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May 9, 2020

via Working At Home Opportunities

Check out this blog if you want to work at home.

San Francisco spends hundreds of thousands of dollars a week for COVID-19 first-responder hotel rooms nobody is using

May 8, 2020

By Joe Eskenazi :missionlocal – excerpt

First, the good news: San Francisco has not devolved into a charnel house; we have not become New York City. Our first-responders have (ostensibly) not been exposed to COVID-19 at the levels city officials weeks ago feared would come to pass. They have not booked, en masse, into hotel rooms set aside for them: as of May 7, only 136 of the 936 hotel rooms set aside for first-responders are occupied. That means 750 are empty — an 80 percent vacancy rate.

And we’re paying for that.

On average, the per-room rate listed in the city documents we requested is $110. With food, security, and cleaning, that swells to $237 — but you don’t need those things for rooms nobody is staying in.

During hearings on April 29 and April 30, Supervisor Aaron Peskin posited that the city was spending $40,000 a day on unused first-responder hotel rooms — but he now says that figure is low. It might be quite low.

Rough, back-of-the-envelope math ($110 x 750) puts the city total paid for unoccupied rooms at perhaps $82,500 a day…

(more)

Thanks Joe for your tireless efforts to dig out facts that are being hidden from the public. Looks like we need some help from whistleblowers to find out what is going on at City Hall. When our District Supervisors and the press are having trouble keeping track of money, there is little reason to trust the system that is in perpetual planning mode. We don’t need to spend time and money on planning. We need to feed and house and heal the city residents now. We don’t need to have our nails done. We need to have our citizens shelter in place of the streets.

We have seen a number of these graphs and can’t be sure if these are up to date but they illustrate the problem. A number of citizens and groups have requested copies of the hotel contracts or agreements and so far no one has been successful in obtaining any documents.

Making the rooms available without a process to get people into them is a waste of taxpayer money and should raise a lot of alarm bells the next time any government agency asks the public for additional taxes, fines or fees for anything There is no guarantee the money will be used as we are promised. NONE!

People have attempted to sign into hotels, move into vacant buildings, and called for street actions and demonstrations, one of them in front of the Mayor’s home. It feels like public shaming is the only way to go to go.

Crushing the States, Saving the Banks: the Fed’s Generous New Rules

May 7, 2020

By Ellen Brown : counterpunch – excerpt

Congress seems to be at war with the states. Only $150 billion of its nearly $3 trillion coronavirus relief package – a mere 5% – has been allocated to the 50 states; and they are not allowed to use it where they need it most, to plug the holes in their budgets caused by the mandatory shutdown. On April 22, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he was opposed to additional federal aid to the states, and that his preference was to allow states to go bankrupt.

No such threat looms over the banks, which have made out extremely well in this crisis. The Federal Reserve has dropped interest rates to 0.25%, eliminated reserve requirements, and relaxed capital requirements. Banks can now borrow effectively for free, without restrictions on the money’s use. Following the playbook of the 2008-09 bailout, they can make the funds available to their Wall Street cronies to buy up distressed Main Street assets at fire sale prices, while continuing to lend to credit cardholders at 21%.

If there is a silver lining to all this, it is that the Fed’s relaxed liquidity rules have made it easier for state and local governments to set up their own publicly-owned banks, something they should do post haste to take advantage of the Fed’s very generous new accommodations for banks. These public banks can then lend to local businesses, municipal agencies, and local citizens at substantially reduced rates while replenishing the local government’s coffers, recharging the Main Street economy and the government’s revenue base… (more)

Warren Buffett explains the simple reason why the US will never default on its debt

May 7, 2020

By Ethan Wolff-Mann : yahoo – excerpt (includes video)

The U.S. Treasury is borrowing $3 trillion in three months to pay for the pandemic response, a record sum that dwarfs the $1.8 trillion borrowed in 2009 during the financial crisis. The debt will be sold in bonds to a variety of foreign and domestic investors.

At the 2020 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting on Saturday, which was closed to the public due to Covid-19 but livestreamed on Yahoo Finance, billionaire investor Warren Buffett carefully explained in simple terms why the U.S. will never default on its debt.

When a concerned shareholder asked him whether there was a risk, he didn’t prevaricate, but started with a “no.”

“If you print bonds in your own currency, what happens to the currency will be the question,” said Buffett. “But you don’t default. The U.S. has been smart to issue its debt in its own currency.”

Other countries don’t do this, Buffett pointed out… (more)

Warren Buffet seems to be at wits end with Covid-19 Berkshire loss of $50 BILLION recently. Warren said he did not even know what to make of the possibility of the FED to introduce negative interest rates, ZIRP (like Japan and some other European countries have done in recent years).

Will MMT end up saving the day in the Covid-19 crisis? We shall see.

Mike ….monetary reformer in New Mexico

Letter of Opposition to Increased Density

May 7, 2020

Editorial by Mari Eliza, Concerned California Citizen

smartgrowth

Smart Growth for whom? Photo by zrants

Sacramento Politicians need to embrace the New Normal and assure their constituents that they are working with, not against local governments to provide the best service possible.

After years of writing about the dangers associated with living in dense urban developments, our deepest fears are playing out as we face one of the largest health and safety crisis in our lifetimes. COVID-19 is a silent killer virus that spreads through physical contact and so far there is no known vaccination or cure. The virus does not treat all hosts the same. Sick and non-sick carriers may be spreading it throughout the environment undetected. As communities ramp up testing and tracing they discover that 50% of the hosts may show no symptoms. There may already be mutations that don’t test positive making this disease even more difficult to detect. We know very little about this virus other than social distancing and wearing masks seems to be the best defense so far.

We are living in an uncertain world that may require us to change our way of life and avoid physical contact for a for a long time, yet we understand that some of Sacramento politicians are ignoring the dictates of the new normal, burying their heads in the sand, and charging ahead will bills that force more density on all California communities, oblivious to the changes needed to protect our homes and workplaces from COVID-19. As we move into a new world of social distancing the government needs to switch gears.

Everyone needs to pause the density button and oppose the bills that remove CEQA protections, and override local jurisdictions’ ability to protect the health and safety of their communities. Sacramento needs to work with local communities, not against them. The courts need to look at the laws with fresh eyes as well.

All the efforts of our legislators should be to support the communities’ efforts to build social distancing into all new housing, workplaces, and public venues. People will change their lifestyles and work habits to protect themselves and their families. More people will work from home and fewer people will subject themselves to crowded public transportation vehicles. Public transit systems will need to be redesigned to provide for a less crowded environment and more physical space for their riders.

Sacramento legislators need to focus on new methods to finance the health care of our citizens. That will take a lot of work as we need to increase the number of trained doctors, nurses and other health care professionals. That will require establishing more educational opportunities and teaching facilities for medical professionals and scientists, and more opportunities for allowing foreign workers, including trained professionals from other states, to migrate to California.

We need to raise the pay of all essential workers so they may practice social distancing and provide for their families. The Governor has already set up a system of child care for many essential workers. The system needs to be expanded to cover more workers and establish earlier social skills in children.

We need to support more independent renewable energy projects to take the pressure off the grid systems. This will make it easier for people to withstand the power grid shutoffs. The laws to protect these systems should be expanded to protect private systems and remove excessive fees and service charges by utility companies.

We need to support the establishment of public banks and small lending institutions to cut the costs of funding our public services, and help individuals who are cut out of the current banking system.

There are many issues that need to be addressed by Sacramento politicians, but urban densification is not one of them. Spreading the population wider and thinner by encouraging more jobs near the housing would be a good start. Or just get out of the way of the local governments and let them do their jobs.

The public is wise. The public elected the Sacramento politicians and the public may choose to not re-elect those who continue to undermine their efforts to protect their rights to determine how they live. Removing the right to participate in decisions is especially difficult to swallow, under the best of times. Now is the time to listen to the public, and to the neighborhood organizations they rely on for information and support, as people define their new normal.

Sincerely,

Mari Eliza, Concerned California Citizen

Here is a list of Assembly bills that we oppose that impose restrictions of local governments, or remove public notice or participation.

AB1851 – upzones without affordability or any policy objective
AB 3234 – permits small lot subdivision without mapping
AB 2323 – creates and expands CEQA exemptions
AB 1905 – reduces home mortgage interest deduction (in support of who?)
AB 2345 – adds more density and tiers to the state density bonus law
AB 2988 – expands CEQA exemptions by increasing project size and unit numbers
AB 3155 – eliminates CEQA requirements and waves public hearings on some lot subdivisions
AB 3182 – Retroactively invalidates all common interest development (CID) restrictions on leasing or rental of an interest in CID.

Can a federal lawsuit force SF to put homeless people in hotels?

May 5, 2020

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt
Legal action by Hastings College of the Law seeks to push the question.

Hastings College of the Law, which has often been at odds with the city, filed a federal lawsuit yesterday claiming that failures in city policy have left the Tenderloin neighborhood in such “deplorable conditions” that they violate the civil rights of people living and working there.

Two residents of the neighborhood and a group of merchants are also involved in the lawsuit, but Hastings clearly has the resources to be driving it…(more)

The city has been paying for hundreds of empty rooms for weeks, and that everyone has been waiting for completion of the plan. The public doesn’t want plans the public wants actions. It should not take a lawsuit to move City Hall to get people off the street into the available empty rooms.

It appears that the goal is to catalogue the homeless. A perpetual planning system has been constructed to collect, model and analyze data. The public want them off the streets and the issue must be resolved soon if the Mayor wants to re-open the economy. People are not going to walk around a mine field of tents to go shopping and eat out during a pandemic.

The law suite filed in Federal Court will force the Federal government to examiner the situation and take action. Meanwhile, the supervisors are doing everything they can to help their constituents.

RELATED:

Why turn affordable SROs into tourist hotel rooms?
Fewer pushes Rec and Park to identify park sites for homeless camps

San Francisco plots economic course to rise from out of the recession

May 3, 2020

By Joshua Sabatini : sfexaminer – excerpt

The City has never seen an economic downturn of this type

Implementing effective recovery ideas in these times of economic turmoil could mean the difference between survival or extinction for thousands of small businesses impacted by the coronavirus and the monthslong shelter-in-place order.

And they could determine the pace by which the local economy comes charging back as well as the degree by which it benefits different segments of the population.

Economic recovery is no stranger to San Francisco.

It was only a decade ago when The City climbed out of the Great Recession by ushering in a tech boom that brought unemployment to record lows but also greater displacement and income inequality.…(more)

We will soon see the results of the shift from a balanced local labor based economy to a specialized high tech foreign investor-funded economy. Quite a few voiced concerns over the consequences of losing the balance that saved our communities from the downturns of the last dot com busts.

We will soon find out how well the new economy performs with a disbursed regional labor force as people contemplate the option of returning to long commutes or working at home? Should the city consider more live-work if people choose to work at home?

People will determine their own future and how they will work, shop and travel. The government would be wise to accommodate them and support their needs for a faster recovery.

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