Editorial: CCA: Get it done by the deadline

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If the mayor and his handpicked PUC director, Ed Harrington, and his handpicked commissioners dawdle and delay, they'll be giving a corrupt private utility exactly what it wants

EDITORIAL San Francisco has been talking about creating a community-choice aggregation system to sell cleaner electricity for five years now. There have been hearings, studies, debates, discussions, and negotiations. And now it's coming down to the wire: to avoid the prospect of a Pacific Gas and Electric Company initiative on the June ballot that cuts the city's effort off at the knees, San Francisco officials need to get CCA up and running before June 8.

But the mayor and the Public Utilities Commission don't seem to have any sense of urgency. And the slow pace of negotiations with the contractor that would handle the electricity purchases is playing right into PG&E's hands. If the mayor and his handpicked PUC director, Ed Harrington, and his handpicked commissioners dawdle and delay, they'll be giving the corrupt private utility exactly what it wants.

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Yee's two-fer: Bashing Palin while promoting sunshine

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Sen. Leland Yee scored a two-fer yesterday when he blasted a California State University organization for hiding how much it’s playing Sarah Palin for a speaking gig, raising an important sunshine issue and knocking Palin’s populism-for-pay schtick in the process. And at the heart of the issue is how public education institutions increasingly use foundations to avoid accountability.Read more »

Study: Cuts to health programs a bad plan for state economy

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It doesn’t take a Ph.D. to understand that people who earn less shell out a greater percentage of their income from month to month than those occupying more elite ranks. Anyone fortunate enough to be holding down even a low-paying gig in a state where unemployment stands at 12.5 percent knows that basic living expenses can quickly consume a paycheck in San Francisco.

A study released by the Center for Labor and Research Education at the University of California at Berkeley has found that cutting relatively low-paying jobs in the state’s health and human services sector would deal a harsher blow to California’s financial health than alternative budget-balancing measures, like raising taxes on the wealthiest residents. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed cutting $6.4 billion from California’s health and human services budget, part of his solution for closing a roughly $20 billion budget gap.

“The budget proposals that the governor is making would … significantly worsen the economic crisis in the state, rather than pull us out,” said Ken Jacobs, chair of the Labor Center at UC Berkeley. Read more »

Live Shots: Air, Fox Theater, 03/26/2010

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It was the first time I traveled by myself. I was exploring Boston, meandering along the red line that winds its way from one historical site to another, while the discman in my purse blasted Air. The red line (aka The Freedom Trail) ends at Bunker Hill. The sun was brilliant on that June day and I lay in the grass, squinting up at the clouds. Cherry Blossom Girl started playing. I watched a little girl do somersaults in the grass and dance. Her tumbles were in perfect time with the soft rhythm of the song. The little girl was pure joyfulness. She found a feather in the grass and for some reason brought it over to me and said "This is for you." Then her dad called to her, telling her it was time to go home.

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Appetite: It's Passover -- so come on over

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As Passover begins tonight through next Monday, here's a few places where you know you can eat quite well and stay quite kosher:

4/5 - SLOW FOOD Seder at Mission Beach Cafe
Heeb magazine teams up with one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants, Mission Beach Café for a Slow Food Seder. Yes, that's slow food principles, modern cooking sensibilities, traditional Jewish dishes. In fact, with each course, you have the choice of traditional or California-style dishes, each made with local ingredients. Will it be smoked black cod with potato kugel or matzo flatbread with haroset, balsamic reduction, basil scallion pesto and messo seco cheese?

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Bay Area Sistah Sound celebrate two years of femme beats

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The ladies of Bay Area Sistah Sound know their place -- and it’s in the beat kitchen. The all female DJ crew (which includes DJ Zita, the legendary Pam the Funkstress and newest addition to the cast, DJ Similak Chyld) is celebrating its second anniversary at 111 Minna on Fri/2. It seemed like a good time to reflect with the women on their past two years.Read more »

A good, stubborn Irishman

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He was one of the last of the old-line labor leaders who once had great influence in many cities. He was Irish-Catholic, of course, a resident of the city's principal working class district, and from one of the blue-collar trades.

 His name was Joseph Michael O'Sullivan. He had been president of the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council and for four decades head of its main carpenters union local.
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Deadline looms for San Francisco’s green power program

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Negotiations between city government and Power Choice LLC, a contractor selected to implement San Francisco’s Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program, began Feb. 9. Almost seven weeks later, there’s still no end in sight -- but if a deal isn’t secured soon, San Francisco could risk losing an opportunity to implement a cutting-edge green power program that would significantly reduce the city’s reliance on fossil fuels and give customers an alternative electricity provider.

About a half-decade of studies, debate, public meetings, and input from all sides have brought San Francisco’s CCA to the threshold of finally becoming a reality. The program would offer an energy mix comprised of 51 percent renewable power by 2017 for those who opted in.  

Assuming the program can operate successfully without an adverse impact to customers’ wallets, San Francisco could become a shining example of how to transition to a more sustainable energy model. It could represent giant step -- rather than an inch-by-inch crawl -- toward carbon-free power generation serving the needs of a major U.S. city. Read more »

The pot initiative's going to win

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It seems pretty clear to me that, with polls showing widespread support and money pouring in for the campaign, the initiative to legalize pot in California is going to pass. Read more »

Us and the Weekly: It wasn't personal

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I really liked The Stranger's article a couple of weeks ago about our battle with SF Weekly and it's corporate parent, Village Voice Media. Eli Sanders is a good reporter, and he got most of it right.Read more »

Street Threads: Look of the Day

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Today's Look: Raeann, Van Ness and Washington

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Could he be -- the worst pope ever?

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In The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Gibbons reports on the trial of Pope John XXIII in 1415, during which "the most scandalous charges were suppressed: The Vicar of Christ was accused only of piracy, murder, rape, sodomy and incest."Read more »

Lawsuit could expose SFPD-ABC collaboration

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Imminent legal actions against San Francisco, its Police Department, and the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control could reveal whether a pair of undercover agents went rogue in harassing nightclubs and aggressively busting parties or whether they were acting at the direction of top officials.

Attorney Mark Webb – whose work on a racketeering lawsuit against the policing agencies was the subject of cover stories in the Guardian and the SF Weekly – told us that on Monday, he plans to file that racketeering claim against the city (which will then become a lawsuit if the city rejects it, as it routinely does) and a related lawsuit in Superior Court involving the rough, unnecessary arrest of bartender Javier Magallon and harassment of Mike Quan, owner of The Room, Playbar, and Mist. Narrated surveillance video associated with the case was posted on YouTube yesterday. Read more »

The cheeseman can

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The subtitle of Rainbow Grocery cheesemonger Gordon “Zola” Edgar’s new memoir (supertitled Cheesemonger, appropriately enough) would be enough for me to count the book a success; “Life on the wedge.” Ha! See, right there, he had me ready to head out to his Omnivore Books reading (Sat/3) fangirl style, washed rind Taleggio in hand, hounding for an autograph. Luckily, the rest of his book is pretty good too. Read more »

Workers rally against Newsom's layoff scheme

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By Jobert Poblete

Dozens of workers at San Francisco General Hospital rallied March 25 to protest layoffs there and throughout the city as ordered by Mayor Gavin Newsom. More than 17,000 city workers received layoff notices in the last few weeks, including hundreds at the hospital. The protest was organized by SEIU Local 1021, which represents around 12,000 city employees, 9,000 of whom have received pink slips. 

Many of these workers are expected to be re-hired as part-time employees, working 37.5 hours a week or less. The move is expected to shave $50 million from a more than $500 million budget deficit. The Mayor’s Office is calling this a “reorganization” that will minimize the impact on services and maintain employment. But the plan, which was proposed by Newsom last month without first consulting with the city’s unions, has met fierce resistance from employees and their labor representatives and is now the subject of negotiations between the mayor and 41 city employee unions. Read more »