Muni drivers try to shift the bulls-eye

Anna Rendall, SF Public Press — Jul 19 2010 - 3:20pm

Hands clasped and brows furrowed, Gabriel Desalla sat quietly for the first half of the Bay Area Transportation Advisory Committee meeting. He is one of 2,172 union workers in the transit agency who are under increasing pressure to make concessions that would restore recently cut Muni services. In a small conference room in Bayview-Hunters Point San Francisco, Desalla waits for committee president, Emanuel Andreas, to open the floor for discussion. The topic, as usual, is the ongoing battle over salaries, health benefits and work rules. The SFMTA says that reforms are needed to improve financial efficiency but many Muni drivers are resistant to the changes proposed. The concessions the city has sought include changes to healthcare benefits for dependents and allowing part-time drivers.

Is Bayview the new Gulf of Mexico? Activists see parallels

Katy Gathright, SF Public Press — Jul 15 2010 - 4:20pm

This week’s debates over environmental approval for the $8 billion redevelopment planned for Bayview brought to the forefront comparisons with neighborhoods in the Gulf of Mexico — both in terms of environmental and racial justice concerns. The neighborhood redevelopment plan passed its latest milestone — the contentious environmental impact report — when the Board of Supervisors gave it a thumbs-up after more than nine hours of debate Wednesday morning, by an 8-3 vote.

Stranded: One man’s fight to re-establish safe haven for Haitian street kids

J. Malcolm Garcia, SF Public Press — Jul 15 2010 - 3:01pm

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti — I first met Michael Brewer in 2005 when I was in Port au Prince reporting on Citie Soleil, a notoriously violent ghetto at the time. Michael, a Texas native and a registered nurse turned child advocate, ran a nonprofit organization called Haitian Street Kids Inc. and spent a lot of time in Citie Soleil helping homeless children.

Silver lining amid cutbacks: Muni’s on-time performance at all-time high

Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — Jul 14 2010 - 7:36pm

A report released Tuesday by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency said Muni’s on-time service performance increased to a new high of 75 percent. Although this is a record, the agency is still short of a voter-approved proposition requiring it to meet an 85 percent on-time performance goal.

University of California invests $53 million in two diploma mills owned by a regent

Peter Byrne, Jul 14 2010 - 6:48pm

A year ago, Richard C. Blum, then the chairman of the Regents of the University of California, spoke at the Milken Institute’s Global Conference 2009, held at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. The corporate confab was hosted by Michael Milken, the “junk bond king” who went to prison in the aftermath of the savings and loan fiasco in the 1980s. Milken, who is barred from securities trading for life by federal regulators, has since recreated himself as a proponent of investing in for-profit educational corporations, an industry which regularly comes under government and media scrutiny in response to allegations of fraud made by dissatisfied students.

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Macy’s sells rubies ‘filled’ with glass

David V. Johnson, SF Public Press — Jul 13 2010 - 10:39am

Despite two lawsuits and some media attention, Macy’s continues to sell gemstones that are composites of natural stones and leaded glass. The San Francisco Public Press conducted an independent investigation of Macy’s gems, and found that salespeople at all three San Francisco-area locations did not accurately describe its products and sold lead-ruby composites as bona fide rubies, without disclosing their true nature.

Reforms aim at saving shelter beds

T.J. Johnston, SF Public Press — Jul 12 2010 - 4:47pm

San Francisco’s adult homeless shelter system is seeing fresh attempts at reform on two fronts: one through the settlement of a lawsuit, the other through new legislation. Since July 2004, more than 400 shelter beds have been eliminated, and the lawsuit settlement between the city of San Francisco and the Western Regional Advocacy Project will spare further reduction from budget cuts for this fiscal year.

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HIV, AIDS gap widens between blacks and other ethnic groups in East Bay

Danielle J. Brown, SF Public Press — Jul 9 2010 - 11:33am

As overall AIDS rates fall in Alameda County, the rate in the black community has hardly budged in the past 10 years, making African Americans in this part of the East Bay increasingly overrepresented among sufferers of the disease.

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Response in Oakland to jury verdict in BART shooting death

Jul 8 2010 - 6:01pm

Oakland spent the afternoon bracing for news of and reaction to the impending verdict in the trial of former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle for the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant III on Jan. 1, 2009. The jury announced its verdict of involuntary manslaughter today shortly after 4 p.m. in Los Angeles. Reporters from Oakland Local and The Bay Citizen are in downtown Oakland and around the city documenting public response. Visit the their websites sites for breaking news coverage. (Click headline for links.)

Mid-Market mogul: How Urban Realty quietly cornered San Francisco’s troubled main drag

Angela Hart, SF Public Press — Jul 7 2010 - 6:16pm

San Francisco-based developer Urban Realty has been sitting on valuable, mostly vacant real estate on Market Street between Fifth and Sixth for almost six years. Urban Realty principal David Rhoades is waiting for the Planning Commission to approve the proposed CityPlace this month before he unleashes all of his plans.

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Homebuilder Lennar uses federal taxpayer funds to balance its books

Christopher D. Cook, SF Public Press — Jul 6 2010 - 3:20pm

In 2006, things were looking good for Lennar, America's second-biggest homebuilder. That year, before the U.S. housing market's epic collapse, the Miami-based giant pulled down $15.6 billion in revenues and closed sales on 29,568 homes. The ink was just drying on a massive and potentially lucrative deal to transform Treasure Island with new housing complexes, and the well-connected Lennar already had secured a deal to develop the Hunters Point Shipyard that the Navy was turning over to San Francisco.

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Treasure Island timeline

Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — Jul 6 2010 - 3:08pm

This is a version of the timeline that appeared in the print edition special report on San Francisco's Treasure Island.

Treasure Island residents face choices for relocation

Katy Gathright, SF Public Press — Jul 6 2010 - 3:00pm

Residents of Yerba Buena and Treasure islands are divided on the relocation plan city officials have presented to the public. While many Yerba Buena residents expressed concern over maintaining their quality of life through more than a decade of construction, Treasure Island residents tended to express more support.

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Why the Bay? Because it’s nuts

Michelle Fitzhugh-Craig, SF Public Press — Jul 6 2010 - 2:50pm

As the BART train exited the east side of the Transbay Tube, I looked back at the skyline of San Francisco. I couldn’t help but smile. Although it’s been almost five years since I moved to the Bay — after living 40 years in Arizona — there’s not a time that I don’t feel at one with it. But not everyone understands my affinity for the “City by the Bay” and all that surrounds it.

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Balanced city budget would restore $25 million to health and social services

Conor Gallagher, SF Public Press — Jul 2 2010 - 6:00pm

City leaders Thursday got closer to bridging a $483 million deficit. The Board of Supervisors budget committee approved a plan that uses savings from across city departments to restore proposed cuts to health and human service programs. It also retains city workers whose jobs the mayor wanted to contract out.

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Long-planned closure of homeless shelter sparks controversy

Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — Jul 2 2010 - 10:28am

A homeless shelter at 150 Otis St. shut down this month, but will reopen sometime in 2012 as a homeless shelter for veterans. Swords to Plowshares, a nonprofit organization catering to homeless veterans, will run the facility. While homeless activists warn that the city will lose 59 beds, officials maintain they can fill the need because the shelters overall have about 100 vacancies a night.

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Financial upside for developers is long-term and risky, city says

Victoria Schlesinger, SF Public Press — Jul 1 2010 - 1:34pm

The developers of Treasure Island stand to earn a potential 20.6 percent return on their investments if the 18-year, phased construction plan and land sales proceed as they predict. That does not include possible future real estate sales.

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Through two mayors, connected island developers cultivated profitable deal

Alison Hawkes and Bernice Yeung, SF Public Press — Jul 1 2010 - 1:22pm

In the next six months, local officials and a consortium of private developers will begin to finalize legal papers for Treasure Island’s future as a high-density eco-city. Renderings of the gleaming towers, parks and gardens suggest harmony and community. Yet the promise of an urban Treasure Island, one of the most complex and risky redevelopments in San Francisco’s recent history, has for more than a decade been wrapped up in a process driven by power and influence. The mayor got neartotal control. Political friends got plum jobs and contracts. Critics were exiled. City and state conflict-of-interest laws were waived. Independent inquiries and the will of voters were nakedly rebuffed.

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Report: Black, Latino young men twice as likely to suffer from poor health

Katy Gathright, SF Public Press — Jul 1 2010 - 10:27am

A new report concerning the health of boys of different ethnicities focuses on the effect of neighborhoods and communities on physical and mental health.

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Bay Bridge crossing more expensive than ever

Theresa Seiger, SF Public Press — Jun 30 2010 - 5:40pm

Commuters on the Bay Bridge will have to shell out more cash starting Thursday, a result of toll hikes on all seven state-owned bridges in the region. Prices will go up based on rush hour during the week while weekend fees will rise regardless of the time of crossing. Carpooling across the bridge will also cost commuters money, a big change from previous years, and require a FasTrak.

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