Public Press wins an Excellence in Journalism award for ‘Public Schools, Private Money,’ in the winter 2014 edition


SF supe to run for state Insurance Commissioner

Jul 20 2009 - 9:31pm

By Samantha McGirr
The Public Press

City supervisor Michaela Alioto-Pier announced Monday that she would run for state insurance commissioner in 2010.

Alioto-Pier, a moderate member of the board, has represented the city’s second district, including the Marina, the Presidio and Pacific Heights, since her appointment by Mayor Gavin Newsom in 2004.

White House silent in S.F. health plan court battle as national healthcare debate heats up

Jul 20 2009 - 12:05pm

By Samantha McGirr
The Public Press

As Congress debates strategies for national health care reform, the U.S. Supreme Court is preparing to determine the fate of “Healthy San Francisco,” the city’s groundbreaking health care program for the uninsured and working poor.

UC regents approve furlough plan; standoff foreseen with unions

Christi Morales, The Public Press — Jul 16 2009 - 10:35pm

n a 20-1 vote, the University of California Board of Regents decided Thursday to move forward with a contentious furlough plan that will affect more than 108,000 employees, setting the stage for a standoff between UC officials and labor unions.

Beginning Sept. 1, UC faculty and staff members will have to take 11 to 26 days off a year, depending on their salary level, which amounts to pay cuts ranging from 4 percent to 10 percent. Those making $40,000 or less will have to take 11 furlough days, with the number of days off increasing for those with higher salaries.

The plan is expected to create $184 million in savings for the 10-campus university system, which is saddled with an $813 million deficit.

BART's largest union voting on contract proposal

Jul 16 2009 - 2:57pm

By Jessica Alexander Wertheim
The Public Press

BART's largest union, the Service Employees International Union Local 1021, is voting on a revised four-year contract proposal Thursday at the Oakland Marriott City Center through 8 a.m. Friday, a proposal that was rejected earlier this week by the transit agency's second-largest union.

San Francisco ranked nation's seventh toughest city on homeless

Jul 16 2009 - 1:51pm

By Samantha McGirr
The Public Press

A newly released report ranks San Francisco as the seventh toughest city in the nation in its criminalization of homeless people.

Melted copper wire cause of vault fire, officials say

Jul 16 2009 - 11:15am

By Samantha McGirr
The Public Press

PG&E says it has identified the cause of the huge vault fire last month that occurred at the corner of Polk and O’Farrell in the Tenderloin district.

UC regents back furloughs and pay cuts; staff protest

Christi Morales and Michael Winter, The Public Press — Jul 15 2009 - 9:00pm

More than 108,000 full-time University of California faculty and staff face extended unpaid furloughs and pay cuts under an emergency plan endorsed Wednesday by a Board of Regents' committee. Senior managers would also see their salaries cut an additional 5 percent.

The plan passed, 11-1. The full board will vote Thursday.

If approved, the plan would take effect Sept. 1. UC faculty and staff would be required to take from 11 to 26 unpaid days by Sept. 1, 2010, which works out to a pay cut of 4 to 10 percent. Higher earners would take more furlough days and deeper pay cuts.

Fire department OT pay increased amid citywide budget cuts

Kevin Stark, The Public Press — Jul 15 2009 - 4:00pm

The San Francisco Fire Department is the only major city division whose overtime pay has grown in the last year -– straining the budget in a season when nearly every department has had to make painful sacrifices to help bridge a $438 million deficit.

And as politicians tussled last month with firefighters and police over more than $80 million in proposed cuts, neither side in the debate focused on what all acknowledge as a worrisome development: the expensive and unrestrained growth of firefighters' extra pay for working longer hours.

The unparalleled growth can be traced to a series of events. First, overtime spending spiked after voters passed a 2004 proposition requiring 24-hour staffing. Spending continued to climb in 2007, after Mayor Gavin Newsom and the fire union negotiated a large election-year pay increase for fire employees, while instituting a hiring freeze and mandatory overtime. The department said that was the right decision because paying overtime is cheaper than hiring new full-time employees with benefits.

Research and graphic by Mary Catherine Plunkett/The Public Press

The city's four other large departments -- police, sheriff, transportation and public health -- all managed to decrease overtime by an average of 21 percent in the last year. And they are slated for 39 percent in further cuts in the next year.

But firefighters racked up $26.4 million in overtime in fiscal year 2008-09, an increase of 14 percent. For the coming year, firefighters foresee a cut in overtime of 18 percent.

Newsom vetoes pro-tenant ordinances

Samantha McGirr, The Public Press — Jul 15 2009 - 12:18am

Mayor Gavin Newsom has vetoed three pro-tenant laws designed primarily to aid low-income tenants during the recession.

The laws would have capped rent increases at 8 percent annually, and landlords would have been unable to raise rents if an additional person moved in as long as occupancy remained within the housing code limit.

Supes vote to expand MTA's power to parks

Patricia Decker, The Public Press — Jul 14 2009 - 4:39pm

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to grant jurisdiction to the Municipal Transportation Agency over the city’s parks, strengthening the possibility that metered spaces could appear in Golden Gate Park as early as next spring.

Bay Area Video Coalition to run Access SF

Jul 13 2009 - 2:17pm

Samantha McGirr
The Public Press

City officials have chosen Bay Area Video Coalition to assume operations of the public access television stations in San Francisco, Media Alliance reports.

Drop in hotel-room taxes forces deep funding cuts for arts

Deidre Murphy, The Public Press — Jul 13 2009 - 12:27pm

A long-standing program that utilizes San Francisco hotel-tax revenue to fund the arts is facing dramatic cutbacks, and a number of cultural programs are now endangered.

The city of San Francisco uses a significant amount of money from its 14 percent hotel-room tax for Grants for the Arts, an international model for supporting cultural programs. Of that 14 percent, Grants for the Arts gets 6.4 percent.

However, occupancy rates in San Francisco hotels have dropped 10.2 percent in a year, and room rates are down –- from some $156 to $128 -– as well.

Two SF vault fires in 30 days; officials demand investigation

Jul 13 2009 - 11:19am

By Samantha McGirr
The Public Press

An underground electrical vault that recently burst into flames at Fourth and Market streets, marks the second explosion at a PG&E sub-station in just over a month, KGO reported Monday. City officials are now demanding an investigation.

No injuries were reported in the electrical fire, which firefighters quelled with carbon dioxide as opposed to water.

Salary reductions, furloughs on deck for UC system

Jul 10 2009 - 3:58pm

University of California President Mark Yudof has announced plans for a new proposal targeting salary reductions and furloughs as the University of California struggles to come to terms with its burdening budget crisis. The Board of Regents will meet next week to discuss the proposals, which would go into effect  Sept. 1.
The finalized measures would remain through Aug. 31 next year, but under subject of renewal by the UC Regents.

Supes on: the budget — 'Our side allowed the mayor to get what they wanted,' says Mirkarimi

Hank Drew, The Public Press — Jul 10 2009 - 12:47pm

District 5 Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi recently spoke with The Public Press about government waste and the need for budget process reform.

While "delighted" that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors was able to "extract" $45 million from Mayor Gavin Newsom's budget, Mirkarimi said he was still unhappy with the budget process as a whole. He said he would like to see the budget changed to a two-year cycle from the current one-year cycle or at least have the budget submitted before June 1.

With meters in Golden Gate Park, drivers could 'share the pain'

Patricia Decker, The Public Press — Jul 9 2009 - 10:01pm

San Francisco could be one step closer to getting parking meters in the park.

A committee of the Board of Supervisors Wednesday endorsed key legislation needed to make that possible.

If approved by the full board, the Municipal Transportation Agency would be granted jurisdiction over the parks, and could roll out a plan to install parking fee machines to convert more than 1,800 parking spaces in the eastern portion of Golden Gate Park to metered spaces by April 2010.

Bay Area commuters spend two days a year stuck in traffic

Jul 9 2009 - 6:20pm

Kirsty Brown
The Public Press
According to the Urban Mobility Report, Bay Area commuters spend 50 hours a year stuck in traffic.
The San Francisco -- Oakland and San Jose areas rank amongst the most delayed regions in the country, according to the report produced using data from the Federal Highways Commission.

Cigarette prices set to increase ... again

Jul 8 2009 - 9:43pm

By Kirsty Brown
The Public Press

The San Francisco Board of supervisors has unanimously voted to increase the price of cigarettes by 20 cents per pack. This rise will make an additional $6 million a year, which is to be used to help clean up discarded cigarette butts.
Cigarette butts currently make up around 25 percent of all litter and their decomposition is harmful to the environment releasing toxic substances into the ground.