January 29, 2003

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Hall Monitor

By Savannah Blackwell

High-energy resolution: Throwing himself into a possible fight with city energy bureaucrats, San Francisco Board of Supervisors president Matt Gonzalez introduced a resolution Jan. 27 asking the California Public Utilities Commission to let the city control $16 million in state funds. The money, which is designated for programs to reduce the city's electricity needs, is set to be controlled by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. Energy activists urged Gonzalez to act, fearing PG&E's inherent conflict of interest in controlling the cash (an effective energy-efficiency program would cut into the utility's profits) will delay plans to close the aging Hunters Point power plant (see "Power Games," 1/22/03). The resolution is expected to be voted on by supervisors Feb. 4, but it may not be open for public comment. The public can instead file comments in writing or by calling their district supervisors, whose numbers can be obtained from the board clerk at (415) 554-5184. (Rachel Brahinsky)

Parking in the park: The San Francisco Planning Department is seeking public comment on whether a new draft report adequately considers the potential environmental effects of constructing a massive parking garage under the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park. In June 1998 voters approved the garage construction to create more parking for the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum and the California Academy of Sciences. Many park and neighborhood activists have already identified problems with the study – including what they say is insufficient information on traffic congestion expected in the Richmond and the Inner Sunset neighborhoods, the possibility of increased air pollution, and the fate of three historic pedestrian tunnels.

To obtain a copy of the 282-page report, called "Golden Gate Park Concourse Authority Projects" (2001.911E) and released Dec. 14, 2002, contact the Planning Department's offices at 1660 Mission, S.F.; (415) 558-6377. Comments should be sent to Paul Maltzer, Environmental Review Officer, San Francisco Planning Department, 1660 Mission St., Suite 500, S.F., CA 94103. (Savannah Blackwell)

Hallinan steps up: The saga over the San Francisco Police Department's much criticized investigation of allegations that three off-duty officers – one of whom is the son of assistant police chief Alex Fagan – beat up two men last November took an important turn Jan. 24 when District Attorney Terence Hallinan issued subpoenas to 45 cops, forcing them to appear before a grand jury.

Hallinan has made public statements blasting the SFPD's handling of the case, but the issuance of subpoenas marks the first time that he's going to go after evidence and hold the department accountable.

For years the city's cops have been critical of Hallinan, who faces a tough fight for reelection in November. Making a serious, concerted effort to root out potential wrongdoing in the department could help Hallinan's reelection attempt by winning over voters worried about police corruption, but it could also open him up to more damaging sniping from the police department.

Representatives of Bay Area PoliceWatch said they thought Hallinan should have acted earlier.

"Of course we're glad he finally moved on the matter," PoliceWatch director Ishmael Tarikh told us. "But we've been clamoring for this for a while. If [Hallinan] had been more aggressive from the beginning, this might not have dragged on so long."

Hallinan said he has held back in order to give the department "the benefit of the doubt" and because he believed the cops' original investigator, Lt. Joe Dutto, would handle the matter appropriately. Dutto was taken off the case Jan. 18. (Blackwell)

Good Vibes for Good Vibrations: Yes, that was Sup. Aaron Peskin standing among the shelves stocked with dildos and other, less easily identifiable sex toys Jan. 23 to celebrate the opening of Good Vibrations' new digs on Polk Street. Noted sexologist Carol Queen thanked Peskin for helping the outfit get all of the needed permits and licenses to open the new store. Meanwhile, Peskin, who, in his days as an activist, took on businesses for failing to go through the appropriate approval process, credited the renowned San Francisco operation for providing a perfect example of how a business should work with residents and merchants to make a move into the neighborhood go smoothly. Plus, he noted, the store's expansion might help other businesses in the area.

"I'm glad you're here to 'stimulate' the economy," Peskin joked. "This particular industry must be recession proof. And it will bring all sorts of people up the Polk Street corridor."

P.S.: Peskin made an exception to his "no gifts" policy in accepting an I Rub My Duckie (a vibrating version of the ubiquitous bath toy) from Queen. (Blackwell)