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Medallions Keep Taxi Drivers Stuck in Industry

By Jeremy Dalmas, KALW/Crosscurrents

Harbir Batth isn’t having a good day. Not many fares.

“It's been terrible,” he tells me.

Then finally, some hope appears: A doorman for the Parc 55 Hotel in Union Square hails the cab over. They hop in and we’re headed to North Beach.

Batth is originally from Northern India, but now lives in Berkeley with his wife and two kids. He’s been driving a cab for over 20 years.

And he has a taxi medallion — that’s a license to operate a taxi.

That medallion should mean he’s made it as a driver. It’s on his dashboard and it looks a lot like small, red license plate, with a number punched in bold print right in the middle.

Read the complete story at KALW/Crosscurrents.


Burning Question in the East Bay Hills: Eucalyptus Is Flammable Compared to What?

By Zach St. George, Bay Nature

The gums are mottled tan and brown like chicken bones, crowded together, the spaces between them choked with brush and hung with streamers of bark. Along with the sweet medicine smell of the trees, there is the warm scent of sawdust and a sour hint of exhaust. I’m with Brad Gallup, a fire captain with the East Bay Regional Park District. We’re deep in Tilden Regional Park, standing on a fire road between a feller buncher and a chipper. It’s his job to make sure that if and when this forest burns, it doesn’t take half of Berkeley with it.

In front of us on the uphill side of the road is what looks like a group of seven trees but is really a single tree with multiple boles. Like many of the trees in this forest, it was cut after the hard frost of 1972. Tasmanian blue gums, Eucalyptus globulus, don’t like cold. But the frost didn’t really kill the trees, only made them retreat back down into their roots. The workers who cut the trees then didn’t treat the stumps with herbicide, and now they’re regrown, more trunks and closer together.

Read the complete story at Bay Nature. 

Yes, You Can Vote If You Are Homeless

By Steven Cuevas, KQED News/The California Report

Billy Cunningham has been eligible to cast a ballot almost as long as he’s lived in San Francisco.

“I’ve been here overs 40 years. I came to San Francisco about 10 or 11,” says Cunningham, sitting in an office at the nonprofit Episcopal Community Services of San Francisco.

The thing is, though: He hasn’t voted. Not even the chance to vote for America’s first black president could move him. 

Read the complete story at KQED News/The California Report.

Competing Visions of Bay Area’s Future at Core of Transit Race

By Peter SchurmannNew America Media

In a turbulent election season, the race to fill seats on the governing body of the Bay Area's major transit system isn't exactly a headline grabber. Yet the race for who will represent one district on the BART board offers voters the most dramatic contrast between competing visions for the region's future of any on the ballot.

Of the nine BART districts, District 7 is the only one that spans the bay, incorporating three counties – Contra Costa, Alameda and San Francisco – and 19 cities. And while debates swirl around problems like crowding, aging infrastructure and labor disputes, to name just a few,  the reality is that BART is struggling to hold together a region being pulled apart by gentrification.

Read the complete story at New America Media.


Why San Francisco Rarely Sends Youth Directly to Adult Court

By Laura Klivans, KQED News Fix/The California Report

Direct file is a practice by which a district attorney — not a judge — can decide if a minor as young as 14 will go to adult court.

The practice is used differently across California’s 58 counties. But whether direct file will continue to be used in the state is up for a vote.

It’s on the ballot this November under Proposition 57, a broader criminal justice reform initiative backed by Gov. Jerry Brown. If it passes, young people would be required to have a hearing in front of a judge to determine whether their trial would go to adult court or stay in the juvenile system.

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix/The California Report.

Bay Bridge East Span Bike Path: It’s Done, but Not Open Just Yet

By Dan Brekke, KQED News Fix

Cyclists and long-distance walkers, listen up: The bicycle and pedestrian path across the eastern span of the Bay Bridge is done.

But hold on: The path from Oakland to Yerba Buena Island isn’t open yet — repeat, it’s not open — and won’t be until crews complete a few finishing touches on the island side of the route. The path is expected to open in the next two to three weeks, officials and bike advocates say, and an exact date could be settled on this week.

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix.

A Fight for the Soul of City College of San Francisco

By Peter SchurmannNew America Media

This week a team from the Accreditation Commission for Community and Junior Colleges is visiting City College of San Francisco. The team is expected to produce a report that will help guide the commission in a decision that will determine the school’s fate.

But under a new commission policy, the visiting team will not include recommendations in its final report, and that has supporters of the school crying foul.

“Why do they even bother to come if they are not going to be able to make recommendations?” asked Tim Killikelly, president of the faculty union at CCSF, adding that the reason given by the commission for the policy is to “avoid perceived inconsistencies” between recommendations and the commission's  decisions.

Read the complete story at New America Media.


Virtual Landlord Unlocks Campaign Websites — for a Fee

By Laurel Rosenhall, CALmatters

Andrew Naylor was working at a digital advertising firm in Silicon Valley when the “a-ha” moment struck.

It was 2008, and money — more than $83 million — was gushing into the advertising world as Californians prepared to vote on Proposition 8, the measure to limit marriage to heterosexual couples (later ruled unconstitutional).

“I saw what was happening with politics in California and everything was just huge. The amount of money both sides were spending, for and against, on online advertising and television ads was just incredible,” said Naylor, who lives in Menlo Park. And it opened his eyes to a potential ballot proposition campaign bonanza: domain names.

Read the complete story at CALmatters. 

Organizing the Homeless Vote Could Swing November's Election

By Lucy Kang, KALW/Crosscurrents

Lisa Galinas and Laura Sinai are sitting at a folding table with stacks of voter registration cards near the intersection of Turk and Hyde in San Francisco, registering people in the Tenderloin to vote.

In this precinct, fewer than half of residents turned out to vote in the June primaries. That drops to 32 percent in the next precinct over, compared to nearly 60 percent in the city overall.

The Tenderloin is well known for its vast street population. San Francisco’s District 6 – the Tenderloin and SOMA – is where the majority of the city’s unsheltered homeless people stay, based on the most recent homeless count in 2015. It’s also where they can vote.

Read the complete story at KALW/Crosscurrents.

UC Forges New Partnership to Advance Student Diversity

By George WhiteNew America Media

In the wake of a two-year campaign that generated increases in the number of African Americans and other students of color on UC campuses, the University of California and the Boys & Girls Club of America have launched an outreach partnership that could become a new model for building additional diversity pipelines on statewide and national levels.

Under the pilot program, UC will provide academic counseling, host campus visits and promote college-readiness programs for Boys & Girls Clubs that serve students in many low-income communities in three California cities. It will pair the Boys & Girls Club of Pasadena with UCLA, the San Francisco club with UC San Francisco and the Merced club with UC Merced in a bid reach about 6,000 club members in those cities. If the program is successful, UC hopes to expand it throughout the 10-campus UC system.

Read the complete story at New America Media.