By the people

GOOD TECH ISSUE: Opening government with tech has possibilities and pitfalls


A growing number of people seem to be convinced that "civic innovation" is sexy.

Tech-oriented events at San Francisco City Hall, like hackathons for improving government services, have become increasingly common. App developers are gaga over the idea of revolutionizing government through software, and the concept is gaining momentum.Read more »

The Gilded Age of Austerity and the breakdown of civil society


Is this the week that civil society in the US finally collapses? It’s starting to feel that way. Most of the federal government is already shut down, and on Thursday, it could start defaulting on its debts, possibly dragging down the global economy. And here in the Bay Area, our transportation system will descend into gridlock if strikes shut down BART tomorrow and AC Transit on Thursday, as their unions are threatening. Read more »

Chiu and Herrera roll up their sleeves for spring cleaning in City Hall


For some time now, oft-labeled “power brokers” with undue influence in San Francisco city government have taken heat for failing to register as lobbyists. At the same time, politically connected insiders are often criticized for manipulating the permitting process for major real estate developments far outside the public gaze.

It’s said that sunshine is the best disinfectant. Yesterday, City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Board of Supervisors President David Chiu introduced a package of reforms designed to shed more light on lobbyists’ practices.Read more »

Reagan's legacy: Homeless death


The headline on sfgate is about as brutal as you can get: "The coming homeless die-off." But the brief story points to an alarming set of statistics: The median age of homeless people on the streets of US cities is now 53. The life expectancy for homeless people is 64. You get the point.

But here's the key political element:Read more »

Activists to government: SF should be more like LA


What sets San Francisco apart from Los Angeles? When it comes to city agencies that are supposed to keep politicians, lobbyists and campaign financiers honest, there are evidently some key differences.

Last year, San Francisco’s Budget & Legislative Analyst, Harvey Rose, drafted a report at the behest of Sup. David Campos comparing the San Francisco Ethics Commission to that of LA. It was meant as a precursor for moving forward with a package of tougher Ethics regulations governing areas like campaign finance, but so far little has happened on that front.Read more »

Who's afraid of taxes?


Well, the candidates for governor are, but apparently the people of California are not. The latest Public Policy Institute poll makes it pretty clear:Read more »