Rebecca Bowe

The new War on Fun

Party people, watch out: undercover cop Larry Bertrand has declared war on San Francisco nightlife

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news@sfbg.com

For several years, the Guardian has been running regular stories chronicling what we've dubbed the Death of Fun, a trend of official crackdowns and shakedowns on people who throw parties and festivals in San Francisco. In the last year, that trend has started to morph into an often brutal War on Fun, with a growing list of atrocities and casualties associated with this overzealous new approach to killing the city's entertainment industry.Read more »

Utility PR 101: Glossy mailers galore!

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PG&E’s public-relations playbook (“Defending Your Shareholder-Owned Electric Company Against New Municipalization Threats, authored by San Francisco PR firm Solem & Associates), Tab IV, Section 17, instructs: “Design and implement a direct-mail program.” Read more »

In the wake of March 4, education battles continue

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Two weeks after protests against cuts to education filled Bay Area streets (and one freeway) on March 4, employees in the public-education sector are still engaged in a fight against budgetary rollbacks. But it’s an uphill battle, as was made clear at a briefing organized by United Educators of San Francisco at City College of San Francisco March 18.

At El Dorado Elementary School in the Bayview, 11 of 15 teachers were issued pink slips, according to elementary school teacher Megan Caluza (featured in the video above). While this doesn’t mean all 11 teachers are on their way out the door, it does mean that none of them knows for sure whether there’s a guaranteed job in the school district in the coming year. Since the budget cuts hit, Caluza says she’s been spending just as much time “fighting to teach” as she has in the actual classroom. Read more »

Sunshine sleuth nets $3.5 million for SF

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Sunshine advocate Kimo Crossman is sometimes counted as a thorn in the side of city government agencies due to his tendency to pepper them with public-records requests. But in the last couple days, he earned a gold star from the San Francisco Assessor-Recorder for pointing out that when Morgan Stanley walked away from five high-profile San Francisco properties, it neglected to pay a transfer tax. Thanks to an email from the ever-inquisitive Crossman, the assessor-recorder was able to collect roughly $3.5 million and feed it to the city’s ailing General Fund. Read more »

Herrera stands up to PG&E

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Yesterday, at the California Public Utilities Commission, PG&E executives raised some eyebrows with their presentation about Proposition 16, the ballot initiative designed to make it difficult for municipalities to enter the electricity business. CPUC President Michael Peevey expressed his skepticism about a measure that would require only a simple majority vote to set up a two-thirds majority system. Read more »

Coming soon to “a San Francisco sidewalk near you”

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Early this month, San Francisco Police Chief George Gascon explained to the Guardian his rationale for a proposed sit / lie ordinance, which would make it illegal to sit down or lie down on San Francisco sidewalks. “We’re responding to quite frankly what is a tremendous groundswell of pressure from residents and business people about very aberrant, aggressive behavior,” he said. “We don’t have an existing tool to deal with that behavior,” in the form of other city ordinances, he said.

The proposal has been discussed officially during public hearings at the San Francisco Police Commission, the Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee, and in a series of editorials at local media outlets. It’s shaping up to be quite controversial.

And if an upcoming event sparked by the debate surrounding sit-lie is any indication, there is a “tremendous groundswell of pressure” on the other side of the coin, too. A group of organizers who recently created a Facebook group called “San Francisco Stands Against Sit-Lie” are also the architects behind a daylong event to be staged on city sidewalks called “Sidewalks are for People!” The event will be held March 27, on “A San Francisco Sidewalk Near You,” according to the event announcement. Read more »

Buying power

How PG&E and Mercury Insurance are spending millions to try to trick Californians into voting for corporate interests

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news@sfbg.com

California voters are about to be bombarded by more than $50 million in political advertising designed to convince them to approve a pair of measures desperately sought by two powerful corporations with a long history of lies and political corruption.

Will this brazen and transparently self-serving effort work? And what does it say about the state of modern politics — particularly California's money-driven initiative system — that these deceptive campaigns just might convince voters to cast ballots against their own interests?Read more »

Willie Brown to speak in favor of Prop 16 tomorrow

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A public forum will be held tomorrow at the California Public Utilities Commission to discuss Proposition 16, the ballot initiative that PG&E is bankrolling in order to require a two-thirds majority vote before any municipality can become an electricity provider.

The Guardian has received word that former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown will be speaking in support of Prop. 16. We initially heard that he would be speaking on behalf of the California Chamber of Commerce, so we placed a call with the COC to verify whether that was the case. That prompted Robin Swanson, spokesperson for the Yes on 16 Campaign, to call and clarify that Brown is speaking on his own behalf. “He’s just speaking in support of Prop 16,” she said, speculating that maybe he was interested in the issue due to his own experience in local government.

Willie Brown formerly worked for PG&E providing “consulting services,” according to a 2007 annual report. Read more »

Supes pass resolution protecting SF Patrol Special Police Officers

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Jane Warner, or “Officer Jane” as she’s known throughout the Castro, had a rough Christmas Eve. It started when Warner, a San Francisco Patrol Special Police officer who was out walking the foot beat, was alerted that a fight had broken out at Trigger, a bar on Market Street. When she arrived, she says she encountered a drunk and belligerent man. “He got more excited and charged the doormen, he pushed me, I pushed him back, and I said, ‘You’re under arrest,’” Warner told the Guardian shortly after the incident occurred. “He started to walk away from me, I drew my baton, I hit him twice, and he turned around and he hit me and I went to block his punch and he broke my arm,” at which point she fell to the ground in pain. “It cracked the bone right between the elbow and the shoulder,” she said. Read more »

Waste of paper

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ISSUE: Ethics Commission system for routing out political corruption doesn't work, but it could easily be fixed

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rebeccab@sfbg.com

Several weeks ago, Sup. Chris Daly e-mailed the San Francisco Ethics Commission to ask what seemed like a simple question. Daly is spearheading a June citywide ballot measure to ask voters to support the designation of the new Transbay Transit Center as the end point for the planned California High Speed Rail project, a response to the California High Speed Rail Authority's move to explore alternative locations.Read more »