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Agricultural production in Central Valley leaves toxic legacy for locals

Erica Gies, KALW Public Radio — Mar 24 2010 - 11:34am

One of the perks of living in the Bay Area is the wide variety of fresh, local produce we enjoy year-round. Much of that comes thanks to our proximity to the Central Valley, one of the most productive agricultural regions the world has ever seen. Unfortunately, this luxury comes at a price, although we aren’t the ones paying it.

Performer plays on the edge of reality

Conor Gallagher, SF Public Press — Mar 22 2010 - 1:24pm

Maria Watanabe takes the stage in Japantown’s Peace Plaza to sing and dance as the anime character Sailor Moon every Saturday — despite her fear of crowds. She believes her shows are worth the trouble because anime is such an important part of Japanese culture. Watanabe is part of a growing number of otaku (anime fanatics) in the Bay Area and the United States. Over the past few decades, attendance at anime (animated movies) and manga (comic books) conventions has skyrocketed. San Jose’s FanimeCon alone grew from 200 attendees in 1994 to about 15,000 in 2009.

No ‘rock stars’ here

Michelle Fitzhugh-Craig, Mar 17 2010 - 3:56pm

In March, the color pink is all the rage in San Francisco. No, it wasn’t the latest in summer swimwear or a flash mob singing Pink’s big hit “So What” in unison. We’re talking about the type of pink that comes in the form of a letter from your employer saying, in essence, “cutbacks are forcing us to eliminate your position.” That’s right, March 5 was Pink Slip Day in the City and County of San Francisco — and although the estimated 15,000 workers who received the notices are in a furor over the layoffs, there is a silver lining to the situation.

Bipedalism rules Sunday Streets kick-off

Vivian Morales, SF Public Press — Mar 16 2010 - 1:22pm

Take a virtual tour of the city’s northeastern waterfront ... There were no slackers at the third annual Sunday Streets kick-off on Embarcadero. Whether it was biking, Rollerblading, scootering or walking, people — not vehicles — were mobile. The northbound lane of the Embarcadero, where bumper-to-bumper traffic on a Sunday is the norm, was converted to a bidpedal and pedalers’ mecca.

City workers decry layoffs, demand alternatives

Christopher D. Cook, SF Public Press — Mar 15 2010 - 2:48pm

City workers are demanding alternatives to Mayor Gavin Newsom’s hard-nosed fiscal approach as he attempts to close a $522 million projected budget gap through mass layoffs and de-facto furloughs.

As San Francisco grapples with a ballooning deficit for the coming fiscal year, Newsom laid off 17,474 workers two weeks ago, but promised to hire back “most” of them at 37½ hours per week. For the rehired, that represents a 6.25 percent pay cut — which city workers’ unions intend to challenge in court.

Toting 8½-by-11-inch “termination of employment” pink slips, angry city workers lined up at last Wednesday’s Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee hearing to decry the layoffs and urge city leaders to explore other sources of money.

Welcome to the neighborhood: SoMa (photo essay)

Eleanor Beaton, SF Public Press — Mar 15 2010 - 8:54am

SoMa is growing up, literally.

The neighborhood, bordered by Market and South Van Ness streets, has seen the most recent growth in high-rise construction in the city. In the past three years, about eight high-rises were built in the neighborhood and blueprints for more, namely the Transbay Terminal redevelopment area, are reshaping the skyline.

Cap-and-trade ‘unpollution’ is nonsensical

Andrew Page, KQED — Mar 10 2010 - 12:53pm

When I first heard about cap-and-trade — the plan where a company can emit greenhouse gasses up to a point (the cap) then offset its emissions by investing in “unpollution” somewhere in the world (the trade) — well I thought, “This sounds like it’s worth a shot.” But after some looking into it, I have my doubts.

Supes, mayor agree on new tenant protections

Saul Sugarman, SF Public Press — Mar 9 2010 - 11:45pm

Mayor Gavin Newsom plans to support a proposal passed by the Board of Supervisors that protects tenants from arbitrary eviction in non-rent controlled residences facing foreclosure.

Welcome to the neighborhood: Western Addition’s NoPa (photo essay)

Michael LaHood, SF Public Press — Mar 8 2010 - 1:45pm

The neighborhood known as “NoPa,” or North of the Panhandle, is in the process of undergoing a transformation. The neighborhood is gaining an identity of its own, separate from its historical roots as a part of the larger Western Addition.

Education protests — images from the street

Monica Jensen, SF Public Press — Mar 4 2010 - 5:07pm

Thousands of people, including college, high school and elementary school students, plus parents, teachers and other activists, converged in streams on downtown San Francisco to protest cuts in public education Thursday afternoon. Organizers said that more than 4,000 people marched down Mission and Valencia streets to Market, and then to the Civic Center Plaza.

Lesson in SF grade schools: protest education cuts

Anna Rendall, SF Public Press — Mar 3 2010 - 11:31pm

On Thursday, San Francisco public school students as young as 5 will get a real-life learning experience about civic engagement — through protest. Students from kindergarten through college plan to convene at Market and Powell streets in the late afternoon to protest cuts to public education during a coordinated political action called the Rally for California’s Future. Several schools were planning to have students create picket signs in school. On Wednesday, students sat in the parent room at Sheridan Elementary School making signs and banners. But the school district, citing safety, put a stop to a plans for teachers to take students as a field trip.

Besides taxes, few solutions at town hall on education

Tabitha Harmon and Kristine Magnuson, SF Public Press — Feb 26 2010 - 5:55pm

The organizers of what was billed as a town hall-style meeting on education funding in the Marina Thursday said their intention was to have a conversation with the community about solutions to money woes for the coming school year. But the evening’s talk, moderated by Michael Krasny, host of KQED-FM’s “Forum,” fell short of those expectations for some parents, educators and others in attendance — as evidenced by booing and hissing that punctuated the meeting.

Embattled union seeks to blunt second year of city cuts

Kevin Stark, SF Public Press — Feb 26 2010 - 10:54am

(UPDATE: A reform slate of candidates won victory in the election. For details, see Kevin Stark's blog). wins the election this weekend at Northern California’s largest public-sector union will inherit a troubled labor local beset by internal conflict and controversial negotiations in San Francisco that cost the union hundreds of jobs this past year.

Bay Area News Project editor promises media renaissance

Delaney Kennedy, SF Public Press — Feb 26 2010 - 9:18am

Jonathan Weber, the new editor for the Bay Area News Project, reveals project details to an audience of more than 100 journalists at the World Affairs
Council in San Francisco. Weber said -- unlike most media outlets -- that he's hiring. He presented a contrarian point of view on modern media, saying that technology heralds the rebirth, of journalism, not its death.

Intercept truants in early grades — Q&A with Abraham Simmons

Monica Jensen, SF Public Press — Feb 24 2010 - 5:49pm

Abraham Simmons, the volunteer chairman on the San Francisco civil grand jury report on truancy, says the situation in San Francisco hasn't changed much in the past seven years: around 5,000 students are habitually truant each year.

Welcome to the neighborhood: Nob Hill (photo essay)

Ron Font, SF Public Press — Feb 22 2010 - 3:46pm

Photographer Ron Font takes a look at the empty storefronts that have sprouted up all along Nob Hill, one of San Francisco's finest addresses. Font, a resident of Nob Hill, said he has seen a marked increase in vacant spaces in his neighborhood.

How BART lost $70 million in federal grants

Nathanael Johnson, KALW Public Radio — Feb 22 2010 - 2:40pm

When the federal government announced that BART would not be getting $70 million for extending its rail service to Oakland International Airport, it seemed puzzling. Wasn't this just the kind of project that the stimulus funds were meant to help? It turns out that the project was derailed by not following the Civil Rights Act. Project boosters and foes tell what happened in this report from KALW-FM.

Newspapers are art

John C. Liau, SF Public Press — Feb 22 2010 - 12:25pm

For Artopia competitor Phillip Hua, a digital media instructor at the Academy of Art, his piece, “Re: action,” is a mixed-media work using everyday objects such as newspapers (The Wall Street Journal), plastic and aluminum. His creation tells the story of the environment and its relationship to the economy, and how everything is related and degrades over time. The quality of the other finalists’ art “is great here, I do feel a little intimidated but it’s been fun.”

Environmentalists, preservationists face off in Parkmerced

Alison Hawkes, KALW Public Radio — Feb 18 2010 - 5:08pm

KALW Public Radio reporter Alison Hawkes took a closer look at Parkmerced, where owners are pitching a 30-year plan to transform the site into a low-carbon community. For developers, it’s a test to see if “green” can stand for both environmental sustainability and the color of money. Hawkes found the drive for a clean new future is clashing with the past.

East Bay children’s theater company makes debut in San Francisco

Ambika Kandasamy, SF Public Press — Feb 17 2010 - 4:59pm

In its second, and final weekend, the Active Arts children’s theater company is staging its first San Francisco production with “Ramona Quimby” at the Zeum Theater.