Sarah Phelan

The Chronicle death watch

Hearst's threat to shutter the San Francisco Chronicle sends shockwaves through an industry in crisis
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sarah@sfbg.com

Is San Francisco really the frontrunner in the race to become the first major U.S. city to go without a major daily? Or is it a victim of disaster capitalism, in which powerful corporations exploit economic meltdowns to exact otherwise unacceptable concessions from employees and/or antitrust legislators?

Media critics chewed on those questions last week, following Hearst Corporation's abrupt Feb. Read more »

The wheels come off

Chiu leads efforts to build a budget consensus in Newsom's absence
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sarah@sfbg.com

Criticism of Mayor Gavin Newsom's handling of the city's budget crisis has intensified since the mayor refused to attend consensus-building sessions at City Hall, instead choosing to promote his gubernatorial bid and push a flawed "local economic stimulus package" that will only make the deficit larger.

The wheels began to come off Newsom's public relations machine when news hit that Newsom refused to attend roundtables that board president David Chiu convened to discuss the city's financial emergency. Read more »

Public safety adrift

At this pivotal moment for law enforcement, will Newsom and his top deputies continue to let politics guide policy?
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sarah@sfbg.com

Shortly into his first term as mayor, Gavin Newsom told a caller on talk radio — who was threatening to start a recall campaign if the mayor didn't solve the city's homicide problem — that Newsom might sign his own recall petition if he didn't succeed in reducing violent crime.

But Newsom didn't reduce violence — indeed, it spiked during his tenure — nor did he hold himself or anyone else accountable. Guardian interviews and research show that the city doesn't have a clear and consistent public safety strategy. Read more »

Concrete plans

Massive southeast development proposal moves forward despite flaws and concerns
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sarah@sfbg.com

In the fractious atmosphere that dominates meetings concerned with Lennar's plan to redevelop the economically depressed southeast sector of San Francisco, reality is relative to one's perspective on this ambitious project.

At these meetings, competing factions within the Bayview's predominantly African American community typically accuse each other — as well as the mostly white engineers, planners, and scientists that Lennar and the city hired to flesh out the details of their vaguely worded but voter-approved conceptual framework — of being sellouts Read more »

Ending war

Inauguration Issue: Will Obama be able to achieve peace?
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sarah@sfbg.com

As Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama takes the reins of power, the peace movement is watching to see if he will follow through on foreign policy campaign promises — and preparing to apply pressure if he doesn't.

CodePink has compiled a list, "President Obama's Promises to Keep," taken from his campaign statements on which activists intend to hold him accountable. Read more »

Six aren't enough

The Board of Supervisors' new progressive majority won its first big vote, but rougher roads lie ahead
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news@sfbg.com

The historic Jan. 8 vote electing Sup. David Chiu as president of the Board of Supervisors — rare for its elevation of a freshman to the post and unprecedented for a Chinese American — clearly illustrates the ideological breakdown of the new board.Read more »

Unsteady ground

Lennar, liquefaction and other related meltdowns
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sarah@sfbg.com

If you've been tracking Lennar Corp.'s massive redevelopment project at Hunters Point Shipyard in San Francisco, then you probably know that several years ago, after the Florida-based megadeveloper won an exclusive negotiating agreement with the city, it formed a limited liability company, Lennar-BVHP, LLC, to handle operations on Parcel A of the former naval shipyard.

Parcel A is the only parcel of the shipyard that the Navy has released to the city as cleaned up and ready for development. Read more »

Up against ICE

Immigrant-rights groups challenge the mayor to stand behind SF's sanctuary ordinance
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sarah@sfbg.com

The San Francisco Immigrant Rights Defense Committee, a newly formed coalition of more than 30 community groups, is asking Mayor Gavin Newsom and the Board of Supervisors to sign a pledge supporting San Francisco's immigrant community.

By signing the pledge, city officials would agree to uphold the city's sanctuary ordinance, ensure that San Francisco police officers don't act like immigration agents, and denounce racial profiling. Read more »

New board, old pain

Incoming supervisors will face unprecedented cuts
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sarah@sfbg.com

One of the first tasks awaiting the new Board of Supervisors in January 2009 is to make unprecedented cuts to the city budget as San Francisco seeks to balance a $125 million mid-year shortfall and address a projected $450 million deficit for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2009.

"It's hard to understand the magnitude of what lays at our doorstep," termed-out board president Aaron Peskin told the incoming supervisors when it became clear that he lacked the votes to enact a proposed package of cuts before his last day in office (see "Sharing t Read more »

Sharing the pain

Newsom's budgetary olive branch does little to ease the impact or win over supervisors
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sarah@sfbg.com

When Mayor Gavin Newsom walked across City Hall to the Board of Supervisors Chambers last week to announce that the city is facing a $576 million budget deficit, it looked as if he was putting political differences aside and genuinely inviting the board to "share the challenge" of bridging the 2008-09 budget chasm.

For years, voters and supervisors have urged Newsom to appear before the board for monthly policy discussions. Read more »