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Two Former Mayors—Willie Brown and Art Agnos—Ask for Leniency in Sentencing of Felon Victor Makras   Written by Jonah Owen Lamb

December 1, 2022

By Jonah Owen Lamb : sfstandard – excerpt

A long list of supporters, including former mayors Willie Brown and Art Agnos, have voiced their support for a lenient sentence for politically connected real estate mogul Victor Makras, who was found guilty on federal charges earlier this year.

Makras was convicted in U.S. District Court earlier this year for bank fraud. The case was linked to a federal corruption probe involving Harlan Kelly, former head of the San Francisco Public Utility Commission, and Mohammed Nuru, the city’s former head of Public Works. The latter was sentenced to seven years in prison after he pleaded guilty to fraud in January.

Makras’ conviction proved that he made false statements to help Kelly get a loan…(more)

Cause he knows where the bodies are buried? And he is an honest felon?

Breed’s vacant lots to housing idea a no go, analysis says

November 30, 2022

By Annika Hom : missionlocal – excerpt

No iteration of potential prototypes are feasible financially

As it stands, dreams of boosting housing on vacant San Francisco parking lots or car washes is a nonstarter, according to new city analysis.

A proposed ordinance “Cars to Casas,” introduced by Mayor London Breed in October 2021, aims to ease housing construction on parcels formerly slated for car-uses, like parking lots or garages. Some 500 parcels could be eligible, according to the Planning Department — but it’s unlikely any housing would be built, given none of the projects would pencil, according to a new financial analysis presented at the Board of Supervisors Land Use and Transportation Committee on Monday…(more)

Coinbase CEO says he shuttered San Francisco offices because of ‘techlash’

November 24, 2022

By Madeline Wells : sfgate – excerpt

In a recent interview with the Financial Times, Coinbase founder and CEO Brian Armstrong revealed his reasons for leaving San Francisco.

In May 2021, the cryptocurrency exchange announced it was closing its San Francisco offices for good. This came a year after Armstrong announced the company would go “remote first” and abandon a physical headquarters entirely. Around this time, the CEO personally moved to Los Angeles.

Armstrong shared with the Financial Times that part of the reason why he moved to Los Angeles was because of the recent “techlash” in San Francisco. He told the publication that San Francisco has vilified the people “creating growth” in the city…(more)


FTX’s Bahamas crypto empire: Stimulants, subterfuge and a spectacular collapse

City Didn’t Know SF Homeless Nonprofit Referred for FBI Probe Isn’t Even a Nonprofit

November 23, 2022

by Josh Koehn : sfstandard – excerpt

City officials have spent the better part of this year scrambling to save a nonprofit that allegedly mismanaged money to house homeless people in one of San Francisco’s poorest neighborhoods after it received tens of millions of dollars in city and federal grants.

But there’s one big problem: The nonprofit suspected of financial misconduct, United Council of Human Services (UCHS), isn’t even a nonprofit.

On Tuesday, the California Attorney General’s Office confirmed to The Standard that it suspended the nonprofit status of UCHS—a nearly four-decade-old organization formerly known as Mother Brown’s soup kitchen—earlier this summer after the Bayview-based organization failed to respond to multiple requests for financial documentation and filing fees going back to 2017.

The AG’s Office instituted a new system in the last two years to update the status of charities that were chronically delinquent. Since that time, the office has suspended more than 5,000 charities and revoked the nonprofit status of more than 20,000, officials said.

An organization that has its nonprofit status suspended or revoked cannot solicit donations or operate as a charity in California, but the website for UCHS still identifies itself as a nonprofit and has a page set up for people to give donations…(more)

We need a wall of shame to keep track of all the ethically challenged non-profits contracting with SF City Hall

November 21, 2022

Baker Places and Positive Resource Center (PRC) has a lot of explaining to do. It seems that the cloud over the DA, Brooke Jenkins, charged with taking a salary while soliciting funds for the Chesa Boudin recall election was not the only party involved in questionable behavior at the now notorious Baker Places non-profit, inked to billionaire William Oberndorf. It looks like they owe their clients and employees more than an explanation. And once again San Francisco has to rely on the FBI to investigate our contractors. it looks like the local FBI office is the place fro investigative reporters to hang out these days. Here are a few recent examples of how


Troubled SF Nonprofit Throws Itself a Party as Clients Left in the Lurch

by David Sjostedt :SFstandard – excerpt

Positive Resource Center, the administrative arm of the drug and mental health rehab nonprofit Baker Places, held an annual fundraising gala at the Four Seasons Hotel on Nov. 4, bestowing a “Lifetime Achievement Award” upon its former CEO Brett Andrews, who left in a cloud of controversy shortly before the organization asked the city for a bailout…

Money Problems
Just a month before the gala, PRC and Baker Places—two related nonprofits that announced a merger in 2016 that was never completed—told the city that without a $4.2 million cash infusion they would be forced to “immediately notify staff of layoffs, discontinue intakes and wind-down operations.”…

Andrews had collected a $293,230 salary from the nonprofit in the year leading up to his resignation. Lisa Pratt, a top Department of Public Health official, had also been collecting an unauthorized $123,000 salary working 20 hours a week for Baker Places on top of her city salary. Pratt has since resigned from the nonprofit position and the city has launched an investigation into her dual employment…(more)


City Hall Paid Safe Drug Use Researcher $334 Per Hour To Walk Tenderloin Streets

by David Sjostedt : SFstandard – excerpt

San Francisco paid a researcher over $300 an hour to study the neighborhood impact of the Tenderloin Center safe consumption site, a project contract reveals…

The contract reveals the costs for lead researcher Alex Kral clocking in at $334.75 per hour, for 100 hours of work between April and July.

Kral, of the Research Triangle Institute (RTI), said the figure doesn’t represent the amount of money he made, which he says is much lower, but includes “indirect” costs. While he didn’t elaborate on what those were, it’s typical for organizations like RTI to bake some overhead costs into the line items for individual workers…

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, for his part, questioned what he was supposed to do with the data provided in the research.

“It’s not entirely useful for policy makers and doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in (Department of Public Health DPH),” Mandelman said. “It strikes me that this [research] is a very expensive advertisement for safer consumption facilities.”… (more)

The Tenderloin Center is set for closure on Dec. 4, and the city is looking to open similar replacements…

The research will continue until June 2023, the contract shows…(more)


SF calls on FBI to probe “criminal activity” at nonprofit housing agency

By TheRealDeal Staff : therealdeal – excerpt

Second audit of United Council of Human Services points to broad mismanagement

The City of San Francisco has tipped off the FBI about a publicly funded nonprofit agency it accuses of improperly collecting rents from formerly homeless tenants.

The city alerted the FBI and the San Francisco District Attorney’s white collar crime division about potential wrongdoing by the United Council of Human Services, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

“The Controller’s Office and the City Attorney’s Office will support any investigation you think appropriate,” a letter to both law enforcement agencies stated.

The nonprofit, based in Bayview, controls $28 million in public funds to provide housing to formerly homeless residents. It runs shelters, a drop-in resource center and a safe camping site.

The decision to alert law enforcement followed an audit report by the Controller’s Office that urged San Francisco to consider firing the agency for not complying with city agreements…

Supervisor Catherine Stefani tweeted the United Council was “fleecing” the city while taking advantage of vulnerable people it purports to serve…(more)

How a Mega-Rich Oligarch Linked to Putin Derailed a Bay Area Homeless Shelter

November 17, 2022

by Matthew Kupfer, Matt Smith : sfstandard – excerpt

San Francisco politician Aaron Peskin thought he’d gotten lucky: He had just discovered that an unused Mission Revival church in San Francisco’s tony Russian Hill neighborhood was up for lease.

Towering over the intersection of Broadway and Mason Street, the marble-white historic sanctuary could be repurposed as a shelter for homeless people, fulfilling a campaign promise Peskin made when running for his third term on the Board of Supervisors. But as he was working to finalize lease negotiations with the owner of the church, known as Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, he received a disheartening call.

“They had sold it to this unnamed party. And we were like, ‘What the hell?’” Peskin said. “We were told, ‘These people gave us a huge amount of money.’ To me, it made no sense.”

Unbeknownst to Peskin, the church had been purchased in January 2016 by a venture capital firm with money from one of Russia’s richest men, Suleyman Kerimov, an oligarch and politician currently under U.S. sanctions, who Forbes Russia said was worth $4 billion as of April…(more)

This article brings up some new ethical considerations that could trigger even longer waits for capital. We know that there is not sufficient funding to build much more housing after the entitlements are secured. A recent article in Mission Local listed three new Affordable Housing projects in the Mission under consideration now that are years away from breaking ground, but there are possibly half a dozen others already entitled that are held up by the lack of funds. What is the point in declaring California needs new housing and cities much provide it when there is no money to back the threats of punishing cities that don’t build it by reducing the funds they need to build it?

According to this article the source of funds must now scrutinized now that we know the sources of a portion of the venture capital money is coming from hostile countries and criminal sources looking for safe investment havens in our democratic system. We must ask ourselves some uncomfortable questions. Do we want to continue to accept foreign investments in our land, given the encroachment into our social media and other problems that seem poised to undermine our national security? If not, how do we protect ourselves from this problem?

Court Ruling a Setback for California’s ‘Builder’s Remedy’

November 14, 2022

By James Brasuell : planetzine – excerpt

A state court has ruled in favor of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ efforts to block a development project despite the state’s efforts to intervene.

California is in the midst of a singularly consequential experiment with state preemption and local control. Planetizen has been tracking the so-called “builder’s remedy,” which is designed to hold local governments accountable for failing to plan for enough housing development to accommodate the state’s population.

The most recent mainstream media attention to the builder’s remedy, an article by Liam Dillon published by the Los Angeles Times at the end of October, noted that the legality of the state’s new housing policy regime had yet to be contested in court.

Fast forward a few weeks and Chris Elmendorf, a law professor at the University of California, Davis who has positioned himself at the forefront of the development debate in California, writes that a state court recently delivered a blow to the state’s hopes of forcing local governments to plan for more development…

“State housing laws, she ruled, do not apply to a project until after a city ‘certifies’ the project’s environmental review”…

The builder’s remedy might require a new state law, modeled on AB 2656, written by planning think tank SPUR and Assembleymember Phil Ting, to inoculate itself from similar state rulings in the future.

FULL STORY: How San Francisco’s infamous 469 Stevenson project just helped gut California’s housing laws(more)

The Fed May Slow Down Its Rate Hikes, But Investors Shouldn’t Celebrate Yet

November 11, 2022

By Sarah Hansen : sacbee – excerpt

A policy shift could be good news for the stock market.

Money is not a client of any investment adviser featured on this page. The information provided on this page is for educational purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Money does not offer advisory services.

The Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate by another 0.75% Wednesday and signaled that hikes could be smaller moving forward. A policy shift could be good news for the stock market, but investors shouldn’t expect a major change anytime soon.

The latest rate hike brings the Fed’s benchmark federal funds rate to a target range of between 3.75% and 4%…(more)

Who pays for climate change impacts, now that Californians have rejected Prop. 30?

November 10, 2022

By Jessica Wolfrom : sfexaminer – excerpt

Proposition 30, the measure that would tax the wealthy to fund electric vehicle rebates and fight wildfires, was rejected by California voters in Tuesday’s election.

The measure, which San Franciscans overwhelmingly supported, would have imposed a 1.75% income tax increase on Californians who make over $2 million to reduce air pollution and emissions by investing in electric vehicles and programs to mitigate wildfire risk…

Its rejection also leaves open the question of who should pay for the effects of an increasingly warming planet — a topic being vigorously debated among world leaders at the UN global climate summit this week in Egypt…

Prop. 30’s failure represents a win for Gov. Gavin Newsom, who campaigned against the measure, calling it a “tax grab” benefiting its largest funder, the rideshare company Lyft, and illustrates the challenges of pushing through environmental legislation, even in a state that fashions itself as a champion of climate policy…

“California is just not on track to reduce climate pollution fast enough to avoid catastrophic climate change,” said Nick Josefowitz, chief policy officer at the San Francisco think tank SPUR, which helped develop Prop. 30. “A recent study showed that we’re going to hit our climate goals 100 years late. That’s like curing cancer 100 years late.”… (more)

California businesses are leaving the state at double the rate of previous years

November 3, 2022

By Tessa McLean : sfgate – excerpt

The rate of California businesses leaving the state more than doubled in 2021, leading a new analysis to posit that the state may be “risking its economic future.”

There were 153 companies that relocated headquarters in 2021, more than double the 75 that left in 2020 and more than triple the 46 that exited in 2018, according to a recent report from the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. The conservative think tank said economics was the primary cause of relocation, citing other states’ lower regulation, lower taxes, and lower cost of living.

Eleven Fortune 1000 companies were among those that exited California in the past three years. McKesson, the biggest U.S. drug distributor and number nine on Fortune’s list, left the state in 2018 for Texas. The Lone Star State is the most popular for relocations — Tesla, Oracle, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Charles Schwab all left for Texas in the past three years…(more)

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