Amanda Witherell

DARK DAYS

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by Amanda Witherell

Despite the liberal signing spree that's left most of the Dems in the state giddy with success, the guv dropped his darkened Terminator-era specs over open government by vetoing Mark Leno's AB2927. The bill, which had unanimous approval from the House and Senate, would have improved online services for public records requests on all state agency websites, including a simple form to fill out and file electronically. It also would have allowed citizens with denied requests to appeal to the Attorney General for a review and written decision within 20 days. Read more »

Casting off

New Alcatraz ferry service leaves unions, environmentalists, and city officials fuming on the dock
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amanda@sfbg.com
Hornblower Yachts assumed control of the ferry service to Alcatraz Island on Sept. 25. As the new crew cast off the dock lines, spurned union workers — some 30-year veterans with the former contractor, Blue and Gold — rallied with supporters at the entrance, asking passengers not to board the boats.
Two union-friendly visitors from Sydney, Australia, ripped up their tickets and demanded refunds. Read more »

Discovering the formula

Is San Francisco's local charm really safe?
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amanda@sfbg.com
San Francisco has a thing for local businesses. From Chinatown to Hayes Valley, the dozens of distinctive neighborhoods that constitute this city have for the most part maintained their individuality with one-of-a-kind, locally owned places to shop, snack, and seek services.
While many cities and small towns across the country have succumbed to the sprawl and homogeneity of chain stores, some have resisted, even in the face of lawsuits and wily campaigning from megaretailers. Read more »

An explosive issue

The city considers requiring valves that would shut off the gas after an earthquake, but who should pay for it?
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amanda@sfbg.com
Do you know where your natural gas shutoff valve is? Are you going to need a wrench to turn it off? If the ground starts shaking and the ceiling is coming down on your head, are you going to be thinking about your pipes cracking and spewing high-pressure, flammable natural gas into your home?
Probably not, which is why automatic shutoff valves were developed. Read more »

Homeless disconnect

Ticketing the homeless wastes millions of taxpayer dollars
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amanda@sfbg.com
The shelter of a slim door frame, the outstretched palm asking for a dime: this is how hundreds of San Francisco's homeless get by, once the soup kitchens close and the shelters cry "No Vacancy."
But panhandling, blocking the sidewalks, and lodging in public are a few of the 15 quality-of-life violations for which the San Francisco Police Department regularly issues citations. Read more »

Small Town Living

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by Amanda Witherell

I just returned from ten days on an idyllic island in downeast Maine. For the seaside hamlet from whence I hail, it's local custom to leave your car keys in the ignition so you don't lose them and your front door unlocked, or even wide open, so the cat can come and go while you're at work. Read more »

Wal-Mart for President!

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by Amanda Witherell

This week Wal-Mart cranked up the PR knob with a new bout of ads touting the company's social worth with the gloss of a dirty politician trying to spin some positive image. According to The New York Times the spots make a point of the $2,300 an average family saves shopping at Wal-Mart and paint Sam Walton as a red-knuckled entrepreneur of yesteryear.

Unfortunately, that image in no way resembles the $312.4 billion, Fortune 500 corporation of today.

Halloween Not a Friendly Ghost

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by Amanda Witherell
amanda@sfbg.com

At the Guardian's Best of the Bay party last night, we caught up with city officials fresh from a meeting on what to do about that pesky Halloween party in the Castro. Read more »

Sunburned

Document battle frustrates the mayor's flacks and galvanizes a new breed of activist
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amanda@sfbg.com
The Mayor's Office of Communications has for months been fighting with Sup. Chris Daly and several unrelated activists over the release of public documents. Read more »

First booze, now cops

North Beach Jazz Fest organizers fought through the party poopers, only to be confronted by the cops with a new challenge: a steep increase in police fees.
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"This year, $25,613 for 16 officers. Last year, $4,650 for 7 officers," fest organizer Robert Kowal told the Guardian. Read more »