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‘HOOPS’ MADNESS – The Final Four of the Big Screen

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

I don’t know about you, but for me this is going to be Basketball Weekend. The Final Four begins Saturday afternoon – with Georgetown facing off against Ohio State, and UCLA taking on defending national champions Florida – and culminates with Monday night’s NCAA championship game.

It really ought to be a national holiday, because I know if my two picks (Georgetown and UCLA) are still in it, I’ll be far too nervous, and boastful, to do any work. Hell, when Georgetown came back from 10 down and won in overtime last Sunday – leaving me with all four correct picks in my Final Four pool – I spent the next 24 hours tracking down every one of my college buddies to remind them how mindnumbingly brilliant I am. If the Hoyas actually meet and take down the Bruins Monday night, I’ll immediately commence blowing my winnings by buying everyone at the Philosopher’s Club drinks.

Which should thrill my wife. So should the rest of my itinerary for the weekend: between basketball games, I’ll be sitting on the couch thinking about basketball, dreaming about basketball and watching basketball movies. And since I’m having such a great March Madness this year, I thought I’d take this opportunity to present to you the Final Four of basketball movies:

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Western bracket: No. 1 see “White Men Can’t Jump,” with trash-talking Wesley Snipes and conman Woody Harrelson, easily blows underdog “Space Jam,” starring Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny, off court out in Hollywood, bringing edgy, profane comedy to the big dance.

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Midwestern bracket: Perennial favorite “Hoosiers,” featuring Gene Hackman as the tough coach taking a tiny Indiana high school to the promised land, is given an unexpectedly tough time by “Drive, He Said,” Jack Nicholson’s 1972 directorial debut about an Ohio college kid forced to choose between basketball and activism.

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Southern bracket: Spike Lee’s underappreciated “He Got Game” – starring Denzel as an ex-con trying to cultivate his basketball phenom son – easily crushes “Blue Chips” (Shaquille O’Neal eats Nick Nolte for lunch) after “Fast Break,” my all-time favorite basketball comedy starring Gabe Kaplan (that’s right – Mr. Kotter!), is disqualified: it’s not available on DVD or VHS, and Cinemax stopped showing it when Ronald Reagan left the White House.

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Eastern bracket: Devastating real life trumps over-the-top comedy as “Hoop Dreams” wipes the floor with “The Fish that Saved Pittsburg,” the wild 1979 ensemble picture that featured the amazing Dr. J and the even-more-amazing Flip Wilson.

Semi-final games: Tough, athletic “White Men Can’t Jump” upsets sentimental favorite “Hoosiers” in a nailbiter. “He Got Game” hangs in admirably with the heartbreaking drama of “Hoop Dreams” but can’t really compete down the stretch.

Championship: A clash of completely different styles, “Hoop Dreams” and “White Men” offer fans two distinct visions of why we love the game so much. Writer-director Ron Shelton imbues “White Men” with all the razor wit and authenticity he brought to “Bull Durham,” but ultimately the remarkable span and sweep of “Hoop Dreams” reigns supreme.

So your Shining Moment goes to … “Hoop Dreams.”

The art of the documentary is a tricky, largely misunderstood one, and it’s rare that a real-life drama rises above the ranks of PBS or A&E to capture a large mainstream audience. But when one does, it’s usually because some gifted, persevering filmmaker has shown us that life, when seen through a carefully angled looking glass, can be infinitely more interesting than fiction.

Steve James’ “Hoop Dreams” is just such a film. Focusing on the lives of two aspiring high school basketball players and their families, the movie is a riveting portrayal of a dream deferred – a dream of playing in the NBA.

In spite of what might seem to be a lightweight subject – high school basketball – very few films are as emotionally taxing or intellectually compelling as “Hoop Dreams.” This is not just a sports movie, although it contains moments of high drama on the court; it’s an unflinching glimpse into the heart of the American dream, and the heartbreaks of urban American reality.

In what began as a modest short film about “street basketball,” James and co-producers Frederick Marx and Peter Gilbert follow two boys from the Chicago ghetto, from eighth grade through high school graduation, in their relentless pursuit of NBA glory. What ensues between those two goal posts is nothing less than remarkable, the rich and often tragic story of two young men with talent to burn, and very little else.

Arthur Agee is a scrawny but amazingly graceful little boy when we first meet him, tearing up the competition on a playground court. He comes from a disheveled inner-city home, in which his hardworking mother struggles to provide for her children, and his father struggles with drug addiction. Arthur has the wild genius, the unpolished talent of an athletic diamond in the rough, the kind that rules on blacktop courts all over the country.

William Gates, on the other hand, is already refined and primed by the age of 13. He’s a B-ball virtuoso, the kind that comes along once in a blue moon and is coveted by coaches everywhere. He’s got a mother who instills hope and pride in him, and a rough-and-ready older brother who shows him the ropes – both of whom have placed all their eggs in William’s NBA basket.

Guards who rely on speed and ability, rather than height, Arthur and William are both recruited to a mostly white, suburban parochial school, St. Joseph’s, and given the opportunity to play for a legendary high school coach, Gene Pingatore. Pingatore coached NBA legend Isiah Thomas to a state title many years back, and that’s the carrot that leads both boys out of the ghetto on a long train ride to St. Joe’s every morning.

William, whose body is already strong and well-developed, becomes a freshman sensation almost immediately after joining the St. Joseph’s varsity squad. Arthur has a little more trouble – “Coach keeps asking me when I’m gonna grow … how should I know when I’m gonna grow?” – both on the court and in the classroom. He’s relegated to the junior varsity team, anguishes over his homework assignments, and lives in constant danger of not being able to meet his tuition payments.

Actually both boys’ families are unable to afford St. Joe’s, but Coach Pingatore finds a rich sponsor to cover William’s tuition. Arthur, whose exploits on the court haven’t come to sufficient fruition, isn’t so lucky. By the time his sophomore year is over, William is a full-fledged star, and Arthur suffers the humiliating fate of being sent back to the inner-city to attend a public school.

But life isn’t always predictable, and “Hoop Dreams” packs several wallops, the kind that only come about through patience on the filmmaker’s part, to allow events to unfold in their own time, and in their own way. There’s a Big Game all right – several in fact – but the outcome is determined by reality, not the demands of a script.

In “Hoop Dreams,” James places enough distance between himself and his subjects to allow the full picture to come into view, so that by the end we’re looking at two human beings rather than basketball players. We still want the best for them, but we’re no longer sure the Road to the Final Four is the primrose path.

In fact, it seems like a completely disastrous one, in which scores of adults – coaches, fans, college recruiters, sports writers, even parents – exploit the hopes and dreams of a few poverty-stricken young boys who possess genuine love for a streetyard game, and who are gifted enough to play it well. And they don’t play it quite well enough, these boys – who were too burdened down by the dreams of everyone around them to enjoy adolescence – are thrown by the wayside.

Generation after generation of urban Black youths see lives around them dead-end, and to many of them the only two roads out of the ghetto seem to be selling drugs and playing ball. And as Coach Pingatore demonstrates, if you can’t play ball, there’s no room for you in the suburbs.

(Pingatore and St. Joseph’s, by the way, sued the filmmakers over their portrayal in “Hoop Dreams.” Their outrage, I believe, must be the result of looking into a mirror and being shown something they didn’t want to see. Prep schools are cut-throat institutions, and St. Joe’s is but one example.)

Anyone who’s been on a blacktop court knows there are thousands of young prodigies out there – kids who can do amazing things with a basketball – but the road to the NBA is fraught with pressures and pitfalls. Thousands are out there, but only 464 men can play in the NBA.

Is this a dream or a nightmare?

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

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AFTER THE WAR – A World Premier at A.C.T.

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

San Francisco, 1948. Location, a three-story boarding house in The City’s Fillmore District. A gathering of mis-matched citizenry woo and screw each other as City Commissioners red-tag the dwelling for demolition.

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Mr. Goto (Sab Shimono) chastises Chet – AFTER THE WAR (Hiro Kanagawa)

Written by Philip Kan Gotanda, After the War centers around Chester Monkawa (Hiro Kanagawa). Son of the original owners and native to The City, Chet has returned from an internment camp. He brings shame to the Japanese community. He is ostracized and scorned for his political stance against the war. He is labeled as a “No-No Boy”. No – he will not sign the Loyalty Oath. Loyalty to what? To his Federal Government that has uprooted his family, seized their assets – including the family home – and then forced them into a prison camp? No – he will not be drafted into the Armed Forces and die to defend such a government of such a people. His brother, however, did. He was killed in action and, thus, is labeled “A Hero”.

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Hiro Kanagawa, Steven Anthony Jones, Harriet D. Foy, Sala Iwamatsu – AFTER THE WAR

The brother’s widow, Lillian (Sala Iwamatsu), has come to live and work there. Years before, she heard Chester play trumpet in a jazz band and was charmed by his unusual talents. She remains captivated, though Chester stopped blowing a long time ago. One of her responsibilities at the boarding house is to collect the rent.

Lillian soon learns that Chester has developed particular licks for the wannabe Hollywood Blonde upstairs, Mary-Louise (Carrie Paff), who works as a (“Ten Cents A Dance”) taxi dancer when she’s not working it a little harder with Earl, (Steven Anthony Jones), the (“shiny”) Black handyman and fellow-tenant – who throws in a few pork chops for her brother Benji (Ted Welch) – and whose own blooming teen-age daughter and sister-in-law Leona (Harriet D. Foy) share quarters nearby.

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HIRO KANAGAWA (Chet) CARRIE PAFF (Mary-Louise), and DELIA MacDOUGALL (Olga) and FRANCIS JUE (Mr. Oji) – AFTER THE WAR

More dirty little secrets! In another room, Olga (Delia MacDougall), a plump Russian Jew, has a few odd tricks of her own – including Mr. Goto (Sab Shimono). Seems Olga is simultaneously burning calories learning how to swing dance from the floozy blonde upstairs while chippying-off a Family debt with the smarmy Goto who also holds the financial reins on the boarding house. Meanwhile, another tenant, the self-described “anally-retentive and boring” unemployed accountant Mr. Oji (Francis Jue) not only speaks everyone’s native tongue, but is himself a snobbish food whore. Oji offers a gift of mochi* Lillian and then encourages unfastening the ribbons so he can indulge in his most favorite of the succulents, the “green ones”. At the House Party to inaugurate the new TV, Oji makes it known that he prefers the mochi from Sacramento. Here on this Fillmore Lot – the prejudices, the stereotypes, the borders of race and religion, recipes and politics are all too familiar under this one roof with its many ceilings … on this side of the streetcar line on Fillmore. And on any one of MUNI’s current boarding platforms and corner stops.

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HIRO KANAGAWA (Chet) and SALA IWAMATSU (Lillian) – After the War

This premier production of After the War has much to commend it, including the costumes of designer Lydia Tanji and the engaging lighting of James F. Ingalls and Nancy Schertler. The set by Donald Eastman will look familiar to most San Francisco residents. It attempts to capture the exterior look and interior feel of many of The City’s taller and hastily constructed post-earthquake/single-family dwellings – many since destroyed, some carved and bolstered into present day multiple units. The mammoth structure is set upon a revolving platform and turns with each separate episode – of which there are too many. Hence, the incidental filler music of composer Anthony Brown – these many measures for 90-degree turns, more for 270-degrees, etc. Unfortunately, the tunes do not quite drown out the familiar earthquake-like knell of the structure’s disturbing creaks and groans.

Playwright Philip Kan Gotanda has opened the gates to stories of San Francisco that need to be told. He is very fortunate to have this particular cast presenting this one.

After the War plays at the American Conservatory through April 22nd.

To purchase tickets on-line: After the War

Read Seán’s recent commentaries:

THE TOWER ABOVE LOUTRO – by Robert Starkey

COLOR ME KUBRICK – starring John Malkovich

ALTAR BOYZ – In San Francisco

PASCAL MOLAT, A Stroll Through Eden/Eden

* Ask Seán for his recipe: Coconut Mochi Cake

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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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San Francisco universal health access to receive $24 million state funding

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today announced that 10 counties will receive more than a half billion dollars in new federal funds to test innovative ways of providing health services to the uninsured.

“Counties have delivered forward-thinking proposals to provide primary and preventive care to uninsured Californians, which will help ease the burden on our overcrowded emergency rooms. By promoting health and wellness, covering the uninsured and increasing affordability, California can create a model that the rest of the nation can follow,” said Governor Schwarzenegger.

Approximately 180,000 low-income, uninsured individuals will be served through enrollment in health coverage programs in these selected counties. The programs and allocations are subject to federal approval. The selected counties and annual allocations are:

San Francisco City and County

(Health Access Program)
$24,370,000

Alameda County Health Care Services Agency

(Alameda County Excellence)
$8,204,250

Contra Costa County/Contra Costa Health Services

(Contra Costa Health Care Coverage)
$15,250,000

County of Orange

(Medical Service for Indigents Coverage Initiative)
$16,871,578

County of San Diego, Health and Human Services Agency

(Safety Net Access Program)
$13,040,000

Kern Medical Center

(Kern County Camino de Salud Network)
$10,000,000

Los Angeles County Department of Health Services

(Healthy Way LA)
$54,000,000

San Mateo Medical Center

(WELL-Plus Initiative)
$7,564,172

Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital System

(Valley Care)
$20,700,000

Ventura County Health Care Agency

(Access Coverage Enrollment Program)
$10,000,000

The allocation of $540 million comes as a result of legislation, SB 1448, signed last year by the Governor. Seventeen proposals representing the majority of the state’s counties were submitted and included three-year plans for serving low-income uninsured adults. Ten proposals were chosen by a panel of state officials and health care experts.

“This initiative will help ten of California’s counties implement health care programs that include preventive and primary care services to uninsured persons who have chronic health care conditions or high health care costs,” California Department of Health Services Director Sandra Shewry said.

The health care coverage initiative programs are designed to:

* Expand the number of Californians who have health care coverage.

* Strengthen and build upon the local health care safety net system, including hospitals that serve a large number of uninsured and Medi-Cal populations, and county and community clinics.

* Improve access to high-quality health care and health outcomes for uninsured individuals.

* Create efficiencies in the delivery of health care services that can lead to savings in health care costs.

* Maximize the use of federal funds.

* Ensure long-term sustainability of the programs beyond the term of the federal allocation.

See Related: HEALTH CARE

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Newsom, Fong ask state funding for violence reduction

From the Mayor’s Office of Communications

Sacramento, CA – In a meeting today with other California Mayors and Law Enforcement officials, Mayor Gavin Newsom and Police Chief Heather Fong called on Governor Schwarzenegger to assist with funding ($5 million) for San Francisco’s current comprehensive and strategic approach to Prevention, Intervention and Suppression to stop gang violence.

“With state support, San Francisco can take our recent achievements to a new level and stop gang and turf violence on our streets,” Mayor Newsom said. “We need funding to expand our existing comprehensive citywide approach that has the capacity to go beyond current strategies and develop approaches that are sustainable over the long term.”

Mayor Newsom and Chief Fong requested $5 million dollars in state funding for a comprehensive initiative to engage in targeted prevention, intervention and suppression strategies in San Francisco’s five key gang violence “hot spots.” This will allow for the full development of our burgeoning multiagency collaboration and the development of desperately needed services and nterventions tocompliment law enforcement.

In addition, San Francisco proposes to use the $5 million dollars to:

• develop a multi-agency collaboration;

• strengthen street outreach and neighborhood youth programs;

• expand victim advocacy and case management services for street involved youth and adults; and

• strengthen the City’s gun and gang law enforcement efforts.

In the last three years, San Francisco’s law enforcement efforts have significantly impacted important aspects of gang violence. From 2004 to 2006, Black on Black-related gang homicides dropped 61 percent. As well, since 2004, the District Attorney’s Gun and Gang Unit has secured 223 felony convictions related to gang activity. In this time period, the SFPD Gang Task Force Unit, with support from Operation Triggerlock, Project Gunstop, and the City Attorney’s civil gang injunction, has been able to more effectively target known and active gang members in specific geographic locations.

Additional dedicated staff in the DA’s Office has also enhanced their prosecution efforts. The City’s new Community Response Network, a community-based street outreach, crisis response, and case management program for at-risk youth, is also helping to de-escalate street conflicts and steer youth away from gangs and violence.

Other Mayors and Police Chiefs invited to meet with Governor Schwarzenegger today included: the city of Oakland, the city of Los Angeles, the city of Fresno, the city of Santa Ana and the city of San Diego.

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Silicon Valley middle class struggling

By Jason Bennert

Middle-class families in Silicon Valley are not enjoying the benefits of the upsurge in the region’s economy, according to a new study released today by an organized labor group.

The Life in the Valley Economy 2007 study by San Jose-based Working Partnerships USA found that middle-class families in Santa Clara County face challenges such as stagnant wages, which have grown less than 3 percent since the dotcom bust, while the costs of staples such as gas, child care, health care and housing have grown at more than 10 times that rate.

“Their income is not going up to meet the cost of living,” study co-author and Working Partnerships Policy Director Bob Brownstein said.

The study also found that job levels have not returned to pre-bust levels, with employment in the area below 1997 levels and more than 150,000 fewer jobs in the region in February 2007 than in February 2001.

“What we’re seeing now is that the problems with the Silicon Valley model are not just cyclical and short-term — there are some fundamental flaws,” Brownstein said. ”

More and more, the regional economy is simply producing too few quality jobs for the middle class to be able to survive and prosper in Silicon Valley.”

The report praises a number of actions taken during the last decade by local government leaders, including the building of 14,500 new units of affordable housing since 1999, mostly in San Jose, and the 2001 Children’s Health Initiative, which has provided health coverage for 124,000 county children.

Local governments are the key to maintaining a healthy middle class in the region, according to the study’s authors.

“Something else has to be added to the equation and what we think
that something else is, is a revitalized public sector,” Brownstein said.

The full report is available online at wpusa.org/live.

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March Update on legislative, regulatory, and political issues affecting commercial real estate

THE ADVOCATE
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By Ken Cleaveland

BOMA Salutes Mayor Gavin Newsom March 29th @ Transamerica Pyramid
Don’t miss it! The BOMA SF Political Action Committee, in conjunction with BOMA Member Scott Seligman (Seligman Western Enterprises) and Steve Adams (Sterling Bank & Trust) are hosting a fundraising salute to the Mayor and you are invited! The event is being held Thursday evening, March 29th, on the 40th floor of the Transamerica Pyramid, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Reservations requested. Call or email Ken Cleaveland for a copy of the invitation. (415) 362-2662×11 or Email: kenc@boma.com

See the Giants & Support BOMA’s PAC on April 4th!
The BOMA SF Political Action Committee is sponsoring its annual outdoor BBQ behind the China Basin Landing building Berry Street (across the street from AT & T Park) on Wednesday, April 4th, beginning at 4 p.m. Special thanks are extended to the BOMA Associates Committee for making all the arrangements, and to RREEF and McCarthy Cook & Company for providing such an excellent venue for a party! Members and guests may purchase tickets to the BBQ and the ballgame, but only 250 game tickets are available! Go to www.bomasf.org to download a reservation form.

San Francisco Treasurer Issues New Rules for Parking Tax Affecting Commercial Office Buildings
The City’s Treasurer issued new regulations on March 20th expanding the scope of the parking tax regulations in San Francisco. The new interpretation extends tax liability to commercial property owners who have provided parking spaces as part of a lease with no separate financial transaction. This new extension of the parking tax will not be retroactive, according to his deputy, David Augustine, but owners are advised they do have an obligation to pay the parking tax on such spaces moving forward. For a full text of the announcement, http://www.sfgov.org/site/treasurer_page.asp?id=57647.

San Francisco’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement Issues New FAQs on Sick Leave Ordinance
The city’s voter-approved mandate to provide paid sick leave to all employees, full time, part-time, and temporary, went into effect February 5, 2007, but will not be fully implemented (meaning useable) until June 4th. However, employers must accrue sick leave now on the basis of one hour for every 30 hours worked. To assist employers the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement has issued an updated Frequently Asked Questions bulletin which BOMA members may find useful and may wish to bring to the attention of their tenants. There are other items BOMA members may wish to share with tenants including a copy of the ordinance, a copy of the signage required, and a copy of OLSE’s Fact Sheet on the paid sick leave ordinance. All are available at http://www.sfgov.org/site/olse_index.asp?id=49389. For more information, email your questions to PSL@sfgov.org or call 415-554-6271. Donna Levitt is the Manager of the OLSE.

BOMA National Issues Conference in Washington, DC Brings Commercial Real Estate Issues to Capitol Hill
Delegates from across the country went to Washington, DC March 12-13 to visit with our Federal representatives and to carry a message that the commercial real estate industry needs attention on a number of issues. Ken Cleaveland, BOMA San Francisco’s Director of Government and Public Affairs, along with Michael Oddo, Metro Maintenance, visited the offices of Speaker Pelosi, Representatives Woolsey, Lantos, Lee, Tauscher, and Senators Boxer and Feinstein. Top issues that were discussed included:
• Extension of the 15% leasehold improvements depreciation schedule
• Extension of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA)
• Extension and enhancement of the energy tax credits law for Commercial Buildings
• Creation of Federal Risk Insurance Coverage for catastrophic natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, etc.
• Reform of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) Codes
For more information on the BOMA International legislative agenda and position on a variety of issues, please go to www.boma.org.

San Francisco Fire Department Issues Notice on Firewatch Requirements
At a recent meeting of the BOMA Codes and Regulations Committee, San Francisco Fire Marshal Barbara Schultheis defined what a firewatch was, and when it was required. She said:
“A firewatch is a person or persons who have the sole duty of watching for the possibility of fires. As you may imagine, a firewatch is not something that we want to rely on under most circumstances, due to human nature. However, occasionally, we are put in the unfortunate position to require one. For example, if a fire alarm in a building is out of service and repair will take some time, we may require a firewatch. This would be someone who walks the building and looks out for fires and is able to call the fire dept and notify the occupants to get out of the building. The details of who and how, etc. would be determined on a case by case basis.”

“I want to clarify that when a building is undergoing alteration and the building is sprinklered, the following section of the CFC applies:
8705.2 Fire-protection systems. When the building is protected by fire-protection systems, such systems shall be maintained at all times during alteration. When alteration requires modification of a portion of a fire-protection system, the remainder of the system shall be kept in service. When it is necessary to shut down the entire system, a fire watch shall be kept on site until the system is returned to service.”

If you have further questions about this, please contact the Fire Marshal at (415) 558-3320.

Mayor Newsom Appoints Green Building Task Force – City to Look at New Mandates
The Mayor recently appointed a task force to study ways in which the city could promote the incorporation of “green” building standards, such as LEED and Energy Star, into requirements of City Planning and the Department of Building Inspection. The first meeting was held March 15th, and the Mayor is hoping to get solid recommendations on possible new incentives, as well as voluntary and mandatory requirements the City could adopt. BOMA is represented by Ken Cleaveland, and Ken Seibel of Tishman Speyer; the design community is represented by Margie O’Driscoll, the AIA/SF Executive Director, and Kirsten Ritchie of Gensler, while construction is represented by Phil Williams of Webcor. Several other consultants and a number of representatives from the City’s Building Department, Planning Department, and the Department of the Environment are also participating. BOMA will push for incentives and voluntary guidelines for adopting and installing “green” technology, but the association is against mandates, especially if applied to existing buildings.

BOMA International to Address Creation of a “Green Lease”BOMA International has established a task force to review the environmental issues surrounding carbon emissions created by office buildings, and what our industry must do to reduce them. Part of the task force’s mission is to create a draft “green lease” for review by the BOMA International Energy and Environment Committee when it meets in New York City in July. BOMA and its members have done much to promote sustainable practices in our industry, including significant reductions in energy consumption, water consumption, indoor air pollution, and garbage, but more can be done if tenants are actively engaged in complying with building rules on conservation. If anyone wishes to submit items or ideas for inclusion in a “green lease”, you are encouraged to do so, and submit them to Karen Penafiel, SVP for Government Affairs at BOMA International. Her email: kpenafiel@boma.org. Check out BOMA International’s new G.R.E.E.N. website too at www.boma.org/green.

36 Buildings To Compete At BOMA San Francisco Earth Awards Luncheon April 26th.
Don’t miss this exciting BOMA Earth Awards luncheon April 26th, being held at the Hotel Nikko beginning at 11:30 a.m. Guest speaker George Denise, facilities manager of Cushman & Wakefield’s award-winning platinum LEED certified Adobe Systems headquarters in San Jose will present the message that “going green can green your bottom line”. $21,000 will be distributed as cash prizes to the best large, medium and small commercial properties at this luncheon. A special BOMA Earth Awards/San Francisco Business Times supplement will also be distributed at the luncheon and mailed to all subscribers that same week. To register for this amazing event, go to www.bomasf.org. For a complete list of all entries, contact Ken Cleaveland.

City 311 Service to Start
City 3-1-1 information hotline will be launched March 29th. 3-1-1 is a reserved three number dialing service established by the Federal Communications Commission in 1998 for local non-emergency government services. The San Francisco 311 Customer Service Center is accessible by dialing 3-1-1 from landline and wireless telephones in the San Francisco 415 area code. The call is toll free for those customers. Many office buildings offer their local dial tone through building switches – usually PBXs purchased from Avaya, Cisco, Lucent, Nortel, Genisys or a myriad of other companies. Therefore, the city is requesting building managers contact their telecommunications support companies to ensure that 3-1-1, as well as the other N-1-1 services, can be passed through their switches. BOMA members with switchboards are advised to contact Heidi Sieck at heidi.sieck@sfgov.org or by phone at 415.701.3150. The San Francisco 311 Customer Service Center is a full service, non-emergency government services call center using advanced technologies and highly trained customer service representatives to provide better access to local government services.

San Francisco Water and Sewer Rates to Increase July 1st
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is considering raising water rates 15% and wastewater rates 9% effective July 1, 2007. The new rates will have a lower base rate but a higher cost allocation based on actual consumption. A new $1,300 per dwelling unit connection fee for water will also go into effect. 90% of the increase is ascribed to capital improvements of system. Members are encouraged to attend the Rate Fairness Board Meeting 4/11/07 @ 5:30pm in City Hall Room 263 and Commission Meeting 5/8/07 @ 1:30pm in City Hall Room 400. For more information contact the SFPUC at 415-554-3155.

Business Groups Request CPUC to consider Direct Access
BOMA has been part of several meetings with California Public Utilities Commissioners to promote the idea of re-opening electricity markets to direct access for all customers. Recent meetings were held with Commissioners Dian Grueneich, John Bohn, Commission President Michael Peevey, and Andrew Campbell, the chief advisor to Commissioner Rachelle Chong. While the reception was positive, no specific date or agreement to consider DA was given. Direct access ended in California September 20, 2001, unless customers had pre-existing contracts which they have maintained since then. BOMA San Francisco had a power pool to purchase electricity for several years during de-regulation, and saved members millions of dollars on the commodity price of electricity by being able to negotiate with energy service providers on the open market.

San Francisco Building Inspection Commission Seeks Volunteers for Building Department Advisory Boards and Committees
BOMA members are encouraged to apply for a variety of volunteer seats on advisory committees under the supervision of the SF Building Inspection Commission. These openings include seats on The Access Appeals Commission, The Board of Examiners, the Code Advisory Committee and the Unreinforced Masonry Board. Forward your resume to Ann Aherne, Secretary to the BIC, at ann.aherne@sfgov.org. For more information on the Unreinforced Masonry Board, call Gary Ho (415-558-6083), for more information on the Code Advisory Committee, contact Alan Takagawa at 415-558-6688. For more information on the Board of Examiners, contact Hanson Tom at 415-558-6157 and for the Access Appeals Commission contact Neil Friedman, Senior Building Inspector, at 415-558-6168.

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Announces Sustainability PlanThe SFPUC is engaged in developing an organizational Sustainability Plan. In August 2006, the SFPUC posted on its website the first of four key deliverables, its Sustainability Indicators and Best Practices Report. SFPUC staff and consultants had reviewed over 400 comments on the draft report, revised the indicators and used them to develop this second deliverable, the Draft Sustainability Baseline Assessment, which is now available online for your review. It will be posted for public comment through Monday, April 16. BOMA members can review this report at sfwater.org: [SFWATER.ORG : Sustainability Plan].

Upcoming Events of Potential Interest to BOMA Members
 Don’t miss the special Disaster Experience – A Shelter in Place Exercise workshop sponsored by BOMA on Friday, April 20, 2007. This morning half-day program is an interactive workshop for building operations and management teams and major tenants. It will outline and walk participants through an mock explosion from a “dirty bomb” and how buildings close by must react in such a circumstance. Register at www.bomasf.org
 March 30 – BOMA San Francisco Monthly Luncheon @ Palace Hotel – 11:30 a.m. Register at www.bomasf.org.

“The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.” Mark Twain

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

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San Francisco campaign website user driven

By Caroline Boussenot

I recently had the chance to speak with Brian Purchia of Act Locally SF, a website sponsored by Mayor Gavin Newsom which gives San Francisco residents a platform to share their ideas about policy and local issues. The website is brand new, it launched last week and is already filled with insightful articles and blogs about current issues including homelessness, sustainability, and public transportation.

CB: Can you tell me more about Act Locally SF and how it came about?

BP: The idea behind it is that politicians don’t necessarily have the best ideas for forming policy. We feel that average San Franciscans have great ideas and we want to get them involved in forming the policy that will shape the future. The site gives San Franciscans the opportunity to voice their opinion on a variety of issues and also come up with solutions for issues like homelessness, potholes, you name it. We’re trying to find the best ideas out there and let people decide which ideas they think we should move forward on.

CB: How are you getting people to the site?

BP: Right now we’re just starting off, we launched on Thursday, so it’s very new, we’re still tinkering with stuff, it’s like the Google beta stage, we’re adding things and taking them away. We sent out an email to San Franciscans asking them to get involved with the site, that was one way. We’ll start doing some advertising, we started on Google. Our best advertising really is the mayor, getting him to talk about it. When he’s in front of the camera or in a meeting with local residents we try to have him tell people that we want them on the site to help shape policies. But the way that we’re really going to get this to grow is by word of mouth.

CB: So you guys just launched on Thursday, congratulations!

BP: Thank you.

CB: All the content you have on the site right now, is it written by editors or…?

BP: No, all the topics and blogs are user-generated content. The idea that we don’t have the best ideas is what we believe in, so we’re reaching out to other people to write the policies, to write the articles, to write the blogs. We have two sections, where we write, (the people from the campaign), in Talking Points, Taking Action, but the vast majority of content is written by other people, who aren’t affiliated with the campaign.

CB: It’s really interesting how similar our two sites are.

BP: Yes, it’s the same concept; I’ve come to the realization that it’s the way of the future. We’re just getting started.

CB: It is about creating a community online.

BP: It is, and it’s not the easiest thing to do, as you probably know too, but you have to get started somewhere. You hope that you’re doing a good job; you hope that it grows, you hope that people like it. We think that people care about politics and care about their city so…

CB: Now, is Act Locally SF eventually going to be an “Act Locally” in every city of the US or is it specific to San Francisco?

BP: Well you know, we’re starting it here. We think it’s a great idea, and people we talk to think it’s a great idea as well. We would like it to go that route, but what we care about first and foremost is San Francisco. So we’re trying it here and hope it catches on.

CB: When you say “we” who do you mean?

BP: It’s a campaign website, it’s funded by Mayor Gavin Newsom’s campaign. He’s a strong proponent of the idea, he’s always looking for new ideas, it’s a great way to get these new ideas in front of him. We hope that this will exist after the campaign, that it does become a model as a way to form policy.

CB: Interesting… so what’s your role specifically with Act Locally SF?

BP: Well I’m the editor of the site, so I help get content for the site, which means I serve as a policy advisor as well, trying to get people to write on different topics, and find people who have an interesting viewpoint and get them involved on the site. Same thing with bloggers, I try to get bloggers involved as well, but also what the site looks like, how it operates, how it functions, and all that kind of nitty-gritty stuff too. I also shoot the video at different events.

CB: Brian, what’s your background and when did you become involved in politics?

BP: I’ve always loved politics, it’s always been the conversation piece around my house, my grandfather and my mom talked about it, and I was always interested. When I was in college I majored in International Relations, with a Political Science minor, I graduated in 2002. It’s always something I’ve cared deeply about. I knew I wanted to work and live in DC for a while, and right after college I got a job in DC working as a broadcast journalist for Voice of America. [Here’s a story Brian did on the only African American Rugby team in the US.] I was involved in policy and media, Voice of America is a government-run agency, I’ve been in political media since I’ve started working. So I worked in DC for a little over three years, doing a nightly TV show as a reporter, interviewing senators, congressmen, going to hearings.

I came out to California about a year and a half ago, my fiancée wanted to go to law school so she brought me to California with her. I didn’t know what I was going to do out here, so I got into local TV in Sacramento for awhile, for Fox 40, I didn’t like that at all.

I got into mobile media about this time last year. A year ago, I started a job developing a mobile television network. A lot of money was being thrown at people watching TV on their cell phones, like Mobi TV. So I got a job with this company called WeatherNews, which is a Japanese company that wanted to put American content on cell phones. I was in charge of a production team and they sent me to Japan, to make American content. I was in Japan from April until July.

CB: Making American content, you mean American TV shows or…?

BP: Yes, little TV clips, or shorts.

CB: Did you have professional American actors while you were shooting in Japan?

BP: We had a studio with a green screen, that’s how their studio was set up. I went over there with an editor, a designer, and an anchor. And we would do a daily feed on weather-related topics, it was a little random but it was a fun experience. They wanted me to stay, and I decided over the summer I wanted to get into politics. I’d always known that I wanted to be on the political side of things, so I got a job running a campaign called, “Flunk Arnold,” which was an online video-driven, user-generated content site. We got college students from the CSU (California State University) system to create short 30-second commercials making fun of Arnold for not having a good education track record.

CB: Interesting,

BP: It’s in the news a lot right now with CSUs and CFA (California Faculty Association) it looks like there’s going to be a strike. Anyway, I got that off the ground and from there I moved on to the Newsom campaign.

CB: So I imagine that this is one of many efforts in the campaign?

BP: It is definitely one of many, but it is a major thing, we’re trying something new that we’re trying to accomplish, a lot of energy is being put into it.

CB: Do you work directly with the rest of the campaigning efforts?

BP: I do.

CB: It must be quite a fascinating experience.

BP: It is, it’s a lot of weekend work and what have you, but it’s great, I’ve never worked on a campaign per-say before and I really wanted to.

CB: Tell me more about your experience in Japan.

BP: It was awesome! I don’t know if you follow baseball at all?

CB: Uh, not really.

BP: I’m a big baseball fan,

CB: They love baseball in Japan!

BP: Yes, they love baseball there. I was in a city called Makuhari, this is where the championship team from the Japanese baseball league plays. The former NY Mets manager is the current coach of this Japanese team, so that was pretty cool, I got to go to a lot of games. Going to a Japanese baseball game is like the happiest place on earth, it’s incredible. Everyone cheers for every single player, they all know the players, and they stand the whole time. There are beer girls that run around the stadium with kegs of beer on their back, they have fire work shows at the seventh inning…everyone lives by the book during the day, and it’s just incredible to see them going wild. There’s no negative cheering or anything like that, it’s just not allowed and not done, and after the game they have a concert outside the stadium and the players come out and they’re singing and there’s craziness and that of course leads to karaoke, it’s awesome. John Denver, they love John Denver. You wouldn’t think that but…

CB: Actually I would, I’m not surprised. I spent seven months in Vietnam last year, and the music the people loved and gravitated towards surprised me at first, but I ended up loving them as much as they did.

BP: The number of times I sang, “Country Road,”

CB: At the top of your lungs?

BP: Yeah, at 4 or 5 in the morning…

CB: Feeling the happiest you’ve ever felt…

BP: Then the next day everyone comes to work and sleeps, Japanese think that you’re a good worker because you’re always working and you’re sleeping because you work so hard.

CB: People just sleep at their desk…

BP: Oh yeah, people just pass out all over the place.

CB: That’s hilarious! They do the same thing in Vietnam, but they have official naptime. I called it “national naptime,” but it was true! You would go somewhere and people would be sleeping in all kinds of positions on any kind of surface.

BP: They stay there until ten o’clock or so, so they have to nap. What were you doing in Vietnam?

CB: I was teaching English and traveling.

BP: Ah. There were a lot of people teaching English in Japan as well. My buddy works for Reebok and he goes to Vietnam all the time.

CB: There’s a pretty significant ex-pat community both in Hanoi and in Ho Chi Minh City.

BP: So how was that? It must have been pretty cool.

CB: It was. I have to say it was probably one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences, on many levels. So, while you were working with WeatherNews, creating American content, were you working directly with a Japanese crew as well?

BP: Yes, it was pretty ridiculous. We had a three-man crew over there, so it was me as the producer person, the host, another person who helped create the graphics and do some other things, but getting them to operate the cameras directly, it was a challenge! I learned a couple words, but it was tough, I’ll be honest, it was tough.

CB: I can completely relate to that! And on a different note, Brian, if you had one chance to do something where you knew you could only succeed, what would that thing be?

BP: One thing I could do in my life? Good question. I always go back to the idea of making sure that my family’s happy. It’s easy to think really big, but making sure that your family’s ok and that your kids are raised correctly, and that you are okay is first and foremost in my book.

CB: What you’re saying is really interesting, I’ve been doing research on my own about finances—about being more financially wise, knowing what to do with my money, where to invest and how to best prepare for the future—and one thing that really comes up in a lot of books, or from speakers, is you have to take care of yourself first. And that idea is really similar to what you’re saying about acting locally, or taking care of your family. It really comes down to the core, and before you can accomplish big dreams, it has to start with yourself and preparing your own path so that you are able to help others. That idea is prevalent in so many aspects of our lives.

BP: This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while, there will always be major problems in the world, but if you can tackle your own and your family’s that is the first step to solving the bigger issues the world faces.

CB: What are you most proud of in your life?

BP: The Red Sox winning the world-series.

CB: (laughing) Something that you’ve done!

BP: Oh, personally? I was involved in that.

CB: Oh were you? Were you out on the field?

BP: I was cheering. Supporting them emotionally.

CB: Right right, sending the good vibes.

BP: I can’t say that?

CB: Of course you can, you can say whatever you want. Tell me one person you admire and why.

BP: I’d say my grandfather. He is a first-generation Italian-American, he worked in the FBI for over twenty-five years, in one of the most undercover projects to date called Operation Solo. It had a double spy-in with Stalin throughout the Cold War, which helped us get us to where we are. It’s not really talked about that much, but it was a pretty cool covert operation that the FBI did.

I’ve always looked up to him as someone who kept the family together. He was a Yankees fan, and I was ok with that. We’d always see each other, and he passed away a year ago. It was a little sad, but he was someone I always looked up to, spent summers with, spent a lot of time talking about baseball with, he was someone that was there.

CB: Encouraging people to voice their opinions about what’s going on politically, and to be pro-active in regards to changing policy, also pertains to educating kids and involving them in politics at an earlier age. What kind of efforts do you think are happening on that level, or what do you think needs to happen?

BP: It’s really tough, I go to these events we have with the Mayor and we call everyone who lives in the district, and it’s always the same age group that comes, around 55 or 60. It’s difficult; I’m trying to figure that out. One thing that was successful was the “Flunk Arnold” campaign, which was fun and involved the YouTube generation in politics through making videos and online media. We’ve only been up for a little bit but we’re reaching out to the colleges and to the editors of the different papers of the city, trying to involve them that way, but that’s something we’re trying to figure out on the campaign. We’re thinking of talking to democratic clubs at various schools, but as I said, we just started getting going. Do you have any ideas?

CB: I think, from my personal opinion, I think it needs to start even younger than that. By the time kids get to college and they start having an interest, a lot of years have past where kids could have been more intimately involved, whether that’s through mock-elections in schools or extending campaigns such as “Flunk Arnold” to high school students, and seeing what kind of content is received.

BP: I’ve been doing research about all the high schools in the area and brainstorming on how to get them involved.

CB: You know who would be good to contact? There’s a nonprofit called SF YouthWorks, under JCYC (Japanese Community Youth Council). They place high school students in paid internships throughout the city departments of San Francisco. The students attend a pre-employment training before they start their internship; this is a first time job experience for most of these students. They work for two hours after school for minimum wage, and get paired up with a mentor in the city department they work in. Another one to look into is MYEEP, (Mayor’s Youth Employment and Education Program), which provides low-income high-school aged students jobs and community-involvement opportunities. Both YouthWorks and MYEEP have representatives that go to job fairs at high schools throughout the city. You could go and talk to the kids when they’re getting trained for their employment or you may get a handful of kids who are excited to do something for extra credit.

Act Locally SF will be contributing articles on a weekly basis. My favorite so far is from Christopher Gardner, author of the autobiography, The Pursuit of Happyness, called Homeless but not Hopeless in San Francisco.

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San Francisco annual homeless count shows steady decline

Mayor Gavin Newsom released today the results of the city’s 2007 homeless count that was conducted January 31. The count occurs once every two years as required by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in order for the city to receive homeless assistance grants.

This year’s count identified 2,771 homeless people living on the streets of San Francisco, with an additional 3,606 people living in locations like transitional housing, stabilization rooms, resource centers, hospitals, jails and emergency shelters, according to the report. The majority of the total of 6,377 homeless people were found to be single white men and single black men.

The last homeless count in 2004 recorded 2,655 homeless people on the streets and 6,248 homeless total. Those numbers were down from 2002 numbers in which 4,535 homeless people were found on the streets and 8,640 homeless people were found in total.

A survey that accompanied this year’s count found that almost one-third of people surveyed had first become homeless outside of San Francisco and then moved to the city. In addition, 36 percent of survey respondents are considered chronic, long-term homeless individuals, while 25 percent have been homeless for less than one year.

San Francisco General Hospital reported 48 homeless patients, according to the mayor’s office.

“I am pleased that we were able to conduct a complete city count that provides the most comprehensive data to date on our homeless population. This homeless count is not only an essential component by which we measure the effectiveness of our homeless services and programs. It also reflects the city’s continued commitment toward our goal to end chronic homelessness in San Francisco,” Newsom said.

“As the Chair of the Ten Year Plan Council, I am pleased with the progress that the City has made over the past few years. If we continue to expand our efforts as the Ten Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness dictates, we will get closer to ending the disgrace of chronic homelessness,” stated Angela Alioto.

The Mayor praised Angela’s commitment to ending chronic homelessness.

“Her energy and passion for this issue is incomparable and she has provided the leadership necessary to challenge the status quo,” stated the Mayor.

This year’s count covered the entire geographic area of the City for the first time ever and utilized twice the number of volunteer counters compared to prior efforts. A direct comparison of analogous routes used in the 2005 and 2007 counts reveals a 7 percent decline in the number of homeless on the street.

Although the total number of homeless identified in this year’s count represents a 2 percent increase over the number identified in 2005, this increase is largely attributed to the fact that this count covers the entire geographic area of the City.

In total, at least 374 individuals included in this year’s count would not have been included using the methodology employed in 2005.

In 2007, for the first time ever, the entire City was covered, including freeway on-ramps, underpasses, and all 189 City parks. By comparison, in 2005 just known areas of concentrated homeless populations were covered and final numbers were adjusted to estimate the count in uncovered areas.

Additionally, this year’s count was conducted by 500 volunteers – twice as many as in 2005 – and included trained homeless outreach professionals.

During his tenure, Mayor Newsom has launched a number of ambitious initiatives to address homelessness.

Since 2004, 2,907 homeless individuals have been placed in permanent supportive housing through several ambitious City initiatives. During this time span, another 1,864 homeless persons left San Francisco to be reunited with friends or family members in other parts of the country through the City’s Homeward Bound Program.

In total, since 2004 through the end of January 2007, 5,224 individuals have exited homelessness through various initiatives.

NEXT STEPS TO ADDRESS HOMELESSNESS

The City will continue moving forward with initiatives that have proven effective in reducing homelessness as the Mayor’s proposed budget will include funding for the following:

• Expansion of the number of homeless street outreach workers to provide city-wide coverage to transition the homeless from the street into housing

• Increasing the number of permanent supportive housing units through the City’s Housing First and Direct Access to Housing Programs

• Opening a One-Stop Employment Center for recently housed homeless

• Establishing a Community Justice Center, in partnership with the District Attorney and Superior Court, to engage quality of life violators in services and housing

• Implementing programs supported by this year’s record $19 million federal McKinney Homeless
Assistance Grant

The 2007 Homeless Count Report can be accessed on the San Francisco Human Services Agency website at www.sfhsa.org/.

From Bay City News and the Mayor’s Office of Communications

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A San Francisco Mayor In Ridicule

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CHARLES KHALISH – Khalish, Green Party longtimer and early Matt Gonzalez for Mayor insider, in bandido work flow.
Photos by John Han

BELIEVE IT OR WHAT
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By Pat Murphy

Too much ice cream aches the sweetest tooth, one winces in the toddler terrible-twos.

And honies, the toddlin’est town around finally got her toothache…

But aah, it’s good to walk away…

Walk away from lifesblood of bandido officialdom, turned rank in ridicule of a mayor they fixate…

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Cluck… CLUNK…

Again, they turned out to humiliate the mayor, think tankers for San Francisco Board of Supervisors bandidos Jake McGoldrick, Ross Mirkarimi, Aaron Peskin, Tom Ammiano, and C. Edward Daly…

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They shouted him down, and shouted him down again, and mad laughed the man to boot…

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When shout ran low, The Gav picked up right where perseverance had been stiffed..

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And kept to his promise of fully two-hour explanation for precedent setting universal health care access, a possibility Gavin Newsom revived after legislation author Tom Ammiano backhanded small business collaboration…

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Ammiano withheld his presence from the event, although asked by Newsom to attend.. In Ammiano’s strategized absence (his lifebloodsters might disapprove), Newsom credited Ammiano… with … leadership…

Meanwhile, the woman Daly once bright-eyed predicted would replace Ammiano – Renee Saucedo – prepared solar plexus slam bang… Wallop turned train wreck, a lefty commentator noted…

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Fully two hours they got, ending on scheduled time, with 60 questions answered…

Two chickens needing street maps, one Saucedo afrothing, one Greenie aflogging, and an anemic movement hanging in a pared tree…

End the banditry… Just end it.

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The Tower Above Loutro A story of awakening by resident author Robert Starkey; illustrated by seraph Rob Villacari

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

Bob Starkey is well-known throughout many circles of San Francisco. Within these bright and expanding colorful rings are political activists, philanthropists, world travelers, spiritual guides and enlightened healers, creative writers, graphic artists, musicians, and those greening the paths leading to healthier climates – in the mind, for body and soul, and (starting with nicotine-free air) on the street where you live.

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LIVANIANA. Illustration by Rob Villacari

In his introductory notes Bob writes, “My intention was to tell a story of something that actually happened to me, but to tell it in a way without injecting my personal judgment. In doing that I am allowed to understand the different ways in which others interpret the story in the context of their own lives. This allows me to see the incident in even bigger, clearer terms. I can understand now, how the interpretation of life can be a very subjective experience most of the time. I can see that many of the differing interpretations of what I experienced could have created a different personal path. If I had seen it in a way that some have interpreted it I would most likely be a Catholic or Orthodox priest by now. But my personal experience was more secular in nature.”

In San Francisco – there’s always something in the wind. The magic of The City’s springtime and the brace of its days commemorating ancient religious passages are celebrated in Nature’s weather patterns borne throughout the year. It can be misting on Mardi Gras, freezing for the equinox, overcast when the paschal moon is full, blustery during Passover, or pouring-down come Easter dawn. For some, Spring Break means getting outta town and retreating to a wealth of self-indulgence, while others practicing Lenten traditions skim back the self-pampering and isolate into their heads. Whether at the beach, on holy grounds, or in the deserts of the mind – the seeker will always find someone waiting.

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The Tower Above Loutro. Illustration by Rob Villacari

“The silhouetted ruins of the castle on the hill were like a constant beacon, pulling us ever closer. Soon we made our first pilgrimage. The grounds were cloaked in an utter and age-old silence. All around us were silvery olive groves clinging to the rugged mountain terrain. Not a single person, neither sight nor sound of modern civilization, marred this unchanged landscape. It was a typically hot September day, so Rob and I decided to lie down and rest in the shadow of an olive tree. As my back came into contact with the earth I was plunged into a timeless place where the separation between dreams and reality united under the incandescent Cretan sun. I was awakened by the gentle sound of goat bells from the distant hillside. The sun was now repositioned behind the western mountains. A gentle breeze encouraged us to rise and continue on our journey with a newfound sense of strength and perception as we, like so many other wayfarers before us, traced the ancient mountain path back to Loutro.”
The Tower Above Loutro, Robert Starkey

During this season, fifteen years ago, Bob Starkey and his partner Rob Villacari journeyed to the Mediterranean, to the southern shores of the Isle of Crete, to a town called Loutro – a quick glance suggesting an inlet somewhere in the San Francisco Bay Area – and then hiked up into its hills, to the crumbled ruins of a Venetian fortress.

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THE HILLS OF LOUTRO

“Loutro is a very different place before the Easter holidays,” Bob observes. It’s the only time villagers actually outnumber tourists during the season. It’s a special breed of traveler who comes to the south coast of Crete at this time of the year. One must be willing to trek along the mountain path for two hours from Sfakia when the sea is too rough for boats or ferries. When it rains there is no chance to get warm unless you hang out in Stavro’s taverna, the only restaurant open and the only public stove in the village. The lack of choices makes one remember what it means to be humble. A good book and a hot cup of coffee or tea become intimate companions.”

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The road to Loutro. Illustration by Rob Villacari

Into this rarified atmosphere come two strong Gay men – yogis, each with a face resembling some icon of a Joshua or a Jesus seen somewhere – toting backpacks, notepads, pens, and colored pencils. The same shores and peaks of this ancient lookout have supported the gods and their priests, their servants and warriors. The winds sweeping in have already passed through the corridors and around the columns of nearby monasteries, temples, sacrificial altars, palaces and tombs. For the next few days, these vacationing luminaries will contribute to and be visited by the echoes and shadows of prevailing wisdom, the energies of carnal desire, the courage and resolve of self-acceptance. There is nothing else to do except breathe, stay in your skin – and get acquainted with Whoever else is there.

“One difficult thing for me over the years has been to protect myself from the influence of those who judge the legitimacy of spiritual experiences. I have never cared for attempts to psychoanalyze such events. The fact is, these kinds of things happen to people all the time! I feel attempts to prove they are real versus imagined are very unfair. What I am grateful for is the fact that my own life experiences led me to accept such things without feeling the need to destroy them. The bottom line for myself in my secular way of interpretation is that this experience was something that brought both joy and peace into my life. It was a natural, perhaps divine, experience that makes me understand how our minds do have a capacity to reveal the great mysteries of life. The personal choice we each have is to accept it or reject it! In my own personal point of view I believe that it has everything to do with spirituality and absolutely nothing to do with religion. That, I admit, is my own personal prejudice.”

On-line: The Tower Above Loutro, By Robert Starkey
To learn more about the adventure and the man: Robert Starkey

Read Seán’s recent articles on:
COLOR ME KUBRICK – starring John Malkovich
ALTAR BOYZ – In San Francisco
PASCAL MOLAT, A Stroll Through Eden/Eden

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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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Health officials address possibe San Francisco kindergarten meningitis death

San Francisco health officials are expected to address parent concerns about a Megan Furth Academy kindergarten student who died Monday of what doctors believe was a meningococcal meningitis infection.

Megan Furth Academy, 2445 Pine Street, San Francisco, 11:00 a.m.

Contact Eileen Shields for the Department of Health at 415-554-2507 or Principal Nicole McAuliffe at 415-346-9500.

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Study said to document efficacy of medical marijuana

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Marcus Conant, MD

Results of a study said to document the medical benefits of marijuana will be the focus of a Conant Foundation sponsored Community Forum to be presented Tuesday.

Dr. Donald Abrams, from the University of California at San Francisco, will present details of the “comprehensive study proving conclusively that marijuana is effective in use for medicinal purposes.”

“Where Do We Go From Here?” is the theme of a panel discussion following Abrams’ presentation.

The 6:30 p.m. event will be held at the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center, 1800 Market Street at Octavia Street.

Participating are Senator John Vasconcellos , Dean Emeritus of the California Legislature and Founder of The Vasconcellos Project; Allen Hopper, Esq, Senior Attorney, ACLU Drug Law Reform Project and Bruce Mirken, Director of Communication, Marijuana Policy Project.

The event will be moderated by Dr. Marcus A. Conant, a leader in the fight against HIV infection and AIDS for over 25 years. Conant prevailed in a case against the United States Government when the United States Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s decision that doctors have the right to discuss any treatment, including marijuana, with their patients.

Several recent decisions in court cases, pending legislation in Illinois and New Mexico could all be affected by results from this study. In California , a judge ruled earlier this month in favor of a club which sells marijuana. Also in California , a judge ruled against an 80 year old woman who uses the drug for its medical benefits.

This Community Forum is free. Sponsored by The Conant Foundation, it is also hosted by the San Francisco Medical Society, the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project and the Marijuana Policy Project.

CONTACT Allen White at 415-255-0806

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Color Me Kubrick: a True…ish Story

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

Color Me Kubrick: A True…ish Story is a truly delicious and colorful odyssey. John Malkovich stars as the real-life “Alan Conway” – a man who gained fleeting satisfaction by periodically venturing out and featuring himself as the not so-easily-recognized and socially reclusive film director, the great Stanley Kubrick.

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COLOR ME KUBRICK

The screenplay by Andrew Frewin (assistant to Mr. Kubrick for the films Eyes Wide Shut, Full Metal Jacket, The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, and 2001: A Space Odyssey) is perfection. With clockwork timing and an acidic sense of humor, Andrew Frewin has fashioned an irresistible cruise, a mythical rendezvous – a “true…ish” voyage – that carousels through, around, and upside-down the virtual realities of an eccentric individual who mirrors achievement, teems with panache, and swindles the unwary. Enter British comedian Jim Davidson as “Lee Pratt” – the quintessential Pop Idol pretender – the wealthy lounge lizard. Conway promises Pratt the grandest of Las Vegas showrooms. All Pratt has to do is pony-up the funds. Done! Pratt (a fantastic blending of William Shatner, Merv Griffin and Liberace) has his own retinue of luxury-accustomed sycophants. Unfortunately, following a casino’s worth of fine binging and boozing, one of them suggests to “Stanley” that he demonstrate his sense of good taste by picking up the tab. Conway pratfalls.

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JIM DAVIDSON and JOHN MALKOVICH – dreaming Las Vegas. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

Hand-in-glove with Conway’s basic need to be something larger than his actual parts, is the weightiness of going out in style – everyday – for free … up to and including his final breath. Mission accomplished. [The Management requests that you not reveal the ending.] But to achieve that, Conway must be enabled by the bedazzled wannabe, the mid-level achiever who perceives him as the real Stanley Kubrick. Once ensnared – voila! – the pants are off, the wallets and vodka bottles emptied, and private jets fueled. After all, “It’s Stanley f-ing Kubrick!” Fame, at last, is staring them in the face. (Or was it Stanley Kramer?) Hornswoggled, wooed and spewed – each of the participants (and everyone in the audience) is lifted into the winds of Do Not Pass Go and pushed to the Final Degree of Separation between fulfillment and failure. One pair of onlookers, however, knows a fifth-rate vaudevillian when they see one. Leave it to New York Times theatre critic Frank Rich and his wife Alix (fleshed-out by William Hootkins and Marisa Berenson) and their deftness with a borrower’s card to the New York Public Library.

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WILLIAM HOOTKINS and MARISA BERENSON – portray Frank and Alix Rich

The partnering of Mr. Malkovich’s prodigious theatrical instincts with the wide and watchful eyes of director John W. Cook (assistant to Kubrick in Eyes Wide Shut and Barry Lyndon), drive Anthony Frewin’s imaginative tale straight to the winner’s circle. John Malkovich turns in a shining performance, perhaps the most ingratiating role of his multi-faceted career. As “Alan Conway” Malkovich is erotic, appetizing, repulsive, worldly-wise, moronic, romantic, pedantic, pathetic, cruel, cogent, conceited, copious and captivating. Frewin’s script is eerily Kubrick…ish. The energies and personae of the famed director’s leading men are imbued in his fashioning of “Alan Conway”. Dashing through a precarious maze of fleeting realities and sporting an endless supply of fantasy wardrobe (costumes by Victoria Russell), Malkovich reflects the perversity of Malcolm McDowell (“Alex de Large”, A Clockwork Orange), the concentration of Jack Nicholson (“Jack”, The Shining), the parlor foppery of Ryan O’Neal (Barry Lyndon), the probing wariness of “Hal 9000″ (2001), and the lilting steps of Peter Sellers (Dr. Strangelove).

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JOHN MALKOVICH – as the imposter Alan Conway. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

Likewise, the Kubrick touch on the soundtrack – the memorable snippets from the Overtures to “The Barber of Seville” and “William Tell” (A Clockwork Orange), the humor and nostalgia of Johann Strauss’ “Blue Danube Waltz” (2001), and the elegant voice of Ray Bowley with Ray Noble and His New Mayfair Dance Orchestra in the haunting melody, “Midnight, The Stars and You” (The Shining). Rounding out the psychological underpinnings are songs by Bryan Adams. Especially memorable, “I’m Not The Man You Think I Am” (available on his CD, ANTHOLOGY – Bryan Adams).

John Malkovich is an actor’s actor – but for many a viewer, an acquired taste. Color Me Kubrick represents the role of a lifetime. As written, the role of “Alan Conway” offers the last nth of a degree between what an actor knows he can do and being lauded in the theatre for doing it. Some argue that such an opportunity came about for Laurence Olivier as “Archie Rice” in The Entertainer. John Malkovich and “Alan Conway” have arrived together, tastefully, and on time. The partnership and co-operation between Frewin the writer, Malkovich the actor, and Cook the director has produced a stunning homage to Stanley Kubrick and a befitting affirmation to the director’s vision and sense of style. Twinkling in the indirect glow of this projected light, the eyes of Alan Conway.

D’ya see, Alan? Right there – on the screen, in the same paragraph? You made it.

Color Me Kubrick: A True…ish Story – playing now at:
LUMIERE
1572 California Street
San Francisco
Show times: 2:00 pm, 4:45 pm, 7:00 pm, 9:15 pm
Phone: 415-267-4893
Running time: 1 hr. 27 min.
MPAA Rating: (NR)

See Seán’s recent articles:
ALTAR BOYZ – A Venial Sin at The Orpheum Theatre
PASCAL MOLAT, A Stroll Through Eden/Eden

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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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California Prop 13 cap on municipal fees needed

BEVIEVE IT OR WHAT
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By Pat Murphy

Feelers are going out to the San Francisco small business community… To see how many would join local restaurants in a one day shutdown to protest the skyrocketing cost of doing business in America’s favorite City…

This journal would join such a protest by publishing nothing new for one day…

More effective, this corner suggests, would be pooling one day’s profits to launch a California ballot initiative capping municipal fees…

A one day strike might arouse public sympathy, which would be heard by government leaders… But it wouldn’t matter…

Governments have become, particularly in San Francisco, mechanisms for diverting funds from people who earn money to people who don’t have money…

The entire power structure, locally and statewide, would line up against a cap on fees…

Half the power structure stay in office by diverting money and the other half grin on the way to the bank…

But everyday folk, the people united, are deadly sick of being nickled and dimed by the hundreds of dollars…

Decapitate it… Cut it off at the head…

End it.

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San Francisco Western Addition Champions All

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Photos by John Han and Bill Wilson

By Pat Murphy

The San Francisco Western Addition rose to greatness today as a community united strutted its proudest dribbling stuff, in a March Gladness Basketball Tournament where everyone was a champion.

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Community youth and neighborhood leaders headlined team make-up with much older gentlemen — Western Addition elected representative Ross Mirkarimi and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom — huffing their best shots.

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Ross Mirkarimi

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Gavin Newsom

The event was hosted by Newsom and sponsored by private sector firms in Ella Hill Hutch Community Center.

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A series of fifteen minute matches comprised the tournament.

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Every age group imbided life’s pleasures as champs emerged, barbeque was relished, raffle winners cheered, and the older set recalled their youth.

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Bikes among raffle takehomes

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Hotel Council fetes employees at Fourth Annual Hotel Hero Dinner

The Hotel Council of San Francisco will honor employes March 27, with weekend hotel stays, dining certificates, Giants tickets, airline tickets, and an original Hotel Hero Award Culpture by local artist Douglas Brett.

Winners are selected by a five member panel made up of representatives in the hospitality industry. Winners will receive an original Hotel Hero Award Sculpture by local artist, Douglas Brett, and other prizes such as airline tickets, Giants tickets, dining certificates and weekend hotel stays.

The event will be held from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. in the Palace Hotel.

The Hotel Council of San Francisco is a non-profit organization representing all segments of the lodging industry. It includes as its members, major San Francisco hotel properties, large and small as well as allied members representing companies who work with the hotel industry.

For more information on the Hotel Heroes please visit hotelheroes.com.

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New compost annex returns nutrients to vineyards and farms

San Francisco’s nationally acclaimed urban compost program has opened an annex that can handle food scraps and yard trimmings from local homes and restaurants, a program spokesman said.

The Organics Annex, located on Tunnel Avenue in Visitacion Valley, will accommodate the growth of the Food Scrap Compost Program, said Robert Reed, spokesman for the program.

“The annex was created to provide infrastructure to continue to grow the program. There’s 2,100 restaurants and 75,000 homes providing us food scraps and yard waste, but there could be even more,” Reed said.

About 90 percent of the compost is given to local vineyards. The rest goes to small farms and landscape supply yards.

“It’s a way for people in the city to return nutrients to farms. There aren’t a lot of opportunities like that,” Reed said. “People who work in kitchens — prep cooks, busboys — are now environmentalists. That’s a role reversal, because historically farmers have served cities.”

San Francisco’s garbage companies began the Food Scrap Compost Program in 1996 as a test program. It was formally adopted by the city in 2001, Reed said.

It has since become a model for similar programs throughout the country.

“A lot of people recycle bottles, cans and paper. This is really the next step,” Reed said.

San Francisco Recycling and Disposal, Inc., owns and operate the annex. Sunset Scavenger and Golden Gate Disposal and Recycling run the collection trucks, and Jepson Prairie Organics near Vacaville and South Valley Organics in Gilroy make the finished compost.

Bay City News

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Top 10 Green Businesses to Start in 2007

Alternative energy. Trash to treasure. Green is the new black. Green is the new red. Organic foods go mainstream.

These are just some of the catch phrases buzzing around the planet. From flowers and cotton to food and fashion, eco-friendly is where it’s at these days.Yes folks the world is going green and now is the time to cash in and start your own eco-friendly green business.

Want to know which green businesses are best? Look no further. We’ve got the scoop on the top 10 green businesses to start in 2007. Go green and make some green. It’s only going to get greener, er, better from here!

Natural and Organic Foods
Natural and organic foods are hot commodities despite the naysayers who don’t believe it’s any better for you than conventional foods. Even Wal-mart’s selling organic foods these days. If they can, you sure can.

Organic Clothing and Accessories
Eco-fashions made from organic and dye and pesticide free fibers (think cotton), and sustainable fibers like soy silk and bamboo fiber are catching on. Even famous designers are cashing in.

Natural Beauty and Personal Care Products
Ever heard of mineral makeup? It’s a natural beauty product containing no dyes, perfumes, or any other artificial substances–and it has caught on like wildfire. With more studies cropping up every day about how soaps, body washes, shampoos, and makeup contain substances that are not good for us, the market for natural skincare and other products has risen dramatically in recent years.

Green “Home Depot”
Home improvement continues to be a big trend, but more people are demanding eco-friendly building products that are formaldehyde-free, made with renewable resources like bamboo or cork, and use recycled materials to make floor tiles and other eco-friendly products.

Organic Flower Grower
According to a group of California flower growers, 2007 is going to be the year that the public finally catches on to organic or “green” flowers. Organic flowers are grown using sustainable practices and without pesticide, look just as good, cost about the same, and smell even better than conventional ones.

Hydroponic Herb Grower
Hydroponic herbs are grown in water using fairly simple equipment, no soil required. You’ve probably seen hydroponic herbs at the supermarket, those really fresh and healthy looking basil, oregano, and parsley still in their pots. Think health conscience consumers who want fresh produce and you’ve got your target market.

Eco-friendly House Cleaning Service
Nowadays who doesn’t hire a housekeeper or use a cleaning service? Beat the competition with a housecleaning service that only uses non-toxic, people, pet, and eco-friendly cleaning products.

Household Recycling Units
Kitchen waste, garden waste, plastic bottles, cans, and cardboard all take up space in landfills—and we’re running out of room. Capitalize on the need to recycle by selling self-contained household recycling units that crush and compact plastic and metal, or composters that turn kitchen waste into compost for the garden without any odors.

Green Rental Car Agency
Green rental car agencies rent “green” cars like the hybrid Toyota Prius. The corporate environment is getting greener with every passing year. Who rents cars? Business people. What better way to show that a company cares about the environment than to make a “green” car rental a priority?

Residential Wind Power Generators
This may not be the “coolest” business idea on the list (no pun intended), but the potential for growth is enormous. Residential wind generators capture the power of the wind and turn it into electricity for home use. Consumers can save money while saving the planet. And, in some municipalities, electric companies will even buy back any extra electricity that’s generated by consumers.

LegalZoom

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Newsom and Mirkarimi hit Ella Hill Hutch basketball court

Mayor Gavin Newsom and Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi hit the basketball court Saturday in the Western Addition’s Ella Hill Hutch Community center, leading teams made up of neighborhood youth, city officials, and city workers.

Known as the Annual March Gladness Basketball Tournament, the 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. event also includes a family resources fair, a barbeque, and a ‘FamilyFest’ of jumpers and other healthy activities.

Ella Hill Hutch Community Center is located at 1050 McAllaster Street at Webster Street.

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San Francisco plans for restoring public housing as federal aid drops

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From the Mayor’s Office of Communications

A Task Force appointed by Mayor Gavin Newsom and Supervisor Sophie Maxwell issued its recommendations today regarding the revitalization of Public Housing in San Francisco.

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The group, comprised of a wide range of stakeholders, was appointed in the Fall of 2006 and was charged with development of principles to guide the revitalization process, the identification of funding needs, and the formation of a menu of financing options.

The San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA) owns and manages approximately 6,400 units of public housing.

For the last two decades, funding for public housing has been in steady decline. Over the last six years severe cuts have caused both intense physical distress to housing conditions and serious social and economic consequences for residents.

In 2002, the SFHA commissioned an independent assessment of the physical needs of its properties, which revealed a backlog of immediate needs totaling $195 million. It also was determined that an average of $26.6 million per year in additional physical deterioration will occur in SFHA communities if the current problems are not addressed. A fraction of that need is addressed with Federal funds.

“While we understand the need to hold the federal government accountable for support of public housing, San Francisco will not wait for Washington to act at the peril of our residents,” said Mayor Newsom.

“We have a financial and moral obligation to address the conditions in public housing and time to for action is now.”

“I’d like to commend the committee for their work. This helps ensure equity of living and much improved quality-of-life experiences,” said Supervisor Sophie Maxwell.

“The work this committee has done is truly helping all San Franciscans.”

The Task Force recommendations call for an aggressive initial investment of $100-200 million. In addition the Task Force recommends a commitment to replace all demolished public housing units on a one-for-one basis; phased development to facilitate on site relocation; strong resident involvement at all levels; and the creation of mixed income communities via the addition of affordable and market rate housing on site.

“We felt strongly that the principles had to address all of our concerns around displacement and relocation,” said Task Force member and Visitacion Valley resident Kevin Blackwell. “Of course we want the community to look better, but the main point is to improve conditions for the people who are living there now,” added Blackwell.

In the meeting the Mayor pledged to immediately start the resident outreach and education process and to work closely with the Board of Supervisors to find the funding necessary to get started by looking at the feasibility of passing a General Obligation Bond and exploring other financial options.

HOPE SF:REBUILDING PUBLIC HOUSING AND RESTORING OPPORTUNITY FOR ITS RESIDENTS
Summary of Task Force Recommendations to the Mayor and Board of Supervisors
March 23, 2007

INTRODUCTION
As a result of chronic underfunding by the federal government, the future of public housing in San Francisco and the nation is at risk. While we firmly believe that the federal government has a responsibility to increase the funding for public housing, San Francisco must take action quickly toensure no loss of public housing in our city.

In the fall of 2006, Mayor Newsom and Supervisor Maxwell selected a broad-based task force to provide recommendations for addressing the conditions in San Francisco’s most distressed public housing while also enhancing the lives of its current residents. This document outlines those recommendations and the Task Force’s suggestions for crucial next steps to address these issues.

The Case for Immediate Action
The San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA) owns and manages approximately 6,400 units of public housing. For the last two decades, funding for public housing has been in steady decline. Over the last six years severe cuts have caused both intense physical distress to housing conditionsand serious social and economic consequences for residents.

In 2002, the SFHA commissioned an independent assessment of the physical needs of its properties,which revealed a backlog of immediate needs totaling $195 million. It also was determined that an average of $26.6 million per year in additional physical deterioration will occur in SFHA communities if the current problems are not addressed. To put that number in perspective, the federal government only allocates $16 million per year to the SFHA to address these needs. As a consequence, if action is not taken to address these issues, the total cost over the next 30 years will total an estimated $800 million.

This distressed public housing puts families, seniors and children at risk. The housing quality issues alone are reason to act. Deferred maintenance coupled with high vacancy rates exacerbate the security issues for residents and neighbors. Older housing is more likely to contribute to environmental health issues like asthma.

From a quality of life perspective, the level of concentrated poverty that characterizes the current living conditions at many of these sites has been shown to hurt neighborhood vitality and limit educational and employment opportunities for children and families.

On a basic financial level, the City has an economic need to fix distressed public housing because the cost to maintain the current stock exceeds what is available. Simply paying for annual maintenance on SFHA properties will cost nearly $10 million more per year than the SFHA receives from HUD. Finally, diverting money to fix highly distressed buildings makes it harder to keep decent buildings in good shape.

On a human level, we have a moral obligation to improve the living conditions within public housing and to create a climate that provides greater economic opportunity and more supportive family environments. And the commitment must be to both current and future residents.

Over the last decade, San Francisco has taken steps to address this situation. In partnership with private and non-profit developers, the SFHA revitalized six public housing communities in North Beach, the Mission District, and Hayes Valley. Using federal funding made available through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s HOPE VI program, SFHA has leveraged hundreds of millions of dollars in related public and private investments. All of these developments feature a mix of incomes and architecture that fits into the surrounding neighborhood. Cuts to the HOPE VI program have severely limited local access to funds for public housing revitalization and created the necessity to find creative financial and programmatic solutions to the physical and social issues that currently exist.

Opportunity to Make Positive Change
In response to these conditions, the SFHA has done a strategic assessment of their long-term financial needs, revenues, and assets. As part of that analysis, the SFHA identified eight highly distressed public housing sites that are significantly less developed than their surrounding communities. These sites were developed in the 1940s and 1950s and the buildings are now falling apart.

The opportunity exists to rebuild these low-density public-housing sites as mixed-income communities at a scale similar to typical San Francisco neighborhoods and without displacing current residents. In practical terms, we can to rebuild all 2,500 of the existing distressed and antiquated public housing units and add as many as 3,500 new market-rate and affordable homes.

In order to assess the viability of this approach, the Mayor and Board of Supervisors created the HOPE SF Task Force. The next section highlights the Task Force’s recommended vision, principles, and funding scenarios.

TASK FORCE RECOMMENDATIONS: VISION, PRINCIPLES, AND FUNDING
The HOPE SF task force was charged with the development of recommendations on two fronts: The vision and principles that should drive the initiative and the menu of strategies for funding.

Below is a summary of the group’s recommendations.

HOPE SF Vision Statement:
Rebuild our most distressed public housing sites, while increasing affordable housing and ownership opportunities, and improving the quality of life for existing residents and the surrounding communities.

HOPE SF Principles:

1. Ensure No Loss of Public Housing:
􀂃 One for One Replacement Public Housing Units
􀂃 Make Every Unit Modern and of High Quality
􀂃 Commit to Minimize Displacement of Existing Residents
􀂃 Phase the Rebuilding of the Sites
􀂃 Emphasize On-Site Relocation

2. Create an Economically Integrated Community:
􀂃 Build a housing ladder that includes:
o Public Housing
o Affordable Housing
o Market Rate Housing
􀂃 Emphasis on the Priority Needs for Family Housing

3. Maximize the Creation of New Affordable Housing:
􀂃 In addition to one for one replacement of public housing, create as much affordable rental and ownership housing as possible on the sites
􀂃 Fund the rebuilding of the public housing using profits from the market-rate housing

4. Involve Residents in the Highest Levels of Participation in Entire Project:
􀂃 Resident Engagement in Planning and Implementation
􀂃 Develop Mechanisms for Residents to Engage in the Process
􀂃 Resident-Driven Occupancy Criteria

5. Provide Economic Opportunities Through the Rebuilding Process:
􀂃 Connect Appropriate Job Training and Service Strategies such as CityBuild and Communities of Opportunity to the Development Process
􀂃 Create Viable Employment Opportunities (Jobs) for Existing Residents through the
Development Process
􀂃 Take Advantage of Contracting Opportunities:
o Existing Residents
o Local Entrepreneurs
o Small and Disadvantage Businesses

6. Integrate Process with Neighborhood Improvement Plans:
􀂃 School Improvement and Reform
􀂃 Parks Improvements
􀂃 Improved Transportation
􀂃 Enhanced Public Safety
􀂃 Neighborhood Economic Development

7. Create Environmentally Sustainable and Accessible Communities:
􀂃 Incorporate Green Building Principles
􀂃 Include Design Elements that Meet Long-Term Accessibility Needs
8. Build a Strong Sense of Community:
􀂃 Solicit Input from Entire Community in Planning and Development Process
􀂃 Include Current and Prospective Residents
􀂃 Reach Out to and Engage Neighbors

HOPE SF Funding Needs
The SFHA, the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency have analyzed this rebuilding opportunity to determine the financial feasibility of the approach outlined by the Task Force. Below are the assumptions and resulting cost projects and financing gaps.

Key Financial Assumptions:

• All of the public housing would be rebuilt on-site;
• Rebuilding would occur in phases so that relocation could occur on-site;
• Market-rate housing would cross-subsidize the rebuilding of the public housing;
• The developments would be rebuilt to 40 units per acre or more depending on the density of the surrounding neighborhood; and
• The final mix of housing on the sites would be approximately 40% public housing, 40% marketrate and 20% affordable rental and ownership housing

To provide an example, using these assumptions, the estimated total development cost for Hunters View is $300 million. By using cross-subsidies, leveraging State and Federal funding sources, and borrowing against the project’s future rents and sales income, the project can finance approximately $250 million of its total cost. The remaining $50 million is the local funding gap.

Below is a list of the eight most distressed developments and an estimate of the financing gap for each development based on the mixed-income scenario described above.

SFHA Development

Current # of
SFHA units
Public Housing
Gap (millions)
Affordable Housing Gap
(millions)
Hunters View 267 $30 $20
Potrero Annex and Terrace 628 $60 $30
Sunnydale 767 $90 $60
Westbrook Apts. 306 $30 $20
Hunter’s Pt 133 $10 $20
Westside Courts 136 $25 $10
Alice Griffith 256 $25 $20
Total 2493 $270 $180

TASK FORCE RECOMMENDATIONS: KEY NEXT STEPS

1. Expand the outreach and education process with public housing residents and other stakeholders.

A. One of the core principles of the HOPE SF Task Force is the early and authentic involvement of residents in every step of the process. This involvement starts with a need to aggressively reach out to current public housing residents to inform them on the Task Force’s recommendations, the benefits of the HOPE SF program, and possible funding scenarios.

There are strong and legitimate concerns among current residents about displacement and gentrification that could be associated with this project. While the Task Force has taken great care in developing principles for HOPE SF to address these concerns, rumors and myths dominate much of the current discourse regarding the rebuilding of public housing because not enough information is being provided on a consistent and timely basis. The Task Force recommends the formation of outreach teams that are comprised of residents, city staff, and policy or issue experts to conduct outreach and hold meetings on HOPE SF.

B. Another important part of the public education and engagement process involves other community stakeholders. For both the development process and the community building goals to be successful, HOPE SF needs to engage beyond the boundaries of the public housing sites. As a first step, HOPE SF should create a set of materials that speak to a variety of target audiences – public housing residents,neighborhood residents, developers, businesses, and potential funders. These materials should be tailored for each audience so that we are explaining HOPE SF in terms most relevant to the groups involved.

2. Seek $100 to $200 million in new local funding for an aggressive first phase of HOPE SF.

A. The Task Force recommends that the City and the San Francisco Housing Authority rebuild all of the distressed sites along the principles outlined above. Since it may not be possible to secure all of this funding at once, the Task Force proposes that the City seek at least $100- $200 million in new local funding for the first phase of HOPE SF. The Task Force further recommends that this funding be allocated for the following purposes:

• 2/3 of the funding should go to rebuild public housing (900-2000 units)
• 1/3 should fund modernization of other public housing sites (300-500 units) and new affordable homeownership and rental housing on the HOPE SF sites (200-400 units)

B. The Task Force recommends that the City and the SFHA provide funding specifically for those SFHA sites with significant resident support and engagement. As such, the Task Force is not endorsing the redevelopment of any specific site as part of this funding. Once funding is identified for revitalization, there needs to be a thorough community process for individual SFHA sites as part of any funding decisions. Ultimately, HOPE SF should fund those sites with resident-endorsed development plans.

C. The Task Force recommends a thorough analysis of the feasibility of the various funding options for securing this funding, including the possibility of a General Obligation bond. In light of the high bar that is set for the passage of a General Obligation Bond (66.66% for approval), the Task Force recommends polling and other methods to determine its feasibility. The feasibility assessment should also include outreach to elected officials, community members, commissions and civic groups to explain the vision and to develop their support for funding. Finally, the Task Force recommends that the Mayor and Board of Supervisors work together to pursue any and all funding opportunities including bonds, appropriations, special grants or any other mechanism that would assist in the rebuilding process.

D. The Task Force also recommends that the City and San Francisco Housing Authority ultimately seek additional funds in the future to rebuild the remaining HOPE SF sites. While it may not be politically or financially possible to rebuild all sites immediately, the ultimate goal of the Task Force is that all of the distressed sites have the opportunity for revitalization funding.

3. Secure funding for services, outreach, job training and school improvement independently of individual project financing.

The Task Force has identified a number of key community concerns that need to be addressed either during or before the decision to rebuild any individual site. For example, outreach and engagement are clearly activities that need to come before a developer has been selected for redevelopment of a site. In the past, the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency has provided “Resident Capacity grants” to residents of properties at risk of losing their HUD subsidies. These grants provided residents with the ability to hire a development consultant and legal counsel to assist them in their decision making process. The Task Force strongly believes that the success of HOPE SF depends on an informed and organized base of residents.

Once the decision has been made to rebuild a site, job training and other services need to be in place so that residents are trained in advance of any construction work on a site. School improvement is also a long-term process that can’t be effectively pursued in reaction to a site development timeline. With this in mind, funding for these efforts should be pursued independently of projects in order for cases these activities to precede HOPE SF redevelopment. Ultimately HOPE SF will be judged by how the lives of public housing residents are affected by the overall community building process.

Public Housing Task Force members

Kevin Blackwell, San Francisco Safety Network
René Cazenave, Council of Community Housing Organizations (CCHO)
Gordon Chin, Chinatown Community Development Corporation (Norman Fong, alternate)
Gene Coleman, civic leader
Francee Covington, Commissioner, San Francisco Redevelopment Agency
Mark Dunlop, Commissioner, Human Rights Commission
Gen Fujioka, Asian Law Caucus
James Head, San Francisco Foundation
Aileen Hernandez, civic leader
Kenneth Johnson, resident, San Francisco Housing Authority
Sarah Karlinsky, San Francisco Planning and Urban Research
Angelo King, Chair, Bayview Project Area Committee (SFRA)
Brenda Kittrell, resident, San Francisco Housing Authority
Eddie Kittrell, resident, San Francisco Housing Authority
Millard Larkin, San Francisco Housing Authority Commission
Jim Lazarus, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce
NTanya Lee, Coleman Advocates for Youth and their Families
Cynthia Morse, resident, San Francisco Housing Authority
Brad Paul, Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Foundation
Reverend Calvin Jones, Providence Baptist Church
Mirian Saez, Treasure Island Development Authority
Lavelle Shaw, resident, San Francisco Housing Authority
Sara Shortt, Housing Rights Committee
Dorothy Smith, resident, San Francisco Housing Authority
Michael Theriault, San Francisco Building and Trades Council
Brook Turner, Coalition for Better Housing
Staff participants
Fred Blackwell, Mayor’s Office of Community Development
Gregg Fortner, San Francisco Housing Authority
Dwayne Jones, Mayor’s Office of Community Development
Matthew O. Franklin, Mayor’s Office of Housing
Douglas Shoemaker, Mayor’s Office of Housing
Barbara Smith, San Francisco Housing Authority
Amy Tharpe, Mayor’s Office of Housing

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Seniors rally each district to keep bicycles off sidewalks

A group of seniors and pedestrian safety advocates began a campaign on Thursday to keep bicyclists from pedaling on San Francisco sidewalks.

“What self-respecting bicyclist rides on the sidewalk,” asked a helmeted Mitch Katz, director of the Department of Public Health, as he escorted his mountain bike up to a microphone.

“There are spots in this city that are hard for bicyclists, places where you cannot ride on the road,” Katz said. “We have a solution for that. We walk our bicycles.”

The San Francisco Police Department also came out to pledge renewed enforcement of bikers who zip by unsuspecting pedestrians.

“As rare and unusual as it is, bicyclists can cause severe injury,” said Sgt. John Nestor of the department’s traffic company.

Nestor said that the department would work to educate bikers, put up more signage, and enforce those who break the law.

Members of the Senior Action Network pleaded with bicyclists to respect their walkways. Some said they had a hard time seeing bicyclists as the pass by and an even harder time hearing them.

Jeanne Lynch said she was injured one day as she was coming out of her Richmond District home.

“When you ask them, why don’t you use the bike lane?” she said.

“They say, ‘Oh it’s dangerous out there.’ Well guess what, the sidewalk is dangerous for me.”

Bert Hill, chairman of the Bicycle Advisory Committee, said there are many resources available for bicyclists who want to improve their cycling etiquette.

The coalition plans on holding a rally in every district in the city.

The next one is planned for April 12 at the intersection of Ninth Avenue and Irving Street.

Bay City News

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Watching The Watchers

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Photos by Bill Wilson

BELIEVE IT OR WHAT
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By Pat Murphy

Watchful media souls of local big time variety were right there to balance out coverage of The Gav and The Private Sector yesterday…

PG&E — you’ve heard about PG&E — partnered with our own Giants to roll back global warming a notch…

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Bonnie Elsinger of the San Francisco Examiner

Both San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle coverage prominently noted the effort reduces energy carbon emissions equivalent to few San Francisco households, and that energy ratepayers will be billed for the cost…

Done, one gets it, to provide balanced (contrary) perspective to coverage…

Mercy, such eyebrow arch seems knee-jerk coverge to this corner… And a pointless downer on such a beautiful San Francisco day when everyone else blossomed sense of community bond…

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This effort was made as everybody on the planet tries to figure out how to contribute to forestalling the next Ice Age…

And energy ratepayers, each and every a community member presumably preferring nice weather, may not even notice their energy bill hike in the 100th of one-cent…

Just as media takedown of the event came to an end, the Chronicle’s Phil Matier of Matier and Ross appeared on the scene… Matier maneuvering Newsom away from other reporters as best he could…

Tut Tut and Pish Posh… When Phil Matier or Dan Noyes shadow the horizon, this writer knows to stay close…

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After some nice chit chat about the Giants, Matier got to his question… Doesn’t Newsom’s plan for City workers to get a free Muni pass — instead of free City parking — beg the question that Newsom should ride Muni and dump his City limo?…

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The Gav didn’t drop a beat… He already rides the entire Muni system… And the limo is an emergency communications center, in an emergency prone town, permitting mayors to direct emergency response as mandated…

Still, yesterday’s media panorama startled the horses…

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Seel Related GIANTS TEAM WITH COMMUNITY TO COMBAT GLOBAL WARMING

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PASCAL MOLAT – A Stroll through Eden/Eden

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

Pascal Molat was fresh from rehearsal when he met me in a conference room at the San Francisco Ballet headquarters. Monsieur Molat is a beaming whirlwind of energy. Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson hired him in 2002 as a Soloist for SF Ballet, and then quickly promoted him to Principal Dancer the following year. This Tuesday, May 13th, Pascal joins with Muriel Maffre, Katita Waldo, Gonzalo Garcia, Jaime Garcia Castilla, Rory Hohenstein, Moises Martin, Hayley Farr, and Dana Genshaft in the American Premiere of Wayne McGregor’s EDEN/EDEN. For the Opening Night Gala Pascal Molat was featured in Jacques Garnier’s dance trio, Aunis, then in PROGRAM 1 was teamed with Lorena Feijóo in William Forsythe’s Artifact Suite.

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AUNIS – Pierre-François Vilanoba, Nicolas Blanc, Pascal Molat, photo by Erik Tomasson

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Pascal Molat and Lorena Feijóo – ARTIFACT SUITE, photo by Erik Tomasson

In PROGRAM 2, I saw him teamed with Tina LeBlanc in Blue Rose and later that same evening as the evil “Kashchei” in the World Premiere of Yuri Possokhov’s Firebird.

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BLUE ROSE – Pascal Molat and Tina LeBlanc, photo by Erik Tomasson

Given the multiple-casting of each of the works at San Francisco Ballet, it soon becomes apparent why the Company ranks in the top tier of the world’s ballet companies. It attracts and displays the Best of the Best.

PM: There are fifteen nationalities in the San Francisco Ballet. I was at the Paris (Opera Ballet). You do the school for six years; you see always the same heads, for all their lives – it’s always the same atmosphere. To be a part of San Francisco Ballet, with really different dancers and origins, allows you to become richer.

SM: How did you wind up here?

PM: It was my goal to dance here. Before coming here I was with the Ballet Monte Carlo as Principal Dancer. I think in four years I really did what I wanted to do. The challenges I wanted – I got them. But then I wanted new challenges, to put myself in danger. I was getting comfortable after four years. I did the Romeo and Juliets, all the European repertory. At one point, I could not feel myself in danger – not challenging enough for me.

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PASCAL MOLAT, Portrait of a Dancer

I knew the San Francisco Ballet had the best repertory in the world. I said, “I’m going to go audition. If it’s OK, I will stay – for sure! – because of the repertoire.” And then, with principal dancers from here – because I was dancing with them when they came to Europe on tour, such as Lorena Feijóo and Joan Boada – I was very happy. Helgi Tomasson offered me a contract. If I had to make a comparison between Europe and the United States – a big company like San Francisco Ballet is producing six or seven new works a season and dancing maybe thirteen, fourteen ballets in one Season. You go to Europe – you are going to dance maximum five or six different ballets for an entire season. So, that’s why. Here – your attention! You are always awake! Everyday you are doing a different ballet – Fancy Free, then Eden/Eden, then Spring Rounds – three completely different works. That is interesting – a great relation for a dancer. You don’t go, “Oh! I’m doing Romeo and Juliet! For fifteen performances … during two months!” No. Here, it’s oof–oof–oof – the dancer is alert all the time. Of course, it’s more tiring than something else. But, you know, at least it is passionate and you are always hungry for what it is going on.

SM: How did you find out about the audition? Was it arranged for you? Is there an annual audition?

PM: I called to say I would love to come for an audition / from this date to this / are you here? / Yes / Can I come? / OK. So, I came and stayed for a week.

SM: What did you do for your audition?

PM: Just the class. I was here every morning. Helgi came to see me, just dancing in the class – he came three days in a row. I think he got a pretty good idea.

SM: Were you asked to do a dance, a scene from something specific? Or do they just look at your résumé and see you have performed this role (with a certain choreographer); therefore, you can do a similar piece with someone else?

PM: First you take the class, and then you work with the choreographer, the director. Now, most of the time, the Director is also a choreographer. He asks you come to the studio – where he will work with you for an hour, two hours – and learn a small variation of repertoire so he can see if the dancer can do the style of choreography done within the Company. The thing is, San Francisco Ballet is a classical company. So, for sure, they have to see that you are very-very good in Classique – that you have a very strong technique. So, from there, they can say, “If he can do this, he can do that.” When I went to Monte Carlo, Jean-Christophe [choreographer, Jean-Christophe Maillot] spotted me, took me to the studio and we worked for two hours through his whole style. Even at that time it was way more modern and he had his own vocabulary. He wanted to test me a bit, to see if I was able to understand – what I had to know, what he wants to create. But, for a classical company – most important – is to have a strong technique.

SM: So, tell me about Eden/Eden and your role in it. What do you want The San Francisco Sentinel readers to know?

PM: It is not a story by itself like Firebird where you have a character. Here it is a group of people who come in, one after another other. I have been thinking about what I would tell you, something interesting. This ballet for me is very innovative. For example, the vocabulary of the dancing. The steps we are doing we cannot name. [Pascal demonstrates a quick coiling motion of his arms, shoulders, and head.] For an undulation like that, you cannot really say, “Oh, you’re going to do….” No. There is no word for that. So, it is innovative because we have no word to say what we are doing. There is disarticulation, with a lot of emphatical, powerful [motioning] up, in contraction, and release, and taut. There is a lot of phrasing in what we are doing with some steps that, again, I cannot “say” – you just have to work them. I cannot explain them by words – that is for sure!

The conception of the ballet is very interesting. We just got the lights today for the First Act. It is a really philosophical ballet. When you see it, I think you are going to ask yourself a lot of questions. I don’t know if you will have the answer. Maybe you will have the answer! It’s a ballet where so many things are happening at the same time that, maybe, you will have to come two or three times to see everything that is there.

So, the main subject is Eden – we all know the way it is – La Paradis Perdu, in French (Paradise Lost). It is like a bridge between Eden and The Machine – all very material and square – and Creation, the human creation. It’s hard to explain.

SM: Replication, progeny.

PM: Exactly. Duplication.

SM: Re-Creation.

PM: Yes. What the computer does to us. Where are we going? This is the phrase in the ballet. The music is very intense; there is not much melody. It’s very rhythmic. On top of that you have somebody speaking – like a computer, almost. There is another voice, a woman’s voice, and there is some questioning and answering. We have the answer, we have the question – at the same time. When you see all the dancers blending together, to create shapes, it can show the genome – you know?

SM: The DNA strand? The double spiral.

PM: Exactly. There is some figure that made me think about that – in my participation – the DNA. There is that structure and the lighting is fabulous. In the motion, in the movement we have to do I can see the influence of William Forsythe. [Insert Photo: Double stranded DNA, the double helix]

[Mr. Forsythe established The Forsythe Company. In addition to serving as Resident Choreographer of the Stuttgart Ballet, his creations are in the repertory of San Francisco Ballet as well as The Kirov, National Ballet of Canada, NYC Ballet, Paris Opera and Royal Ballet Covent Garden.]

SM: When you take a piece such as Eden/Eden, which is so different – nothing else has preceded it in subject matter – how is it first brought to the dancers? Do you all come to this table and the choreographer explains what is going to be happening?

PM: This is a ballet that is very difficult to teach. We have been watching a videotape to understand what they were doing. The most interesting thing is that we have this base that was created for Stuttgart and we have a little freedom to create – in a way – our own home signature. We are not changing the structure of the choreography. We can add a little thing here because, in our body, we feel more that kind of motion – and he’ll let us do it if it corresponds to the energy and to the rhythm he wants.

SM: As the dancer – you represent the product of the computer, the conflict of The Man.

[Insert Photo: Pascal Molat and Dana Genshaft - EDEN-EDEN, photo by Erik Tomasson]

PM: Actually, at the beginning, we are all bald-headed –

SM: With skull caps –

PM: Yes, and almost naked. We have these little shorts, a cream color that makes it seem we are completely nude. So, it represents the very beginning of Creation. I don’t know if we can say we are also the machine. In a way, we are a bit like the machine by virtue of the fact of what is surrounding us in society – we have to react as the machine would, when we don’t think. When you think, you put a feeling on something –

SM: A conception.

PM: Exactly. At that point we take off our caps and, with our own hair, we suddenly look more human – as at the very Beginning. It is playing on so many different layers. You can question yourself for a long time.

SM: Will I ask a religious question? Or, rather, is there a religious aspect in the piece to begin with?

PM: I don’t think there is the religious aspect. It would be a good idea to have it. When you are dancing – when you are doing it like the actor – it is important to understand the Why and How.

SM: Thus, the question is just there.

PM: Yes. Suddenly we’ll have a lot of pirouettes to do – a compliqué… we have a lot of strange movements, we are turning and spinning – you cannot say why because it doesn’t fit with what we were doing before. In a way, you can interpret that to say it’s like those tubes inside (the DNA) – always turning – like the machine would do – to the same rhythm, the same pattern.

SM: So, the aspect of Cloning does come through.

PM: I think that’s in there – in the way we are doing those pirouettes; everyone doing the same thing at the same moment. You can feel this cloning. Then somebody stops and breaks everything and goes to another idea.

SM: And then there is the political aspect – the idea being that if we are all “alike”, it’s better. Does that question shine through?

PM: If we are all the same, is it really going to be better? I’m not so sure. That is the danger – being all the same. It is diversity that keeps things going. The ballet has nothing deep like that. There is always a question mark – how you are going to interpret it, how you are going to receive it. Many will see this, others will see just the opposite. That is the key to this ballet – everybody can think different. And that makes everybody human. Watching this ballet, with the music you are going to hear – it sometimes cannot be very pleasant when you hear it the first time because it is very mécanique. Now we are used to it. But, the first time we listened to it we were – (Pascal’s eyes go off into a stare) “Oh….” – as when somebody is hypnotized. You are going deep inside.

SM: As the dance progresses are you experiencing an emotion or is it about the perfection and expression of form?

PM: What is important is the form – the form we are going to keep, the expression, the energy – that can bring you something. It brings an idea forward and makes you think. You will not see any acting; you will not get any clues, no emotions. It’s the force that gives you the question or the answer

SM: Is there a conclusion to the story?

PM: It is a cycle.

SM: Who covers you?

PM: Garen Scribner. There are three casts.

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[Garen Scribner comes from Arlington, Virginia. He was apprenticed to San Francisco Ballet in 2003 and joined the Corps de Ballet in 2004.]

SM: Are you dancing the Opening Night?

PM: Yes.

SM: Then I will be seeing you. Tell me what your schedule is like on a typical performance day?

PM: Most of the time we have the class – 10:30 or 11 when we have the performance at 8:00. Normally it’s at 10:00. But day of performance, 10:30 to 11:45, then a 15-minute break, then two hours of rehearsal – on this program or a program we are going to do after. Then I’ll eat pasta or something.

SM: Do you count your calories?

PM: No, never! I can eat whatever.

SM: Good for you….

PM: But I really try to eat very healthy.

SM: With the curtain going up at 8:00, what time are you actually in the dressing room getting made-up?

PM: After we eat I always do a little nap, a half-hour.

SM: So, you are in a routine – “It’s nap-time and I am gone.”

PM: It’s a routine, yes – sometimes I can just lie down. If I fall asleep, I have my alarm set. If I don’t, I just relax. Quiet. If the performance begins at 8:00, then I’m there at 6 or 6:15 and do my make-up.

SM: Do you do your own or is it done for you?

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PASCAL MOLAT, as Kashchei – FIREBIRD, photo by Erik Tomasson

PM: We all know how to our own make-up. But for Firebird – because it was special – it was done for me. For something like Blue Rose, I would do that myself.

SM: What’s coming up for you?

PM: After this I am doing Fancy Free, Spring Rounds, and then the new ballet by Mussorgsky, Symphony in C, and then Don Quichotte. I am doing the acting part, the role I did here two years ago – “Sancho Panza”. It’s very funny.

SM: It’s a great role in all the versions of the story.

PM: I really love it. I love to act. It should be a natural part of the dancer.

SM: What do you do when the season is over?

PM: This season is going to be over the 21st of May, and then we are going on tour. To Iceland! To the country of Helgi, to do his ballets. Then eleven days in France to see my family in Paris and Montpellier. Then my wife and I are going on our honeymoon, finally! We got married in October.

SM: Good for you!

PM: We did not have time! [At that point, we are laughing like buddies.] So, we are going to go to…

SM: [No, no. Let's leave them alone, n'est-ce pas.] Well, that’s far away! They won’t find you there!

PM: No phones, nothing! It’s going to be great!

SM: What’s coming up for you next season?

PM: It’s going to be crazy next season. We don’t know exactly which ballets we are going to do, but we are doing 12 new works. It’s going to be just crazy.

SM: One last thing. When did you start dancing? How old were you when you took your first class?

PM: I was 11.

SM: What was it that someone said, “We need to get this kid into ballet class.”

PM: Somebody pushed me. I was playing soccer. I was quite good and was being pushed that way. Actually, my mother was dancing, taking modern jazz class. And I would come sometimes to watch and then go back home with her. They had a little party for the children; putting on songs by Michael Jackson and break-dancing. The director of the school saw me dancing and said to my mother, “I want your son for a little performance at the end of the season.” So, I’m on stage. It was a big success and I’m, like, “Wow, this is great!” – and I’m moving like Michael Jackson – and all the lights – all the people applauding – and then I’m thinking, “This is really tempting. This is good!”

SM: When does the connection come to ballet? At what point did it become – it’s got to be this or that?

PM: My mother said, “You have to make a choice. I will not push you in any direction. You have to make your own choice, you cannot do both.”

SM: During the run of Sleeping Beauty I am watching the children of the San Francisco Ballet. The little boys entering with the gifts, the girls during the Waltz – their focus and discipline is incredible, they know what they’re doing. What would you say, what can I pass onto my readers to say – Here. The San Francisco Ballet. Here is why. If you have a little boy, with all this energy – bring him here. Let them see the possibilities and why this is a good idea. Why did ballet become a good idea for you?

PM: It was a good idea because – first of all, when you are young, you have a lot of energy. What Dance brings you is discipline, how to catalyze this energy, and how you can control it. This energy you have? Offer it. And how you are going to offer it. Why – with the first time I went on stage – suddenly, I loved it? Because it was like a sharing. I was having pleasure. I was feeling Good. At the same time I was giving good energy to this audience and they were giving it back to me at the end. So, it was a sharing. This is why. When I was in the Paris Opera [the School of the Ballet], what they try to do to is make you understand where to put your energy. How discipline, like you said, when they are on stage – is about being focused. Put your energy there. You can learn to become focused just by walking on stage. That is what makes all the difference. That is the Why – in everything that you do in your life. It is the same thing. How focused are you going to be? What is your envy? What do you want to give? What is the purpose of what you are doing? What is the meaning? If you ask all those questions to yourself and if you respond to that – at one point – you know what you want to give. When they understand, it’s – “Wow! That’s great!” They understand it’s …

SM: It is Excellence. Thank you.

PM: My pleasure!

Casting has been announced for the following three performances of Program 4.

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Pascal Molat and Dana Genshaft rehearse McGregor’s EDEN/EDEN, photo by Erik Tomasson

To purchase tickets on-line:

PROGRAM 4
Thu, Mar 22, 2007, 8:00 PM

SPRING ROUNDS
Conductor: Martin West
Vanessa Zahorian, Garrett Anderson

CHI-LIN
Conductor: Martin West
Violin: Roy Malan
Piccolo: Julie Mackenzie

Dragon: Davit Karapetyan
Tortoise: Tiit Helimets
Phoenix: Nicolas Blanc
Chi-Lin: Yuan Yuan Tan

EDEN/EDEN
Conductor: Gary Sheldon

Muriel Maffre, Gonzalo Garcia
Pascal Molat, Dana Genshaft
Rory Hohenstein, Katita Waldo
Jaime Garcia Castilla, Hayley Farr, Moises Martin

PROGRAM 4 – Matinee
Sat, Mar 24, 2007, 2:00 PM

SPRING ROUNDS
Conductor: Martin West
Vanessa Zahorian, Garrett Anderson

CHI-LIN
Conductor: Martin West
Violin: Roy Malan
Piccolo: Julie Mackenzie

Dragon: Davit Karapetyan
Tortoise: Tiit Helimets
Phoenix: Jaime Garcia Castilla
Chi-Lin: Yuan Yuan Tan

EDEN/EDEN
Conductor : Gary Sheldon

Muriel Maffre, Gonzalo Garcia
Pascal Molat, Dana Genshaft
Rory Hohenstein, Katita Waldo
James Sofranko, Margaret Karl, Moises Martin

PROGRAM 4 – Evening
Sat, Mar 24, 2007, 8:00 PM

SPRING ROUNDS
Conductor: Martin West
Vanessa Zahorian, Garrett Anderson

CHI-LIN
Conductor: Martin West
Violin: Roy Malan
Piccolo: Julie Mackenzie

Dragon: Pierre-François Vilanoba
Tortoise: Tiit Helimets
Phoenix: Hansuke Yamamoto
Chi-Lin: Yuan Yuan Tan

EDEN/EDEN
Conductor: Gary Sheldon

Muriel Maffre, Gonzalo Garcia
Pascal Molat, Dana Genshaft
Rory Hohenstein, Katita Waldo
Jaime Garcia Castilla, Hayley Farr, Moises Martin

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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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Irvine Foundation assists Farm Workers

By Elizabeth Daley

The San Francisco-based James Irvine Foundation announced today a donation of $250,000 to be divided between four community foundations to assist California farm workers impacted by recent winter crop freeze.

According to the foundation, the grants will be used to provide food and financial assistance for rent, mortgage, utility bills and other ongoing expenses as needed for workers and their families.

The bulk of the $250,000 donation has been allocated to agencies in Ventura County and Tulare County, but the foundation has also contributed $25,000 to the Community Foundation for Monterey County.

“We are working to meet the human need in the aftermath of this natural disaster,” James E. Canales, president and CEO of the Irvine Foundation, said in a statement. “The sad truth is that the effects of the January 2007 freeze will be felt for months, even years, to come by farmworkers and many others in agricultural communities. We are pleased to be supporting the efforts of local organizations to meet these needs where they are best understood and most keenly felt.”

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James E. Canales

The grants come as part of a larger effort by California foundations to provide direct support to farm workers, according to the Irvine Foundation. More than $1 million will be granted to farm workers throughout the state by private foundations for dispersal to community-based
organizations.

After commissioning a report in November, the foundation discovered many counties in areas impacted by the freeze, including the Inland Empire and Central Valley, receive less than $10 per capita in annual gifts from foundations, compared with $102 in other areas of the state, the
foundation reported.

In response, the foundation developed initiatives aimed at allocating funds to California communities that are underserved by organized philanthropy. The initiatives include a $10 million, five-year commitment to accelerate growth and development of community foundations in California’s underserved communities, the foundation reported.

Bay City News

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Giants team with community to combat global warming

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Photos by Bill Wilson

By Pat Murphy

The San Francisco Giants yesterday teamed with community effort to combat global warming through use of solar power.

Some 590 solar panels now are being installed in three areas of AT&T Park reducing dependence on carbon emission energy, Giants owner Peter McGowan reported in a 1:00 p.m. press conference.

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Cost to community ratepayers will be in the 100ths of one-cent on monthly bills, noted PG&E chief executive officer Tom King, in return for San Francisco leadership in recasting the worldwide jigsaw puzzle to meet global warming challenge.

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Tom King

AT&T Park is the first ballpark in Major League Baseball to embrace solar power.

“We applaud the Giants and PG&E for their committment to solar energy and for their long-term focus on helping to make San Francisco the greenest city in the nation,” San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom lauded the two privately held companies.

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Mayor Gavin Newsom

King pointed to Giants history of community participation.

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Tom King, left, with Giants owners Peter McGowan

“The San Francisco Giants have a long history of community leadership and today they are at the forefront of an issue that is dear to all of us — protecting the environment,” King noted.

“PG&E is committed to helpingthe Giants, the City and County of San Francisco, and all of the communities we serve to increase power generated from solar energy.

“Through innovative renewable solutions like the AT&T Park solar system, we will continue to provide our customers with among the cleanest energy in the nation,” pledged King.

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