Julie Pitta’s most recent commentary in the Westside Observer misrepresents what I said in a TMZ interview. Pitta claims that I appeared on the program “to stoke fears about public safety.” This is false.
The interview actually cautions people not to jump to conclusions about the cause of the Bob Lee murder. I cite statistics that murder is rare in San Francisco and I literally say “we have to be careful not to conflate the murder of Bob Lee because it is still under investigation and we don't know who, why, or what happened.”
Then I mention “there is real crime other than murder on the rise” in San Francisco, such as catalytic converter theft and property crime. I point out that these crimes are why residents feel unsafe and they want something done about it.
Pitta’s commentary about me is a gross misrepresentation of what I actually said. I encourage everyone to watch the TMZ interview for themselves:
You will find a nuanced discussion about crime in San Francisco in a segment that runs nearly 8 minutes, which is an eternity in television. The interview is measured and informative.
Opinion pieces should be based on facts and not misrepresentations to fit the author’s beliefs.
THE DIEGO RIVERA MURAL, LONG HOUSED AT CCSF, MUST NOT BE SENT TO TREASURE ISLAND!
Treasure Island, which is being developed by private interests should NOT be the recipient of the Diego Rivera PAN AMERICAN UNITY mural. This mural is currently on loan from City College of San Francesco to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in a short-term arrangement for public display benefitting the greater community. The agreement includes the return of the mural to City College which has been its owner and guardian since 1940. The Diego Rivera Mural must be protected from being relegated to tiny Treasure Island where it would be exposed to toxic environments of dangerous mold, dampness, cold, and probably sea rise levels in the near future.
We must not allow this priceless art to be used as an attraction to promote questionable Treasure Island redevelopment plans. The mural belongs to the community at large where it can be accessible to all by automobile, walking, bicycle and all modes of public transportation within the San Francisco mainland, the Bay Area and beyond. The Diego Rivera mural must be returned to City College for safekeeping until its planned new permanent installation in CCSF's future Performing Arts and Education Center, the suitable, safe and popular facility as affirmed by the passage of three SF ballot initiatives over the past two decades. Return this part of San Francisco history to its rightful place at City College!
Art for all
San Francisco resident
March 22, 2023
Are we missing something, or is it true that none of Mayor Breed's four nominees for the Homelessness and Supportive Housing Oversight Board seem to have any experience or credentials in dealing with the problems of homeless citizens?
In particular, her nomination of Vikrum Aiyer, who continued committing fraud as a federal appointee, even after he was caught and apologized for abusing public trust.
The recent Chronicle article does not mention how much Aiyer contributed to Breed's mayoral campaign. How much does a nomination to this oversight committee cost?
At the expense of the grave human misery we see on our streets daily, this kind of political maneuvering is unconscionable. Will we need an oversight commission for the oversight commission? And what kind of salaries are we talking about here?
Seemingly, Breed's nominees have yet to experience auditing municipal budgets. Will they need additional staff, at taxpayers' expense, to gather and analyze financial information and the effectiveness of the various policies and many non-profit organizations the City contracts with to deal with homelessness? Will those costs be in addition to the 600 million dollar budget for homeless services?
Given the recent scandal involving the head of one of these non-profits in Bayview financing a lavish lifestyle at taxpayers' expense, we are convinced our concerns are reasonable. Is it any wonder that San Francisco is held up as an example of liberal policy failure and corruption by the worst elements of right-wing conservatives? We deserve better.
Chris Gray and Susan Chen
Losing 120 Laguna Honda Beds
Re: Dropping the City Attorney's Lawsuit
Was the 4,891-page document submitted by the City Attorneys (including a 30-page argument submitted by four attorneys) so weak that it didn’t stand a chance at overturning CMS’ Termination decision?
Did the submitted arguments miss the mark by failing to show that CMS’ citations did not match CMS’ own standards?
What about the failure of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and CMS to meet their own Termination Procedures and Schedule of Termination Procedures? Their own regulations state that if they do not follow their established procedures, both documentation and timeline, that “it might be alleged at a hearing that the termination action was based on error.”
Have the City Attorneys verified that CDPH and CMS complied with the following documents:
I don’t believe the State Agency followed the 90-day timing for Termination procedures. That’s because LHH did not receive the Form CMS-2567 report within ten working days from the 10/14/21 Substandard Quality of Care Survey.
Secondly, the 1st Revisit was conducted on 1/20/22, 98 days later, instead of within 45 days as required. What timeline was CMS following? Based on my calculation, there are 180 days between 10/14/21 and 4/13/22. If CMS felt no urgency to implement the 90-day proceedings to decertify LHH, does it mean that delivery of care at LHH was acceptable? CMS also did not impose the full required penalties in terminating LHH’s Provider agreement. Instead, CMS stated that it exercised a rare use of discretion to provide for a transition funding period beyond 30 days. So, CMS believed that quality of care services at LHH did not warrant closing the facility services any time soon.
Was the CMS Notice to the Public timely and accurate?
Does the document include notice of at least 2-15 calendar days before the effective date of termination? No, the Notice listed the same day (April 14, 2022) as the day when the Provider agreement was to be terminated.
Among the findings in the 10/14/21 Survey report, only F-0689 (*Free of Accident Hazards/Supervision/Devices) fell under a higher severity rating to warrant a substandard quality of care determination. There were no deficiencies under Resident Assessments, Comprehensive Resident Centered Care Plans, Pharmacy Services and Administration groups that reached a scope and severity level to warrant Substandard Quality of Care findings. So, the CMS Notice to the Public is erroneous.
Strangely, the 10/14/21 Substandard Quality of Care report shows findings from the later 2nd (March 28, 2022) and 3rd (April 13, 2022) Re-visit Surveys. This is not the usual process and warrants further inquiry. Why did CMS add 31 pages of subsequent survey findings to a report that was completed on 10/14/21? What is their justification?
Why did CMS reduce LHH’s daily Civil Money Penalties from $2,455.00 to $550.00 on 1/21/22, but did not post the Statement of Deficiencies on the CMS Nursing Home Compare website?
Lastly, did the State Agency and CMS apply the correct Scope and Severity ratings to F-0689 before decertifying a 700-resident safety net facility? And did our City Attorneys understand these concepts sufficiently to ask CDPH and CMS for evidence that decertifying LHH was well-founded before conceding to a Settlement?
Laguna Honda deserves a fair and correct decertification process - and Settlement Agreement - in order to keep enough beds to meet the skilled nursing needs of San Franciscans.
Laguna Honda: Your Reporting
Re: Taking Ownership of SFDPH’s Mistakes
Thank you for your comprehensive reporting on CMS certification at Laguna Honda Hospital. Your September 13 article about rising costs to rescue LHH provided a thorough explanation of how quality patient care is evaluated during CMS investigations. The survey process seems complicated because it is a procedure that provides an accurate evaluation of how the facility implements the regulations.
The requirements and expectations of patient care are clearly written, publicly available and are part of the education of health care professionals. The essence of medical and nursing care is based on providing the essential needs of the individual. Caring for a patient involves knowledge, empathy, kindness and a commitment to provide assistance. Health care regulations provide guidance and a pathway to assure compliance.
As a past employee of Laguna Honda Hospital, I participated in many State and DOJ surveys. The focus of preparation and training was to assure that the residents were receiving quality care, not only on CMS f-tags. Often, when citations were issued, the cause was a lack of adequate staffing to complete the details in residents’ comprehensive care plans.
The current DPH/LHH leadership can not claim ignorance of SNF standards of care or choose which guidelines they will follow. Their attempt to allocate up to ten million dollars to health care consultants is to redirect attention away from their inadequate administration of San Francisco health care. The Board of Supervisors and the Health Commission need to be bold enough to speak out and stop this nonsense.
Please keep publishing articles by Dr. Derek Kerr, Mr. Monette-Shaw, and others to educate us on developments about LHH.
Despite the fact that discharge is not legally required (yet) at Laguna Honda, all patients and their families are being interviewed for discharge and this is causing a lot of stress.
Too bad no one saw this coming......oh, a group of doctors from Laguna Honda did.
There was a ballot measure in 2006, Prop D - that restricted patients at Laguna Honda to Seniors and disabled folks. It was defeated by the downtown machine, Louise Rene, Gavin Newsom, Chamber of Commerce, SPUR and the Committee on Jobs, etc. I sure wish that was on the ballot now.
Town Hall Meeting on Crime
With respect to Dr. Derek Kerr’s article
article regarding the Town Hall with Supervisor Melgar on March 19, 2022 at the Forest Hill Clubhouse: Dr. Kerr states in his article that the event was “advertised as a forum on ‘crime and criminal justice.’” As one of the organizers of the event, I would like to clarify that the event was advertised as an opportunity for neighbors to share concerns, hear important updates about our neighborhood and learn about important community resources (see flyer below). Dr. Kerr’s article is otherwise an accurate report on the event and we were all grateful for his attendance. Thank you.
Donna De Santis
I was deeply gratified to read Paul Kozakiewicz's article about what the real maneuverings behind the closures of the eastern part of JFK Drive and the Upper Great Highway have been. I've been fighting the JFK Drive closure for nearly the past two years, on behalf of the seniors, people with vision and mobility disabilities, and families residing in Hunter's Point, Visitacion Valley, and the Bayview, Portola, Excelsior and Mission Districts, who have endured great hardships trying to reach the most beloved and most popular attractions in Golden Gate Park while the JFK Drive closure remains in effect.
All of San Francisco needs to know what a distasteful, deeply biased effort RPD, CTA and MTA's planning process has been. In addition to the circumstances reported by Mr. Kozakiewicz, it should be noted that MTA's presentations at its touted public meetings are extremely one-sided, make use of deeply flawed data, and present those in attendance with three forced choices to select from, with no room for discussion of other alternatives, some of which might be far more practical and enjoyable for all SF residents.
For example, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that lowering speed limits on JFK Drive, and furnishing it with traffic lights, and/or crosswalks equipped with flashing lights and audible signals, while improving Middle Drive to make it a safe, car-free, fully recreational route through the Park, would satisfy the needs of everyone.
The only problem with this alternative is that it will cost some money, and will be less career promoting and nationally and internationally glamorous than the current plan, which has been raved over by reporters from TheNew YorkTimes, who came here to cover the story, but only talked to representatives from the Fine Arts Museums and RPD and MTA, while avoiding talking to several affected SF residents who asked to be interviewed.
As for the money, effective SF politicians would request federal funds from the recent infrastructure bill, and State of California surplus funds, to do the job. We need only look at the amazing and wonderful job of improvements that were carried out in the Strybing Botanical Gardens, using Obama era stimulus funds, to see a terrific example of how to do this.
Kudos to Paul Kozakiewicz and The Westside Observer for excellent investigative reporting! As a subscriber to The New York Times, I can only hope they will learn a valuable lesson from your efforts.
Recall of School Board Member Moliga
Thank you for your article. I have had mixed feelings about the recall of Mr. Moliga because I have read of his good work with the community.
Unfortunately Mr. Moliga voted with Ms. Collins and Ms. Lopez with their Top-Down Mandate of changing the names of 44 schools during a pandemic, accepting poor research of their Blue Ribbon Committee, omitting a cost analysis during a large deficit (per Sacramento Bee the cost of changing one high school name would be $100,000-$150,000).
He voted to change Lowell to strict lottery in violation of the Brown Act and without considering opinions of SF school parents. He voted to paint over the Washington HS Mural instead of using it to accurately demonstrate the evils committed during the creation of the Nation. Two of his decisions were in violation of the Brown Act. I think Mr. Moliga has done good work for the community but needs to serve in another capacity. Folks who support Mr. Moliga but can't trust the Mayor for making the next TEMPORARY selection should know that it was Mayor London Breed who appointed Mr. Moliga to the SF BoE. With reluctance I favor his Recall from the SF Board of Education.
D. Isaacs, SF Resident, Balboa Grad
Protesting Rec & Park's "Bikes Only" Events on JFK Drive
Whenever I read promotions like "Light Up the Night" in the newsletter sent out by the Recreation and Parks Department, I am overcome by sadness and outrage at the cruelty and injustice and utter classism and racism and ableism expressed by promoting something that thousands of San Franciscans are denied access to.
Families with elders and children who live in the Mission, the Excelsior, the Bayview, Chinatown and others not near the park cannot wait for MUNI to transport them to Golden Gate Park in the dark, then walk a few blocks to the Enchanted Lights Forest, then back to the bus stop to wait some more in the now cold and dark, to ride the bus for at least an hour to get back to their neighborhood.
Elders and those with disabilities cannot walk in to the park at night to see this exhibit as well as the light show at the Conservatory of Flowers, which used to be easily accessible when one could just drive up, then watch safely from one's car parked on JFK Drive every Winter night.
When Mayor Breed ordered JFK Drive closed to cars 24 hours a day, seven days a week, she effectively excluded all San Franciscans except the able-bodied people who live within walking distance of Golden Gate Park. She sent the message that the rest of us are not welcome; that we do not matter. Those who yearn to enjoy all of the amenities that have been added during winter do not matter. The excuse given was that families would teach their kids to ride bicycles. Really? In the dark?
She promised that the road would be reopened when the City reopened. The city has reopened. Reopen JFK Drive now. Let all of the people in to the park that belongs to all of us.
SFPUC's Self-serving Bureaucrats
As crooked as a dog’s hind legs?
The narrative. That is the story or interpretation of events as told by a source. One source tells us that our bureaucratic establishment knows what is best for us and should be trusted regardless of the mandating prose. My narrative about government bureaucrats and committee appointees might be summed up as incompetent, answering to unseen self-serving puppet masters, and often more crooked than a dog’s hind legs.
Law enforcement agencies have identified numerous folks that have broken the law and offended the public well-being for their selfish gains. But what about the incestuous and self-serving manipulation of voter-approved committees – who have sworn to uphold the law and independently protect the public coffers – but in reality have deliberately ignored their responsibilities to often go in a 180 degree opposite to law and an anti-public good direction by allowing the regulated to manipulate the regulators for their objectives. I have exhausted myself in identifying (See: The regulatory morass of the City and County) this malaise (hijacking) with the Revenue Bond Oversight Committee (RBOC) overseeing multi-billions in acquired debt to be repaid through special taxes (rates). Water off a duck’s back. I challenge the local, state, and federal legal entities to subject this multi-billion seeming deception that arbitrarily interpreted “independent oversight” to mean “dependent self-serving oversight.” When in U.S. law was it ever acceptable for the regulated (SFPUC/CCSF) to control the voter-approved regulators (RBOC)? This is contrary to the concept of a public utility. Public meaning exactly that – not just political operatives, not special interest groups, and not overpaid and woefully under-skilled bureaucrats.
The solution – have the appropriate legal entities objectively investigate and remove from office (regardless of title or political connections) all who dishonored the mandated dichotomy between a regulator and the regulated. There must also be accountability. There are no free lunches, not even in San Francisco.
Thank you for your articles about the Great Highway Closure ! !
I was wondering why it was still closed.
I am outraged that:
Individuals in our local governments (starting with Berkeley, and now San Francisco) take it upon themselves to make motorists "the enemies of the people"
I KNOW about Global Warming, I DO believe it is real, but it is NOT the fault of people driving cars alone. ALL OF US DRIVE/RIDE CARS ! ! Blaming people driving on our roads is NOT the solution !
I am SICK & TIRED of bicycle "activists" blocking traffic illegally to score "moral points" or "political points." I am all in favor of more bicycle lanes, and greater, RESPONSIBLE riding of bicycles ! !
But this tyranny by a minority of the cities' bicycle riders MUST STOP ! !
Thank you for reading this message.
Gil Zilberstein, Parkmerced
An Open Letter to Supervisor Ronen
Dear Supervisor Ronen:
In tidal waves of rhetoric, much of it about people who care about those in the Tenderloin suffering from being unhoused, whether from poverty or addiction, or both, it was good to hear you PROMISE that you’d ensure public disclosure and discussion of results of enactment of the Emergency Order on December 23, 2021.
I’m a veteran of city service in the Planning Department, some of it related to housing opportunities and neighborhood livability. I’m also a past union leader who knew well the problems of staffing for caseworkers, corrupt work-arounds from City purchasing standards, and behind the scenes political and data deviations from zoning and land use regulations.
So, when in late March or early April you and other Supervisors have a public hearing to evaluate results, please consider the following questions:
1. How did efforts to recruit an additional 100 caseworkers outside the civil service process succeed? Did you have to go to contracting out for these services? How did addition of contracted employees affect the efficiency and morale of existing overloaded city employees?
2. How were contracts for the needed linkage and sobering center and the safe injection site awarded without competitive bidding? To whom were these contracts awarded and what were their relationships to the Mayor? Were the costs for these leases in line with current market values for similar properties?
3. Were the sites chosen consistent or in conflict with existing zoning? How did adjacent residents and businesses respond to lack of usually required public notice and review? Who actually chose the sites and what were the criteria for their selection?
The intersection of the separate but often interrelated problems of homelessness and addiction are very challenging for us all. Honest evaluation of well-meaning efforts, as you have advocated, can improve our chances for success in quality of life for those on the streets and those impacted by those who by default exist in public view. I also commend the use of the State mandated Housing Element of the General Plan, originally intended to require local jurisdictions to meet local housing needs in a equitable and efficient manner, as an appropriate place and process to frame a comprehensive, well thought out, and publicly vetted approach to these issues, along with many city departments and stakeholders involved.
Lois H. Scott
Stop the Great Highway Closure!
As Outer Sunset/Parkside residents for 20+ years, we feel it is incumbent upon us to share our concerns about the current Great Highway policies and closures.
We are in favor of opening the Great Highway to motor vehicles 24/7, and here's why:
1) Having the GH open reduces traffic and pollution on residential streets. It increases safety and reduces the strain of excess traffic on Sunset Blvd. and 19th Ave.
2) We are avid walkers and over the years have hiked and biked throughout the area regularly. What we have observed is that the number of pedestrians and cyclists is miniscule compared to the number of motorists who need to use this route. Recreational users already have the upper and lower promenades, plus the whole of Ocean Beach for their use. Also, the GH has bike lanes.
3) A small but vocal number of cyclists are pushing for closure of the GH except for recreational use by cyclists and pedestrians. One of our main objections is that all but a very few of these cyclists do not obey traffic signals or yield the right of way to pedestrians. Crossing the GH by foot can be a game of wait and dodge. Got kids or a pet in tow? Even worse.
We've seen or experienced plenty of close calls. This has not been the case with motorists on the GH.
4) A new and disturbing development we've seen since Thanksgiving is the appearance of a coffee vendor truck on the GH at Taraval, complete with a loud generator, a line of customers and, more recently, tables and chairs for lounging beside a parked car. Photo attached. This commercialization of public space mars the beauty of the natural setting and is particularly offensive. What's next? Food trucks and parklets?
Why not hold a referendum on the questions of closure and usage of the GH by the districts affected? That would be more fair than the autocratic decisions of the head of the Dept. of Park and Rec, Phil Ginsburg and the influence of small special interest groups that we're dealing with now.
Chris Gray and Susan Chen 44th and Ulloa
Given that I am poking at top city officials, I am writing this anonymously.
Parking Perks at SFPUC
As someone who drives frequently around our City, I was particularly struck at the mention of 70% parking discounts for a handful of SFPUC employees in Dr. Kerr's, “Lavish Dining on the Public Dime.”
For the wealthiest SFPUC employees to only pay $91 for a month's worth of unlimited parking - across the street from City Hall - is jaw-dropping. A few points. Firstly, the equity issue is real: this discount benefits the top 1% of wage earners at the PUC - who appear to be all white. Next, there are likely no safeguards to check the use of these spots off-hours; and the Civic Center garage is very close to so much of what SF has to offer - the symphony, the opera, Herbst theater and more.
City employee benefits are almost always governed by union agreements and this “benefit” is not listed in the MEA union contract which covers the top city leaders. Instead, SFPUC execs appear to have created a Community Benefits situation for parking: the benefit isn't subject to any known contract, and how it's obtained is opaque. We do not know if there is a quid-pro-quo. Lastly, the administrative code linked in the article is a bit longer than what the internal PUC file, the “Parking Packet,” appears to acknowledge. The full Admin code states, “Where the City provides parking to City employees or to City tenants at facilities under the City’s management or control, the City may charge the following monthly fee for parking to those employees or tenants: The price of a Municipal Railway monthly pass plus $10.00, or the existing amount being charged as of May 31, 2004, whichever is higher.”
It is for journalists and investigators to determine who failed the taxpayers by leaving out “whichever is higher” when they wrote the internal guidance. The curiously selective quote must have been done with intent - perhaps to the personal gain of the very people who authored it. And - yes - please determine whether the City Attorney reviewed and approved.
Please also consider publishing the names of the executive employees benefiting from this obviously unethical arrangement. Any employee taking part in this arrangement must know it lacks equity and ethics - and, as a result, they themselves should now be found lacking, and left off the city payroll for good.
Re-Open JFK Drive in GG Park
Bring Back the Compromise!
Thank you for the investigative excellence of the Westside Observer over the decades.
Since 1967 JFK Drive has been closed to cars on Sundays and holidays 6 am - 5 pm.
In April of 2007 a negotiated Compromise Agreement went into effect that added closing JFK Drive on Saturdays from Tea Garden Drive to the Transverse, beginning in April through September. It has been in effect since then. JFK was never closed at night.
It allowed for everyone to have access all of the amenities along JFK Drive. There are protected bike lanes in both directions, wide elevated sidewalks for joggers and pedestrians in both directions, and parking for cars in both directions.
At the beginning of the Covid-19 shut down Mayor Breed, via an email, ordered JFK Drive closed 24/7, with the promise that it would be reopened when the City reopened. The City has reopened but JFK remains closed to cars.
Closing JFK Drive 24/7 is totally inhumane to those of us who need a car to get to our destinations. We can no longer access all the many gardens along the drive and are completely excluded from enjoying any of the winter night activities in Golden Gate Park, such as the much-celebrated Entwined Lights installation and the light show inside the Conservatory of Flowers that we used to enjoy, parked on JFK Drive at night.
If the excuse for closing it was for children to learn to ride bicycles, why is it closed at night? Do people teach their children to ride bicycles in the dark?
It is unfathomable, cruel, and outrageous that the needs of the elderly and the disabled and the multi-generational families from outlying neighborhoods are being dismissed. We are human beings and should be treated equally as the able-bodied are treated. JFK Drive should be reopened immediately, and the Compromise Agreement from 2007 should be permanently restored.
We hope that people who agree will let the Mayor and Board of Supervisors know.
Thanks for Dr. Kerr's recent article "Can the Ethics Commission Fix the City's Pay-to play Culture?" explaining some of the details of corruption in City Hall, and why the so-called Ethics Commission is so ineffective.
It is my impression that our elected officials have essentially insulated themselves by writing laws in such a way that provides them loop holes and cover to claim that their actions are in fact legal. I coined a term for this about thirty years ago = “soft corruption” defined as anything morally or ethically wrong, even when legally allowed.
It would appear that if enough people are paid off to a level that hooks them on those payments, they will be willing to clam-up and even lie to protect anyone else who is indicted.
The more people are willing to lie and hide the truth, the more difficult it will be for any law agency to put together a winning case. I also think the DA, AG, FBI and DOJ take way too long to make their cases.
West Portal Reawakens
As inside dining and browsing are available, customers are, once again, on sidewalks ... Read it
OPEN LETTER TO: The San Francisco Recreation and Parks Commission
Rec & Park Commission’s Artificial Turf Binge
Considering the high level of intelligence among San Francisco”s population, the advanced degrees, the superb professionalism, we may assume that your Commission is staffed by people of that caliber.
So, we may also assume that the negative aspects of artificial turf have been noted, brought to the attention of the Commission, and seriously discussed. How could they not be discussed when they are so serious?
Not only does plastic grass and rubber-tire infill offer zero shelter to birds and insects and anything else that breathes, it also fails completely as a carbon sink, a function increasingly essential everywhere as we confront the specter of global warming.
Commissioners must have been alerted that the plastic grass and, even more the rubber-tire infill, is so toxic and particularly dangerous to children, that ten or so years ago the government of the City of New York outlawed its use.
The Commissioners must also know that unlike natural grass that can be maintained indefinitely, artificial turf has a relatively short life-span. In approximately ten years, it must be torn up and replaced at significant expense, the worn-out material relegated to land-fill, since it is not recyclable.
Then why, we wonder, all things considered, though the residents in the District of Esprit Park object to the installation of artificial turf in the proposed project, your Department evidently insists on it?
Dan Richman, SF Resident
Photo courtesy of The Conversation
Boudin Deserves Our Support
Chesa Boudin is a man of the people and he deserves our support. Since before he took office, the Republicans and the San Francisco old guard have been lined up against Boudin, telling lies about him and trying to undermine his good work. Some people just don't like change, even if it's for the better. The San Francisco Chronicle has published more than one hit piece and KGO TV (ABC7) was actually called out in a Washington Post Op-Ed and later had to back-pedal on some of its assertions. Boudin hadn't even been in office for a year before they started pushing for a recall. Give the guy a chance. We need reform; business as usual is not going to help us move forward.
One writer, in an unrelenting attack published in the Westside Observer pushes the phrase, "Boudin’s Corpses, More Than a Serial Killer." This inflammatory and irresponsible language has to go; it's Trump talk and has no place in San Francisco politics. Let me ask the author, since you're equating Chesa Boudin with a serial killer, are you also calling for him to go to prison? That's what we do with serial killers. Perhaps you think he should get the death penalty, since he's even worse than a serial killer, a veritable mass murderer with corpses piling up. The only thing I see piling up is the BS put out by Boudin's opponents.
David Romano, San Francisco
Do not appoint Dennis Herrera
To Sean Elsbernd, Assistant to Mayor London Breed • May 2021
As Harry S. Truman said, the buck stops here. The legal buck (civil) in San Francisco stops with the City Attorney.
I am opposed to appointing D. Herrera as GM of the SFPUC. On his watch as City Attorney, my negative personal experiences as a member of the Revenue Bond Oversight Committee are many, including but not limited to
1) Nullification of the RBOC (hijacked),
2) Trampling of my rights as a member of the RBOC and citizen,
3) Signing of the 2009 Agreement-allocations with BAWSCA that has no basis in historical sales and could truly hurt SF,
4) Failure to uphold Proposition 218 (California Constitution).
5) Committee holdovers,
6) Allowing the UCLA-UCB contract to be deliberately "disappeared" (on signing date – and without explanation), and
7) the RBOC signing MOUs with the Controller's CSA, thus abdicating its independent contracting mandate as stipulated in 2002 Proposition P. A proposition which you coauthored.
I could not get one RBOC-colleague to second my motion to hire legal counsel to check the legality of the Controller-RBOC MOU. The City Attorney's representative remained silent. The Controller has a seat on the RBOC. Is this is a conflict of interest? Was this MOU created to avoid the RBOC hiring truly independent consultants? The UCB-UCLA contract was to ask, "Can they do the WSIP on time and budget." It was multidisciplinary and incredibly well presented. The RBOC spent months interfacing with these academics. Then it disappeared. Were some folks worried about the results?
The SFPUC receives 82.5 percent of its water for the RWS from the Tuolumne River. The combined uplifts of the two irrigation districts and the SFPUC amount to about 50 percent of the Tuolumne River flow. This percentage will likely increase with climate change. I think that all uplifts from the Tuolumne River should carry a user charge. I am perplexed at Herrara's support for limiting free flows.
The demand for RWS water (wholesale and retail) is down. It is no coincidence that this decrease in quantity demanded has occurred in a period of incredible and persisting rate hikes. What exactly are we getting for all these rate hikes?
Before accepting SFPUC's estimates of WSIP completion levels, the Mayor should insist on seeing all vendor completion receipts. Why has this not been done? Recall that the SFPUC in 2002 said they would complete 50 percent of the WSIP by 2010 and 100 percent of the WSIP in 2015. 2002 Proposition E states if the SFPUC goes belly-up, the SFPUC cannot seek a bailout from CCSF. The SFPUC does need a fully qualified GM. I do not see Dennis Herrera filling that description.
Please ask the Mayor to withdraw Herrera's name. Initiate a proper search for an experienced and truly qualified GM for the third-largest multi-utility in California.
Re: Open JFK Drive
I'm writing to express my strong support for Ted Loewenberg's article calling for the immediate opening of John F. Kennedy Drive. As a 43-year resident of San Francisco who has a lifelong mobility disability, and a former longtime resident of West Portal, I'm not at all ready to give up my access to all the primary attractions in Golden Gate Park that are placed along JFK Drive!
I can no longer take Muni independently, and must rely on being driven to the museums, the Japanese Tea Garden, the Conservatory of Flowers, the Rhododendron Dell and Stow Lake, all of which are along JFK Drive.
Because I can no longer walk the distance from a faraway parking place, opening JFK Drive to vehicles and providing nearby parking are both essential for me, as they are for most disabled people, seniors, and families with children who must travel longer distances to reach the Park.
Golden Gate Park is not solely the private backyard garden of those who live nearby and/or have the physical stamina to bike to all the Park's attractions. It is not the private preserve of the affluent and fit! Golden Gate Park belongs to ALL of us. Open JFK Drive now!
As a member of the Huckleberry Youth Programs Board of Directors, I am saddened by the Supreme Court’s recent 6-3 decision to reject limits on life terms for youth.
This decision marks the first time in almost two decades the high court has deviated from rules establishing more leniency for juvenile offenders, even those convicted of murder. The U.S. is the only nation that sentences people to life without parole for crimes committed before turning 18.
Research shows a child’s brain does not fully develop until age 25. Adolescence is a difficult time for youth, particularly low-income youth of color, who face systemic barriers making these years more challenging.
Also, youth of color are disproportionately sentenced to life without parole. Nationally, Black youth are sentenced at a rate 10 times greater than White youth, and are 22.5 times more likely to receive a life without parole in California. Biology and social justice demand that California prohibit life without parole for youths under 18, especially when there is a better solution available.
Huckleberry’s CARC is a San Francisco program for youth, ages 11-17, who are arrested for misdemeanors or certain felonies. CARC provides positive youth development and access to mental health services. It helps youth avoid detention and a future life of crime. Thirty percent of all arrested youth in San Francisco are served by CARC and 72% of those young people are not rearrested within one year of the program. Seventy percent of CARC’s clients are youth of color, 67% are boys.
California is in the process of closing its juvenile detention centers and preparing counties to take on young people convicted of crimes in a way that protects the community while preparing youth for life outside of prison. Huckleberry’s CARC is a model for other jurisdictions to follow, and a superior alternative to the costs of life in prison without parole.
Shelley W. Gottlieb Forest Hill Extension
RE: City College
As a teacher in the SFUSD, (1965-2002) I found administrators to be one of the biggest blocks to teaching. There were some good ones but few and far in-between. In the 70’s some teachers came up with a plan—a teacher's council-type set up. Every year teacher’s would vote for a teacher to do what ever administrative work necessary (a coordinator) and they would be given time off to do it. “We, the teachers met once every two weeks to assess the situation. Most of the paper work is done by a secretary anyway. The plan was a success but the downtown administrators put the kibosh on it. It’s a long story but they sabotaged it and eventually promoted one of the elected teachers as permanent. She became as bad as the previous administrators.
I would suggest that city college be run by a council of teachers.
I taught at four different high schools (Woodrow Wilson, Balboa, Opportunity and Lowell, and earned the respect of my students.
I retired in 2002 and one of the first students that entered my classroom took me to get my Covid shot. In 2015 a student edited and published a collection of stories about teaching in a book called “It Couldn’t Have been the Pay”. The book received good reviews and may still be available in electronic form on Amazon. This isn't intended to push the book, Amazon pays nothing to either the writer or editor.
Please consider the suggestion, it is made in good faith.
I Will Not Vote to Recall Newsom
Re: Tony Hall's Article (March 2021)"If anybody can give me just one example of any one policy that Newsom has backed wherein the public has benefited and Gavin was not rewarded with either money or exposure, I will not vote to recall him."
Dear Mr. Hall:
I read your opinion piece about Newsom. I disagree with you in a few areas and provide you with areas where the public has benefited.Your statement, "His exploitation of the gay marriage issue," My friends who were able to get married ... they did NOT feel exploited. They felt seen, heard, accepted, respected and valued. "Brown and Newsom are “the two most committed governors to LGBTQ equality,”
said Rick Zbur, executive director of LGBT-advocacy organization Equality California." He actually took action as Mayor in what the majority of Californians believe in - 62% support gay marriage.
As far as COVID, no other Governor of California in the last 100 years has had to face a pandemic such as the current one we are experiencing. Within this horrible health, economic and emotional crisis the leadership from the federal government was, to be generous, completely absent, (and I am being extremely kind with my choice of words). California has had 56,580 deaths from COVID, NY 48,500, but we have twice the population! Maybe his oversight to get deaths of Californians under control paid off and saved the lives of 50,000 Californians. I understand the economic hardship, yet, this also happened across the county, not just California.
Not only was Governor Newsom handling twice the population of NY dealing with a pandemic, within the same timeframe there were 9,639 wildfires burning over 4 MILLION acres of our state, destroying over 10,000 buildings and killing at least 31 people. “There’s almost no statistic or dimension of this fire season 2020 in California that wasn’t astonishing or horrifying,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. I was amazed how the Governor could get up to the mic each day, day in, day out and give updates regarding COVID and the fires. Literally, our state was ON FIRE! The air had ash, toxins, and due to COVID it made fighting the fires that much more challenging to keep fire fighters safe. He got us the resources we needed for the state.
You and I weren't in his shoes. If he truly believed that keeping businesses open, schools open, etc, would have helped him politically, you would think he would have done that since you claim he isn't a leader, but just a politician.
But... he didn't, he was looking at the health and safety of Californians, not his political life.
If you want to blame someone, blame Trump. If he would have been clear about masks, social distancing, hand washing, SIP, etc, things would never, I repeat never, have gotten this out of control across the whole country, not just California. States didn’t have directives from the very beginning, or any sort of support, to implement strategies to fight the pandemic early. Hell, Trump made states fight over N95 masks! Instead of addressing the crisis at hand we were told it was nothing and would be fine and he convinced people to distrust the media — no focus on managing/trying to get ahead of a pandemic. When he left office there were nearly 500,000 dead Americans. Yes Americans - from states governed by Democrats and rrepublicans. Newsom did his best under these horrific circumstances.
So, maybe you think you could have done it better than Newsom, maybe, but maybe not ...
Sandy W. San Francisco
Re: Dr. Derek Kerr’s Advocacy for Legalization of Drugs
He floats the idea that legalization would lead to less crime and overdose deaths in the City.
Dr. Kerr, San Francisco has already tried that. The lack of enforcement of laws against drug dealing and drug use has led to a de facto legalization for several years. That, combined with the distribution of millions of free needles with no requirement to return used ones has resulted in the spike in overdose deaths this year.
Rampant drug use leads to more crimes, not less. City policy of allowing all the addicts to camp out on our sidewalks magnifies the problem tenfold. Building more subsidized, low-cost housing will not get these people off our streets. They cannot afford even minimal rent, all their money goes for drugs. Even if you supplied them with drugs for free, which I’m sure some are advocating, they will never have a job, they will still be living on the street if we continue to allow it. These people come here to live on the street and do drugs. They should be sent home. San Francisco does not owe these people a free place to live.
I Will No Longer Visit the de Young Museum (Until the Wheel Is Gone)
As a member of the Fine Arts Museums (FAM) for decades, and a (formerly) frequent visitor, I was surprised to hear FAM CAO Susan McConkey make a public comment to the Historic Preservation Committee in support of a four-year extension for the SkyStar Wheel. The Observation Wheel will hinder, rather than help, members getting to the Museum because of the additional traffic from those coming to ride the Wheel. Also, there is no basis for assuming the Wheel will bring visitors to the de Young who would not otherwise be going there.
The Wheel is of little or no benefit to the de Young and I am disappointed to hear that staff are spending time calling in support of SkyStar, a private, for-profit vendor based in St. Louis, MO, with no transparency, and SF Parks Alliance, a private non-profit. In the words of Connie Chan, Richmond District Supervisor, "... the revenue generated by the Wheel has been going to a non-profit that has been under, and part of, an on-going public corruption investigation."
For every $18 ticket sold, $17 goes to SkyStar and $1 goes to SF Parks Alliance; zero goes to the City. SkyStar pays nothing in rent for its prime location on the Music Concourse. This is not a good deal for the City and a four-year extension should not have been approved. The one-year extension proposed by Supervisors Peskin and Chan was a good compromise and should have been supported by the Fine Arts Museums. The Wheel is intrusive, out of place, out of character for the Music Concourse, an environmental hazard and five years is not temporary. The Sierra Club, the Audubon Society and a roster of environmental groups and activists all oppose it. The Wheel, by itself, will not revive the local economy or create jobs, as its promoters claim; there is no evidence for that. We don't need a Ferris Wheel to attract visitors to Golden Gate Park. The de Young should not be encouraging the commercialization and environmental degradation of our Park.
Until the SkyStar Wheel is removed from the Park, I pledge not to shop at the de Young store or visit the de Young Museum and I will urge my friends and family to do likewise. I will not support the Fine Arts Museums being used to further the interests of a private business and a private non-profit to the detriment of our park environment.
David Romano, San Francisco CA
Thank You Quentin Kopp
In your December edition there was a thoughtful letter from a Mr. Henning in which he commended Judge Quentin Kopp for his contributions to the public good of our City. Having been born in San Francisco, I am more than aware of the report cards on many of its elected officials. I must state that reader Henning’s observation of Judge Kopp’s service to our City is spot-on.
We have no one in local elective government close to Judge Kopp’s intellect or integrity. He has been the poster-boy of telling it like it is.
Since the exit from public office of the late John Barbagelata and the retirement of Judge Kopp, the City has seen a total void of responsible leadership with the exception of the one term of westside Sup Tony Hall. We are left with an elected bunch of sheep of liberal wool and an electorate willing to merely follow. SF continues to wallow in corruption, homelessness, unabated drug use and street sales, an ineffective and leaderless Board of Supervisors, and electing a DA who was a career public defender and more interested in indicting police officers than prosecuting epidemic-level car break-in suspects or drug dealers using our streets for their illicit trade.
This City wouldn’t be upside down politically/morally if we had the likes of Quentin Kopp leading us. Judge Kopp was a gem when he served us for 30 years in public office. We are fortunate to continue to have his wise and eloquent words to read in the Westside Observer.
Peter J. Fatooh
The proponents of Measure RR are again misleading the public. Caltrain is not an essential part of our transportation network, public transportation is changing, working from home is the new norm, and autonomous vehicles are our future. It does not make economic sense to invest in an obsolete and dying system. Caltrain ridership will never be what it was.
Again, they want to raise our taxes —they never operate within their means — with their steadily increasing salaries and fully paid pensions, they now again, they want more.
You and I do not use Caltrain. The majority of Caltrain riders are the highest wage earners on the peninsula, making 6 figure salaries.
But they want “us” to subsidize their commute cost!
Caltrain needs to manage within their existing budget — with a CEO ‘s salary two times larger than our Governor — where is their moral compass? Their focus should be on the future transportation needs —not trying to save a dinosaur — and certainly — not burdening us with more taxes.
JUST SAY NO to more regressive taxes that only harm the average wage earner and our children.
Let those high-end riders — FAT CATS, pay their own commute costs — if they want this old dilapidated system.
We should focus on preparing for the future. Please join us in voting NO on Measure RR
Do not be railroaded!
San Francisco Politicians Need A History Lesson
Vandalism of President Grant Monument
by Paul Simpson
Fredrick Douglas, former slave, reformer, abolitionist and one of the greatest African -Americans of the 19th century said of Ulysses S. Grant: “the vigilant, the firm, impartial and wise protector of my race.” As President, he worked to crush the KKK. Along with Lincoln he is the American most responsible for ending slavery.
He should have been celebrated on Juneteenth. Yet in San Francisco his monument was torn down last night in Golden Gate Park during its 150th Anniversary year by vandals with no sense of history hiding behind the fake camouflage of a protest against police abuse. The Park Police Station is across the street but was directed to stand down. Why is Mayor Breed MIA as our law-abiding tax-paying residents continue to suffer at the hands of ignorant anarchists? Where is the leadership?
I wrote this letter to the Mayor’s Chief of Staff and my District 7 Supervisor.
Paul Simpson, San Francisco
June 22, 2020
Homeless on La Playa
On our block of La Playa Street, we see homeless people everyday. This sad situation has been going on for years and it's not getting any better. Homelessness appears to be an intractable problem. Year after year we fund more services, spend more on research and build more shelters but the number of homeless only grows. The homeless crisis is front page news every week but nobody knows what to do except do more of the same. For years I have read articles and editorials about homelessness and one thing is clear: local and state solutions appear woefully inadequate to the scale of the situation. And, there is no plan for actually preventing homelessness.
...local and state solutions appear woefully inadequate to the scale of the situation. And, there is no plan for actually preventing homelessness.”
Build Our Way Out? The idea of planning for the future seems an afterthought for the politicians, developers and non-profits who want to build their way out of the “homeless crisis.” To say, “we need more housing and services for the homeless,” is no substitute for saying, “we need to take care of people so that they don't become homeless in the first place.” Preventing homelessness would require a commitment on the federal level to actually spend our tax revenues for the well being of our citizens. Does that seem like a radical idea?
Taxes Tax money that could have been used to create infrastructure, jobs and housing, fund education and prepare for a pandemic went instead to the military-industrial complex. Hundreds of billions of dollars that should have gone to meet the needs of the American people went to fight wars in Afghanistan and Iraq In 2016, 57% of the federal budget was spent on the Department of Defense, on wars and on weapons programs, according to the American Friends Service Committee; 6% was spent on education. The military spending hasn't slowed; the Friends Committee on National Legislation estimates the US spends about $750 billion annually on weapons and war. For comparison, Housing and Urban Development will get $57 billion in 2020.
War A federal report from 2011 shows $60 billion (that's billions, not millions) lost to war zone contractor waste and fraud alone. Disabled and traumatized veterans return home to their families and they can't get the support and treatment they need. Homelessness and opioid addiction are the result. “About 11% of the adult homeless population are veterans. Roughly 45% of all homeless veterans are African American or Hispanic, despite only accounting for 10.4% and 3.4% of the U.S. veteran population, respectively,” - National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. "U.S. spending on the Afghanistan nation-building project over the last dozen years now exceeds $104 billion," (U.S. aid to Afghanistan exceeds Marshall Plan in costs, San Francisco Chronicle, August 2014). Imagine if $104 billion had been invested in preschools, education, job training, healthcare and housing in the US? .
Helping individual homeless people is important, but if we really want to change people's lives for the better, we need to invest at home before we think of nation-building abroad. Everyone would benefit. "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." - Dwight D. Eisenhower.
David Romano lives in the La Playa area of San Francisco
June 22, 2020
But Who Will Watch the Watchdog?
by Joanne Hoeper
The recent federal charges against former San Francisco Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru raise serious questions about an ongoing culture of corruption at City Hall. City Attorney Dennis Herrera has now announced that he is issuing subpoenas related to that scandal. The irony here is palpable. On the very day the City Attorney made his announcement, the California Court of Appeal affirmed a $5 million jury verdict against the City Attorney’s Office for firing its chief trial deputy after she blew the whistle on fraudulent practices in the City Attorney’s Office itself.
This raises a very troubling question: who will watch the official who is supposed to be the watchdog at City Hall?
The City Attorney’s Office would have you believe … a few million dollars is no big deal, and that what goes on in the Claims Unit is just fine, and now you should trust it to conduct an impartial and thorough investigation into the allegations that led to the arrest of Mr. Nuru”
I am the former chief trial deputy Dennis Herrera fired for blowing the whistle. I was fired because I discovered and reported that the City Attorney’s Office Claims Unit was paying contractors to “fix” privately-owned sewers that weren’t broken, a scheme that cost taxpayers millions. In March 2017, a unanimous San Francisco jury found that the City Attorney had illegally retaliated against me.
When this paper reported last week that the Court of Appeal had affirmed the jury’s verdict, the City Attorney’s spokesperson claimed that the lawsuit was simply “an employment dispute” and tried to sweep the ruling under the rug.
It’s been seven years since I first reported on the fraud in my former office. I spoke up in 2012 to protect the City I love, and as a result, I lost the career I loved. I had hoped that a multi-million dollar unanimous jury verdict would have triggered questions and an independent review of the Claims Unit. I was wrong.
The City Attorney’s Office would have you believe that “there is no there there,” that a few million dollars is no big deal, and that what goes on in the Claims Unit is just fine, and now you should trust it to conduct an impartial and thorough investigation into the allegations that led to the arrest of Mr. Nuru.
I urge San Franciscans to insist that the City Attorney’s Office get its own house in order before entrusting it to investigate other City departments and officials. Look beyond the glib denials and take a close look at the evidence I presented at trial – all of which is a matter of public record and summarized in the Court’s decision.
If you look, you will see evidence that a Claims Unit employee initiated and paid claims to a company owned by a close friend who employed his son. The claims are illegal because the company falsely pretended to be a homeowner whose property supposedly was damaged by the City. But more important, California law specifically prohibits a City employee from steering public money to a relative. (In a sadly unsurprising turn of events, the employee’s son was later hired by Mr. Nuru.) The same Claims Unit employee also engaged in a complicated scheme apparently intended to disguise double payments of public money to another close personal friend. There’s much more. And the attorney who personally approved these fraudulent claims and many others is still in charge of the Claims Unit.
I was fired before I could complete my investigation. The City Attorney hoped that would be the end of it. It’s long past time for an independent agency to conduct a thorough review of the City Attorney’s Claims Unit, look into other “pay to play” practices which have gone on for years at City Hall, suggest reforms and make referrals for criminal prosecution if appropriate.
If the City Attorney’s Office truly believes it has nothing to hide, it should welcome an independent review. San Franciscans deserve to know the full story of what went on in the Claims Unit, and under Mr. Nuru’s watch in the Department of Public Works. More importantly, San Franciscans deserve to be able to trust that anything the City Attorney’s Office does in response to recent headlines will be thorough and impartial. They must be able to trust the watchdog.
Joanne Hoeper is the former Chief Trial Deputy at the City Attorney’s Office
Re: SFPD and the FBI article in Westside Observer
I have been away from the city for over seven weeks and so I did not have a chance to read Dr. Kerr’s informative front page article in the December 2019/January 2020 of the Westside Observer until today.
First, thank you for publishing your article in a paper where I have access as I normally don’t read The Mission Local or The Intercept. But I do read the Westside Observer where I find Dr. Kerr’s articles and the articles of other local writers worth reading.
Next, since I’ve been away, I also didn’t know about the hearing with Supervisor Mar on this matter. Do I contact him about the status of the investigation of the Joint Terrorism Task Force? And what about the ACLU lawyer? I would guess they both need to hear support from the community or in my case, Supervisor Mar is my district supe.
Next, are you planning to write a follow up article?
Finally, thank you for all that you have done to keep residents informed!
Herbert F. Mintz II
In response to the commentary (Quentin Kopp July/August ‘19) about the candidates in the District Attorney’s race and to correct the record on multiple counts. Distorting Suzy Loftus’s 15-year career in public service as an Assistant District Attorney for San Francisco, Special Assistant Attorney General, President of the San Francisco Police Commission, and Deputy Legal Counsel of the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department is disrespectful and disappointing.
Suzy Loftus put forward her proposal to change the way survivors are treated and how cases of sexual assault and rape are handled. Her work is informed by survivors of sexual assault, current and former prosecutors, community advocates, and policy experts.
There is more to justice than prosecution. Survivors deserve to have their needs prioritized. That includes expanding access to trauma-informed social services, mental health care, support groups, and victim advocacy.
Suzy is a proven and trusted advocate for women and survivors of violence:
As President, Suzy championed Police Commission Resolution 16-28, about the processing of sexual assault kits and notification to the survivors of the assaults about the results.
Suzy worked with the Police Commission to establish requirements for survivors to be notified of the status and progress of their case and set reporting requirements so the department would not end up with a backlog of cases.
Suzy’s landmark reforms became the gold standard that was later adopted by the California legislature and made into state law.
Additionally, the SF Police Officers Association’s has not made any endorsements in the race.
I hope that readers of the Westside Observer will look beyond misleading opinions and examine actual facts before voting in this election.
Tami Carter is a marketing and communications professional living in the Outer Sunset.
Freedom of Information Award
I’d like to add my congratulations to the Westside Observer for winning the Society of Professional Journalists–NorCal Chapter’s 2019 James Madison Freedom of Information Award in the Community News Category.
Just as the African proverb has it that it takes an entire village to raise a child, so too with neighborhood-based community newspapers: It takes an entire team of publishers, editors, feature writers, and human-interest contributors to crank out a monthly newspaper of interest to readers.
From Westside Observer publisher Mitch Bull and its editor Doug Comstock, to Barbara M. the proofreader, to feature writers, and to the many additional supporting contributors, this team makes a great “village” that — month after month — publishes the best damn neighborhood newspaper in all of San Francisco!
The James Madison FOI Awards recognize organizations and individuals who make significant contributions to advancing freedom of information and/or expression in the spirit of James Madison, the force behind our First Amendment. The awards are presented near Madison’s birthday and the National FOI Week.
SPJ–NorCal noted the Observer stands out among SF’s neighborhood newspapers for fostering citizen journalism based on public records disclosures. For 11 years, Mitch Bull and Doug Comstock have assembled a team of columnists who inform and give voice to Westside neighborhoods on matters of public concern.
Primary contributors such as George Wooding, John and Johnathan Farrell, Dr. Derek Kerr and Dr. Maria Rivero, Lou Barberini, Steve Lawrence, Brian Browne, Kathy Howard, and Nancy Weurfel — among many contributors — have each done a great job across the years writing feature stories focusing on First Amendment and open government Sunshine issues that the Examiner and Chronicle and few other community-based neighborhood newspapers ever publish as “local” news.
Regular contributors like Will Durst, Quentin Kopp, Brandon Miller, Carol Kocivar, Mitch Bull (Around the Town), and others, along with the Taraval Station Crime Reports, Sergio Nibbi’s witty travel observations, Julie Casson’s spot-on comics and Anise Matteson’s critically needed health reports as well as the monthly events calendar listings, round out the Observer, making it a truly neighborhood-interest focused newspaper.
My deepest respect to all of the contributors, and especially the feature article contributors, for having contributed to earning this community award.
Hopefully, this well-deserved award will go a long way toward attracting advertisers in this era of sadly shrinking newsprint. It is my hope that the Observer will continue to be in print journalism for a long time to come.
Congratulations to everyone in the Observer’s village! Onward …
City's Desperate Need For Skilled Nursing Beds
Thank you for your coverage of CPMC's decision to stop providing subacute skilled nursing services for San Francisco's most frail and vulnerable patients in Subacute Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs). It's been an eventful week for the patients, and I wanted to update you.
Subacute SNF patients from St. Luke's will displace the SNF Post Acute NH patients at Davies Medical Center. Rooms have been modified for the subacute patients but are very small compared to St. Luke's rooms and the activity room is small and not always available to the subacute patients (at St. Luke's this was the mobile one's "living room"). These beds will be subacute SNF beds only for as long as these patients live, per CPMC.
(However Title 22 requires that subacute SNF beds be separate and distinct from post acute SNF beds, have separate staff and distinct site, and "swing beds" between subacute SNF and SNF are illegal).
Families /patients met with CPMC last week, and 10 have decided not to consent to transfer, asking for a hearing.
If those individuals who refuse the transfer (likely due to lack of mitigation of transfer trauma or lack of communication about individualized care and/or appropriately trained staff) ask for a hearing (from the Office of Administrative and Hearing Appeals) those individuals cannot be transferred while the hearing is in process according to the attorney from CANHR, California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, it takes 2-3 weeks to schedule a hearing and a week to get the results.
Originally there were 39 SNF beds and 40 SNF Subacute beds at St. Luke's. St. Luke's can modify its plan for the medical office building to include these units. And I believe St. Luke's can find an interim place for these 39 SNF beds and 40 SNF Subacute Beds but they just want outta the business—not enough profit. Public Health Dept. estimates a citywide need for 70 Subacute SNF beds—so even if CPMC re-opens its 40 licensed subacute SNF beds at St. Luke's, there will still be a deficit.
That means spending taxpayers' money to replace beds closed by CPMC, which is subsidized by San Francisco on the basis of being non-profit.
Dr. Teresa Palmer
No on A in June
P.T. Barnum, the great American circus entrepreneur said "you can fool some of the people, some of the time, but not all of the people, all of the time." Guess what? The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) believes you can fool all of the people, all of the time.
They have Proposition A on the June 2018 ballot asking you to cede your remaining rights to approve SFPUC's unconstrained borrowing and near under-supervised spending.
There is more bad news. The SFPUC has identified the failed Revenue Bond Oversight Committee (RBOC) as the watchdog as to how these new funds will be spent. I was hoping they would have at least gone upscale and suggested, from my perspective, more viable oversight-alternatives, such as Bernie Madoff, Bonnie and Clyde, Ned Kelly, Machine Gun Kelly, John Dillinger, or Al Capone.
In 2002 the voters conceded to the board the right to issue revenue bonds for water and wastewater. Now the SFPUC wants the whole 9 yards. Water, wastewater, and to complete the triad, power. The SFPUC has revenue bond debt of $5.3 billion (water and wastewater) costing ratepayers approximately 4 percent per annum. Twenty percent of this is in a non-productive slush fund earning less than 1 percent. Ratepayers pay for this lack of planning.
This fund is overseen in degree by the (RBOC) those who engineered the derailing of the lofty ideals of the 2002 Proposition P. Prop P purportedly created an independent ratepayer organization known as the RBOC to audit the way public bond money was spent. Today the the RBOC is basically an automatic rubber stamp for poorly-supervised debt-issuance and spending. Vote No on A.
SF 827 is Unwise
SB 827 is Sen Scott Wiener 's poorly conceived initiative to force High Density Housing near public transit by waiving-off the progress of a half century of wise urban planning and development in the cause of a housing jihad. The legislation waives local government's General Plan, mandatory Housing and Transportation elements, and their zoning, density, design, parking and other restrictions on high density housing close to transit.
That's why the West of Twin Peaks Central Council, representing our residential neighborhoods, and the League of California Cities representing over 300 cities voted to oppose this misguided effort.
That is why the generalization above that, "higher density development near transit is the greenest most progressive thing we can do in the US today" is so sweeping as to be delusional.
I'm not opposed to housing, and have a long history of personal and professional involvement in housing, as well as local/state civil service in promoting affordable housing — from writing one the earliest state-mandated housing elements to steering — sometimes negotiating — public private partnerships to construct affordable housing and agreements that funded non-profit housing for the homeless. If I have any bias regarding housing it is a healthy skepticism that the "housing crisis"— is not, that preserving the unique historical and architectural character and quality of our residential neighborhoods is every bit as valid as Mr. Wiener's "housing jihad," and that SB 827 is not the "silver bullet." If passed, I doubt it would add more than 1% of the new housing stock we see in the next decade.
For over three decades the mantra of rational and accountable urban development has been summarized in three words: "Jobs/Housing balance!" But Mr. Wiener's bill offers no "balance" to the mistakes of the past. It circumvents local design standards and guts the minimum parking requirements that contribute to the unique character and quality of our neighborhoods where — public transit or not — automobiles remain a reality. Finally SB 827 circumvents resident participation in the local decisions and self determination by Cities, counties, and neighborhoods, with a proposal that will compromise so many other values we hold dear.
Mr. Wiener and his tech allies now seek to use State legislation to compensate for years of ignoring the "jobs/housing balance" as they sought the benefit of the pro-tech public support while he served on the SF Board of Supervisors.
Bob Switzer lives on the Westside
SFPUC Invests in Vital Services #AlwaysOn
We at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) know that San Franciscans expect high-quality tap water, as well as safe disposal of treated sewage to protect our public health and the health of the Bay and ocean. It's our job to worry about those things so you won't have to. But the bottom line is that we need additional support from our ratepayers to make critical upgrades necessary to serve San Francisco—today, tomorrow, and decades down the road.
The services we provide you are funded 100% by your monthly water and sewer bill. Your payments help maintain and upgrade an extensive array of infrastructure that we depend on to collect, treat and deliver clean, reliable water, and safely collect and treat wastewater before returning it to the Bay and ocean. And, just as your car needs regular maintenance and upgrades to keep it in good working order, so do your water and sewer systems. Here are the imminent priorities:
The Southeast Wastewater Treatment Plant is the frontline protector of basic public health for a majority of the City. It treats both sewage and stormwater runoff for 80% of the City, and key facilities are in need of an upgrade. Built in 1952, some components still use 1940s technology. Many of its facilities have not been retrofitted to withstand the next major earthquake. We are making major upgrades to this plant and the system that serves it as part of Phase 1 of the $2.9 billion dollar Sewer System Improvement Program (SSIP).
On the water side, our $4.8 billion Water System Improvement Program (WSIP) to repair, replace, and seismically upgrade the water system is now 95% complete. We must complete this program and continue to upgrade key pipelines and other critical components of the system to ensure high-quality 24/7 services to you.
We also maintain over 1,000 miles of water transmission pipelines and are responsible for almost 2,000 miles of sewer lines within the city of San Francisco alone. And—just as for a well-maintained car—planned system repairs over time are far easier and less expensive than emergency fixes after a break.
Water and sewer rate increases are necessary to pay for these vital system upgrades. We are planning an approximate annual rate increase of 8% for water and sewer rates over the next four years. For the average single-family residential household that pays $108 on its current monthly bill this increase translates to about an additional $10 per month each year, with more than 80% of that amount funding critical upgrades and investments.
As responsible stewards of ratepayer money, we do not take these proposed rates increases lightly. By law, we can only charge you the cost for providing services to you, nothing more, and nothing less. Now these pending and critical upgrades require an additional investment.
Setting rates is a public process that involves several oversight bodies and independent analysis. The Rate Fairness Board (RFB), composed of SFPUC customers and other appointees, is currently reviewing proposed rate plans, holding public meetings and providing recommendations to ensure affordability, stability, and fairness.
We invite you to be part of this public process and attend the March 30, 2018 meeting held at 525 Golden Gate Ave. to share your feedback. To learn more about this process and your rates, please visit sfwater.org/rates.
Fire System Impressive
After reading Plan to Protect Neighborhoods from Fire Abandoned, in the November Westside Observer, I was alarmed. Fearing the worst, I asked for an interview with the Public Utility Commision (SFPUC) and the Fire Department (SFFD). Generously, on January 31, both agencies provided the most recent update on fire protection in San Francisco. Instead of the SFPUC and the SFFD being at odds with each other, I found just the opposite, after speaking to the Assistant Deputy Chief Anthony Rivera and John Scarpulla from the SFPUC. Improvements of the system include:
• A robust hydraulic model system to provide reliable information about what damage can occur in a 7.8 earthquake. After a designed 7.8 earthquake, the existing system was realized to be 47% reliable and many improvements were needed.
• Provide enough water to put out fires. The three existing reservoirs were repaired so they did not leak. Repairing these leaks saved 150 million gallons a year.
The existing system had 11.5 million gallons, to which the Sunset reservoir will be added to provide another 11.5 million gallons. Then, the University Mound Reservoir will be added providing another 70 million gallons of water. Lastly, the water from Lake Merced will add another 1 billion gallons of water to the system. Now, there is enough water to fight fires!
• In addition, there are 3 fire boats instead of one. These boats can pump water to pipe along numerous locations beside the Embarcadero, adding salt water to an AWSS system beside the Bay.
*After inspecting the Flexible Water Service System (FWSS) the pipe was found to be too heavy and this system abandoned. Each segment of pipe weighed 350 pounds and was actually designed for oil well producers.
• Today, fire hose is not limited to 150 feet for each fire engine but instead can be as long as one mile or 5,280 feet with pressure being added to the hose making it even more useful.
• The AWSS pipe proposed for the new system is called Kabota pipe. This pipe has movable joints on sliders and did not fail in Japan with a 9.0 earthquake.
• A date for he installation of the Kabota pipe in the Sunset/Richmond district is set for 2019. This pipe will be part a loop system that can be separated with valves, so that should one portion of the pipe be broken, pressure can be maintained elsewhere to fight fire.
• The new fire fighting system must be flexible so that new technologies can be added to the new system in the future.
Needless to say, after hearing these improvement planned for our new fire fighting system, I was very impressed.
Glenn Rogers is a Landscape Architect working on the west side of San Francisco.
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