The Public Press’ latest print edition cover story, on California’s uncoordinated attack on the problem of human trafficking, has been picked up in a variety of media since the publication of the special team reporting project in the Spring 2012 edition: “Force, Fraud Coercion: Human Trafficking in the Bay Area.” The project was produced in collaboration with New America Media and El Tecolote, San Francisco’s bilingual newspaper. Last week Public Press reporter Jason Winshell was interviewed on KPFA Radio by producer Anthony Fest. Winshell’s lead story showed that four years after a high-profile state task force issued a study, many of its recommendations for better laws, funding and coordination among agencies have yet to materialize.
It’s no wonder there is a hue and cry about an uneven playing field among businesses as they comply with San Francisco’s Health Care Security Ordinance. The law requires most employers to provide health care benefits to workers who put in at least eight hours a week. But an analysis of compliance reports submitted by 15 randomly selected employers to the city’s Labor Standards Enforcement Office finds that they spent wildly different amounts on health benefits per employee in 2010, the most recent year reported.
It’s been almost five years since San Francisco launched its innovative, universal health plan — Healthy San Francisco — and last night a panel of public health experts and care providers gathered at the Tenderloin’s Glide Foundation to provide a snapshot of how the program is faring. The panel was co-sponsored by the San Francisco Public Press (which produced a team reporting project on Healthy San Francisco in the Winter print edition and online), Glide and the UC Berkeley School of Public Health.
The San Francisco Human Services Agency has won a state grant to refurbish a building next to the United Council of Homeless Services, a community-based organization, that could offer overnight shelter to 100 people a night by early next year.
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Same-sex marriage proponents celebrated an important victory Tuesday in San Francisco following the 9th Circuit Court’s ruling that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional. Backers of Proposition 8 were expected to appeal, either by asking for a review by a full panelof the court or by appealing directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
A proposal to regulate two popular Castro District hangouts by restricting chairs and shopping carts is a step closer to becoming city law. The Board of Supervisors will decide Tuesday on an ordinance, which passed the Land Use Committee this week, that would ban nighttime sitting, sleeping, vending, smoking and even pushing a shopping cart in Harvey Milk and Jane Warner Plazas.
San Francisco supervisors are considering legislation that will require local control and civilian oversight of terrorism investigations the San Francisco Police Department undertakes with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Calling it "The Portland Solution" because it mirrors a similar ordinance enacted in Oregon, Supervisor Jane Kim said that her legislation does nothing more than restore transparency to intelligence gathering by police officers working with FBI agents.
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A campaign to get a new measure on the November ballot that would increase penalties against human traffickers in California launched Wednesday in San Francisco. The campaign, announced on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, requires 800,000 signatures to make it into the state ballot. The California Against Sexual Exploitation (CASE) Act would increase prison terms and fines for human traffickers (up to $1.5 million, which would go to fund victim services), remove barriers to prosecute child sex traffickers, require convicted sex traffickers to register as sex offenders and disclose their Internet accounts, mandate training for law enforcement officers, and prohibit the use of the sexual history of trafficked victims in court.
The arrest last week of a suspect in a violent San Francisco kidnapping capped a monthlong investigation headed by human trafficking and domestic violence officers from the Police Department’s revamped special victims unit. The case, police officials said, is one of the first fruits of a new collaborative approach emphasizing long-term investigations by officers across disciplines. The pursuit involved human trafficking investigators, who as recently as last summer were instead focusing much of their energy on arresting prostitutes on the street, leading some critics to say their efforts were counterproductive because they punished abuse victims.
LEGISLATION: Lawmaker wants to raise payday loan limit to $500; others want restrictions
“Fast Easy Cash when you want it!” That’s the promise on the cover of an application for a “cash ’til payday” loan from DFC Global Corp. The company operates eight Money Mart stores in San Francisco, more than any other payday lender. But fast money comes at a high price —an annual percentage rate up to 459 percent. Currently, California has a $300 limit on each payday loan. But legislation pending in Sacramento would raise the maximum amount to $500. While supporters of the bill say the loans benefit working people, consumer advocates worry that borrowing at high interest rates can sink poor people further into debt. That was the concern of the San Francisco city attorney’s office, which this fall settled a suit with a payday lender accused of exceeding the legal limit.