Rebecca Bowe

Labor's love lost

SEIU's internal problems are rippling through San Francisco's political scene

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Note: This file has been corrected from an earlier version.

rebeccab@sfbg.com

Two recent events could have major implications for Service Employees International Union Local 1021 — San Francisco's largest public-sector union and an important ally for progressives — for better or for worse. And this union's fate seems closely tied to that of the progressive movement in San Francisco.Read more »

Public employees feel blindsided by Newsom’s layoff scheme

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Mayor Gavin Newsom’s proposal to lay off 10,000 city employees and rehire them at lower pay is being met with outrage by some public-sector workers. The plan, crafted as a way of saving money to balance the city budget, would amount to sweeping pay cuts across the board for a significant number of city workers.

Formal discussions about it are in the earliest stages, and Tony Winnicker, the mayor’s press secretary, described it as “just one alternative that we’re investigating.” Nonetheless, some members of Service Employees International Union Local 1021 are furious that the mayor unveiled this plan in the San Francisco Chronicle instead of at a meeting with the city’s labor leaders.

“As far as we can tell, an idea he has ended up on the front page of the Chronicle that’s had a devastating ripple affect among the people who work for the city and county,” SEIU Local 1021 President Damita Davis-Howard told the Guardian. “We feel like we got a sucker-punch. … We really wish he had talked to us before he governed by press conference.”

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Sitting boundaries

Strong police push for the proposed sit/lie ordinance raises eyebrows

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Aggressive lobbying efforts by the San Francisco Police Department and some of its allies who are pushing a proposed sit/lie ordinance have irked some current and former members of the Board of Supervisors.

The legislation was privately created by new Police Chief George Gascón and then played up in the mainstream media. It would make it illegal to sit or lie down on public sidewalks. Supporters say it would make it easier for cops to target people who harass neighborhood residents.Read more »

Scraping bottom

Muni plans for layoffs, fare hikes, and service reductions meet with resistance
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The job of scrubbing down a city bus after it's gone out of service is no picnic. At a Jan. 20 Budget and Finance Committee hearing called by Sup. Chris Daly to discuss health and safety impacts related to Municipal Transportation Agency layoffs, supervisors took a virtual tour of a Muni bus that was trashed on multiple levels: tagged inside and out, soiled with vomit, and strewn with garbage. Read more »

Wednesday: MTC’s $70 million question, plus the return of the Bay Bridge west span bike path

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By Rebecca Bowe

Sustainable transit advocates are rallying the troops for two back-to-back meetings tomorrow in Oakland: The Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). While they’re technically separate bodies, BATA and the MTC are comprised of the very same people, wearing different hats at each meeting.Read more »

Saving ocean ecosystems

GREEN CITY: Vanishing acts are becoming common for marine creatures like Pacific leatherback sea turtles
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GREEN CITY In the spring and summer months, pacific leatherback sea turtles arrive just outside the Golden Gate to feast on jellyfish. The turtles, which can weigh up to 1,200 pounds and live as long as a century, are some of the oldest reptiles in existence.Read more »

PG&E attack mailer puts City Hall on defensive

Green City: SF officials are investigating whether PG&E broke the law with these misleading mailers

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GREEN CITY On a Pacific Gas & Electric Co. conference call in late October, with top PG&E executives and analysts from Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, and other prominent investment firms on the line, PG&E president Chris Johns explained how a company-sponsored ballot initiative could save millions of dollars for the utility.Read more »

Police chief: SFPD dignitary security costs were a mystery even to him

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By Rebecca Bowe

San Francisco Police Chief George Gascon offered an explanation yesterday for why it took so long for the San Francisco Police Department to provide any figures whatsoever on how much it spends on security detail for elected officials: Apparently, no one really had any idea what the costs actually were.

“Quite frankly, when I first came here I asked multiple times, how much are we spending in dignitary protection? And I could not get the answer within my department,” Gascon told the Board of Supervisors yesterday.

Sup. Read more »

The human right to water

Corporate conference conveys concern, but activists decry the exploitation of dwindling fresh water supplies
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rebeccab@sfbg.com

At a recent San Francisco conference in a plush downtown hotel packed with big-business representatives, venture capitalists, and public relations practitioners, some insiders from high-profile multinational beverage corporations spoke about the moments they realized how crucial water is as a resource.

For Harry Ott, who formerly worked for the Coca-Cola Company, the epiphany struck in 1998 when he arrived at a Coke bottling plant in Darussalam, Tanzania for a routine inspection.

"When we walked into the plant ... Read more »

Coastal Commission denies enviros’ request to yank desalination plant permit

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By Rebecca Bowe

A coalition of environmental organizations argued yesterday that a permit issued to Poseidon Resources to build a massive desalination plant near San Diego should be revoked, because the company failed to provide complete information to California Coastal Commission staff. Read more »