J.B. Powell

Bilking the links

Despite efforts to privatize city golf, revenues are actually up millions of dollars. But a costly public-private contract has swallowed most of the money.
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By now, even most non-golfing residents of San Francisco have heard the dire refrain coming out of City Hall: San Francisco’s public golf courses are sucking millions of dollars from the city treasury! Dozens of media stories have trumpeted these bleak pronouncements, and city leaders are using the shortfall to push for outsourcing control of the century-old open spaces. But a Guardian review of the “Golf Fund” shows that the links are not nearly as down and out as pro-privatization forces have led us to believe. Read more »

Sticking point

Mayor Gavin Newsom has ignored proposals for safe syringe collection
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The Homeless Youth Alliance (HYA) has quietly operated a drop-in center and needle exchange program in the Haight for the last 10 years. Until last month, very few people besides their clients even knew they existed.

Then the San Francisco Chronicle ran a series of overheated articles about used syringes littering Golden Gate Park. Read more »

Carbon-neutral madness

The trouble with carbon offsets
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GREEN CITY Are you carbon neutral yet? Al Gore says he is. The concert tours for the Rolling Stones, Dave Matthews, and other big acts say they are too. Indeed, going neutral is hot these days as, almost overnight, the fledgling market in carbon offsets has burgeoned into a multimillion-dollar industry.

The method is simple, at least in theory. Read more »

The golf club

Privatization plan raises concerns about cronyism and giving away public resources
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For the better part of a century, San Francisco's public golf courses have offered players relatively inexpensive rates, belying the view of some that this is an elitist sport incompatible with progressive civic governance. But since a botched revamp of the Harding Park course several years ago, golf operations have landed in the rough, siphoning large sums from city coffers every year. Read more »

Crazy

This is nuts: A bizarre tale of the insanity that is SF's mental health system
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Shortly before midnight on April 21, 2001, Jason Grant Garza walked into the psychiatric wing of San Francisco General's emergency room and said he was having a mental health crisis. A staffer there refused to admit him. When Garza insisted on seeing a doctor, he wound up strip-searched and thrown into jail. Now, after six years of legal wrangling and bureaucratic buck-passing, SF General has officially conceded that Garza was denied proper service. Read more »

Bar wars

SoMa homeowners fight the reopening of a rock 'n' roll gay bar and renew the neighborhood's old NIMBY-versus-nightlife fight
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For the owners of the Hole in the Wall Saloon, the plan was simple: move their popular South of Market gay bar out of its dingy and dilapidated quarters to a much better spot around the corner. With numerous bars and nightclubs already along the stretch once known as the gay miracle mile, they assumed their place would fit right in.

But SoMa is changing — and the bar's new neighbors in the increasingly residential district are using every regulatory trick in the book to block the move. Read more »

Power play

A multinational development company is putting up big bucks for the Trans Bay Cable, but sustainable power advocates call it "a waste of resources"
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The San Francisco Board of Supervisors will soon decide the fate of the Trans Bay Cable (TBC), a privately financed, underwater power line that would plug the city's electric grid into power plants in the East Bay.

Backers call the cable the best way to avoid blackouts, like those the city saw in the wake of the energy deregulation debacle of the late 1990s. Read more »

As the port turns

Another private development proposal sinks. Piers are falling into the water. Is the Port of SF broken?
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Another setback to the Port of San Francisco's plan to allow development of Piers 27–31 has brought about a new round of soul-searching at the beleaguered agency, as well as calls to change what may be allowed along the waterfront.

Last month the port's latest private development partner, Shorenstein Properties, withdrew its plan for a mixed-use facility that relied on large amounts of office space to recoup the cost of renovating the dilapidated piers. Read more »

The search for Spocko

San Francisco blogger draws corporate and conservative wrath for educating KSFO's advertisers
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For the better part of a year starting in late 2005, San Francisco blogger Mr. Spocko waged a quiet campaign against right-wing talk radio station KSFO, 560 AM. He wrote to its sponsors and played for them explicit portions of the station's programming, such as shock jock Lee Rodgers's call for antiwar protesters to be "stomped to death ... just stomp their bleeping guts out."

The idea was to educate corporations about exactly what they were sponsoring, in the hope that Spocko's work might staunch the free flow of hateful rhetoric. Read more »