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Marcum creates accounting practice targeting gay, non-traditional couples

Accounting firm Marcum established a practice focused on LGBT and other non-traditional families to help these clients navigate the complex and often-changing tax and financial landscape.  The practice is headed by Nanettee Lee Miller, who is based in Marcum’s San Francisco office, where she’s also a partner-in-charge of assurance services.

Marcum, among the nation’s 15 largest accounting firms, is among the few accounting firms to establish a practice focused on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. It’s territory traversed earlier by wealth managers and personal finance advisers.
Marcum, based in New York with 23 offices primarily on the East and West coasts, has 40 professionals out of 1,100, with special training to deal with issues facing non-traditional families.  Miller says Marcum’s new practice will provide LGBT clients with a range of services that include trust and estate planning, business formation and, of course, tax issues.

“Whether they are married, single, domestic partners or divorced, LGBT and non-traditional families deals with tax and financial issues that are byzantine, at best,” Miller said. “LGBT and non-traditional family accounting matters can be legislated by national, state or local government groups, or by regulation or judicial decision, requiring true expertise to navigate this complex web.”

Tax returns for California same-sex couples, for instance, have their income split between them since the federal government recognizes that property rights are determined by state law. But the federal government doesn’t allow joint returns since the federal government doesn’t recognize their unions.  Or as one Californian in a same-sex marriage described it, “Imagine living in a world where the response to the question ‘Are you married?’ is ‘It depends on who is asking?’”  Miller says even qualifying for a mortgage presents challenges as lenders try to interpret these tax returns to confirm income.  She recognizes the initiative might be controversial with some, especially in light of last month’s controversy that Kraft (NYSE: KFT) stirred up with its Oreo cookie featured on Facebook, (NASDAQ: FB) with rainbow-color creme filling to recognize gay pride month. Several of the more than 20,000 comments were positive, but some were not.

“Kraft Foods has a proud history of celebrating diversity and inclusiveness,” Kraft spokesman Basil Maglaris, told Reuters. “We feel the Oreo ad is a fun reflection of our values.”
Miller, who successfully made the case to Marcum to debut the new practice, said she and her colleagues have to keep up with the latest laws and court decisions affecting non-traditional families and assess their impact.

Marcum’s creation of a national practice on LGBT and other non-traditional families doesn’t bode well for clarity or equality to these relationships coming soon.  ”We would not have built a national practice on an issue that would be resolved in a year or two,” Miller said. “This is a long-term issue.”


(From San Francisco Business Times  by Mark Calvey, Senior Reporter)

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Blu Homes Protest Greets 30,000 at Pacific Coast Builders Conference Opening Day in San Francisco

The 30,000 attendees today at the annual Pacific Coast Builders Conference (PCBC) were greeted by a major protest from the employees of a green home building company seeking unionization of its northern California production facility.

More than 100 Blu Homes employees and members of the Carpenters Union Local 180 armed with giant 30-foot tall inflatable effigies of The Grim Reaper and a pig leafleted outside the largest gathering of the home building industry in the western United States today, the opening day of PCBC.

Blu Homes’ production workers are in a labor dispute with Blu Homes after company management has refused to recognize the union even after 38 of 45 workers at the company’s Vallejo signed a petition this year demanding representation by the Carpenters Union. More than 17 unfair Labor Charges have been filed with the National Labor Relations Board against Blu Homes.

The Carpenters Union charges that Blu Homes’ President Bill Haney and his behavior toward its workers and environmental practices do not match the pro-environment and pro-worker projects that have marked Mr. Haney’s career or the efforts of people on the company’s Board of Advisers, including Robert Kennedy, Jr., whose father played a pivotal role in the unionization of California farm workers.

Blu Homes Inc., a Massachusetts-based company that designs and builds pre-fabricated single family green homes, opened a new facility inside Vallejo’s historic Factory Building 680 on Lennar Mare Island in December 2011.

Shortly thereafter, workers approached Carpenters Local 180, asking for help in resolving issues of poor bathroom facilities, lack of gender specific bathrooms, job safety and the lack of a retirement plan.  The overriding factor was a lack of respect for the workers from management, according to Carpenters representatives.

Haney has been described in the NY Times as one of America’s leading environmental entrepreneurs.  In addition to his business and investment successes that made him a multi-millionaire, he is also a documentary filmmaker, taking his camera to places where social injustice was met with resistance by those on the ground.

From the Dominican Republic, where he focused on the struggle of Haitian sugar workers in “The Price of Sugar,” to the mountains of West Virginia, where he chronicled a community’s fight against mountain top removal mining, Haney’s films emphasize the power of ordinary people. Along the way, he has spoken forcefully against the evils of corporate greed, against environmental degradation and union busting, and for the powers of workers organizing into a union.

Haney, being interviewed about his documentary, “The Price of Sugar” and the struggle of Haitian sugar workers in the Dominican Republic said: “…one of the most interesting things that took place for me was to be present at the birth of a union. It was extraordinary to see the power and vitality of a union and how desperate these workers were without it and what improvements could be ripped from the plantations owner’s hands if there was one…”

Haney, commenting on Massey Energy and the fight against mountaintop removal mining: “…you know, there are miners working there who are getting a pathetic fraction of what they would have gotten even 10 years ago when they had protection with the unions. So, they’ve destroyed the unions, they’ve beaten up on the environment, they’ve violated federal health and safety standards, to what appears to be really the enrichment of a very small number of people, primarily the executives of the company.”

The Carpenters’ union thinks Haney is a hypocrite. Haney has positioned himself as a champion of the environment, an ally of the poor, and a defender of unions. So one must ask: why can’t he live up to his own words at his own company?

The Blu Home workers in Vallejo have overwhelmingly petitioned for union representation and they are being denied this right by the very same man that encouraged unionization in the Dominican Republic and in the hills of West Virginia. That’s not irony–that’s hypocrisy, some on the picket line said today.

In March 2012, Blu Homes raised $25 Million in Capital from new investors Brightpath Capital Partners and The Skagen Group in the Netherlands. According to the company, this brings total investment in Blu Homes to $50 million since 2007.

One can only hope that Mr. Haney and Robert F. Kenney Jr. and the other board members will recognize the right of workers to organize and have decent and safe working conditions and benefit from the growth of Blu Homes.

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The celebrated actor and clown’s critically acclaimed one-man show tells the

incredible true story of growing up in San Francisco’s Pickle Family Circus

SAN FRANCISCO (June 26, 2012)— After receiving ecstatic reviews and audience ovations last winter, Lorenzo Pisoni’s celebrated one-man show, Humor Abuse, returns to American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) for an exclusive limited engagement. Created by Pisoni and director Erica Schmidt, Humor Abuse takes us under the big top with Pisoni’s incredible true story of growing up as the youngest member of San Francisco’s Pickle Family Circus. Celebrating the complicated, no-holds-barred life of a performer, Pisoni shows off the tricks of the trade he learned from his father, Pickle cofounder Larry Pisoni. A hilarious and heartfelt event that will delight audiences of all ages, Humor Abuse dazzles with unforgettable stories and mesmerizing routines. The show has been critically acclaimed throughout its runs around the country: the New York Times called Pisoni “a performer of charisma and charm with the split-second timing and aplomb of Buster Keaton;” Variety praised the show as “surprising, funny, and entirely theatrical;” and during the show’s sold-out run in January, the San Francisco Chronicle awarded the show its highest rating, hailing it as “90 minutes of nonstop hilarity . . . a tour de force of physical comedy and a gift to the Bay Area.” Humor Abuse performs August 3–19, 2012 at the American Conservatory Theater (415 Geary Street, San Francisco). Press night is Friday, August 3, 2012, at 8 p.m. Tickets (starting at $25) are available by calling the A.C.T. Box Office at 415.749.2228 or at

About returning to the Bay Area, Pisoni—who previously appeared on the A.C.T. stage in 2005’s hugely popular The Gamester and also recently performed in Broadway’s Equus alongside Daniel Radcliffe—says: “When I was asked if I was interested in doing Humor Abuse again at A.C.T., there was no question. Being able to share the story of my father and the Pickle Family Circus with Bay Area audiences was an absolute dream come true and I am truly thankful for the opportunity to share it all again.”

Pisoni was born into the Pickle Family Circus shortly after his parents, Larry Pisoni and Peggy Snider, founded the alternative big top in 1974 with their juggling partner, Cecil MacKinnon. After Bill Irwin and Geoff Hoyle joined their ranks—creating the incomparable clown trio of Lorenzo Pickle (Pisoni), Willy the Clown (Irwin), and Mr. Sniff (Hoyle)—the Pickles became a venerable and beloved Bay Area institution. They toured the West Coast (and beyond) through the 1980s and ’ 90s and led the charge in the renewal of the American circus, exchanging animal acts, pyrotechnics, and the supersized three-ring format with daring acrobatics and its famous show-stopping group juggle, all presented on one intimate stage so audiences would not miss a single moment. Lorenzo Pisoni grew up in this hotbed of creativity, first appearing onstage at the age of two. He became his father’s clown partner not long after, and he continued to perform with the troupe during his teens. Pisoni, a natural storyteller, gives the audience a unique take on the familiar coming-of-age story and creates a moving and hilarious portrait of a father-and-son relationship. His recollections are centered around physically demanding tricks (both newly created acts as well as and reenactments of his father’s famous Pickle performances) that show off his skills as a juggler, acrobatic, clown, and physical comedian.

The creative team for Humor Abuse includes lighting designer Ben Stanton (Seminar on Broadway,  Angels in America at the Signature Theatre), sound designer Bart Fasbender (over 100 productions, including work at The Public Theater, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Atlantic Theater Company), and composer Randy Craig (who is an original Pickle Family Circus member and recently composed and performed the music for A.C.T.’s production of Scapin). Humor Abuse is stage-managed by Hannah Cohen.

A.C.T.’s production of Humor Abuse is made possible by producer Marilee K. Gardner. A.C.T. would also like to acknowledge its 2012–13 season company sponsors Ray and Dagmar Dolby, Frannie Fleishhacker, Ambassador James C. Hormel and Michael P. Nguyen, Koret Foundation, Fred M. Levin and Nancy Livingston, The Shenson Foundation, Burt and Deedee McMurtry, Mary and Steven Swig, Doug Tilden, and Jeff and Laurie Ubben.

A.C.T.’ s 2012–13 season continues with many other incredible productions. Next up is the West Coast premiere of George C. Wolfe’s Tony Award–winning production of The Normal Heart (September 13–October 7, 2012), followed by Carey Perloff’s sweeping production of Sophocles’ Greek tragedy Elektra (October 25–November 18, 2012), featuring core acting company member René Augesen in the title role and associate artist (and Academy Award winner) Olympia Dukakis as the fiercely partisan Chorus Leader. December brings A.C.T.’s celebrated production of the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol (November 29–December 24, 2012), now in its 36th year. This version of A Christmas Carol,, adapted by Paul Walsh and Carey Perloff, stays true to the heart of Dickens’s timeless story of redemption and brings a playful sensibility to his rich language. Widely considered one of the most influential plays of the 20th century, Tennessee Williams’ sultry classic, A Streetcar Named Desire (January 17–February 10, 2013) takes the stage in a sumptuous new production. Next A.C.T will present the world premiere of George F. Walker’s Dead Metaphor—a hilarious dark comedy about the hypocrisies of postwar living (February 28–March 24, 2013).  In the spirit of the beloved hit The Black Rider, A.C.T. is thrilled to continue the tradition of introducing eclectic, unforgettable musical projects to the stage with the world premiere of Stuck Elevator (April 4–28, 2013). A powerful and poignant hip-hop opera, Stuck Elevator is based on the true story of a Chinese restaurant deliveryman who was trapped in a Bronx elevator for 81 hours. As the event of the season, A.C.T. is thrilled to present the Bay Area premiere of The National Theatre of Scotland’s internationally acclaimed production of Black Watch (May 3–June 9, 2013). Written by Gregory Burke and directed by John Tiffany (who recently won a Tony Award for his inventive work on the acclaimed Broadway musical Once), Black Watch is based on interviews Burke conducted with soldiers of the legendary Scottish regiment who served in Iraq. The 2012–13 season culminates with a new production of Tom Stoppard’s masterwork Arcadia (May 16–June 9, 2013). Hailed as one of the best plays of the 20th century, Arcadia unfolds in a beautiful English country house and moves between the 19th century and the present through a series of love stories, as characters from both eras discover connections, unearth mysteries, and unravel hidden truths about the nature of heat and desire. To subscribe or to receive a season brochure, please call 415.749.2250 or visit
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New Federal Funds to Improve Transportation, Directly Support Mission Bay as Hub of Innovation, Job Growth & Neighborhood

 Today Mayor Edwin M. Lee joined Democratic Leader Nancy to announce a federal $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to improve transportation infrastructure in the City’s Mission Bay neighborhood.

The funding, called Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER), will support the Mission Bay/UCSF Hospital Multimodal Transportation Project by completing the remaining backbone transportation infrastructure necessary to support the dynamic Mission Bay community, representing $9 billion in combined investment from the State, the City and the private sector. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and San Francisco Building Trades joined the announcement.

“San Francisco’s dynamic Mission Bay neighborhood has become an international model for sustainable, transit-oriented development and a hub of innovation and job growth,” said Mayor Lee. “The TIGER grant award for Mission Bay speaks to the power of public-private partnerships. I am grateful to President Obama, Leader Pelosi, Secretary LaHood, Lieutenant Governor Newsom and our partners for making this project a success.”

Mission Bay is transforming from a blighted, abandoned rail-yard to a mixed-use, transit-oriented innovation center and thriving neighborhood. TIGER funds will complete the street grid, build pedestrian and bicycle facilities, improve the highway off-ramp and construct a short-run loop for the light rail that will enable SFMTA to double service to the area.

“San Francisco has always led the way in infrastructure investments that grow our economy and spur prosperity for local communities,” said Leader Pelosi. “This $10 million commitment for transportation at Mission Bay builds on that record: to create jobs in our city and serve as a model for sustainable development nationwide. I was proud to advocate on behalf of this worthy project and applaud Secretary LaHood for his continued commitment to rebuilding America.”

“President Obama’s support for an America built to last is putting people back to work across the country building roads, bridges and other projects that will mean better, safer transportation for generations to come,” said Transportation Secretary LaHood. “TIGER projects mean good transportation jobs today and a stronger economic future for the nation.”
“Mission Bay is revitalizing an entire sector of San Francisco and creating jobs. The TIGER grant for this project will build on state and local investment to support this important infrastructure,” said Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. “Transit-oriented development surrounding the biotech, medical and educational uses which serve as the core of this growing community provides a model for creating a vibrant and sustainable future for California.”

Mission Bay is an economic engine crucial to the region and state which, at full build-out, will be home to a projected 30,000 jobs in critical fields like healthcare, biotech and education. The Mission Bay/UCSF Hospital Multimodal Transportation Infrastructure project is shovel ready, with permits in hand and preparatory work underway, insuring that these funds will be leveraged immediately. Mission Bay includes a 43-acre UCSF research campus and state-of-the-art UCSF hospital serving children, women and cancer patients, now under construction. More than 40 private biotechnology companies – including Bayer, Fibrogen and Nektar – have moved to Mission Bay. The result is a booming economic cluster of statewide and nationwide significance, focused on innovative life science research and development.


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Symphony Announces Holiday Concert and Additional Season Concerts


SAN FRANCISCO, CA, June 21, 2012 – Concerts by Wilson Phillips and Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, and holiday concerts with Pink Martini, Chris Botti, Judy Collins, The Count Basie Orchestra, and Peter & the Wolf with narrator John Lithgow are newly added highlights of the 2012-13 schedule at Davies Symphony Hall, announced today by the San Francisco Symphony. New additions to the holiday concert lineup also include the annual Colors of Christmas shows with Peabo Bryson, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr., James Ingram, and Stephanie Mills; Handel’s Messiah with the Orchestra and SFS Chorus; Mariachi Sol de México de Jóse Hernández; screenings of The Snowman animated film with live orchestra accompaniment; ‘Twas the Night and Deck the Hall concerts; and the 2012 New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball. Vocalist Bobby McFerrin performs his “Spirit You All” program March 30.

Tickets go on sale for all added special and holiday concerts Tuesday, June 26 at 10 a.m. at, by phone at 415-864-6000, and at the Davies Symphony Hall box office on Grove Street between Franklin Street and Van Ness Avenue. Individual tickets for the SF Symphony Opening Gala Concert September 19, with violinist Joshua Bell joining Michael Tilson Thomas and the Orchestra, are also on sale June 26. Individual tickets for all other concerts in the Symphony’s 2012-13 season, which begins September 5, go on sale Monday, July 23 at 8 a.m. at the box office and 10 a.m. at www.sfsymphony.organd at 415-864-6000.

The Symphony’s holiday concerts include several particularly suited for children and families to attend together, with several offering half-price tickets for children 17 and under. San Francisco Symphony musicians and special guests perform two Deck the Hall family concerts of holiday music December 2, followed by entertainment, refreshments, and arts and crafts for children. On December 8, the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra will perform its ever-popular Peter and the Wolf afternoon concerts, featuring John Lithgow as narrator. Ragnar Bohlinleads soprano Joélle Harvey, mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson-Cano, tenor Andrew Stenson, bass-baritone Michael Sumuel, and the San Francisco Symphony Chorusand Orchestra in three performances of Handel’s Messiah on December 13, 14, and 15. The animated children’s film The Snowman will be screened December 21 at Mondavi Center at UC Davis and December 22 at Davies Symphony Hall, with live accompaniment by the San Francisco Symphony and the Pacific Boychoir. Mariachi Sol de México de Jóse Hernándezbrings Mexican and traditional Christmas favorites to Davies Symphony Hall December 21. SFS Chorus Director Ragnar Bohlinleads soprano Lisa Vroman, and members of the Orchestra and Chorus in three ’Twas the Night Christmas concerts, featuring favorite carols and sing-alongs, December 22, 23, and 24. The lobby of Davies Symphony Hall will be transformed for the holidays into an evergreen wonderland with towering trees, each one uniquely decorated with sparkling decorations made by kids from local schools and volunteers from community groups.

The female trio of Wilson Phillips performs covers of Beach Boys and The Mamas and the Papas songs and their own hits on November 17. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings bring their gritty soul and funk on November 24. On November 28 and 29, multicultural orchestra Pink Martini and vocalist China Forbes return to San Francisco for two holiday concerts with the Symphony. On November 30 and December 1, trumpeter Chris Botti performs a holiday program, playing both with his band and with the Orchestra. The annual Colors of Christmas concerts return to Davies Symphony Hall as vocalists Peabo Bryson, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr., James Ingram, and Stephanie Mills sing Christmas songs and their own pop hits on December 10, 11, and 12. On December 16, The Count Basie Orchestra performs holiday hits, jazz standards, and swing. Folk legend Judy Collins sings with the Orchestra December 19.

On December 31, revelers at the city’s most elegant New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball take over Davies Symphony Hall and count down to 2013, with music from the San Francisco Symphony, soprano Heidi Stober, and Dance Through Time, and dancing to big band music with The Peter Mintun Orchestra, swinging standards with The Martini Brothers, and Neil Diamond covers by Super Diamond.



Wednesday, September 19 at 8 p.m. at Davies Symphony Hall

Single tickets go on sale June 26 for Michael Tilson Thomas leading the San Francisco Symphony and special guest violinist Joshua Bell in the Symphony’s 2012-13 Opening Gala concert. Bell performs Chausson’s Poème and Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo capriccioso. The Orchestra also performs selections from Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette and Ravel’s Boléro. This black-tie evening begins with a sparkling wine reception. Following the concert, celebrate at the after-party with live music, dancing, and savory treats from the Bay Area’s finest eateries. Proceeds benefit the San Francisco Symphony’s education and community programs, providing music education to more than 75,000 Bay Area children each year. Concert tickets include access to the Opening Gala Promenade and post-concert parties.



Saturday, November 17 at 8 p.m. at Davies Symphony Hall

The four-time Grammy® nominated group Wilson Phillips takes the stage at Davies Symphony Hall, performing songs from their new release Dedicated, which features covers of The Beach Boys and The Mamas and the Papas. One of the best-selling female groups of all time, Wilson Phillips is Carnie Wilson and Wendy Wilson (daughters of Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys) and Chynna Phillips (daughter of John Phillips and Michelle Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas). The trio reinvents the songs of their parents and perform their beloved hits “California Dreamin’,” “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” “Good Vibrations,” and more, as well as their own best-known songs. In spring 2012, the lifelong friends starred in Wilson Phillips: Still Holding On, a TV Guide Network reality show documenting the group’s adventures in and out of the recording studio.



Saturday, November 24 at 8 p.m. at Davies Symphony Hall

Steeped in gospel, soul, and funk, this nine-piece Brooklyn collective has continued to electrify fans the world over with its authentic, heartfelt sound. Their four critically-acclaimed albums recall an honest, analog sound reminiscent of Motown and Stax Records, and have thrust Jones, a native of Augusta, GA, and crew into the multimedia limelight. Their live show has attracted collaborators including David Byrne, They Might Be Giants, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed, and Michael Bublé. The Dap-Kings’ musical chops have also been in high-demand by artists including Al Green. Jones celebrated her silver-screen debut in the Denzel Washington-led film, The Great Debaters, in which she acted, sang, and recorded the majority of the movie’s soundtrack. In June 2012, the band appeared at the Bonnaroo Festival, and heads next to Europe for a month-long tour, including dates in Denmark, Germany, Belgium, France, Spain, Turkey, Italy and Norway.



Wednesday, November 28 and Thursday, November 29 at 7:30 p.m. at Davies Symphony Hall

The Portland, Oregon-based “little orchestra” was created in 1994 by Harvard graduate and classically trained pianist Thomas M. Lauderdale to play at political fundraisers for progressive causes. Fronted by multilingual and multitalented China Forbes, the band plays a repertoire that consists of an eclectic blend of 1930’s Cuban dance orchestra, classical chamber ensemble, Brazilian street band, and Japanese film noir. In 2010 the band released Joy To The World—a festive, multi-denominational holiday album featuring songs from around the globe. Its previous recordings–Hang On Little Tomato in 2004, Hey Eugene! in 2007, and Splendor In The Grass in 2009—have been popular worldwide; the group made its European debut at the Cannes Film Festival and in the years following went on to tour Europe, Asia, and the United States. Equally at home performing its eclectic repertoire on concert stages and in smoky bars, Pink Martini draws a wildly diverse crowd. The ensemble made its orchestral debut with the Oregon Symphony Orchestra in 1999 and has since performed with other orchestras across the country including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Boston Pops, the National Symphony, and the BBC Concert Orchestra. Donato Cabrera conducts.


Friday, November 30 and Saturday, December 1 at 7:30 p.m. at Davies Symphony Hall

Trumpeter Chris Botti performs material from his new album, Impressions, with his band and the Orchestra, conducted by Brett Kelly. Impressions expresses Botti’s love for rich, evocative melodies across a wide variety of genres, and includes music by Chopin, Gershwin, Harold Arlen, R. Kelly, Randy Newman, Bob Thiele and David Weiss, Ivan Lins, Astor Piazzolla, and Cesar Portillo de la Luz, as well as a pair of songs co-written by Botti with Herbie Hancock and David Foster. Botti was persuaded to make a lifetime commitment to the trumpet when at 12 he heard Miles Davis play “My Funny Valentine.” After attending Indiana University, and studying with David Baker, trumpet teacher Bill Adam, Woody Shaw and saxophonist George Coleman, he spent his early career crafting his skills in the Buddy Rich Big Band and playing with artists from Frank Sinatra to Natalie Cole and Joni Mitchell. Botti played extensively with Paul Simon, and had an especially creative association with Sting. His records have sold more than those by any jazz instrumentalist in the world.



Sunday, December 2 at 11:00 and 3:00 p.m. at Davies Symphony Hall

The San Francisco Symphony’s annual Deck the Hall event celebrates the holiday season with a magical stage show designed for children ages three to 10. Members of the cast of Beach Blanket Babylon,
Dance Through Time, San Francisco Boys Chorus, and SF Jazz High School All-Stars Orchestra perform. Inaugurated more than 30 years ago by the late Louise M. Davies, this holiday classic is a Symphony tradition. The post-show party in the lobbies includes a variety of entertainment, arts and craft activities for children, and refreshments. Special Angel Packages are available with premium concert seating and a pre-concert reception with gourmet treats, holiday crafts, and special time with Santa Claus for the kids.




Saturday, December 8 at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. at Davies Symphony Hall

Actor John Lithgow joins the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra as narrator in two performances of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. The Orchestra will also perform Lithgow’s The Bandshell Next to the Zoo, and festive holiday songs for the whole family to sing. SFSYO Music Director and conductor Donato Cabrera conducts.


Peabo Bryson, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr., James Ingram, and Stephanie Mills with the San Francisco Symphony

Monday, December 10, Tuesday, December 11, and

Wednesday, December 12 at 8:00 p.m. in Davies Symphony Hall

Peabo Bryson, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr, James Ingram and Stephanie Mills celebrate at the annual Colors of Christmas concerts with the San Francisco Symphony, performing traditional Christmas favorites and their individual hits. Bryson’s soft-rock/R&B hits include the Top 10 hit “If Ever You’re in My Arms Again,” the Grammy® Award-winning “Beauty and the Beast” (with Celine Dion), and “A Whole New World (Aladdin’s Theme)” with Regina Belle. McCoo and Davis are best known for their hits with The 5th Dimension, including “Aquarius,” “Wedding Bell Blues,” and “Last Night (I Didn’t Get to Sleep)” and R&B crooner Ingram had major hits with songs including “Baby, Come to Me,” “I Don’t Have the Heart,” and “Yah Mo B There.”


HANDEL’S MESSIAH With the San Francisco Symphony and SF Symphony Chorus

Thursday, December 13, Friday, December 14, and Saturday, December 15
at 7:30 p.m. at Davies Symphony Hall

The Grammy® Award-winning SF Symphony Chorus, conducted by Chorus Director Ragnar Bohlin, is joined by soloists Joélle Harvey, soprano; Jennifer Johnson-Cano, mezzo-soprano; Andrew Stenson, tenor; Michael Sumuel, bass-baritone; and the Orchestra in these holiday performances of Handel’s glorious Messiah oratorio.



Sunday, December 16 at 7:30 p.m. at Davies Symphony Hall

The Count Basie Orchestra embodies swing, style, rhythm and soul, and the ensemble brings its classic brand of big band jazz to Davies Symphony Hall for a night of jazz and pop standards, and its unique, foot-tapping take on favorite Christmas carols.



Wednesday, December 19 at 7:30 p.m. at Davies Symphony Hall

The folk and pop vocalist and songwriter Judy Collins joins the San Francisco Symphony for a performance of her timeless songs and hits as well as some holiday favorites. Collins’ Grammy® award-winning contemplative songs, paired with her creamy voice and heartfelt delivery, have been entertaining and enthralling fans for many years. In this special holiday performance, Collins takes the audience on a journey showcasing her legendary, wide-ranging vocal talents, performing ballads from her vast songbook, along with special holiday songs, all delivered in her singular style.


Friday, December 21 at 7:30 p.m. at Davies Symphony Hall

The 14-piece Grammy®-nominated ensemble Mariachi Sol de Méxicode Jóse Hernández returns to Davies Symphony Hall for a colorful celebration of Mexico’s Christmas traditions. Mariachi Sol de México has performed with artists including Selena, Juan Gabriel, Jose Feliciano, Luis Miguel, Vikki Carr, Rocio Durcal, Lucha Villa, Maria Conchita Alonso, Paloma San Basilio, Emilio Navaira, Lola Beltran, Vicente Fernandez, The Beach Boys, and Willie Nelson. The music of Mariachi Sol de México has been heard on the soundtracks of Sea Biscuit, The Old Gringo, American Me, Don Juan de Marco, Disney’s The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit, A Million to Juan, and Beverly Hills Chihuahua. They have recorded more than a dozen CDs, including the Latin Grammy-nominated Tequila con Limón and the 25th Anniversario Jóse Hernández y Su Mariachi Sol de México, also nominated for a Grammy® Award.



Animated film and sing-along with the San Francisco Symphony

Friday, December 21 at 7:00 p.m. at Mondavi Center, UC Davis,
Saturday, December 22 at 11:00 a.m. at Davies Symphony Hall

This charming animated 26-minute film (Dianne Jackson, 1982) tells the tale of a young boy’s poignant friendship with a snowman. The San Francisco Symphony performs the score to this family-friendly movie, led by Resident Conductor Donato Cabrerawith the Pacific Boychoir. After the movie, hear Christmas favorites performed by the Orchestra. The audience is invited to sing along with the Orchestra to some great holiday chestnuts.


Carols and sing-alongs with members of the SF Symphony Chorus and Orchestra

Saturday, December 22 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, December 23 at 4:00 p.m.
 Monday, December 24 at 2:00 p.m. at Davies Symphony Hall

This special Christmas concert offers conductor and SF Symphony Chorus Director Ragnar Bohlinleading soprano Lisa Vroman, members of the San Francisco Symphony, and members of the SFS Chorus in beloved Christmas carols and favorite childhood Christmas songs, plus audience sing-alongs and traditional favorites.



Monday, December 31
Doors open and pre-concert entertainment begins at 8:00 p.m.
Orchestra concert begins at 9:00 p.m.

Ring in the New Year at the city’s most elegant celebration, the New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball with the San Francisco Symphony. The December 31 event stars the San Francisco Symphony, conductor Michael Francis, soprano Heidi Stober, and members of Dance Through Time. Everyone attending the event receives a complimentary mask as they enter the beautifully decorated lobby. Beginning at 8 p.m., The Martini Brothersentertain and perform their “swingin’ cocktail music” in the lobby. Starting at 9 p.m., the Orchestra performs polkas, waltzes, and dances onstage in Davies Symphony Hall. Following the concert, guests are invited to celebrate and dance on stage to The Peter Mintun Orchestra. Super Diamond, covering the hits and gems of the one and only Neil Diamond, entertains in the First Tier lobby. Enjoy complimentary sparkling wine and desserts as the clock strikes midnight, 2,013 colorful balloons cascade from the ceiling, and the crowd welcomes in 2013.

A special pre-concert dinner package includes a cocktail reception beginning at 6 p.m. followed by a sumptuous three-course dinner (wine included) in the lobby of the War Memorial Opera House. The dinner package also includes sparkling wine served in the Loge Level lobby at intermission. Dinner packages begin at $160. Call the Davies Symphony Hall box office for more details on the special pre-concert dinners at (415) 864-6000, or visit


Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 8 p.m. at Davies Symphony Hall

With a four-octave range and a vast array of vocal techniques, Bobby McFerrin is no mere singer; he is a true musical Renaissance man, a vocal explorer who has combined jazz, folk and a multitude of world music influences–choral, a cappella, and classical music–with his own ingredients. A ten-time Grammy Award winner, he is also a world-renowned classical conductor, the creator of “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” one of the most popular songs of the late 20th century, and a passionate spokesman for music education. McFerrin sings his “Spirit You All” program, an homage to his father (the opera singer Robert McFerrin, Sr.) and the generations of Americans who sang of our shared joy and pain through the songs commonly known as Negro spirituals. His recordings have sold over 20 million copies, and his collaborations, including those with Yo-Yo Ma, Chick Corea, and Herbie Hancock, have established him as an ambassador of both the classical and jazz worlds. As a conductor, he has worked with the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Vienna Philharmonic.

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U.S. Department of Labor Grants Provide Additional Funds for San Franciscans to

Receive Job Training for New Economy

San Francisco, CA—Mayor Edwin M. Lee today announced that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) awarded San Francisco with an additional $3 million in Workforce Innovation grants to train and reskill San Francisco residents for the City’s growing number of technology and IT jobs. The City’s TechSF Initiative received $5 million from DOL in March.

“Making sure that San Franciscans receive the skills and training they need to compete in the 21stcentury job market is a cornerstone of my economic strategy and critical to our City’s economic recovery,” said Mayor Lee. “I thank the Obama Administration for investing in public-private partnerships that strengthen workforce training and bridge the skills gap between our residents and the good paying jobs that many of our tech companies are creating right here in San Francisco.”

“The Workforce Innovation Fund was created to cultivate and test innovative approaches to workforce training and encourage the replication of evidence-based practices in the workforce development field,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “Developing new and creative strategies and expanding existing programs we know work will help make the workforce system more effective to unemployed Americans and employers looking for qualified employees.”

The DOL Workforce Innovation Fund, in part, focuses on partnerships with specific industry sectors to develop programs to provide current and future job skill needs and the grants help develop the most effective strategies in workforce development. San Francisco was one of only 26 grant recipients nationwide.

Mayor Lee launched the TechSF initiative in March. The new $3 million funding will pilot the TechSF—Workforce Innovation project to transform workforce service delivery by leveraging and building upon San Francisco’s tech industry and TechSF Initiative. TechSF—Workforce Innovation uses best practices and pilots technological innovations and non-traditional workforce training methods in the IT and digital media sectors to bridge the current skills gap. The initiative will be replicable beyond the IT sector; relevant to other labor markets throughout and beyond the regional economy; and will diversify the workforce.

The City will work with industry employers to identify job needs—including mentoring, internships, interviews, curriculum development and co-teaching.


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On Scene with Bill Wilson: SFPUC LEEDs to Platinum

SFPUC’s new building at 525 Golden Gate Avenue

San Francisco, CA— Mayor Edwin M. Lee and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) officially unveiled its completed headquarters building at 525 Golden Gate Avenue in San Francisco. The 525 Golden Gate Headquarters is one of the few buildings in the world built to LEED Platinum standards and is also one of the greenest buildings in North America.

“We built 525 Golden Gate to save ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars, create jobs in our construction industry and demonstrate to the world best practices for energy efficiency and water conservation,” said Mayor Lee. “Built ahead-of-schedule and on-budget, using a local workforce, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s new headquarters represents forward-thinking and San Francisco ingenuity at its best.”

With 13 floors, the new skyscraper in Civic Center plaza can comfortably house more than 900 occupants. Employees from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission will gradually move into the new building in July and August.

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission built 525 Golden Gate in San Francisco with local San Franciscans performing 40 percent of the construction work. The building cost $146.5 million to construct. Total project costs including design, permitting, planning and moving was $201.6 million. The Department of Public Works served as project managers, with construction provided by Webcor Builders and design provided by KMD and Stevens & Associates.

The view from the 12th floor facing north

The 525 Golden Gate Headquarters achieves the City’s commitment to fiscal responsibility for ratepayers and the commitment to responsible environmental stewardship.

The SFPUC currently leases office space for 900 employees at 1145 and 1155 Market Street. The SFPUC estimates that building and owning 525 Golden Gate, will allow the department to save ratepayers approximately $3.7 billion over the anticipated 100-year life of the building ($500 million in 2011 dollars).

The 525 Golden Gate Headquarters will also allow the SFPUC and the City of San Francisco to share best practices for water conservation and energy efficiency. 525 Golden Gate is on-track to achieve LEED certification 6-12 months after the building becomes operational.

525 Golden Gate consumes 32% less energy than similarly-sized office buildings.
• Clean, greenhouse gas-free Hetch Hetchy power is the building’s main source of energy.
• An integrated, hybrid solar array and wind turbine installation can generate up to 227,000 kWh/year or 7% of the building’s energy needs.
• A state-of-the-art raised flooring system incorporates the building’s data and ventilation infrastructure and reduces heating, cooling and ventilation energy costs by 51%.
• Maximizing daylight harvesting and minimizing artificial lighting saves electricity.
• Lighting and work station equipment shutoff automatically after-hours.

A view of the wind turbine from the 12th floor

525 Golden Gate consumes 60% less water than similarly sized buildings.
• One of the first buildings in the nation with treatment of gray and black water.
• An onsite “Living Machine” reclaims and treats all of the building’s wastewater to satisfy 100% of the demand for the building’s low-flow toilets and urinals.
• The Living Machine(r), technology by Living Machine Systems, L3C, treats 5,000 gallons of wastewater per day, and helps reduce per person water consumption from 12 gallons (norm) to 5 gallons.
• The building’s rainwater harvesting system can store up to 250,000 gallons of water per year for use by the exterior irrigations systems.

525 Golden Gate’s carbon footprint is 50% less than similarly-sized buildings.
• Features a green concrete mixture using environmentally-friendly materials.
• Parking is limited to four spaces to promote alternative transportation and lower greenhouse gas emissions as part of SF’s Transit First policy.

Mayor Ed Lee answers media questions after a tour of the new SFPUC building
“The unique hybrid wind-solar installation combined with the use of onsite, recycled wastewater makes 525 Golden Gate one of the most self-sustaining buildings anywhere in the world,” said SFPUC General Manager Ed Harrington. “We did not spare any detail to demonstrate the water-saving and energy efficiency revolution that all of us must start to embrace.”

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Tickets now on sale through Sunday, July 22

Due to popular demand, American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) has announced the extension of the Bay Area premiere of The Scottsboro Boys, the critically acclaimed musical based on a tragic chapter in American history. Tickets are now on sale through Sunday, July 22. Preview performances begin Thursday, June 21, with opening night scheduled for Wednesday, June 27. Tickets for all performances are on sale now and may be purchased online at or by calling 415.749.2228.

Nominated for twelve 2011 Tony Awards, The Scottsboro Boys features music and lyrics by the legendary Broadway songwriting team of John Kander and Fred Ebb (Cabaret, Chicago, Kiss of the Spider Woman), book by David Thompson (Steel Pier, Chicago), musical direction by Eric Ebbenga, and direction and choreography by five-time Tony Award winner Susan Stroman (The Producers, Young Frankenstein, Contact). Jeff Whiting will serve as associate director and choreographer. Tony and Emmy Award winner Hal Linden (Barney Miller, The Rothschilds on Broadway) joins the stellar cast as The Interlocutor.

Based on the notorious Scottsboro trials of the 1930s, The Scottsboro Boys tells the story of nine African American teenagers—ranging from 12 to 19 years old—convicted of raping two white girls on a Southern Railroad freight train while hitching a ride to Memphis in search of employment. Despite the fact that one of the original complainants later denied that any rape had occurred, the nine teenagers were subjected to years of brutal imprisonment, death-sentence verdicts, and denied appeals. Reclaiming the framework of a minstrel show and “turning the taboo form on its head,” explains Stroman, the musical—through high-energy dance numbers and exuberant music—courageously addresses one of the most abhorrent episodes in American history.

Based on the notorious 1931 “Scottsboro Case,” The Scottsboro Boys tells the story of nine African American teenagers—ranging from 13 to 19 years old—convicted of raping two white girls on a Southern Railroad freight train while hitching a ride to Memphis in search of employment. Despite the fact that one of the original complainants later denied that any rape had occurred, the nine teenagers were subjected to years of brutal imprisonment, death-sentence verdicts, denied appeals, and long-delayed pardons for a crime they did not commit. Reclaiming the framework of a minstrel show, the musical—through high-energy dance numbers and upbeat music—courageously addresses one of the most abhorrent episodes in American history.

The Scottsboro Boys had its world premiere in February 2010 at the Vineyard Theatre in New York City. The show moved to the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis in July 2010, where it played to sold-out houses, before moving to Broadway’s Lyceum Theatre in October 2010. Hailed as “a masterwork, both daring and highly entertaining” (New York Post) and “a theatrical triumph” (Philadelphia Magazine), the show was nominated for twelve 2011 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and was the recipient of the 2010 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical and the 2010 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical. The show was also nominated for nine 2010 Drama Desk Awards and received a Drama League Award nomination for Distinguished Production of a Musical.

Says A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff: “Susan Stroman is an American treasure whose work has never been seen on the A.C.T. stage. It’s such an honor to welcome her to San Francisco with this seamless, passionate, and imaginative staging of Kander and Ebb’s fascinating tale. With The Scottsboro Boys, Stroman manages to fuse astonishing dancing with heartfelt and complex storytelling in a unique and masterful way that will provide a wonderful complement to A.C.T.’s history of edgy musicals like The Threepenny Opera, Urinetown, Sweeney Todd, and last season’s production of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City.”

The Scottsboro Boys marks the fourth and final collaboration for John Kander, Fred Ebb, Susan Stroman, and David Thompson. Previous collaborations included the 1987 off-Broadway revival of Flora, The Red Menace, the 1991 off-Broadway production of And the World Goes ’Round, and the 1997 Broadway production of Steel Pier. Looking at famous trials of the 20th century as inspiration, the four were immediately drawn to the compelling story of the Scottsboro Boys trials. Says Kander: “As a young boy growing up in Kansas City, I remember when the Scottsboro Boys were first in the headlines. I remember the conversations with my parents about what the trials meant. I am sure there were similar conversations at kitchen tables across the country. I also remember when the headlines began to fade and the Scottsboro Boys gradually disappeared from the national spotlight. As we began to write The Scottsboro Boys, it was immediately apparent why it was so important to tell their story. Behind the headlines, the spectacle, the ongoing trials, and the histrionics of politicians and lawyers was the story of nine young African American boys, determined to prove that they mattered.”

The cast of The Scottsboro Boys features Hal Linden as The Interlocutor, Clifton Duncan as Haywood Patterson, Jared Joseph as Mr. Bones, and JC Montgomery as Mr. Tambo. The cast also includes David Bazemore as Olen Montgomery, Cornelius Bethea as Willie Roberson, Nile Bullock as Eugene Williams, Christopher James Culberson as Andy Wright, Eric Jackson as Clarence Norris, James T. Lane as Ozie Powell/Ruby Bates, Clifton Oliver as Charles Weems/Victoria Price, Clinton Roane as Roy Wright, and C. Kelly Wright as The Lady, with Audrey Martells as an understudy for The Lady and Shavey Brown and Max Kumangai as swings.

A.C.T.’s production of The Scottsboro Boys reunites the original creative team of Jeff Whiting (associate director and choreographer), Beowulf Boritt (scenic design), Toni-Leslie James (costume design), and Ken Billington (lighting design). The creative team also includes Jon Weston (sound design), Eric Santagata (assistant choreographer), Rick Sordelet (fight director), Janet Foster, CSA (casting), and Joshua Halperin (stage manager). This production of The Scottsboro Boys is presented in association with The Old Globe.

A.C.T. will offer numerous InterACT events—many of which are presented free of charge—in association with The Scottsboro Boys that will give patrons opportunities to get closer to the action while making a whole night out of their evening at the theater:

• Audience Prologue: Tue., June 26, at 5:30 p.m.
Get inside the artistic process at this lively preshow discussion with Scottsboro Boys associate director and choreographer Jeff Whiting and a member of the A.C.T. artistic staff.

• Theater on the Couch: Fri., June 29, at 8 p.m.
Led by Mason Turner, chief of psychiatry at San Francisco’s Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, this exciting postshow discussion series explores the minds, motives, and behaviors of the characters and addresses audience questions.

• Audience Exchanges: Tue., July 3, at 7 p.m. | Sun., July 8, at 2 p.m. | Wed, July 11, at 2 p.m.
After the show, stick around for a lively Q&A session with the actors and artists who create the
work onstage.

• OUT with A.C.T.: Wed., July 11, following the 8 p.m. performance
The best LGBT night in town! Mingle with the cast and enjoy free drinks and treats at this popular afterparty. Visit for information about how to subscribe to OUT nights throughout the season.

• A.C.T. PlayTime Workshop: Saturday, July 14, before the 2 p.m. performance
Get hands-on with the art of theater with the artists who make it happen at this interactive preshow workshop. Doors open at 12:45 p.m.; the workshop will begin promptly at 1 p.m.

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All-New Circus Production Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey

Tickets on Sale for Oakland and San Jose Shows Starting Saturday

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents DRAGONS is a once-in-a-millennium event that honors The Year of the Dragon!  Circus performers from the farthest reaches of the earth have assembled for Ringling Bros. Presents DRAGONS to showcase their astounding acts of bravery and astonishing athleticism. Ringling Bros. Ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson presides over this fantastical celebratory tournament of circus champions that brings together mystic dragon lore with authentic circus feats. DRAGONS is a never-before-seen circus adventure of renowned legends and real-life spectacle that is comingto the Bay Area for sixteen action-packed shows from August 8 – 12 at the Oracle Arena in Oakland and August 15 – 19 at the HP Pavilion at San Jose. Tickets will go on sale this Saturday, June 23rd for both venues – available for purchase online at, charge by phone at 800-745-3000 or visit the Oracle Arena or HP Pavilion Box Offices.

The anticipation builds throughout Ringling Bros. Presents DRAGONS as Children Of All Ages® bear witness to one phenomenal Ringling Bros. circus act after another, from Shaolin Kung Fu Warriors, charging Cossack riders, magnificent Asian elephants, fierce tigers to the frenzied motorcycle Globe of Steel. As the audience observes these and even more real-world displays that pay tribute to the dragon, their continued excitement will bring glimpses of the elusive beast. But, the big question remains; will the audience have the Strength, Courage, Wisdom and Heart to lure a true dragon from its golden lair?

Be sure to arrive early to join us for several exciting interactive elements before the show starts!  In both Oakland and San Jose, all Bay Area guests are invited to tour the Animal Open House (open 90 minutes prior to each performance) to get up-close with our amazing animals and chat with our animal care team members directly to ask questions and learn all about our animal stars.  Then one hour before show time, families can step onto the arena floor for the interactive All Access Pre-Show, FREE admission with your ticket!  Join   Pre-Show Host Andre McClain to participate in hands-on experiences such as learning juggling and balancing skills, get performer autographs, see one of Ringling Bros. majestic Asian elephant’s paint a one-of-a-kind masterpiece and meet the Ringling Bros. Clowns, whose side-splitting spoofs and absurd antics are guaranteed to keep audiences roaring with laughter!

Oakland Oracle Arena
Wednesday, August 8 – 7:30 PM
Thursday, August 9 – 7:30 PM
Friday, August 10 – 7:30 PM
Saturday, August 11 – 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM & 7:00 PM
Sunday, August 12 – 1:00 PM & 5:00 PM

Ticket Prices: $15, $20, $25, $40 (VIP),
$65 (Front Row), $100 (Circus Celebrity)

HP Pavilion at San Jose
Wednesday, August 15 – 7:30 PM
Thursday, August 16 – 7:30 PM
Friday, August 17 – 7:30 PM
Saturday, August 18 – 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM & 7:00 PM
Sunday, August 19 – 1:00 PM & 5:00 PM

Ticket Prices: $15, $20, $25, $45 (VIP),
$70 (Front Row), $105 (Circus Celebrity)
Opening Night Ticket Special – tickets available for only $15 each (limit 6 per order; not valid on VIP, Front Row or Circus Celebrity levels)

For more information, visit, Facebook and YouTube.

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Second ImproveSF Challenge Addresses Residents’ Need for

Access to Healthy Foods in Central Market/Tenderloin Neighborhoods

San Francisco, CA—Mayor Edwin M. Lee today announced the second ImproveSF challenge centered on food justice in Central Market, challenging the innovation community to find social justice solutions to improve access to healthy foods for residents in the Central Market/Tenderloin neighborhood.

“Access to fresh, healthy food is a tremendous challenge in some of our neighborhoods, particularly for those most vulnerable in areas like Central Market and the Tenderloin,” said Mayor Lee. “This ImproveSF challenge allows us to use innovation to focus resources and develop real solutions that we can use throughout the City.”

The Central Market food justice challenge was designed in partnership with Supervisor Jane Kim, the Office of Economic & Workforce Development, Episcopal Community Services, the North of Market Community Benefits District, the Department of Public Health and Hub Mission. The challenge is sponsored by Zendesk, the cloud-based help desk software provider that recently relocated to Central Market.

“Providing access to nutritious food and fostering healthy eating habits within our community is a key component of the social justice work that we have undertaken with our Tenderloin and South of Market community leaders,” said District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim. “Whether it’s addressing a lack of access to a kitchen facility or to affordable fresh produce, our residents are actively engaged in piloting new ways to achieve food justice. ImproveSF is an exciting opportunity to fuse their experiences and ideas with on-going tech innovations. I’m looking forward to joining our residents in picking the next ImproveSF challenge winner.”

“The ImproveSF challenge further cements our long-term commitment to help revitalize the Central Market neighborhood,” said Zendesk CEO Mikkel Svane. “We are fans of the ImproveSF platform and love that technology can play such an innovative role in how civic leaders and residents can solve city issues together.”

Solutions to the challenge are due July 20, 2012 and participants will compete for two prizes: a “Dream Day in SF,” provided by Zendesk and a Hub Mission membership and mentorship opportunity from Hub Mission.
Zendesk has also added rewards to the ImproveSF Civic Store, where participants redeem points for voting and commenting on submissions.

“The Hub Bay Area is excited to be a part of an ongoing collaboration with the Innovation Department of the City of SF,” said Hub Bay Area CEO Cory Smith. “We’re entering a new era of bottom-up, community-driven solutions in San Francisco.”

Mayor Lee launched the first ImproveSF challenge with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency in April.

About ImproveSF
ImproveSF is an online platform that empowers citizens to apply their expertise to civic challenges. Each challenge is launched through a partnership with a City agency, a corporate sponsor and community partners. Citizens respond to the challenge by submitting ideas, voting, sharing and commenting. Each challenge awards prizes for winning submissions, and as additional incentive for participation.


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Mayor Lee Joins the White House to Urge Mayors Across the Nation to Pledge

Innovation-Led Drive for Job Growth, Improved Government Efficiency & Greater Collaboration

Today, Mayor Edwin M. Lee, as Chair of the first U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) Technology and Innovation Task Force, announced the Open Government Innovation Partnership – a call to action to help cities advance and prioritize innovation to drive job growth, economic development, improved efficiency and collaboration. The USCM Technology and Innovation Task Force will be asking Mayors to join the partnership as active and committed partners to help build an ecosystem that will help cities advance and prioritize innovation to improve government.

“This is a time for cities to confront challenges by taking risks and embracing innovation,” said Mayor Lee. “In San Francisco, we are using technology and innovation to improve city services that impact our everyday lives, from transportation to education to civic engagement.”

The USCM Open Government Innovation Partnership will:
· Strengthen and increase civic use of innovation, cross-collaboration and improved accountability through open government initiatives;
· Showcase the leadership of cities highlighting innovation and creative best practices to increase opportunities for collaboration with the private sector;
· Secure commitments that will make city governments more efficient, effective, and responsive by embracing the use of open government innovation; and
· Empower private sector organizations to partner with government to make services more efficient, effective, and responsive to residents.

The action plans promote transparency, support a marketplace for entrepreneurship, energize civic engagement and collaboration, and leverage new technologies.

Last week, Mayor Lee hosted a forum recognizing the critical role that technology and innovation play in cities by sharing best practices to enable innovation at the 80th Annual Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Orlando, Florida. The forum included former White House Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, White House Deputy Chief Technology Officer and former San Francisco Chief Information Officer Chris Vein and Code for America Executive Director Jen Pahlka.

The USCM Technology and Innovation Task Force also passed a resolution to support open government and the release of data at all levels of government to spur entrepreneurship, foster economic growth and create jobs. The mayors resolved to work closely with Congress and the Obama Administration to expand funding to support initiatives that direct resources to harness the capability of local economies nationwide in developing regional industry, innovation and export clusters.


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100 Saints You Should Know Extended Through the End of the Month

Theatre Rhinoceros’ production of 100 Saints You Should Know now extended to July 1st, 2012 at Thick House.

A comedy-drama penned by one of America’s most sensitive playwrights, 100 Saints touches on family love, homosexuality and adolescence.  Theresa is estranged from her family and working as a cleaning woman when she finds herself surprised by the unexpected desire to learn how to pray. Matthew, the priest whose rectory she cleans, is stunned and heartbroken by the realization that he no longer knows how to talk to God. When he disappears one day, Theresa feels compelled to track him down, and her search changes both of their lives.

Talkback! Nightly!

After every regular performance  of 100 Saints You Should Know there will be a talk back with the Director and/or Cast/Crew Members of the show. Talkbacks begin immediately after the show (approximately at 9:45 on W/TH; 10:15 on F/SAT; 5:15 on SUN) and are covered by the price of your ticket. This program is funded by the Hewlett Foundation.

Kate Fodor (Playwright)

Kate Fodor’s latest play, RX, was produced Off-Broadway as part of Primary Stages’ 2012 season. Her plays have also been produced by Playwrights Horizons, Epic Theatre Ensemble, San Jose Repertory Theatre, London’s Courtyard Theatre, and Chicago’s TimeLine Theatre Company, among others. She has been a resident playwright at New Dramatists since 2008. Kate’s play Hannah and Martin received the Kennedy Center’s Roger L. Stevens Award, a Joseph Jefferson Citation, an After Dark Award, and a finalist position for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. 100 Saints You Should Know received the National Theatre Conference’s Stavis Award and was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award, as well as being named one of the 10 Best Plays of 2007 by Entertainment Weekly and Time Out New York. Her plays are published by Dramatists Play Service and have been anthologized and excerpted in a number of volumes from Smith & Kraus. Kate’s work has been developed at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Hartford Stage and Centre Theater Group. She has been named one of “Eight to Watch” by The New York Times and is currently at work on commissions from Chautauqua Theater Company and The Playwrights’ Center, where she is the recipient of the 2011-2012 McKnight National Residency. -

John Fisher (Director)

John Fisher’s plays include The Joy of Gay Sex, which was produced Off-Broadway, and Medea: The Musical, which was produced in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and as part of the HBO Comedy Arts Festival. Recent projects include Fighting Mac!, named by the Bay Area Reporter as one of the best productions of 2011, SexRev: The José Sarria Experience (a Theatre Rhino production at CounterPULSE), and Red Scare on Sunset at ACT. John is a two-time winner of the Will Glickman Playwright Award, and a recipient of the NEA Project Grant, a GLAAD Media Award, two L.A. Weekly Awards, a Garland Award, two Cable Car Awards, a San Francisco Bay Guardian Goldie Award, and five Bay Area Theatre Critics’ Circle Awards. He holds a Ph.D. in Dramatic Art from the University of California, Berkeley and has taught at UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz and at the Yale School of Drama. He has been Executive Artistic Director at Theatre Rhinoceros since 2002. Theatre Rhinoceros, America’s longest running professional queer theatre, develops and produces works of theatre that enlighten, enrich, and explore both the ordinary and extraordinary aspects of our queer community.

Thick House 1695

18th Street @ Arkansas  (Muni: 22 and 33 Bus Lines)

San Francisco, CA 94107 or (800) 838-3006

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San Francisco, CA—Frameline, the world’s largest LGBT media arts nonprofit organization, is proud to announce Frameline36: the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival. This year’s internationally renowned showcase for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) cinema runs June 14 – 24, with San Francisco screenings at the historic Castro Theatre (429 Castro Street), Roxie Theater (3117 16th Street) and the Victoria Theatre (2961 16th Street), and in Berkeley at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood (2966 College Avenue).

The tagline for Frameline36, Find Your Story, is a direct action statement inviting you to look through the 104 programs and 217 films in the Festival. During the 11 days of Frameline36, tens of thousands of people from the Bay Area and all across the globe will come together to see the best of new LGBT cinema with more than 30 countries represented including Iran, Chile, Indonesia, South Africa, and Turkey. Tickets for Frameline36 will be on sale through to members on Friday, May 25, 2012 and to the general public on Friday, June 1, 2012.

The 36th Festival will open with VITO by Jeffrey Schwarz, an empowering documentary about the inexhaustible gay activist and film author Vito Russo, chronicling his work and influence on the LGBT community. Russo, a film lover and founding member of both GLAAD and ACT UP, is known for his groundbreaking book The Celluloid Closet, which changed LGBT cinema forever.

Following VITO, the worldwide LGBT film community will come together at Temple Night Club for a glittering Opening Night Gala. Film lovers will mix, mingle, dance and flirt their way through three floors of culinary delights, signature cocktails and effervescent beverages from our Gala Partners.

Frameline36 will feature a retrospective on 1990s New Queer Cinema during this year’s festival, celebrating twenty years since film critic and academic B. Ruby Rich coined the term in 1992. Featured films in the retrospective include Gregg Araki’s THE LIVING END, Cheryl Dunye’s THE WATERMELON WOMAN, Alex Sichel’s ALL OVER ME, and Ana Kokkinos’ HEAD ON. In conjunction with the New Queer Cinema retrospective, Frameline will present the annual Frameline Award to B. Ruby Rich.

The Centerpiece Documentary film at Frameline36 will be Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall’s CALL ME KUCHU, a groundbreaking documentary about the LGBT rights movement in Uganda and the activist David Kato. CALL ME KUCHU was a recipient of the Frameline Completion Fund in 2010. The Centerpiece Narrative film is Ira Sachs’s much acclaimed drama, KEEP THE LIGHTS ON, which tells the moving story about the ten-year relationship of a couple living in New York City. Both CALL ME KUCHU and KEEP THE LIGHTS ON were winners of this year’s Teddy Awards for Best Documentary and Best Feature at the Berlin International Film Festival.

The laughs are plenty when straight girl, Jenn, and her gay best friend, Matt, decide to have a baby “the old fashioned way” in Jonathan Lisecki’s irreverent romantic comedy, GAYBY. Iranian female director Negar Azarbayjani’s remarkable first feature, FACING MIRRORS, is also the first Iranian narrative film with a transgender protagonist. In Alexandra-Therese Keining’s KISS ME an uptight, engaged woman quickly falls in love with her free-spirited, future stepsister, and must decide between burying her feelings and losing those who love her. Bavo Defurne’s NORTH SEA TEXAS is a coming-of-age story set along the Belgian coastline in the early 1970s. Pim is a boy unafraid of his predilection for dressing up in women’s clothes, putting on makeup or pining for the handsome, older boy who lives next door.

Macky Alston’s latest documentary, LOVE FREE OR DIE, deftly unwinds the riveting story of Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay, partnered bishop fighting for LGBT inclusion in the Episcopal Church. The Bishop is expected to attend the screening. Homophobia in urban London affects the lives of two best mates—a black lesbian stud and her gay male sidekick—and they are forced to reevaluate everything they know about love and friendship in Campbell X’s STUD LIFE. Brothers Mo and Rashid are growing up in a traditional Egyptian household in a modest London flat in Sally El Hosaini’s MY BROTHER THE DEVIL. As they each confront their different inner demons and phobias, they must learn it is love and understanding that take real courage—before they are torn apart.

Frameline is also proud to showcase films finished with the assistance of the Frameline Completion Fund. In addition to CALL ME KUCHU, GAYBY and VITO is WILDNESS from director Wu Tsang. Exploring the common urban problem of community, visibility and gentrification, the film is a love story between a young, idealistic transplant and the magical bar that takes him in and helps him grow up.

Of course, Frameline36 would not be complete without outstanding shorts programs. This year’s short programs include the ever-popular FUN IN GIRLS SHORTS, FUN IN BOYS SHORTS, and TRANSTASTIC! programs that feature the funniest and most touching queer short films from all around the world as well as our own backyard with BAY AREA BUFFET.

Speaking of which, Frameline36 has plenty of new works either by local filmmakers or about the Bay Area. A few highlights are Travis Matthew’s I WANT YOUR LOVE, Julie Wyman’s STRONG!, Jack Curtis Dubowsky’s SUBMERGED QUEER SPACES, and Mark Freeman’s TRANSGENDER TUESDAYS: A CLINIC IN THE TENDERLOIN.

The Closing Night film for Frameline36 will be Thom Fitzgerald’s CLOUDBURST, a funny, romantic and moving film starring Oscar winners Olympia Dukakis (Moonstruck) and Brenda Fricker (My Left Foot) as an elder lesbian couple who break free from a nursing home and head to the Canadian border to get married.

Sending off guests and visitors in style, Temple Nightclub will play host to the dazzling Closing Night Party. Enjoying delicious bites, signature cocktails, and sophisticated wines, cinephiles will celebrate the Frameline36 AT&T Audience Award Winners.

Frameline36 is honored to announce the return of AT&T as Grand Sponsor in 2012. AAA Travel also returns as Premier Sponsor.

As the world’s oldest and largest LGBT Film Festival, Frameline36 shares transformative stories through groundbreaking documentaries, entertaining features, touching short films, and cinematic classics. Frameline’s mission is to strengthen the diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and further its visibility by supporting and promoting a broad array of cultural representations and artistic expression in film, video and other media arts.

About Frameline36: The San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival
Frameline36: the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival screens June 14-24, 2012 at the Castro Theatre, (429 Castro Street), Roxie Theater, (3117 16th Street), and the Victoria Theatre, (2961 16th Street) in San Francisco, and in Berkeley at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood, (2966 College Avenue). The Frameline Box Office, located inside Superstar Satellite, (474 Castro Street between Market and 18th) opens Friday, May 25 for Frameline member ticket sales, and Friday, June 1 for the general public. Box Office hours are 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm daily. Box Office is closed Monday, May 28 for Memorial Day. Tickets are also available online ( and via fax (415-861-1404).

Unless otherwise noted, tickets for matinee screenings, (Monday-Friday, 5:00 pm and earlier), are $9.00 for the general public and $8.00 for Frameline members, while evening and weekend shows are $11.00 for the general public and $10.00 for members. Castro Passes, good for admission to all screenings at the Castro Theatre, other than Opening Night and Closing Night, are available for $200. Weekday Matinee Passes, good for admission to all weekday matinee screenings starting at 5pm or earlier at the Castro Theatre are available for $40 for the general public and $35 for members. For more information, visit

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Stern Grove 2012!

San Francisco’s original music festival, Stern Grove Festival, announced  its 75th Season of admission-free concerts, Sundays at 2:00 p.m. from June 24 through through August 26, 2012 at Sigmund Stern Grove, located at 19 Avenue and Sloat Boulevard in San Francisco.

This landmark summer season features a mix of performers as diverse as the city it calls home. This summer’s 10-week concerts series features an array of pop and jazz music greats, including ANITA BAKER, SHEILA E, AL JARREAU, OK GO, OZOMATLI, PRESERVATION HALL JAZZ BAND, MESHELL NDEGEOCELLO as well as the City’s three classical institutions—the SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY, BALLET AND OPERA. Stern Grove Festival is the only venue in the world where all three of these renowned cultural institutions perform every summer, completely admission-free.

June 24 – The Big Picnic Benefit and Concert

Starring Anita Baker The Family Stone and Glide Ensemble

Stern Grove Festival will inaugurate a new tradition–The Big Picnic, An Opening Day Benefit and Concert to launch the summer season. This special event begins with a benefit party followed by the admission-free concert featuring Anita Baker, The Family Stone, and Glide Ensemble. These three acts, well known for getting the audience out of their seats, will set the tone for a dynamic summer at Stern Grove Festival.

Glide Ensemble, a San Francisco institution, opens the concert with an inspiring blend of gospel, jazz, blues, pop, and soul. The Family Stone, featuring Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees and original founding members of Sly & The Family Stone, Cynthia Robinson, Jerry Martini, and Greg Errico, continues the soul-stirring music with their funk-infused sound. And to close the day, Stern Grove Festival is proud to present ANITA BAKER—multiple GRAMMY winner, composer, producer, and all-around superstar, this R&B legend is known for her hit-making sound and smooth vocals.

The performance is dedicated to the memory of Rosalie M. Stern, donor of Stern Grove to San Francisco and founder of the Stern Grove Festival Association. The Big Picnic is presented by Wells Fargo. Concert Sponsors are Sutter Health, Parkmerced, PG&E, Bvlgari, Northern Trust, AT&T, Recology, and Sonoma County Visitors Center. Hotel Sponsor is Hotel Vitale.

July 1 – Preservation Hall Jazz Band and The Stone Foxes

It is particularly fitting to have the acclaimed Preservation Hall Jazz Band return to Stern Grove Festival with the sounds of the Big Easy. Preservation Hall Jazz Band has been a significant part of Stern Grove Festival throughout the years and generations of San Franciscans have fond memories of their concerts. This summer’s performance will feature a special commissioned piece celebrating Stern Grove Festival’s 75th year.

Continuing the Bay Area connection for this concert, local San Francisco band The Stone Foxes open the afternoon with their roadhouse-ready blues and rock sound. Founded in 2005, the band’s gritty sound has won them fans throughout the Bay Area.

Hotel Sponsor is Hotel Rex.

July 8 – San Francisco Symphony with Music Director and Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas

and Members of the SFS Chorus

Stern Grove Festival is proud to present what promises to be an extraordinary performance with the San Francisco Symphony. For the first time in over ten years, SFS Music Director and Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas will conduct a concert in the Grove, also featuring members of the SFS Chorus. The histories of Stern Grove Festival and the San Francisco Symphony have been linked since June 1932 when the Symphony performed the first-ever concert at the Grove. This summer’s program, part of the Symphony’s centennial season and marking Stern Grove’s 75th anniversary, will feature Beethoven’s timeless masterpiece, Symphony No. 9, among other works. To mark this milestone, KDFC Radio, 90.3 FM will broadcast this July 8 concert live, further underscoring how performances at Stern Grove Festival are accessible to everyone.

Today’s performance is dedicated to the memory of Rhoda H. Goldman, Festival Chair from 1968 to 1996. Concert sponsored by Sutter Health, Sonoma County Visitors Center, Galleria Park Hotel, and Hotel Sponsor is Hotel Rex.

July 15 – Nitin Sawhney and Meshell Ndegeocello

A producer, composer, DJ, multi-instrumentalist and all-around Renaissance man Nitin Sawhney brings cross-cultural cool to the Grove. One of the most talented and recognized producers and songwriters within the British electronic and fusion music scene, Nitin Sawhney is also a respected actor, writer, and scriptwriter.

Also performing is singer-songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello with her eclectic blend of folk, jazz, hip-hop, funk, and rock. Since hitting the Billboard charts with a cover of “Wild Night” with John Mellencamp, Meshell has received ten GRAMMY nominations, performed around the world, and collaborated with artists ranging from Madonna and Basement Jaxx to The Blind Boys of Alabama.

Hotel Sponsor is Kabuki Springs and Spa.

July 22 – The E Family Featuring Pete, Sheila E, Juan and Peter Michael Escovedo

Featuring the first family of Bay Area Latin music, The E Family brings the beat in this one-of- a-kind performance featuring the Pete Escovedo Orchestra, The E Family Band with Pete, Juan, Peter Michael, and Sheila E, and a special performance by Sheila E.

Concert Sponsor is Parkmerced and Hotel Sponsor is Kabuki Springs and Spa.

July 29 – San Francisco Ballet

San Francisco Ballet returns to Stern Grove Festival with artists of the Company performing a selection of works from their current repertory. Renowned for its incomparable level of innovation and exuberance, San Francisco Ballet is one of the premier ballet companies in America.

Hotel Sponsor is Hotel Tomo and Kabuki Springs and Spa.

August 5 – Ozomatli and SMOD

Latin alternative rockers Ozomatli return to Stern Grove Festival with their high-energy, danceable blend of hip-hop, rock, and modern Latin sounds. A Festival favorite, the group will also present a kid-friendly performance at KidStage at noon before the concert.

From Mali, the trio SMOD opens the afternoon with a hip-hop hybrid of West African vocal styles, old school rapping, and modern beats. Their debut album, produced and recorded with international star Manu Chao, was released in 2010 in France.

Concert Sponsor is AT&T and Hotel Sponsor is Hotel Carlton. Media sponsor is SF Weekly.

August 12 – Al Jarreau and the George Duke Trio and Mara Hruby

Re-creating a legendary San Francisco recording session, Al Jarreau and The George Duke Trio reunite for an afternoon of jazz classics.

Jarreau’s career started in San Francisco, where he performed with the George Duke Trio as the house band at the Half/Note jazz club, leading to the 1965 album, Al Jarreau and the George Duke Trio- Live At The Half/Note. Since then, with fans worldwide, Jarreau has racked up seven GRAMMY nominations and scores of international music awards for his signature vocal stylings.

Born in San Rafael, George Duke was a mainstay on the 1960’s San Francisco jazz scene and studied at the Conservatory of Music. A respected musician, song-writer, music director, and producer, Duke has worked with greats like Nancy Wilson, Joe Williams, and Dizzy Gillespie and contemporary R&B artists like Jeffrey Osbourne, Gladys Knight, and Anita Baker.

Opening the afternoon and rounding out the Bay Area focus of this concert is Oakland-based neo- soul singer Mara Hruby, a fast-rising star with a smooth, jazzy vocal sound and a singular style. After performing as a dancer and singer backing other Bay Area artists, she recently released her debut EP, From Her Eyes.

Concert Sponsor is Parkmerced and Hotel Sponsor is Galleria Park Hotel.

August 19 – San Francisco Opera

Stern Grove Festival is proud to welcome back the San Francisco Opera and the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. The afternoon’s program features soprano Leah Crocetto, tenor Michael Fabiano, and more soloists performing a selection of operatic favorites.

Today’s performance is dedicated to the memory of Elise S. Haas, Festival Chair from 1956 to 1968. Hotel Sponsor is Hotel Vitale.

August 26 – OK Go and The Family Crest

Known for their viral videos and quirky sound, alternative rockers OK Go close the 75th Season

in celebratory style. At the forefront of an emerging class of creative entrepreneurs making art in both digital and physical spaces, the GRAMMY-nominated group’s self-directed videos have been viewed over 150 million times on YouTube. Their most recent video, which debuted during the Super Bowl, received 200 million hits in less than 24 hours the next day.

San Francisco indie orchestral collective, The Family Crest, opens the afternoon with their fusion of rock, classical, folk, and jazz. Their debut LP, The Village, was pre-released at SXSW this year and will be released nationally this summer.

Concert Sponsor is Parkmerced, AT&T, and Sonoma County Visitors Center. Hotel Sponsor is Hotel Tomo.

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Family Demands StoneMor Cemetery Buy Back Mausoleum After Son’s Ashes Stolen in California

 Gonzales Family Blames StoneMor Partners (NYSE: STON) Cemetary for Desecration and Theft of Son’s Tomb

Lafayette, Calif. – A family is demanding a StoneMor California cemetery take back a $3.2-million mausoleum once containing their son’s ashes.

The family of technology pioneer and Commerce One founder, Thomas Gonzales II, says pure negligence allowed thieves to plunder the family’s mausoleum at the Oakmont Memorial Park Cemetery in Lafayette, Calif., in January of 2011 and steal an urn containing Gonzales’ remains.

Thieves walked off with the remains only days after an initial break-in attempt went unreported by the cemetery to police.

Now the $3.2-million marble mausoleum in the Lafayette cemetery stands empty with only broken glass on the floor—relatives say it’s a cold reminder of their son’s tragic and untimely loss. Gonzales died on Dec. 5, 2001 at the age of 35, after an eight-month battle with gastric cancer.

The Gonzales family poured four years and multi-millions into the design and custom-build of a white marble mausoleum befitting their son’s memory.

“Now, the mausoleum has no value to my family,” said Gonzales’ father, Tom Gonzales, Sr. “The sight of it causes my family so much pain and suffering we think it’s only right for Oakmont to be held accountable.”

The family sued StoneMor California, a division of StoneMor Partners LP (NYSE:STON), on Tuesday (6/12/12) for a minimum of $3.2 million, accusing the national cemetery operator of negligently allowing thieves to walk off with their son’s remains and for failing to alert the family of a previous security breach.

Days prior to the January 16, 2011 theft, a groundskeeper at the Oakmont Cemetery noticed damage to the mausoleum’s steel frame doors. Yet, no one from Oakmont cemetery notified the Gonzales family.

Three days later, thieves once again broke onto the property and stole the bronze urn containing Gonzales’ remains. Police never recovered the ashes, despite a full-scale investigation and a large reward, which the family still is offering today.

“The sheer lack of regard for the Gonzales family and the unconscionable negligence of the StoneMor operators has led to this tragic theft,” said the Gonzales family attorney Harvey Stein of Oakland.

“No monetary value will be enough to compensate the family for the pain caused by this tragedy. The sadness of Thomas’s early death is only compounded by the desecration of his tomb,” Stein added.

Gonzales and his father co-founded Commerce One Inc., a pioneering Internet company in Pleasanton that became one of the fastest-growing firms in Nasdaq history.



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Groundbreaking First-Ever MOU Between Chinese Central Government Body & U.S. City

San Francisco, CA—Mayor Edwin M. Lee today announced that San Francisco signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the 3rd Annual US-China Energy Efficiency Forum in Beijing, China with the Chinese government’s top economic planning body, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). San Francisco’s signing partner for the MOU about sustainable development and energy efficiency is NDRC’s National Energy Conservation Center (NECC). U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke, NDRC Vice Chairman Xie Zhenhua, and U.S. Department of Energy Acting Under-Secretary David Sandalow joined the MOU signing.

“This marks the first MOU between a Chinese central government entity and a U.S. city, demonstrating the importance San Francisco plays as a global leader in energy efficiency and sustainability,” said Mayor Lee. “The agreement provides high-level Chinese central government support for cross-border investment into sustainable development projects and energy efficiency technologies, while also encouraging an increase in joint energy efficiency research and demonstration projects to support a more sustainable planet.”

“We believe this historic MOU provides a unique opportunity for Chinese cities to learn from San Francisco and to more generally deepen ties between our two nations,” said NECC Director General Li Yangzhe. “We couldn’t be more pleased to sign the MOU with the City and Country of San Francisco.”

ChinaSF initiated San Francisco’s relationship with NDRC and NECC during the Bay Area’s 2nd U.S.–China Energy Efficiency Forum last year. The U.S.–China Framework for the Ten-Year Cooperation on Energy and Environment, a collection of initiatives announced in 2009 by President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao, resulted in both the MOU and the Forum.

“The energy efficiency and sustainable development industries are key for San Francisco and China’s economic development. Establishing a bi-lateral agreement with China’s central government around these themes is a major accomplishment for our City,” said San Francisco Office Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) Director Jennifer Matz, who led a delegation of San Francisco government and private sector leaders in energy conservation to the Beijing forum and signed the MOU on behalf of the City of San Francisco.

“This is a great honor and opportunity for San Francisco to share our insight with the most populated country in the world as they try and manage their energy demand,” said San Francisco Department of Environment Director Melanie Nutter, whose office will implement the MOU for San Francisco with OEWD.

“ChinaSF congratulates all parties on this landmark achievement. We look forward to utilizing this unprecedented agreement to guide more Chinese investment and businesses into our City, state and country while also helping facilitate the exchange of best practices in energy conservation,” said ChinaSF Executive Director Darlene Chiu Bryant.

About ChinaSF
With offices in Beijing, Shanghai and San Francisco, ChinaSF is a public-private initiative of the San Francisco Center for Economic Development (SFCED) in close partnership with the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD), supported by funding from private sector partners. Its goal is to attract and retain Chinese investment and business expansion into San Francisco and the Bay Area, and to also support regional businesses in their business efforts in China. For more information, go to:
<> .

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Proposed Measure for November 2012 Ballot Based on Months of Inclusive, Transparent Outreach to City’s Diverse Business Community, Raises $13 Million in New General Fund Revenue for Affordable Housing

San Francisco, CA—Mayor Edwin M. Lee and Board President David Chiu today introduced a proposal to reform the City’s current anti-job business tax structure for the November 2012 ballot. After months of thorough analysis by the City Controller, economic modeling by the City Economist and inclusive outreach to San Francisco’s diverse business communities, Mayor Lee and Board President David Chiu proposed a gross receipts tax as an alternative to the City’s current payroll tax, which punishes companies for growing and creating new jobs in San Francisco. The measure also raises $13 million in new General Fund revenue through increased business license fees for affordable housing.

“San Francisco is the only city in California with a payroll tax and it’s time to reward companies for creating jobs in our City, not punish them,” said Mayor Lee. “After months of inclusive, transparent outreach to the City’s diverse business community and many others, President Chiu and I are proposing comprehensive business tax reform for this November that ends our tax on jobs, protects small business and will bring stable, growing revenue for vital City services and affordable housing for the future.”

“As a former co-founder of a small business, I have long understood the business community’s complaint that our current business tax discourages hiring by directly taxing payroll,” said Board President Chiu. “By creating a more equitable gross receipts system, this proposal moves us in a better direction and will directly encourage job creation.”

San Francisco currently imposes a tax on the payroll expense of persons who conduct business in the City. The tax is levied at a rate of 1.5 percent against a business’s taxable payroll expense, which includes all compensation a person pays to individuals for services performed in the City. The City exempts small businesses with less than $250,000 in payroll expense.

The proposed Gross Receipts Tax Ordinance imposes a gross receipts tax and a gross expense tax on businesses in San Francisco, phased in over five years beginning in tax year 2014 to reduce the business payroll expense tax rates based on the amount of gross receipts tax collected, establishes business registration fees based on gross receipts and gross expenses, and amends the current business registration fees to generate $13 million in additional revenue for the City’s General Fund.

Under the proposal, small businesses that earn less than $1 million annually in gross receipts are exempt from business tax, with progressive rates and schedules for gross receipts over $1 million based on business activity and total gross receipts, or revenues. More than 30 other California cities and most other large cities, including Los Angeles and Oakland, levy gross receipts taxes on local businesses.

The legislation enacting the gross receipts tax would phase-in the new tax at increasing rates, over a five year period. In the first year, the City would impose a small gross receipts tax, and a slightly reduced payroll tax. In subsequent years, the gross receipts tax would increase according to the approved schedule, while the payroll tax would be cut according to a formula described in the legislation. The formula would reduce the payroll tax rate based on how much gross receipts tax revenue was generated in the previous year, with the goal of revenue-neutrality in each year.

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Asian Art Museum Appoints Dr. Laura Allen as Curator of Japanese Art

Dr Laura Allen has been appointed Curator of Japanese Art

SAN FRANCISCO, June 11, 2012 — After an extensive search, the Asian Art Museum today announced the appointment of Dr. Laura Allen as the museum’s new curator of Japanese art, beginning June 11, 2012. Serving as head of the museum’s Japanese art department, Dr. Allen will join associate curator of Japanese art Melissa Rinne in executing advanced curatorial work, organizing special exhibitions, and overseeing the care and academic interpretation of Japanese art objects belonging or lent to the museum.

“Laura Allen’s unique combination of teaching skills, scholarly publication, and curatorial experiences have provided her the kind of intellectual innovation needed to fulfill the museum’s vision to engage and inspire new and broader audiences,” said Jay Xu, director of the Asian Art Museum. “She brings an intellectual acumen that complements her personal warmth and lively thinking. We are thrilled to welcome her aboard.”

Dr. Allen has worked for over twenty years in the field of Japanese art history. After receiving her B.A. in Art History and Asian Studies at Oberlin College, she completed an M.A. in Art History under Alexander Soper at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. Following a year as a Japanese art curatorial intern at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she moved to the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied Chinese and Japanese art as well as classical Japanese literature under James Cahill, Maribeth Graybill, and Helen Craig McCullough. A Fulbright scholarship supported Dr. Allen’s doctoral research on medieval narrative painting at Gakushûin University, Tokyo. Her Ph.D. dissertation was a study of the thirteenth century picture scroll Illustrated Life of Saigyô (Saigyô monogatari emaki).

In 1992, after four years as assistant professor of Japanese art at U.C. Irvine, Dr. Allen embarked on a freelance career focused on research, teaching and writing in her field. Her broad-ranging interests have resulted in publications for scholarly and general audiences, on topics including early narrative painting, Tosa school paintings of The Tale of Genji, the printmaking tradition, and Western-style painting (yôga). She has taught the history of Japanese art to students at U.C. Berkeley, Stanford University and most recently has served as adjunct professor of Asian art at the University of San Francisco. In 2006, she initiated a close affiliation with the Asian Art Museum with a yearlong term as Instructor of Record for the Arts of Asia lecture series.

Since 2009, Dr. Allen has worked closely with Ms. Rinne in the museum’s Japanese department as guest co-curator for recent and upcoming exhibitions, and as an advisor to the Society for Asian Art’s board of directors.

The Asian Art Museum–Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture is one of San Francisco’s premier arts institutions and home to a world-renowned collection of more than 18,000 Asian Art treasures spanning 6000 years of history. Through rich art experiences, centered on historic and contemporary artworks, the Asian Art Museum unlocks the past for visitors, bringing it to life, while serving as a catalyst for new art, new creativity and new thinking.

Information: 415.581.3500 or

Location: 200 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

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Barbara Morrison, Advocate for Women and Small Business, to be honored as “Financial Woman of the Year” by the Financial Women’s Association of San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO, June 8, 2012 – The Financial Women’s Association (FWA) of San Francisco has selected Barbara Morrison, Founder and President of TMC Financing, as the 2012 Financial Woman of the Year. This award recognizes Morrison for her decades of leadership and significant contributions during her career in small business financing. TMC Financing is an SBA-Certified Development Company (CDC) based in San Francisco that has specialized in providing commercial real estate financing to businesses via the SBA 504 loan program for more than 30 years. Morrison also founded Working Solutions, a nonprofit organization committed to providing microloans, coaching and education for Bay Area entrepreneurs.

“The Financial Woman of the Year Award, presented by the FWA Scholarship Fund, recognizes and applauds the role women play in the field of finance in the Bay Area,” said Erin McCune, president of FWA of San Francisco. Morrison’s selection as the 2012 award recipient will be announced at a private reception on the evening of May 31, 2012 at San Francisco restaurant Galette 88, a recipient of TMC funding.

“This award is especially meaningful to me,” exclaims Morrison. “I believe the FWA is recognizing a body of work that is particularly important today – providing access to capital for growing small businesses, and promoting job creation and economic recovery.”

Presentation of Morrison’s award will take place at The Financial Woman of the Year Luncheon to be held on October 2, 2012 at the Hyatt Regency, San Francisco. This award luncheon directly supports the FWA’s Scholarship Fund. Since 1985, the FWA Scholarship Fund has awarded over $1,750,000 in scholarship grants to more than 200 Bay Area women who show promise as future financial leaders.

“We are honored to have Barbara represent our organization as Financial Woman of the Year,” President McCune said. “For over three decades she has lived out our theme of ‘Lead. Mentor. Inspire.’ by demonstrating intense commitment to developing small businesses, supporting the local economy through job growth, guiding future leaders, and creating environments and opportunities where women can excel.”

Throughout her professional career, Morrison has earned numerous awards for her leadership and advocacy for women and small business owners, including being recognized as one of Northern California’s Real Estate Women of Influence in 2011, being named among “Women Who Make a Difference” by the SF Commission on the Status of Women, and being a recipient of the San Francisco Business Times Women in Leadership Award, the Arthur Goodman Achievement and Diversity Award from the National Association of Development companies, and a U.S. Small Business Administration Women in Business Advocate Award.

Among her many professional affiliations, Morrison serves as a member of the California Small Business Task Force of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, a Board Member of the Women’s Leadership Board of the Harvard Kennedy School, and a Board Member of the Buck Institute. She has been a member of the Financial Women’s Association (FWA) since 1996.

A former mayor of the city of Belvedere and former City Council member, Morrison has provided leadership for a number of community organizations, including the Belvedere-Tiburon Library Foundation. She currently serves as an advisory trustee for the Belvedere Community Foundation.

As the 2012 Financial Woman of the Year, Morrison joins a distinguished list of previous honorees including Katie Hall, Hall Capital Partners; Rebecca Macieira-Kaufmann, Citibank California; Janet Lamkin, Bank of America California; Leslie Tang Schilling, Union Square Investments Company; Ann Winblad, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners; and Marie Berggren, U.C. Regents.




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SF Planning Unveils Design for a More Ped-Friendly Broadway in Chinatown

A rendering of the plan for Broadway at the east tunnel entrance. Images: SF Planning

(From   The SF Planning Department this week unveiled its final design for pedestrian improvements on a stretch of Broadway in Chinatown.

The design, which was narrowed down through an extensive community planning process, would add sidewalk extensions, crosswalk improvements, trees, seating, lighting, and bike sharrows between the Broadway Tunnel and Columbus Avenue.

The plan [PDF] would not reduce any of the four traffic lanes or include bike lanes, as was originally proposed in other design options, but those changes could still come in the future. Lily Langlois, the lead planner on the project, said workshop participants showed little support for bike lanes until substantial bike improvements are made in the frightening Broadway Tunnel, which would most likely require re-purposing a tunnel lane for bicycles in each direction. (A bike-activated beacon signal was installed, then upgraded, by the SFMTA, but few, if any, bicyclists seem comforted by it.)  She said the real estate for conventional bike lanes outside of the tunnel could come from a westbound traffic lane.

Also dropped from an earlier proposal was a pedestrian scramble at Stockton. Langlois said staff determined that the intersection was too wide for a scramble, but that corner bulb-outs should sufficiently reduce crossing distances, which she said was the primary concern at the intersection voiced by participants.

The improvements in the current project are expected to create a more welcoming environment for people on the three blocks of Broadway between the east opening of the tunnel and Columbus Avenue. The project is the fourth and final phase of a 20-year effort to improve Broadway following the removal of the Embarcadero Freeway. The intent is to make the street “a destination, as opposed to a freeway connector, and a place to pass through,” said Chinatown Community Development Center Planner Deland Chan.

Grant and Broadway.


Two other phases have already been implemented between Battery and Montgomery (in 2005) and between Grant and Kearny (in 2008). The third phase, between Kearny and Montgomery, is under construction this year.

Over 70 people attended the celebratory open house this week, said Chan, including D3 Supervisor David Chiu, Department of Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru, and Planning Director John Rahaim.

The planning department still needs to find funding for this phase and couldn’t pinpoint a timeline for construction. However, the Prop B street improvements bond and the One Bay Area Grant are the primary options for funding.


Broadway and Stockton.



Broadway at Grant.



Broadway between Grant and Stockton. See the full plan view in this PDF



Broadway between Powell and the east tunnel entrance.


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City Initiative to House 50 Veterans in 100 Days

San Francisco, CA–Mayor Edwin M. Lee today urged San Francisco landlords to join the City’s SF Homes for Heroes campaign and help house 50 homeless veterans in 100 days. The campaign provides help to homeless veterans with federal supportive housing vouchers who cannot find an apartment to rent in San Francisco.

“San Francisco remains steadfastly committed to supporting our veterans and giving them a second chance,” said Mayor Lee. “This unprecedented initiative will help us serve the men and women who have proudly served us in our armed services. While we have a long road ahead to care for our nation’s heroes, we can make a big difference beginning today. I am encouraging property owners to join this effort.”

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development/Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) combines direct rental subsidy to landlords, as well as case management and clinical services provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Last week, a one-bedroom unit was rented to a HUD-VASH client for $1,612 per month. San Francisco’s goal is to house 50 Veterans who have HUD-VASH vouchers from prior year allocations, but who have been unable to find apartments.

In March 2012, Mayor Lee announced that the federal government awarded San Francisco $2.7 million in HUD-VASH funding which includes 200 vouchers to the San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA) to provide permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless veterans in San Francisco and funds for the City to move forward with a groundbreaking adaptive re-use project that will house veterans in need at 150 Otis Street. The funding is part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to end veteran and long-term chronic homelessness by 2015.

“President Obama and I are personally committed to ending homelessness among Veterans,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki. “Those who have served this Nation as Veterans should never find themselves on the streets, living without care and without hope.”

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is collaborating with the “100,000 Homes” Campaign and its 117 participating communities to help find permanent housing for 10,000 vulnerable and chronically homeless veterans this year. San Francisco is one of 17 communities in the country selected to participate in the Rapid Results 100 Day Campaign to end veteran homelessness.

“In keeping with the Obama Administration’s goal of ending Veteran homelessness, I am confident that HUD, working with the VA, the City and County of San Francisco – including the San Francisco Housing Authority – and a host of local nonprofits and property owners, will succeed in housing our heroes,” said HUD Regional Administrator Ophelia Basgal. “SF Homes for Heroes is 1 of 17 community-driven efforts around the country that have committed via the 100,000 Homes Campaign to rapidly house homeless Veterans in 100-days using the HUD-VASH program and we are  well on our way to reaching the goal. Our Veterans deserve nothing less.”

“The San Francisco VA Medical Center is committed to President Obama and VA Secretary Shinseki’s plan to end homelessness. We are working hard to ensure our homeless Veterans acquire needed health care services; have opportunities to return to employment; receive benefits assistance, and are able to secure safe and affordable housing,” said San Francisco VA Medical Center Director Lawrence H. Carroll. “Our partnerships with HUD, the City and County of San Francisco, the San Francisco Housing Authority, community non-profit agencies and property owners will make safe housing a reality. Those who have served this nation as Veterans should never find themselves on the streets, living without care and without hope. Joining together with our partners, as a part of SF Homes for Heroes, reinforces our unwavering commitment and dedication to caring for and housing our Nation’s Veterans.”

The 100 day countdown for the SF Homes for Heroes campaign began on May 9th and has been focused on accelerating the approval process and working to make the housing vouchers more competitive in the active San Francisco rental market. The efforts include streamlining San Francisco Housing Authority inspections, increasing the allowable rent payments to landlords and outreach to private landlords. Mayor Lee has also convened City departments with Federal agencies to cut delays related to paperwork and inspections that can discourage a landlord from renting to a veteran with a HUD-VASH voucher.

Working together to end veteran homelessness in San Francisco, SF Homes for Heroes is an unprecedented collaboration with the City, Swords to Plowshares, the Department of Veterans Affairs, HUD, small and large property owners including the San Francisco Apartment Association, business leaders, and non profit organizations such as the Chronicle’s Season of Sharing, Hotel Council and Philanthropy by Design who play vital roles in terms of rental deposits and furnishings for veterans’ new homes.

For more information, go to: <> .



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Big City Mayors Unite to Call On Mortgage Loan Servicers to Provide Relief Against Foreclosures

San Francisco, CA–Mayor Edwin M. Lee today asked the nation’s five mortgage loan servicers that settled in the joint federal-state mortgage settlement to voluntarily pause foreclosure proceedings against homeowners who are at risk for foreclosure but could be eligible for assistance under the terms of the settlement.

San Francisco was joined by Fresno, Oakland, Sacramento and San Jose in a letter to executives at Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally Financial to pause foreclosure proceedings against some borrowers until the settlement is finalized and the monitoring mechanisms are fully in place.

“A temporary pause in foreclosures provides relief to property owners and gives families an opportunity to remain in their homes,” said Mayor Lee. “We are calling on servicers to provide the time people need to access relief available to them under the federal-state settlement agreement that is now just months away.”

“Fresno is one of the cities hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis, and a significant percentage of our population is just now seriously delinquent and facing imminent foreclosure,” said Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin. “The costs of foreclosures on homeowners, neighborhoods and the cities are substantial. This pause will help people stay in their homes, resulting in an opportunity to stabilize our neighborhoods, and also have a positive impact on our economy.”

California State Attorney General Kamala Harris represented the residents of California at the bargaining table for the federal-state mortgage settlement and continues to advocate for opportunities to participate in the terms of the agreement.

The pause will allow cities to partner with servicing staff, the Attorney General’s office, and local HUD-certified counseling agencies to plan a comprehensive communication and outreach strategy to identify eligible borrowers and inform them of their rights under the settlement. As a result, borrowers will get the information they need to protect their rights, the time to organize their financial documentation, and time to evaluate their loans for modification.

Beginning July 1st, a monitor will oversee implementation of the servicing standards and consumer relief activities required by the agreement and identify where servicers are not in compliance.

While the process unfolds, Mayor Lee is asking to pause foreclosure proceedings against borrowers who could be eligible for relief under the judgments. The settlement is targeted at homeowners who could remain in their homes if a principal reduction or refinancing option were available. Under the settlement, borrowers must continue to make payments or risk losing protection from this temporary halt in foreclosures. Bank of America has already instituted a pause in foreclosure proceedings for its eligible borrowers. Wells Fargo previously instituted a pause in foreclosures until it had its consumer relief programs in place on March 1st.

Acknowledging that distressed borrowers are difficult to reach, Mayor Lee is forming a working group that will include the Attorney General, mortgage servicers, housing counselors, City agencies and community leaders to identify San Francisco homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure, but could be eligible for assistance under the terms of the settlement including immediate cash payments, principal reductions, short sales and refinancing.

Residents seeking modification will be able to use the City’s 311 system to find a housing counselor. The Mayor also announced that the Housing Trust Fund proposal has up to $15 million for housing stabilization for residents.

“As a City we have a collective responsibility to address the impacts of foreclosures on our communities,” said Supervisor Malia Cohen. “This collective responsibility includes the financial institutions and lenders that agreed to the state settlement. The myth that San Francisco is not suffering from the destabilizing effects of foreclosures is simply not true.”



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Gay marriage ban backers look to US Supreme Court

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Gay marriage took another step Tuesday on its march to the U.S. Supreme Court, when a federal appeals court that struck down California’s ban on same-sex unions refused to reconsider the ruling.

Now that the case has run its course in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the measure’s sponsors “absolutely” plan to take the case to the high court, said Brian Raum, a lawyer with the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal defense group.

Backers of the ban, known as Proposition 8, now have 90 days to petition the Supreme Court to review the finding that the ban violates the civil rights of gay men and lesbians in California.

If at least four justices agree to accept the case, oral arguments would likely be held next spring.

The developments came after the 9th U.S. Circuit declined to review a February ruling by two of its member judges who found the state’s voter-approved same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional, in part because it rescinded a right that gay and lesbian Californians already had won.

Same sex unions briefly were legal in the state before 52 percent of voters approved the ban in November 2008.

Gay marriage supporters welcomed the latest news in the long-running legal battle. If the Supreme Court refuses to take up the case and lets the appellate ruling stand, same-sex marriages could be legal again in California by the end of the year.

“The final chapter of the Proposition 8 case has now begun,” said American Foundation for Equal Rights co-founder Chad Griffin, whose group is funding the effort to overturn the ballot measure. “Should the United States Supreme Court decide to review the 9th Circuit’s decision in our case, I am confident that the justices will stand on the side of fairness and equality.”

A majority of the 9th Circuit’s 26 actively serving judges voted against giving the case a second look while leaving Proposition 8 in effect until a Supreme Court appeal is resolved.

Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain issued a terse dissent, arguing that the full 9th Circuit should have reexamined its panel’s 2-1 decision because in his view it was based on a “gross misapplication” of Supreme Court precedent and “overruled the will of seven million California voters.” Judges Carlos Bea and Jay Bybee joined him in that opinion.

The 9th Circuit does not often agree to rehear cases, a procedure known as en banc review. Federal court rules reserve the practice for appeals that involve “a question of exceptional importance” or if the original decision appears to conflict with Supreme Court or 9th Circuit precedents.

Several other high-profile same-sex cases also are moving toward the high court. A three-judge panel of the Boston-based 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declared last week that the federal law that prohibits recognition of same-sex couples unconstitutionally denies Social Security and other federal spousal benefits to married gay couples.

The Massachusetts and California cases could reach justices at the same time, which “probably increases the likelihood the court will take the (Proposition 8) case,” said David Boies, a lawyer representing the two unmarried couples who first sued to overturn the ban three years ago.

At the same time, because the 9th Circuit limited its decision to California instead of ruling that gay marriage bans are inherently unconstitutional, the Supreme Court might be inclined to let it stand, he said.

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Chevron Rolls with the Punches as Ecuador Lawsuit Gets Filed in Canada: Motley Fool Reports Case Has No Impact on A Good Stock

Motley Fool is one of the most highly read and valued financial newsletters in the U.S.  A story posted today by The Fool shines a light on the fraudulent case against Chevron in Ecuador.  See story below.

By David Lee Smith, The Motley Fool

In the National Hockey League, the term “dropping the gloves” indicates that fisticuffs are imminent. And since there was a day when the NHL was populated almost exclusively by Canadians, it seems appropriate to observe that Chevron (NYS: CVX) and its Ecuadorian plaintiffs have dropped the gloves in Canada. Their two-decades-long bout of legal pugilism has now moved north of the border.

During the past wild and woolly week, which ended with the market’s Friday plummet, lawyers for residents of an Amazonian rain forest filed a lawsuit against the big oil company in Canada. Their intention is to help themselves to Chevron’s assets in Canada to satisfy an $18.2 billion judgment that was slapped on the California company — which ranks second in size only to ExxonMobil (NYS: XOM) among U.S.-based fossil fuels producers.

Chevron has no assets in Ecuador. In Canada, however, it’s an active operator on land and off the shore of the country’s eastern provinces. It also refines product and cooperates with a host of other companies in producing crude oil from Alberta’s tar sands. Approximately 3% of its worldwide production emanates from the land of our northerly neighbor. As a result, the plaintiffs and their attorneys could go a long way toward satisfying their questionable judgment, were they able to gain acquiescence from Canadian courts.

Perhaps the only thing that’s completely clear about this bizarre case is that Chevron isn’t guilty in the slightest of any sort of pollution in the country that constitutes OPEC’s runt. What it did do was to acquire Texaco Petroleum in 2001. Texaco had worked in Ecuador until 1992, nine years before it became even a twinkle in Chevron’s eye. Before it ceased its operations and departed the country, Texaco received certification from Ecuadorian government agencies that it had completed all necessary remediation for its share of environmental impacts from its operations in the country.

Three other significant aspects of the case deserve notation here:

  • State-owned Petroecuador owned a majority 62.5% interest in the consortium of which Texaco was a part. It      has continued to work in the affected area during the 20 years since Texaco departed.
  • Before and during the trial in Ecuador — which sported a succession of about a half-dozen judges —      evidence of apparent fraud was uncovered by Chevron on the plaintiffs’ side, including reports by “independent” environmental consultants likely having been ghostwritten by plaintiffs’ attorneys. Indeed, the Ecuadorian court’s judgment may have benefited interested attorneys’ penmanship.
  • The case and the related judgment are currently being considered by a three-judge panel under the      auspices of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. The impetus for that action involves a treaty to which both Ecuador and the United States are signatories.

It also turns out that Chevron isn’t the only U.S. oil company crying foul in the face of Ecuadorian tactics. A half-dozen years ago, Occidental Petroleum (NYS: OXY) filed a suit for damages following the country’s cancellation of the company’s operating contract there. In a skirmish that also lingers on, Ecuadorian authorities claimed that Oxy violated the contract by failing to gain the country’s approval before transferring its 40% stake in a project to Canada’s Encana Corp. (NYS: ECA) . Like its bigger compatriot, Oxy also maintains that Ecuador violated the U.S.-Ecuador bilateral investment treaty.

It’s progressively becoming more apparent, however, that if Chevron didn’t stumble onto bad luck in South America, it probably wouldn’t have any luck in the region. On the other side of the continent, the company continues to joust with Brazilian authorities over a pair of relatively small oil spills from its Frade field operation in the Campos basin. Indeed, the second — and tinier — of the spills may have resulted from natural seepage, rather than from the effects of drilling operations.

Nonetheless, Brazilian authorities have grabbed a big stick, including levying criminal charges against a dozen Chevron employees in Brazil. That’s occurred despite Brazil’s state-run Petrobras (NYS: PBR) having “skated” in the face of a trio of more sizable spills in the past several months.

Regarding Ecuador, however, I continue to scratch my noggin regarding a few significant, but unanswered, questions relating to the lingering Chevron contretemps:

  • Why has Petroecuador — like Petrobras in Brazil — been absolved of culpability for environmental damage in Ecuador, despite its holding a majority position in the original consortium and its continuing to work in the affected area long after  Texaco had bid adios to the country?
  • Based on their bi-lateral  treaty with the U.S., Ecuadorian authorities have been ordered by the  judges in The Hague to disallow the plaintiffs from attempting to collect on the judgment until the panel’s work has been completed. Doesn’t the Canadian suit place Ecuador in violation of its treaty with the U.S.?
  • Why, if their claims are legitimate and untainted by the sort of fraud that’s already been turned up in the      case, haven’t the plaintiffs’ attorneys sought enforcement of their claim in Chevron’s home country, where the largest amount of its assets is  located?

Ideally these questions will be answered before another pair of decades has passed. In the meantime, you may have a question about the attractiveness of Chevron as an investment in the face of sliding oil prices and its disputes in South America. My response: The company is solid, with quality management and sound operations globally. Further, while Exxon’s shares have declined by just over 10% since mid-March, Chevron’s have fallen by nearly 14%. As such, Chevron now trades at a 7.2 times forward P/E ratio, versus 8.8 times for Exxon

With all that in mind, along with my admittedly unlawyerly contention that the dual imbroglios discussed above will ultimately prove frivolous, I’m inclined to urge Fools to place Chevron on their individual versions of My Watchlist.

At the time this article was published Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn’t own shares in any of the companies named in this article. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Chevron and Petrobras. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

From the Motley Fool online post.


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Campaign and Ethics Violation Filed Against Prop A Proponent Quentin Kopp for Hiding California Waste Solutions as True Source of Prop A Last Minute Mailer

Kopp uses long dormant Committee to fund Prop A mailer

The No on Proposition A Campaign will file an ethics complaint today over the unethical action of Quentin Kopp’s Good Government Alliance committee. The complaint, filed with both the Fair Political Practices Commission and the San Francisco Ethics Commission, states that the long dormant group accepted a large contribution by California Waste Solutions, Inc., an out of town waste company, for the express purpose of distributing a Yes On A campaign mailer intended to mislead voters without disclosing its source of funding. This is a violation of state and local government election laws that require the disclosure of the true source of funds in political advertising.

“Since Prop A closed their campaign committee for lack of funding, we’ve been on the look out for inappropriate expenditures and sure enough – the last minute blitz of mail paid for by Waste Solutions,” said Gale Kaufman, the No on A campaign consultant. “You would think Quentin Kopp, a former Judge, who funneled this money through a long dormant committee he controls — would know the Ethics Laws and would abide by them.”

In addition to asking the FPPC and the Ethics Commission to rule on the violations of good government laws requiring the disclosure of the true source of funding for the mailer, the No on A campaign is also asking both enforcement agencies to look at other potential violations in which the committee falsely re-established itself as a general purpose committee in order to deceive the public by sounding like a neutral sounding third-party instead of as a primarily formed ballot measure committee supporting Proposition A.

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