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MAYOR NEWSOM and Bay Area commuters get out of cars and on bikes

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San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom stands with his Specialized Globe bicycle and discusses benefits of bicycling as alternate transit.
Photo by Business Wire

MORGAN HILL, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Bay Area’s 13th annual Bike to Work Day has arrived and following on the nationwide trend to preserve the environment, Specialized Bicycles has raised the bar on the day. For the first time, Mayor Gavin Newsom and his Supervisors joined the festivities by riding the environmentally-friendly Specialized Globe bicycles for the day. Also riding Specialized today, in Sacramento, was California Speaker of the House, Fabian Nuñez (D-46th District). These California elected officials joined the tens of thousands of bicyclists who geared up for this year’s event.

“Bike to Work Day is a great opportunity for us all to celebrate our commitment to a cleaner, greener, safer and environmentally healthier San Francisco,” said Mayor Newsom. “I am especially thankful to Specialized Bicycles for affording me the ultimate riding experience on their Globe City 3.1 bicycle. This impressive bike with its smooth gear functions and purpose-build technology makes even the novice bike rider an expert in navigating the streets of San Francisco. I also commend Specialized Bicycles Founder and President, Mike Sinyard for his vision and entrepreneurial spirit in bringing the joy of cycling back to our city streets,” continued the Mayor.

Specialized partnered with Mike’s Bikes a top Bay Area bicycle retailer to outfit Mayor Newsom, his office and Speaker Nunez, and lawmakers in Sacramento with bikes for the day. In addition to providing bicycles, Specialized partnered with two leading state wide advocacy leading organizations to raise awareness for Bike to Work Day and the benefits of bicycling, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC) and the California Bicycle Coalition(CBC). The SFBC’s mission is to transform San Francisco’s streets and neighborhoods into more livable and safe places by promoting the bicycle for everyday transportation. The CBC aims to create safe, healthy and livable communities in California by promoting bicycling for transportation and recreation. Both groups were integral to the success of Bike to Work Day.

Specialized is a participant in the Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s Cool Commute Program and CEO Cycle-to-Work Challenge encouraging Silicon Valley businesses, government agencies, and employees to cycle to work on May 17 as part of the national Bike-to-Work Week May 14-18.

“We are working with the leaders in our retail channel, the environment and advocacy arena to demonstrate the benefit of bicycling as a great and valid means of transportation,” said Mike Sinyard, founder and president of Specialized Bicycles. “Riding to work can directly impact global warming. Every mile spent on a bike instead of the car preserves one pound of CO2 emissions put into the air—so even a three mile commute can save about 1,660 lbs of emissions a year.”

Last year, the Specialized Commute Club offset 18.5 tons of CO2 emissions by riding 39,143.96 bike miles and offset nearly 50 tons of CO2 by carpooling 104,449 miles. This is the equivalent to taking 104 cars off the road every month. Morgan Hill-based Specialized also commemorated the day by hosting an annual Share the Road Ride through downtown Morgan Hill to encourage safe riding and driving and goodwill between motorists and bicyclists.

Founded in Morgan Hill, California in 1974, Specialized Bicycles is a company filled with passionate cyclists, all with a goal to create the best bikes and equipment for all kinds of cyclists. 2006 is the 25th Anniversary of Specialized’s Stumpjumper. The first widely available mountain bike, Stumpjumper was first designed and manufactured by Specialized back in 1981 and has been in production ever since. Join in the celebration by picking up a copy of the company’s new Book “Stumpjumper: 25 Years Of Mountain Biking” or by test riding a new 2006 FACT carbon Stumpjumper FSR full suspension bike, both available at Specialized dealers.

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STREET VIOLENCE: Young, drunk, and stabbed in neighborhood where ‘it spills on the streets’

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San Francisco police today are looking for clues in a stabbing Wednesday night that left a 25-year-old man with life-threatening wounds.

According to police, officers found the bloody and intoxicated man leaning against a wall at the corner of Mission Street and Cortland Avenue.

The man had been stabbed on both sides of his chest and had knife wounds to his left cheek, arm and eye, said Capt. Paul Chignell, commander of the Ingleside Station.

The victim was unable to talk. He was transported to San Francisco General Hospital, where he remains in critical condition.

The area where the man was found, in the lower Bernal Heights-Mission District corridor, sees its fair share of trouble, Chignell said.

“We have some issues relating to some of the nightclubs in the area. There’s drinking and fights that spill out of some of the clubs,” he said.

Bay City News

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MAYORAL ELECTIONEERING kicked-off by San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness

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San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness allegation of human rights abuse in San Francisco homeless system portrayed in dance during City Hall rally Wednesday
Photos by John Han
Sentinel Photographer
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel

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

An election year charge equating San Francisco homeless shelter service to human rights abuse worsens suffering of the homeless by frightening them away from shelter, Trent Rhorer who oversees City shelters chided Wednesday.

Rhorer aimed his remarks at a report compiled by the Coalition on Homelessness which concluded abuse and cruelty exist in shelters and rise to human rights abuse.

“This report takes the account of a few people, an unscientific survey, to draw conclusions that there are human rights abuses in our shelters basically equating them to Guantanamo which is absolutely silly,” Rhorer told the Sentinel prior to a small City Hall steps rally by the Coalition.

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“I question their motivation — why would the Coalition be spreading this anecdotal hyperbole about the disgraces in the shelter system at the same time we’re trying to get people indoors to use the shelter system — politics election year,” continued Rhorer, Director of the San Francisco Human Services Agency.

“People on the street see this and they don’t want to go in because they think they are such horrible places when in fact the places have improved considerably and they are places that can transition people into housing.”

The report, entitled “Shelter Shock Abuse and Cruelty – Documenting and Exposing Human Rights Absues in SF Shelters,” surveyed 215 shelter clients over a three month period, the Coalition reported.

One quarter of those surveyed indicated shelter staff were rude and slightly more than one quarter complained of insufficient toiletry supplies. More than half encountered violence in shelters, they said.

One member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors attended the Coalition event.

District 9 Supervisor Tom Ammiano told the gathering of his “shock” in learning shelter conditions are “barbaric.”

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Supervisor Tom Ammiano

“As Chair of the Rules Committee, myself and my colleagues have been shocked and appalled by the report,” Ammiano stated.

“The conditions that they have found in the shelters are barbaric.

“From no toilet paper to no soap to no standard of care.

“Every shelter has a different policy. Every shelter has a different way of dealing with problems so that people who need that shelter are treated to double whammy.

“It’s bad enough to be homeless and not have services, but then when shelter is offered to have some of those conditions worse — worse — than those on the streets.”

“And then we wonder why our homeless population is not being significatly reduced.

“We wonder why the mayor’s policy of ‘Care Not Cash’ is really not being effective — it’s because the intent and the purpose is not there.

“It’s all about words but it’s not about action, so we have introduced, my office has introduced, a piece of legislation to establish a standard of care for all shelters so that people who are housed in those shelters will receive the dignity that they deserve, will receive the toilet paper that they deserve,” Ammiano pledged.

Yet despite his charge of barbarity, Ammiano does not want a combative environment with Mayor Newsom regarding standard of care development, Ammiano later sought out the Sentinel to comment.

“The intention of my office is to be collaborative with the mayor regarding the shelter conditions,” Ammiano said.

“We have had one meeting where we’ve agreed to work on a standard of care so that the conditions of the shelter are not capricious, and so that we can expect humane and sanitary conditions for the inhabitants.”

Rhorer responded he favors establishing a standard of care into law and rejected allegation homelessness has not been reduced in San Francisco.

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Trent Rhorer, Director of the San Francisco Human Services Agency which oversees local shelters, speaks with reporters during rally

“We don’t have any problem adopting minimum standards of in our system,” noted Rhorer.

“The concern would be adoption of minimum standards without the funding to go with providing improvements that the legislation may call for.

“We already have minimum standards in all of our contracts with our shelter providers so codifying the minimum standards we already have into law is something we’d be proud of.”

Homeless counts have dropped significantly from 8,640 homeless persons in 2002, to 6,248 in 2005 and 6,337 in 2007, Rhorer noted.

Mayor Newsom reported City efforts to coordinate housing services have resulted in 5,460 homeless person now housed, Newsom last night told a San Francisco Commonwealth Club audience.

Rhorer maintained the Coalition report conflates imperfection.

“I’m sure there are nights when we don’t have toilet paper installed or it needs to be replaced or we have to add soap,” Rhorer acknowledged.

“Sure there are interactions among clients in a highly populated dense area that need to be dealt with, but overall when you look the system and you have an over 80% satisfaction rate we’re confident the system is meeting the needs of of homeless people.

“We’ve added security guards to almost all of our City shelters this year, we’ve added panic buttons, we’ve augmented our training around people who come in with disabilities, our transgender guests.

“We’ve pumped over $1.1 million in our capital improvements to our system over the last year, bathrooms and living conditions, adding new beds.

“Over 80% of our clients in our shelter system rate their stay as either good or excellent and that they we would refer their friends who are on the streets into our shelters.

“I think when (Coalition members) interview individuals you are always going to get certain anecdotes from people who are experiencing or using the shelter system are having problems, but to draw conclusions across the system from anecdotes I think is flawed.”

Coalition posturing hurts the people it claims to help, concluded Rhorer.

“We take this business of providing shelter to the homeless very, very seriously,” Rhorer stressed

“When we see reports that contain the hyperbole that this one does it is not only discouraging for staff and providers — but it dissaudes homeless people from coming in which is the real tragedy of something like this.”

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PAT MURPHY
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.

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JOHN HAN
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.

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HOME SALES at slowest pace in 12 years

Though Bay Area homes sold last month at the slowest pace in 12 years, prices are up on average, according to DataQuick Information Systems.

A total of 7,447 new and resale homes and condos were sold in the nine-county Bay Area last month, a sales reduction of 18.4 percent when compared with the 9,129 homes sold in April of last year. Though home prices rose on average 3.8 percent since this time last year, last month’s sales count was the lowest since 5,636 homes were sold in April 1995, according to DataQuick.

Despite this drop in sales, Marin County’s median price for resale homes last month broke a California county record at $1,010,000 — the first time any county in California passed the million-dollar mark, according to DataQuick. The median price paid for a home in the Bay Area also increased last month to a record high of $659,000.

Data complied showed Solano County had the greatest percentage decline in home sales, selling only 440 homes last month, representing a 37.2 percent decline in sales when compared with April of last year.

Contra Costa County also experienced a significant decline in sales last month, at 28.2 percent or 1,246 homes sold, compared with 1,735 a year ago.

Santa Clara County, which had the greatest volume of home sales in April, at 2,009, experienced a 17.1 percent decline in sales.

Napa County, which sold 109 homes and was the Bay Area county with fewest homes sold last month, with a decline in sales of 20.4 percent since April a year ago.

According to DataQuick, home sale prices in Marin County last month increased 8.8 percent, representing the greatest increase in the Bay Area, while home prices in Sonoma saw the greatest percentage reduction at 8.5 percent.

DataQuick spokesman Andrew LePage said indicators of market distress are moving in different directions. He said foreclosure activity was on the rise, but the percentage of homebuyers using financing and adjustable-rate mortgages was declining, indicating stability.

LePage said house flipping and non-owner occupied buying activity is down, which means the market is less likely to be subjected to unexpected sales variables that may result from such activity.

Bay City News

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INTERNATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL begins with startled SFO international travelers

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By Ari Burack
Bay City News

International travelers may get an unexpected view tonight of the San Francisco art world’s flights of fancy.

Dancers suspended from the ceiling of SFO’s International Terminal will launch the fourth annual San Francisco International Arts Festival this evening in the terminal’s International Ticketing Hall.

Zaccho Dance Theatre’s free and aptly titled midair performance installation, “Departure and Arrival,” kicks off the two-and-a-half-week festival, beginning at 8:30 p.m.

The SFIAF, which runs through May 27 at various venues in San Francisco, features a variety of eclectic and collaborative performances including music, theater, dance, circus arts, film and visual arts.

This year’s festival is themed “The Truth in Knowing/Now: A Conversation Across the African Diaspora.”

“Departure and Arrival” explores the history and social and cultural implications of the African Diaspora in the United States, through a mixture of aerial dance, video projection, music and poetry.

Additional performances at the International Terminal take place Friday through Sunday, and each show cycles every 30 minutes through 10:30 p.m.

More information on the festival is available online.

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TWINKIE FEELERS prepare for San Francisco Bay To Breakers Race

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2006 Bay To Breakers

By Elizabeth Daley
Bay City News

Sunday’s 12-kilometer Bay to Breakers race in San Francisco, which began as a small local contest in 1912, attracts runners from all over the world who see the race as both a recognized athletic competition and a colorful costume party.

This year the race features live bands and an official “centipede” racing category, in which runners linked in chains of 13 arrange themselves to resemble the insect with “Twinkie feelers” and “a stinger of appropriate design and toxicity,” according to the race Web site.

Centipede inventor Doug Peck said he first thought of a racing centipede when he saw the elaborate costumes of Bay to Breakers racers in the late 1970s. He decided that he wanted to run with members of his running club, the Aggies, in a chain, so he went to the club and asked who wanted to join him.

“Twelve people raised their hands, and that’s how the official rules were devised,” Peck said.

“It actually took us the first few miles to learn how to run without choking each other,” said Peck, whose team of seeded runners donned antennae for the 1978 race.

While centipedes are fast, Peck, who hopes to set a record time this year as a member of a centipede of runners over age 50, said a centipede has never won.

Recreational runner Lita Martinez said she enjoys the race “because it’s organized chaos.”

Martinez, who has been running the race for about 10 years, since she was 12 years old, said the only visible change she has noticed is that “in the past five years the rates of public nudity have gone down. Police are enforcing those rules more strictly, that’s just my observation.”

On Sunday, Bay Area Rapid Transit will be running extra trains from all East Bay locations, Millbrae and Daly City to downtown San Francisco beginning at 6 a.m. to help move runners and onlookers to the race. Stations will be open at 5:30 a.m.

However despite the “anything goes” attitude of the race, BART will require train passengers to wear proper attire, including shoes on all trains. Bicycles will not be permitted on early morning BART trains, and even though participants might need early morning carbs, eating continues to be forbidden at BART stations or on trains.

This year’s race begins at 8 a.m. at The Embarcadero at Howard Street, and heads through Golden Gate Park before ending at Great Highway.

Racers wishing to know their official time will wear electronic chips in their shoelaces to record start and finish times, according to race organizers.

Many San Francisco streets will be closed as result of the race.

Closures will begin to take effect on selected streets on Sunday at 12:01 a.m., with the last roadway closure ending at 3:00 p.m. The Embarcadero and 19th Avenue/Park Presidio will remain open in both directions at all times.

Details on roadway closures are available online on the Bay to Breakers Web site.

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SAN FRANCISCO CHILDREN receive eyeglasses though City and national foundation partnership

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Photos by David Toerge
Sentinel Photography Editor
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel

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

Some 300 San Francisco school age children were fitted for eyeglasses Tuesday in the City’s partnership with Give The Gift of Sight Foundation.

The national foundation works locally with the San Francisco School Board, local optometrists, and the Mayor’s Office.

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Free eye exams preceded eyewear frame selection as Mayor Newsom, School Board Member Hydra Mendoza, and City officials toured Kezar Stadium where the event was held.

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Dariush Kayhan, Director of SF Connect, left, with Mayor Newsom and School Board Member Hydra Mendoza as eye exams are administered
Photos by Bill Wilson
Sentinel Photographer
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel

To donate pre-owned eye wear and financial assistance, click here

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PAT MURPHY
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.

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DAVID TOERGE
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.

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BILL WILSON
Sentinel Photographer
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.

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CANNES FILM FESTIVAL to screen animated film by San Francisco State University student Sean Christensen

An animated film created by a San Francisco State University student will be screened during the 2007 Cannes Film Festival in France, according to school officials.

Sean Christensen created the three-minute film, “Ignorance is Bliss,” which will be shown as part of the festival’s Short Film Corner.

According to the school, the film is a sardonic piece based on the expectations of the afterlife.

The concept for the film grew out of sketch comedy work that Christensen did with graphic designer and writer Miriam Wilson for a San Francisco company, Killing My Lobster, school officials reported. Christensen also collaborated with web designer and animator Greg Wild-Smith for the piece.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Christensen said. “It started off as a joke I heard on the phone one day, and the next it’s a film on its way to France.”

Films made by other San Francisco State students were also screened during Cannes in 2004 and 2006.

Bay City News

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LA VIE EN ROSE (La Môme) – Biography of Edith Piaf A Sensation at the 50th San Francisco International Film Festival

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PIAF – Images by Gaston Girbal and Bruno Calvo

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

Director Olivier Dahan has uplifted the art of cinematic biography in his truly extraordinary story of Édith Piaf, LA VIE EN ROSE. Also known as “La Môme” – loosely translated as “the brat” – the film kicks and screams new life into the legendary Parisian chanteuse whose particular voice and message has withstood the Test of Time. Marion Cotillard’s performance as the tragic singer is miraculous. She embodies Edith Piaf as much as Edith Piaf personifies the heart and voice of France. Marion Cotillard places the term, “a great performance”, on the highest note of the scale.

Plucked from obscurity, the young Piaf begins her career with a song of freedom, the French National Anthem – “La Marseillaise”. Her father, a wandering minstrel street contortionist (played by Jean-Paul Rouve), is literally bending himself in half to eke out a living. One dreary morning, having fascinated a few on-lookers wrapping his knee around his neck, he hastily urges his shy and embarrassed little girl to step forward and sing.

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JEAN-PAUL ROUVE – as Edith’s father, Louis Gassion and PAULINE BURLET – as 8 year old Edith. Photo by Bruno Calvo

Even then, young Edith’s voice and demeanor strikes empathy and common understanding among the passers-by. Fast-forward to 1935, the 20-year-old Edith – still singing in the streets, but with the fiery façade of a young woman – her vibrant chansons strike the discerning ear of a gentleman who hands her a card. Directed to a small but popular café, she steps forward and sings to producer Louis Leplée (Gérard Depardieu). After an inauspicious appearance in front of the café’s dimly-lit shocked and amazed regulars, Edith is spruced-up and entrusted to a smart vocal coach (see below). After refining her musicianship and drawing-out her latent talents as an actress, the approving teacher and savvy producer push her onto a larger stage with professional musicians and one very focused center spotlight.

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With eyes on The Sparrow

Director Olivier Dahan did not personally know Gerard Depardieu prior to engaging him for the film. “Alain [producer Alain Goldman] suggested him to me,” says Dahan. “He plays Louis Leplée, who gave Edith her big break. From our very first meeting, we got on well. Gérard is similar to Piaf. He doesn’t distinguish between life and art. They intermingle.”

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GÉRARD DEPARDIEU, as Louis Leplée – OLIVIER DAHAN, Director

Producer Alain Goldman worked with Depardieu on the epic biography of Christopher Columbus, 1492: Conquest of Paradise. Says Goldman, “In my career as a producer, he was the first actor I signed up for a film. When we got back from the shoot in Costa Rica, he predicted that we’d work together for twenty years. Ever since, I ask him to participate on each of my projects, even if only for a few days. Making a film with Gérard is not just making a film, it’s writing a small page of movie history.”

The city of Prague can boast of its success as “The Primary Location” (around four months-worth of locally-enjoyed capital gains) for the filming of La Môme, with a handful of time allotted to Los Angeles and – oh, yes – Paris. The scenes in New York were shot in a studio and not the one (left over from Rent) out at Treasure Island.

Goldman goes on. “The film required lots of period sets. Some of them, such as a hallway in a hotel with a view of New York, were built for a single scene or even a single shot. There was a huge variety of sets of all sizes. The film goes from handcarts to limousines as Piaf went from early 20th century rural to mid-20th century urban. I didn’t want to reenact it, but to immerse the audience in it. The narrative had to be impressionist, not linear. I wanted to intertwine various periods, skipping from one period to another by associating ideas or images, like when memories flash through your mind. Olivier Raoux, the production designer, was superb. On top of that, the finesse and chiaroscuro of Tetsuo Nagata’s lighting gave me stunning precision visually. It was the first time I had worked with him and I was mesmerized by his mastery of light.”

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MARION COTILLARD and JEAN-PIERRE MARTINS

With its spectacular soundtrack, die-hard fans of Edith Piaf will wallow in the authenticity of Cotillard’s performance. She is spot-on with the lip-syncing and – when in the act of belting a song to the last row – exudes the energy of a finely-tuned roadster

“I like to sing”, admits Ms. Cotillard, “but the technical process of miming to a tape was the hardest thing for me, simply because I wanted it to be perfect. I worked with a singing teacher to learn how Piaf sang – her body and tongue movements, and breathing. It was so complicated it nearly drove me insane. If I had tapes of her singing a particular song, I analyzed her performance. I noticed that being in rhythm isn’t enough when you’re miming. Your breathing is vital. I would jot down the exact moment when she took a breath then I’d put the music on and film myself singing to camera. I spent whole nights taking notes on what not to do! I wanted it to be Piaf.”

Performers are always asked about their “influences” – the question generally geared toward the related artists and celebrities (past and present) whose work inspired choices and kindled determination. One of the most unexpected revelations about the influences of Edith Piaf is her personal relationship with St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873–1897, canonized 1925). In 2002, the Catholic Church raised Thérèse – affectionately known as “The Little Flower” – to the level of Doctor of the Church. Faithful followers in the cult of Thérèse know that with her – it’s all in the eyes. Edith Piaf, topping off at 4′ 8″, was nicknamed “The Little Sparrow” by producer Leplée. Little Edith suffers a serious setback resulting in what most believe will be permanent blindness. She is taken to the saint’s gravesite and prays for recovery. Upon her return home, that being a brothel, patience runs thin as Edith removes her bandage. She can see. Done! For the rest of her life, Edith will seek the calming gaze of Soeur Thérèse.

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MANON CHEVALLIER (as Edith, age 5) and St. THÉRÈSE de LISIEUX, age 22 (1895)

“After my death”, said the young Carmelite nun (a victim of tuberculosis at 24) “I will let fall a shower of roses. I will spend my Heaven doing good on earth.” Perhaps in the same spirit, Edith says, “For me, singing is a way of escaping. It is another world. I’m no longer on earth.”

Not quite. After the gates slammed shut behind her, 15-year-old Thérèse never went beyond the convent walls. But in 2002, to celebrate the awarding of her Doctorate, her relics were placed into a small, elegantly ornate sarcophagus and sent out for a First World Tour. Arriving in New York City, a highly-polished group of uniformed police accompanied the precious cabin and its decorated guest into Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and placed Doctor Thérèse under a large glass case. Visitors lined-up for days. Edith Piaf died of cancer in 1963. The Church denied her a Funeral Mass – citing the usual. But the enormous procession to Cimetière du Père Lachaise caused all of Paris to stop, to take notice, and to honor. In 1998, thirty-five years after her death, Piaf’s signature tune, “La Vie en Rose” was draped with the recording industry’s most coveted mantle, the Grammy Hall of Fame Award. The DVD and soundtrack of La Môme will be available worldwide.

La Vie en Rose was a golden choice to close the 50th Anniversary of the San Francisco International Film Festival. Premieres in New York and Los Angeles are scheduled for June 8th. For its star, Marion Cotillard, the shower of roses is just beginning.

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MARION COTILLARD – Edith’s First and Lasting Lights

See Seán’s recent articles and interviews:
SPIDER-MAN 3, An All-American Cinematic Marvel
RIGOLETTO – SF OPERA Broadcasts on Classical 102.1 KDFC
JERSEY BOYS – Smashing Records in SAN FRANCISCO
NORMA SHEARER – Headlines the 12th ANNUAL SILENT FILM FESTIVAL
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

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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 over 2,000 responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing tecniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, visit Broadwaybelters.com, email Seán at seanmartinfield@att.net.

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CONTEMPORARY JEWISH MUSEUM rises under direction of world renowned architect Daniel Libeskind

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Blue stainless steel cross-hatching diffuses light reflection as Architect Daniel Libeskind’s vision for a new Contemporary Jewish Museum takes shape meant to “bring together tradition and innovation in order to explore the relevance of Jewish values and traditions in the 21st century and beyond.”
Photos by Bill Wilson
Sentinel Photographer
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel

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

Architect Daniel Libeskind offered a glimpse Monday of the new Contemporary Jewish Museum set to open next Spring.

Custom made blue steel panels built with cross-hatching surface finish softening light reflection highlighted media tour.

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Connie Wolfe, Director and CEO of The Contemporary Jewish Museum, (left) Joseph R. Seiger, Board of Trustees and Building Committee Chairman, (second from left) Daniel Libeskind architect of the Contemporary Jewish Museum tour inside the CJM

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View from the first floor looking up through the skeleton of the building

Libeskind’s design revives the Jessie Street Power Substation by preserving its character defining features and transforming it into a striking contemporary space that makes visible the relationship between the new and the old.

The building is a physical embodiment of the CJM’s mission to bring together tradition and innovation in order to explore the relevance of Jewish values and traditions in the 21st century and beyond, Libeskind noted.

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Architect Daniel Libeskind

The museum “will be a lively center that welcomes people of all ages and backgrounds to experience dynamic and diverse cultural programs and educational activities. Inspired by the Hebrew phrase l’chaim, meaning ‘to life,’ pledged Libeskind.

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Connie Wolfe, CEO of the CJM and architiect Daniel Libeskind hold a artist rendering of the completed plaza entrance to the CJM

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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.

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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.

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CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL JERRY BROWN joins other states in Federal Court of Appeals to force higher gas emission standards on Bush Administration

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California Attorney General Jerry Brown before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Building in San Francisco May 14
Photos by Bill Wilson
Sentinel Photographer
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel

Lawyers for California, 10 other states and four environmental groups asked a federal appeals court in San Francisco Monday to order the Bush administration to reconsider gas mileage standards for light trucks by taking account of global warming.

California Attorney General Jerry Brown charged outside the hearing before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that standards set by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in March were “dangerously misguided.”

Regulated vehicles could produce six times the emissions of all California, reported an environmental watch spokeswoman.

“The lifetime greenhouse gas emissions of the regulated vehicles will be nearly six times the entire annual emissions of the State of California,” said Kassie Siegel, climate program director for the Center for Biological Diversity.

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Kassie Siegel shares concern with Attorney General Jerry Brown

“Raising fuel-economy standards is one of the most important actions the government can take to reduce greenhouse gas pollution. This case is an attempt to hold the Bush administration accountable for its predictable refusal to do so.”

The standards would increase fuel economy requirements for SUVs, minivans and pickup trucks from the current 22.2 miles per gallon of gasoline to 23.5 miles by 2010.

Brown said, “After years of neglect, it is unconscionable to increase vehicle mileage standards by only one mile per gallon.

“What they’re doing is trivial at best and dangerous at worst,” he charged.

The attorney general said the standards affect not only the environment but also national security by failing to reduce reliance on Middle Eastern oil.

The states and environmental groups claim the highway agency’s decision process was flawed because it didn’t consider the impact of Greenhouse gases emitted by vehicles on global warming.

They want the appeals court to order a full environmental impact statement on the planned standards.

Deputy California Attorney General Susan Fiering told a three-judge panel, “This is a major source of greenhouse gases. Fuel economy will have a direct effect on greenhouse gases from trucks.”

Sean Donahue, representing the Center for Biological Diversity and other groups, argued, “The agency totally omitted the value of reducing greenhouse gas emissions” when it assigned a zero value to such reductions during a cost-benefit analysis.

But U.S. Justice Department attorney Thomas Byron contended the agency “took a broad look at a number of ways of addressing competing issues” and did its best to consider “how to adapt efficient technology in a way that benefits the entire country the most.”

The panel took the case under consideration after an hour-long hearing and will issue a written ruling at a later date.

Bay City News contributed to this report

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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.

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STREET VIOLENCE nicks two by bullet near Garfield Park

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Two people were shot Sunday evening in San Francisco’s Mission District, not far from Garfield Square, according to a San Francisco police patrol officer.

The shooting occurred at 7:54 p.m. near the intersection of 26th and Harrison streets. Two victims suffered non life threatening injuries and were driven by a third person to the hospital.

Bay City News

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SAN FRANCISCO POLITICAL LEADERSHIP commits to ‘Next Generation’ Housing and Schools Campaign

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

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

In resurrgent unanimity, the entire political leadership of San Francisco has signed on to a strategy for retaining City families.

Developed by Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth, the plan would:

– Double the City’s current affordable housing pipeline of 1,500 (recently revised to 1,700), to 3,000 by 2011.

– Increase the opportunity for all students to go to college or living wage work, with an emphasis on African American, Latino, and Pacific Islander students. Raise the achievement of all students so that at least 60% of students in all racial groups have the opportunity to go to college by 2011.

– Budget for high quality childcare, violence prevention and alternatives to incarceration, youth employment, family support services as well as health and after school services.

As of May 11, Mayor Gavin Newsom, School Superintendent Gwen Chan, the San Francisco School Board, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors as well as state legislators back the agenda.

Students, parents, and officials celebrated unanimity of purpose Saturday in Civic Center.

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NTanya Lee, Executive Director of Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth at left

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JOHN HAN
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.

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PAT MURPHY
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.

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LUXURY WAG HOTEL welcomed by San Francisco pet lovers

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

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

The luxury Wag Hotel opened to five star review Saturday, an 18,000 square-foot boarder to dogs and cats, in a town where facials and massage matter.

Wag Hotel clientele are sheltered from glare of the world, awaiting massage and facial, where the air, of course, is recycled a tidy every ten minutes.

Done seizing the political moment of San Francisco as Wag Connect.

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From distant locale, the busy traveling pet guardian may check in on one’s beloved via real-time WagCam, as poochy reclines on plush raised bedding, amid artwork, and flat screen television soothing the spirit with cartoons and Animal Planet programming.

And Fluffy takes note of Aquarium inhabitant frolic.

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Personalized attention with state-of-the-art health and security standards are the hallmark of Wag Hotel, according to founder Ritu Raj.

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Ritu Raj, right, as San Francisco Wag Hotel opens ceremoniously with ribbon cutting by San Francisco PAWS Executive Director John Lipp

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“As a pet owner and frequent traveler, I know how important it is to have a place that ensures the health and safety of my bulldog, Zoebee,” said Raj. “That’s why I created Wag.”

A centrally linked cleaning and disinfecting system allows for easy and frequent cleaing with safe and gentle solvents. An advanced air filtration system eliminates odors and airborne germs and the facility is equipped with latest fire suppression systems.

“Guests keep active with twice daily supervised play groups and relax with classical music,” Raj reminded.

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Pirvate rooftop setting

Individualized services may be summoned for supervised swimming, private walks, and spa services such as pawdicures, facials, massage, and cosmetology.

The first Wag Hotel opened in Sacramento, surpassing occupancy expectations, in 2004. A third Wag Hotel will open soon in Sunnyvale with more planned for the San Francisco Bay Area, Southern California, and across the nation.

Each hotel is complemented by adjacent Wag Store offering hard-to-find clothing accessories, edible items, toys and bedding.

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Cheryl Baker of San Jose assesses the very best for Maggie during Saturday Grand Opening

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Jade, left, and Armani accompany guardian Valerie Valintina, center, all with homes in San Francisco

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For discerning guardians, the rainbow has landed.

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JOHN HAN
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.

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PAT MURPHY
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.

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2007 SAN FRANCISCO DECORATOR SHOWCASE – Featuring Broadway Mansion Atop Pacific Heights

Annual Benefit for San Francisco University High School through Monday, May 28, 2007

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

As a young vocal student I was privileged to study with one of the most gifted and beloved figures on San Francisco’s musical/cultural scene – Mr. James H. Schwabacher. Walking towards his home on Broadway, just a few doors down from 2901 at the corner of Baker (note the NE corner of aerial photo) – with opera scores in hand and crooning a few scales to be all nice & ready for the Maestro – I often wondered if the music we generated in his grand studio breezed-up to the tennis court at the mansion on the corner. With definitions of “racket” in mind, I smile at the fact that both houses are currently for sale, the larger of the two (also with a great music room) sporting a tag of $55 million.

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The Air over Broadway & Baker

San Francisco Decorator Showcase is an annual benefit for the financial aid program of San Francisco University High School. Since the first Showcase in 1977, more than $9 million has been raised, benefiting thousands of students.

The San Francisco Decorator Showcase will celebrate its 30th year in grand style by remaking the stunning four-story mansion at 2901 Broadway Street (at Baker) on top of Pacific Heights. Designed in 1927 by award-winning architect Henry Clay Smith for industrialist Milton S. Ray, the mansion is being opened to the public for the first time ever.

For the past three decades, the San Francisco Decorator Showcase has featured the work of the West Coast’s most distinctive interior and landscape designers, and has included such luminaries as John Dickinson, William Gaylord and Michael Taylor. The San Francisco Decorator Showcase is widely considered to be one of the premiere showcase events in the country. For its 30th anniversary, the San Francisco Decorator Showcase will invite back veteran alumni from past Showcases for “A Celebration of San Francisco Design.” This year’s Showcase will be a must-see for design aficionados as well as for people who want a rare look inside one of San Francisco’s most architecturally significant residences.

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STEVEN MILLER DESIGN – Details of Dining Room

This year’s home at 2901 Broadway is steeped in local history and lore. Herbert Hoover’s wife, Lou Henry Hoover, bought the uneven and rocky lot in 1912. The Hoovers eventually sold the lot to family friend, Milton S. Ray, an engineer who created a new kind of oil burner that revolutionized the shipping industry. Ray hired Henry Clay Smith, well known as San Francisco’s “hilltop architect”, to design the house and solve the problem of the uneven lot. Eventually, the home was built on a cantilever grade beam grounded in two rocky outcroppings. The Ray family lived in the home until Milton’s death in 1946, when the home was sold to local businessman Mitchel Mitchell, for $93,000. Mitchell’s daughter, Gladyne Mitchell, still owns the home today.

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KENDALL WILKINSON DESIGN – Detail of Master Bedroom

The classic four-story mansion at 2901 Broadway Street boasts 10,000 square feet of living space in addition to one of the only private outdoor tennis courts in Pacific Heights. Designed in the Renaissance style, the ornate exterior friezes and entablature were recently restored by the same craftsmen who restored San Francisco City Hall and War Memorial Opera House. The home has seven bedrooms and 6 ½ bathrooms on four levels of living space that include a mezzanine. A grand formal entrance opens to formal dining and living rooms and a bright music room.

The mansion at 2901 Broadway is being offered on the real estate market by the real estate team of Dona Crowder, Peggy Economos and Constance Heldman. Interested? Visit www.2901broadwaystreet.com.

The San Francisco Decorator Showcase is open to the public until May 28th:
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday: 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Sunday and Memorial Day: 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Thursday: 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Showcase is closed on Mondays (except for Memorial Day). An audio tour is included in the price of admission. Tickets are available at the door for $30; $25 for seniors. For more information and to schedule group tours, call (415) 447-5830, or visit decoratorshowcase.org. Parking is extremely limited; all visitors are strongly encouraged to take the Showcase Shuttle.

See Seán’s recent articles and reviews:
SPIDER-MAN 3, An All-American Cinematic Marvel
JERSEY BOYS – Smashing Records in SAN FRANCISCO
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
NORMA SHEARER – Headlines the 12th ANNUAL SILENT FILM FESTIVAL
JEANETTE MacDONALD – First Lady of “San Francisco”
ALTAR BOYZ – In San Francisco
An Interview with PASCAL MOLAT – Principal Soloist, San Francisco Ballet

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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 AllExperts.com . 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: seanmartinfield@att.net.

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CHARLOTTE SHULZ, by Command of The Queen, Honorary Commander of the Royal Victorian Order

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From the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Protocol

BY PAT MURPHY
Sentinel Editor & Publisher

Charlotte, your Charlotte, Chief of Protocol for San Francisco and for California, now bears an added title…

Dame Charlotte… Honorary Commander of The Royal Victorian Order…

Bestowed by Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories, Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith…

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Insginia of The Royal Victorian Order

San Francisco’s Charlotte was taken into the Order, established in 1896 by Queen Victoria, during Her Majesty’s State Dinner at the White House…

Honored by the throne for her “long record of service assisting Royal visitors to the United States West Coast,” acknowledged San Francisco British Consul General Martin Uden…

“Her assistance over the years to members of the Royal Family has been invaluable,” stated Uden…

“Without her, Royal visits such as the 2005 visit by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall just wouldn’t have been the success they were. I am thrilled that she is receiving this exceptional honor personally from Her Majesty The Queen”…

“My job as Chief of Protocol for San Francisco and now for California, has afforded me the opportunity and privilege to welcome Her Majesty, members of the Royal Family and many other guests from the United Kingdom,” returned Our Dame…

“These experiences were rewarding in and of themselves…

“I share this award with the many Californians who have helped to welcome our guests and to showcase our great state. I am extremely grateful for this distinguished honor and I will be forever inspired by Her Majesty”…

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CHARLOTTE SCHULZ, Chief of Protocol for the City and County of San Francisco, Chief of Protocol for the State of California, Honorary Commander of the Royal Victorian Order
Photo by Bill Wilson
Sentinel Photographer
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel

See Related: ROYALS

PAT MURPHY
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.

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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 three years.

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San Francisco WiFi agreement said to save internet users $9 to $18 million annually

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

San Francisco internet users stand to save from $9 milliion to $18 million annually if an agreement between the City and EarthLink is adopted, according to a study by San Franicsco Controller Ed Harrington.

The agreement, proposed by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, also would reduce the digitial divide by “helping to incorporate low-income and disadvantaged populations into the economic mainstream,” according to Harrington.

The measure will be considered Monday by the Budget and Finance Committee for recommendation to the full Board of Supervisors. It will be heard at 2:00 p.m., San Francisco City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place (formerly Polk Street).

Committee members include Chair Chris Daly and Members Tom Ammiano, Bevan Dufty, Ross Mirkarimi, Sean Elsbernd.

Daly and Ammiano have expressed opposition to the plan, contending a City owned and operated WiFi network eventually would provide greater savings.

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PAT MURPHY
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.

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$28 MILLION HOUSING supplemental becomes law without San Francisco Mayor’s signature – Newsom vows not to spend money City does not have – City housing to be addressed in June 1 budget

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

San Francisco Mayor Newsom today permitted a $28 million hike in the City’s current budget to become law without his signature vowing not to “spend funds which we do not have.”

The mayor’s office has authority to decide which Board approved funds to spend.

In a letter to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors which passed the supplemental spending ordinance, Newsom said “last-minute spending measures such as this one increase the deficit and result in more spending cuts — including cuts in areas this supplemental is intended to address.”

The Newsom administration will address housing in the budget which the mayor is required by City Charter to submit by June 1.

Newsom’s letter to the Board of Supervisors follows:

Dear Supervisors,

Today I return unsigned an ordinance approving $28.05 million in supplemental spending at the end of the current fiscal year (file 070407).

This last minute spending measure doubles the City’s budget deficit in the coming fiscal year, and therefore my administration will not spend funds which we do not have.

In just three weeks, my office will submit to the Board of Supervisors a proposed balanced budget for the coming fiscal year. To balance the budget, each year the fund balance remaining at the end of the year is applied to the coming year’s budget.

Without any additional spending, the Controller projects that the City will end this fiscal year with a fund balance of $126.6 million. Applying every dollar of this $126.6 million fund balance to the next year, we still face a $25.4 million budget deficit beginning in July.

The Controller recently affirmed in the Nine Month Report that with this last-minute supplemental appropriation (and two other smaller spending measures also introduced), the budget deficit balloons to over $54.7 million.

In the current fiscal environment, last-minute spending measures such as this one increase the deficit and result in more spending cuts — including cuts in areas this supplemental is intended to address.

Bridging the City’s budget deficit requires real sacrifices that impact meaningful City
programs.

By way of a few examples, every $1 million of deficit spending now prevents us from funding 83,000 hours of In Home Supportive Services for the elderly; or operating costs for 85 units of supportive housing; or 14 recreation directors; or 10 new police officers; or 2 ambulances; or the installation of 120 curb ramps; or the paving of 25 City streets.

I am further concerned that this supplemental appropriation did not receive the Board’s customary, comprehensive review and analysis. I believe that the City and the public is much better served when all of the information is available before financial decisions of this magnitude are considered.

All of us share affordable housing, the subject of this supplemental spending, as a key budget priority. I am proud of the fact that together we allocated over $200 million in the last fiscal year (an increase of more than $66 million from the prior year) to assist in the creation or preservation of more than 2,900 affordable housing units.

This funding represented a record investment in affordable housing. The proposed budget that I will present to the Board in three weeks will continue to prioritize the creation of affordable housing.

However, I believe that spending available funds now which we will need in a matter of weeks to balance our budget is akin to spending available cash from a monthly paycheck before next month’s bills are paid.

It represents a marked departure from the prudent, collaborative approach that has allowed us to weather economic downturns and earn our City’s stellar bond rating.

Last year, our budget collaboration began in March when together we considered supplemental spending measures that anticipated greatly increased revenues in the Controller’s Nine-Month Report.

Indeed, last year we invested $67 million in revenue growth while still planning a thoughtful budget for the coming fiscal year. This year, such good news has not materialized. The Nine-Month report revealed a mere $3.8 million in additional available revenue which covers just 15% of the projected budget shortfall.

Our work to balance the budget while prioritizing shared priorities is significantly more challenging this year than last.

I look forward to working together over the coming two months to pass a budget for the next fiscal year that reflects our shared priorities — something we have done successfully over the last three years.

Together, I believe we can pass a budget that preserves our legacy of fiscal stewardship while balancing the diverse needs of all San Franciscans.

Sincerely,
Gavin Newsom

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PAT MURPHY
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.

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SAN FRANCISCO TUBERCULOSIS rate highest of US metro areas – New drug resistant strain kills 1, sickens 6 – San Francisco vulnerable to pandemic due to high number of immigrants, travelers, poverty

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By Tamara Barak

San Francisco health officials are struggling with a drug resistant strain of tuberculosis that since late 2005 has killed one person and sickened six others.

Health investigators believe the strain came from the former Soviet Union and infected tenants in a Tenderloin residential motel, said Dr. Masae Kawamura, director of the tuberculosis control section of the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

All but two of those sickened have been residents of the single-occupancy motel, which Kawamura declined to name.

The first person became sick at the end of 2005, but wasn’t diagnosed until January of 2006 due to the delay in getting test results from an outside laboratory.

Since then, city health officials have been on high alert.

“It’s a really virulent strain and it causes extensive disease. People have died and are really sick from it,” Kawamura said.

A 56-year-old man who lived in the Tenderloin motel succumbed to the disease in May of last year. Another patient is hospitalized in critical condition.

The other five people who came down with the disease are expected to recover.

“We got them on the right regimen from the beginning and they’re doing very well,” Kawamura said.

The strain does not respond to traditional tuberculosis drugs.

“This treatment is more toxic and more painful, because you have to have injections five days a week, as well as taking pills,” Kawamura said.

Since the outbreak, health officials have held screenings at the motel. They were able to test more than 80 percent of residents for the disease at a screening in April.

“It’s very difficult to get the residents to comply. They want their privacy and they’re not sick – but that’s when we want to prevent TB,” Kawamura said.

Most people infected with the disease do not come down with symptoms, but are carriers.

“Those who get sick from the disease are just the tip of the iceberg. Most people who get infected don’t develop the disease,” Kawamura said.

With 37 percent of its population being foreign-born and a large number of international tourists, San Francisco has the highest tuberculosis rate of any metropolitan area in the U.S., Kawamura said.

“TB is a disease of poverty and migration. San Francisco is a beacon for travelers and immigrants so we’re especially vulnerable to pandemics,” she said.

Tuberculosis flourishes in countries without effective health care systems and about 75 to 80 percent of tuberculosis cases in San Francisco affect foreign-born individuals. However, residential motels also play a role in the spread due to poor ventilation and close living quarters, Kawamura said.

“It becomes kind of a tinderbox effect,” she said.

Bay City News

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SOUTHWEST AIRLINES returns to San Francisco – Discount fares — More flights planned

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

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

Southwest Airlines returns to San Francisco International Airport (SFO) this summer offering non-stop discounted flights to San Diego for $39, to Los Vegas for $59, and to Chicago for $89.

The airline also will offer 46 other destinations from SFO, Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly reported this morning. Eighteen daily non-stop flights are scheduled with flights to 46 other destinations beginning August 26.

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Southwest Airline CEO Gary Kelly

Boost to San Francisco economy is estimated to be at least $24 million with a minimum of 4,000 new job creation, based on a study of airlines offering 10 daily flights, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom projected.

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San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom

The study found that for every departing flight carrying 150 passengers, totaling 10 flights daily, 3,892 jobs were created and $23 million city revenue produced.

Southwest Airlines has scheduled nearly twice that number of flights.

“It’s a wonderful day when we can welcome back an old friend — in this case, Southwest Airlines — to San Francisco,” said Newsom.

“This new service out of SFO means passengers on this side of the Bay won’t have to travel far to take advantage of Southwest’s vase network of flights.” Flights out of Oakland Airport will not be reduced as a result of SFO Southwest service resumption, Kelly noted.

SFO negotiated lower service fees for Southwest to lure Southwest back to San Francisco.

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San Francisco International Airport Director John Martin, left, with Southwest Airline CEO Gary Kelly

Airport services fees now are approximately $10 per passenger to Southwest, enabling the airline to return to SFO, to cut fares, and expand flights, said Kelly.

“Southwest Airlines is California’s largest intrastate carrier, and our initial 18 daily nonstop flights from SFO will add to our Bay Area presence, while giving our customers additional access to the entire Southwest Network,” Kelly continued.

“We are America’s largest carrier in terms of passengers carried and available seats, so we are well positioned to grow Southwest and offer out customers unmatched flight frequencies and convenience.”

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JOHN HAN
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.

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PAT MURPHY
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.

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ST. LUKE’S HOSPITAL vicinity gas leak in San Francisco – Red alert Firefighter response

A noxious odor released from a 100-year-old cast-iron pipe in San Francisco’s Mission district this morning sickened 32 people and 13 of them were transported to local hospitals, officials reported.

The foul smell emerged from an underground pipe at around 11 a.m. today as Pacific Gas and Electric Co. crews were working to replace the pipe with a new plastic pipe as part of an infrastructure improvement project near Tiffany Avenue and Valencia Street, utility spokeswoman Melissa Mooney said.

While the San Francisco Fire Department did not order any mandatory evacuations as a result of the smell, the incident did warrant a “red alert,” as more than 10 people were affected by the leak, a fire department dispatcher said.

A large group of people in the area of St. Luke’s Hospital voluntarily evacuated from several buildings, Mooney said.

Mooney said she was unsure whether any of the 13 people transported to local hospitals had been admitted as a result of the fumes.

The cast-iron pipe — which has reportedly been out of service since the 1940s — as well as water that had accumulated in the pipe, had retained the odor added as a precaution to natural gases, Mooney said. When crews opened the pipe, the odor was released.

PG&E workers quickly filled the pipe with sand as a means to quell the odor’s release, Mooney said.

Bay City News

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STREET VIOLENCE: Stabbing in the Excelsior – No Witnesses – No Suspects

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San Francisco police today are looking for clues in a stabbing in the Excelsior neighborhood Wednesday night that left one man with life-threatening injuries.

A passerby found the victim, described as a 22-year-old Hispanic man, lying on the corner of Geneva Avenue and Athens Street. He was suffering a stab wound to the abdomen, police said.

Investigators have no witnesses to the stabbing, and the victim has been unable to speak to police about the attack.

Bay City News


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STREET VIOLENCE: Shooting closes Fifth and Harrison offramp – Car riddled with bullets – Wounded man fighting for his life

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A man is fighting for his life after a gunman riddled his car with bullets on a San Francisco freeway offramp this afternoon — an attack one witness described as a “mafia-style execution.”

San Francisco police Sgt. Neville Gittens said the unnamed victim was taken by ambulance to San Francisco General Hospital after the 1:05 p.m. shooting at the end of the Interstate Highway 80 offramp and Fifth and Harrison streets.

The man suffered numerous gunshot wounds, including a shot to the chest, Gittens said.

Investigators do not believe it was a case of random violence.

“This appears to be a targeted shooting, based on the number of rounds fired,” Gittens said.

Witnesses watched in shock as the gunman got out of his vehicle and fired multiple shots into the victim’s blue Dodge Charger.

One young woman, who did not want to be named, said she was driving behind the Charger and a green vehicle and approaching the end of the ramp when traffic stopped at a light.

A man got out of the green vehicle and walked over to the Charger with a gun in his hand.

“He just opened fire until the light changed, then the green car sped up Fifth Street” toward downtown San Francisco, she said.

The two vehicles were driving at a normal speed as they approached the traffic light and there was nothing to indicate they were in dispute with one another, she said.

The woman said she pulled over and called 911.

“I said, ‘someone just got shot at an intersection.’”

Another witness, a woman who lives in the area and wished to remain anonymous, said she was walking on Fifth Street when she saw the shooting.

The gunman, a young, tall black man wearing a cap, was standing next to the victim’s passenger-side window holding what appeared to be a semiautomatic rifle with two hands, she said.

“It looked like a mafia-style execution,” she said. After seeing about four shots, she sprinted down an alley. She could hear eight to 10 more shots as she was running, she said.

When she emerged, the gunman was gone. Medical personnel arrived and placed the man onto a stretcher.

“He was completely limp,” she said.

The victim’s car remained in the middle of the intersection this afternoon, its rear window shattered and blood on the ground and in the vehicle, which was riddled with more than a dozen bullet holes.

The Fifth and Harrison streets offramp remains closed to traffic this afternoon.

Harrison Street is closed between Fourth and Sixth streets and Fifth Street is closed between Bryant and Folsom streets.

Police do not have an estimate on when the streets will reopen,
Gittens said.

Investigators are urging anyone who witnessed the incident to call the San Francisco Police Department’s general works detail at (415) 553-1141, or the 24-hour anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444.

By City News

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SPARKS NAMED POLICE COMMISSION PRESIDENT – Louise Renne resigns from Police Commission following vote – Alioto Veronese explains tie-breaking vote – First transgender police commission president

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President Theresa Sparks
Courtesy Alice B. Toklas LGBT Club

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

Former Police Commission President Louise Renne today submitted her resignation from the commission to Mayor Gavin Newsom following loss of Renne’s preferred candidate for commission president.

Both the Police Commission secretary and the Mayor’s Office of Communications confirmed Renne’s resignation to the Sentinel.

The San Francisco Police Commission last night named Theresa Sparks as new commission president.

Sparks won the position on a 4-3 vote with Commissioner Joe Marshall receiving three votes.

Commissioner Joe Alioto Veronese provided the fourth and tie-breaking vote in favor of Sparks.

Alioto Veronese explained his vote before the commission Wednesday.

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Joe Alioto Veronese

“There is no commissioner on this panel that is not capable of addressing the issues that this department faces in the coming years. Each of us brings a wealth of experiences, education and leadership to which this great City benefits. We do not represent any government entity, we represent the people of San Francisco,” stated Alioto Veronese.

“I have served on this commission for three years now with Commissioners Sparks, Marshall and Renne. I have a great appreciation for the hours we dedicate to serving this great City, and have great respect for the work of every commissioner that has come….and gone, including those hear with us today…

“I have spent much time considering this vote, an important one for the direction of the Department.

“Three years ago, Mayor Newsom choose Chief Fong to lead the members of this department through very complex difficulties, including staffing shortages, personnel issues, and public relations skirmishers… to say little of the her core responsibility to both fight and reduce crime.

“The chief has served our City and will continue to serve our City well. The chief has also done a masterful job of tolerating the various personalities in this city government. Throughout my tenure, although we have challenged the Chief, there can be no doubt that she has received the support of this full commission and each member individually. I can anticipate that such support will continue. No evidence exists to support a different conclusion, no matter this vote tonight.

“Under proposition H, we were given a decree which has over the last few years been blunt on its edges. While I have been a critique of this commission and its ability to make progress toward the end of fulfilling its vision, I am a strong believer that “no act is too small as long as something greater remains — Marco Tullio Cicerone.

“The people of this great city, through the vision of Supervisor Tom Amianno and Prop H have mandated that we, as a family of commissioners, department heads and members, be more responsive to the people that we serve: a peoples’ department that accelerates on its promise to be the best, the friendliest, the most advanced and efficient department, for all large cities to emulate. Where good people like officers Birco, Tsujimoto, Tuvera and Espinoza, gave their lives so that San Franciscans can live safely, we, as Commissioners have every obligation to fulfill this mandate … and more importantly, support our officers fully toward this end.

“I have known Joe Marshall on a personal and professional level for several years. I work with him on and off this commission to fulfill the promise of the Omega Boys Club. His work in the community is unparallel in this City. In many ways he is my mentor.

“I have also come to know Commissioner sparks and her tireless work on this commission to increase our budget and pass meaningful resolutions. She too, has earned my respect and admiration. Her work with the LBGT community and her representation thereof on this commission has been both historical and meaningful. More importantly, however, Commissioner Sparks is known to me to ask the right questions and challenging stale mentalities, which is the essence of our mandate. She has done so while maintaining the dignity this department is worthy of.

“My vote marks an historical moment for San Francisco , I know you can appreciate it as I do.. Commissioner Sparks has my vote and confidence… Congratulations Madam President.”

Also voting for Sparks were Commissioners Petra DeJesus, David Campos, and Sparks.

Voting for Marshall were Commissioners Marshall, Louise Renne, and Yvonne Lee.

Sparks is the first transgendered person to be elected president of a Police Commission in the United States.

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PAT MURPHY
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.

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