Oakland and San Francisco police and city officials are nervously awaiting the verdict in the murder trial of Johannes Mehserle, the former BART police officer who shot and killed Oscar Grant on a train platform last year, although the latest word is that verdict won't come today (July 6), and probably not tomorrow, because of the absences of two jurors.Read more »
Newsom needs to decide whether he's serious when he says he wants to work with the supervisors on a budget
EDITORIAL The San Francisco supervisors took a huge step with the city budget this year: they essentially told the mayor that his approach was unacceptable, and that they were going to do it themselves.
The result — the document that the board's Budget Committee approved and sent back to Mayor Gavin Newsom — isn't perfect. But the members of that panel saved $40 million worth of programs from the mayor's budget ax and got rid of two particularly bad plans: privatizing health care at the county jails and allowing more condominium conversions.
The board members are also looking seriously at putting as much as $100 million in new taxes — progressive taxes — on the November ballot. Current plans include a modest increase in the hotel tax, an increase in the real-estate transfer tax on high-end properties, and a tax on commercial rents of more than $200,000 a year, which would be paired with a reduction in the payroll tax for small businesses.
Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for a half-century. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com, which includes more than 250 of his recent columns.
Although the wage gap between white and African-American workers remains wide, it has been shrinking. But that's not so for the more significant black and white wealth gap.
A new study by researchers at Brandeis University shows that the wealth gap has been growing steadily, leaving African-American families with increasingly fewer resources than white families to cope with serious economic problems such as many families face today.
The Brandeis study found that in the quarter-century from 1984 to 2007, the African-American and white wealth gap more than quadrupled, from $20,000 to $95,000. Read more »
The deadline for submitting enough valid signatures to quality local initiatives for the November ballot is today (July 6) at 5 p.m., which made for a busy holiday weekend for two San Francisco ballot measures that will be close calls: labor's effort to increase the city's hotel tax by 2 percent and the pension reform measure pushed by Public Defender Jeff Adachi.Read more »
There's a mysterious paradox present in the fact the Golden Gate Bridge was essentially born in the pit of the Great Depression. On the one hand, this marvel of architecture and beauty stands for potential and optimism as made manifest in the dreamiest haven of California. On the other, the Golden Gate is like a metallic siren, known as a place where those who have lost contact with American life go to disappear.Read more »
Members of the Board of Supervisors, their legislative aides, and other City Hall regulars were all looking a bit sleep-deprived as they darted from office to office at City Hall July 1 after ongoing budget negotiations kept everyone up late the night before. Just as an agreement on the city budget seemed within reach on June 30, Mayor Gavin Newsom and his chief of staff, Steve Kawa, had expressed strong opposition to several initiatives that progressive members of the Board of Supervisors sought to place on the November ballot.
The mayor's last-minute move was described by some as a quid pro quo that withheld support for an amended budget -- which included about $40 million in restorations to community programs that are high priorities for members of the board -- unless four different proposals were struck from the ballot. Three were proposed charter amendments dealing with commission appointments that would distribute power more evenly between the board and the mayor, and the fourth was a proposal put forth by Sup. Ross Mirkarimi that would have required the San Francisco Police Department to adopt a community-policing model and engage in neighborhood foot patrols, initially cast as an enlightened alternative to Newsom's proposed law banning sitting or lying down on the sidewalk.
Party prince Richie Panic likes to pile it on in a good way. Although he’s been a keen-eared staple of the SF scene for years, he really blew up with the Blow Up party, blasting the table-wrecking new-electro bangers and always eliciting a Panic-specific “oh sh*t!” from the crowd Now he helms two weekly clubs, Wanted (Mondays at Q Bar) and the Boner Party (Wednesdays at Beauty Bar), and his style has morphed a bit into slightly more nuanced territory. It’s still shiny-shiny, with plenty of gold-teeth bite, but now he’s a master craftsman, giving his mixes some thoughtful sheen and a clearer dancefloor narrative.
Today, Johnny and Tim talk about why private power companies don't want to see more solar and wind generation, and why San Francisco's public-school admission lottery isn't really as bad as its critics say. Read more »
(Note: In July of 1972, when the Guardian was short a Fourth of July story, I sat down and cranked out this one for the front page on my trusty Royal Typewriter. I now reprint it each year on the Bruce blog, with some San Francisco updates and postscripts.)
Back where I come from, a small town beneath a tall standpipe in northwestern Iowa, the Fourth of July was the best day of a long, hot summer.
The Fourth came after YMCA camp and Scout camp and church camp, but before the older boys had to worry about getting into shape for football. It was welcome relief from the scalding, 100-degree heat in a town without a swimming pool and whose swimming holes at Scout Island were usually dried up by early July. But best of all, it had the kind of excitement that began building weeks in advance.
In the fifth chapter of his essay collection Extra Lives: Why Video GamesMatter, author Tom Bissell meets "Al," a staffer at the 2009 DICE convention, an annual game industry event held in Las Vegas. "By 2020," gushes Al, "there is a very good chance that the president will be someone who played Super Mario Bros. on the NES."Read more »
"Who do you think you are, the queen of fucking England?"
That's Joe Pesci to Helen Mirren in Love Ranch, a film that takes Mirren about as far as possible from her titular role in 2006's The Queen. She stars as Grace Botempo, co-owner of Nevada's first legal brothel alongside her husband, Pesci's Charlie. The fact that the regal British dame is entirely convincing as an American madam speaks to her impressive versatility.Read more »
The message came into City Editor Steve Jones' voicemail box, but we all figured I should probably follow up on it. Sex conference! Well, kind of. We're looking for webmasters for sex sites! said the excited publicist on the phone. I thought you might be interested in this exciting event! he said (please note; no quote marks. I do not take good notes on publicists' voicemails). Well hell yes publicist, I said. Get it girl. Read more »