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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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First act of child abuse

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A San Francisco woman gave birth to a baby boy on the sidewalk Sunday night then walked away, pretending that it never happened, said San Francisco police Capt. Al Casciato.

Casciato said someone called 911 after the woman was seen birthing her baby on fifth and Stevenson streets in San Francisco, at around 9:34 p.m.

When an ambulance arrived, a five-pound 12-ounce baby boy was found alive and kicking, but his mother was nowhere to be found, said Casciato.

In a scenario reminiscent of a March 9. birth that occurred on an Oakland sidewalk, Casciato said a woman believed to be the baby’s mother was spotted about a block and a half away, covered in blood.

According to Casciato, the woman, who was unable to give her name, denied giving birth.

She was taken to the hospital in police custody, where she exhibited psychotic behavior and needed to be restrained, Casciato said.

Police have not been able to positively identify the woman, who is thought to be homeless and around 35 years old. Casciato said the woman may be named Nadine Matthews, but police have not yet been able to confirm this information.

Of the sidewalk birth, Casciato said that in a way, it was probably “the best thing that could have happened to that child.”

He said the baby is in good condition at an area hospital and is in the custody of Child Protective Services.

The woman remains hospitalized and faces charges of child endangerment.

Bay City News

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San Francisco healing abused children during National Kids Month

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GET IN THE GAME is the maxim for a life well lived through helping others, especially the abused children of San Francisco, Ronnie Lott beckoned an audience Friday as headliner for the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center’s Tenth Annual Luncheon. Lott is seen with Cheryl Jennings who emceed the gathering and, at right, philanthropist and antique dealer Chip Zecher.
Photos by Thomas John Gibbons

By Pat Murphy
Sentinel Editor & Publisher

Otherwise caring parents sometimes smack their kids around insulating the breach with hidden shame.

Hidden from those who might help, deadening the spirit of children who don’t understand why.

The breach occurs regularly and across a range of severity.

Each week, child protective services (CPS) agencies throughout the United States receive more than 50,000 reports of suspected child abuse or neglect. Annual reports affect some 5 million American children.

San Francisco, in this National Kids Month, turned attention throughout April to local children and all things impacting a child’s quality of life.

Most child services highlighted the joys of childhood, while locking eyes with children turned dead to emotion still comes quietly.

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Even so, there are those who shout down the silence.

“I don’t know if I would have that courage,” Ronnie Lott, a Pro Football Hall of Famer, lowered his voice before San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center luncheon Friday.

Lott spoke of Laveranues Coles, a New York Jets receiver, who came to public terms with being abused as a child.

“The reason why I say I don’t know if I would have that courage is because I don’t know if I would let that out,” reflected Lott.

“And yet because of him, it’s inspired me to be here. Because of all of you who are here you are inspiring me to want to help.”

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“I’m almost positive somebody is sitting here right now maybe afraid.

“You can’t be afraid.

“And the reason you can’t be afraid is you got to be in the game. Our society is calling for us to get in the game and when you think of children, and when you think of children who are being abused, we can stop it. We can prevent it.”

‘Exhaust life because there are moments you can change someone’s life’ -Ronnie Lott

“You got to share who you are. You got to volunteer. You got to volunteer and you got to play big,” Lott continued.

“My dad tells me this all the time – exhaust life.

“Exhaust life. It is the hardest thing to do because you get tired and you got people who say, “Oh, I can’t.’

“Exhaust life — because there are moments you can change people’s lives to make it better.”

Lott, who went on in 2004 to found and now control a $1 billion venture capital firm, and his wife, Karen, co-founded All Stars Helping Kids, a not-for-profit organization helping disadvantaged youth in the San Francisco Bay Area.

He appeared at the Friday luncheon to raise funds for the 34-year-old San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center.

Now located in a restored Fire House at 1757 Waller Street, the organization centralizes public and private services for children and parents.

The annual luncheon began ten years ago under leadership of Center Co-Presidents Cathy Topham and Lorraine Cohen.

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Cahty Topham and Lorraine Cohen

To volunteer, telephone Anita Moran at 415-387-3684 ext. 325.

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San Francisco Presidio this month receives $15 million gift from Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi praises $15 million donation as making it possible for the Park to realize its potential as a park for all
Photos by John Han

The nonprofit Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, with its public agency partners the Presidio Trust and the National Park Service, this month announced a $15 million gift from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund to continue the transformation of the Presidio into a great national park for all.

Building on the Haas, Jr. Fund’s support to the Crissy Field restoration in 1999, this new gift for the Presidio of San Francisco to the Parks Conservancy raises the Haas, Jr. Fund’s philanthropy in the Golden Gate National Parks to $30 million total to date. Their combined gifts represent the largest philanthropic cash contribution ever received for America’s national parks.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Robert Haas at the Presidio to announce the gift.

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Bob Haas, Jr.

“The generosity of the Haas, Jr. Fund reflects the vision and commitment to the public good that has secured our national parks. The Presidio has stood for more than 200 years as sentinel to the Golden Gate. It continues to do so now as a national park, due in large part to the public-private partnership exemplified by the Haas family. This gift will help the Presidio realize its potential as a park for all people — a shining jewel for our city.”

In 1996, Congress passed legislation drafted by Speaker Pelosi that created the Presidio Trust to preserve the Presidio as an enduring resource for the American people.

This significant support from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund advances an important era of park building and the ongoing “post to park” conversion of the Presidio — an era begun in 1994 when this former military post became part of the Golden Gate National Parks.

The latest gift from the Haas, Jr. Fund seeks to make the Presidio a park cherished by people of the Bay Area, especially those who may have limited access to outdoor settings and national parks.

“For years now, the Presidio has been understandably focused on its financial mandate to be fiscally self-sufficient. We are so pleased that the Trust and the Parks Conservancy are now able to turn their attention to the Presidio’s mission as a national park for all,” said Robert D. Haas, a Haas, Jr. Fund Trustee.

“As we did for Crissy Field, our intention with this gift is to help ensure the Presidio will be a place that is used and enjoyed by the entire community. Our national parks belong to all of us.”

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The Haas, Jr. Fund gift focuses on community access to the Presidio. Specifically, this new gift from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund supports the implementation of a comprehensive 24-mile pedestrian, hiking, and bicycle trail network at the Presidio; and the revitalization of the Presidio’s Rob Hill Campground — the only overnight campground in San Francisco.

These projects will advance the Presidio’s value to the community as a national park for all and continue to realize the Presidio’s potential as a national park destination that brings outdoor experiences to youth, families, and underserved communities — an aspect of particular priority to the Haas, Jr. Fund.

“This new gift and its call-to-action builds upon the Bay Area’s love affair with the Presidio and the Golden Gate National Parks and demonstrates the civic spirit and generosity of our community,” said Greg Moore, Executive Director of the Parks Conservancy.

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Greg Moore

“We are deeply grateful for the Haas, Jr. Fund’s commitment to improving our parks for the entire community.”

The Haas, Jr. Fund gift provides important momentum to efforts of the Presidio Trust, which in cooperation with the National Park Service, has worked to preserve and enhance the open space of this national historic landmark site — including the trails, forest, and the natural areas.

“Integral to the gift is the vision we share for the Presidio as a tremendous resource for our community, especially for the children and families of San Francisco,” said Craig Middleton, Executive Director of the Presidio Trust. “We believe the outdoor experiences offered by national parks can be transformational for young people.”

The gift from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund is intended to mobilize community affection for these parks and public generosity for their long-term benefit and stewardship. A portion of the gift — $10 million — is a challenge grant for the Trails and Bikeways project, asking Bay Area philanthropists and park supporters to join with the Haas, Jr. Fund in advancing the Presidio’s mission as a national park for all with gifts of any amount.

From the beginning of the Presidio’s conversion to a national park, the Haas, Jr. Fund has been instrumental in its transformation. When the Presidio’s closure as a military post was announced, the late Walter A. Haas, Jr. served on the Presidio Council, a group of national volunteers advising the early transition from “post to park.” Later, the Haas, Jr. family through the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund provided a $13.5 million leadership gift to the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy for the restoration of Crissy Field, along with a $4.5 million gift from Colleen and Robert Haas. This leadership gift, along with many other generous financial and volunteer contributions helped make this shoreline site one of the region’s most beloved public places and the recipient of national and international awards for the quality of design, environmental restoration and community engagement. The Haas, Jr. Fund recently made a $1.5 million additional gift for future enhancements at Crissy Field. Today, Walter J. Haas, the son of Walter Haas, Jr., serves on the Board of Trustees of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.

“This generous gift reaffirms the importance of the Presidio to our local community, the region, and nation — and its vital role in the lives of Bay Area residents,” said Brian O’Neill, General Superintendent of the Golden Gate National Parks. “From its earliest days, when Muir Woods was donated to the National Park Service as a national monument, philanthropy and citizen action have come together to create the Golden Gate National Parks.” Today’s gift from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund builds on that history and initiates another chapter of community support for these treasured national park lands. The Parks Conservancy, Presidio Trust, and National Park Service invite donors, friends, and supporters to contribute to the Haas, Jr. Fund challenge grant and help build the momentum to make the world’s greatest urban national parks at the Golden Gate.

See Related: PRESIDIO DEVELOPMENT

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More San Francisco shootings

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Two different shooting incidents that happened Friday night within ten minutes of each other produced two victims and no suspects, said San Francisco Police Officer Timothy Buelow.

The first shooting took place at 8:49 p.m. in the 100 block of Hahn Street in the Visitacion Valley neighborhood, Buelow said. Police arrived to find one man suffering a gunshot wound to the right leg. The victim was transported to a local hospital in stable condition.

The second shooting was reported at 9 p.m. at the intersection of Divisadero Street and Golden Gate Avenue, in the Alamo Square neighborhood.

One victim was found suffering from a gunshot to his right arm, according to
Buelow.

The victim was walking along the street when suspects, described only as two black men, drove up in a car. The victim began to run and one of the suspects got out of the vehicle and shot at the victim, Buelow said, striking his arm. The victim was transported to a local hospital in stable
condition.

Police are continuing to search for suspects in both shootings.

Bay City News

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Scoopstress Kim Knox reports Angela Calvillo the new Clerk of the Board to San Francisco Board of Supervisors

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WOMAN GETS THE SCOOP – Author, teacher, and perennial Green Party activist Kim Knox, seated in front of School Board Member Hydra Mendoza at Saturday mayoral Town Hall Meeting on City services to San Francisco children, first to announce selection of new Clerk of the Board to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors
Photo by John Han

BELIEVE IT OR WHAT
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PAT MURPHY
Sentinel Editor & Publisher

KIM KNOX GETS THE SCOOP

Irrepressible Kim Knox, scribing for leftinsf.com, is first to let it be known candidate selected to replace beloved Gloria Young as Clerk of the Board…

Angela Calvillo — of institutional memory, unflappable charm, youth and beauty — got the nod, Knox reports… Calvillo, to boot, is young enough to serve for a very long time… Building on institutional memory sorely needed at City Hall…

PHIL MATIER AND ANDY ROSS GET THE SCOOP

Big Gorilla pagesters Phil Matier and Andy Ross pass along politically indelicate missive from Jennifer Siebel… Mayor Newsom’s steady girlfriend…

“While he is running for re-election as mayor of San Francisco,” Gavin’s actress girlfriend wrote in e-mail that went out along with the invite, “he is also a top candidate for the upcoming California gubernatorial election,” San Francisco Chronicle sleuths get it first

PAT MURPHY GETS THE SCOOP

Fruit flies, this column good for something, live only two days…

It’s true… This corner learned this week… Tell exacting in-the-knowers The San Francisco Sentinel shared it quickest…

GET PARANOID, LUMPY

Influence peddling, I suspect it… A San Francisco Ethics Department staffer being handed a complaint against The Sentinel one day prior to that department’s budget hearing before the Budget and Finance Committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors… Chaired by District 6 Supervisor Chris Daly… Who made the same complaint from the Chamber Floor of the Board of Supervisors in 2005…

Quickly as Ethics Staffer Paul Solis notified yours truly, this writer clicked ‘send’ requesting influence peddling investigation by both the regional US Attorney and by the FBI…

Scan each shadow, yon Liege of The Punk People, wondering whether the shadow knows

NEVER A BLUE SAN FRANCISCO DAY

Take ten minutes to be happy somebody pretty still will grace the Board of Supervisors dais, be glad anybody has a steady girlfriend, and go out and tell us complainers we’re tiresome…

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MEROLA OPERA PROGRAM – Winners Announced

TWENTY-NINE INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS SELECTED FOR 50TH ANNIVERSARY TRAINING PROGRAM

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

SAN FRANCISCO – April 22, 2007 – San Francisco Opera Center Director Sheri Greenawald announced the 23 singers, 5 apprentice coaches, and 1 apprentice stage director who will participate in the 50th Anniversary Season of the prestigious Merola Opera Program, running June 4 – August 18, 2007. The artists, selected from more than 750 applicants last fall, come from seven different countries: Argentina, Greece, Ireland, Japan, South Korea, Spain, and the United States.

The intensive eleven-week training program is highlighted by fully-staged productions of Gioachino Rossini’s LA CENERENTOLA, directed by Jose Maria Condemi and conducted by Martin Katz (July 13 and 15 at Fort Mason’s Cowell Theater), and the world premiere of Thomas Pasatieri’s THE HOTEL CASABLANCA, directed by Richard Kagey and conducted by Joseph Illick (August 3 and 5 at Cowell Theater). Additional public performances include the Schwabacher Summer Concert on July 29 at Yerba Buena Gardens, and the Merola Grand Finale on August 18 – the annual event showcasing the gifted young singers in performance with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra on the stage of the War Memorial Opera House on August 18.

Throughout the summer, the artists will participate in master classes and private coachings with such luminaries as pianists Steven Blier, Martin Katz, and Warren Jones; conductor Patrick Summers; sopranos Jane Eaglen and Carol Vaness; mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade; tenor Rockwell Blake; and baritone Sir Thomas Allen. Participants will also receive training in operatic repertory, foreign languages, diction, acting, and stage movement.

A complete Merola Opera Program performance and casting calendar and artist roster follows. Visit www.Merola.org for more information.

2007 MEROLA OPERA PROGRAM ARTIST ROSTER

APPRENTICE STAGE DIRECTOR:

EUGENIA ARSENIS (Athens, Greece)
SCHOOLS: Royal Holloway University of London, Boston University, University College London, New York Film Academy, Attiko Conservatory
DIRECTING EXPERIENCE: Waxworks; El Cimarrón; Antigone at Royal Albert Hall—BBC Proms; theater in England and Greece; film and television in U.S. and Greece

APPRENTICE COACHES:

ROBERTO BERROCAL (Bilbao, Spain)
SCHOOLS: New England Conservatory; College of Charleston
COACHING EXPERIENCE: Aida, Manon Lescaut, Così fan tutte, Hansel and Gretel, Anna Karenina

KEUN-A LEE (Seoul, Korea)
SCHOOLS: Manhattan School of Music; The Juilliard School; Kyunghee University
COACHING EXPERIENCE: Il Viaggio a Reims, Così fan tutte

MATTHEW OTTENLIPS (St. Louis, Missouri)
SCHOOLS: University of Missouri, Kansas City; University of Cincinnati
COACHING EXPERIENCE: Il Matrimonio Segreto, Madama Butterfly, L’Elisir d’Amore, The Voyage of Edgar Allan Poe

YASUKO OURA (Kyoto, Japan)
SCHOOLS: The Juilliard School; Oberlin College
COACHING EXPERIENCE: The Pearl Fishers, Così fan tutte, Le Nozze di Figaro, Little Women, Faust, Poliuto, A Month in the Country, Rage d’Amour, The Sound of Music

MATTHEW THOMPSON (Burlington, North Carolina)
SCHOOLS: University of Michigan; University of North Carolina
COACHING EXPERIENCE: L’Incoronazione di Poppea, The Pajama Game

SOPRANOS:

JAMIE-ROSE GUARRINE (Peoria, Illinois)
SCHOOLS: University of Wisconsin, Madison; Illinois Wesleyan University
MAJOR ROLES: Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro), Zerlina (Don Giovanni), Lucia (Lucia di Lammermoor), Despina (Così fan tutte), Tiny (Paul Bunyan), Isabelle/Madeline (The Face on the Barroom Floor), Gretel (Hansel and Gretel)
MEROLA ROLE: Veronique (The Hotel Casablanca)

ASHLEY LOGAN (Princeton, New Jersey)
SCHOOL: University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music
MAJOR ROLES: Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro), Giannetta (L’Elisir d’Amore), Josephine (Comedy on the Bridge), Dritte Zofe (Der Zwerg)
MEROLA ROLES: Schwabacher Summer Concert: Cleopatra (Giulio Cesare) and Gretel (Hansel and Gretel)

ANI MALDJIAN (Los Angeles, California)
SCHOOLS: California State University, Northridge; California Institute of Arts
MAJOR ROLES: Anne Frank (The Diary of Anne Frank), Nannetta (Falstaff), Serpina (La Serva Padrona), Princess (Transformations), Despina (Così fan tutte), Cleopatra (Giulio Cesare), Adele (Die Fledermaus), Miss Wordsworth (Albert Herring), Jane (WET)
MEROLA ROLE: Clorinda (La Cenerentola)

REBECCA PAUL (Rochester, New York)
SCHOOLS: University of Notre Dame, Goucher College, Mannes College of Music—Extension Division, Eastman School of Music—Community Education Division
MAJOR ROLES: Suor Angelica, Magda (The Consul), Gutrune (Götterdämmerung), Elsa (Lohengrin), Cio-Cio-San (Madama Butterfly), Donna Anna (Don Giovanni), Countess (Le Nozze di Figaro), Leonore (Fidelio)
MEROLA ROLES: Schwabacher Summer Concert: Aida and Mother (Hansel and Gretel)

TAMARA WAPINSKY (Pottsville, Pennsylvania)
SCHOOLS: Mannes College of Music, Indiana University, Temple University
MAJOR ROLES: Giorgetta (Il Tabarro), Nella (Gianni Schicchi), Beatrice Carbone (A View from the Bridge), Ellen Orford (Peter Grimes), Donna Anna (Don Giovanni), Cio-Cio-San (Madama Butterfly), Ariadne (Ariadne auf Naxos), Helena (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
MEROLA ROLE: Tallulah Carter (The Hotel Casablanca)

MEZZO-SOPRANOS:

CYNTHIA HANNA (Charleston, South Carolina)
SCHOOLS: University of South Carolina, Charleston Southern University
MAJOR ROLES: Mercédès (Carmen), Mum (Albert Herring), Inez (Il Trovatore), Charlotte (A Little Night Music), Isabella (L’Italiana in Algeri), Baba (The Medium), Zia Principessa (Suor Angelica), Komponist (Ariadne auf Naxos), Marcellina (Le Nozze di Figaro)
MEROLA ROLES: Schwabacher Summer Concert: Amneris (Aida) and Hansel (Hansel and Gretel)

DAVEDA KARANAS (Mandeville, Louisiana)
SCHOOLS: Boston University—Opera Institute, Arizona State University, Southeastern Louisiana University
MAJOR ROLES: Lucretia (The Rape of Lucretia), Judith (Bluebeard’s Castle), Marchesa Melibea (Il Viaggio à Reims), Mother Marie (Dialogues of the Carmelites), Madame Flora (The Medium), Lady with a Hat Box (Postcard from Morocco), Amahl’s Mother (Amahl and the Night Visitors), Zia Principessa (Suor Angelica)
MEROLA ROLE: Tisbe (La Cenerentola)

DANIELA MACK (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
SCHOOLS: Louisiana State University
MAJOR ROLES: Rosina (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), Dorabella (Così fan tutte), Blanche (Dialogues of the Carmelites), Carmen (La Tragédie de Carmen), Jo (Little Women), Mrs. McLean (Susannah), Maurya (Riders to the Sea), Suzy (La Rondine), Alisa and Mercédès (Placido Domingo Gala Concert—A Night for New Orleans)
MEROLA ROLE: Cenerentola (La Cenerentola)

PAULA MURRIHY (Tralee, Ireland)
SCHOOLS: New England Conservatory, Dublin Institute of Technology—Conservatory of Music and Drama
MAJOR ROLES: Good Witch (Transformations), Zweite Dame (Die Zauberflöte), Dido (Dido e Aeneas), Ariodante, Messagiera (L’Orfeo), Hippolyta (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Cherubino (Le Nozze di Figaro), Diana (La Calisto), Nancy (Albert Herring), Hansel (Hansel and Gretel)
MEROLA ROLE: Lucy Perez (The Hotel Casablanca)

MEREDITH WOODEND (Kissimmee, Florida)
SCHOOLS: Boston University, University of Florida
MAJOR ROLES: Ruth (The Pirates of Penzance), Flora (La Traviata), Gertrude (Roméo et Juliette), Third Lady (The Magic Flute)
MEROLA ROLE: Miss Pooder (The Hotel Casablanca)

COUNTERTENOR:

VINCE YI (Los Angeles, California)
SCHOOL: Boston University
MAJOR ROLES: Cardinal 1 and Oracle 1 (Galileo Galilei), The Boy (The Tsar has his Photograph Taken), Nanki-Poo (The Mikado), Abe Kaplan (Street Scene)
MEROLA ROLE: Schwabacher Summer Concert: Cesare (Giulio Cesare)

TENORS:

ANDREW BIDLACK (Chambersburg, Pennsylvania)
SCHOOL: Temple University
MAJOR ROLES: Rodolfo (La Bohème), Bastien (Bastien and Bastienna), Candide
MEROLA ROLE: Charles Carter (The Hotel Casablanca)

ALEXANDER BOYER (Port Washington, New York)
SCHOOLS: Manhattan School of Music, Boston University
MAJOR ROLES: Luigi (Il Tabarro), Alfredo (La Traviata), Chevalier de la Force (Dialogues des Carmélites), Prince Philippe (A Dinner Engagement), Azor (Zemire und Azor), Arkady (A Month in the Country), Rodolfo (La Bohème), Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni)
MEROLA ROLES: Schwabacher Summer Concert: Nemorino (The Elixir of Love) and Ferrando (Così fan tutte)

ALEK SHRADER (Alva, Oklahoma)
SCHOOLS: Oberlin Conservatory, Northwestern Oklahoma State University
MAJOR ROLES: Count Almaviva (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), Nemorino (L’Elisir d’Amore), Fenton (Die Lustigen Weiber von Windsor), Florville (Il Signor Bruschino), Le Chevalier (Dialogues des Carmélites)
MEROLA ROLE: Ramiro (La Cenerentola)

BARITONES:

WILLIAM BROWNING (Madison, Kansas)
SCHOOLS: Emporia State University, Wichita State University
MAJOR ROLES: Mercutio (Roméo et Juliette), Count Ceprano (Rigoletto), Marquis d’Obigny (La Traviata), The Four Villains (Les Contes d’Hoffmann), Marcello (La Bohème), Count Almaviva (Le Nozze di Figaro), Don Giovanni, Le Marquis de la Force (Dialogues des Carmélites), Count Danilo (The Merry Widow)
MEROLA ROLES: Schwabacher Summer Concert: Father (Hansel and Gretel) and Guglielmo (Così fan tutte)

NATHANIEL HACKMANN (Phoenix, Arizona)
SCHOOL: Central Michigan University
MAJOR ROLES: Schaunard (La Bohème), Silvio (Pagliacci), Papageno (Die Zauberflöte)
MEROLA ROLE: Raul Perez (The Hotel Casablanca)

MATTHEW HANSCOM (Plymouth, Minnesota)
SCHOOL: Northwestern University
MAJOR ROLES: Gianni Schicchi, Eugene Onegin, Falstaff, Gideon March/Dashwood (Little Women), Graf Danilo (Die Lustige Witwe), Second Armored Man (Die Zauberflöte), Ben (The Telephone), Clark/Reverend MacCarty (Slip Knot)
MEROLA ROLES: Schwabacher Summer Concert: Belcore (The Elixir of Love) and Don Alfonso (Così fan tutte)

PAUL LA ROSA (Union, New Jersey)
SCHOOLS: The Juilliard School, Williams College
MAJOR ROLES: Agamemnon (Iphigénie en Aulide), Junius (The Rape of Lucretia), Guglielmo (Così fan tutte), Nick Shadow (The Rake’s Progress), Marcello (La Bohème), Don Giovanni, Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro)
MEROLA ROLE: Dandini (La Cenerentola)

MATTHEW MOORE (Newport News, Virginia)
SCHOOLS: Boston University, Baylor University
MAJOR ROLES: Marcello and Schaunard (La Bohème), Reinaldo Arenas (Before Night Falls), Count Almaviva (Le Nozze di Figaro), Belaev (A Month in the Country), Don Giovanni, Der Zar (Der Zar Lässt Sich Photographieren), Belcore (L’Elisir d’Amore), Don Alfonso (Così fan tutte), Conte Robinson (Il Matrimonio Segreto)
MEROLA ROLE: Alidoro (La Cenerentola)

JASON PLOURDE (Caribou, Maine)
SCHOOLS: University of Southern Maine, Indiana University
MAJOR ROLES: Pistola (Falstaff), Hortensio (The Daughter of the Regiment), Dulcamara (L’Elisir d’Amore), Le Dancaïre (Carmen), Tom/John (The Face on the Barroom Floor), Count Almaviva (Le Nozze di Figaro), Figaro (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), Baron Zeta (The Merry Widow)
MEROLA ROLE: Burton (The Hotel Casablanca)

BASS-BARITONES:

TOM CORBEIL (San Diego, California)
SCHOOLS: University of California, Davis; Regent College; University of British Columbia
MAJOR ROLES: Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro), Mustafà (L’Italiana in Algeri), Superintendent Budd (Albert Herring), Crespel (Les Contes d’Hoffmann), Sprecher (Die Zauberflöte), Caronte (L’Orfeo), Captain Corcoran (H.M.S. Pinafore)
MEROLA ROLE: Tom Carter (The Hotel Casablanca)

SAM HANDLEY (Union City, Tennessee)
SCHOOLS: University of Houston, University of Wisconsin, Madison; University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point
MAJOR ROLES: Don Pasquale, Bottom (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Mr. Emerson (A Room with a View), Polyphemus (Acis and Galatea), Sam (Trouble in Tahiti), Kaspar (Der Freischütz), Collatinus (The Rape of Lucretia), Dikoj (Kát’a Kabanová), Dr. Miracle (Les Contes d’Hoffmann)
MEROLA ROLE: Don Magnifico (La Cenerentola)

BASS:

KENNETH KELLOGG (Washington, District of Columbia)
SCHOOLS: Academy of Vocal Arts, University of Michigan, Ohio University
MAJOR ROLES: Zaretsky and Prince Gremin (Eugene Onegin), Bluebeard (Bluebeard’s Castle), Basilio (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), Seneca (L’Incoronazione di Poppea), Orgon Pernelle (Tartuffe), Commendatore (Don Giovanni), Simone (Gianni Schicchi), Mr. Kofner (The Consul), Superintendent Budd (Albert Herring)
MEROLA ROLE: Tobias (The Hotel Casablanca)

Ani Maldjian, Jamie-Rose Guarrine, and Matthew Ottenlips are returning artists from the 2006 Merola Opera Program.

2007 Calendar of Performances
La Cenerentola, by Gioachino Rossini – Rossini’s charming take on Cinderella will be presented at Fort Mason’s Cowell Theater on July 13 (8 pm) and 15 (2 pm). Sung in Italian with English supertitles, the fully-staged performances, featuring scenic design by Erik Flatmo, will be conducted by Martin Katz and directed by Jose Maria Condemi.

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LA CENERENTOLA – Merola Opera production, July 13th and 15th

Schwabacher Summer Concert – Merola will perform an afternoon of semi-staged opera scenes from works by such composers as Donizetti, Handel, Humperdinck, Mozart, and Verdi on Sunday, July 29, at 2 pm, at Yerba Buena Gardens (Mission Street, between Third and Fourth, in San Francisco). A part of the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, this outdoor concert will be conducted by the Opera Center’s Director of Musical Studies and Merola alumnus Mark Morash; Roy Rallo will direct. This concert is free; no tickets are required.

The Hotel Casablanca, by Thomas Pasatieri – The world premiere of Pasatieri’s 19th opera will be performed at Fort Mason’s Cowell Theater on August 3 (8 pm) and 5 (2 pm). Sung in English, the fully-staged performances will be conducted by Joseph Illick and directed and designed by Richard Kagey. Staged at the mythical Double-T Ranch and a seedy hotel riddled with assorted eccentric guests and set to an original libretto by the composer, The Hotel Casablanca is a comedy that takes place in 1948 regarding a wealthy Texan couple and their attempts to “toughen up” their 25-year-old nephew visiting from New York.

Merola Grand Finale – The 2007 Season of the Merola Opera Program culminates with the annual Merola Grand Finale, a concert of operatic arias and ensembles with full orchestra performed at the War Memorial Opera House on Saturday, August 18, at 7:30 pm. Merola Opera Program alumnus and Houston Grand Opera Music Director Patrick Summers will conduct the San Francisco Opera Orchestra.

Tickets for La Cenerentola ($35-48), The Hotel Casablanca ($35-48), and the Merola Grand Finale ($25-38) go on sale beginning May 1, and may be purchased by calling the San Francisco Opera Box Office Monday through Friday, 10 am to 6 pm, at (415) 864-3330. Members of the Merola Opera Program may purchase tickets to the Merola Grand Finale Reception ($40), which follows the concert. For information on how to become a Merola member, please call (415) 565-6427 or visit www.Merola.org.

About the Merola Opera Program
Now in its 50th year, Merola Opera Program is the nation’s oldest and foremost young artist training program in the country. Named for Gaetano Merola, San Francisco Opera’s founding General Director, the Merola Opera Program has nurtured more than 1,000 up-and-coming singers, accompanists, and directors since its establishment in 1957. Each year, more than 750 artists from throughout the world vie for approximately 30 coveted spots in the summer program. Admission is based solely on talent rather than financial ability; there is no charge to participants.

The continued success and acclaim of this program is founded on the principal of focusing on one artist at a time, with an emphasis on personal attention and commitment to quality. Over the past five decades, Merola has built careers in opera with a proven balance of training, performance and individualized support. The Merola Opera Program is an independent nonprofit organization, which operates in collaboration with San Francisco Opera Center (Sheri Greenawald, director) and San Francisco Opera (David Gockley, general director).

The extensive list of Merola Opera alumni includes such celebrated artists today as: Brian Asawa, Charles Castronovo, Laura Claycomb, Tracy Dahl, Mark Delavan, Joyce DiDonato, Susan Graham, Thomas Hampson, Gary Lakes, Janis Martin, Sylvia McNair, Anna Netrebko, Cheryl Parrish, Earle Patriarco, Patricia Racette, John Reylea, Michael Schade, Kurt Streit, Patrick Summers, Ruth Ann Swenson, Jess Thomas, Mel Ulrich, Carol Vaness, Rolando Villazon, Deborah Voigt, and Dolora Zajick.

Seán’s recommendations:
DVD – La Cenerentola (1981) – Claudio Abbado, Conductor. Featuring: Frederica von Stade, Francisco Araiza, Paolo Montarsolo, Claudio Desderi, and Laura Zannini

CD:
La Cenerentola (2005)
Alberto Zedda, Conductor. Featuring: Bruno Praticò, José Manuel Zapata, Joyce DiDonato, Paolo Bordogna, Patrizia Cigna, Martina Borst, Luca Pisaroni, and Marco Bellei.
La Cenerentola (1993) – Riccardo Chailly, Conductor. Featuring: Cecilia Bartoli, William Matteuzzi, Michele Pertusi, Fernanda Costa, Gloria Banditelli, Enzo Dara, and Alessandro Corbelli.

La Cenerentola (1987) – Sir Neville Marriner conducts the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. Featuring: Agnes Baltsa (Mezzo Soprano), Francisco Araiza (Tenor), John del Carlo (Baritone), Simone Alaimo (Bass), Ruggero Raimondi (Bass), Carol Malone (Soprano), and Felicity Palmer (Soprano).)

See Seán’s recent interviews and commentaries:
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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Citizens issuing parking tickets to Muni, Creating San Francisco sanctuary for taggers – PHLOG by David Toerge

PHLOG
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By David Toerge
Sentinel Photography Editor
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel

MUNI Parking Phlog
22nd of April 2007

I recently saw a piece in one of the local newsprints (very unGreen you know). It was about the City placing cameras on MUNI busses to catch motorists parked in the bus zone.

Now, I definitely support a huge fine when issued by the police but not in absentia. Drivers should not park in bus zones period.

B U T I get more annoyed at the Muni drivers who don’t use those zones. Sometimes a driver will make a half hearted stab at it only to leave of huge portion of the bus’ rear sticking out and blocking a lane.

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I spent an hour today following busses and found that more than 50% did not use the designated zone. I am wondering, City Hall, can a citizen with a camera give the Muni drivers $100 Tickets?

File this in the “what’s good for the goose” department.

GRAFFITI Phlog
22nd of April 2007

I recently heard that San Jose had pretty much solved their graffiti problem. I think that I heard that they even gave themselves some kind of award.

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How did they do it?

I think they shipped up their most prolific taggers up to OUR city because just in the last couple of months the graffiti in San Francisco has gotten out of hand.

These moronic fools are now not content with defacing vacant buildings as they once did.

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They are targeting shops and buildings and it some cases homes. They also use sharp instruments to etch their ridiculous monikers in plate glass windows costing hundreds of dollars to repair.

It seems to me that it wouldn’t take much investigating to find these little budding criminals. Of course, then what do we do with them?

Some lawyer would probably file suit against the City for violating the little thug’s civil right of free expression.

Or maybe the supervisors have declared OUR City a tagger friendly sanctuary.

In any case, it’s time for a crackdown.

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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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San Francisco student loan company suspected of kickback scheme to school officials

By Emmett Berg

A San Francisco lending firm is under pressure to disclose any financial relationships with California colleges and universities as part of a growing scandal involving student loan companies and alleged kickbacks to education officials.

State Attorney General Jerry Brown on Tuesday demanded records detailing any financial relationships between San Francisco-based Education Finance Partners and public or private universities in the state.

Brown also called for San Diego-based Student Loan Xpress Inc. to produce documentation.

“Schools and universities must be beyond reproach, and no further burdens should be visited upon students who are already weighted down by escalating student-debt responsibilities,” Brown said in a statement.

A day earlier, Education Finance Partners agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle a complaint by the State of New York after a wide-ranging investigation into kickbacks that helped lenders get placement atop preferred lending lists given to students.

No one from Education Finance Partners was immediately available for comment.

A spokesman for the California Faculty Association, which represents faculty at California State University campuses, said the details unfolding so far were the “tip of the iceberg.”

President John Travis said the association he leads “was grateful for the attorney general’s efforts to uncover any inappropriate or usurious financial aid practices that involve California’s public universities.”

Bay City News

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Cinco De Mayo Soccer Fest set for Kezar Stadium May 5

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SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–San Francisco’s community celebration “Cinco de Mayo Soccer Fest,” is a great combination of Family Fun and “Futbol.” The California Victory, the new United Soccer League’s Division One team in San Francisco, takes on Necaxa 1A, a professional soccer team from Aguas Caliente, Mexico during “Cinco de Mayo Soccer Fest.”

The Cinco de Mayo festivities at Kezar Stadium are 11 a.m-5 p.m. with the game starting at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 5. The California Victory will conduct a special soccer clinic prior to the game. Kezar Stadium, the field of champions, where the San Francisco 49’ers and the Oakland Raiders got their start, is located at 755 Stanyan Street in the Southeastern corner of Golden Gate Park. Head Coach, Glenn Van Stratum, and Assistant Coach, Hugo Perez lead the Victory.

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Mayor Newsom and members of the Board of Supervisors have been invited to kickoff the festivities with a ribbon cutting ceremony marking the California Victory’s first game at Kezar Stadium. “We’ve joined with the community to create the Cinco de Mayo Soccer Fest,” said Terry Fisher, General Manager of the California Victory. “We are looking forward to people coming out to enjoy great food and entertainment. We want people to know the California Victory is their home town team and we’re not moving anywhere.”

It’s an event that is worth a commute to the Bay Area. Before and after the game that involves Mexico, which is historically tied to Cinco de Mayo, community organizers will cook up a great time! La Familia (the family) can enjoy fiery mariachi, mesmerizing Aztec dancers; baile folkloric, captivating drum beats, tantalizing canto de ninos, enchanting cha cha and magnificent descarga; and habañero hot hip-hop. Fun begins at 11 a.m.

Tickets are free for children under seven; eight-eighteen are $9.00, and $12 for adults. It’s a great deal for families, non-profits, and businesses. Get tickets at www.californiavictorysoccer.com or call 415.593.1491. Affordable professional sports tickets are now available in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit www.cincodemayosfca.com.

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San Francisco plastic shopping bag ban said a national trendsetter

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San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom signs plastic shopping bag ban legislation into law under pleased eye of San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi who led the ordinance through to completion
Photos by John Han

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

A homegrown flicker of an idea, two years distilling and today resonating beyond US borders, was signed into San Francisco law Friday.

It was never in the bag, when San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi first struck on the idea shoppers by law should be weened off use of plastic shopping bags.

They pollute the environment and their manufacture furthers global warming, the District 5 Supervisor propounded, hoping to soften business opposition by targeting large supermarkets only for plastic bag ban.

Working its way through Board of Supervisors committee review, often pro-business Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier later expanded the ban to large pharmacies such as ubiquitious chain stores Walgreens and Rite-Aid.

Mayor Gavin Newsom went on to instruct his Department of the Enviornment to collaborate in the proposal culminating in 1:30 p.m. signing yesterday in the International Room of City Hall.

Mirkarimi suggested the Bush Administration is yet to “design a master plan that obligates the reduction of green house emissions.”

“Until that really happens, it’s going to be up to US cities to step up to the plate and to do so in vigorous ways,” stated the District 5 Supervisor.

“San Francisco is doing that and one aspect of that message, I believe, is our legislation to help reduce plastic bags by compelling the ban of non-biodegradeable plastic bags in our largest retailers — grocery stories and pharmacies.

“We have for the two years or so since I contemplated, and we have, the introduction of the legislation… arrived obviously at a piece of legislation that resonates well within the elected City Government.

“Stunningly, has resonated well around the world.

“We would have never anticipated… the response that we received literally from all corners of this planet from cities’ representatives, elected officials, advocacy organizations, nonprofits, who have found strong kinship with our efforts here in San Francisco that’s either made them hopeful for the United States or at least for their own locality that they would like to replicate this kind of legislation.

“In a short period since the Board of Supervisors has passed this legislation, we understand that there have been at least 12 US cities who want to see this legislation.

“That to me is a wonderful way to ring in Earth Day.”

Mirkarimi thanked Newsom and the Department of the Environment.

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“Thank you very much to the mayor and to his staff… particulary to the Department of Enviroment, to Jared (Blumenfeld, director of the Department of Environment), to his staff, Mark Westlund, to David Osmond, Robert Haley,” Mirkarimi extended.

“You guys have been steadfast and true. And I want to also identify my aide Boris Delepine who’s been just really true in keeping to this legislation.”

Political courage saw the legislation through to completion, Blumenfeld said.

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Jared Blumenfeld, left, Director of the San Francisco Department of the Enviornment

“We had the political courage with the supervisor and the mayor to take action,” he stated.

“It wasn’t easy. There was a lot of resistance from industry because this is the thing end of the wedge — if San Francisco can do it 12 other cities, as we have heard, are going to do it.

“So they really wanted to make sure that what happened in San Francisco didn’t happen because if it happened here it meant it would happen in Marin, it would happen in St. Louis, now Alaska, New York City.

“All these people have suddenly realized, ‘You know what, it is possible, it is politcally feasible that we can do it.”

Large supermarkets must stop using plastic bags within six month under the legislation. The ordinance requires chain pharmacies to no longer use plastic bags by 2008.

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