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The SFPD and police departments across the country get free military equipment, but does it make us safer or provoke violence?

This Week's Paper

cover imageFall Arts preview: movies, concerts, festivals, theater, dance, nightlife, videogames, gallery shows, and more. Plus: hip-hop tricksters Souls of Mischief return, local police gifted military weapons, witness comes forward in Alex Nieto shooting. Articles Online | Digital Edition

From the Blogs

The anti-sunshine gang intensifies its attacks on the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force in City Hall

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By Bruce B. Brugmann   (with special sunshine vendetta chronology by Richard Knee) 

The Guardian story in the current issue demonstrates in 96 point tempo bold how important the glare of sunshine and publicity is in City Hall in keeping the public’s business public. Yet, the anti-sunshine gang in City Hall is intensifying  its savage attack on the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force.

The Sunshine Ordinance established the Sunshine Task Force to serve as the people’s court for hearing citizen complaints on public access, thus giving  citizens a way to get secret records, open secret meetings, and hold government officials accountable. It empowers citizens to be watchdogs on issues they care about.  It is the first and best ordinance of its kind in the country, if not in the world, and its effectiveness is shown by the fact that the anti-sunshine gang regularly tries  to bounce strong members and gut the task force.

Terry Francke, then the executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition and author of the ordinance, and I as a founder anticipated this problem in trhe early 1990s and put a mandate  into the original ordinance for the task force to have representatives from the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (a journalist and media attorney) and the San Francisco League of Women Voters, two organizations with experience and tradition with open government issues. Later, the mandate included a representative from New America Media, to insure a member of color for the task force.

 I served for 10 years on the task force and then Mayor Willie Brown made the point about City Hall interference by targeting me for extinction.  He tried several times  to kick me off the task force.  I refused to budge, on the principle that neither the mayor nor any other city official should be able to arbitrarily kick off a member of the task force for doing his/her job. When Willie left office, I left the task force when my term was up  and the principle was intact.

Today, as Richard Knee writes in his timeline and chronology below, the principle is once again under city hall attack. Knee replaced me as the journalist representative  of SPJ and has served under fire  for a record 12 years. He writes that the latest attack is retaliation for a unanimous finding by the task force in September 2011 when Board President David Chiu and Supervisors Scott Wiener, Malia Cohen, and Eric Mar violated  local and state open meeting laws by ramming through the monstrous Park Merced redevelopment contract with 14 pages of amendments that Chiu slipped in “literally minutes” before the committee vote.

This was a historic task force vote in the public interest, and a historic vote for open government and for all the good causes. But instead it prompted a smear- dilute-and- ouster campaign by the Board of Supervisors, with timely assists from the city attorney's office.  The ugly play by play follows. The good news is  that the sunshine forces inside and outside city hall are fighting back, hard and fast, and with a keen eye on all upcoming elections.   Stay tuned. On guard. :

Read more »

Muni permanently locks up front facing seats, fearing lawsuits

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Regular Muni riders have no doubt seen the wheelchair-accessible seats, located just in front of Muni's middle door, snapped up in the upright position. A seat not for sitting, leading confused riders to wonder: why has Muni left these seats permanently upright?Read more »

Losing our religion: The Lost Church says farewell — for now

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With all the tears shed and (Internet) ink spilled bemoaning the death of the Mission District at the hands of the tech bubble, it's easy to forget lately that there actually are still artists here. There are people who give a shit about community here — even people who've dedicated their lives to building it.Read more »

Meet the people who are getting forced out of San Francisco

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The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project has come out with a number of visualization projects in the past year to document the trend of eviction in San Francisco, where rents have reached absurdly high levels and landlords have a greater incentive to oust longtime tenants.Read more »

Chiu mailer highlights Guardian praise, despite our Campos endorsement

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Politics is dirty business, and I should never underestimate the willingness of politicians to turn any editorial praise they receive into an electoral advantage, distorting the context as needed, a lesson that I was reminded of this week.

Several Guardian readers have called me this week to complain about a mailer dropped on voters by the David Chiu for Assembly campaign, which includes long quotes from Chiu’s endorsements by the San Francisco Chronicle and Bay Area Reporter, as well as positive quotes from the Bay Guardian and San Francisco Examiner.Read more »

Agnos offers waterfront development history lesson during SFT speech

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[Editor’s Note: This is the text of a speech that former Mayor Art Agnos gave at San Francisco Tomorrow’s annual dinner on May 21. We reprint it here in its entirely so readers can hear directly what Agnos has been saying on the campaign trail in support of Prop. B]

I am delighted to speak to the members and friends of SFT about the waterfront tonight…and a special shout out to Jane Morrison as one of the pioneer professional women in the media and one of the finest Social Service Commissioners in our City’s history. Read more »

Watch: Papercuts' "Life Among the Savages"

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Papercuts, the indie-folk output of San Francisco songwriter-producer Jason Quever, has been a San Francisco staple for a decade now. By turns stark and raw and layered, lush and atmospheric, Papercuts' newest album, Life Among the Savages is full of excellent songs for a long, moody solo drive.Read more »

Uber vs. SFO: Will Mayor Lee take sides?

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NOTE: This post has been updated from an earlier version.

 Police at the San Francisco International Airport have been cracking down lately on unauthorized drivers working for Uber and other app-based “rideshare” companies. Drivers have been stopped and warned that it’s not legal to operate at the airport without required permits. But three rideshare companies have banded together to fight back – and now they’re trying to get Mayor Ed Lee to intervene on their behalf. Read more »

Student protesters file claim against City College and SF citing injuries, defamation

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Student protesters filed a claim against City College of San Francisco and the city and county of San Francisco today, citing excessive use of force by San Francisco Police Department and City College police officers.Read more »

Bay Guardian Community Forum! Bikes, buses, and budgets: How to create the transportation system San Franciscans need

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Join the San Francisco Bay Guardian as we explore the current swirl of challenges and initiatives that will determine how people get around San Francisco. We'll discuss transportation funding measures recently placed on the fall ballots this year and in 2016, big ideas such as tearing down I-280 and taking a Bay Bridge deck for bikes and buses, and the gap between political rhetoric and realities on the street along with a panel of key experts and activists. This is a free community event, and attendees will be entered into a raffle for an A2B electric bicycle, with a winner selected at the end of the event. Read more »

Memorial Day: Remembering the good old days in Rock Rapids, Iowa, circa 1940s to 1950s

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 Bruce B. Brugmann

(Reprinted and updated by popular demand)

When I was growing up in my hometown of Rock Rapids, Iowa, a farming community of 2,800 in the northwest corner of the state, Memorial Day was the official start of summer.

We headed off to YMCA camp at Camp Foster on West Okiboji Lake and Boy Scout camp at Lake Shetek in southwestern Minnesota. The less fortunate were trundled off to Bible School at the Methodist Church.

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Tune in to SFBG's Alternative Ink, the Holiday Party Edition LISTEN NOW

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While everyone is out partying it up on the long three-day weekend, the dedicated staff here at the Bay Guardian will still take a break from the mayhem to bring you two hours of local music and lively, information talk during our bi-weekly Alternative Ink radio show from 6-8pm Sunday, May 25, on BFF.fm. UPDATE: Listen to the show hereRead more »

The strange, unique power of San Francisco mayors

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Mayor Ed Lee wields a strange and unique power in San Francisco politics, passed down from Mayor Gavin Newsom, and held by Mayor Willie Brown before him.

No, we're not talking magic, though mayors have used this ability to almost magically influence the city's political winds. Read more »

Does carsharing really reduce overall driving?

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At the Share conference that I covered for this week’s Guardian, there were wildly divergent claims for how many vehicles carsharing companies such as City Car Share, Zipcar, and Getaround take off the road. I was also a little skeptical of claims that carsharing dramatically reduces overall driving and greenhouse gas emissions, so I decided to take a deeper look at the issue.Read more »

Thieves! Duboce Triangle free library stolen, replaced

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Thievery! The little free library on Noe went missing Wedenesday, and initially in its place was only a chalk outline decrying its loss.

"I was pissed," librarian Jamison Wieser told reporter (and Bay Guardian freelancer) Sara Bloomberg for her blog, A Room with a View in San Francisco.Read more »