Couples in the news

On the day after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke to SF's venerable Martin Luther King Jr. Day political gathering, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Examiner had opposite takes on the reaction. The Chron's Carla Marinucci wrote on the front page that SF "gave him a warm and welcoming hand," while the Ex's Justin Jouvenal said "no one rolled out the red carpet for the governor when he visit San Francisco on Monday."

So, which was it?

Well, the next day, the Chron's Matier and Ross contradicted their colleague by noting local labor and political leaders were pissed off by Willie Brown's last-minute decision to bring the Republican to town. Apparently, the columnists weren't buying Marinucci's latest attempt at positive PR for the governor.

But it was the second item in that M&R column that really made us chuckle. It was about how the school district had spent money on improvements to schools that were later targeted for closure, featuring Wade Randlett as the lead critic and schools spokesperson Lorna Ho in defense.

Why is that funny? Well, Randlett and Ho have had a romantic relationship for at least a year, and during that time Randlett suddenly and seemingly inexplicably began using SFSOS – the political organization he runs with money from conservatives like Gap founder Don Fisher – to defend superintendent Arlene Ackerman against attacks on her autocratic style and pricey pay raise.

Let's hope Randlett's decision to now turn on the schools doesn't indicate trouble at home. (Steven T. Jones)

Divide and conquer

Since Mayor Gavin Newsom announced his goal of establishing a free wireless broadband network in San Francisco, activists have expressed concern about the closed-door process and the system's accessibility to low-income neighborhoods. Would SF lead the nation in helping to bridge the digital divide, as Newsom promised, or would he sell out to the for-profit providers he's courted to do the job?

Well, we might have gotten a clue Jan. 17, when the city issued a change notice updating a key portion of the Request for Proposals. An earlier version of the request stated that any proposals providing "access in only parts of the city that are more densely populated or commercially attractive, or that leave entire neighborhoods unserved, will not be considered" (our emphasis). The request now reads that any such proposals "will be disfavored."

The mayor's people didn't return our call, but apparently plans to address the digital divide could include a drawbridge. (G.W. Schulz)

Help wanted

San Francisco's Civil Service Commission voted unanimously Jan. 17 to make it easier for ex-offenders to get municipal jobs. Applications for most public jobs will soon cut out the line that asks, "Have you been convicted by a court?"

The policy shift was sought by All of Us or None, a group that advocates for ex-cons; the organization already won over the Board of Supervisors, which voted in October to encourage the commission to change its procedures.

The idea is to make it easier for former felons to return to the straight life and hopefully reduce the city's astronomical recidivism rate.

When the new rules go into effect, investigations into a job applicant's criminal history will occur during the final stages of the hiring process, and only job-related convictions will be considered. Applicants will have the opportunity to explain their records. The policy doesn't supersede state laws prohibiting those convicted of certain crimes from working as cops, firefighters, or in the court system. (Erica Holt)