Rebecca Bowe

Questioning Prop. 16

The bill vs. CCAs

|
()

rebeccab@sfbg.com

GREEN CITY In Sacramento, at a Feb. 26 joint legislative committee hearing about Proposition 16, a ballot initiative that Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. plans to sink $35 million into, PG&E executive Ed Bedwell found himself in the hot seat. Sen. Mark Leno and Assembly Member Tom Ammiano, who both represent San Francisco, joined Assembly Member Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) in grilling Bedwell about an initiative that seems to be aimed directly at the efforts of San Francisco and Marin counties to establish alternative power providers to PG&E. Read more »

PG&E’s laughable Prop 16: Who needs friends when you’ve got $35 million?

|
()

Last month, when the Guardian sent an intern to cover a debate between Pacific Gas & Electric Co. spokesperson David Townsend and California Sen. Mark Leno, the reporter was ejected from the event at Townsend’s request.

I figured I’d be immune from such nonsense when I ventured to the state capitol yesterday for a joint informational hearing about Proposition 16, the ballot initiative that PG&E has bankrolled for the June ballot for the purpose of extinguishing competition in its service territory. The initiative would establish a two-thirds majority vote before any municipal electricity program could get up and running, and its sole sponsor is PG&E.

But just after I snapped a photo of Sen. Mark Leno and Assemblyman Tom Ammiano chuckling sardonically at a PG&E executive who had mistakenly referred to the ballot initiative as “Prop 13,” a guard swooped in and ordered me to stop photographing and turn off my voice recorder. Read more »

How the UC regents avoided a PR mess with Bill Clinton

|
()


Things were calm and peaceful outside San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel, perched high atop a windy hill on Mason Street, as dark shiny vehicles rolled up to the stately entrance and well-dressed patrons filed in on the evening of Feb. 24. They were there to hear former President Bill Clinton deliver a speech titled “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow: Building a Better World,” as a benefit for the American Himalayan Foundation. Read more »

Hey Matier & Ross -- PG&E is no security blanket

|
()

Today’s San Francisco Chronicle piece by Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross brought to mind a Pacific Gas & Electric Co.-sponsored Web site that was set up to undermine the city’s fledgling Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program.

That’s because one of the key points in the story was that San Francisco’s CCA could result in higher customer bills. According to the Chronicle:

"A 2007 city controller's report concluded that a typical residential utility bill under this type of plan could go up by 24 percent if only half the purchased energy is green. The cost would almost certainly go even higher if the city went totally green, the report said."

This city controller’s report is referenced on the PG&E-funded Web site, too, and this supposed 24 percent increase was splashed prominently across colorful outsized postcards that the PG&E-sponsored “Common Sense Coalition” sent to businesses and residences throughout the city last December. However, San Francisco’s Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo), a city commission responsible for setting CCA in motion, maintains that the claim is misleading.

Why?

Read more »

Poll: Voters give $11 billion water bond thumbs down

|
()

By Rebecca Bowe

There is very weak support across political and geographic boundaries in California for a proposed $11 billion water bond that will go on the November ballot, according to the results of a poll released yesterday.

Just 34 percent of respondents said they would vote yes on the proposed $11 billion bond, while 55 percent said they would vote no. A more detailed breakdown revealed that 32 percent of likely voters indicated that they would definitely vote no, while only 12 percent said they would definitely vote yes.

“This bond is in deep trouble,” said Ben Tulchin of Tulchin Research, the firm that conducted the poll. “No bond has ever won statewide that started with a majority against it. It faces a real uphill battle.” Tulchin Research conducted the poll at the request of groups opposing the bond. The poll surveyed 600 likely voters across California, asking respondents to share their opinions after reading them the title and summary. Read more »

California healthcare workers spar over medical facility rallies

|
()

By Rebecca Bowe

Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) is holding a series of rallies today at eight different Bay Area medical facilities to “mark the approval of their new contract and organize to enforce it; and throw out an outside organization that is trying to undermine their progress,” according to a press release.

The “outside organization” refers to the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), a young union formed early last year in the wake of a deep rift created when SEIU brought UHW workers under its representation through a trusteeship. NUHW later decried the move as a “hostile takeover.”

Workers at the hospitals, which include five medical centers in the Daughters of Charity Health System, are expected to vote soon on whether they would rather remain under the SEIU-UHW umbrella or break away to join NUHW. The eight medical centers employ roughly 3,500 SEIU-UHW members. SEIU-UHW also plans to deliver an open letter to NUHW tomorrow, Feb. 19, at NUHW's offices in Emeryville. Read more »

Bay Area faith leaders gather to call for immigration reform

|
()

 

By Rebecca Bowe

An event will be held this evening (2/18) at the Mission Dolores Basilica to urge Sens. Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein to push for nationwide immigration reform. The gathering of people from the immigrant community and faith-based organizations, which is being put together by the San Francisco Organizing Project, will be held in conjunction with the national Reform Immigration for America campaign.

Pat Bregant of SFOP told the Guardian that a turnout of around 1,000 is expected. Several families whose lives have been turned upside down by deportations will share their stories.

Read more »

Labor's love lost

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

|
()

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

|
()

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.”

Read more »

Sitting boundaries

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

|
()

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 »