Through the cracks journalism
The latest catch.
Let City Hall know you are fed up with the SFMTA.
Support Prop L – MTA Board Appointments and Budget
The amendment will split the MTA Board appointments between the Mayor and the Supervisors, 4 to 3 and lower the requirement to reject the SFMTA’s budget from 7 to 6 supervisors, putting the SFMTA management in line with other city departments, and making it easier for the Board of Supervisors to respond faster to voter requests. Contract approvals will still require a majority vote of the Board of Supervisors.
Link to legislation File No. 160389
Proponent: Supervisor Yee Opponent: Supervisor Wiener
They work for us. We don’t work for them. The SFMTA is the one that needs to shift policies and goals, not the residents. San Francisco needs a transportation system that works today, not a plan for the future. We need a Board who listens to the public not one that dictates to us. Taking seats out of buses and removing bus stops will not help our aging population take public transportation. Link to a Sample letter to the supervisors
By Sam Thielman : guardian – excerpt
Local officials in 11 cities around the US launched a campaign on Wednesday to crack down on the unsanctioned police use of surveillance equipment, especially devices that imitate cellphone towers. Cell-site simulators, such as Harris Corporation’s Stingray device or Digital Receiver Technology’s (DRT) Dirtbox, fool cellphones into treating them like cell towers can be used to scoop up data from all devices that connect to the fake tower… (more)
Call for a Cessation of Work and Comprehensive Independent New Testing at the Shipyard and Adjacent Areas Where Radioactive and Toxic Waste May Have Been Illegally Dumped, and Full Cleanup
They just ran this article:
Promise is building in long-neglected SF shipyard site
By John King : sfchronicle – excerpt
Forget those downtown towers clambering toward the heavens. The biggest change to San Francisco’s landscape is taking place 5 miles away — easy to miss unless you know where to look.
Residential landings line new hillside roads. A neighborhood green spills down toward the bay. Balconies with chairs and potted plants look out at concrete being poured and walls being framed. One residential block is adorned with a four-story vegetated wall.
The setting is the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, where the first batch of 208 condominiums and apartments forms the figurative beachhead for what eventually will be a 437-acre extension of the Bayview neighborhood. What’s gone up so far has promising elements, including the most inviting park the city has seen in years. There’s also real promise downhill, where one of England’s leading architects is rethinking how the huge project should meet the bay.
That figure is David Adjaye, in the news this month as the designer of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opens Saturday on the National Mall across from the Washington Monument. The Hunters Point development would be his first work in the United States west of Colorado, and his first planning effort in the Americas.
As for what’s being marketed as San Francisco Shipyard, it’s a fast-changing element in a part of the Bayview that outsiders rarely see, except when they visit the artist studios in old naval buildings below the hillside… (more)
By Nathan Falstreau : streetsblog – excerpt
The city’s first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, along Van Ness Avenue from Mission to Lombard streets, is set to break ground this year, consisting of transportation upgrades aimed to improve congestion, safety and beautify the two-mile long stretch. But among several other utility upgrades included in the project is a plan to replace the current streetlamps with brighter, more efficient streetlights. And that has San Francisco Heritage, as well as District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin, rushing to find a way to protect the lamps which they say are 102 years old. Update, 4:45pm: Paul Rose of the SFMTA clarified some of the details pertaining to the history of the streetlamps and the BRT project, stating that the earliest lighting features on the existing lightpoles date to 1936, making them no older than 80 years…
…Peskin, along with a group formed called the Coalition to Save the Historic Streetlamps of Van Ness Avenue, with the backing of San Francisco Heritage, San Francisco Beautiful, and the Victorian Alliance of San Francisco, hopes to find a solution that would either keep the existing lamps, or find a way to replicate them in order to maintain the historical character of the corridor.
Mike Buhler, a representative from San Francisco Heritage, wrote in a letter to the Board of Supervisors that he is seeking that the SFMTA, “Make every effort to avoid their removal. With the installation of new landscaping and BRT stations, retention and reuse of the “Historic Streetlamps of Van Ness” would provide the architectural framework and historical continuity for new development along the entire Van Ness corridor, and celebrate civic pride to unite old and new San Francisco.”
Unless the Board of Supervisors responds to the resolution and and looks at an alternative to the proposed plans, demolition of the streetlamps should commence sometime later this next year… (more)
Mode Media, a Brisbane-based content network once valued at more than a billion dollars, abruptly shut its doors Friday.
Founded in 2003, Mode Media described itself as a social networking platform for creators to upload videos and build branded content, generating traffic and ad revenue. In addition to in-house staff, the company maintained a network of thousands of freelance bloggers who contributed to their network in a revenue-share model.
But the company told employees that it was closing operations entirely on Thursday afternoon. In a company-wide memo obtained by the Wall Street Journal, the company said that “we deeply regret having to take this action and we wish we could have provided you with greater notice.”…(more)
Another one bites the dust.
By Joshua Sabatini: sfexaminer – excerpt
hey’ve come from Georgia, Texas and right here in the Fillmore. They’ve faced drug addiction, bad luck, lost housing and unemployment. They sleep on the streets, in alleys, in shelters and at friends’ homes, sometimes on the floor.
These San Francisco residents were participating Thursday morning in the Downtown Streets Team, a program that organizes homeless people to pick up cigarette butts and other litter on the very streets they seek refuge from.
The new service has emerged as The City has failed to decrease the overall number of homeless people living on the street. Attention to the issue has also intensified as business owners and residents complain about a proliferation of homeless encampments near them.
The Downtown Streets Team is certainly far from a cure-all, but the novel approach is drawing wide praise from the police, city officials, business interests and the participants themselves…
With the help of donations from local tech companies Dolby and Google, the Downtown Streets Team earlier this year began operations in the Civic Center area. A team of 20 people, donning unmistakable bright yellow T-shirts, typically clean the streets from 8 a.m. to noon. Team members must be 18 years old to participate and attend a weekly meeting.
There, they put their name on wait list that, due to demand, can take weeks to actually land a spot on the team for work. If a member doesn’t show up, he or she is removed from the list…(more)
Good to see they are doing something that works. Can’t believe there is a shortage of positions for homeless people who want to clean the streets.
By Max Cherney : sfweekly – excerpt
“Corruption,” as anyone who followed the Supreme Court’s tortuous logic in Citizens United knows, is a nebulous concept. And San Francisco’s political system does not clarify matters. Money sloshes from corporations, industry groups, and the rich, and can easily sidestep disclosure requirements and spending limits, flowing downhill through lobbyists, ostensibly independent groups, and even city contractors.
According to the experts, much like political views, corruption is a spectrum. There are flat-out illegal acts, the most common of which is a politician or bureaucrat using his or her position for personal gain. Think of Leland Yee, the former state senator, who was convicted for taking bribes in exchange for passing legislation and greasing the wheels for phony contracts undercover feds pretended to want.
At the opposite end are activities that are, in the strictest sense, legal but can be viewed as unethical. It’s a realm where the likes of Willie Brown thrive and are the most difficult to pin down. So many legal loopholes remain in widespread use that city politicians can often avoid violating the law by simply going around it…
So, in the spirit of transparency and accountability, here are a few common and less common methods officials have used to disrupt city politics, without necessarily breaking the law…
Set up an “independent” fund for a politician...
Give a candidate soft money to throw at future ballot measures...
Contribute to a government official’s charitable slush fund...
Wash local campaign donations through political parties...
Siphon off cash for city contracts...
One form of graft that is hard to track is the use of charge orders in large city projects to bleed cash from city coffers.
The mechanics are straightforward: A contractor bids on a contract with the city — say, to renovate public housing. The company then submits a “change order” saying it needs a little more money to finish a part of the job. But corruption in change orders is hard to sniff out: The technical aspects of a job can be arcane, making the details and costs subjective.
One contractor who has done business with the city says change orders often amount to a sort of bait-and-switch. Some of these siphoned funds, the source asserts, can end up going to officials who oversee contracts, or they can become donations to the campaigns of politicians who grant their appointments…(more)
The change order and moving funds between departments and in and out of budget years. Selling the public on taking on more public debt to buy more infrastructure with no budget to maintain it. Once again the SFMTA is begging for a hefty sales tax increase to add to capital investments, with no plan to maintain what they have, much less what they are buying.