Sarah Phelan

Restoring the sanctuary

Newsom leaks legal document to counter strong support for pro-immigrant legislation
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MORE AT SFBG
>>San Francisco groups launch campaign for federal immigration reform

sarah@sfbg.com

The week started off in celebratory mood for members of the local immigrant rights community who attended an Aug. 18 rally outside City Hall to support legislation by Sup. David Campos that would extend due process rights to immigrant youth. Read more »

Chronic debate

THE DRUG ISSUE: Marijuana decriminalization moves forward on several fronts
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sarah@sfbg.com

For decades, proponents of marijuana reform have argued that cannabis is less dangerous than alcohol or cigarettes, has legitimate medical uses, and should be decriminalized on the grounds that prohibition doesn't work.

In 1996, these arguments helped convince California voters to approve Proposition 215, which allows the use of marijuana for medical purposes. And in March, U.S. Read more »

'Can I buy your park?'

Critics challenge bill allowing luxury condos on Candlestick Point parkland
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sarah@sfbg.com

Saul Bloom, executive director of Arc Ecology, recently donned his best suit and a sandwich-board saying "Can I buy your park?" then headed to some of the city's most popular open spaces: Dolores Park, Golden Gate Park, Crissy Field, and Ocean Beach.

Bloom's quest? Read more »

Behind the Mitchells' door

My strange encounters with a strange crew
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sarah@sfbg.com

When James Raphael Mitchell, 27, son of the late porn film director and strip club owner Jim Mitchell, was charged with murder, domestic violence, kidnapping, and child abduction and endangerment last week, my first reaction was to wonder if he suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder.

I had run into met James in October 2007, at which time he sported a military-style buzz cut and told me he was in the Marines. Read more »

The nativists are restless

Chronicle stories and controversial award trigger a new round of anti-immigrant anger
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news@sfbg.com

The comments sections of the Guardian's Politics blog and the San Francisco Chronicle's SFGate Web site have been lit up over the past week with angry (and sometimes overtly racist) denunciations of Latino immigrants, triggered by the latest Chronicle stories challenging San Francisco's Sanctuary City policies and by Guardian revelations that Chronicle writer Jaxon Van Derkeken accepted an award and substantial cash payment from a controversial nativist group.Read more »

The mobility of space

Deconstructing the politics of parking in San Francisco
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sarah@sfbg.com

Jason Henderson is standing on Patricia's Green in Hayes Valley, shielding his eyes from the midsummer sun, as he explains how this area, which once lay in the shadowy underbelly of the Central Freeway, was reclaimed as a pedestrian-friendly park.

"In 1989 the freeway went all the way to Turk Street," said Henderson, an assistant professor of geography at San Francisco State University, describing how the raised concrete roadbed, built in the 1950s, cut across this neighborhood and blocked the sky — until the Loma Prieta earthquake hit and damaged the fin Read more »

Selling the park

Environmentalists oppose Lennar's effort to build condos on Candlestick Point parkland
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sarah@sfbg.com

GREEN CITY Considering that it exists just a short hop from the industrial grind of Third Street, Candlestick Point State Recreation Area is a surprisingly wild and peaceful 150-acre bayshore park.

On a recent afternoon, a man practiced his golf swings, a group fished off a pier, and a lizard darted across a trail and into a clump of wildflowers, all apparently unaware of the storm gathering around the future of this waterfront habitat.

State Sen. Read more »

Eliminating dissent

U.S. Navy dissolves Hunters Point Shipyard citizens' comments just as toxic cleanup enters critical phase
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sarah@sfbg.com

For years, the Hunters Point Shipyard Restoration Advisory Board has served as the Bayview-Hunters Point community's main voice in the U.S. Navy's environmental cleanup plans for the toxic former naval station. But the committee is suddenly being disbanded just as the cleanup enters a crucial phase.

Used for shipbuilding and submarine maintenance and repair, and the decontamination, storage, and disposal of radioactive and atomic weapons testing materials, the shipyard was added to the Superfund national toxic site cleanup list in 1989. Read more »

Finally, justice

Guardian story led to freedom, $4.5 million settlement
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It's not every day a journalist helps overturn life sentences and win multimillion dollar settlements for the aggrieved parties. But that's exactly what happened last week when San Francisco reportedly agreed to pay $4.5 million to John Tennison, who spent 13 years behind bars for a crime he didn't commit.

Tennison and his alleged accomplice, Antoine Goff, who were sentenced to life for the execution of Roderick "Cooley" Shannon in 1989, were still behind bars when former Guardian reporter A.C. Read more »

Round one

Muni battle kicks off budget showdown season at City Hall
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sarah@sfbg.com

The Board of Supervisors' narrowly thwarted attempt to reject the Municipal Transportation Agency's 2009-10 budget was the first in a wave of anticipated showdowns between Mayor Gavin Newsom and the progressives this summer as budget season gets underway.

The mayor appeared to win this particular showdown when the board voted 6-5 not to reject the MTA deal May 27, although the skirmish helped progressives voice their concerns over Newsom's budget priorities. Read more »