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BROKEN PARKING METERS cut City revenue to less than half potential

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Jake McGoldrick

San Francisco can expect to collect about $54 million a year from its parking meters, less than half the maximum potential revenue the meters could provide, auditors found in a city controller report released this week.

The maximum potential revenue that could be collected is $127 million, but the city can only expect to collect 42 percent of that due to meters that are broken or in construction zones, unoccupied meters and vehicles exempt from paying.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency collected $29.7 million in parking meter revenue in fiscal year 2005-2006.

The audit was conducted in response to a request by Supervisor Jake McGoldrick in part to determine what percent of time the meters managed by the transportation agency were occupied and if occupied spaces were paid as required.

“With the roadmap the Controller’s report provides we can implement processes to create more efficient use of our limited parking in San Francisco and more effective collection of meter revenues that will bring in significantly more money to enhance and protect Muni services,” McGoldrick said.

Bay City News

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SAN FRANCISCO SCHOOL DISTRICT sued by former Superintendent Ackerman

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Arlene Ackerman

By Tamara Barak
Bay City News

Former San Francisco schools chief Arlene Ackerman today filed a lawsuit against the San Francisco Unified School District, claiming it failed to pay her severance compensation.

The lawsuit is asking for more than $172,0000 in damages for nonpayment of salary.

The embattled superintendent was forced to resign in June, 2006 after the Board of Education invoked a compatibility clause in her contract acknowledging that the school board and Ackerman agree they are incompatible.

Ackerman was praised for raising student achievement and cutting waste in the district’s budget, but came under fire for her personal style – which critics said excluded parents and teachers from decision-making.

Ackerman is being represented in the lawsuit by San Francisco attorney Waukeen McCoy.

“It’s unfortunate that someone who has done so much for the city of San Francisco and its schools should be treated this way be a vindictive school board, despite her stellar record of improving test scores in our schools, and the clear language of her contract,” McCoy said in a written statement.

The lawsuit was filed in San Francisco Superior Court today, according to McCoy.

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SAN FRANCISCO TOMORROW annual awards go to Amy Meyer, Dr. Edgar Wayburn, Tom Ammiano, Denise D’Anne, and Judy Irving

San Francisco Tomorrow (SFT), 37-year-old urban environmental organization, conducted its annual awards ceremony Wednesday honoring five persons “who have contributed to a better environment in this City.”

The Jack Morrison Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to AMY MEYER and DR. EDGAR WAYBURN for leading the campaign to establish the 80,000-acre Golden Gate National Recreation Area on former military, park and private lands in Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties. Much of the area was threatened with commercial development in 1970 and they won the support of over 65 civic and environmental organizations for an appeal to the U. S. Congress. In response San Francisco ’s Representative Phil Burton, with the aid of other Bay Area members of Congress, created the GGNRA in 1972. Amy Meyer is a former San Francisco Recreation and Park Commissioner and member of the Presidio Trust. Dr. Wayburn, now 100 years old, was a long-time president of the Sierra Club.

SFT presented a Special Award to Supervisor Tom Ammiano for his success in creating a health care program covering everyone in San Francisco – and for his many other legislative achievements that improve the life of the city’s residents.

Two were saluted as Unsung Heroes who have made a difference:

DENISE D’ANNE was honored for establishing the first source reduction and comprehensive recycling programs in a City department. Her conservation program helped to save hundreds of thousands of tax dollars — increasing job opportunities with the surplus funds. Denise is credited with changing perceptions and habits in the use of material resources in the workplace and the overall community.

JUDY IRVING was honored as a maker of environmental films, including the “Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill,” which will have its national premiere Tuesday, May 29, on PBS — at 9pm on KQED-TV. She has won many awards for her documentary films reporting on peace and the environment in Alaska , Japan , Russian, Nepal , Zimbabwe and the U.S.

Paying tribute to the honorees at the dinner were Superintendent Brian O’Neill of the GGNRA, San Francisco Health Director Mitch Katz, Deputy Director David Assmann of the City’s Department of the Environment, and President Aaron Peskin of the Board of Supervisors.

President Jennifer Clary said San Francisco Tomorrow works to protect the urban environment, seeking the aid of responsible and responsive public officials, protecting the city’s parks and a maritime Port, and advocating more and better public transportation, including a downtown Transbay Terminal to connect Caltrain and other Bay Area Transit — with High Speed Rail for fast travel between downtown San Francisco and downtown Los Angeles, a travel option that can result in a major reduction in air pollution from automobiles and airlines.
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VIRGIN AIRLINES receives final okay to begin San Francisco flights

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom announced today that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has given its final approval for Virgin America Airlines to begin operations from San Francisco International Airport.

The airline has filed a procedural request to begin selling tickets and plans to begin operations by mid-summer.

“This is outstanding news, not only for San Francisco, but for the entire Bay Area,” said Newsom.

“Virgin America’s operational base at SFO will create nearly 2,000 new jobs directly and thousands more indirectly, all of which is great news for the economy of the region.”

“We are very pleased to hear that the DOT has certified Virgin America for operations,” said John L. Martin, Airport Director. “Now, with Virgin America joining Jet Blue and Southwest at SFO, our passengers will have an even broader spectrum of choices in low cost carriers.”

Virgin America plans to begin service between SFO and New York’s JFK Airport, with expansion planned to ten additional cities within a year.

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CALIFORNIA SENATOR CAROLE MIGDEN rear-ends vehicle sending driver to hospital with minor injuries – KTVU reporter Rob Roth video – Witness alleges Migden did not appear “to be all there” and screamed, “I’m a Senator”

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Senator Carole Migden

California Senator Carole Migden this morning rear-ended a vehicle sending its passenger to a local hospital with minor injuries, according to the California Highway Patrol.

KTVU-TV reporter Rob Roth is reporting a witness said Migden did not appear “to be all there” and screamed, “I’m a Senator.”

The senator rear-ended a 2005 Honda sedan, which was slowing to a stop behind a van that had already stopped at a red signal light at the intersection of Beck Avenue and Highway 12 in Solano County, according to a CHP spokesman.

She was given a breathalyzer test which showed Migden was not under the influence of alcohol and no citation was issued.

Migden’s office released a statement indicating, “While driving to the meeting, Senator Migden’s cell phone rang and in reaching for the phone she took her eyes off the road. She was not injured, and later passed a routine breathalyzer test and then she drove her car home. Senator Migden is very grateful that no one was seriously injured.”

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STREET VIOLENCE: Shot in the head at O’Farrell and Leavenworth

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Homicide inspectors in San Francisco are investigating a shooting in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood this morning that has left a man fighting for his life, police Sgt. Steve Mannina said.

The victim, described only as a Hispanic man in his 30s, was seen walking in the 700 block of O’Farrell Street just before police were called to a report of a shooting in the area at 5:20 a.m.

Responding officers found the man lying on the street suffering a gunshot wound to the head, according to police.

He was taken to San Francisco General Hospital with life-threatening wounds, Mannina said.

“Obviously, things are still very early in the investigation and inspectors have not released a suspect description yet,” Mannina said.

Bay City News

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WELLS FARGO launches electronic images of returned items for small businesses

Wells Fargo today announced the launch of Returned Item & Deposit Details, an enhancement to its online banking service.

“Our customers have told us their lives are busy and that they need time-saving solutions to help them focus on running their businesses. These new services were designed to do just that,” said Richard Weeks, senior vice president and head of Wells Fargo’s Business Internet Services.

“At Wells Fargo, it’s not only what we deliver, it’s how we deliver. We’re focused on making it convenient and easy for our customers to succeed financially.”

Returned Item & Deposit Details allows customers to view, print, download and save electronic images of all deposits, including deposited checks and returned items, as well as summary details such as the date, total amount, and bank location where deposits were made.

Business Wire

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ON THE CALENDAR: AMERICA TROPICAL / TAKE ME OUT / SMUIN BALLET – Opera, Queer Ball, and Michael Smuin

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AMERICA TROPICAL – by David Conte

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

AMERICA TROPICAL – Final performances now at the Thick House, Thursday, May 17th through Sunday, May 20th. A new one-act opera by composer David Conte, libretto by Oliver Mayer, and directed by David Kelly.

Thick Description’s home is at 1695 18th Street (near Carolina) on Potrero Hill in San Francisco.
At Thick Description tickets are always sliding scale: $25-15 – You tell them!
To order tickets on-line: AMERICA TROPICAL – by David Conte

THE NEW CONSERVATORY THEATRE CENTER
In Association with STEAMWORKS, Executive Producer
Presents TAKE ME OUT – by Richard Greenberg, directed by ED DECKER
MAY 19th – JULY 11th 2007

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MICHAEL UIMARI as Coach Skipper, BRIAN PATTERSON as Darren Lemming

TAKE ME OUT – The show everyone is talking about! Winner of the 2003 Tony Awards for Best Play, Take Me Out is a complex meditation on several themes suffused with a genuine passion for baseball. Darren Lemming, the star center fielder of the world champion New York Empires is young, rich, famous, talented, handsome, and so convinced of his popularity that when he casually announces that he is gay, he assumes that the news will be readily accepted by everybody. It isn’t. Thus, the drama begins.

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TAKE ME OUT – At The New Conservatory Theater Center, San Francisco

TAKE ME OUT contains mature themes / male nudity
To order tickets on-line: TAKE ME OUT – At NCTC, San Francisco

The SMUIN BALLET features CARMINA BURANA plus two World Premieres at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Thursday, May 17th through Saturday, May 19th. Gala Evening, Sunday, May 20th.

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SMUIN BALLET, 2007 – Carmina Burana

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.

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MICHAEL SMUIN

YERBA BUENA CENTER FOR THE ARTS
701 Mission Street, San Francisco
(415) 978-2787
TO ORDER TICKETS ON LINE:
Thursday, May 17th at 8:00 pm
Friday, May 18th at 8:00 pm
Saturday, May 19th at 8:00 pm
Sunday, May 20th at 4:00 pm – Dancin’ for Smuin Gala

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

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

CARMEL AT THE SUNSET CENTER
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:

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
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 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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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.

pat-murphy-160-pixels-ad-mug.jpg
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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