Amanda Witherell

PG&E grantees: Revealed

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By popular demand, here's some highlights from PG&E's 2007 charitable giving. If you want to see the complete list, look at pages 58-90 of this PDF. That document also includes the dues they pay to belong to certain organizations which tend to have certain sway with certain politicians and voting blocks. Example: a whopping $325,000 to belong to the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. Read more »

Who is (and isn’t) taking cash from PG&E

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Besides dumping millions of dollars on influencing the outcomes of elections, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. also doles out a lot of cash to charities – about $18 million a year, which is around one percent of their pre-tax income. It’s a gift from the shareholders back to you, the community that’s making them rich.

The list of non-profits that get grants from PG&E is long and spreads from coast to coast, but most of them are based in and around San Francisco. Read more »

My bike accident: The city’s fault?

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That was my first thought, sprawled on the pavement in the middle of a northbound lane on Van Ness Avenue: is this the city’s fault? Shouldn’t there be a goddamn bike lane here by now? Read more »

PG&E’s PUC appointee

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The Rules Committee of the Board of Supervisors voted Monday to forward the appointment of Nora Vargas to the SF Public Utilities Commission, without recommendation. The three supervisors on the committee (Tom Ammiano, Chris Daly, and Bevan Dufty) all expressed concern that Vargas’ lack of experience with local politics and public utilities issues might be a setback should she fill the seat.

Vargas is director of Latino Issues Forum, a statewide nonprofit advocacy group, with offices in Fresno, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Read more »

New appointees coming to a PUC near you

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Mayor Gavin Newsom has made his recommendations for the five seats on the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, up for grabs after voters passed Prop E in June. His choices reflect a little out with the old, in with the new, but he’s also passed up a commissioner he appointed just a year ago and selected a veteran member who barely squeaked through the last approval process.

So, who has Newsom picked?

Death of teen immigrant farm worker nets $260K fine

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Earlier this month we reported on Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez, a 17-year-old immigrant farm worker whose heat-related death sparked a public outcry against Trader Joe’s and their cheaper-than-thou “Two-buck Chuck” wine. Read more »

Bucking off Chuck

Death of 17-year-old pregnant farm worker incites campaign against Trader Joe's
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amanda@sfbg.com

It was a steamy 95 degrees inside the vineyard, just east of Stockton, where Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez was pruning a shadeless stretch of young vines. It was May 14, the third day of work for the 17-year-old immigrant from Oaxaca, Mexico. She'd been working more than nine hours, with just one water break, when she collapsed from heat exhaustion at 3:40 p.m.

An hour and a half later, when she finally arrived at an emergency room, her body temperature was 108.4 degrees. Read more »

Local Heroes

Best of the Bay 2008
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Del Martin and Phyllis LyonRead more »

The dirty fight over clean power

PG&E works to thwart a renewable public power measure
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amanda@sfbg.com

A charter amendment for renewable energy and public power appears headed for the November ballot, and already Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is rounding up front groups and touting inaccurate figures in an attempt to scuttle the plan.

The San Francisco Clean Energy Act, introduced by Sup. Read more »

Clean Energy Act excites supervisors

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At today’s Rules Committee, Supervisors Bevan Dufty, Tom Ammiano, and Chris Daly, all expressed enthusiasm for San Francisco’s Clean Energy Act. Daly and Ammiano even broke into chants of “victory, victory” during discussion of approving the measure for November’s ballot.

"In 2002 I supported Prop D and I look forward to supporting this measure," said Dufty during his comments on this new public power ballot initiative. Read more »