Poll: Voters give $11 billion water bond thumbs down

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By Rebecca Bowe

There is very weak support across political and geographic boundaries in California for a proposed $11 billion water bond that will go on the November ballot, according to the results of a poll released yesterday.

Just 34 percent of respondents said they would vote yes on the proposed $11 billion bond, while 55 percent said they would vote no. A more detailed breakdown revealed that 32 percent of likely voters indicated that they would definitely vote no, while only 12 percent said they would definitely vote yes.

“This bond is in deep trouble,” said Ben Tulchin of Tulchin Research, the firm that conducted the poll. “No bond has ever won statewide that started with a majority against it. It faces a real uphill battle.” Tulchin Research conducted the poll at the request of groups opposing the bond. The poll surveyed 600 likely voters across California, asking respondents to share their opinions after reading them the title and summary. Read more »

The war on suburbs? Huh?

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Joel Kotkin, the author and urban scholar, was on KQED's Forum this morning talking about what he called "the war on the suburbs." He's got a new book out, called The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050, and he's arguing, among other things, that the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts signals that the Democratic Party and progressives in America have lost touch with the suburbs and are being mean to the poor suburbanites.Read more »

Notes from the Sierra Club's gala dinner

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While I focused on Jerry Brown’s disappointing speech to the Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter’s gala dinner on Wednesday night, there are a few more notable nuggets in my notebook worth posting here, starting with what appears to be the collapse of plans for a California Constitutional Convention.Read more »

This is embarassing

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Come on, folks.

Tiger woods just made international news with a 15-minute press conference in which he ... apologized to his wife. Oh dear me, I'm so bad, I've let the whole world down, won't you ever forgive me, I need more treatement, I need more therapy, please oh please I'm an awful human being but I'm trying to win back your respect ...Read more »

Go directly to "Superjail!"

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By Peter Galvin

From the studio that produced the terrifically-offensive animated sequences from MTV’s Wonder Showzen, Superjail! is an 11-minute cartoon series about a prison located inside a volcano, which is itself located inside a larger volcano.

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Why I love snowboarder girls

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II mean, they're really hot, of course, almost by definition.

But that's not why I love the snowboarder girls. Here's the thing (and it goes for the men, too; I just happened to be watching the women last night):

Every Olympics, every major competition, the boarders push the limits, try to do something they might not be able to pull off, and half of them fall, crash and burn, wipe out -- and when they take off their helmet and goggles, they're smiling.Read more »

Boogie Bird will save us all

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Health care bickering amongst our elected leaders, new wars on the horizon, the rising prominence of American Apparel -- it’s no secret, San Fran: we need a hero. Enter Boogie Bird, a “curious creature” brought to us by spray paint artist Chor Boogie, who is displaying his tiny winged friends as part of his first post-stabbing gallery show.

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Action alert: Stop the banks!

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Let's have a show of hands.

To those of you in small business: have you noticed the banks getting tough with you on credit?  To customers of banks: have you noticed all the funny business with higher fees and shorter grace periods with credit cards? Does it annoy you that the big banks and Wall street get bailed out with little oversight or accountability,  and the rest of us on Main Street and the neighborhoods of San Francisco and beyond suffer with no relief in sight?Read more »

Tuareg rebel rock, the Tinariwen way

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The awesome group of hypnotic rockers known as Tinariwen -- from "Kel Tinariwen," or "desert boys" -- dress in traditional costume for performances, have one of the most amazing political and social backstories of any band, and write songs that seek to convey the sorrows, longing, and occasional joys of living in exile. (They'll be performing Sun/21 at the Palace of Fine Arts as part of the SF Jazz Festival.) That backstory story begins:

In 1963, an uprising of the nomadic Tuareg people began in the Adrar des Iforas desert region against the new independent government of Mali. During the revolt, a mason and trader by the name of Alhabib Ag Sidi was executed for aiding the rebels. The army then destroyed his herd of camels, cattle, and goats while his four-year old son Ibrahim watched. Ibrahim and his family travelled into exile in Algeria with his family and their one remaining cow.

It goes on to incorporate a number of rebellions, several diasoporas, Muammar Gaddafi, and founding member Ibrahim Ag Alhabib's love for American blues. 

But there's something even more compelling going on about Tinariwen than any gonzo global-folk narrative, however remarkable, suggests.

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And speaking of pot...

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Just minutes after my last post on medical marijuana, Assembly member Tom Ammiano announced that he has reintroduced state legislation that would legalize and tax marijuana. Assembly Bill 2254 follows an earlier bill by Ammiano, AB 390, which made history in January by clearing the Assembly Public Safety Committee, only to die from failing to clear a second committee before the legislative deadline.Read more »

Marijuana really is medicine

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Just in time for Medical Marijuana Week comes word that the first U.S. clinical trials on marijuana in more than 20 years has found that it is effective in relieving pain and treating multiple sclerosis and other ailments, potentially opening the way for the federal government to revisit its longstanding claim that pot has no medicinal value.Read more »

California healthcare workers spar over medical facility rallies

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By Rebecca Bowe

Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) is holding a series of rallies today at eight different Bay Area medical facilities to “mark the approval of their new contract and organize to enforce it; and throw out an outside organization that is trying to undermine their progress,” according to a press release.

The “outside organization” refers to the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), a young union formed early last year in the wake of a deep rift created when SEIU brought UHW workers under its representation through a trusteeship. NUHW later decried the move as a “hostile takeover.”

Workers at the hospitals, which include five medical centers in the Daughters of Charity Health System, are expected to vote soon on whether they would rather remain under the SEIU-UHW umbrella or break away to join NUHW. The eight medical centers employ roughly 3,500 SEIU-UHW members. SEIU-UHW also plans to deliver an open letter to NUHW tomorrow, Feb. 19, at NUHW's offices in Emeryville. Read more »

Rambling Jerry Brown speech raises fear among Dems

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If Jerry Brown’s keynote speech last night to a gala environmentalist dinner is any indication, the Democratic Party faces an uphill battle to win this year’s governor’s race. The rambling, alternately vague and academic, and often pointless address did little to inspire or excite a large, sympathetic crowd that was loaded with top Democrats. In fact, some party luminaries were openly aghast at the poor performance, with one making this succinct (if off-the-record) assessment: “We’re fucked.”Read more »

Loose in Obamalandia: Dead man walking through CA

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I am on a low-rent book tour with my new cult classic El Monstruo - Dread & Redemption In Mexico City.  For the next three months, I will stumble across this land from sea to stinking sea probing the underbelly of Obama's America.  The findings will be posted on these pages.

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First stop was the near north woods, Humboldt County USA, to wheedle the medicos into granting me a clean bill of health before I hit the road.  A year ago this February, my doctor who has poked and probed my old broken cadaver for nearly 20 years, pronounced me dead. "Liver Cancer" he parsed gravely -- but I am still alive and kicking. The class enemy be warned: I am not dead yet.

Humboldt had just been wracked by a 6.5 earthquake that cut a swath through Oldtown Eureka's antique shops but was not quite Haiti.  Nonetheless, the shake-up worked its usual bad mojo and implanted the seeds of fear and loathing in every soul.  On January 22nd, three separate police agencies shut down the north end of Arcata and evacuated hundreds of residents after a scruffy hippie-type tried to fed ex a suspicious package to Berkeley that leaked, according to the clerk at Kinko's, "a chemical odor." The offending package was blown up in a back alley. Read more »

Taser trouble

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You can say this for Police Chief George Gascon: He's not shy. He's pushing so many things, on so many fronts, that it's hard to keep track, and some of them are real problems. One example: The Feb. 17th Police Commission meeting, where Gascon paraded a bunch of experts to talk about how great it would be if the SF cops had tasers.Read more »