Bruce Blog

Editorial: The flight from San Francisco

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EDITORIAL There is no simple free-market solution to gentrification and displacement. There's no way a crowded city like San Francisco can simply rely on the forces of supply and demand to protect vulnerable populations. And there's no way the city's flawed housing policy can prevent the loss of thousands of San Franciscans — particularly young, creative people who help keep a city lively — from fleeing to a town where they can actually afford the rent.

Richard Florida, the famous social and economic theorist who coined the term "creative class" argues that artists and writers and geeks and musicians are the forces that drive modern economies. His pioneering 2002 essay in the Washington Monthly was titled "Why cities without gays and rock bands are losing the economic development race."

Read more »

Calvin Trillin: The situation

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So Mitt's officially an Etch A Sketch,

And Rick says JFK's speech made him retch.

Ron Paul's a ditz, and Gingrich is a letch.

Though nets are flung as far as tthey will stretch,

There isn't any white knight there to fetch.

Republicans thus sit around and kvetch.

Calvin Trillin: Deadline Poet: The Nation (4/16/2012)

Dick Meister: The temples of baseball

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By Dick Meister

Dick Meister is a San Francisco-based columnist and former semi-professional baseball player. You can contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com.

Baseball season again. Time to re-enter the temples of baseball. Temples? Yes, temples.

To most people, baseball is merely a game. But to some others, it's virtually a religion, a game played in temples – the temples of baseball, be they Major League stadiums or any other baseball park at any level from the Major Leagues to the little parks at much lower levels where I played in hopes of making it big as a professional. But that's another story.

Of course baseball is a game. But it is indeed a game that is played in temples. Baseball parks are places of myth, superstition and legend, no less than the temples where the great myths, superstitions and legends of religion hold sway. Even the most casual fan is likely to know the myths and legends that make up baseball's storied history - Babe Ruth's called-shot home run in the 1932 World Series, for example. His whole career, in fact. Read more »

Editorial: Reject the CPMC deal!

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EDITORIAL For most of the past year, Mayor Ed Lee had been taking a tough line with California Pacific Medical Center, the health-care giant that wants to build a state-of-the-art 555-bed hospital on Cathedral Hill. The mayor had been telling a stunningly recalcitrant CMPC management that the outfit would have to put upwards of $70 million into affordable housing and spent millions more on transit, neighborhood and charity-care programs to mitigate the impacts of the massive project.

But late in March, something happened. Under immense pressure from the Chamber of Commerce and other big business groups, the mayor buckled and agreed to a deal with woefully inadequate mitigation measures. The supervisors should reject the plan and force CPMC to do better. Read more »

Calvin Trillin: On not leaving the field

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On not leaving the field

Ring-wingers who want to be heard

Note Newt's place is solidly third.

But if right wing votes were combined,

The front-runner might fall behind.

So they say to Newt, "Won't you go?"

And Newt, being Newt, answers no. Read more »

Dick Meister: Cesar Chavez: A true American hero

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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. He's the co-author of "A Long Time Coming: The Struggle To Unionize American's Farm Workers" (Macmillan). Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com

I hope we can all pause and reflect on the extraordinary life of a true American hero on Saturday (March 31). It's Cesar Chavez Day, proclaimed by President Obama and observed throughout the country on the 85th birth date of the late founder of the United Farm Workers union.  In California, it's an official state holiday.

As President Obama noted, Chavez was a leader in launching "one of our nation's most inspiring movements." He taught us, Obama added, "that social justice takes action, selflessness and commitment. As we face the challenges of the day, let us do so with the hope and determination of Cesar Chavez."

Like another American hero, Martin Luther King Jr., Chavez inspired and energized millions of people worldwide to seek and win basic human rights that had long been denied them, and inspired millions of others to join the struggle. Read more »

Guardian Op-Ed: Domestic violence, a Latina feminist perspective

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By Myrna Melgar

Myrna Melgar is a Latina survivor of childhood domestic violence, a feminist, and the mother of three girls. She is a former legislative aide to Sup. Eric Mar.

Eliana Lopez is my friend. I have asked for her permission to put into words, in English, some observations, thoughts and insights reached during our many conversations these past few weeks about her experience with San Francisco's response to the allegation of domestic violence by her husband, Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi. We hope this will lead to a teachable moment for law enforcement and anti-domestic-violence advocates about cultural sensitivity — and will lead to honest discussions about the meaning of empowerment of women.

We hope that Eliana's experience, and our shared perspective, will prompt some analysis among feminists, advocates, and the progressive community in general about the impact of the criminalization of low-level, first offenses of domestic violence on this one immigrant woman — and the implications for all immigrant women and other women of color.

Eliana Lopez came to San Francisco from Venezuela with hope in her head and love in her heart. She decided to leave behind her beautiful city of Caracas, a successful career as an actress, and her family and friends, following the dream of creating a family and a life with a man she had fallen in love with but barely knew, Ross Mirkarimi. Read more »

Meister: It's not true, what they say about pensions

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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.

So, what are we going to do about those big fat pensions collected by public employees? You know, those retirement benefits that supposedly are threatening to bankrupt state and local governments everywhere.

What to do? That's easy. We can make that problem disappear quickly – just like that! We need only realize that the problem simply does not exist, despite the claims by rabid anti-union forces and the many people who they've duped.

Here's the basic situation: Anti-union forces are attempting to weaken the public employee defined pension plans that provide employees a specific monthly payment on retirement. The plans cover about five million older Americans, providing money that many drawing benefits very much need to escape poverty and stay off government assistance.

Those receiving the benefits, many at rates granted originally in lieu of pay raises, in turn create more than $358 billion in economic output nationwide and create more than 2.5 million jobs. Read more »

Impertinent question: Will Mayor Lee take on the Bank of America for unethical behavior?

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Mayor Ed Lee moved with lightning speed to suspend Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi without pay on misconduct charges and unethical behavior  in a spousal abuse case and continue the costly, distracting, divisive  media and City Hall circus.Read more »

Editorial: Mayor Lee: Ease off Mirkarimi and help stop the foreclosure crisis

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And so the downtown gang (Willie Brown/Rose Pak, PG&E, the Chamber, the big developers et al) used Ed Lee to outmaneuver the progressives and roll Lee into the job of "interim mayor" on condition Lee not run for mayor.  Then Lee kept lying for months about his intentions and saying over and over that he would not run for mayor--until the downtown gang convinced him to run as a way to further damage the progressives. And now, according to news reports, Mayor Lee is poised to file misconduct charges against Mirkarimi for his gulty plea of false imprisonment in the Mirkarimi domestic violence case.

This could lead to an explosive and polarizing scenario where the Board of Supervvisors, in an election year, would be asked to remove Mirkarimi, a former fellow supervisor and political ally, as sheriff or side with him on what has turned out to become a toxic political issue. This would affect at minimum Mar, Avalos, Campos, and Olague in the supervisors' races and Mar, Avalos, and Campos in the upcoming Democratic County Central Committee race. It would also affect any candidate in any race that said a nice word about Mirkarimi.  If anybody thinks the mayor and the downtown gang would be unhappy with this prospect, think again. I recommend that Lee hold off on Mirkarimi, and work to uphold his position as a "unifier," and not become a polarizer and promoter of media and City Hall circuses. Instead of taking on Mirkarimi and the progressives, he should concentrate on such important and timely issues as helping stop the foreclosure process on the thousands of homes facing foreclosure in San Francisco. More: he should go after the big foreclosure banks, starting with the Bank of America and its multi-million dollar short term cash account with the city, and  Wells Fargo, with its national headquarters here in town.b3

More than 1,000 homes in San Francisco are either in foreclosure or at the start of the process. Some 16,000 homeowners are underwater, and as many as 12,000 may face foreclosure in the next 12 months. A report by the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment shows that the city could lose $115 million from the reduced property taxes and the costs of carrying out evictions.

That's a crisis — and while the mayor has no direct control over home foreclosures, he ought to be speaking out and joining the protesters who are fighting this cascade of often-fraudulent bank actions. Read more »