Bruce Blog

The return of Willie Brownism to the sunshine task force

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As an advocate for the passage of the  San Francisco sunshine ordinance and task force in the early 1990s, I felt obligated to take my first and only City Hall position and serve as a founding member of the task force. I served for l0 years and helped with many other good members to build the task force into a strong and respected agency  for helping citizens get access to records and meetings and hold city officials accountable for suppressing access.

The task force is the only place where citizens can file an access complaint without an attorney or a fee and force a city official, including the mayor, to come before the task force for questioning and a ruling on whether they had violated  sunshine laws, The task force lacked enforcement power, but it still annoyed of city officials, including Mayor Willie Brown.

In fact, Willie spent a good deal of time trying to kick me off the task force. He used one jolly  maneuver after another, even getting an agent to make a phony complaint against me for violating the ordinance with an email. (The complaint went nowhere.) I refused to budge and decided to stay on the task force until Willie left office—on the principle that that neither the mayor nor anybody else from City Hall could arbitrarily kick members off the task force. When Willie left office after two terms, I resigned with the hope that the Willie principle had been established. Read more »

Meister: Another presidential step against anti-gay bias

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By Dick Meister

Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for more than a half-century. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com, which includes more than 350 of his columns.

President Obama's bold endorsement of same-sex marriage should be only the first of his key acts in behalf of gay Americans. It's now past time for him to redeem a 2008 campaign promise to issue an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against gay workers.

Such discrimination is already banned in Washington, D.C., and 21 states, including California. A presidential order would cover the millions of federal contractor employees in the other states. Building roads, bridges and dams are among the many essential tasks they perform throughout the country. Read more »

Editorial: The business tax debacle

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Labor and much of the progressive community worked with downtown and the Mayor's Office last year to craft a pension-reform bill that took away benefits from city employees. The unions came to the table, recognized the city's financial problems and bought into a compromise, even though it took money out of their pockets.

And now big business, with the support of Mayor Ed Lee, wants to reform the local business tax in a way that doesn't bring the city a dime of new revenue (and hurts small business in the process).

In other words, it's fine to seek compromise when it's about cutting workers pay and city costs. When it's about asking big business (and a lot of big businesses, particularly tech businesses, in this town are doing exceptionally well right now) to chip in just a little more, to do the right thing, address the revenue side of the ledger and pay a fair share, the answer is No. Read more »

Dick Meister: Union rights are civil rights

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By Dick Meister

Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for more than a half-century. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com, which includes more than 350 of his columns.

The right of U.S. workers to organize and bargain collectively with their employers unhindered by employer or government interference has been a legal right since the 1930s. Yet there are workers who are unaware of that, and employers who aim to keep them unaware, meanwhile doing their utmost to keep them from exercising what is a basic civil right.

Many employers often claim working people are in any case not much interested in unionization, noting that less than 15 percent of workers currently belong to unions.

But as anyone who has looked beneath the employer claims has discovered, it's the illegal opposition of employers and the failure of government regulatory agencies to curtail the opposition that's the basic cause of the low rate of unionization. Read more »

Nicholas Perez drives Robotics Team 1717 to the No. 1 position in the world

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Well, my addiction to robotics continues as the fabled Dos Pueblos Robotics Team 1717, led by my grandson Nicholas Perez as the ace driver,  has been ranked number one in the world out of 2,332 robots. The team is from Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, California.Read more »

Toward the fun: The return of Wavy Gravy

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And so Wavy Gravy, a cultural icon of the 1960s and ever after, returns to the Bay Area and the Freight & Salvage Coffee House in Berkeley on May 22 for a benefit concert to fund his Camp Winnarainbow in Mendocino County.Read more »

Editorial: The Mirkarimi case is an abomination

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Editor's note: And so the man who became interim  mayor on a false pretext and then lied his way through an election for a full term amid a sleazy mass of campaign irregularities and violations, has suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi without pay and is now using the full power of the city attorney's office to continue the Mirkarimi crucifixion. Without pay? The usual City Hall/cop practice is to suspend or put a city official on administrative leave with pay. Even Willie Brown, former mayor, Chronicle columnist and PG@ES lobbyist, says Mirkarimi should not have been suspended without pay. B3

EDITORIAL There's only one way to say this: The official misconduct case against Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi has become a one-sided star-chamber proceeding that violates all the basic rules of fairness, decency, and due process.

Over the past few weeks, Mayor Ed Lee, acting through the City Attorney's Office, has been collecting evidence and issuing subpoenas to force witnesses (including some who have only a peripheral involvement in the matter) to give testimony. The mayor is acting as if he's prosecuting a murder case instead of conducting a hearing on whether an elected official should be thrown out of office for a misdemeanor.

And Mirkarimi and his lawyers have absolutely no ability to respond. Read more »

Calvin Trillin: Ron Paul, still standing

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Ron Paul, Stll Standing

 Mitt's opposite number is still in the race.

Paul has his supporters; he has his own base.

He has his own style, which is folksy, not canned.

Religion? He's got one. His prophet's Ayn Rand.

By Rand's wacko theories he's fervently gripped,

So he  won't do the flip-flops. He long ago flipped.

Calvin Trillin, The Naton (5/14/2012


IAPA: A message for World Press Freedom Day (May 3)

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Editor's note: Remarks by Milton Coleman, president of the Inter American Press Association, in  commemoration of  World Press Freedom Day on May 3 Thursday. Coleman is the senior editor of the Washington Post. IAPA is the organization defending and promoting freedom of  the press and expression in the Americas. The Bay Guardian and I have been members of IAPA for years and I currently serve as co-chair of the North American membership committee. B3

Miami (May 2, 2012)—As we near the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Inter American Press Association this month, I’d also like to take this especial date, May 3, World Press Freedom Day, as an opportunity to pay homage to the 24 journalists from Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico and Peru that were killed over the last 12 months. Our thoughts are with their families and colleagues, especially because in the majority of these cases, justice has not yet been done.

We also extend our sympathy to all those traditional journalists, citizen journalists, bloggers and owners of media houses that have been attacked, threatened, or have had to seek refuge and exile in other countries after being harassed and hounded because of their work.

We are concerned at the direct and subtle – and in the case of Ecuador not so subtle – economic, legal, and judicial means used against the news media in a number of countries in the region that result in prior restraint and self-censorship, harming not only the news media itself, but most importantly, weakening the public’s right to receive information. Read more »

World championship robotics competition: A bittersweet day for the D'Penguineers

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And so the celebrated D'Penguineers from Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta won the creativity award but lost its last two matches in the World Championship Robotics Competition last weekend in St. Louis, Missouri.The two heart-breaking  losses wrecked the team's chances for a championship. Here's the excellent summing up by the NoozHawk online newspaper produced by students from the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy public relations and events team. Nicholas Perez, an ace driver for the D'Penguineers, is shown partially with his coach Amir Abo-Shaeer in the second photo in the link below. 
http://www.noozhawk.com/article/dpenguineers_get_creativity_award_but_fall_in_robotics_world_championships

Perez commented,  "Even though we lost in the semi-finals due to field issues that were uncontrollable and unforeseen, we are still considered one of the most elite teams with one of the strongest robots in the world.  Our robot was the highest scoring robot out of 402 competing robots.  Basketball legend and the NBA's highest scoring player, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, came and watched our team compete and dominate on the field.  He said he was really impressed with our shooting."

Suggestion: go to the bottom of the link to get more information on the D'Penguineers and the  Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy.  It's widely known as one of the best high school engineering programs in the country. 
 

Read more »