Opinion

The battle against desalination in the bay

Measure T allows MMWD to study desalination, but it can't start making concrete plans without a vote

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OPINION In July 2010, in one fell swoop, the Marin Municipal Water District's board of directors ambushed an initiative that would force a public vote on an expensive an environmentally destructive desalination plant on the edge of the bay.

In August 2009, the board unanimously voted to approve an environmental study to pave the way for the desalination plant, which would suck up bay water, filter out the salt, and dump the briny extract back into the bay.Read more »

The case for SEIU at Kaiser

What's going on right now with this union election is a shame

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Editors note: In last week's issue, we ran an op-ed piece by two hospital workers who are members of Service Employees International Union and want to change their affiliation to the new National Union of Healthcare Workers. SEIU asked for the right to respond, so we're presenting the arguments of an SEIU worker who opposes the change.

OPINION I'm a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) at Kaiser Permanente Oakland, where I've worked for 26 years. As an LVN and a union shop steward, I have two passions: patients and workers.Read more »

SEIU and the new McCarthyism

The demise of our once great union has implications far beyond our locals in California

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OPINION More than 43,000 California health care employees are currently involved in the largest union election in private industry since the 1940s, a contentious campaign that pits officials of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) against the National Union of Health Care Workers (NUHW). The outcome of the election may well determine the future of the labor movement for years to come.Read more »

Apathy and the arboretum

The very idea that visitors would have to pay to enter a public park appeared absurd. Astonishingly, only three supervisors voted against the ordinance imposing a fee on entrance to the arboretum.
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OPINION Nobody believed it could happen, that the ordinance might pass. On the face of it, it seemed inconceivable. The very idea that visitors would have to pay to enter a public park appeared absurd, and had been rejected only the year before. Some believed the hype and were convinced that this would help solve the budget deficit. Others expected someone besides themselves would take action, or believed that that the $7 fee, once imposed, would apply only to nonresidents.Read more »

Behind Whitman's attack on nurses

Whitman's pledge to spend up to $180 million out of her billionaire pocket by November to drown out all competition was accompanied by other disturbing trends

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OPINION Meg Whitman's increasingly high-profile war with California's nurses poses important questions about a potential Whitman term as governor and the implications for California.

California's nurses began pressing Whitman during the primary, when she was spending up to $21,000 an hour — more than many California families earn in a year — in a frenzy well on its way to smashing all previous campaign finance records.Read more »

Ideas that work: a plan for a new San Francisco

With its own public bank, San Francisco could begin to fund and promote more community-centered forms of economic development
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OPINION San Francisco is a city of tremendous riches and problems — a locus of wealth, inequality, innovation, creativity, and sometimes stifling resistance by political and economic power brokers. It's time to break through. We have the ability, and opportunity, to create a whole new set of economic, social, and political relationships between people and government. On everything from municipal banking, to Muni reform, to public-controlled sustainable energy production and community-driven budgeting, we have a flood of ideas from thinkers and activists across the city. Read more »

Reinventing San Francisco

We need to make sure development isn't just code for finding new ways to gentrify neighborhoods and displace existing residents

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By Christopher D. Cook, Karl Beitel, and Calvin Welch. 

OPINION It's hard to trust hope these days — to imagine that our world, or even our city — could be different. But for the next 10 or 15 minutes, as you read this, we invite you to suspend the cynicism and disbelief that hang over contemporary life, and allow your mind to imagine that, yes, a different San Francisco is possible. Just for 15 minutes, although we hope this helps kick-start a much longer-term revival of hope and urban reimagining.Read more »

Why is Pelosi killing ENDA?

In 29 states, it is still legal to fire someone solely because they are lesbian, gay, or bisexual

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OPINION Why is the Congressmember from the gayest city in America blocking legislation that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender workers from workplace discrimination? That's the question LGBT workers across the country are asking, and why LGBT workers picketed her office in the Federal Building and delivered a letter demanding that she not kill the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).Read more »

Repairing the initiative process - in CA and SF

If initiative and referendum in California and San Francisco is designed correctly, it has the potential to reinvigorate this age-old invention of representative government

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OPINION I recently participated in a research trip to Switzerland to study the alpine nation's system of direct democracy (initiative and referendum, or I&R). Its model offers fresh ideas about how to repair the dysfunctional initiative process in California and San Francisco. Read more »

Get rid of the water bond, now

We shouldn't let the bond's cheery name fool us — Prop. 18 is a con job

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OPINION A Field Poll released last week showed decent support among progressives for Proposition 18, the $11 billion water bond on the November ballot. We shouldn't let the bond's cheery name fool us. Prop. 18 is a con job.Read more »