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Former Assemblyman Lou Papan succumbs to heart attack

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Lou Papan

By Emmett Berg

Former state Assemblyman Lou Papan died in a Burlingame hospital tonight after complications from an apparent heart attack, according to a statement.

Peninsula Medical Center spokeswoman Margie O’Clair said Papan’s family members have requested privacy during the passing. Information on funeral arrangements and a family statement would come later, she said.

Born in Springfield, Mass., Papan was named Elias Papandricoupolos. Because the doctor who delivered him was not familiar with the name Elias, he wrote Louis on the birth certificate. Before Papan entered school, he spoke only Greek.

Papan was a Daly City councilman, real estate broker and insurance agent. He served in the Assembly from 1972-86 and again from 1996-2002, earning the nickname the Dean of the Assembly.

In 2006 the 77-year-old Papan fell short in his bid for the Democratic nomination for state senate in District 8.

Bay City News

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The San Francisco Way on a Sunny Saturday Day

Through The Lens of David Toerge

THE SAN FRANCISCO WAY ON A SUNNY DAY APRIL 28 2007

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If you found yourself wondering where all the people were on Saturday -A great many could be found enjoying the beautiful weather in Dolores Park with a City view to match.

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Someone who prefers the shade in the hammock gets a helping hand from another tree dweller.

HOBART BUILDING A SAN FRANCISCO JEWEL APRIL 26 2007

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The HOBART building on Market at Montgomery was designed in 1914 by Willis Polk the leading architect in San Francisco after the Great Quake of ’06. He designed mostly residences with this building being one of his only office structures. Today, it is surrounded by it’s contemporaries but is still seen as a jewel today and is also a national landmark.

GOLDEN GATE PARK EASTER LILY GOOD FRIDAY 2007

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Good Friday 2007 a lily of the Cala variety at San Francisco Golden Gate Park

SPRINTIME FOR PARROTS OF THE SAN FRANCISCO EMBARCADERO

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Spring fever hits the famous parrots of North Beach as two find a little cozy comfort in a tree today near Embarcadero 2.

SUNSET BREAKS THROUGH RAINY DAY AT OCEAN BEACH

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A recent Tuesday at Ocean Beach after a wet afternoon gave way to a beautiful sunset. The man pictured is trying to regain his hold on shredded plastic washed up on the shore.

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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. Visit Toerge Photography at toerge.com, email david@toerge.com, or telephone 415-730-3824

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Three more shot in San Francisco

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San Francisco police are investigating a shooting that left three men with gunshot wounds, Officer Tim Buelow said this morning.

Officers responded to reports of gunshots at 4:13 a.m. at the intersection of Polk and Sacramento streets in the Pacific Heights neighborhood. According to Buelow, the responding officers found two men suffering gunshot wounds to their legs. They were transported to a local hospital in stable condition.

A third victim left the scene of the shooting and went to St. Francis Memorial Hospital, according to Buelow. Police are not sure about the extent of his injuries.

The victims were very uncooperative, Buelow said, and gave police no description of the shooters. However, witnesses gave police information about a vehicle that they saw at the scene of the shooting.

Police have stopped a vehicle in the area that matched a witness’s description and recovered a gun from the car, Buelow said.

Police are continuing to investigate the incident.

Bay City News

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THE DAMNATION OF FAUST – Absolute Heaven at Davies Symphony Hall

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

Conductor Charles Dutoit, taking the podium for the second time in two weeks, guided the San Francisco Symphony and its magnificent Chorus, along with four guest soloists, the SF Girls Chorus, and Oakland’s Pacific Boychoir in a non-stop and stunningly beautiful production of Berlioz’s LA DAMNATION DE FAUST.

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CHARLES DUTOIT, Conductor and HECTOR BERLIOZ, Composer

Defined as a “Légende” in four parts – sans Intermission – the presentation was a dramatic test of endurance for its hundreds of musicians (at least the singers had the occasional chance to stand up) and throngs of listeners confined to their seats. Not necessary! In spite of the Symphony’s remarkable record for exiting in and around the stroke of 10 PM, no one complains about the Ballet’s occasional 7:30 curtain and double intermissions nor the Opera’s unedited versions of Wagner. Berlioz’s “Damnation” is an exquisite work and this current rendition of it serves it magnificently. There is simply no reason for its attendees to be put through a Test of Fire.

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GREGORY KUNDE, tenor – Faust

Gregory Kunde, Tenor – has appeared in the role of “Faust” with the London Philharmonia Orchestra and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. While making his debut with the SF Symphony, he is also scheduled to repeat the role with the Dallas Symphony and the Bavarian Radio Symphony. His recordings include Bellini’s “Bianca & Fernando“. In Scene 9 – Faust’s Aria, “Merci, doux crepuscule” (“Thanks, gentle twilight”) the vibrant treble of Mr. Kunde’s upper register shone through. His security with and easy placement of a pianissimo High A-flat entrance to “Que j’aime ce silence” (“How I adore this silence”) is but one example of how this romantic tenor maintains a fully blended tone, not resorting to disconnected falsetto. Still on the same breath – “et comme je respire un air pur” (“and breathe a pure air”), the composer demands the singer drop the phrase slightly more than an octave to 2nd-line G, finishing up on 4th-space E-Flat. Mr. Kunde glides through such moments. It is useful to be reminded that with a full orchestra behind the soloists, all facing the 2,743–seating capacity of Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall – without a microphone / over a two-hour + time frame / with no Intermission — it is the accumulation of such moments that define a great performance.

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TISSOT – Marguerite & Faust In The Garden

Ruxandra Donose, Mezzo-Soprano – marks her SF Symphony debut as “Marguerite”. She is a favorite with the Vienna State Opera appearing in the roles of Carmen, Hänsel, Antigone, and as Pierotto in Donizetti’s “Linda di Chamounix”. Her recordings include Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde and Mozart’s Requiem In D minor. Previously seen at the SF Opera in the pants-roles of “Nicklausse” (Offenbach’s TALES OF HOFFMANN) and “Sextus” (son of General Pompey in Handel’s JULIUS CAESAR), the lovely Ms. Donose proved a most vulnerable and compelling “Marguerite”. As the object of Faust’s desire and eternal ruin, Ms. Donose’s warm and lyrical mezzo caressed the phrases of the much anticipated aria, “Le Roi de Thulé”. Since her character does not make an entrance until the second hour of the opera, both the sight and sound of Donose’s “Marguerite” prompted a refreshing wave of energy throughout the house. As with composer Charles Gounod’s treatment of the bedazzled ingénue, Berlioz guides our sympathies towards Marguerite in spite of the fact she is having a torrid affair with Faust (on 16th Century demonic viagra) in one room, while across the hall she keeps her mother drugged and unaware with a poisonous concoction bottled by her aging and hell-bent paramour. Two hours later in the “Epilogue” – with her mother dead, her lover en route to the flames, and awaiting her own execution – the San Francisco Girls Chorus and Pacific Boychoir finally took their place alongside the great SF Symphony Chorus and (as the celestial voices of Heaven) beckoned her beguiled soul to the forgiving vapors of eternal bliss.

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WILLARD WHITE, as Mephistophélès – Leave behind your useless philosophy

Bass-Baritone Willard White is the perfect “Mephistophélès”. Jamaican-born and Juilliard-trained, Mr. White is handsomely personable, properly fit, persuasive, potent and playful. His rich and booming voice can take complete command over all the Devils in the Faustian canon. Mr. White’s Wagnerian repertoire includes “Wotan” in both DAS RHEINGOLD and DIE WALKÜRE, and the title role in THE FLYING DUTCHMAN. In 1995 Mr. White was made Commander of the British Empire and then knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 2004. His recently released CD, My Way, captivates the soul with beautiful renditions of Deep River, Some Enchanted Evening, and Bess You Is My Woman.

Baritone Christopher Feigum makes an impressive debut as “Brander”. Although the role itself is slotted in the column marked “Thankless”, Berlioz replaces the role of “Valentin” (Marguerite’s brother) with a smart cameo appearance for an up&coming baritone and inserts a respectable drinking-type chanson, “Certain rat, dans une cuisine” (“There once was a rat in a kitchen”). Capturing the role to his advantage, Christopher has used it as his debut with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic.

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CHRISTOPHER FEIGUM, baritone – Brander

In spite of many a stiffening spine (and a jittery exit by a few of the more feint of heart prior to Marguerite’s de-flowering) the audience rose to its feet as Conductor Dutoit rested his baton. Joining in the well-deserved and rapturous applause was Symphony Chorus director Ragnar Bohlin, Susan McMane – Artistic Director of the San Francisco Girls Chorus, and Kevin Fox – Founding Director of the Pacific Boychoir.

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SF Girls Chorus and Pacific Boychoir

Together with the San Francisco Symphony, these three separate choral groups can crowd the stage with Grammy nominations and awards. They are collectively the Bright Seraphim of San Francisco.

To order tickets on-line:
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MEPHISTOPHÉLÈS, by Eugene Delacroix – Come, they’re knocking at the door.

Friday, April 27th at 8:00
Saturday, April 28th at 8:00
MATINEE, Sunday, April 29th at 2:00

Check out Seán’s recent interviews and articles:
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
TERRA HAUTE – An Interview with The Stars, John Hutchinson and Elias Escobedo
Agnes de Mille’s RODEO – at SAN FRANCISCO BALLET
COLOR ME KUBRICK – starring John Malkovich

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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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SPECIAL REPORT: SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

AT 50, SF FILM FEST STILL WORLDLY

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Photo by John Han
Sentinel Photographer

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

The wonderful thing about the San Francisco International Film Festival is that it really is an international film festival. While it has always had solid representation from the homegrown independent film community that desperately needs the venue film festivals provide – along with a dash of Hollywood – SFIFF has consistently catered to San Francisco’s vision of itself as a fundamentally cosmopolitan city.

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And that’s a good thing. Because many of its brethren and offspring – it has no progenitor in America, being the U.S.’s oldest film festival – have jumped on the Sundance bandwagon in recent years. That bandwagon, fine in itself, is one that emphasizes the gritty quasi-comedy, the emotionally gripping “outsider’s” tale, in the vein of “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Half Nelson,” to name popular recent examples. As good as it is to help these often great and traditionally challenged films find an audience, the enormous financial success Sundance has had, and spawned, has led to two troubling trends: 1) other U.S. film festivals try to copy the model and overemphasize small narrative “quirky films” over other audience-starved fare, such as documentaries or non-narrative experimental films; 2) the movie theaters themselves, in American cities that actually showcase more than Hollywood blockbusters, have gradually favored the offbeat indie film over international cinema – the kinds of movies from around the world that flourished here and elsewhere throughout the late 50s, the 60s and 70s.

When we look back on those years, we tend to think of them as a golden era of the world cinema – the Bergmans, the Fellinis, the Truffauts, the Kurosawas … ah, the memories! But don’t be fooled: the world hasn’t packed it in and gone away. In fact, the international cinema has consistently thrived and expanded and explored exciting new territory, almost in inverse proportion to the self-aggrandizing rehashing Hollywood has offered (sequels, remakes, comic book characters, ’60s TV shows, etc.). But it was only golden because urbane Americans were going to the art house cinemas and spending their gold there.

But those art houses in San Francisco, New York, Chicago and, I don’t know, Marfa, Tex., are now supplanting the foreign films with quirky little guys out of Sundance, like “American Splendor” or “Hustle & Flow.”

How many of the Best Foreign Film nominees of the past five years played at your neighborhood theater? Where are you going to see this year’s “Hiroshima Mon Amour,” “I Am Curious: Yellow,” “Pather Panchali,” “Empire of the Senses” or “Tin Drum”?

Film festivals are where you have a chance to see these types of cutting edge international movies. Well, the San Francisco International Film Festival anyway. (And you can actually see Satyajit Ray’s masterpiece “Pather Panchali,” winner of SFIFF’s first Golden Gate Awards in 1957, this Sunday at SFMOMA.)

Through changes in leadership, changes in cinema and changes in its namesake city, the SFIFF has nevertheless maintained its commitment to world film, and that continues today. The festival opened its 50th anniversary festival last night at the Castro … with a screening of a new Italian epic, “Golden Door.”

HOW TO ATTEND A FILM FESTIVAL

Of course, international fare isn’t the only stuff on the menu. You got your film shorts, your documentaries, your indies, your tributes – to Spike Lee, Robin Williams, George Lucas and Peter Morgan, this year – your opening and closing night parties, your midnight shows, your awards ceremonies and your hip and hipper parties. Whew! Where to begin …

Roger Ebert wrote an essay 15 years ago called “How to Attend a Film Festival,” which one hoped could help the casual movie buff navigate the overwhelming labyrinth that most film festivals present. I love Ebert, but unfortunately his essay was little more than a listing of prominent festivals, a reminder that the vast majority are open to the public and an enthusiastic suggestion that you make a vacation out of attending a film festival. Cool, but … um, how do I deal with this madness? The San Francisco International Film Festival offers more than 100 films across 10 venues over two weeks!

(Incidentally, this may not have been the best subject for Ebert. I once sat behind him at a Sundance screening of “Amandla!: Revolution in Four-Part Harmony,” a spectacular film you should run out and buy on DVD this very moment … and about half-way through I noticed Ebert was snoring. Then, during Q&A after the screening, he fired a bunch of questions at the filmmakers as if no one had noticed his little siesta. They had.)

Well, there is no perfect way to attend a film festival, but I can give you a veteran’s perspective. In addition to attending SFIFF for many years, I’ve often been to Sundance, Mill Valley and Santa Barbara – which is awesome, and not just because my brother is a bigwig at the festival. I’ve also been to Cannes, which is hands-down the best overall experience, but also the most ridiculously expensive and nearly impossible to get into. Still, you haven’t lived till you’ve walked up those carpeted steps in black tie, sat through a three-hour Hungarian epic and three more hours of impolite audience questions en francais, then swilled cosmos on a yacht with Ivana Trump and her well-oiled mimbos…

But I digress.

In my mind, there are three ways to approach a film festival:

Shoot the moon: Go nuts and try to see everything. You can only do this if you’re not gainfully employed and don’t require much sunlight, but some of us can actually sit through four movies a day, day after day, for the entire run of the festival. You can’t see 100 movies, but you can see a goddamn lot of them, and nothing gives you a better taste of the full width and breadth of the cinema today. Or the taste of popcorn, which will last in your mouth for about four months after the festival.

I actually did this one year at the SFIFF. I spent more hours in the Kabuki Theater than Tom Hanks spent in that terminal in the terminally awful Steven Spielberg movie, “The” – ahem – “Terminal.” My seat cushion became a perfect cast of my ass.

Anyway, this option is for the hardcore filmgoer, so I don’t expect many of you to pull it off. You gotta have balls of jujifruit.

Go with a theme: One year at Sundance, I only went to see documentaries. It was cool, because I love documentaries, and there are so many variations on the genre, things you never see on PBS, that it never got boring. And I try to see documentaries because many of them will never make it to video – just as I try to see foreign films because many of them will never make it back to our shores in any format.

So pick up an SFIFF catalog, pick a genre – say, French movies, or period pieces, or films made by Californians – and schedule yourself to see as many of these as you can.

Fly blind: This is my preferred method, and not only because it’s the easiest. If you really love movies, you’re willing to see just about anything. Just show up at the theater of your choice and go see whatever. Sure, you might catch a stinker here and there; but the sweet thing about film festivals is that the selection committees are made up of people who actually love movies, and they usually do a pretty damn good job. And unlike your typical cineplex, which is driven simply by cash, butts in seats, the film fest juries actually try to challenge audiences. You might be surprised or shocked or unnerved by the unusual film you’re seeing, but you’re not likely to be bored.

I’ve seen countless great movies this way, mostly at the San Francisco International Film Festival.

SFIFF WEEKEND 1: PJ’S PICK

Once
dir. John Carney, Ireland, 88 min.
Saturday, 7:15 p.m., Kabuki (also May 6, Clay)

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Glenn Hansard, lead singer of the Frames, gives a scruffy-sweet and thoroughly authentic performance as a struggling singer-songwriter trying to lift his stuff from the streets of Dublin to the big time – or even the medium time. But the real gem here is Markéta Irglová as a quirky Czech immigrant girl who breathes life back into our mopey hero. “Once” compresses the traditional arc of the aspiring musician story into a few working-world weeks and nicely avoids most of the archetype’s clichés, all the while building genuine emotion into the film. A lovely not-quite-a-love story that nails real-life relationships as squarely as the landscapes of Dublin’s working-class neighborhoods, Stephen’s Green shopping zone and Temple Bar nightlife.

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

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San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom vows to pray for Lou Dobbs, et al

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NOT ENOUGH HUGS — San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom this morning ponders whether Lou Dobbs got enough hugs as a child.
Photo by John Han
Sentinel Photographer

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

The vitriol expressed by CNN broadcaster Lou Dobbs toward San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom led Newsom today to question whether Dobbs and other critics were hugged enough as children.

And he will pray for them, Newsom intoned.

Newsom made the remarks this morning in response to Dobbs likening Newsom to nazi propagandist Hermann Goering.

The mayor’s response came following a 10:20 a.m. press conference announcing San Francisco is the only American city through which the Beijing 2008 Olympic Torch Relay will pass.

In addition to Dobbs, “Michael Savage said the federal government needs to come in and take over the City,” Newsom recalled.

“Bill O’Reilly has ‘countdown for arrest.’

“I’m just proud. That means we’re doing the right thing.

“I’ts unbelieveable — they must not have gotten enough hugs from from their mothers and fathers when they were growing up.

“I pray for them,” Newsom smiled.

See Related Hebrew immigrant group calls on CNN to fire Lou Dobbs for likening San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to nazi Hermann Goering

Sentinel photographer Bill Wilson contributed to this report.

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CIA captures senior al-Qaida operative Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi

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Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi

From the US Department of Defense

The Department of Defense announced today that it took custody Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, a high-level member of al-Qaida captured in the War on Terror and placed him under control of the Joint Task Force at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Prior to his arrival at Guantanamo Bay, he was held in CIA custody.

Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi was one of al-Qaida’s highest-ranking and experienced senior operatives at the time of his detention. Abd al-Hadi associated with leaders of extremist groups allied with al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including the Taliban. Abd al-Hadi worked directly with the Taliban to determine responsibility and lines of communication between Taliban and al-Qaida leaders in Afghanistan, specifically with regard to the targeting of U.S. Forces.

For more details of his background and activities, click here.

Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi is now under DoD custody and control and will be treated appropriately and in accordance with policy and procedures for other DoD detainees at Guantanamo. He will be treated in accordance with U.S. law and international obligations under treaties to include the Convention Against Torture, Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, the Detainee Treatment Act, the Military Commissions Act, and applicable Department of Defense directives and instructions governing detainee operations.

Just like previous detainees who have arrived at Guantanamo, he will undergo a period of in-processing to help him adjust to detention rules and procedures. He will be given an internment serial number and will undergo a combatant status review tribunal. The International Committee of the Red Cross will be granted access to this detainee.

As a result of this latest transfer, there are now approximately 385 detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

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Yale economist sees possible real estate crash

COMMENTARY

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Robert Shiller

In the April 2006 issue of NewsMax’s Financial Intelligence Report, “Hard Landing: Profit from the Coming Real Estate Crash,” Shiller — the Stanley B. Resor professor of economics at Yale University — said in an interview that “a substantial drop in home prices in many cities is certainly a serious possibility … There’s a scenario for a major decline.”

Indeed, prices have dropped in many areas.

But today Shiller believes his worst case scenario may be yet to come — as homes are still about as overvalued as stocks were before the tech-stock crash of 2000.

In an interview appearing in the May issue of Money magazine, Shiller was credited with calling the dotcom crash with his uncanny predictions in his book “Irrational Exuberance.” Shiller attributed that stock crash to “collective consciousness.”

He said: “Our minds focus on the same ideas. Those [ideas] get reinforced because we hear them all the time. Back in the late 1990s, you kept hearing that you had to stake your claim on the Internet or you’d miss out on the future. No one cared about the present.”

Asked if a similar crash in the real estate market was imminent, Shiller opined: “It doesn’t seem like we’re there quite yet.”

Shiller debunks the myth that residential real estate has been a savvy investment, noting that from 1890 through 1990, the return on residential real estate was just about zero after adjusting for inflation, and he discounted the notion that homes rise 10 percent a year in price.

“If they did, in the long run no one would be able to afford a house,” said Shiller, who is also a fellow at the International Center for Finance.

He warned that there’s a strong possibility the return on real estate will actually be “substantially negative” over the next 10 years.

Shiller clearly puts himself in the contrarian’s corner. He told Money: “I used to coach children’s soccer, and I would tell my players, ‘Stand away from the pack, and sooner or later the ball will come to you.’

“I think relatively few [Americans] are getting away from the pack, investing more outside the U.S. than in.”

Shiller is practicing what he preaches: “I’m probably a little over 60 percent in stocks, almost all of it outside the U.S.,” he said, adding: “I’ve been reducing my exposure to real estate.”

NewsMax Wire

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April Advocate – Congratulations to Earth Award winners, Don’t miss salute to Supervisor Sean Elsbernd

THE ADVOCATE
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By Ken Cleaveland

BOMA Congratulates the 2007 Earth Award Winners!
The first annual BOMA San Francisco Earth Awards luncheon was held April 26th at the Hotel Nikko and recognized nine commercial properties for their exemplary commitment to sustainability. Using criteria that measures energy efficiency, water conservation, garbage recycling, toxics reduction, tenant education, purchasing and transportation policies, the association has launched this program to highlight and reward BOMA members who take the appropriate steps to upgrade and improve their buildings’ performance while reducing their carbon footprint on the environment. First place winners received engraved crystal globes and $4,000 each; 2nd Place winners received a commemorative plates made from recycled glass from vandalized MUNI bus shelters plus $2,000 each, and Third Place winners received framed certificates from the Dept. of the Environment and $1,000.

This year’s winners are:

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BOMA Salutes San Francisco Supervisor Sean Elsbernd – May 16th – Don’t miss it!
The BOMA SF Political Action Committee, in conjunction with Committee on Jobs Executive Director Nathan Nayman, and the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, is hosting a special reception for San Francisco Supervisor Sean Elsbernd on May 16th from 5:30 – 7 p.m. at the E & O Trading Company restaurant, 314 Sutter Street (between Grant and Stockton). Supervisor Elsbernd represents the Westside of San Francisco (along with Supervisor Ed Jew) and has been a strong supporter of property owner rights, and fiscally-responsible city government. He deserves the support of every BOMA Member. For a copy of the invitation, call Wendy De Lara at the BOMA Office (415-362-8567).

BOMA SF PAC Holds Three Successful Events in March/April!
The first event was a reception for Mayor Gavin Newsom’s re-election campaign held on March 29th on the 40th floor of the Transamerica Pyramid, in the offices of Scott Seligman, Seligman Western Enterprises, a BOMA member. The event drew over 50 attendees, and raised more than $9,000 for the Mayor. Attendees enjoyed wine and hors d’oeuvres provided by Steve Adams President of Sterling Bank & Trust, also a co-host.

The BOMA SF Associates Committee helped raise over $11,000 for the BOMA SF PAC at its annual BBQ before the first regular season night game of the Giants on April 4th. Held behind the China Basin Landing building at 185 Berry Street (which is now having two stories added to it!) the event attracted over 300 BOMA members and guests. Special thanks go to the site hosts: RREEF and McCarthy Cook & Company, for being so generous to BOMA by allowing the association to use its beautiful outdoor area for the fundraiser. Big thanks also to AMPCO System Parking, August Supply, Baskets to Banquets, Giampolini & Company, Marble West, and Perfection Sweeping for their food and beverages for the event.

The third event was a special golf tournament held April 25th at Harding Park in San Francisco. This double scramble event was organized by Bruce Schilling (August Supply), Margot Crosman (Unico Properties), Mike Murphy (Cushman & Wakefield), Howard Fish (Skyline Construction) and Siobhan Vignoles (CAC Real Estate Management) and paired sponsoring associate members with key building owner/management reps. The event raised over $10,000 for the BOMA SF PAC, which will also contribute a portion of the proceeds to our BOMA Cal PAC.

Possible November City Ballot Measure to Preserve Parking in San Francisco
As anyone knows trying to find parking in San Francisco, the supply is shrinking. In fact, Caltrans estimates the city has lost over 10,000 parking spaces in the downtown area alone over the last ten years. Because of the city’s Transit First policy, many new developments are not allowed to put in adequate parking and even residential developments are not allowed to put in one space per unit in some areas of the city. The city’s Off Street Parking Fund has been raided for years of the monies it accumulates from parking meters, city garages, and neighborhood parking permit fees to be used to build more off-street parking garages in the city’s neighborhood commercial districts. Instead, these funds have been diverted to fund un-related social programs. A new movement, spearheaded by the city’s small business community, is underway to stop this loss of parking and to mandate minimum parking requirements in future developments and has filed a city ballot measure to do just that. More details to follow.

San Francisco Treasurer Jose Cisneros to Meet May 21st with BOMA on New Parking Tax Rules
City Treasurer Jose Cisneros and Deputy City Treasurer David Augustine will discuss the new regulations recently issued that affect parking spaces included as part of commercial leases at a meeting with the BOMA SF PAC Board on May 21st at noon. BOMA members who are interested in attending this discussion must contact Ken Cleaveland kenc@boma.com to be put on event guest list. This briefing is limited to only BOMA members. Lunch is being provided courtesy of Township Building Services.

BOMA Briefing on San Francisco’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance May 18th
The city’s voter-approved mandate that employers must provide paid sick leave to all employees, full time, part-time, and temporary, went into effect February 5, 2007, but will not be fully implemented (meaning payable) until June 4th. However, employers must accrue sick leave now on the basis of one hour for every 30 hours worked. To assist BOMA members and their tenants with compliance, a special briefing has been arranged on Friday, May 18th at 9 a.m. with Donna Levitt, who is the Manager of the city’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement, and labor attorneys Horace Green (Green & Humbert) and Eli Gould (MBV Law). The briefing will be held at 650 California, in their basement conference center. There is no charge, but you are requested to make a reservation so we can plan appropriately. Contact Wendy De Lara at 415-362-8567.

City Graffiti Advisory Board Gets New BOMA Representative
The city’s Graffiti Advisory Board meets monthly to discuss ways and means of combating an all-too pervasive problem in San Francisco: graffiti vandalism. Tagging, etching, scratching, and painting illegal graffiti on public and private buildings and signs cost the city’s taxpayers and its citizens millions annually. Recently, Mike Cashion, who is the building manager for Shorenstein’s Russ Building, 235 Montgomery Street, was appointed to this Board as a business representative. Mike is also the Vice Chair of the BOMA San Francisco Government and Public Affairs Committee. The city needs new and more effective ways to combat graffiti. BOMA congratulates Mike on his appointment, and looks forward to his service on this important citizen advisory board.

San Francisco Establishes Green Building Task Force
San Francisco’s Mayor Gavin Newsom recently appointed a “green” ribbon task force to come up with a plan to promote green building standards in both the public and private sectors of the City. Private sector members of the task force include BOMA Government Affairs Director Ken Cleaveland, Webcor’s Phil Williams (who is the chair), Ken Seibel with Tishman Speyer, Margie O’Driscoll, the Executive Director for the AIA/SF, Kirsten Ritchie of Gensler, Ezra Mersey of Jackson Pacific Ventures, Mike Kerwin of Lorax Development, Peter Liu of New Resource Bank, and Bill Worthen of Simon and Associates. Public sector representatives include Dan Sider of the Mayor’s Office of City Greening, Laura Rodormer of the Dept. of the Environment, Laurence Kornfield of DBI, and Craig Nikitas of City Planning. The recommendations are expected to be completed and forwarded to the Mayor mid-June. The meetings are open to the public and are held every two weeks at the AIA/SF offices, 130 Sutter Street, 6th Floor, at 8:30 a.m. The next meeting will be on May 10th.

CPUC may consider Direct Access!
BOMA California is part of a coalition (Alliance for Collaborative Energy Services) that is seeking to re-open the electricity markets to competition from all energy service providers. On April 24th, CA Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey issued a proposed decision to conduct a proceeding on the issue in three phases. Phase One would discuss the Commissions authority to lift the DA ban. Phase Two would discuss the merits of lifting the DA ban and establish the wholesale market structure and rules. Phase Three would establish the rules governing a reinstituted retail direct access market including cost recovery issues.
BOMA supports re-instituting the ability of customers to have choice, and applauds President Peevey for taking this initial step to get the public discussion going. BOMA San Francisco created one of the first business power pools in the country in 1998 and saved its members millions of dollars on the commodity price of electricity by being able to negotiate on the open market. Creating a power pool can benefit both small businesses (as tenants get the pass-through savings) and the environment with a higher percent required use of “renewables”.

Historic Accord with PG&E on Sub-Metering in Progress
The current prohibition on commercial building owners sub-metering their tenants off a master meter may be soon changed under a proposed negotiated agreement between PG & E and BOMA California. This agreement would modify Rule 18 which currently only allows the utility to sub-meter and bill customers. BOMA has argued that to engage commercial tenants more fully in energy conservation, they must first fully understand their energy consumption. That information can only be provided on a regular basis if tenant spaces are sub-metered and are billed based on consumption, not square footage. The agreement would be limited to commercial office buildings as defined in PG & E Rule 1, on a single premise basis. Sub-metered tenants would continue to pay the rates which are applicable to the building’s master meter. Sub-meters must also be certified by the applicable county sealer of weights and measures. The agreement would be subject to CPUC approval.

San Francisco Ban on Non-Compostable Take-Out Food Containers Begins June 1st
Effective June 1, 2007, the Food Service Waste Reduction Ordinance requires that all disposable food service ware used in San Francisco be either compostable or recyclable. All food vendors including restaurants, delis, fast food establishments, fair vendors, food trucks, and all city facilities must follow this new law or face penalties of up to $500. The Department of the Environment estimates that businesses that participate in the city’s food scrap program may be able to get a discount on their garbage service of up to 75%. The Department of the Environment is also available to help businesses and BOMA tenants in finding suitable alternatives to Styrofoam plastic cups, food containers, and the like. Visit their website: www.sfenvironment.org for more information or call 415-355-3745.

Brenna Walraven Talks About Green (and profitable) Buildings
Just in case you were wondering, Kirsten Walraven’s sister, Brenna Walraven, is the incoming BOMA International President. She has just had an article published in the April issue of “Today’s Facility Manager” magazine on how “greening your building” can be profitable, and uses three examples: the EPA building in Sacramento that is managed by Craig Sheehy (a previous speaker at the BOMA SF Commercial Recycler of the Year awards luncheon), the Adobe Systems Headquarters buildings, which are managed by George Denise, our speaker this year at the Earth Awards luncheon April 26th, and the Hearst Tower in NYC. To read the excellent piece, click here.

San Francisco Health Department Hosts Free Workshops for Building Engineers and Commercial Property Managers on Indoor Pollution Prevention
The San Francisco Health Department has scheduled a free workshop on May 15th, from 9 a.m. – Noon at their offices at 25 Van Ness Avenue, 5th Floor, Suite 500, to go over the various things building engineers and commercial property managers can do to reduce/prevent indoor pollution and promote a healthier work environment for all tenants. For more information or to register for this event, go to www.sfdph.org/eh. A follow up workshop on June 12th will focus on the proper handling of hazardous materials. Call 415-252-3900 with any questions. Ask for Elana Goss.

BOMA San Francisco to Offer BEEP Energy Management Classes Statewide
BOMA San Francisco and PG&E are partnering to offer BOMA International’s acclaimed BEEP seminars (BOMA Energy Efficiency Program) to members throughout California. The seminars will be held in San Francisco and broadcast simultaneously as a webinar. The first class will be held Monday, May 21st at 11:00 a.m. PDT. Cost is $99 per attendee for members and $125 for non-members. Watch for a separate announcement in the coming weeks. Go to www.boma.org/beep for an overview of the BEEP program.

“Every wise person started out by asking many question.” (Ancient Chinese saying)

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Ken Cleaveland is Director of Government and Public Affairs for the Building and Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) of San Francisco.

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New task force to develop recommendations for increasing number of San Francisco green buildings

A newly appointed Green Building Task Force will develop recommendations for increasing the number of San Francisco green buildings by mid-June, Mayor Newsom reported today.

The Task Force iis charged with developing expanded green building standards for major new private construction projects in San Francisco.

Its appointment follows new priority permitting for private development projects that meet a minimum ‘gold’ standard under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification process.

“In just a few short months, the City’s fast-track permitting process has resulted in more than a dozen proposals for new green buildings,” said Newsom.

“The Green Building Task Force has built on that momentum and will look at the next steps that we can take to keep San Francisco at the forefront of environmentally responsible urban development,” continued the mayor.

The Task Force will also consider additional incentives to foster environmentally sensitive design and greater sustainability features in new development projects.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the construction and operation of conventional buildings uses 35% of all energy the nation consumes, and is responsible for 35% of the material that goes to landfills.
In addition, conventional buildings use 30% of all wood and other raw materials consumed and contribute to 35% of the carbon dioxide produced nationwide.

In contrast, green buildings maximize energy efficiency and resource utilization. Green buildings have significant advantages in providing healthy indoor environments for employees, employers, and residents.

Corporate productivity studies show natural lighting and natural ventilation in offices can improve employee productivity by as much as 16 percent.

Green Building Task Force members include:

􀂃 Ms. Kirsten Ritchie of Gensler, an international design firm

􀂃 Ms. Margie O’Driscoll of the American Institute of Architects

􀂃 Mr. Ken Cleaveland of the Building Owners and Managers Association

􀂃 Mr. Ezra Mersy of Jackson Pacific Ventures, a San Francisco-based housing developer

􀂃 Mr. Charles Breidinger, a San Francisco-based engineer, developer and member of the Building Inspection Commission’s Code Advisory Committee

􀂃 Mr. Ken Seibel of Tishman Speyer, an international property development and management firm

􀂃 Mr. Peter Liu of the New Resource Bank, a financier of sustainable projects and organizations

􀂃 Mr. Bill Worthen of Simon and Associates, a San Francisco-based green building consulting firm

􀂃 Mr. Mike Kerwin of Lorax Development, a local construction firm specializing in sustainable design

􀂃 Mr. Phil Williams of Webcor, a California-based construction and project management firm

􀂃 Staff from the Mayor’s Office of City Greening, Building Department, Planning Department, and Department of the Environment

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BOMA salutes sustainable practices in San Francisco buildings with Earth Awards

The Building Owners and Managers Association of San Francisco today recognized nine San Francisco companies for their demonstrated leadership in developing innovative practices that promote sustainable “green” working environments at the 2007 Earth Awards Luncheon.

The Earth Awards, formerly known as the Commercial Office Recycler of the Year (CoRY) Awards, acknowledge efforts by local commercial properties to reduce water and energy usage, reduce or eliminate use of toxics that affect indoor air quality, educate commercial tenants in sustainable operating practices, promote the use of public transportation and bicycling in daily commuting, and recycle everything from paper, bottles, cans, cardboard and food waste to construction debris.

Cash prizes totaling $21,000 were awarded by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and the San Francisco Department of the Environment to winners selected from several categories of commercial buildings.

The BOMA Earth Awards is a collaborative event to promote sustainable practices in San Francisco’s buildings.

Co-sponsors include PG&E, the San Francisco Department of the Environment, Golden Gate Disposal & Recycling Company and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. Commercial properties were divided into three categories: Small Commercial, representing buildings up to 300,000 square feet in size; Medium Commercial, representing buildings between 300,000 and 600,000 square feet in size, and Large Commercial, representing buildings and complexes more than 600,000 square feet in size. There were a total of 38 contestants.

The 2007 BOMA SF Earth Award Winners Large

Commercial Buildings Property Manager Placement Post Montgomery Center/One Montgomery

Street Cushman & Wakefield 1st Place 245 Market/77 Beale Streets (PG & E Corporate Offices)

CB Richard Ellis 2nd Place 303 Second Street Cushman & Wakefield

3rd Place Medium Commercial Buildings Property Manager Placement McKesson Plaza Building/One Post Street

Crocker Plaza Company 1st Place 455 Market Street Cushman & Wakefield 2nd Place 100 Pine Street Unico Properties 3rd Place Small Commercial Buildings Property Manager Placement

The Ferry Building Equity Office Properties 1st Place The Thoreau Ctr.at Presidio ECB Management Svcs. 2nd Place The U.S. Mint U.S. Treasury 3rd Place

PR News Wire

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San Francisco City Attorney sues Check n’ Go and Money Mart for illegal business practicies

City Attorney Dennis Herrera today filed suit against storefront lending institutions Check ‘n Go and Money Mart for illegal business practices, his office reported.

The suit also names their online affiliates and an associated out-of-state bank, for unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business practices stemming from their marketing of short-term installment loans at unlawful interest rates to low-income borrowers.

In addition to Check ‘n Go, Money Mart and its affiliates, the lawsuit names Wilmington, Del.-based First Bank of Delaware (OTC:FBOD) as a defendant for aiding and abetting the storefront institutions’ illicit lending schemes.

Check ‘n Go and Money Mart are licensed deferred deposit lenders, offering “payday loans” in which a borrower gives the lender a post-dated check in exchange for cash. Payday loans are most often sought by low-income and working class families living paycheck to paycheck.

In addition to these payday loans, however, Check ‘n Go illegally offers short-term installment loans for principal amounts of up to $1,500 — with annual percentage rates exceeding 400 percent — through questionable arrangements with online affiliates and First Bank of Delaware, which Herrera charges are deliberate efforts to circumvent state law, the City Attorney maintained.

According to the complaint, Money Mart marketed the identical loan offering in association with First Bank of Delaware until earlier this month, when the company quietly ended the illegal practice in its storefront locations. Money Mart’s current marketing materials, however, confirm that the company is planning to launch an Internet version of the same product later this month, according to the City’s complaint.

Neither Check ‘n Go nor Money Mart is licensed to provide such short-term loans in California, and each is legally prohibited from offering installment loans in the same place of business as payday loans, Herrera said.

The litigation alleges that the businesses’ bait-and-switch marketing practices of advertising “more flexible” installment loans, whereby “bigger is better,” run afoul of state legal prohibitions on false, misleading, or deceptive advertising.

The suit further alleges that these “installment” loans are in reality disguised payday loans, because they give the lenders access to borrowers’ checking account funds for repayment. By pushing these larger, higher interest loans on customers who seek payday loans, Herrera charges that Check ‘n Go and Money Mart are attempting to circumvent the limits imposed by state law on the size, duration, and fees that California law permits lenders to offer for payday loans.

“Check ‘n Go and Money Mart have targeted working families with an illicit lending scheme that would make a loan shark blush,” Herrera said.

“With annual interest rates exceeding 400 percent, these business practices are not merely unconscionable, they’re illegal — and we intend to put an end to them in California.

“I thank the California Reinvestment Coalition and the Center for Responsible Lending for their work on these issues.

“I am also grateful to the participants in our affirmative litigation working group from Yale Law School, who worked hard to help advance this important consumer protection action.

“This is the first of what I hope will be many more worthy collaborations.”

“We have always asserted that charging consumers 459 percent APR interest rate for a small-dollar loan is usury,” said Charisse Ma Lebron, the California Reinvestment Coalition’s Payday Campaign Organizer.

“CRC commends City Attorney Herrera for protecting consumers, which is unfortunately what the state legislature has failed to do for all Californians. We visited 253 payday lenders across the state and found widespread noncompliance even with the most basic requirement, such as posting a full Schedule of Fees so that consumers know what they are paying.

“The San Francisco City Attorney’s litigation against fringe financial services companies sets the necessary and important precedent of broadening and ensuring consumer protections. Ultimately, our Payday Lending Campaign’s goal is to implement robust and comprehensive consumer rights and protections for all Californians against predatory payday loans.”

According to the civil action filed in San Francisco Superior Court this morning, the illicit loan offerings by Check ‘n Go and Money Mart violate both the California Finance Lenders Law, which governs short-term consumer loans, and the California Deferred Deposit Transaction Law, which regulates deferred deposit or “payday loans.”

By violating these provisions of the state Financial Code, the lenders have lost exemptions to constitutional usury prohibitions that the law would typically extend. As a result, Herrera’s lawsuit alleges, Check ‘n Go, Money Mart and their affiliates are additionally in violation of the California Constitution’s usury law, which prohibits personal loans whose annual interest rate exceeds ten percent.

Check ‘n Go is controlled by Mason, Ohio-based corporations Check ‘n Go California, Inc. and Southwestern & Pacific Specialty Finance, Inc. According to the company’s Web site, Check ‘n Go operates three locations in San Francisco.

Money Mart, whose Web site claims twelve locations in San Francisco, is operated by the Berwyn, Pa.-based Monetary Management of California, Inc. According to records of the California Department of Corporations, Money Mart has more than 100 locations in California, while Check ‘n Go has nearly 200 California stores.

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San Francisco recycling effort keeps 69% of waste material from going into landfill

PUBLIC USE OF COMPOSTABLE GREEN BINS WOULD RAISE PERCENTAGE TO 78%

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GREEN COMPOSTABLE BINS are spotlighted as quick and easy means to hike communicty recycling results during a Wednesday press conference across from San Francisco Recyling Center.
Photos by John Han

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

Nearly 40% of all material San Franciscans toss into sidewalk black recylcing bins are compostable, according to a study released yesterday.

Unfortunately, that compostable material ends up going into landfill when dropped into black recyling bins.

City officials hope to educate the public to use green recycling bins to quickly and easily hike community reclyling success. Mayor Gavin Newsom gathered environmental workers Wednesday to focus public attention.

“If we were to capture all of the compostables that are currently going to the landfill, we’d have a 78% recycling rate,” explained Jared Blumenfeld, Director of the San Francisco Department of the Enviornment.

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“The recently adopted ordinance requiring supermarkets and drug stores to distribute compostable bags will help us drive these numbers up, since residents can put messy food waste into the bag, tie it off, and drop it neatly into the green cart,” noted Blumenfeld.

A study done by the City’s Environment Department and approved by the California Integrated Waste Management Board indicates local recylcing currently keeps 69% of all waste materials from going into landfill.

Newsom urged residents to help boost the figure.

“San Francisco shows other big cities how recyling is done,” said the mayor.

“But we can’t rest on our laurels.

“Our goal is to recycle 75% by 2010 and to accomplish that we still need residents and businesses to take full advantage of composting and recyling programs.”

Blumenfeld lauded San Francsico Scavenger, a Norcal Company, “as a leader in efforts to combat global warming.”

The firm’s Recycling Center this year was fitted with 21,000 square feet of solar paneling. The $2.1 million project, installed by the San Francisco Public Utilites Commissions’ Power Enterprise, generates some 330,000 kilowatt hours of power each year.

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Photos Courtesy Larry Strong Photography

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Photo by John Han

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PGA asked to increase San Francisco public golf course funding

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JENNIFER HAYASHI of San Francisco enjoys an afternoon game April 25 at Lincoln Park Golf Course.
Photos by John Han

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

Public dialogue went into tournament warm up Wednesday as the City ponders whether to increase public golf course funding despite players voting with their cleats.

Revenues dropped significantly beginning in 2000 as the dot com bust took its toll, and Mr. and Ms. Every Person tantalized less about become the next Tiger Woods.

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In 2007, municipal cost for sustaining five San Francisco public golf courses stands at $1.4 million and is projected to grow to $3.5 million in five years.

And despite an $18 million 2005 renovation of 18-hole Harding Park which landed a national PGA tournament, the tournament ended up costing the City $140,000, Dawn Kamalanathan told a committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors yesterday. Kamalanathan serves as Planning Director of the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department.

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Dawn Kamalanathan

Kamalanathan appeared before a 1:00 p.m. Budget and Finance Committee hearing called by Supervisor Jake McGoldrick. Lincoln Park Golf Course is located within District 1 which McGoldrick represents.

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Jake McGoldrick

The hearing was informational only although it put pressure on the PGA to voluntarily increase financial assistance to public golf funding. Standing City contract with the PGA, and contract fees to the City, cannot be altered, according to Parks and Recreation General Manager Yomi Agunbiade.

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Yomi Agunbiade

“If we want to gold plate something and then say, ‘We can’t afford to have it as gold plated,’ and the folks we gold plated it for indeed are saying, ‘We don’t have to pick up the cost’ – I think we have got to have that discussion publicly,” McGoldrick stated.

“I have mentioned before here recently that I believe that the PGA is why we spent that $18 million, and why we reconfigured that golf course, and why we’ve got a problem, that they’ve got to come to the table and help us out as good partners, as good neighbors, as participants in a public operation here.

“And I certainly don’t want to take the ‘public’ out of it… and not see that the dominant focus will become the one that the PGA has in mind, the one that a private operator would have in mind…,”

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Supervisor Sean Elsbernd took issue with McGoldrick assertion that Harding Park was renovated to attract PGA tournaments.

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“You repeatedly made the point that the sole reason, the only reason, Harding Park was renovated was for the PGA, that was the only reason,” responded Supervisor Sean Elsbernd.

“As someone who is a golfer and who played at Harding Park for the last 20 years, I can assure you that the real primary reason was because that course was in bad condition, had received zero dollars in capital investment for decades, and the City was living up to its responsibility for maintaining a golf course, and the PGA was a second benefit.

“I believe the real reason was to take a horribly deferred maintenance situation and give it the capital infusion that was necessary.

“The only reason was not for the PGA.

For his part, McGoldrick altered description.

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“I will in that case withdraw the word ‘sole’ as the adjetival modifier and put in instead the advetival modifier ‘dominant.’

“Dominant, and we will continue with that.”

“I can still disagree with that,” Elsberned rejoined.

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The Board of Supervisors will consider the issue May 9 following Parks and Recreation Commission recommendation scheduled for issue May 3.

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Through the lens of David Toerge

SAN FRANCISCO PRANCES IN LINE FOR CONAN O’BRIEN

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Ticket holders waited in line 3 deep and three blocks long to get into the Orpheum Theater May 2, 2007, for the taping of NBC’s Conan O’Brien Late Late Show.

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Ticket holders sporting their favorite hair prance to the back of the line.

FEDERAL PHLOGGING

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Steel workers erect the skeleton of the new Federal Building in downtown SF. photographed January 29, 2004.

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The new federal building sits on the corner of Mission and 6th streets but its visual impact is felt from many blocks around.

It sits there, a cold unfeeling building much like the bureaucracy contained within it’s walls. It seems omnipresent, like the federal government it houses, always there and always watching over it’s people.

Thom Mayne, an LA architect has built a rather impressive structure commissioned by the General Services Administration with a decade old program conceived to eliminate boring, tired, and unimaginative federal buildings across the country. The problem, in my opinion, is that he went way too far in “trying to be imaginative” and doing things for sake of being creative.

The perforated metal skin that covers one half of the south facing side looks like the screen door of an Appalachian shack. I can’t wait to see it in ten years. On the north side, there are vertical, skinny panes of green glass jutting out perpendicular to the actual windows.

Those windows actually open too, a rarity in modern office buildings. Too bad that the view is that of sixth street also known affectionately as the “wine country”. On a good note, the “ Mayne attraction” is very eco-friendly. Gentle breezes flow through the building eliminating the need for air conditioning and the steel panels on the exterior act like a warming blanket enveloping the entire structure.

It just seems to be like the city’s sore thumb building visible from everywhere. Of course, this architectural marvel (said with a slightly sarcastic tone) will soon be completely outdone when those HUGE green glassed towers are completed. It’s beginning to look a lot like Kuala Lumpur in this city. Didn’t there used to be a height limit here?

The Thom Mayne federal building has become an obsession with me. It has turned into a love-hate relationship.

I have tried to photograph it from every conceivable angle but the light is rarely good on it and the security guards don’t like me taking pictures fearing me to be some kind of terrorist. No, not me. I just hate your building. No, I love your building. No, I’m just confused just like they want me.

THE SAN FRANCISCO WAY OF A SUNNY DAY APRIL 28 2007

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If you found yourself wondering where all the people were on Saturday -A great many could be found enjoying the beautiful weather in Dolores Parkwith a City view to match.

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Someone who prefers the shade in the hammock gets a helping hand from another tree dweller.

HOBART BUILDING A SAN FRANCISCO JEWEL APRIL 26 2007

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The HOBART building on Market at Montgomery was designed in 1914 by Willis Polk the leading architect in San Francisco after the Great Quake of ’06. He designed mostly residences with this building being one of his only office structures. Today, it is surrounded by it’s contemporaries but is still seen as a jewel today and is also a national landmark.

GOLDEN GATE PARK EASTER LILY GOOD FRIDAY 2007

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Good Friday 2007 a lily of the Cala variety at San Francisco Golden Gate Park

SPRINTIME FOR PARROTS OF THE SAN FRANCISCO EMBARCADERO

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Spring fever hits the famous parrots of North Beach as two find a little cozy comfort in a tree today near Embarcadero 2.

SUNSET BREAKS THROUGH RAINY DAY AT OCEAN BEACH

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A recent Tuesday at Ocean Beach after a wet afternoon gave way to a beautiful sunset. The man pictured is trying to regain his hold on shredded plastic washed up on the shore.

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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. Visit Toerge Photography at toerge.com, email david@toerge.com, or telephone 415-730-3824

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Fundraiser for family of stricken San Francisco Police Officer Jack Santos

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GIANT screen TV among raffle items planned in fundraiser for the “The Madeline & Jack Santos Scholarship Fund.” Six-year-old Madeline and three-year-old Jack are the children left behind when San Francisco Police Officer Jack Santos, 39, died unexpectedly from surgery complications.

Friends of Officer Jack Santos today offer raffle tickets to benefit the Santos family left behind following the officer’s sudden passing.

Tickets are available at San Francisco City Hall from Officer Kevin Abbey who may be telephoned at 415-298-0781.

The evening raffle is set from 5:00 p.m. to midnight June 15, 2007, in the San Francisco County Fair Building, located in Golden Gate Park at 9th Avenue and Lincoln Way.

Ticket price is $20, with additional tickets at $10.

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“Jack was only 39 when he died unexpectedly while recovering from surgery and left behind two children, Madeline age 6 and Jack Jr. age 3,” noted Abbey, a friend and boxing trainer to Santos.

All proceeds from the fundraiser will benefit “The Madeline & Jack Santos Scholarship Fund” established with the San Francisco Police Credit Union.

The fundraiser is tax deductible (IRS #91-2006597) and can be directly donated to Bay Area Law Enforcement Assistance Fund (BALEAF), P.O. Box 22325, San Francisco, CA 94122, telephone: 415-837-0875.

The fundraiser will host live music, food, drinks, a raffle and a silent auction.

District Stations and Bureau Contacts

Central – Stewart Ng 415-315-2400

Southern – Nick Bettencourt 415-553-1373

Bayview – Lt. Dave Smith 415-671-2300

Mission – Steve Toma 415-558-5400

Northern- Kevin Abbey & Bill Conley 415-614-3400

Park – Geralyn Kavanaugh 415-242-3000

Richmond- Lt. Mario Delgadillo 415-666-8000

Ingleside- Lt. John Geraty 415 404-4000

Taraval - Lt. Kurt Bruneman 415- 759-3100

Airport – Lt. David Oberhoffer 650-821-7100

Cadet Academy – Kirk Tomioka- 415-401-4600

Field Operations – Ana Morales 415-553-1484

TTF – Jason Garden 415 345-7300

Chief’s Office – Georgia Sawyer 415-553-1551

Behavioral Science -Maggie Ortelle 415-837-0875

Narcotics Division – Dave Nastari 415970-3023

Investigations - Pat Linehan 415-553-1484

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One shot dead in the Tenderloin

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A man was shot to death in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood early this morning but authorities have yet to identify him, San Francisco police Lt. Larry Minasian said.

The shooting followed an argument between the victim and three other men near Hyde and Turk streets, Minasian said.

A witness told police that the three men began physically assaulting the victim and that shots were then fired.

The victim was pronounced dead at the hospital, Minasian said.

Bay City News

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49ers estimate stadium would cost Santa Clara $160 million

By Jason Bennert

Santa Clara could find itself the owner of a shiny new football stadium with a five-time Super Bowl winning team as its primary tenant in 2012 and all it would take is a $160 million contribution, building a new parking garage and spending between $20-$30 million to move a power substation currently located on the proposed stadium site, San Francisco 49ers officials told the Santa Clara City Council today.

The 49ers estimate that the stadium will cost $854 million but said tonight that the city’s contribution would not exceed the $160 million and the cost of moving the substation and constructing a parking garage on the south side of Tasman Drive.

“The 49ers are going to assume the risk of cost overruns and inflation,” Jed York, scion of team owners Denise DeBartolo York and John York, told the council.

The team did not offer a suggestion to the council as to where the city would get its $160 million contribution.

“There is going to be a public equity investment. The source of that equity is going to be left up to the council,” York said.

49ers Chief Financial Officer Larry MacNeil told the council that the team needs a decision from the council within a few months because if preliminary work does not begin this summer the team would have to adjust its cost estimate and potentially the city would need increase its contribution.

“We realistically need to start an EIR in July or August,” MacNeil said.

“We’d look for the council to make a decision on this proposal sometime in the next two or three months.”

City Manager Jennifer Sparacino cautioned the council, saying a two or three month schedule is “ambitious.”

The council voted unanimously to refer the 49ers proposal to the city staff for a full review. The council did not schedule a future date for a vote on the proposal.

Bay City News

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San Francisco Firefighters urge action on increased risk of bladder cancer

With hundreds of pairs of empty firefighter’s boots, helmets, and tri-folded American flags lining the steps of San Francisco’s city hall as a backdrop, about 300 active and retired firefighters honored their fallen members who lost their lives to cancer and called for action to increase awareness of the silent death of firefighters from job related cancers.

The firefighters gathered to announce the establishment of the San Francisco Firefighters Cancer Prevention Foundation, a non-profit organization that is leading a campaign to bring awareness to the increased risk that firefighters have of getting cancer. The Foundation is dedicated to educating San Francisco firefighters, whether active or retired, about the prevention and early detection of cancer. Firefighters Union Local 798 provided a $100,000 contribution to the foundation.

The founder and Chairman of the Board of the Foundation, Captain Tony Stefani a retired San Francisco firefighter and cancer survivor said, “We don’t have an organization dedicated to solving the increased incidence of cancer and the impact it’s taking on the lives of our retired firefighters, and those still on the job. One of our immediate goals is early detection and making sure that those who are diagnosed with cancer get the quality care and the support they have earned through their service to their community.”

Captain (Ret.) Stefani added, “In a partnership with UCSF Medical Center and funding from the city, the SFFD has begun providing free bladder cancer screening to all its current and retired firefighters. It’s a voluntary program at this time, but we’ve already had about 1,000 people lining up to take the NMP22 BladderChek urine test – and we’re just beginning. We hope that we can build on the success of this program and launch screening programs for other cancers for which we are at-risk.”

Tom O’Conner, President of the Foundation and a Lieutenant in the SFFD said, “As firefighters we risk our lives each day as part of our job. Now there is research that reports we have a higher risk than most people to get cancer. We need to know the potential health hazards of simply reporting for duty so we can be able to do something about it.”

Mayor Gavin Newsome stood with the firefighters and spoke of the commitment by his administration to provide the funding for bladder cancer screening for all firefighters and retirees. The Mayor also recognized the efforts of everyone involved.

The bladder cancer screening program is the result of the efforts of Captain (Ret.) Stefani, Dr. Marshall Stoller, professor and Vice Chairman, Department of Urology, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine and urologist at the UCSF Medical Center and his colleague Dr. Kirsten Greene. For the last year and a half, they worked with the SFFD administration with the approval of Chief Hayes-White. Deputy Chief Gary Massetani directs the bladder cancer screening program for the SFFD and secured city funding for the project.

Dr. Stoller and Dr. Greene are reviewing the bladder cancer screening results from the NMP22 BladderChek Test and providing follow-up and further evaluation for any firefighter who may have a positive test result. As part of a long-term study, they have also administered cancer questionnaires to the firefighters to determine the incidence of other job related cancers among the San Francisco firefighters. More than 1,000 questionnaires have been completed by those on active duty and retirees.

Dr. Stoller explained, “We began screening for bladder cancer because it was apparent that there were a number of our local firefighters diagnosed with the disease – I have treated many of them. Firefighters are likely at a higher risk for bladder cancer than most people. And the tests that we could use in our initial screening, a dipstick test to assess for microscopic blood in the urine and the NMP22 test for bladder cancer are easy and inexpensive. The NMP22 test for bladder cancer is a urine test and results are available on the spot.”

Dr. Greene added, “Our long term goal is to evaluate how many of our firefighters are getting cancer and what type of cancer. The research is important to assess the health hazards these people face in the line of duty, so we can do more to eliminate their risk.”

A poignant moment driving home the message for the firefighters assembled, was the remembrance of their comrade, Larry Murray who died of bladder cancer. He was the driver of Engine 3 the busiest engine company in the city. Larry stood at the pump panel many hours throughout his career inhaling diesel fumes while pumping water to firefighters. One of the pairs of empty boots was for Larry who didn’t die a heroic death in a fire, but silently – and as a hero dedicated to saving others.

About the San Francisco Firefighters Cancer Prevention Foundation

The San Francisco Firefighters Cancer Prevention Foundation was incorporated in March of 2007 as a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering the prevention and early detection of cancer occurring in firefighters through proven scientific research and education. Initial funding for the organization was provided by a $100,000 donation from the San Francisco firefighters union Local 798. Tony Stefani, a retired Captain with the San Francisco Fire Department (SFFD) and cancer survivor is the founder and Chairman of the Foundation.

Other officers and board members include:

President: Tom O’Conner, Lieutenant SFFD and Treasurer of Local 798

Vice President: Jeff Malone, retired firefighter and cancer survivor

Secretary: Joe Moriarity, retired battalion Chief SFFD, and Vice President of Local 798

Treasurer: Kieth Onishi, firefighter SFFD and member of Christy Yamaguchi’s foundation

Directors:

John Hanley, Captain SFFD and President of Local 798

Karen Heald Esq., Lieutenant SFFD

Sherman Tillman, firefighter SFFD, Shop Steward Station 13

Dr. Marshall Stoller, urologist, professor and Vice Chairman, Department of Urology, UCSF School of Medicine and UCSF Medical Center

Dr. Kirsten Greene, urologist Department of Urology, UCSF Medical Center

See Related: HEALTH CARE

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49ers present Santa Clara stadium financing plan tonight – Most residents concerned

The San Francisco 49ers are scheduled to present their proposed stadium cost estimate and financing plan to the Santa Clara City Council tonight and the council is already hearing concerns from residents, according to the city manager’s office.

Public correspondence sent to the Santa Clara City Council about the proposed stadium deal is running almost four-to-one either against the proposal or expressing concerns about it, according to a memo sent to the council.

Between November and April 19, 12 letters, emails or phone messages in favor of the stadium proposal and 43 either opposed to it or expressing concern about it were sent to the council, according to the memo signed by City Manager Jennifer Sparacino and Deputy City Manager Carol McCarthy.

However McCarthy believes that letters, emails and phone messages from stadium supporters will ultimately catch up.

“”I’m expecting a flurry of those,” McCarthy said.

The team is not releasing its proposal in advance of the meeting.

According to media reports, the 49ers are expected to ask for a public contribution from Santa Clara of approximately $180 million of the estimated $800-$950 million stadium cost.

The city council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Santa Clara City Hall, 1500 Warburton Avenue in Santa Clara.

Bay City News

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NORMA SHEARER – Headlines the 12th ANNUAL SILENT FILM FESTIVAL

MGM’s “Queen of the Lot” Co-Stars with Gay Hollywood Royalty, Latin Lover Ramón Novarro in THE STUDENT PRINCE IN OLD HEIDELBERG (1927)

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NORMA SHEARER – Leading Lady of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

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

Opening at the majestic Castro Theatre on Friday night, July 13th is the 1927 silent classic THE STUDENT PRINCE IN OLD HEIDELBERG. Directed by the great Ernst Lubitsch, the film capitalized on the fantastic success of the Broadway musical by Sigmund Romberg. Based on the 1903 play by Wilhelm Meyer-Förster, the still-popular operetta opened at Jolson’s 59th Street Theatre in December 1924, ran more than 600 performances and closed mid-May 1926. MGM picked up the rights and under the watchful eyes of “Boy Wonder” producer Irving Thalberg, released the film September 21, 1927. Eight days later Thalberg married the film’s leading lady – lovely and sophisticated catalyst to women’s emerging sexual freedoms – Norma Shearer.

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Mr. and Mrs. Irving Thalberg

THE STUDENT PRINCE IN OLD HEIDELBERG is a 5-star melodramatic tear-jerker. It is the romantic tale of an unrequited love between a beautiful tavern maid and an unavailable prince (and future king). It is also a remarkable chapter in the history of Hollywood’s greatest studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Thalberg had catapulted the studio to the top of the totem with BEN–HUR (also starring Ramón Novarro) in 1925. Now he applies his unparalleled genius to both Art (for Art’s sake) and Marketing (for Capital’s sake) by hiring Ernst Lubitsch in place of Erich von Stroheim whose treatment of Franz Lehar’s operetta, The Merry Widow (1925), went way beyond budget and bordered on the perverse.

Throughout THE STUDENT PRINCE film buffs will recognize Mr. Thalberg’s command to give his performers “The Star Treatment”. Production Designers such as Cedric Gibbons applied their art to the vivacious and lovely Norma Shearer. Director Ernst Lubitsch applied his steadfast attention to detail – “The Lubitsch Touch”. Lubitsch must have pressed rather hard on the very lithe and ebullient Ramón Novarro. A native of Durango, Mexico, the sexually boyish charms of Mr. Novarro (coming in just under 5′ 6″) were explained away with terms such as “exotic”. The conflicting struggles and tragic death of one of MGM’s most popular Leading Men would eventually fling open the doors to the not-so-silent truths within Hollywood’s Gay underworld.

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THE STUDENT PRINCE – Ramón Novarro

Dennis James has been given the honor of accompanying the film on the Castro’s Mighty Wurlitzer theatre organ. Count on the very popular Mr. James to provide just the right kicker for the Students’ rollicking tavern scene and a rich wafting smoothness to the longing and nostalgia of lost love. For Last season’s SHOW PEOPLE (1928) he provided glimmering insight to the comic antics and tender exchanges between (the very powerful) Marion Davies and (the very Out) William Haines. Thus, with one eye toward the society of MGM and the other on director Lubitsch’s romantic satin touches (observe his obsession with doors!) Dennis James’ will deliver a score that will echo deep in your heart. If you should find yourself in Washington, DC on Friday (May 5th) – run to the National Gallery of Art. It’s a World Premiere. Mr. James will present his new score at the screening of the 1927 classic of Classics – SEVENTH HEAVEN, starring Charles Farrell and Janet Gaynor. And the w eek before we have him at The Castro he will be in Bainbridge, at the Lynwood Theatre, accompanying Douglas Fairbanks’ swashbuckler from 1926, THE BLACK PIRATE. Some of us are longing already.

Executive Director Stacey Wisnia and Artistic Director Stephen Salmons have announced other cinematic treasures for this year’s Festival:

Beggars of Life (1928) Fresh from directing WINGS – recipient of the first Best Picture Oscar – William Wellman made this gritty, unsentimental look at society’s outcasts: the hobos who hop rides on freight trains in search of a day’s pay and a square meal. Richard Arlen keep on-the-run Louise Brooks out of the cops’ hands, but it’s Wallace Beery as “Oklahoma Red” who steals the show.

A Cottage on Dartmoor (1929) A psychological thriller fully the equal of Hitchcock, by the great British director Anthony Asquith. A lovelorn barber’s assistant attempts to court the shop manicurist, but he’s driven to a jealous rage when a rival suitor appears on the scene. Bursts of rapid-fire editing and off-kilter cinematography fuel the suspense, as the story builds to a surprising climax.

The Godless Girl (1929) Cecil B. DeMille pulls out all the stops in this tale of wild youth and institutional abuse. Judy, the school atheist, locks horns with Bob, class president and believer. Tragedy strikes, and both are sent to a notorious reform school where a guard known as “The Brute” awaits. Conceived as a searing exposé, it’s part parody, part high voltage melodrama.

Watch this column for more about The 12th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival

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ERNST LUBITSCH’S – The Student Prince In Old Heidelberg (1928)

Coming up on Seán’s Column:
A Conversation with Festival Directors – STACEY WISNIA and STEPHEN SALMONS

Suggested Videos and Recordings:
VHS: The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (1928)
DVD: The Student Prince (1954)

CDs – THE STUDENT PRINCE – Music by Sigmund Romberg:
The Student Prince – Robert Rounseville and Dorothy Kirsten
The Student Prince – Featuring Lauritz Melchior and Gloria Lane
Mario Lanza – Songs from The Student Prince/The Desert Song

CDs featuring Clark Wilson, Organist:
Clark Wilson At the Ohio
Extravaganza 9
Clark Wilson: Upstairs / Downstairs

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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Michael Smuin, founder of Smuin Ballet, collapses and dies during rehearsal

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Michael Smuin, the founder and artistic director of the Smuin Ballet, and director of the San Francisco Ballet from 1973 to 1985, died this morning in San Francisco.

According to spokesman David Perry, Smuin, 68, collapsed this morning in San Francisco during a rehearsal for his next season.

Michael Smuin was a former principal dancer with American Ballet Theater and the San Francisco Ballet and was instrumental in raising the San Francisco Ballet’s profile while serving as its artistic director in the 70s and 80s.

He also performed on Broadway, with credits including “Sophisticated Ladies,” “Anything Goes,” Shogun,” and “Canciones de Mi Padre.” Smuin’s film credits include “Rumble Fish,” “A Walk in the
Clouds,” “Cotton Club” and “Star Wars.”

Smuin Ballet Managing Director Dwight Hutton said today, “We are all deeply saddened and shocked. However, he died doing precisely what he loved to do.”

Smuin Board Chair Patti Hume added that “Michael was as much a San Francisco icon as the Golden Gate Bridge or the theaters of this city that he graced for many years with his artistry.”

Plans for a memorial service are pending.

Bay City News

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San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris testifies on witness intimidation Tuesday before US Congress

San Francisco District Attorney Kamala D. Harris has been selected to testify before the United States Congress House Judiciary Committee Tuesday on improving the safety for witnesses who cooperate with law enforcement to prosecute violent crime.

The Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Robert C. Scott (D-Virginia), invited DA Harris to speak on behalf of the nation’s prosecutors.

DA Harris will speak before the Subcommittee on Crime Terrorism and Homeland Security at 2:00 p.m. EST in the Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2141.

The problem of witness intimidation has become a state and national epidemic, with witnesses who cooperate with the police and prosecutors targeted for murder and threats of violence against them and their families.

Fear of violence or being labeled a “snitch” silence many eyewitnesses to homicide and violent gang crime. According to recent studies, prosecutors across the country believe that the issue of witnessintimidation is the single biggest hurdle facing any gang prosecution.

Most local and state-level witness relocation programs are temporary, severely underfunded and provide few services to witnesses. In several recent cases, including one in San Francisco, witnesses have left their relocation areas, returned to their neighborhoods and have been killed.

DA Harris will urge the members of Congress to support H.R. 933, the “Witness Security and Protection Act of 2007″ which will direct additional resources to local and state law enforcement agencies to shore up local efforts to relocation and protect witnesses.

The legislation would also establish within the United States Marshals Service a short-term witness protection to provide assistance to state and local prosecutors to protect their witnesses in serious criminal cases. DA Harris will also urge members of Congress to consider funding for more comprehensive, ong-term and victim-centered approaches to witness relocation and protection.

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Goldman Environmental Prizes awarded this evening at San Francisco Opera House

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An Irish farmer jailed for his work in opposing Shell Oil’s natural gas pipeline through his land and an Icelandic entrepreneur saving North Atlantic wild salmon by brokering innovative fishing rights buyouts with North Atlantic governments and commercial interests are among the winners of this year’s prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize.

“This year’s Prize recipients have succeeded in combating some of the most important environmental challenges we face today,” said Goldman Prize founder Richard N. Goldman. “Their commitment in the face of great personal risk inspires us all to think more critically about what ordinary people can do to make a difference.”

The Prizes will be awarded at a ceremony this evening at 5 p.m. at the San Francisco Opera House. They winners will subsequently be honoured at a series of events in Washington DC hosted by, among others, the National Geographic Society and the World Wildlife Fund, and will have the opportunity to meet with US Congressional leaders.

The $125,000 Goldman Environmental Prize, now in its 18th year, is awarded annually to six grassroots environmental heroes and is the largest award of its kind in the world. The winners will be awarded the Prize at an invitation-only ceremony Monday, April 23, 2007 at 5 p.m. at the San Francisco Opera House and will also be honored at a smaller ceremony on Wednesday, April 25 at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, DC.

This year’s winners are:

North America: Sophia Rabliauskas, 47, Canada: Working on behalf of the Poplar River First Nation, Rabliauskas succeeded in securing interim protection for a portion of the boreal forest of Manitoba, effectively preventing destructive logging and hydro-power development while calling on government and international agencies to permanently protect the region.

Africa: Hammerskjoeld Simwinga, 45, Zambia: In Zambia’s North Luangwa Valley, where rampant illegal wildlife poaching decimated the wild elephant population and left villagers living in extreme poverty, Simwinga created an innovative sustainable community development program that successfully restored wildlife and transformed this poverty-stricken area.

Asia: Ts. Munkhbayar, 40, Mongolia: Munkhbayar successfully worked with government and grassroots organizations to shut down destructive mining operations along Mongolia’s scarce waterways. Through public education and political lobbying, Munkhbayar has effectively protected Mongolia’s precious water resources from additional unregulated mining.

South & Central America: Julio Cusurichi Palacios, 36, Peru: In the remote Peruvian Amazon, Cusurichi secured a national reserve to protect both sensitive rain forest ecosystems and the rights of indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation from the devastating effects of logging and mining.

Europe: Willie Corduff, 53, Ireland: In the small farming community of Rossport, Corduff and a group of fellow local residents and landowners successfully forced Shell Oil to halt construction on an illegally-approved pipeline through their land.

Islands & Island Nations: Orri Vigfússon, 64, Iceland: With business savvy and an unwavering commitment to reverse the near-extinction of wild North Atlantic salmon, Vigfússon brokered huge international fishing rights buyouts with governments and commercial interests, helping bring to an end destructive commercial salmon fishing in the region.

About the Goldman Environmental Prize

The Goldman Environmental Prize was established in 1990 by San Francisco civic leader and philanthropist Richard N. Goldman and his late wife, Rhoda H. Goldman. It has been awarded to 119 people from 70 countries.

Prize winners are selected by an international jury from confidential nominations submitted by a worldwide network of environmental organizations and individuals.

Previous Prize winners have been at the center of some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges, including seeking justice for victims of environmental disasters at Love Canal and Bhopal, India; leading the fight for dolphin-safe tuna; fighting oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; and exposing Monsanto’s role in introducing the rBGH hormone into the US dairy industry.

Since receiving a Goldman Prize, eight winners have been appointed or elected to national office in their countries, including several who became ministers of the environment. The 1991 Goldman Prize winner for Africa, Wangari Maathai, won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize.

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Newsom vows defense of San Francisco 2004 anti-discrimination law

From the Mayor’s Office of Communications

San Francisco enacted a sensible law that levels the playing field by giving minorities and women a better chance to win city contracts. In 2004, our anti-discrimination law suffered a setback when a judge struck it down.

Last week, an appeals court ruled that state law does not prevent us from using race — and gender-conscious methods to combat discrimination. Now we have the chance to go back to court to defend our law.

The significance of this case goes well beyond one city’s public contracting program. It goes to the heart of how we as a society can combat discrimination in education, public contracting, and employment. Once again, San Francisco is leading the way.

I pledge my full support to the City Attorney, the Board of Supervisors, and the Human Rights Commission as together we fight to defend our sensible law.

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