Public Press Weekly: Cops and Robbers and Other Stuff

San Francisco Public Press
 — Feb 26 2018 - 9:35pm

President Donald Trump and his minions sure like sticking it to California, threatening to pull ICE agents from the state, muscling in on sanctuary cities, ad nauseam, ad infinitum. (CALmatters). And forget about the feds chipping in to improve relations between the cops here in San Francisco and the community. The Justice Department shrank an Obama-era program that was intended to do just that. But the state has stepped in and will now oversee the reforms recommended by the Obama administration to improve policies and practices and build community trust (and move beyond things like racist text messages and unfair treatment — beatings, killings, arrests — of minorities). (NBC, CBS). And it looks like state and local officials have their work cut out for them.  Exhibit A: In its report on the S.F. Police Department, the Justice Department lauded the benefits of foot patrols in enhancing ties with the community. … Well, good luck with that. The Police Department said it was going to double the number of officers in The Mission, but so far, it hasn’t happened, and a foot patrol is apparently hard to find. (Mission Local). Exhibit B: The Police Department was supposed to create community advisory boards to help with those reforms suggested by the DOJ. The problem with the so-called problem-solvers? They have been dinged for being sometimes nonexistent, highly informal and always difficult to access. (Mission Local). One problem that is getting much-needed attention is the vehicle break-in tsunami — close to 30,000 reported last year, says San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón. (San Francisco Chronicle). Gascón is proposing a task force to find and throw the book at the offenders, and seeks $1 million in seed money. But the prospect of meetings, meetings, and more meetings isn’t thrilling City Hall. (San Francisco Chronicle). Perhaps (and we can only dream) one day the city will be safe for parking again. On a kinder and gentler note, though, things are looking up for bail reformers. For folks trapped in jail because they can’t cough up the money for bail, poor inmates who have high amounts of bail will get a court hearing, thanks to a state court decision. (SF Weekly). Better yet, the state attorney general won’t appeal that decision, and a bill is wending its way through the state Legislature prohibiting excessive bail. (Sacramento Bee). Bail reform? Gee, what’s next for the city jails? It's rights for transgender inmates, who just got a break. The sheriff has put into effect new policies allowing inmates to declare their preferred name and gender identity at intake and to indicate a gender preference for the deputy who will search them. (

Waterworld, California Version

  • Better enjoy those tidal wetlands while they last, because they may be environmental short-timers. Their expected doom is in the form of sea level rise, which threatens to turn places like the coastal salt marshes of Morro Bay and the Bolinas Lagoon in Marin County into mud or open water in 100 years. “Wetlands in California and Oregon Could Disappear With Sea Level Rise” (Newsweek); “Study: Salt Marshes Will Vanish If Seas Keep Rising and California Keeps Building” ( For an in-depth look at the peril of sea level rise, see the Spring 2017 Special Report “Wild West on the Waterfront” (S.F. Public Press).

  • Periodically, when drought isn’t sucking the ground dry, floods inundate the California landscape (could swarms of locusts be next?). But efforts are underway to beef up floodplains, the land next to rivers and whose flood-taming, habitat-feeding abilities are eroded when they’re paved over or constricted by levees. “Why We Need Working Floodplains” (Public Policy Institute of California).
  • Even if we don’t end up waterlogged, we could all be flattened by the next Big One (aka earthquake). It would, however, be nice to get a heads-up on when the quake will hit — even a few seconds count — but, thanks to the guy in the White House, development of the earthquake early warning system may stall because the current Trumpian budget proposal nixes nearly $13 million in funding for the ShakeAlert system. “Trump Proposes Cutting Millions From Earthquake Early Warning System Development” (CBS SF Bay Area).

Grand Central West?? Really, Now …

The Transbay Transit Center, slated to open in June near the Embarcadero, has been favorably compared to NYC’s Grand Central Terminal. Right near a tech-heavy vertical neighborhood (Salesforce and, soon, Google and LinkedIn), the center will have a rooftop garden, theater and other goodies. But then, there are the skeptics, who pooh-pooh it as no more than a bus station with airs (and we’re aren’t talking ventilation here). “The ‘Grand Central of the West’ or a Glorified Bus Terminal?” (New York Times).

Children at Risk

Washington’s hard line on immigration and an increase in deportation are being criticized for the effect on child welfare: More children risk being shunted into foster care after a parent is locked up or deported, says a new report from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. “Report: Increased Deportations Could Put More Kids in Foster Care” (The Chronicle of Social Change).