Sarah Phelan

The wi-fi elephant

Instead of launching his reelection campaign, Newsom's wireless Internet proposal gets slammed for its shortcomings and lack of well-considered alternatives
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sarah@sfbg.com

It's been widely reported in recent weeks that San Francisco and the Google-EarthLink team have already reached a deal to offer free wireless Internet service citywide. In reality, the deal cut by Mayor Gavin Newsom is tentative and requires the approval of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) and the Board of Supervisors.

And getting that approval looks increasingly unlikely in light of a growing chorus of critics and a scathing assessment of the plan that Board of Supervisors budget analyst Harvey Rose laid out in his Jan. Read more »

How to Make a Pigeon Burrito

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By Sarah Phelan No, this isn’t my secret recipe for surviving life in the city on a tight budget. Instead, this is my not-so-secret recipe for helping get wild birds out of spaces they’d rather not be in—like trapped in the bay window of Farley’s coffee house on Potrero Hill, which is what happened last week when I was having lunch in the famed establishment and a pigeon flew through the door, then tried to escape, but hit the window, instead. Understandably, everyone panicked at the sight of a pigeon flying into a window. Read more »

Mayor Chicken

Gavin Newsom is terrified to face real political debate. That's bad for the entire city
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news@sfbg.com

The format is always the same: Mayor Gavin Newsom shows up at a carefully scouted location somewhere in the city with his perfect tie and perfect hair. He brings a cadre of department heads in tow, sending the clear message that he can deliver government services to the public. He takes a few questions from the audience, but the format allows him to deflect anything tough, to delegate any problems to department heads, and to offer a thoughtful "we'll look into that" when the need arises.Read more »

A reporter stands up to the army

Sarah Olson fights a subpoena to tesify against an antiwar soldier -- and faces felony charges
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sarah@sfbg.com

Oakland freelance writer and radio journalist Sarah Olson has a tall, willowy frame; long silky hair; and a clearly articulated understanding of the reasons she believes that testifying against a source, First Lt. Read more »

Wifi wars

Wifi wars: Google and Earthlink try to sell a citywide broadband service -- while the city looks at doing the job itself
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sarah@sfbg.com

Representatives of Google and EarthLink showed up at the Glen Park Recreation Center on Dec. 7 to push their plan to blanket the city with a wireless network they claim will provide free Internet for all. Read more »

Josh Wolf's appeal rejected

Imprisoned journalist will be stuck behind bars until June, court rules
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Preparing for scary

Event planners say city officials needn't fear Halloween in the Castro
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sarah@sfbg.com
Nine people were shot during this year's big Halloween celebration in the Castro, prompting city officials to announce the convening of a task force that will examine the event and its future in San Francisco. Supporters and event planners say such early attention is crucial for a gathering of this magnitude — and that the lack of proper planning contributed to this year's problems.
Concerns that the event has gotten out of control prompted some Castro residents and Sup. Bevan Dufty to announce in July that they wanted the event cancelled, moved, or drastically scaled back. Read more »

The Destroy California Initiative

Proposition 90 is being marketed as a way to stop Big Brother from taking your home. It might actually destroy everything that makes California livable
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sarah@sfbg.com
If you knew there was an initiative on the ballot that would make it impossible for government to protect the environment, build affordable housing, raise minimum wages, and mandate health care, you'd vote no on it, right?
Especially if you knew this measure would force taxpayers to spend billions to prevent developers and private property owners from doing things that harm neighborhoods, communities, and the environment.
So why is Proposition 90, which does all this and more, still leading in the polls?
It's all about fear — and the ability of one wealthy real estate investor Read more »

Proposition 90 isn't about eminent domain

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Here are some of the things that could be impacted if Proposition 90 passes: NEIGHBORHOOD PLANNING Developers could argue against providing additional community benefits, which are often mandated when increased building height or density is allowed. New zoning restrictions would be hit hard. LOCAL LAWS If Prop. 90 passes, it amends the state's constitution — and virtually nullifies a number of local antisprawl and smart-growth measures also on the November ballot. Read more »

The dirt in D6

Daly hit with stealthy attacks linked to the mentor of his main opponent
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amanda@sfbg.comsarah@sfbg.com If you live in San Francisco's District 6, it's pretty difficult to avoid what some residents are calling a new filth polluting Tenderloin corners and SoMa streets. It's not overflowing trash bins or urine-stained door frames — it's the relentless election billeting that uses those images to support Rob Black and oppose Chris Daly for the district's seat on the Board of Supervisors. "We're tired of talk. Of loud, whining, condescending, offensive, abusive, lying, showcasing, arrogant talk," reads a recent poster on a telephone pole. Read more »