Just because you’re poor, doesn’t mean you need to be ignored.

San Francisco police Captain Gary Jimenez of the Tenderloin station said the demand for drugs is behind much of the violence. The Police Department’s gang task force has been concentrated on stemming the violence since it flared up again in December, he said.

Jimenez said he sympathized with the marchers.

“I share their dream for a better city and a safer city,” he said.

Jimenez said city officials should focus on “sanctions and solutions” for drug dealers and users in order to help police clean up the streets.

“”It’s time the city stood up and did something,” he said.




The Tenderloin marchers were met at City Hall by the Family Budget Coalition, made up of youth, childcare and family services advocates.



At a press conference, the Family Budget Coalition unveiled its $20 million budget agenda.

Coalition leaders have asked Mayor Gavin Newsom and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to allocate the money for new and expanded services in violence prevention, alternatives to incarceration, childcare, children’s health and youth employment.

The coalition’s plan includes more than $7.3 million for affordable childcare, including a voucher program to protect low-income families from cost increases.

The plan also includes $6.4 million for violence prevention, including mental health services for public housing residents and re-entry and intervention services for paraplegic gunshot victims, serious and ex-offenders.

The plan calls for more than $2.2 million dedicated to land use and parks, including after-school programs in the Tenderloin and South of Market neighborhoods, improvements to existing parks and a new skate park at Golden Gate Park.

More than a million dollars each is allocated for workforce development and family support services under the proposed plan.

Bill Wilson is a veteran freelance photographer whose work is published by San Francisco and East Bay media. Bill embraced photography at the age of eight. In recent years, his photos capture historic record of the San Francisco LGBT community in the Bay Area Reporter (BAR). Bill has contributed to the Sentinel for the past two years.

Continue Reading

BUSINESS: Google unveils more powerful web analytics

Google Inc. today announced a new version of its powerful web analytics solution, Google Analytics.

The new version of Google Analytics was unveiled today at the EMetrics Summit taking place in San Francisco. Google Analytics, a free enterprise-class solution, enables executives, marketers and website owners to understand how their users interact with their website and help increase online business. Google has completely redesigned the product and enhanced the feature set through new email reporting, customizable dashboards, improved map displays, and plain language descriptions to make important information more accessible.

“At Geffen Records, we use Google Analytics to determine what website content is most valuable to music fans so we can craft the most effective marketing strategies,” said Aaron Foreman, Head of Digital Media, Geffen Records.

“As an early adopter of the new version of Google Analytics, we are impressed with the richness of the data and its ease of use that provides us with the most important information immediately,” said Lee Hammond, Director of Digital Technology, Geffen Records.

In the new version of Google Analytics, data is concentrated into combinations of reports, allowing users to make informed decisions about site management and Google AdWords™ campaigns. Google Analytics tracks the effectiveness of online marketing initiatives such as display campaigns or cost-per-click programs and creates e-mail reports that can be scheduled and distributed to colleagues.

“At Google, we’re focused on building powerful tools to help advertisers measure the effectiveness of their marketing dollars and optimize their business,” said Paul Muret, Engineering Director, Google. “The new version of Google Analytics will give advertisers and site owners greater insight into their customers’ needs, thereby increasing advertiser ROI while also improving the e-commerce experience of consumers.”

With this new version, users can experience greater visibility of important data, clarity of appearance and more intuitive navigation paths. Utilizing more features and improved metrics, Google Analytics summarizes data and statistics in plain language so that website owners can make more informed decisions. The tool incorporates score cards and summaries that distill information into key performance indicator summaries.

Business Wire

Continue Reading

STREET VIOLENCE: Customer shot in San Francisco small business


A man is in the hospital this morning after being shot during a convenience store robbery in San Francisco Monday, police reported.

The victim suffered life-threatening wounds after refusing to hand over his wallet to three men who were robbing a 7-Eleven at 2200 Bayshore Blvd. in Visitacion Valley, Sgt. Neville Gittens said today.

The robbery was reported at 5:42 a.m.

Jonard Danag, a clerk at the store, said the victim was a customer.

According to police, the suspects turned on the man after robbing the store’s cashier at gunpoint.

About 35 minutes before the shooting, a business in the 2000 block of Ocean Avenue was also held up by three men. Robbery detectives are investigating whether the two incidents are related, Gittens said.

Bay City News

Continue Reading

PHOTO TIP: How to make potentially boring sunset photo interesting


Sunset photos are nice and pretty but they can be boring as well. A photograph of the colorful sky just isn’t enough to capture people’s interest. We have all seen nice skies before. Next time you come across a beautiful sunset try to incorporate something else in the shot: a bridge, for instance, a couple walking on the beach, or a bird on a lamppost. It adds dimension and scale.

Take the camera off of Auto and put it on manual. Make sure you expose the photo using the readings form the brightest part of the sky. That will silhouette everything else and create a dramatic, colorful sky.

Sentinel Photography Editor

When David Toerge left a career in photojournalism that had spanned over twelve years and started in a new direction of commercial photography he blended the editorial style with a more corporate look. David led the way in that new style garnering many awards for his work. Communications Arts has honored him over six times. Based in San Francisco, David shoots projects on location all over the US for various corporations and a multitude of magazines and always brings back great images. He has a keen sense of light, color, and composition and delivers to his clients assignments done with passion. He has climbed bridges hundreds of feet in the air, shot in caves hundreds of feet below, dived with sharks and driven the track with Indy drivers. He has shot earthquakes and firestorms but loves walking the streets with his camera just photographing the everyday life of his city.

Continue Reading

SPIDER-MAN 3 – An All-American Cinematic Marvel


By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Fine Arts Critic
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel

SPIDER-MAN 3, directed by Sam Raimi, is a perfect escapist film. The screenplay by Alvin Sargent, story by Sam and Ivan Raimi, is dazzling bling, every facet a window emitting particular brilliance. The film represents the finest traditions of Time Honored story-telling, utilizing the absolute latest in state-of-the-art technology, artistic design, and musical scoring to fashion what will prove to be one of the most endearing volumes in the Hollywood Library. Assembled in its Cast of Characters are the brightest and best. Spider-Man 3 is on the first leg of an eternal orbit.

In typical IMAX theatres, Spider-Man 3 spews its web on a screen 65-feet wide by 90-feet high. Larger than life in this case translates to – its frame can encompass at least one life-size whale. The goal is to be immersed in the vision and lost to everything but the experience, providing the image/the episode can hold one’s attention.

DEPTH & PERSPECTIVE – View of An Ideal City (1490), The Great Train Robbery (1903), Spider-Man 3 (2007)

Michelangelo used a ceiling to probe the depths of Heaven, many a computer screen displays preferred reductions and increased pixels; prolonged daydreams are ignited with triple page centerfolds, and vintage 8 x 10s are inserted in archival-safe protectors. It’s all about displaying the content. In this third installment of Spider-Man are the components that fascinated us way-back in ’02 with Chapter 1, and likewise terrified our ancestors way-way back in 1903 – huge moving pictures projected onto a neighbor’s white bed linens, quick & easy-to-understand villains and heroes, merciless violence, a faster than lightning locomotive, and some dude named “Barnes” shootin’ your lights out at the end. Nothing was bigger than that – not then, not now. Only Time will tell what reels survive.


Enter the Impossible Dream – the larger than life presence that fills the screen – the Movie Star. It seems nothing has changed. The similarities between Yesterday’s Hollywood gods and goddesses and the three romantic leads of Spider-Man 3 are remarkably fascinating, maybe a bit eerie.


BRONCHO BILLY BUSTER – The Great Train Robbery (1903) and TOBY MAGUIRE – Spider-Man 3 (2007) – The Alpha & Omega of Hollywood Action Heroes

JAMES FRANCO – beside Robert Taylor (1935) and Basil Rathbone – as Sherlock Holmes

The controlling gimmicks of the entire Spider-Man series are chemical imbalances, multiple identities, and opulent drag. Peter Parker’s veins pulse with spider venom, Aunt Mary thrives on old-age meds, Harry Osborn (James Franco) is juiced on booze and nuclear–neat. Chapter 3 adds yet more molecular fusions and alterations – from the hand of man and from the outer limits. By chance, a machine turns escaped convict “Flint Marko” (Thomas Haden Church) into “Sandman”. A meteor lands near a grove where Mary Jane Watson and Peter Parker are madly making-out.

The rock breaks open, out crawls some cognizant inky-black ooze-thing which eventually creeps onto Peter and – voila! – a darker Spider sits down beside her. Tobey Maguire freely enjoys many an actor’s longing to tackle a dual role. This installment gives him a third ego and amazing it is what emerges from the Make-up, Wardrobe, and Lighting Departments.

TOBEY MAGURE – Where the underworld meets the elite

At 80 years old, Rosemary Harris represents the glowing stamina of a Lady of the Theatre. With three blockbuster appearances as “Mary Parker” Ms. Harris settles into the hearts of a new generation who will one day remember her and the Good Old Days of IMAX. Some reminisce now about her Tony Award winning performance (before she hit 40) as “Eleanor of Aquitaine” to Robert (The Music Man) Preston’s “Henry II” in the original Broadway cast of The Lion In Winter. Long before that, Rosemary appeared alongside Helen Hayes in A School For Scandal. Perhaps destined for the same roles, Kirsten Dunst as “Mary Jane” makes her one and only Broadway appearance across the street from the Helen Hayes Theatre singing “They Say It’s Wonderful” from Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun. When Helen Hayes made her final TV interviews on The Tonight Show in the early ’90s she counseled young actors to feel fortunate if they achieved even one performance – anywhere! – that brought them artistic satisfaction.

ROSEMARY HARRIS – IMAX tea and sympathy with Aunt Mary

Director Sam Raimi and screenplay author Alvin Sargent create an incredible opportunity for Rosemary Harris that film buffs will instantly appreciate – pouring tea for Peter. It’s about American Tradition – a collectible porcelain flowered teapot with matching cups, the cream goes in after the tea is poured, not before (notice Aunt Mary’s nearby collection of prescription chemicals). Peter pays close attention to both the ritual and to Aunt Mary’s sage advice. In Gone With The Wind – Jane Darwell, as busybody moralist “Dolly Merriwether”, overrides an exchange about public behavior as the director draws our attention to a well-tempered teapot. As a vital veteran, Ms. Darwell is cherished in the magnificent “Feed the Birds” scene from Disney’s Mary Poppins. However Rosemary Harris might assess her commercial success as “Mary Parker”, her place in the rarified pantheon of the never-to-be-forgotten Wisdom Figure is absolutely guaranteed.

More Traditions, Guarantees, and Associations. Spider-Man 3 invites more than cursory assessments and quick judgments. Amazing performances were turned in by television stars such as Topher Grace (as “Eddie Brock” and another transformed victim of the ooze-thing, “Venom”) and by Thomas Haden Church (as the beefy “Flint Marko” and then alternately as the molecularly dispatched “Sandman”). For many actors versed in other mediums, these assignments represent how “Hollywood” sometimes takes care of its own. Mr. Grace is best known as “Eric Forman” from THAT ’70S SHOW, chalking-up 175 episodes between 1998 and 2006. Underneath Mr. Church’s newly-acquired hulking appearance is the former “Lowell Mather” from the TV series WINGS. For five seasons Church delighted audiences with cameo appearances in no less than 123 episodes. Sixty-seven year old James Cromwell (“Captain Stacy”) credits include SIX FEET UNDER as “George Sibley”, THE QUEEN (2006) as “Prince Philip”; and L.A. CONFIDENTIAL (1997) as “Capt. Dudley Liam Smith”.


Finally, a Valentine to Marilyn Monroe. Having failed on Broadway and fed-up with multiple-personality spider men in drag, Mary Jane is reduced to being a singing waitress in a local jazz club. She’s called to the mic. She bursts into the classic ballad by Gus Kahn, “I’m Through With Love”. Lead vocalist Sugar Cane (SOME LIKE IT HOT) was fed-up with trumpet players – except the whiskered one, Josephine (Tony Curtis) in her All-Girl band. “For I must have you or no one”, she sings, “and so I’m through with love.” With that, down goes the trumpet – the lady trumpet player wraps his lips around all that Sugar. End of the drag scene for Josephine. Similarly, Peter removes the “Spidey” mask, enters the club holding Aunt Mary’s engagement ring, takes Mary Jane’s hand and … well, the rest is Motion Picture History.

Spider-Man 3. A web of delight.

See Seán’s recent articles and reviews:

LA VIE EN ROSE (La Môme) – Biography of Edith Piaf A Sensation at the 50th San Francisco International Film Festival
SPIDER-MAN 3, An All-American Cinematic Marvel
RIGOLETTO – SF OPERA Broadcasts on Classical 102.1 KDFC
DON QUIXOTE – An Impossible Dream at SF Ballet
THE DAMNATION OF FAUST – Absolute Heaven at Davies Symphony Hall
JEANETTE MacDONALD – First Lady of “San Francisco”
An Interview with PASCAL MOLAT – Principal Soloist, San Francisco Ballet
TERRA HAUTE – An Interview with The Stars, John Hutchinson and Elias Escobedo

San Francisco Sentinel’s Fine Arts Critic Seán Martinfield is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Ask him a question on . If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at:

Continue Reading

BUSINESS: San Francisco based Vibrant Media, Harlem Globetrotters, and Campbell Soup team in Stamp Out Hunger food drive

Vibrant Media, with offices in San Francisco, and Campbell Soup Company have launched a campaign to generate support for the National Association of Letter Carriers’ (NALC) Stamp Out Hunger! food drive.

Vibrant Media donated the media and creative services.

Vibrant Media delivers highly targeted video ads when users mouse-over double-underlined words within the text of Web content. This campaign will utilize Vibrant Media’s video ad network to drive visitors to the Stamp Out Hunger! website by delivering the PSA to potential donors when they mouse-over the highlighted word “hunger.”

Campbell has teamed up with the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters to provide the content for a television public service announcement (PSA). Using the Harlem Globetrotters to illustrate how easy it is to participate in this critical initiative, Campbell’s will engage Vibrant Media’s unique users with relevant video creative. Vibrant Media currently reaches 75 million users worldwide. (comScore, April 2007).

The campaign asks donors to leave food items in non-breakable containers next their mailboxes prior to the time of regular mail delivery on May 12. The nation’s 230,000 letter carriers will then collect donations from homes across the country and deliver them to food banks.

“In order for this important initiative to be a success the campaign needs to reach all Americans,” said John Faulkner, Campbell’s Director of Brand Communications. “We appreciate Vibrant Media’s support for the Stamp Out Hunger! food drive and are delighted to utilize their in-text video advertising network to gain additional support.” The Vibrant In-Text advertising campaign will engage potential food donors and raise awareness for the important battle against hunger across the United States.

“Vibrant Video’s branding and targeting capabilities have been proven to be successful at generating awareness for top-tier advertisers, and we are pleased to extend this opportunity for such worthwhile cause,” said Doug Stevenson, CEO and co-founder of Vibrant Media.

About Stamp Out Hunger!

The Stamp Out Hunger! food drive is a nationwide effort to provide food to local food banks and pantries, which would otherwise have depleted stocks during the summer months, to help feed the hungry on a daily basis. Now in its 15th year, the Stamp Out Hunger! effort is the nation’s largest single-day food drive, having collected more than 765 million pounds of food since its inception in 1993.

Business Wire

Continue Reading

SAN FRANCISCO BALLET: Prima Ballerina Muriel Maffre receives magnificent farewell Sunday


San Francisco Ballet gave French prima ballerina Muriel Maffre a tremendous farewell Sunday evening at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco.

Maffre, who has danced with the company as a principal for 17 years, is the first dancer that company Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson honored with a starring role in an entire program devoted solely to her favorite ballets. Even the very popular company dancer Evelyn Cisneros was not honored in such a public way.

In Sunday’s program, Maffre danced with four different partners in ballets as diverse as Christopher Wheeldon’s “Continuum” and Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s comic “Elite Syncopations.”


The ballet company is going to miss Maffre’s endlessly long limbs, her flexibility, and the intelligent approach she brings to her roles. Maffre shines in the quirky geometric choreography of modern dance, but also excels in strictly classical works such as “Giselle” and “Sleeping Beauty.’

Sunday’s program consisted of a solo performance and excerpts drawn from five different ballets. The ballets featured were the second movement from “Glass Pieces” by Jerome Robbins, where Maffre danced partnered with Pierre-Francois Vilanoba; the pas de deux from George
Balanchine’s “Agon,” featuring Tiit Helimets; “The Alaska Rag” from “Elite Syncopations,” danced with James Sofranko; the pas de deux from “Continuum,” partnered by Damian Smith; and Part 1 from William Forsythe’s “Artifact Suite,” again danced with Vilanoba. Maffre’s solo was Michel
Fokine’s “The Dying Swan,” a ballet that Anna Pavlova danced and that Maffre has rescued from its many parodies by her elegant rendition.


It was a love fest between the ballerina and the audience from beginning to end. At the end of her performance, the audience gave Maffre a 10-minute long standing ovation and kept clapping until the curtain was raised for a second time. The wild cheering and clapping then continued for a number of long minutes more.

At the end of the performance, Tomasson arrived on stage with a huge bouquet of flowers tied with trailing red ribbons for his dancer. This was followed by each of Maffre’s partners for the evening approaching her individually with bouquets and a kiss for her. Even Benjamin Pierce, her
husband and a former principal dancer, showed up with a bouquet and a kiss.

So now it is off to a new life for Maffre and a new job for Tomasson – to fill the hole Maffre leaves in the cast of the San Francisco Ballet.

Bay City News

Continue Reading

IRAQ WAR: Presidential candidate Senator Biden charges Democrats and Republicans fail to deliver plan to end Iraq War

Photos by John Han
Sentinel Photographer
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel

By Pat Murphy
Sentinel Editor & Publisher
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel

Senator Joseph Biden last week charged Democrat and Republican presidential candidates fail to detail a plan for ending the Iraq War.

Biden, senior senator from Delaware, said the nation faces two challenges — to change national war policy immediately and to reclaim American intregity globally.

He cited domestic challenges unmet due to war spending, speaking before the San Francisco World Affairs Council May 2, 2007.


Biden maintained a difference between the Vietnam War and today’s Iraq War

“Everyone shared one common notion — once that war was ended we could begin to attend to the problems at home,” Biden recalled of the Vietnam War.

“There was not another shoe to drop. There was not another international crisis that was about to explode or implode on the American scene.”

However, when today’s Iraq War ends other conflicts loom if national policy is not changed, stated Biden.

“Would any of you feel that the situation is okay?”, Biden asked.

“And that we have the situation pretty well straightened out in the Middle East, in that part of the world, that there aren’t other areas that are likely to end in conflagration if we don’t change policy very quickly?”

Bush international policy, whom he likened to Richard Nixon, leaves global challenges unmet, Biden continued.

“I never thought I would live to see another president blame the problem on those of us who oppose the war,” said Biden.


President Bush “and his minions have indicated that those of us — which includes the vast majority of the American people who oppose this war — are emboldening the enemy.”

“I remember Richard Nixon… I say to you the only thing that is emboldening the enemy, is emboldening the enemy, is this president’s failed policy. The only mission that he has accomplished is emboldening the enemy.”

The war was unnecessary, Biden asserted.

“The president took us to war unncessarily, without letting the weapons inspectors finish their work, without enough troops, without the right equipment for the troops that we sent, without the proper care for those (wounded) who were taken home.

“But most of all, he went to war without a plan, without a plan whatsoever.

“And the price of that mistake can be measured in the blood we have shed and the treasure we have lost — and on the domestic opportunities we’ve had to forfeit.

“More than 3,300 dead, more than 24,000 wounded and the vast majority of them very seriously wounded, and $1 trillion dollars committed to war with no end.”

The Iraq War must end, stated Biden.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this war must end. This war must end.”


Proposals to end the war from both the Democratic and Republican Parties have not answered critical questions, the senator contended.

“None of them answer the critical two-word question that I believe any responsible president must be able to answer,” Biden said.

“Reduce the troops — then what? Cut the troops — then what? Cut off the funding — then what?

“The two-word question is, ‘Then what?’

Biden is the only candidate for president who has on record a plan to end the war detailed May 1, 2006, he reported.


“Why am I the only one who has put forward a detailed plan?

“Am I the only guy who knows anything about Iraq?”

Lack of a detailed plan from other candidates is “because when your advisors, when you are running for president, they tell you, ‘Don’t put up a target there for everybody to shoot out, don’t lay out something specific, migawd it will be the thing that everyone focuses on, and if it’s adopted and it doesn’t work you’re finished.”

“I’m not running for president to hear Hail to The Chief. I’m not running for president for the honor of living in the White House.

“I’m running for President of the United States of America because I think that I have a better answer how to deal with the most critical problems this nation faces than those in the Democrat and Republican Parties.”

The strategic doctrine of Democrats and Republicans falls short of establishing a democratic government in Iraq, Biden maintained.

“I said before we went to war, I said when we went to war, I’ve said every day since then there is virtually no possibility, none, of establishing a strong central democratic government in Iraq.

“There is no faith that exists in the government that exists.

“There is no trust. There is no prospect of arriving at that and there is no means by which to do it.

“Those the Democrats who say to you, ‘Leave and that will generate… a strong central government in Iraq’ — that’s no different than the president’s plan.


“The president thinks he can do it by using force, surging troops, giving time for peace in a breathing room… (for Iraqi contingents) to arrive at a political settlement.

“The Democrats think the threat of us leaving will force us to look over the precipice, that there is a possibility for reaching an agreement on a strong central government.”

In the past, such internal conflicts have resulted in “one side annhilates the other or one major powers sides with one of the forces to annhilate the other.”

“The second option is occupy for several generations. It is not in our DNA — we are not the Ottoman Empire, we are not the Persian Empire, we are not the British Empire. We don’t have the capacity or interest in occupying that country.

“The third option — which would be the irony of ironies — that is let us find a dictator. Replace the present situation literally. Wouldn’t that be the ultimate irony?

“And the fourth option is a federal system — decentralize the government, not divide the nation. That’s what the Iraqi Constitution calls for. I was there when the (Iraqi) vote took place.

“Article I of the Iraqi Constitution says, and no one’s read it… ‘We are a decentralized federal system.

“Any governate by majority vote can choose to become a region.

“Substitute the word ‘state’ like in the United Sates for ‘region.’

“If so, they write their own Constitution. It cannot preempt the federal Constitution. Nor can the California Constitution.

“But it can make the laws relating to local police, local security, education, marriage, divorce — the very things people are killing one another.

“The president vetoed last night a bill because of a provision that Senator Levin and I wrote in the bill. The so-called Biden-Levin Amendement.

“It set a date of 140-days to begin to redeploy American forces. The target date, we originally had March 2008, the House wanted to change it to April 2008, to remove the bulk of American combat troops and leaving behind the troops that only are needed and necessary for force protection of denying Al-Qaida occupation of territory.

“It also had two other provisions in it.

“It said that, ‘The mission that the president is allowed to pursue with American forces must be changed… Mr. President you can no longer use those forces in the midst of a civil war. You can only use those forces to train an Iraqi army, to deny territorial acquisition by Al-Qaida, and for force protection.’

“The reason that you can draw down forces so drastically is because you don’t need 160,000 troops is because for those three purposes you do not need 160,000 forces.

“Why did (radical Cleric) al-Sadr and… army take off their uniforms and put down their weapons?

“Because we’re killing the Sunnis for them. Literally, not figuratively.



“We’re focusing on 23 Sunni neighborhoods, there are bad guys in those neighborhoods, they’re bad guys, I am not claiming they are good guys.

“But we’re weight in with American force.

“And what is it like — it’s like squeezing a water baloon.

“We bring a little bit more peace and security to those 23 neighborhoods but all of the collar counties around, in terms of Baghad, the number of dead has increased considerably and more American forces are lost.

“Ladies and gentlemen I promise you, the day if it works that we are able to pacificy those 23 neighborhoods those weapons will come out from under the cellars and under the beds, and the uniforms will be put back on by the… army and by the Shiia in order to go after us.

“We could put 500,000 today — like the nursery rhyme,’ All the kings horses and all the kings men cannot settle this civil war.”

Joseph Biden began his first campaign for US Senate in 1972, photographed then and last Wednesday by Sentinel Photographer Bill Wilson.

biden-bill-wilson-1.jpg biden-193-pixels-bill-wilson-2.jpg

Sentinel Photographer
For the last year, John Han served Sentinel readership as a freelance photographer. He has that natural eye for photography which cannot be developed or learned. He has earned a following of clients, including the World Affairs Council of Northern California. John joined the Sentinel fulltime in April, 2007.

Sentinel Editor & Publisher
In his youth, Pat Murphy worked as a General Assignment reporter for the Richmond Independent, the Berkeley Daily Gazette, and the San Francisco Chronicle. He served as Managing Editor of the St. Albans (Vermont) Daily Messenger at age 21. Murphy also launched ValPak couponing in San Francisco, as the company’s first San Francisco franchise owner. He walked the bricks, developing ad strategy for a broad range of restaurants and merchants. Pat knows what works and what doesn’t work. His writing skill has been employed by marketing agencies, including Don Solem & Associates. He has covered San Francisco governance for the past ten years. Pat scribes an offbeat view of the human family through Believe It or What.

Continue Reading

HOUSE SLIDE: San Francisco house slides down hill – Firefighters save puppy

Photos by Bill Wilson
Sentinel Photographer

San Francisco firefighters responded to a home this afternoon that appears to have at least partially slid down a hill below, according to a fire dispatcher.

The fire department was called to 149 Mangels St. around 2:47 p.m. regarding collapse of the clapboard house.

San Francisco Building Inspector Carla Johnson speaks with neighbors of the house that collapsed. The house to the east of 149 was damaged as the house settled

The collapse twisted a wooden stair that led from the front entry to a concrete staircase near the street, and broke windows.

No one was injured, but firefithers saved a Beagle pupppy from the home.


Bay City News contributed to this report

Continue Reading

TEETH WHITENING: What once cost $1000 now is found on shelves of drug stores and beauty salons

Go Smile ampoules are an easy way to get whitening on the run, without any trays or gels. (Fashion Wire Daily/Jeannette Park)

By Jeannette Park

If you think celebrities are born with a perfect set of teeth to go with their perfect beauty and body, guess again. Porcelain caps and surgery are taking the place of a good brushing twice a day, and bleaching has become a daily routine. More than 10 million Americans can be counted in the group seeking pearly perfection.

But what once cost nearly $1000 per visit is now found in drugstores and on beauty supply store shelves. Teeth whitening solutions used to be simple brush-on gels that were applied like white out for the teeth, but now involve malleable trays, gel syringes and rinses. The time it takes to get your teeth corn yellow to pearl white depends on a number of factors: the product, the condition of your teeth and time.

This self-professed teeth whitener has tried them all – from paint-on gels that cost a mere $4.99 to laser whitening treatments at a “whitening salon” for nearly $2500, it’s been done. The results? Spending less than five bucks for treatment guarantees absolutely no difference and one misfire of the laser can cause lip burns. To help you shuffle through the numerous versions of a “hope in a box,” here are three kits that will give more wattage to your smile.

Go Smile Advanced Formula B1 Tooth Whitening On the Go
$89 for a 10-day supply, available at

Created by New York dentist Jonathan Levine, the Go Smile ampoules are the niftiest and most convenient whitening product currently available. Housed in tiny cardboard and plastic tubes, you simply uncap one ampoule and squeeze its middle, releasing a clear liquid that contains the bleaching properties. One swipe across your teeth from the sponge-like applicator, and you can just toss and go. And because of its minty flavor, it can also double as a breath freshener after a meal and won’t leave any sort of residue in your mouth. Although the price can be a bit steep, you’re paying for the convenience of the tubes and the company guarantees a whiter smile in just a week.

Supersmile Professional Whitening System
$70 for a three-month supply, available at

A product derived from another celebrity dentist, Irwin Smigel, Supersmile’s system is as simple as brushing your teeth. Two tubes come in the kit; one is the whitening toothpaste, and the other (the accelerator) is the whitening component that actually bleaches the teeth. Just an equal sized dab of each on a dry toothbrush and brush as you normally would. The combination creates a one-two punch: The toothpaste contains an ingredient designed to dissolve the clear, sticky film on teeth to which plaque and stains adhere, and the accelerator gently bleaches and cleans the teeth. Even though the toothpaste contains baking soda, a natural teeth whitener, Supersmile’s product is absent of the chalky taste found in similar pastes. With no trays or solutions to deal with, you won’t have to alter your daily tooth brushing routine, and it works to brighten porcelain veneers and crowns to their original shade. For a super duty clean, use it on an electric toothbrush like Oral-B Triumph Professional Care that cleans teeth, gums and even flosses too!

Crest Whitestrips Daily Multicare
$39.99 for a six-week supply, available at

One of the first entrants in the teeth whitening market, Crest Whitestrips is recognized by its clear-sticker feature that adheres directly onto teeth. Designed to remove surface stains and prevent future buildup, these Whitestrips used to be the handiest method of whitening teeth because you could just stick the strips onto the upper and lower teeth for 30 minutes twice day. Although more convenient methods are now available, Crest Whitestrips are the go-to box for the mass market looking to achieve a celebrity-like smile. Its newest version is designed to use for just five minutes a day, thanks to a precise allocation of peroxide that is safe for daily use. But you pay for what you get: the Crest Whitestrips do not whiten crowns or caps, and because of the direct contact of peroxide to the gums and lips, it can cause slight discomfort and sensitivity to those areas. Still, it’s a great and economical way to get white teeth that last.

Fashion Wire Daily

Continue Reading

WOMENS FASHION: Eco-Friendly Fabrics no longer an aesthetic sacrifice

A dress designed by Elisa Jimenez using Ingeo fabric worn by Tizana Tronci at the Ingeo NatureWorks Earth Month preview of sustainable fashion designs at the Launch Pad Showroom in New York on Tuesday, April 24, 2007. (Fashion Wire Daily/Renata Espinosa)

By Renata Espinosa

It used to be that eco-conscious clothing meant hemp t-shirts and organic cotton yoga pants – fashion hadn’t yet entered the equation.

Now, not only are there smaller niche designers to choose from like Linda Loudermilk and Elisa Jimenez, who have long used eco-friendly fabrics and production methods, but major fashion labels like Stella McCartney, Versace and Diesel are also producing clothes with Mother Earth in mind, using fabrics made from sustainable plants like bamboo and corn.

Yellow and pink skirt designed by Linda Loudermilk and dresses designed by Rianne de Wit, all using Ingeo fabric, on display at the Ingeo NatureWorks Earth Month preview of sustainable fashion designs at the Launch Pad Showroom in New York on Tuesday, April 24, 2007. (Fashion Wire Daily/Renata Espinosa)

“It doesn’t have to be an aesthetic sacrifice just because it’s eco-friendly,” said Jimenez at an Ingeo NatureWorks “Earth Month” event in New York on April 24. Ingeo is a synthetic fabric whose selling point is that it is made from a 100 percent renewable resource, corn, which Jimenez has been using in her collections for the past three years.

Clothing designed by Moral Fervor using Ingeo fabric on display at the Ingeo NatureWorks Earth Month preview of sustainable fashion designs at the Launch Pad Showroom in New York on Tuesday, April 24, 2007. (Fashion Wire Daily/Renata Espinosa)

“It’s not a trend, it’s absolutely necessary,” said Melissa Sack, who designs a line of sweatshop-free clothing called Moral Fervor with Emily Santamore. “People now shop at Whole Foods, they buy organic skincare and cleaning products, but fashion is the last frontier. It’s been the slowest to integrate.”

Moral Fervor’s mission is to be socially conscious on all levels, said Sack, from the biodegradable products they use in their offices to the mills in Portugal they’ve selected to produce their clothing, which have their own in-house water purification systems. In many mills, said Sack, the water used in the dyeing process turns black and it’s released back into the water supply.

“It’s a holistic way of operating business,” said Sack.

For their current Spring 2007 line, Moral Fervor used Ingeo fabrics.

It’s a cross between a natural and a synthetic fiber, says Ingeo spokesperson Tiziana Tronci. “It breathes, it’s hypoallergenic and has the performance of a synthetic fiber, but it comes from nature.”

Thus, it’s an alternative for clothing manufacturers instead of using petroleum-based synthetic fabrics such as nylon and polyester, which do not originate from a sustainable resource and aren’t biodegradable. While it’s derived from natural sources, the fact that it is a synthetic makes it versatile, said Tronci.

As far as textiles go, it’s been used as denim, wovens, jersey and also more unusual fabrications, such as those found in Elisa Jimenez’s designs, where the fabric takes on delicate, paper doily-like qualities, yet has the strength of a traditional woven.

Ingeo is not without its critics, however, namely with those opposed to genetically engineered crops. It was reported by the Associated Press last year that Patagonia, an outdoor clothing company known for its environmental awareness, decided against using the fabric because Ingeo relies, at least partially, on genetically modified corn (known as GMO corn).

But for designers like Jimenez, the pros of using a fiber like Ingeo – its biodegradability, its sustainability – are in keeping with their business philosophy.

“I want to live more conscientiously,” said Jimenez. The disposable nature of fashion is an idea Jimenez, also an artist, has incorporated into her designs, so using something like Ingeo as her medium is filled with conceptual significance.

“Where does the stuff go after we’ve worn it?” Jimenez asked, arguing that if something isn’t designed to be kept for a long time, like fashion, then it’s better to use materials that are designed to breakdown over time.

“Eco-conscious is the new luxury,” she continued. “It costs more to produce, but it has more finesse.”

Fashion Wire Daily

Continue Reading

STREET VIOLENCE: Madness crosing the desk Friday of San Francisco Tenderloin Police Captain Gary Jimenez

Tenderloin Captain Gary Jimenez

Let me share with you some of the madness that crossed my desk this Friday via my frustrated officers.

– A couple were lounging on the 100 block of Taylor Street when a citizen upset over their mess struck one of the loungers with a 40 oz. beer bottle. One went to the hospital; one went into the revolving door of the criminal justice system and one remained lounging waiting for something to presumably happen.

– A poor man who just received housing went out in the street bought ten dollars of crack cocaine and just started to light up on a street corner to celebrate his good fortune when along comes a Police Sergeant and arrested him for possession of the cocaine and crack pipe and being under the influence of drugs. The Sheriff’s Department refused to accept the prisoner on the basis he was mentally ill (I could comment on this but any comment the reader devises would probably fit as well).

– A man was detained with a carload of stolen property he had just purchased at North Seventh Street and Market with the intent of transporting the goods south of the border to sell for a healthy profit. He was released for further investigation; because of the late hour the property plainly marked with the store price labels could not be verified as stolen.

– Another couple camping on the 100 block of Taylor Street under a makeshift blanket shelter refused to dislodge and required the beat officers to charge them with a variety of quality of life violations and seize their campsite as evidence. The crazy thing was the officer recently arranged housing for the female camper but she wanted to smoke methamphetamine with her lover on the street. They were given tickets and told to live happily ever after.

Not all is this bleak, on Tuesday May 8th at noon a group of residents plan to address the Tenderloin situation by peacefully marching from 201 Turk Street to City Hall where they hope to be heard by the Board of Supervisors.

I admire their tenacity, I share their hope and I dream their dream of a safe and decent neighborhood.


Continue Reading

SPECIAL REPORT: San Francisco International Film Festival – Galas, shmalas, bring on the movies

By PJ Johnston
Sentinel Film Critic
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel

Roll Through 50 Years of The San Francisco International Film Festival

I don’t know if it had to do with having attended too many black-tie benefit dinners at this point in my life – or with the fact that the Warriors were playing a Game 6 playoff showdown for the first time since the 1970s and I was itchy to get in front of a television set to see it – but I just wasn’t feeling this year’s Awards Gala at the San Francisco International Film Festival.

It certainly wasn’t because of the honorees: this year’s SFIFF awards went to Spike Lee, Robin Williams, Peter Morgan and George Lucas, a heavy-creamed crop if there ever was one. And the spread at the St. Francis was lovely, particularly the cocktail lounge area imbued with Hollywood glamour and noir-era glitz by Stanlee Gatti. And of course the silver anniversary gave the entire proceeding an air of importance that doesn’t always fill the atmosphere of top-ticket film festival events, even here in San Francisco.

But there was no bad-boy at the mic, a la the Mayor Willie Brown years; most of the speeches were canned and past their expiration date; the room seemed too big and loud; and half the crowd was nursing a hangover from the Modern Ball, held the night before at SFMOMA, also masterminded by the peerless Mr. Gatti.

And the loud crowd squandered a beautiful performance by the silky perfect jazz vocalist Paula West, who found herself in the unfortunate position of competing with the delivery of the first course and a chorus of 1,000 rather rude diners. A talent like West’s merits more devotion than that.

But the pols – John Burton, AG Jerry Brown, DA Kamala Harris and Mayor Gavin Newsom among them – rubbed elbows with the well-heeled supporters of the San Francisco Film Society, and the two-week international film festival paused to take stock of the achievements of four of the greatest talents in cinema, American or otherwise.

Actually, it didn’t really pause. Back at the Kabuki, the festival kept on rolling with a diversity of films that continues to challenge and surprise the adventurous filmgoer.

I guess maybe that’s why I wasn’t warming up to the gala this year; I would’ve preferred to spend my time delving further and further into the offerings of the festival. You can’t see ’em all, but seeing as many as possible is half the fun.

SFIFF WEEK 2: PJ’s Picks

Audience of One
dir. Michael Jacobs, U.S./Italy, 88 mins.
Monday, 12:45 p.m. (Kabuki)


One of those offbeat offerings you might’ve seen at the festival, and only at the festival, was competing with the gala Thursday night. If you weren’t at the St. Francis gussied up for the Awards Gala (or sitting in a sports bar watching the Warriors’ Baron Davis make mince-meat of NBA MVP Dirk Nowitski), you could’ve been at the Kabuki Thursday night for the first of two screenings of “Audience of One,” a strange documentary about the strange journey of a religious zealot from San Francisco.

Filmmaker Michael Jacobs follows a 40ish Pentecostal pastor who, believing himself the recipient of a “prophetic whisper” from God, embarks on a massive project to produce a blockbuster religious epic. Paster Richard Gazowsky uses his congregation’s donations to fund his $50 million movie, transforms his San Francisco church into a functional movie studio and even takes his cast and crew of followers to Italy for on-location shooting.

It’s a sharp look into the twisted logic and devotion of a man to his project, and a flock to its shepherd. Jacobs keeps the film tight and well-paced – one doubts the same could be said of Gazowsky’s epic – and offers an interesting play on the devotional, even obsessive, persistence required of any filmmaker to get his or her movie made.

dir. Fredi M. Murer, Switzerland, 120 mins.
Sunday, noon (Clay)


One film that could fall through tracks, but hopefully won’t, is “Vitus,” the story of a boy genius struggling to live among us mere mortals. It’s an uplifting story benefiting from strong performances – notably, Teo Gheorghiu’s Vitus, Julika Jenkins as his pressurized mother and, especiallys, the great Bruno Ganz as the boy’s loving and eccentric grandfather.

Vitus is not only a prodigy in logic and mathematics, he’s a piano virtuoso – and his relationship to the music draws out the tension between flourishing as a lonely wunderkind and striving for childhood normalcy and affection. It helps that Gheorghiu is an actual piano virtuoso; his scenes at the piano are authentic and exhilarating. He’s also a good actor; whether he can dominate the stock market as he does in the movie is another question, but we’ll let it go.

Though it strains credibility at times, “Vitus” is an enthralling film that never veers into easy sentimentality – as it undoubtedly would if given the Hollywood treatment – but nevertheless charms. It probably deserved more than its single Sunday noontime showing, so go check it out.

PJ Johnston is president of the San Francisco Arts Commission and a former executive director of the San Francisco Film Commission. He served as Mayor Willie Brown’s press secretary and now runs his own communications consulting firm in San Francisco. A former journalist, he has written about movies for several publications, including the San Jose Mercury News and – long ago, in a galaxy far, far away – for the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Email PJ at

Continue Reading

POSTAGE HIKE: First Class stamp goes to 41-cents May 14


The price of a First Class stamp is going up, from 39 cents to 41 cents, the United States Postal Service is reporting.

According to USPS spokesman Augustine Ruiz, post offices are now selling the new 41-cent stamps as well as one- and two-cent stamps for customers who still have a supply of 39-cent stamps.

The price of a Breast Cancer Research fundraising stamp is also increasing. Instead of costing 45 cents, the price will be 55 cents.

The new postage rate goes into effect May 14.

Customers can get the new stamps from a number of places, including post offices nationwide, Automated Postal Centers, ATM’s, online at or by calling 1-800-STAMP-24.

In addition to introducing new postage rates on May 14, USPS is also changing the way international mail is sent.

“USPS has simplified its eight main international products into four: Global Express Guaranteed, Express Mail International, Priority Mail International and First-Class Mail International,” Ruiz said in a written statement.

New Priority Mail and Express Mail packaging will allow mail customers to use the same packaging for shipping within the U.S. and to other countries.

Bay City News

Continue Reading

POLICE: San Francisco Police send largest contingent ever for 300 mile Police Unity Tour to honor fallen officers


By Tamara Barak

Seven San Francisco police officers are gearing up to bicycle 300 miles in the annual Police Unity Tour, which honors those who died in the line of duty.

The tour kicks off Wednesday in Morris Township, N.J. and ends three days later at the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C.

San Francisco police began participating in the annual ride and fundraising effort in 2004, after beloved Bayview station officer Isaac Espinoza was fatally shot in the line of duty.

It has grown each year since, said Officer Mike Amoroso.

“This year’s group is the largest that has been in the Police Unity Tour to date,” he said.

The tour, in which officers “ride for those who died,” is a way of showing solidarity with families who have lost loved ones in the line of duty.


When cyclists arrive at the law enforcement memorial, they are greeted by families of fallen police officers bearing pictures of those they have lost.

“The emotional level is incredible. You well up and you cry. You can’t help it,” Amaroso said. “You realize that their husband, wife, son, brother – they died doing the job we do. We ride to make sure we won’t forget them.”

The ride also provides police officers to connect with colleagues across the country.

Each officer raises $1,700 to attend the event. The money raised is donated to the National Law Enforcement Memorial. Last year, the ride raised more than $1 million, Amaroso said.

Other San Francisco officers attending the event include Sgt. Ronald Banta, who heads the department’s tactical K9 unit, and Officer Rolli Canales, a senior dog handler. The pair is riding in honor of Darryl Tsujimoto, who led the unit before dying of a heart attack during a training
exercise on Treasure Island last year.

Sgt. Patrick Tobin and Officer Jason Gardner of the Tenderloin station; Sgt. Johnny Burke and Officer Officer Steve Benzinger; and Amaroso, from the Northern station, will ride as well.

See Related Fundraiser for family of stricken San Francisco Police Officer Jack Santos

Bay City News

Continue Reading

SAN FRANCISCO CINCO DE MAYO – History of Battle for Pueblo – Festival Agenda


By Pat Murphy
Sentinel Editor & Publisher
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel

San Francisco Cinco de Mayo festivities begin Saturday morning, an important date in Mexico history memoralizing the Battle for Pueblo.

The 11:00 a.m. celebration kick-off of Cinco de Mayo events is slated for Dolores Park located at 18th and Dolores Streets.

Although some mistake Cinco de Mayo for Mexico Indepedence day — which is honored September 16 — Cinco de Mayo actually celebrates Mexico victory over French armies.

The Battle of Puebla, Mexico on May 5, 1862 was one of the few victories of the Mexican people over the occupying French Army. The battle has become legendary and has been susceptible to many variations in the telling.

The French Army at the time was led by General Charles Ferdinand Latrille de Lorencez. He had great contempt for the Mexican people, so much so that he believed he could control the whole country like puppets with his army of 6,000 men. What led up to the battle was a misunderstanding, fired by infuriation, of the French forces’ agreement to withdraw to the coast before resuming hostilities. The French left some of their sicker men in the highlands. When the Mexican people saw these men walking around with rifles, they took it that hostilities had recommenced. There were not supposed to be any able-bodied men left behind. Add to that the fact that negotiations for the withdrawal were breaking down.

A vehement complaint was lodged with General Lorencez who took the effrontery as a plan to murder his ailing forces. Lorencez decided to hold up his withdrawal to the coast by instead occupying Orizaba, which prevented the Mexicans from defending the passes between Orizaba and the landing port of Veracruz. The 33 year old Mexican Commander General, Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin, fell back to Alcuzingo Pass, where he and his army were badly beaten in a skirmish with Lorencez’s aggressive forces on April 28. Zaragoza retreated to Puebla, which was heavily fortified. Puebla had been held by the Mexican government since the Wars of Reform in 1860. To its north lie the forts Loreto and Guadalupe on opposite hilltops. Zaragoza had a trench joining the forts via the saddle.

Lorencez heard that the people of Puebla were friendly to the French, and that the Mexican Republican garrison which kept the people in line would be overrun by the population once he made a show of force. This would prove to be a serious miscalculation on Lorencez’s part. On May 5th, against all advice, Lorencez decided to attack Puebla from the north. Unfortunately, he started his attack a little too late in the day, using his artillery just before noon and by noon advancing his infantry, which by the third attack needed the full engagement of all its reserves.The French artillery had run out of ammunition, so the third attack went unsupported. The Mexican forces and the Republican Garrison both put up a stout defense and even took to the field to defend the positions between the hilltop forts.

Depictions of the battle showing Mexican cavalry overwhelming the French troops below the fort at Loreto. Note there are no machete wielding civilians, as some accounts have it

As the French retreated from their final assault, Zaragoza had his cavalry attack them on the right and left while the troops concealed along the road pivoted out to flank them badly. By 3 p.m. the daily rains had started, making a slippery mess of the battlefield. Lorencez withdrew to distant positions, counting 462 of his men killed against only 83 of the Mexicans. He waited a couple of days for Zaragoza to attack again, but Zaragoza held his ground. Lorencez then completely withdrew to Orizaba. The political repercussions were overwhelming, as the outnumbered Mexicans used what courage and determination they could to repel the ominous French Army. When news of the defeat reached France, Napoleon III sent 29,000 additional troops to Mexico. Suffice it to say they eventually overran Puebla, but the legendary battle had created a Mexican moral victory which is celebrated today as Cinco de Mayo.

Excerpts from Wikipedia

Continue Reading

REBUILDING BAYVIEW: Hunters Point Citizens Advisory Committee and Children’s Fund Citizens Advisory Committee appointments announced

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom today announced appointments to the Hunters Point Citizens Advisory Committee and the Children’s Fund Citizens Advisory Committee.

Six people were appointed to the Hunters Point committee: Ron Mitchell, Pastor Joe Bell, Dedria Smith, Dr. Veronica Hunnicutt, Christine Johnson and Andre Wright.

Mitchell, a 50-year resident of the Bayview, worked on the city’s light rail and other transportation projects. He is a supporter of the Hunters Point Shipyard redevelopment.

Bell has also lived in the neighborhood for more than 50 years and has testified in support of the redevelopment plan before the city’s policymakers and community groups.

Smith is a resident of the Alice Griffith Housing Project, where she serves on the resident council. She has worked closely with the Mayor’s Office of Community Development and the Communities of Opportunities program to link Alice Griffith residents with city services. Smith is also the executive director of the Alice Griffith Parents Association and does voting
outreach work in her community.

Hunnicutt, the dean of Southeast College, will fill the “expert seat” on the council. She has worked with Newsom to establish programs for workforce development and participated on advisory panels on biotech, employment and technology forums.

Johnson is a consultant to financial firm JP Morgan, where she helped build debt management software to help governments and municipal agencies manage their debts. She also has a background in engineering.

Wright operates Precision Transport Company with his father and brother. The minority-owned company has been at the Shipyard since 1980 and is a longtime employer of Bayview residents.

In addition, Newsom appointed Abby Snay to the Children’s Fund Citizens Advisory Committee. Snay has been the executive director of Jewish Vocational Services since 1984, and has been instrumental in its growth.

Bay City News

Continue Reading

MAZE COLLAPSE: Extra BART service through weekend – AC Transit expands West Oakland service to San Francisco

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) announced today it plans to continue extra service this weekend and on Monday after seeing a huge spike in ridership this week during MacArthur Maze demolition and reconstruction.

And the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) is expanding service from
West Oakland to San Francisco.

BART spokesman Jim Allison said that this weekend there would be an increase in train trips and more cars added to existing trains.

The decision to keep extended service running through the weekend comes after a week when BART saw two of its three busiest days in ridership to date.

According to Allison, a record setting Tuesday saw 374,200 people ride BART, followed by BART’s third highest ridership total on Thursday, when the system saw 375,200 riders.

Allison said planned extra service is one reason why BART has been able to maintain or exceed its 94 percent on-time performance while carrying record numbers of riders.

BART plans this weekend to add cars to the Dublin/Pleasanton-SFO/Millbrae line and the Richmond-Fremont line, Allison reported.

On Monday morning BART will run 11 more trains than usual, each being extended by at least one car. The additional trains will be made up of six Concord to San Francisco lines and five San Francisco to Concord lines.

On Monday afternoon seven additional one-way trips will be made, with one additional train running on both the Richmond-Daly City line and the Daly City-Richmond line, three additional trains on the Daly City-Concord line and two additional trains on the Concord-Daly City line.

BART officials say they are ready to take on even more passengers if an increase in demand becomes necessary.

As crews scramble to fix the destroyed freeway connector at the Maze, AC Transit is beefing up its service to San Francisco with eight morning trips every weekday and 48 return trips throughout the day.

Line W service begins at the California Department of Transportation park and ride lot at Seventh and Linden streets in Oakland, where 180 parking spaces are available. The service will run every 30 minutes between 6:15 a.m. and 8:35 a.m. to the San Francisco Transbay Terminal at First and Mission streets.

Return service is scheduled to be available on AC Transit Line W or Line O at 10-minute intervals between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The AC Transit move is the latest effort by regional public transportation agencies to alleviate the commute problems caused by Sunday’s explosion on the connector ramp from westbound Interstate Highway 80 to southbound Interstate Highway 880.

Bay Area Rapid Transit spokesman Jim Allison announced Thursday that free additional parking for the Rockridge station would be available beginning today.

Around 90 additional parking spaces will be available to riders at the former Albertson’s lot at 5727 College Ave. in Oakland — about one block north of the Rockridge station — until June 10, Allison reported.

Continue Reading

HEALTH: Smoke-free policy adopted by 45 San Francisco Bay Area farmers markets


The anti-smoking advocate group Breathe California reported today that the Pacific Coast Farmers Market Association is planning to announce a new smoke-free policy for all of its 45 Bay Area markets.

Breathe California spokesman Dave Lowe said that the official announcement of the Association’s new policy would take place Sunday at the Belmont Farmers Market.

The decision to declare the new policy came after board members from the Farmers Market Association decided a ban on smoking would be a good way to promote healthy lifestyles along with healthy food, Low said.

Belmont Mayor Coralin Feierbach is expected to be on hand for the announcement, as well as Farmers Market Association representative Chris Hanks and advocates from Breathe California and the group Smoke-Free San Mateo County Advocates.

Low said the idea to approach the Farmers Market Association came from a group of local Peninsula college students who were vocal about influencing Bay Area businesses and groups to develop anti-smoking policies.

The students, who are predominately from Skyline College and the College of San Mateo, felt the Farmers Market Association would be receptive to a non-smoking policy because it seemed a large number of shoppers at the market would support the idea.

The Pacific Coast Farmers Market Association — the largest operator of farmers markets in California — worked together with Breathe California and Smoke-Free San Mateo County Advocates to put the new policy in place, according to Low.

The Belmont Farmers Market will take place on the corner of El Camino Real and Oneill Avenue at 10 a.m. Sunday.

Bay City News

Continue Reading

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: Symbol of San Francisco failure to protect domestic violence victims gag order ruling delayed to May 17

By Tamara Barak and Brent Begin

A man at the center of a murder case that became a symbol among advocates for the justice system’s failure to protect domestic violence victims appeared briefly in a San Francisco courtroom this morning.

Handcuffed and dressed in the orange uniform worn by county jail inmates, Tari Ramirez, 33, appeared in front of Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kelly but did not speak.

Ramirez was represented today by public defender Matthew Rosen.

Both Rosen and Assistant District Attorney Liz Aguilar-Tarchi, who is prosecuting the case, are bound by a temporary gag order.

This morning Kelly delayed until May 17 a ruling to make the gag order permanent.

Ramirez was extradited from Mexico last month after being sought for more than six years in the Oct. 22, 2000 murder of his former girlfriend, Claire Joyce Tempongko, in her Richmond district home.

He pleaded not guilty on April 23.

The FBI arrested Ramirez on June 15, 2006 in Mexico. He was living with a relative near Cancun and working at a resort under an assumed name.

Ramirez fought the extradition, and federal officials had worked for 10 months to bring him to San Francisco.

Ramirez had a long history of domestic violence. Police arrested him three times in 1999 for assaulting Tempongko, and he spent four months in jail for one of the arrests. In the month leading up to her murder, police prepared two separate reports alleging Ramirez had battered Tempongko.

A year after her murder, the victim’s mother, Clara Tempongko, along with the victim’s two surviving children sued the city of San Francisco, alleging that the police failed to transmit their reports to the city’s adult probation department, district attorney and superior court as
required by various regulations and procedures.

In 2004, the city of San Francisco settled the lawsuit by awarding $500,000 to Claire Tempongko’s two children.

Bay City News

Continue Reading

HEALTH: Stanford University study finds outdoor smoke a significant risk to nonsmokers


By Jason Bennert

A group of Stanford researchers have concluded that nonsmokers face significant secondhand smoke exposure when around smokers even outdoors.

“We were surprised to discover that being within a few feet of a smoker outdoors may expose you to air pollution levels that are comparable, on average, to indoor levels that we measured in previous studies of homes and taverns,” study and co-author and Stanford consulting professor of civil and environmental engineering Wayne Ott said.

“For example, if you’re at a sidewalk cafi, and you sit within 18 inches of a person who smokes two cigarettes over the course of an hour, your exposure to secondhand smoke could be the same as if you sat one hour inside a tavern with smokers,” Ott said.

“Based on our findings, a child in close proximity to adult smokers at a backyard party also could receive substantial exposure to secondhand smoke.”

The study also found that proximity makes all of the difference when it comes to secondhand smoke.

“Our data also show that if you move about six feet away from an outdoor smoker, your exposure levels are much lower,” study co-author and Stanford consulting professor of civil and environmental engineering Neil Klepeis said.

In the study, the researchers used portable electronic monitors to make precise measurements of toxic airborne particles emitted from cigarettes at 10 sites near the Stanford campus. The study appears in the May issue of the Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association.

Bay City News

Continue Reading

BUSINESS: Diverting 10% of San Francisco purchases from chain stores to small businesses could create 1,300 new jobs, study indicates

By Elizabeth Daley

A group of locally owned businesses commissioned a study that found that diverting 10 percent of consumer purchases from chain stores to small businesses in San Francisco could create 1,300 new jobs and yield nearly $200 million in incremental economic activity each year.

Pete Mulvihill, owner of Green Apple Books, a local bookstore in San Francisco’s Inner Richmond District, said he is not surprised small businesses economically benefit local communities.

Pete Mulvihill

“We do all our signage printing at local shops and our insurance agent lives in the neighborhood,” said Mulvihill, listing just a few of the ways his store gives back to the community financially.

“The simplest example is employees on their lunch break at Borders eat at the mall at a chain, ours go down the block to Toy Boat, or somewhere on Clement Street.”

“Clement Street is a perfect example of the diversity of retail shopping that can exist without big box stores.”

Mulvihill is a member of the San Francisco Locally Owned Merchant’s Alliance that commissioned the study.

He said the group hired the independent economic research firm Civic Economics to test a hypothesis that they had – that shopping locally benefited the community.

Mulvihill said he was surprised to find what a big impact such a small shift in spending might make on the local economy. However, he acknowledged the need for larger businesses such as supermarkets to exist even in neighborhoods like the Inner Richmond.

Diane W. Barrett, a Florist and co-president of the Noe Valley Merchants Association in San Francisco said she enjoys having a few big businesses in her neighborhood.

Diane W. Barrett

Barrett said bigger businesses in Noe Valley such as Wells Fargo or the Bank of America often donate money to community projects because they have more money to give.

“What I don’t get is big stores getting tax breaks in order to operate sometimes. Government encourages chains to move in because they think more jobs will be created, but jobs are lost at local businesses when big chains come in,” said Mulvihill who recommended a variety of books on the

“Our tagline is shop local first,” said Mulvihill who recently served as a referee for a sports game at an elementary school down the block.

“Someone came in and said they needed a ref,” said Mulvihill, “we are involved in that human way.”

Bay City News

Continue Reading

San Francisco Bay Bridge collapsed connector back in use as early as Wednesay – lists Park and Ride Logs

Photo by John Han
Sentinel Photographer
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel

Bay Area drivers can expect to be using the Interstate Highway 880 ramp that was damaged in Sunday’s tanker truck accident as early as next Wednesday, Caltrans spokesman Bob Haus said this morning.

In an effort to serve the increased number of public transit users after the collapse of part of the MacArthur Maze on Sunday morning, the regional Web site has expanded information about Bay Area Park and Ride lots.

The updated information page provides transportation options for those commuters affected by the closure of Interstate Highways 580 and 880, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Commuters can click on the scrolling “Breaking News” ticker on the Web site and find a list of Park and Ride lots that have been recently surveyed and found to have
available parking.

The site also shows users the location of each lot, which transit agency provides service to the lot, as well as additional details such as lighting or bike locker availability, the commission reported.

Park and Ride lots can also be used as meeting points for carpool and van pool, according to the commission.

The damaged section of 880 is expected to be open for traffic in five to eight days, Haus said. The highway sustained damage, but the section is still structurally sound, so Caltrans will not need to replace any steel on that part of the road.

“Right now we are concentrating on false work, which is temporary external supports that we will attach to the freeway,” Haus said.

Caltrans crews will attach long steel columns to the highway to brace the road deck,
so that crews can attach jacks and lift the freeway 9 inches. By lifting the section of road workers will be able to straighten the steel that was warped during the accident.

Crews will be repaving the road deck that was damaged by the fire at the same time as other crews are straightening the steel beams, according to Haus.

The Interstate Highway 580 ramp will be repaired in approximately 50 days, Haus said. Around nine contractors will submit bids for the repair job and the contract will be awarded the afternoon of May 7.

The contract will contain both incentives and disincentives, Haus said. The repairs should be done by June 29, and for every day before that date the repairs are finished, the contractor will receive $200,000. However, for every day after June 29 that the highway is not completed, the contractor will owe $200,000, Haus said.

The interchanges from eastbound Interstate Highway 80 to eastbound Interstate Highway 580 and from westbound Interstate Highway 80 to southbound Interstate Highway 880, were damaged after a tanker truck crashed and exploded early Sunday morning, which caused the collapse of the freeways, according to Caltrans.

Bay City News

Continue Reading