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California Governor Schwarzenegger approval ratings rise significantly

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California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Photo by John Han

By Mark DiCamillo and Mervin Field

There has been a significant increase in both Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s job performance and image ratings among registered voters over the past six months.

By a two to one majority (60% to 28%) state voters also view favorably the actions taken by the governor and the state legislature to move up the 2008 presidential primary from June to February. And, for the first time in six years, more voters now rate the job the state legislature is doing in a positive than negative light.

Voters also take a more optimistic view of the direction of the state, compared to what it was last year. Now, 52% say California is headed in the right direction and 38% think it is on the wrong track, a reversal from a 57% to 32% negative appraisal last May.

While two-thirds of state voters continue to believe there should be laws limiting the terms of California elected officials, by a 53% to 39% margin, likely voters in the February primary are disposed to approve an initiative to modify the state’s term limits law.

These are the highlights from the latest statewide Field Poll about matters relating to the governor, state legislature, the February primary and the proposed term limits initiative.

Trend of voter assessments of Schwarzenegger
During Schwarzenegger’s first year in office, large majorities approved of the job that he was doing. However, beginning in the spring and summer of his second year, voter assessments of the governor turned completely around, with more disapproving than approving of his performance.

Starting last July, the governor’s job performance ratings returned to positive territory. The current poll shows continuing improvement in his ratings since his re-election last November, as 60% currently approve and 29% disapprove.

There has been a similar turn-around in the governor’s favorability ratings, with 63% of voters now saying they have a generally favorable opinion of Schwarzenegger, while just 29% hold an unfavorable view.

Underlying Schwarzenegger’s improved standing is the fact that majorities of Democrats, Republicans and non-partisans all rate the governor’s job performance positively and have a favorable impression of him.

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Job appraisal of the state legislature
The highly negative view that California voters have displayed toward the state legislature during recent years now appears to be lessening. In Field Poll measures conducted between 2003 and the spring of last year, about twice as many voters disapproved as approved of the legislature’s performance overall. Last September that dim view started to ease somewhat. Now, a slightly larger proportion of voters (42%) approves of the job the legislature is doing as disapproves (40%).

Slim pluralities of Democrats and non-partisans approve of the state legislature’s performance, while a plurality of Republicans disapproves.

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Support for moving up the state’s presidential primary
By a greater than two to one margin (60% to 27%), voters have a favorable view of the recent action by the legislature and the Governor to move up next year’s presidential primary from June to February. Democrats and Republicans each approve by similar margins.

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Trend of voter opinion of term limits
As they have for the past ten years, about two-thirds of the state’s voters (66%) believe that the terms of elected officials in California should be limited. Majorities of Democrats, Republicans and non-partisans all feel this way.

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Early support for term limits modification
While voters continue to support the idea of limiting the terms of elected officials, these same voters indicate initial support for the proposed initiative to modify the present term limits law. An initiative proposed for the February 2008 ballot will ask voters to reduce the total years a legislator can serve in both legislative houses from 14 to 12 years, but allow legislators to serve their entire 12 years in either the Assembly or the Senate. By a 53% to 39% margin likely voters indicate their initial approval of this idea.

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Impact that the initiative’s provision allowing legislative leaders to avoid being termed out has on voter support
One consequence of the new term limits initiative is that many current legislators, including the present leaders in the Senate and Assembly, would avoid being termed out of office next year because of a provision in the new law allowing legislators to serve up to 12 years in the legislative body in which they are currently serving. After voters were informed of this, they were asked what effect this would have on their support or opposition to the initiative.

More than one half of all voters (55%) say this information has no effect on how they would vote on the term limits initiative. This compares to about one in five (22%) who say this makes them less inclined to support the initiative, while almost as many (19%) say it makes them more inclined to support it.

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Trend of attitudes toward the direction of the state

Up until the spring of last year, more California voters felt that the state was seriously off on the wrong track rather than heading in the right direction. That view began to change last summer. Now, 52% of voters believe that California is headed in the right direction, while 38% feel it is on the wrong track.

Pluralities of voters across all parties now feel the state is heading in the right direction.

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See Related: FIELD REPORT

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Reality puts the lie to improved public safety

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By Tamara Barak

Authorities briefly closed a block of Market Street in downtown San Francisco this afternoon following a dispute that ended in gunfire.

There were no reported injuries in the incident, which occurred about 1:30 p.m. between Eighth and Ninth streets. All parties had fled by the time police arrived.

The scene unfolded in front of Will Haskin as he was riding in a taxi.

Haskin said two groups of young men in separate cars were involved in the incident — a white car that was pulled over to the curb and a darker car that was in the middle of Market Street.

One of the young men in the white car got out of his vehicle and began yelling at the other group, Haskin said.

The darker car tried to make a U-turn but was blocked by an F-line San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency trolley and by Haskin’s taxi, he said.

The man who got out of the white car then pulled a gun out of his pants, Haskin said, and fired five to six shots at the group in the darker car as they turned around and sped off.

The gunman then jumped on the back of his friends’ vehicle, which sped down Larkin Street with him hanging onto the trunk, Haskin said.

Market Street was crowded with pedestrians, including a family vacationing from Columbia, at the time of the shooting.

“It was really scary,” Haskin said.

San Francisco police did not immediately return calls for comment.

Bay City News

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Nominations sought for Bay Area Clean Air Awards

By Elizabeth Daley

Breathe California is accepting nominations for the 17th annual Clean Air Awards until April 20, the organization announced.

The organization works to promote lung health by finding ways of reducing air pollution.

“The Clean Air Awards this year will recognize those in the private and public sector who are working on solutions to climate change and who are going ‘above and beyond’ to make the Bay Area a model in this area,” the organization reported.

According to Breathe California, warmer temperatures associated with climate change will lead to more air pollution and lung disease.

Businesses or individuals may be nominated in seven different air improvement categories.

Nominations can be in the areas of leadership and commitment to reducing air pollution, employing green building principles and smart growth, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, developing technology that reduces air pollution, raising public awareness surrounding air quality issues, and implementing employee transportation or shuttle programs that reduce vehicle trips.

Nomination forms for candidates throughout the Bay Area can be faxed, mailed or submitted online.

Bay City News

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Bush popularity drops to new low in California

By Mark DiCamillo and Mervin Field

President George W. Bush’s approval rating among California voters has dropped to its lowest level since he assumed office six years ago.

Just 26% of voters now approve of Bush’s performance in office. This is the lowest approval rating given by Californians to any U.S. president in the past thirty years and is close to the record low assessment given to former President Richard Nixon in August 1974, shortly before he resigned from office.

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The public’s disenchantment with Bush’s handling of the war in Iraq is the chief contributor to his low job marks, with just 24% rating the president’s handling of the war positively and 72% rating him negatively.

Majorities of California voters now hold positions diametrically opposed to those advocated by the President with respect to the war. Two-thirds (66%) oppose Bush’s decision to send more than twenty thousand additional U.S. troops to Iraq. Six in ten (59%) think the U.S. should set a specific timetable for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. And, half (50%) believe that the presence of U.S.troops in Iraq decreases the chances of bringing peace and stability to that country, while just 34% feel it increases the chances of peace.

Bush’s job rating Immediately following the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington on 9/11 Bush’s job approval in this state soared to their highest level – 74%. Since that time, there has been a steady erosion in his popularity. During late 2002 and 2003 his approval ratings dropped to roughly the 50% level. They declined further in 2004 to about the 40% level, while they dipped to roughly the 30% level in 2005 and 2006.

Last September the President’s approval rating stood at 29%. Now, his ratings have declined further to 26%. Very few Democrats (10%) and non-partisans (21%) approve of Bush’s overall performance. However, the President’s most recent decline in public standing is attributable to a loss of support among rank-and-file Republicans, with only about half (49%) now approving of Bush’s performance, down from 61% last September.

Comparing Bush’s ratings to other Presidents
All U.S. Presidents see their popularity levels go up and down in response to conditions and events during their terms. While this has been true for each of Bush’s six immediate predecessors, none has seen the near fifty-point decline in voter approval that has characterized Bush’s tenure over the past six years.

The next closest would be Bush’s father, George H.W. Bush, whose approval ratings dropped forty points from a high of 77% in April 1991 to a low of 37% sixteen months later in July 1992.

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Bush’s handling of the Iraq war
Voter assessments of Bush’s handling of the Iraq war are closely tied to his overall rating. At the start of the war four years ago, 60% of California voters approved of Bush’s conduct of the war.

That proportion has declined steadily since then to where just 24% now approve.

Just one out of eleven (9%) Democrats and one in six (16%) non-partisans approve of Bush’s Iraq war performance. Republicans are now evenly divided (47% approving and 46 disapproving), a significant decline from six months ago when 57% approved and 38% disapproved.

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Voter views about what should be done about Iraq at odds with the President’s
The issue of whether the U.S. should set a specific timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq is a contentious issue, and is currently being debated between the President and the Congress.

Both houses of the Democratically-controlled Congress recently passed bills that included specific dates next year when the U.S. would begin withdrawing troops from Iraq. Bush has vigorously opposed these actions and has vowed to veto any bills containing a timetable for withdrawal that reaches his desk.

In California a 59% majority of voters now supports the idea of setting a troop withdrawal timetable, up from 48% who felt this way last year. When asked about the President’s recent decision to send another 20,000 troops to Iraq in an attempt to secure Baghdad, 66% are opposed and just 29% are supportive.

In addition, by a 50% to 34% margin, voters in this state now believe the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq decreases rather than increases the chances of bringing peace and stability to that country.

Democrats are strongly supportive of setting a withdrawal timetable (74%), are strongly opposed to the President’s 20,000-troop surge (85%) and believe that the U.S. troop presence in Iraq decreases the chance for peace and stability (64%).

The views of non-partisans are close to those of Democrats. While a majority of Republicans continues to support Bush’s war policies, growing minorities are expressing doubts. While 58% of Republicans support the President’s decision to send an additional 20,000 troops to Baghdad, 36% are opposed. Similarly, while 57% oppose the setting of a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops, 39% of Republicans are opposed. By a two to one margin (57% to 27%) Republicans in this state feel the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq increases rather than decreases chances for bringing peace to that country.

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Bush’s handling of the economy
Voter approval of Bush’s handling of the national economy is also on the decline. At present, just 33% approve of the President’s handling of the economy, while 61% disapprove. This is the lowest assessment given Bush in this area.

Seventy-eight percent of Democrats and 70% of non-partisans now disapprove of the President’s economic job performance. By contrast, Republicans remain supportive by a 61% to 34% margin.

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U.S. on the wrong track
About two out of three (64%) Californians feel the country is now seriously off on the wrong track, while just 26% think it is heading in the right direction. This equals the very negative assessment that voters gave to the direction of the country last April
and is the most pessimistic assessment registered by The Field Poll during the past fourteen years.

The largest proportion who thought the country was on the wrong track occurred in 1992, when 82% felt this way.

Substantial majorities of Democrats (77%) and non-partisans (67%) feel the country is on the wrong track. And, in this instance, they are joined by a plurality of Republicans (46%).

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Information About The Survey
Sample Details

The findings in this report are based on a random sample survey of 1,093 registered voters statewide.

Interviewing was conducted by telephone in English and Spanish March 20-31, 2007. Up to eight attempts were made to reach and interview each randomly selected voter on different days and times of day during the interviewing period. In order to cover a broad range of issues and still minimize voter fatigue, some of the questions in this report were asked of a random subsample of 523 registered voters.

The sample was developed from telephone listings of individual voters selected at random from a statewide list of registered voters in California. When drawing samples from registration-based lists, The Field Poll stratifies the sample by region and age to insure that the poll includes adequate representations of voters across each major region of the state and across different age categories. Once a voter’s name and telephone number has been selected, interviews are attempted only with the specified voter. Interviews can be conducted on either the voter’s landline or cell phone, depending on the source of the telephone listing from
the voter file. After the completion of interviewing, the results are weighted slightly to Field Poll estimates of the demographic and regional characteristics of the state’s registered voter population.

Sampling error estimates applicable to any probability-based survey depend on sample size.

According to statistical theory, 95% of the time results from findings based on the overall sample of registered voters are subject to a sampling error of +/- 3.1 percentage points, while findings from the random subsample have a sampling error of +/- 4.5 percentage points. There are other possible sources of error in any survey other than sampling variability. Different results could occur because of differences in question wording, the sequencing of questions, the rigo with which sampling procedures are implemented, as well as other factors.

Questions Asked

Thinking about the country overall, do you think things in the U.S. are generally going in the right direction, or do you feel things are seriously off on the wrong track?

Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as President? Do you approve or disapprove of the job President Bush is doing in handling the war in Iraq?

(ASKED OF RANDOM SUBSAMPLE)

Do you approve or disapprove of the job President Bush is doing in handling the nation’s economy? Do you favor or oppose President Bush’s recent decision to send another 20,000 troops into Iraq to try and gain control of Baghdad?

Do you think the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq increases or decreases the chances of bringing peace and stability to that country?

Do you think the U.S. should or should not set a specific timetable for when U.S. troops will be withdrawn from Iraq?

See Related: FIELD REPORT

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Haven’t filed taxes for years? San Francisco can help you get $10,000

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Cartoon by Chuck Henderson

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San Francisco Chamber of Commerce SF Works Director Terri Feeley with Mayor Gavin Newsom, center background, and Treasurer Jose Cisneros
Photos by John Han

By Pat Murphy
The crippling sense of being watched, even targeted, weighs heavily on struggling San Franciscans each passing year they don’t file tax returns.

The burden is needless, City and community leaders said Wednesday.

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ACORN Organizer Laura Godinez

Indeed, residents earning $39,000 or less during each of the last three years may claim total refunds of $10,000 available through overlapping IRS and City Working Families Tax Credit regulations, reported Terri Feeley, Director of SF Works for the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.

Feeley was among those convened by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom at a Mission District City one-stop center for working and low-income residents.

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Mayor Gavin Newsom

The center, located at 3120 Mission Street and Cesar Chavez Street, houses 13 agencies geared to helping San Franciscans unaware of benefits eligibility and signing them up on-the-spot.

In addition to local tax refund of $100 paid through City general fund monies, the center can couple that claim to IRS refund of up to $3,500 for each of the past three years.

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City Working Families Credit Website

Data cross referencing by the City announced yesterday pools additional benefit availability such as food stamps, health insurance; local, state and federal benefit programs.

“There is a great potential for targeted outreach to working families,” Newsom stated.

“By linking families to other programs… we also draw state and federal dollars into San Francisco.”

San Francisco Treasurer Jose Cisneros oversees the local tax credit program.

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Treasurer Jose Cisneros

“This program really works,” stated Cisneros.

“The amount of eligible families who qualify for the Working Families Credit has exceeded our goals, and now we want to make sure these San Francisco families are claiming everything they are entitled to — not just in San Francisco, but at the state and federal level also.”

Those eligible are estimated at 50,000 in San Francisco, most unaware of their eligibility, Feeley pointed out.

Only 11,000 San Franciscans applied for the tax credit over the last three years when the City program first began.

Some $2.3 million was paid by the City and the average IRS refund for the past two years is $2,200, added Feeley.

She repored that 1,600 families applied, most of whom are Asian with African American and Latino San Franciscans growing in applicant numbers.

Two thirds of applicants reported high school or less education and had income of $25,000 to $10,000 annually.

Most had saving accounts of less than $500 and debt greater than $500. Even though they work they struggle to make ends meet from paycheck to paycheck.

Public and private sector program participants have mailed Working Families tax credit information to commercial tax preparers, community organizations and financial institutions.

Additional center service includes Muni Fast Pass discounts, state discounted car insurance, and discounted PG&E and AT&T connection.

Focus group surveys found the reason for low tax credit claim stems from lack of awareness.

The City and local banks additionally focus on helping low-income workers retain what money they have left each month.

“The only way out of poverty is asset development,” the mayor projected.

Earlier this year, public and private sectors partnered to ease the way into savings institutions under banner of Bank on San Francisco.

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Participants launch Bank on San Francisco

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As community awareness of the program expands, the organization ACORN plays a leading role.

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ACORN organizer Laura Godinez

“I encourage you to reach out to these community organizations who really our frontline,” Newsom stressed. He added that the City’s proposed free WiFi internet connection opens the door to “streaming information into San Francisco neighborhoods tailored to each neighborhood needs.”

More than 9,000 residents have applied for Working Families Tax Credit this year, detailed Tony Lugo, who spearheads City work force and economic development efforts.

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Tony Luga

“Centers like this provide the perfect enviornment for one-stop service to those who need help the most,” Luga said.

“Who knows? Clients may end up getting a job at H&R Block!

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SPCA warns against buying live animals for Easter

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SPCA suggests stuffed animals

By Jeremy Lipps

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is advising families to seriously consider the risks, responsibilities and realities of purchasing live animals as gifts for the coming Easter holiday.

Every year after Easter animal shelters across the country are flooded with thousands of neglected rabbits, ducklings and chicks, according to the Santa Cruz SPCA.

The SPCA instead suggests that people give stuffed animals, animal care supplies or gift certificates to supply stores.

Giving pets to young children can be problematic because children can stop caring for the pet as it grows older, leaving parents with the tough decision of what to do with the animal.

Children and baby animals also don’t always mix as baby animals are delicate and require special care, including special dietary needs and carefully controlled temperatures.

“Children are often the most traumatized in the heartbreaking situations that families may find themselves in after such impulse decisions,” director of the Santa Cruz SPCA, Lisa Carter said.

“If you are serious about adopting an Easter animal, and have thoughtfully considered this decision, we urge you to adopt an animal from a shelter.”

According to the SPCA, other Easter gifts can also present problems.

Some Easter plants, such as the Easter lily, are toxic to pets and can be fatal if eaten. Plastic grass that often lines Easter baskets can cause intestinal problems for pets and can also cause death if not treated rapidly, according to the Santa Cruz SPCA.

The SPCA also urges people to always keep candy away from pets as chocolate and candy high in caffeine and sugar can also be poisonous to companion animals.

Bay City News

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Compromise frees journalist Josh Wolf from prison

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Josh Wolf
Photos by Bill Wilson

By Julia Cheever

Freelance journalist Josh Wolf, freed from a federal prison after seven and one-half months in custody for contempt of court, said in San Francisco today he feels he emerged with his ethics intact.

Wolf, 24, of San Francisco, spent longer in prison than any other reporter in U.S. history in a civil contempt of court case.

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David Greene, Executive Director/Staff Counsel of the First Amendment Project, James Wheaton Senior Counsel and Founder, First Amendment Project, Josh Wolf, freed journalist Julian Davis, Supervisor Mirkirimi and Susan Belinda Christian, Assistant District Attorney at a City Hall press conference after his release from prison for contempt of court.

He was released from a federal prison in Dublin this afternoon after reaching an agreement with prosecutors on a federal grand jury’s bid for his testimony and a videotape of a violent demonstration in San Francisco in 2005.

Under the pact, Wolf provided a full copy of his videotape and answered two questions, but won’t have to testify before the grand jury or reveal the identities of participants in the protest.

At a news conference on the steps of City Hall, Wolf said, “The agreement not only leaves my ethics intact but serves the role of a free press in our society.”

He said he didn’t mind publishing the full videotape because it contained no confidential information, but said that revealing the names of protesters would have jeopardized his credibility as a journalist.

“It was the testimony which I found to be the more egregious assault on my rights and ethics as a journalist,” Wolf said.

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He said, “I feel really good to be back here in San Francisco” and said he plans to plunge ahead with two projects to publish neglected news stories on the Internet and create a blog for prisoners.

Wolf said he thinks his prison time and the publicity about it helped to focus the attention on the need for a federal shield law for reporters.

Many states, including California, have shield laws protecting journalists from revealing confidential sources and unpublished material, but there is no such federal law.

Wolf said, “I lost quite a decent chunk of my time” while in prison, but said it was worth it to protect the principle of not testifying before the grand jury.

Wolf was found in contempt of court and jailed by U.S. District Judge William Alsup on Aug. 1 for refusing to testify and give up the full videotape. He was in the Dublin prison from then until today except for three weeks of release in September during an unsuccessful appeal.

Alsup ordered his release and ended the contempt of court today after prosecutors and Wolf’s attorneys filed papers announcing the agreement.

The agreement came after two days of mediation before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero. Alsup ordered the mediation last month.

U.S. Attorney Scott Schools issued a brief statement saying, “Wolf complied with the grand jury subpoena by producing the responsive materials in his possession to the government and by answering questions.”

The July 8, 2005, demonstration was a protest of an international economic summit in Scotland. San Francisco Police Officer Peter Shields suffered a fractured skull while he was trying to arrest a protester.

Prosecutors previously said that one reason for a federal investigation was that a San Francisco police car that was the subject of a possible arson attempt was paid for with federal funds.

The two questions Wolf answered were whether he saw anyone throw anything at a police car and whether he could identify the person Shields was trying to arrest at the time he was struck on the head.

He answered no to both questions, according to a court filing.

Wolf had previously sold parts of his videotapes to local television stations and posted sections on his web site.

Today, he posted the entire tape on his Web site with a statement saying, “Today, you the public have the opportunity to be the judge and I am confident you will see, as I do, that there is nothing of value in this unpublished footage.”

Wolf’s resistance to the grand jury subpoena was supported by a number of journalist and civil rights groups, including the Society for Professional Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, the National Writers Union and the National Lawyers Guild.

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Bay Guardian Publisher, Bruce Brugmann, Richard Knee, David Greene, James Wheaton listen to Josh Wolf answer questions during a press conference on the steps of City Hall after his release from jail for contempt of court

Richard Knee, spokesman for the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the National Writers Union, said, “All journalists – and indeed all Americans – owe Josh their deep gratitude to the sacrifice he has made in fighting to uphold the time-honored principle of an independent Fourth Estate.”

Reporters Without Borders, based in France, said it “welcomes Josh Wolf’s release with great satisfaction.”

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Fresh from Giants opening day loss, Supervisor Ammiano said that Josh had done something that the Giants had been unable to do — he hit a home run.”

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Josh Wolf recieves a welcome home pat on from Supervisor Jake McGoldrick

Bay City News

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Clinton leads Obama 41% to 28% in California

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Photo by David Toerge

By Mark DiCamillo and Mervin Field

New York Senator Hillary Clinton, at 41%, currently leads the field of announced candidates for the 2008 Democratic nomination among potential voters in California’s February 5th primary election.

Illinois Senator Barack Obama is in second place with 28% of voter preferences, while former North Carolina Senator John Edwards is in third position with 13%. No other Democrat receives more than 4% of voter preferences at this time.

However, former vice president and the 2000 Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore shows considerable strength in this state when he is listed along with the other announced candidates.

When Gore’s name is included as a possible candidate he places second with 25% support and leads Obama by 4 points, but trails Clinton by 6 percentage points.

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Image ratings

Clinton, Gore, Obama and Edwards are all very well-known to large majorities of likely Democratic primary voters, and each has an extremely favorable image profile with these voters. In each case between 73% and 85% of likely voters has a favorable opinion of the candidate and only small percentages, ranging from 6% – 19%, hold an unfavorable view.

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Likelihood of Democratic primary voters backing each candidate
Democratic primary voters in this sample were also asked whether there was a good chance, some chance or no chance that they could vote for each of the announced candidates, as well as Gore.

The results indicate that most Democratic primary voters appear open to support each of the four better-known possibilities, but are less inclined to support four others. For example, in the case of Gore, Clinton, Obama and Edwards, very large majorities, ranging from 74% to 80%, say there is a good chance or some chance of their voting for each in the upcoming presidential primary, while relatively small proportions, ranging from 18% to 23%, say there was no chance of their voting for them.

When asked about their chances of voting for New York Governor Bill Richardson, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Delaware Senator Joe Biden and Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd, significantly fewer voters – ranging from 22% to 42% – say there is at least some chance that they support these candidacies, while larger proportions – ranging from 49% to 65% – say there is no chance.

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Sub-group preferences (among announced candidates)
When the voting preferences of likely voters in the Democratic primary are examined across the major demographic and regional subdivisions of the state, these differences emerge:

• Clinton runs strongest among Latinos, voters with no more than a high school education, older voters and those living in Los Angeles County.

• Obama possesses strong appeal to younger voters, and leads Clinton narrowly among this segment.

• Edwards currently runs a little stronger in Northern California than Southern California and among voters who are permanent absentee voters.

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Subgroup preferences (including Gore)
When Gore’s name is added to the list of Democratic candidates, he draws considerable support from voters in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he holds a six-point lead over both Clinton and Obama. He also narrowly leads Clinton among college graduates and among white non-Hispanics.

Information About The Survey

Sample Details
The findings in this report are based on a random sample survey of 1,093 registered voters statewide, of whom 417 can be considered likely voters in the California Democratic primary. Interviewing was conducted by telephone in English and Spanish March 20-31, 2007. Up to eight attempts were made to reach and interview each randomly selected voter on different days and times of day during the interviewing period.

The sample was developed from telephone listings of individual voters selected at random from a statewide list of registered voters in California. When drawing samples from registration-based lists, The Field Poll stratifies the sample by region and age to insure that the poll includes adequate representations of voters across each major region of the state and across different age categories. Once a voter’s name and telephone number has been selected, interviews are attempted only with the specified voter. Interviews can be conducted on either the voter’s landline or cell phone, depending on the source of the telephone listing from the voter file. After the completion of interviewing, the results are weighted slightly to Field Poll estimates of the demographic and regional characteristics of the state’s registered voter population.

Sampling error estimates applicable to any probability-based survey depend on sample size. According to statistical theory, 95% of the time results from findings based on the sample of likely voters in the Democratic primary are subject to a sampling error of +/- 5.0 percentage points. There are other possible sources of error in any survey other than sampling variability.

Different results could occur because of differences in question wording, the sequencing of questions, the rigor with which sampling procedures are implemented, as well as other factors.

Questions Asked
I am going to read the names of some Democrats who are running or considering running for the Democratic presidential nomination next year. For each, please tell me whether there would be a good chance, some chance or no chance that you would vote for that person in California’s presidential primary election. You may name as many or as few persons as like as people you would be inclined to vote for. (NAMES AND TITLES OF CANDIDATES READ IN RANDOM ORDER, ASKING:)

Is there a good chance, some chance or no chance that you would vote for (NAME) in the California Democratic primary for President?

IF GOOD OR SOME CHANCE OF VOTING FOR MULTIPLE CANDIDATES: I am going to read back the names of the candidates you said you would have at least some chance of voting for. (NAMES OF CANDIDATES READ BACK)

Of these persons, who would be your first choice if the California Democratic primary election for President were being held today? Who would be your second choice?

I am going to read the names of some people in public affairs and politics and for each please tell me whether you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion or whether you don’t know enough about the person to have an opinion. (NAMES READ IN RANDOM ORDER, ASKING) Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of (NAME AND TITLE)?

See Related: FIELD REPORT

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Largest San Francisco Temple defaced by swastika as Passover begins

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Members of Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco were shocked to find a swastika painted on their temple this morning as they prepared to observe the first night of Passover.

Police were called to the temple, located at the intersection of Lake Street and Arguello Boulevard, at about 8:30 a.m. Investigators are now looking into the possible hate crime.

Mayor Gavin Newsom was quick to condemn the defacement of the city’s largest Jewish temple.

“San Francisco is known as a city that embraces people of all faiths,” Newsom said in a statement. “We strongly condemn this act of hatred and intolerance.”

Tonight is the First Seder of Passover, and the offices of Temple Emanu-El are currently closed until Wednesday morning following the Second Seder.

Bay City News

See Related: THE STUFF OF FASCISM STIRRED ITS SEDUCTIVE METASTASIS IN CALIFORNIA PROP 8 VOTE

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US Supreme Court rules against Bush on greenhouse gases – Jerry Brown pleased

California Attorney General Jerry Brown said today that this morning’s U.S. Supreme Court decision on greenhouse gases “is a resounding affirmation of California’s actions to address global warming.”

Brown, at a news conference in San Francisco, said the ruling is far-reaching and “makes it very clear that California has a right to regulate greenhouse gases.”

The high court said by a 5-4 vote that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from cars and that states had the right to sue over the issue.

The decision was made in a lawsuit led by the state of Massachusetts and joined by 11 other states, including California, and several health and environmental groups.

Brown said the decision is a vindication of California’s regulations and its position in lawsuits over global warming.

The attorney general’s office is currently representing the state of California in four lawsuit pending in federal courts around the nation.

In a lawsuit in federal court in San Francisco, the state is suing the world’s six largest automakers on a claim that auto pollution that contributes to climate change is a public nuisance.

In another suit in Fresno, automakers are challenging California’s regulations.

Brown said he hopes to confer with automakers and said, “My goal is not more lawsuits. My goal is to reduce global warming.”

Alliance of Automobile Makers President Dave McCurdy issued a statement saying that the group believes “there needs to be a national, federal, economy-wide approach to addressing greenhouse gases.”

McCurdy said, “This decision says that the EPA will be part of the process.”

Bay City News

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San Francisco City Attorney files Marriage Equality brief with California Supreme Court

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City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed with the California Supreme Court today the opening brief in his office’s constitutional challenge to discriminatory state marriage laws, detailing what he described as “a long and shameful history of state-sponsored persecution of homosexuality.”

The City is a lead plaintiff alongside couples throughout the state in a coordinated action before the state’s highest court that seeks to invalidate provisions of the California Family Code denying marriage rights to same-sex partners.

“A traditional injustice does not warrant perpetuation simply because it is traditional,” Herrera said.

“In making our case against marriage discrimination today, we are asking the California Supreme Court not only to assert the rights of equality and privacy uniquely enshrined in our state Constitution, but to reassert the judiciary’s rightful role in interpreting it—something the appellate court failed to do. Our state’s highest court has a long history of independence, wisdom and justice. And I am confident they will honor that long history in this case.”

The seven-member high court is evaluating three separate issues in the case: whether the marriage exclusion violates the equal protection rights of lesbians and gay men; whether the exclusion violates the right to personal autonomy protected by the privacy clause of the California Constitution; and whether the exclusion violates the fundamental right to marry protected by the California Constitution.

The court granted review on Dec. 20, 2006, following an unusual circumstance in which then-California Attorney General Bill Lockyer—a prevailing party in the Court of Appeal’s ruling upholding marriage discrimination—joined the City and same-sex couples in urging the high court to take the case.

On Oct.5, 2006, an appellate court panel issued a 2-to-1 majority opinion holding that, “Everyone has a fundamental right to ‘marriage,’ but, because of how this institution has been defined, this means only that everyone has a fundamental right to enter a public union with an opposite-sex partner.”

The Court of Appeal’s ruling overturned a previous decision by San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard A. Kramer on March 14, 2005 that found legal provisions excluding same-sex couples from marriage unconstitutional. Kramer—who stayed his ruling pending review from higher courts—ruled that existing state marriage laws unconstitutionally discriminated on the basis of sex, and unconstitutionally impinged on the fundamental right to marry the person of one’s choice.

Herrera’s direct constitutional challenge to state marriage laws in City and County of San Francisco vs. State of California was filed on March 11, 2004, within an hour of the California Supreme Court’s order prohibiting San Francisco officials from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples at the direction of Mayor Gavin Newsom.

The lawsuit made San Francisco the first government entity in American history to challenge the constitutionality of state marriage laws that discriminate against gay and lesbian couples.

The City’s case was later consolidated with similar suits filed the following day by the National Center for Lesbian Rights on behalf of same-sex couples, Equality California and Our Family Coalition. That consolidated case was then coordinated with other constitutional challenges from Los Angeles and San Francisco before Judge Kramer.

From the outset, Herrera has said his case on behalf of the entire City and County of San Francisco “asserts the long-held principle that discrimination is not merely detrimental to the minority it singles out, but to the majority that would abide it,” arguing that “without full recognition of gay and lesbian families through marriage, San Francisco is limited in its ability to protect the equal rights of its citizens, and harmed in ways tangible and otherwise by an injustice that has no place in 21st Century California.”

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Grand Opening of Public Defender ‘Clean Slate’ Satellite Office

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Grand Opening ceremonies for expanded Public Defender services in the Mission District will be held Saturday.

The 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. event will include free food, client testimonials and a performance by the live band “Puro Bandido.” The celebration is free and open to the public, located at 1850 Mission Street in the Arriba Juntos Community Resource Center.

The center has housed a new satellite office of Public Defender Jeff Adachi’s Clean Slate Program since November 20, 2006.

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The Clean Slate Program provides legal representation to assist community members with clearing their criminal history records so that they are not an obstacle to obtaining employment, housing, professional licenses, certifications, legal immigration status and other opportunities.

The new Satellite office provides free drop-in clinics every Monday from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m, for individuals to speak with an Attorney and/or Paralegal about their Criminal History Record.

The program was first developed in 1998 by the Adachi.

Since then Adachi has “continued his commitment by providing ongoing legal representation to help residents throughout the city with clearing up criminal history records,” according to a prepared statement.

Jeff Adachi brought the Clean Slate Program to the Mission District to allow residents within the neighborhood to easily access the services the program provides.

Since 1998, the Clean Slate Program’s caseload has increased to almost 4,000 cases. It participates in community outreach events and activities, including presentations to community and government organizations, job fairs, symposiums, education and outreach summits, and public hearings. In addition to its main office located at 555 Seventh Street, near the Hall of Justice, the Clean Slate Program has expanded its offices to a total of four satellite offices, including locations in Bay View, Sunnydale, Western Edition and the new Mission
District location.

The Clean Slate program received the Managerial Excellence “Team” Award from the Mayor’s Fiscal Advisory Committee in 2005, and was chosen as “Program of the Year” by the statewide California Public Defender’s Association in 2006.

“This new satellite office is really for the community,” said Demarris Evans, Clean Slate Program Attorney.

“We want to help residents in the Mission District and all individuals with San Francisco criminal records to get their records cleared up. In addition, the new satellite office is accessible for clients who are monolingual Spanish or Cantonese speakers.”

For more information, please contact the Clean Slate Program at (415) 553-9329; email cleanslate@sfgov.org; or visit our website at www.sfgov.org/cleanslate.

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New Car? Plan on 52.2 cents per mile

Operating a new vehicle costs 52.5 cents per mile, a figure virtually unchanged from last year, according to a report released recently by the American Automobile Association.

That amount was based on driving 15,000 miles every year for a total annual cost of $7,823.

The statistic was based on AAA’s survey of members who own popular automobiles. The top five models in sales in three categories – small, medium and large sedans – each year are examined for accrued costs of gasoline, maintenance and repair, tires and depreciation.

Most costs remained the same over last year, AAA reported. Any savings from marginally lower fuel costs were eaten up by higher insurance, finance, licensing and registration costs, according to the report.

Gas prices used in the survey came from the December 2006 national average of $2.26 per gallon of regular unleaded. Prices are often higher in California.

AAA noted its estimated average driving costs were greater than the amount, 48.5 cents per mile, which the federal government allows businesses to deduct for tax purposes.

“The results clearly show that consumers do have an opportunity to save substantial sums of money by switching from larger models to smaller vehicles,” said Sean Comey, spokesman for AAA of Northern California.

“Another way to reduce costs is to shop aggressively for lower gas prices by using AAA’s free Fuel Finder at aaa.com/gasprices.”

Bay City News

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The San Francisco Ballet Presents PROGRAM 6 – MIXED REPERTORY

– The San Francisco Ballet Presents –
PROGRAM 6 – MIXED REPERTORY
Night / On Common Ground / Rodeo
7 Performances – April 4th through April 21st

ON THE CALENDAR
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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Fine Arts Critic

Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel

NIGHT
Composer: Matthew Pierce
Choreography: Julia Adam
NIGHT is a contemporary odyssey into one woman’s nocturnal dreams, choreographed by former SF Ballet Principal Dancer, Julia Adam.

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TINA Le BLANC and DAMIAN SMITH – Adam’s NIGHT. Photo, Erik Tomasson

ON COMMON GROUND – World Premiere
Composer: Ned Rorem
Choreography: Helgi Tomasson
Helgi Tomasson’s world premiere, ON COMMON GROUND, is a rich and sophisticated exploration of connectedness — a visceral response to Ned Rorem’s alternately sweet and strident score.

RODEO
Composer: Aaron Copland
Choreography: Agnes de Mille
This colorful high-kicking classic celebrates the traditional American spirit of the West.

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RORY HOHENSTEIN – Agnes de Mille’s RODEO. Photo by Erik Tomasson

Casting Announced: Wednesday, April 4th, at 7:30 PM

NIGHT
Conductor: Gary Sheldon
Tina LeBlanc, Ruben Martin

ON COMMON GROUND
Conductor: Martin West
Cello: David Kadarauch
Lorena Feijoo, Davit Karapetyan, Tina LeBlanc, Joan Boada

RODEO
Conductor: Martin West
Cowgirl: Kristin Long
Wrangler: Ruben Martin
Roper: Rory Hohenstein
Rancher’s Daughter: Pauli Magierek

Casting Announced: Thursday, April 5th, at 8:00 PM

NIGHT
Conductor: Gary Sheldon
Tina LeBlanc, Ruben Martin

ON COMMON GROUND
Conductor: Martin West
Cello: David Kadarauch
Sarah Van Patten, Tiit Helimets, Molly Smolen, Ruben Martin

RODEO
Conductor: Martin West
Cowgirl: Tina LeBlanc
Wrangler: Aaron Orza
Roper: Garrett Anderson
Rancher’s Daughter: Alexandra Meyer-Lorey

To order tickets on-line:
Wed, Apr 4, 2007, 7:30 PM
Thu, Apr 5, 2007, 8:00 PM
Fri, Apr 13, 2007, 8:00 PM
Sun, Apr 15, 2007, 2:00 PM
Tue, Apr 17, 2007, 8:00 PM
Sat, Apr 21, 2007, 2:00 PM
Sat, Apr 21, 2007, 8:00 PM

– THE NEW CONSERVATORY THEATRE CENTER –
Pride Season Twelve Presents
TERRE HAUTE

By Edmund White

Directed by Christopher Jenkins
US Premiere
March 30th through May 6th
A famous author comes face-to-face with America’s most notorious terrorist. One has a story to write, the other a story to tell. As the clock ticks on death row, the bond between the two men grows. A haunting imagination of Gore Vidal’s relationship with Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh in a new play from one of America’s greatest living writers. Featuring Elias Escobedo and John Hutchinson.

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TERRE HAUTE – At the New Conservatory Theatre Centre

To order tickets on-line: Terre Haute
Captioning for the hearing impaired: April 22nd
Community Pay As You Wish Night: Thursday, April 5, 2007
THE NEW CONSERVATORY THEATRE CENTER
25 Van Ness Avenue at Market, San Francisco
Box Office: (415) 861-8972

Closing this week at THE EXIT !
– PRECARIOUS THEATRE –
presents

CHEMICAL IMBALANCE
by Lauren Wilson
Directed by Matthew Graham Smith
Final Performances: Thursday, Friday, Saturday

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CHEMICAL IMBALANCE – Elizabeth Bullard, Christian Cagagil, and Gabriel Diamond

CHEMICAL IMBALANCE is a darkly comic adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s DR. JEKYLL AND MR HYDE. During a particularly charming Christmas holiday, Dr. Jekyll’s macabre experiments go awry and twist his refined Victorian upbringing into unthinking evil. Repressed impulses burst their corsets as Jekyll embarks on his schizophrenic journey that threatens to reveal the bloody hands beneath the gloves of the British Empire. Murder, mayhem, and crumpets abound in this journey through an empire on the verge of collapse and a man tight-rope walking the line of aristocracy and depravity.

To order tickets on-line: CHEMICAL IMBALANCE
Tickets $15-$30 sliding scale (Thursday pay-what-you-can). Reservations: 415-563-5085. Cash only.

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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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Young hearts still beat in Falcon eggs rescued from Bay Bridge

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One of three Falcon eggs found within the Bay Bridge nest is carefully placed into a monitor to determine if it shelters a fetal beating heart. Photos by Bill Wilson

By Brigid Gaffikin

A team of biologists recovered a clutch of peregrine Falcon eggs nested on the central anchorage of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge late Friday morning after high winds stymied recovery attempts earlier last week.

Two of the three speckled, brown hen-sized eggs were viable, meaning there’s a chance they could hatch, said Glenn Stewart, a research associate at the University of California, Santa Cruz’s Predatory Bird Research Group.

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Glenn Stewart

Biologists from the bird research group will incubate the two-week-old eggs, which have a 34-day gestation period, at the organization’s research facility in Santa Cruz, Stewart said.

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Eggs nestled safely in incubator

The nest site on the bridge would have been a lethal one for fledgling birds, who would have headed into the water on their first flight, he said.

Falcon eggs have hatched on the bridge in the past, but “it’s a dirty, vibrating environment” that, unlike the falcon’s natural cliff habitat, is not particularly conducive to survival, Stewart said. It takes six weeks for the young birds to grow feathers adequate for flying more than short distances, he said.

Biologists from the UCSC team that led Friday’s rescue effort are hoping Gracie, the falcon who laid the eggs on the span, will lay another clutch within two weeks or so in a safer spot somewhere in downtown San Francisco.

“I hope they don’t do it up there,” Stewart said of Gracie and her mate George. Peregrine falcons are territorial and often return to lay eggs in the same place, he said.

Gracie and George have lived in downtown San Francisco for around five years, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. spokesman Brian Swanson said.

Last year the pair set up house and laid four eggs in a planter at 201 Mission St., he said.

From 2003 to 2005 Gracie laid eggs in a nest on top of the PG&E building at 77 Beale St. and in 2005 PG&E set up a Webcam to allow fans and UCSC researchers alike to observe the birds.

The utility also paid for today’s recovery, Swanson said.

Peregrine falcons have used 77 Beale St. as a perch since the 1980s, according to Swanson.

Friday’s recovery effort was led by Brian Latta, one of a team of biologists on UCSC’s predatory bird research team.

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Brian Latta

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If the eggs recovered Friday end up hatching, they will be placed with a foster mother and handfed before being released off the California coast to find their own territory, according to Swanson.

Another clutch of eggs on the Oakland end of the span will have to wait to be rescued, Stewart said.

According to Stewart, there are five or six pairs of peregrine falcons in the Bay Area.

“That means that the area is rich with wildlife and birds in particular, because they eat birds,” he said.

“Pigeons would be a common-sized food … but it ranges all the way from starling to Western
gulls.”

The Oakland pair and George and Gracie can live in such close proximity because of Treasure Island, which effectively divides each pair’s territory.

Visual barriers and the amount of food available in an area, rather than distance, determine falcons’ territorial boundaries, Stewart said.

Bay City News

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Asim Abdullah continues Cyril Magnin love of San Francisco

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Cyril Magnin near single-handedly kept international consulates from moving to Los Angeles and out of San Francisco during Magnin’s tenure as San Francisco Chief of Protocol, seen in top photo with grand lady Charlotte Maillard Swig Schultz, current Chief of Protocol for both San Francisco and the State of California. Continuing such love for The City, and with prescient vision of San Francisco as the world leader to watch, Asim Abdullah, center below with Sophie Azouaou and Nouri Azouaou, made it possible for the first-ever launch of a major designer line from America’s favorite City without nod to New York.
Photo Copyright by Robert Altman

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Asim Abdullah, center with Sophie and Nouri Azouaou

Big tip of the chapeau and goodly bow to Asim Abdullah who last week cast his place in San Francisco history by keeping global focus on The City this world loves to cherish…

For too long, prevailing belief placed New York as premier fashion runway… That myth is now shattered, thanks to this man…

Across the generations, Abdullah stands shoulder-to-shoulder with mighty Cyril Magnin who strained heroically — and succesfully — in keeping San Francisco the West Coast capital for international consulates…

Thanks bountifully to those who labored with Abdullah to make fashion history… Claudia Ross who shared the for so long, Sophie Azouaou who brought it to world attention, Joel Goodrich and Mark Calvano who teamed to smooth the way…

San Francisco is now the cutting edge location for stem cell research, digital arts innovation, fashion, and Gavin Newsom’s multi-pronged turnback of global warming…

We have these people to acknowledge, to thank — and relish ourselves for being the very best…

See Related: RAPHAEL HOUSE FUNDRAISING ARCHIVE

See Related: FASHION

See Related: SOCIAL DIARY

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PAT MURPHY
Sentinel Editor & Publisher
In his youth, Pat Murphy worked as a General Assignment reporter for the Richmond Independent, the Berkeley Daily Gazette, and the San Francisco Chronicle. He served as Managing Editor of the St. Albans (Vermont) Daily Messenger at age 21. Murphy also launched ValPak couponing in San Francisco, as the company’s first San Francisco franchise owner. He walked the bricks, developing ad strategy for a broad range of restaurants and merchants. Pat knows what works and what doesn’t work. His writing skill has been employed by marketing agencies, including Don Solem & Associates. He has covered San Francisco governance for the past eleven years. Pat scribes an offbeat view of the human family through Believe It or What.

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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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