Q&A: Candidates for San Francisco district attorney

Rina Palta, KALW News and SF Public Press — Oct 25 2011 - 12:01pm

Second interview is with David Onek

One of the more important and most overlooked races in San Francisco is the campaign to be the city’s next district attorney. When Kamala Harris left the post for state office last year, outgoing Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed then-Police Chief George Gascon to take her place. Now, Gascon is running for a full four-year term, but faces stiff competition from four other candidates. Yesterday, we spoke with Bill Fazio. Today, we turn to David Onek, a longtime criminal justice reformer and founding director of the Center for Criminal Justice at U.C. Berkeley’s School of Law.

Researchers use S.F. mayoral candidates’ positions to rethink their places on ideological spectrum

Dhyana Levey, SF Public Press — Oct 24 2011 - 3:41pm

Political scientists are trying to measure the ideology of candidates for mayor of San Francisco in an effort to give voters a better guide as to who most closely shares their views. San Francisco’s crowded field of 16 candidates and a ranked-choice voting system, which some find baffling, seemed to be the ideal testing ground for a project that measures mayoral hopefuls positions by surveying them on past actions at the Board of Supervisors and on current policy debates. Voters aren’t always as well informed as they can be for city elections, which tend to attract less attention than national races and also lack the party labels that help distinguish each candidate, said Christopher S. Elmendorf, a professor of law at the University of California, Davis, and a visiting professor at U.C. Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco.

New roots for green businesses

Brian Scoles, Earth Island Journal — Oct 24 2011 - 1:22pm

As the world economy increasingly collides with the limits of linear, “cradle-to-grave” production, more eyes are turning towards resource synergies, upcycling, and improved efficiencies to relieve some economic pressure and get more value with less waste. Take coffee. For every pound of coffee beans harvested (of which there were 17 billion in 2010, according to the International Coffee Organization), four pounds of pulp must be collected, and it is generally considered a waste product that is left in heaps to rot. But some companies, such as Equator Coffees & Teas and Thanksgiving Coffee, are supporting efforts to train farmers in Zimbabwe and Tanzania how to use coffee pulp as a substrate for growing oyster mushrooms.

Q&A: Candidates for San Francisco district attorney

Rina Palta, KALW News and SF Public Press — Oct 24 2011 - 12:42pm

First interview is with Bill Fazio

One of the more important and most overlooked races in San Francisco is the campaign to be the city’s next district attorney. When Kamala Harris left the post for state office last year, outgoing Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed then-Police Chief George Gascon to take her place. Now, Gascon is running for a full four-year term, but faces stiff competition from four other candidates. We’ll be posting interviews with all five of the candidates for district attorney this week. First up: Bill Fazio, a longtime prosecutor and defense attorney who grew up in San Francisco.

A candidate for S.F. prosecutor makes human trafficking an issue in campaign, downplays federal help

Jason Winshell, SF Public Press — Oct 21 2011 - 12:14pm
The reorganization of the San Francisco Police Department’s Special Victims Unit has become an issue in the November vote for district attorney — at least for one contender in the race: Sharmin Bock, an Alameda County prosecutor. But in doing so, she clashed with police officials who said they need to rely more on federal investigators’ expertise. She said she has placed most of her emphasis on sex tafficking, but has little experience with labor trafficking.

Oakland's Claremont Canyon, 20 years after the fire

Daniel McGlynn, Bay Nature — Oct 20 2011 - 4:01pm

Standing above her home perched on the north slope of Claremont Canyon along the Berkeley-Oakland border, Marilyn Goldhaber points across the valley. Most of the houses on the other side were damaged or razed in the massive 1991 wildfire that burned 1,520 acres and torched 3,500 homes and apartments. Two decades later, residents are still trying to figure out how to deal with the reality of wildfire while also respecting and potentially restoring native habitats. 

Behind the protest signs: The voices of Occupy San Francisco

Christopher D. Cook, SF Public Press — Oct 20 2011 - 9:05am

Those drawn to the movement are thinking big, and broad

Beyond the slogans and chants, what is this occupation movement about and why is it catching like wildfire? What do the growing ranks of Occupy Wall Street/San Francisco/fill-in-the-blank hope comes of this tempest of progressivism? In an emerging movement where everyone and no one is a spokesperson, and where centralized demands and hierarchy are eschewed, there is no single, or simple, answer. But there are plenty willing to express their varied hopes for the ultimate outcome to the protests.


Gunz and Bunz: Sexy or offensive?

Marta Franco, Mission Local — Oct 19 2011 - 2:08pm

Mike’s Deli hadn´t been doing well for a while, and its owner, Mike Jweinat, thought it was time to give the spot a sexier look. He created some new sandwiches, colorful signs, and a brand-new name: Gunz and Bunz. But residents in a neighborhood where shootings aren’t uncommon failed to see the humor.

San Francisco police say Special Victims Unit to investigate more cases for evidence of human trafficking

Jason Winshell, SF Public Press — Oct 18 2011 - 5:10pm

The need to focus investigations on cases of suspected human trafficking was one of the key reasons for the reorganization of the San Francisco Police Department’s Special Victims Unit starting this week, the captain in charge of the new office said. The move places three full-time human trafficking investigators, including the police department’s acknowledged expert, in the same office space as more than 40 colleagues working in disparate areas such as sex crimes, domestic violence and financial crimes. Until now, no investigator worked full time on trafficking cases. The change will accompany increased coordination with federal law enforcement officials this week.

Saving the UC — but at what cost?

Holly Kernan, KALW Crosscurrents — Oct 17 2011 - 12:46pm

In the University of California system, officials are considering raising fees as much as 16 percent a year through 2015. To learn more about what this means for students, and for public education in California, KALW’s Holly Kernan spoke with UC’s student liaison to the Regents, Jonathan Stein. Stein is a graduate student in public policy and law at UC Berkeley, and he’s one of two students represented in the University’s decision-making body.

San Francisco Police Department overhauls Special Victims Unit

Jason Winshell, SF Public Press — Oct 13 2011 - 7:10pm

San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr is consolidating four sections of the Special Victims Unit scattered in offices throughout the city and combining them with human trafficking investigations, which were previously handled by the Vice Crimes Unit. The newly constituted Special Victims Unit will open for business Monday, Oct. 17, in a new office on the fifth floor of the Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant St.

On College Radio Day, KUSF staff fight (and spin) on

Nina Thorsen, KQED News — Oct 13 2011 - 12:32pm

Hundreds of college radio stations around the country came together this week to proclaim College Radio Day. The celebration of stations that often have a cult following came amidst a particularly trying time for the format. One by one, universities are selling off stations to raise cash. FM licenses in major markets are worth millions. Recent sales include KUSF at the University of San Francisco. The January sale of KUSF to the Classical Public Radio Network, just one transaction in a multi-station radio shake-up of the Bay Area dial, set off strenuous protests by the station's staff and fans. Many of the DJs and programmers moved to the online-only KUSF in Exile.

Free Farm Stand will stay, city says

Justine Quart, Mission Local — Oct 12 2011 - 1:51pm

The Free Farm Stand and its supporters won. The stand will continue to give away free food to the community on Sundays from noon to 3:30 p.m. in Parque Niños Unidos. At the same time, it will coordinate with the Department of Public Health to obtain a health permit, Connie Chan, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, wrote in an e-mail.

Muni eliminating stops on one of its worst performing bus routes

Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — Oct 12 2011 - 1:40pm

UPDATE: 10/19/11 Muni announced more service improvements to other lines this week. Plans to improve one of the Muni’s worst performing bus lines will finally take affect on Monday. The 28L-19th Avenue bus line, which usually is packed with riders and not on-time (42 percent on-time performance in the latest Muni report), will not make stops at the Golden Gate Bridge and four stops along 19th Avenue and Park Presidio.

Empty S.F. hotels occupied in World Homeless Day protest

T.J. Johnston, SF Public Press — Oct 11 2011 - 5:59pm

As the Occupy Wall Street movement gains momentum nationwide, a band of housing activists occupied 10 vacant buildings in San Francisco on Monday. Following a late afternoon rally at the Civic Center, at least 30 members of Homes Not Jails entered the Cathedral Hill Hotel at 1101 Van Ness Ave. by cutting the gate open. Then they started occupying some of the 600 vacant units.


Fur seals making a comeback on the Farallones

Juliet Grable, Bay Nature — Oct 10 2011 - 12:40pm

The rocky Farallones, 28 miles west of the Golden Gate, serve as a refuge for thousands of seabirds and five species of pinnipeds: elephant seals, harbor seals, California and Steller sea lions, and the northern fur seal. At one time, fur seals may have dominated the islands, but relentless hunting in the early 19th century exterminated most of the colony and sent the rest fleeing. Biologists have spotted individual seals over the years, but it wasn't until 1996 that the first fur seal pup was born on Southeast Farallon Island. Today hundreds of fur seals breed here, and the colony is growing exponentially. The high count for 2011 was 476 individuals, a 69 percent increase from the year before.

Governor signs bills to ban open carry of handguns, shark fin sales

Jerold Chinn and Richard Pestorich, SF Public Press — Oct 10 2011 - 11:18am

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed bills to make it illegal to openly carry handguns and to ban the sale and possession of shark fins in California. The shark fin bill goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2013 while the open carry ban begins Jan 1, 2012. The shark bill has been a controversial topic in the past few months, with state Sen. Leland Yee, who is running for San Francisco mayor, calling the ban “insensitive to the Chinese culture” when the bill was introduced by Assemblyman Paul Fong in February.

Medical pot industry faces big tax bill

Mina Kim, KQED — Oct 6 2011 - 10:30am

The Bay Area's budding medical pot industry is facing a big tax bill. The IRS has ruled Oakland's largest dispensary can not deduct business expenses. In a letter last week, the IRS told Harborside Health Center that it can not deduct standard expenses like rent, payroll and health insurance ... because it traffics drugs. Harborside's executive director Steve DeAngelo said the dispensary now owes the federal government $2.5 million in back taxes and penalties.

Occupy Wall Street movement births newspaper

Michael Levitin, New America Media — Oct 5 2011 - 11:47am

Last Saturday, prior to the thousands-strong march of Wall Street protestors attempting to cross the Brooklyn Bridge, which ended in some 700 arrests, the first edition of The Occupied Wall Street Journal hit New York City’s streets. Within three days, all 50,000 copies had been snapped up and distributed by volunteers throughout the five boroughs, leading to another print run Tuesday ahead of the paper’s second edition, which comes out Friday. The Journal, a 4-page weekly broadsheet funded entirely through online contributions at Kickstarter.com, is the latest manifestation of a social media-driven movement that is growing in real body numbers and gaining national momentum. 

Tenant buyouts making a comeback

John Osborn, Mission Local — Oct 3 2011 - 12:02pm

As the real estate market picks up, buyouts — the practice of owners getting rid of tenants by offering them cash to move voluntarily — are making a comeback. Buyouts reached a high of 30 to 50 a month in the Mission before the crash in late 2008, a number that suggests as many as three times that citywide, according to the San Francisco Tenants Union.