Opinion

LSD as gateway drug

When I told my mother about taking LSD, she was quite concerned
|
()

OPINION I took my first acid trip in 1965 at Tim Leary's LSD research center in Millbrook, N.Y. He was supposed to be my guide, but he had gone off to India. Ram Dass (then Richard Alpert) was supposed to take his place, but he was involved in preparing to open at the Village Vanguard as a psychedelic comedian-philosopher. Read more »

Let's close the Prop. 13 loophole

Between 1975 and today, commercial property contributions to the tax roll have decreased from 47 percent to 30 percent
|
()

OPINION When it passed in 1978, Proposition 13 was advertised as a law to protect fixed-income seniors from losing their homes. In reality, Prop. 13 was a guise to shrink the size of government and cut vital public services like education, health care, transportation, public safety, and recreation. Now, 30 years later, it is one of the principle reasons so many seniors, children, homeless, and other vulnerable California residents are losing their vital safety net.

Using scare tactics showing seniors on the street, supporters of Prop. Read more »

How to help Iran without meddling

The U.S. government has no moral or political authority to tell Iranians what they should do. Iranians are perfectly capable of deciding for themselves
|
()

OPINION Two of us, Penn and Erlich, traveled to Iran in 2005 and interviewed numerous ordinary Iranians. People were very friendly toward us as Americans but very hostile to U.S. policy against their country. We visited Friday prayers where 10,000 people chanted, "Death to America." Afterward those same people invited us home for lunch.

That contradiction continues today as Iran goes through its most significant upheaval since the 1979 revolution. Iranians are rising up against an authoritarian system, but they don't want U.S. Read more »

The massage parlor mistake

Fearing arrest and/or deportation will mean fewer women will report rape or other violence and exploitation when they occur
|
()

OPINION Taking advantage of the recent turmoil over the huge city budget cuts, Mayor Gavin Newsom and Sup. Carmen Chu, have pushed though malicious legislation imposing criminal charges and restrictions on massage parlors. Many are outraged that this costly legislation was prioritized — we want to know why it was, and how much it will cost to implement. Lawyers are questioning its legality.

Under the guise of concern for women's safety, Chu and Newsom falsely claimed that the law would stop sex trafficking. We've heard these lies before. Read more »

Lennar's shipyard: more toxic than you think

The plan for development of the shipyard is getting even more toxic than you think, and its dangers threaten everyone in San Francisco
|
()

news@sfbg.com

OPINION "So, what do you want us to do?"

That was the question from a staff member at the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) after he passed along reports of Lennar Corp.'s latest repeated releases of toxic dust containing asbestos, arsenic, lead, and other metals into the air in Bayview-Hunters Point, one of the last remaining African American communities left in San Francisco.

After grudgingly levying more than $500,000 in fines against Lennar in 2008 for earlier brazen violations (after fierce community pressure), why is BAAQMD's enf Read more »

A bailout for the middle class

Unfortunately, the middle-class bailout is stuck in Congress.
|
()

OPINION I don't need to remind you that our economy is in trouble. The current banking crisis has demonstrated to all of us just how fragile and susceptible to manipulation our current system is. President Obama has spent billions of dollars and untold hours trying to bail out our failing banks and financial institutions. Whatever your opinions about his efforts, I think we can all agree we should also be helping out American workers — the real engine of the economy. Read more »

The deadbeat church

Catholic archdiocese tries to duck $15 million in real estate taxes
|
()

news@sfbg.com

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco is trying to duck paying as much as $15 million in city taxes, according to documents filed by the city assessor's office.

Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting argues that the archdiocese, which governs a collection of churches, schools, parking lots, commercial buildings, and other real property in the city, shifted 232 parcels of land from two church-held corporations to another church corporation in April 2008, triggering real estate transfer taxes.

The legal issues are complicated, and church lawyer Philip Jelsma wouldn't ret Read more »

A hard look at the prison budget

Not only is this system inhumane and counterproductive, it's also expensive: it costs about $40,000 dollars a year to keep a prisoner behind bars.
|
()

OPINION Last week's grim budget news from Sacramento reminded me of Edward Lorenz's often-quoted maxim, according to which the flap of a butterfly's wings in Brazil sets off a tornado in Texas. California's budget, which we have consistently ignored and abused since the passage of Proposition 13, turns out not to have been limitless. And many residents, for whom our prison system had been invisible, may have found out for the first time that our correctional apparatus constitutes more than 7 percent of the state's annual budget. Read more »

Racial justice: A to G spells victory

Education outcomes for black children - right here in San Francisco - are the worst of the state's urban districts
|
()

OPINION On Tuesday, May 19, poor and working-class families of color packed the San Francisco School Board with a powerful message of hope, opportunity, and justice: we want the right to a secure future in our own city. Read more »

How to fix public transit

With a higher gas tax and tolls on freeways (measures a recent San Francisco Planning and Urban Research analysis shows to be among the most cost-effective policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions), we can make public transit work better
|
()

OPINION As San Franciscans deal with the shock of ever-worsening budget cuts, it's time we look to fundamental structural changes in the way government does business. That's a scary thought because, as Naomi Klein warns, free market ideologues use shocks to accomplish a very damaging type of structural change that cuts public service, increases privatization, and strengthens class division. Read more »