Deal reached in Transbay Tower tax district showdown

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The deal almost sounds too good to be true. After threats of lawsuits, frantic backdoor dealmaking and a very harried week for the Board of Supervisors, a deal was finally reached yesterday on a dispute over taxes in the area around the new Transbay Terminal and the Salesforce Tower. Read more »

SOS: A bill to protect oil refineries also threatens public access rights

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Gov. Brown. Veto SB 1300

This bill would establish a stealth template for how to gut the California Public Records Act one economic and political sector at a time. 

By Bruce B. Brugmann (with a First Amendment Coalition emergency message and a button for readers to request a Gov. Brown veto) 

Possibly the bill most damaging to the public interest in years is sitting on Gov. Jerry Brown's desk for signature. It is SB 1300, which amounts to an oil refinery protection bill proposed by Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) and Assemblyperson Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), two legislators living in the shadow of the East Bay oil refineries who ought to know better. It was supported by oil companies, organized labor, and the California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH)  and was passed by the Assembly on a 68-5 vote and by the Senate on a 34-0 vote. No debate, no discussion, no questions asked. 

The gist of the damage is that SB 1300 was amended at the last minute to force a CPRA requester to pay fees if a court rules against disclosure. As the California Newspaper Publishers Association explained in its current legislative bulletin, SB 1300 "would expand the definition of what constitutes a trade secret and erect an insurmountable barrier to any effort by a member of the public to obtain information about DOSH's performance in its role as a consumer watchdog over a refiner's conduct." Read more »

Mayor Lee: Welcome Fleet Week, prepare for disaster UPDATED

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San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s daily announcement of public events today included a strange pairing for tomorrow [Wed/10]: the Blue Angels will return to perform dangerous maneuvers over this densely populated city…and we need to prepare for a disaster.  

More specifically, his Press Office wrote: 

11:00 AM

Mayor Lee to kick off return of Fleet Week to San Francisco Bay Area & announce events, activities & disaster preparedness exercises.

Marines Memorial Club Library, 11th Floor

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Internet Slowdown marks fight on net neutrality

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Don’t be surprised if you go online tomorrow [Wed/10] and see a “loading” symbol – aka the proverbial “spinning wheel of death” – staring you in the face. No, that isn’t actually a technical problem – that’s what happens when geeks organize an online campaign.Read more »

Realtors give $600,000 to defeat anti-speculation tax

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Two Realtor groups have dumped nearly $600,000 into the campaign against Prop. G, the tax on flipping properties to discourage real estate speculation and evictions in San Francisco, a massive early donation that could signal the beginning of a campaign onslaught by the Realtors.Read more »

WATERS sign to Vagrant, drop new single "I Feel Everything"

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Van Pierszalowski, the songwriter and primary ringleader of SF's WATERS, has always seemed like a guy on the brink of wide(r)spread stardom. The band's music is an ear-pleasing mix of guitar-driven rock riffs and power pop hooks the size of Buicks; it's radio-ready without feeling squeaky-clean, in no small part thanks to Pierszalowski's plaintive vocals.

This may be the year it happens for WATERS. The band announced yesterday that it signed to the LA-based Vagrant Records, which will release its forthcoming EP, It All Might Be OK, on Oct. 14. Read more »

Tenderloin upstart Book & Job aims to level the art-gallery playing field

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Carson Lancaster is tired of the bullshit. He’s tired of watching the same handful of mainstream galleries hang the same artists and shun a majority of San Francisco’s young, talented artists. “It’s like that scene in Scanners. You know, the one where the guy’s head explodes? That’s what it feels like every time I walk into one of those places,” he said.

Lancaster is the owner of Book & Job, an art gallery that seeks to do exactly the opposite: make San Francisco’s art market accessible to both artists and consumers. Located on Geary and Hyde Streets, Book & Job blends into the grit of the Tenderloin and in no way resembles the blue-chip megaliths huddled toward Union Square. The space is tiny. There’s no team of attractive sales people standing at the entrance, no bubbly event photographers milling around, no tuxedos, and no free champagne.

Read more »

Catching up with burlesque star and fashion icon Dita Von Teese

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With a seductive and sexy nod to the past, modern pin-up and burlesque queen Dita Von Teese has been at the forefront of reviving a once nearly lost art form for two decades.

Bringing back the sense of classic style and glamour of the golden days of Hollywood and meshing it with the tantalizing teasing of the old-time burlesque circuit, Von Teese wraps up a two-night stand at the Fillmore tonight with her Burlesque: Strip, Strip, Hooray! show, a live revue featuring not only her own titillating talents, but a host of other performers as well, including Dirty Martini, Catherine D’Lish, and Lada Nikolska from the Crazy Horse Paris.

When Von Teese (real name: Heather Sweet) first got interested in retro styles and the bawdy and risqué performances of the past, there was just a small community of performers around the world that she recalls encountering; two decades later, she has watched the scene flourish and rapidly expand.

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Developers lobby hard to slash payments promised to Transbay Terminal and high-speed rail

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Will the San Francisco Board of Supervisors let developers of the biggest office towers proposed for San Francisco renege on promises to help pay for the Transbay Terminal reconstruction, extension of rail service to that site, and other public amenities? Or will Willie Brown successfully use politicians that he helped get into office — most notably Mayor Ed Lee and Sup. Jane Kim — to let the developers keep hundreds of millions of dollars in excess profits?Read more »

Owen Pallett on integrity, having his boyfriend as a manager, and the baroque pop of 'In Conflict'

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You probably wouldn’t assume that someone who’s been putting out solo material for nearly 10 years would be best known for their contributions to other artists’ work, but Owen Pallett shows us that it can happen, and that it’s not necessarily a bad thing, either.Read more »

A firsthand account of the 5-alarm blaze in the Mission

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Editor’s note: We received this firsthand account from Ben Rosenfeld, who lives in close proximity to the site of yesterday’s [Thu/4] 5-alarm fire. Read more about the blaze in the San Francisco Examiner.

By Ben Rosenfeld

For those who don't know, we were lucky our building survived a 5-alarm fire yesterday, almost directly behind us (feet away). Fortunately too, there were no serious injuries.Read more »

Kids pushed through immigration court at lightning speed while supes debate legal aid funding

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San Francisco’s efforts to provide legal services for unaccompanied youth who crossed the U.S. border from Central America is heating up as a point of contention between Sup. David Campos and Board President David Chiu, opponents in the race for California Assembly District 17.Read more »

How Big Oil is using front groups to attack global warming regulations

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With California’s landmark measure addressing climate change, Assembly Bill 32, scheduled to begin covering automobile fleets and other transportation sources at the end of this year, Big Oil has been trying to sabotage that process using a variety of front groups and other tactics.

The oil industry failed in its last-minute attempt to get the California Legislature to delay the measure by rejecting AB 69, Fresno Democrat Henry Perea’s effort to exempt automobiles from the regulations, even though vehicles account for more than one-third of the state’s greenhouse gas emmissions.Read more »

Joel Daniel Phillips illustrates the overlooked in 'I Am Another Yourself'

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Joel Daniel Phillips draws people. He draws them with charcoal and pencil and is known for his life-sized renderings of eccentric, seemingly homeless men and women he meets on the corner of Sixth and Mission Streets in San Francisco.

His debut solo show with Hashimoto Contemporary, “I Am Another Yourself,” opens Sat/6 (opening reception 6-9pm; the show runs through Sept. 27). I met up with Phillips to talk about his work and to see his 14 pieces in person.

Read more »

WIN TICKETS TO JOSE JAMES & GIZMO AT THE NEW PARISH

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Jose James and company will play Oakland's The New Parish on September 18th and 19thRead more »