Amanda Witherell

Pelosi steps up

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by Amanda Witherell

The ongoing saga at Alcatraz has finally caught the attention of Rep. Nancy Pelosi. Read more »

Feinstein Resigns

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by Amanda Witherell

Looks like Senator Dianne Feinstein has stepped down from her seat on the Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee, where she's spent the last six years as chairperson and ranking member.

While serving on that committee, which is tasked with reviewing and supervising federal military contracts, her hubby Richard Blum was making millions of dollars on the same deals his wife was overseeing. Read more »

Leno and Ma Scrutinize Alcatraz

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by Amanda Witherell

Did poo get washed into the bay or not? Mark Leno and Fiona Ma really want to know. They've written another letter to the National Park Service's Superintendent, Brian O'Neill, calling for an independent investigation, and essentially telling him his excuses and explanations hold no water. Read more »

From Iraq and back

Omar Fekeiki's work with the Washington Post in his native country brought him death threats and a rare ticket to UC Berkeley. So why does he want to return?
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amanda@sfbg.com

Omar Fekeiki sits alertly at a café table on the terrace of International House, his dorm at UC Berkeley. His straight posture belies his relative ease. It's the only sign that he may not be entirely at home.

Like any other 28-year-old graduate student, he's wearing jeans — not the pressed slacks necessary for a meeting with Iraqi officials. His hands are resting on his knees, rather than poised with a pen and a reporter's notepad, scribbling Arabic words from an informed source. Read more »

California Sunshine

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by Amanda Witherell

ca sunshine.jpg
thanks for the photo, from "brighter than sunshine" on flickr

How awesome would it be if every time the Mayor's office violated the Sunshine Ordinance, which it's doing now, they got slapped with a fine or jail time like they do down in Read more »

Antiwar movement turns four

Protests are mostly peaceful for anniversary of Iraq invasion
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By Amanda Witherell

amanda@sfbg.com

The Iraq War turned four years old March 19, but so did the antiwar movement, and thousands of people marked the event with protests, rallies, and direct actions around the Bay Area.

The largest event was the March 18 march on Market Street, led by the ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) coalition, one of more than 1,000 rallies around the country. Read more »

Whistle blower axed

Alcatraz employee fired after telling Guardian reporter about raw sewage spill
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Dan Cooke, an educator and historical interpreter who guided tours of Alcatraz Island for the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, has been fired in the wake of a Guardian article that quoted him complaining about a sewage spill in the Bay.

On March 3, 2007 Cooke was informed by his supervisor, John Moran, that his position had been terminated because there weren’t enough hours available to keep him employed.
However, the day before Cooke was fired, and for several days after, the GGNPC website was advertising an immediate opening for the same position as Cooke’s. Read more »

Death of Fun Redux

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by Amanda Witherell

It's almost fair and festival season in San Francisco, but we'll see if some actually get a chance to be staged in the neighborhoods where they were born.

The North Beach Festival had a setback yesterday at the Operations Committee of the Recreation and Park Commission. According to festival organizer, Marsha Garland, commissioners Megan Levitan and Tom Harrison expressed concern about alcohol being consumed in city parks and the committee decided to kick the issue up to the full commission. Read more »

The sunshine posse

The FOI Issue: New sunshine warriors are changing the way City Hall does business
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amanda@sfbg.com

On Saturday mornings, with roughshod regularity, a handful of San Franciscans gather at the Sacred Grounds Cafe on Hayes Street to swap strategies and catch up on their political triumphs and setbacks. They don't look like a powerful bunch, and they aren't household names, but they're changing the way the city handles public records, meetings, and information.

All of these folks started with one simple request for what ought to have been public information. All of them ran into a stone wall. Read more »

The Wild, Wild West

Pelosi's legacy: private business at the Presidio may be exempt from all state and local labor laws
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amanda@sfbg.com

As a production assistant for a visual effects studio, Robert Seeley had a job at the Orphanage that was nuts and bolts for the movie industry — handling paperwork, overseeing schedules, arranging deliveries, and making sure folks were fed, clients were happy, and many of the million little logistics for a film project were coordinated.

His days began with an hour-long commute from Pleasant Hill to the Presidio, where the Orphanage is based. Mornings started around 9, and the typical workday ran about 10 hours. Read more »