Saturday, February 17, 2018


Donald Trump Jr. has five children.

Contrary to Todd's claim, there is doubt about what the Second Amendment actually says, but our right-wing Supreme Court has burdened the country with a false interpretation.

Timothy Egan in today's NY Times (The Bad Parent Caucus):

“You have people who care about you, who love you, and who will do anything at all to protect you,” said Trump, in addressing the children of America. That is a flat-out lie, which is chewing gum to Trump. 

If the adults were really willing to take any measure to protect them, Trump wouldn’t have signed a bill last year making it easier for mentally ill people to get guns.

If the “people who care about you” really wanted to ensure your safety, they wouldn’t have led a filibuster in the Senate, as Mitch McConnell did in 2013, to prevent an expansion of simple background checks for purchasers of firearms.

If those “who love you” wanted to show that love, they would say something more than the platitudinous mush that came out of the mouth of the do-nothing House speaker, Paul Ryan, whose response to the latest mass killing was, “I think we need to pray.”

See also To Keep and Bear Arms by Garry Wills.

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Friday, February 16, 2018

The New Yorker


Golden State Warriors: Crybabies

Scott Ostler nails it in this morning's Chronicle:

Crybabies. You would think that the defending league champions, hitting midseason with the league’s second-best record (a half-game behind Houston), would not be the poster team for bitching at refs. You would be so, so wrong.

The Warriors are struggling, relatively speaking, leaking a little oil, including even a ghastly recent two-game losing streak. Still, why all the whining? The Warriors lead the league in technical fouls with 41. Green is the league’s most-T’d player, 14. Durant is tied for second with 11, and leads in ejections with four.

Green, in some ways the ultimate team player, can’t manage to put his team ahead of his need to whine about the same horrible calls experienced by every player in the league.

Curry got tossed for flinging his pacifier (actually his mouth-guard) in the direction of a ref. The poet-like Shaun Livingston literally bumped heads with a ref.

The perpetual disconnect between NBA refs and players has risen to a crisis level this season, in no small part because the best team can’t shut its yap and play ball.

Rob's comment:
As a Warriors fan, I find it embarrassing. Draymond Green is the worst offender. He seems to have some mental health/anger issues that he and the team should address.

Speaking of embarrassment and the Warriors: Those mystifying Town jerseys are supposedly a tribute to Oakland, a "town" they are planning to dump as soon as their new traffic-snarling stadium is finished here in SF. What crap! And an insult to Oakland, as the billionaire owners of the Warriors evidently think that the brand requires a classier address than Oakland/Nowheresville:

Warriors guard Stephen Curry, who has been with the franchise since 2009, said he quickly learned about “The Town” and the history behind it. The former Oakland resident is excited to wear “The Town” jerseys at Oracle Arena. “It’s amazing for the organization to recognize ‘The Town’ and the city that supported them through the dog days and some tough times and bright spots, obviously,” Curry said. “Knowing we are soon moving to San Francisco, it’s a silent effort to show the loyalty to the city and the history as well. There have been a lot of great days here. Hopefully, the fans from the East Bay and Oakland can rally around that.”

Some "loyalty"! And some "amazing" bullshit from a great basketball player who should just shut up and play ball. 

And kissing the boss's ass was a terrible look for Curry and set a bad example for the kids who idolize him:

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

One of these is not like the others

7J7C7725 copy
San Francisco Citizen

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The Repugs love guns

From Daily Kos:
Gee, what a surprise: They're all Republicans.


Sen. John McCain (R-AR) $7,740,521

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) $6,986,620 

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) $4,551,146

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) $4,418,012

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) $3,879,064

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FLA) $3,303,355

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) $3,124,273

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) $3,061,941

Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) $2,896,732

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) $2,861,047

Rep. French Hill (R-AR) $1,089,477

Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) $800,544

Rep. David Young (R-IA) $707,662

Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) $385,731

Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) $344,630

Rep. Don Young (R-AK) $245,720

Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-PA) $221,736

Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-ME) $201,398

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) $158,111

Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) $137,232

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

PARKLAND, FL—In the hours following a violent rampage in Florida in which a lone attacker killed 17 individuals and seriously injured over a dozen others, citizens living in the only country where this kind of mass killing routinely occurs reportedly concluded Wednesday that there was no way to prevent the massacre from taking place. 

“This was a terrible tragedy, but sometimes these things just happen and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them,” said Indiana resident Harold Turner, echoing sentiments expressed by tens of millions of individuals who reside in a nation where over half of the world’s deadliest mass shootings have occurred in the past 50 years and whose citizens are 20 times more likely to die of gun violence than those of other developed nations. 

“It’s a shame, but what can we do? There really wasn’t anything that was going to keep this individual from snapping and killing a lot of people if that’s what he really wanted.” 

At press time, residents of the only economically advanced nation in the world where roughly two mass shootings have occurred every month for the past eight years were referring to themselves and their situation as “helpless.”

See also This is who we are and "A well-regulated militia" defined, which discusses the the conservative Big Lie about the Second Amendment. 

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Jim Morin


The YIMBY Alliance: Scott Wiener, unions, developers, and the Democratic Party

YIMBYs are not a grassroots movement in the traditional sense. They're more like a Silicon Valley version of grassroots: meaning it’s not that YIMBYs by and large lack opportunities to achieve their goals, it’s just that they don’t have enough money to get what they want, right now.

Senator Scott Wiener, like Senator Daryl Steinberg before him (who brought us SB-375 and Plan Bay Area), is strongly supported by construction unions, who stand to benefit from more development and particularly from the stipulation that new development require workers to be paid federally mandated, prevailing wages. All of Wiener’s proposed legislation includes provisions that new development pays union wages, which means smaller, local contractors will be shut out of the construction jobs created in each community.

11 out of Wiener’s top 14 donors are real estate and construction related groups. These include (in order of amounts donated), The State Building & Construction Trades Council, California Association of Realtors, Northern California Regional Council of Carpenters, Operating Engineers Local 3, and others.

Wiener and SB-827 are also strongly supported by a cabal of planning professionals and academics grounded in the dictates of “New Urbanism,” and by the Bay Area Council and major tech companies in need of housing for their employees (over 120 tech executives have endorsed SB-827).

None of this is surprising or nefarious, but it’s worth being aware of.

YIMBY organizations are also well-funded and by and large those identifying themselves as YIMBYs are educated, entitled young urban professionals (“Yuppies”). They are not poor, victims of racism or redlining by lenders, disenfranchised or otherwise precluded from job opportunities or the ability to live anywhere they can afford.

Brian Hanlon, the executive director of California YIMBY, who claims to have drafted SB-827 with Wiener, has been quite vocal about his financial backing from top Silicon Valley tech executives. In mid-2017, Hanlon received $500,000 from tech bigwigs like Microsoft executive Nat Friedman and Pantheon CEO Zack Rosen. His stated goal is now to get the backing of big development interests...

Rob's comment:
Though I'm a Democrat, I have to point out that Wiener also supports the dumb high-speed rail project, which of course is also supported by the construction unions that support Wiener. After all, even stupid, wasteful projects create jobs for the unions, which is all they really care about. It's a formidable alliance with a liberal patina: unions, the Democratic Party, and developers.

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Monday, February 12, 2018

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Milos Teodosic

Forget about football and soccer. The concussion issue makes those sports indefensible. Besides, for sheer athleticism, basketball is superior to both.

Watch Milos Teodosic make the game look almost as easy as Stephen Curry does in the world's best basketball league. 

In today's NY Times:

It’s a true shame that N.B.A. assistant coaches overlooked Teodosic in the voting for the annual Rising Stars game featuring first- and second-year players that gets All-Star Weekend underway in earnest next Friday night. The All-Star festivities are in Los Angeles this season and Teodosic belongs in that game not only as a showman supreme who sports the bonus of local ties but because of his impact for the better-than-expected Clippers, who are 17-8 when he’s in uniform and 11-18 when he’s out. Heading into Monday night’s game in Brooklyn, L.A. is also a meaty plus-5.8 points per 100 possessions better this season when he is on the floor compared to when he sits.

See also Hits to the Head May Cause Immediate Brain Damage and Soccer Ball Heading May Cause Concussion Symptoms.

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Public opinion poll: Bike lanes not popular

Click for large view

Not surprising to me that "removing traffic lanes in various locations around the city to install bike only lanes" didn't do very well in the latest Chamber of Commerce poll: 47% support and 46% oppose

That's why the Bicycle Coalition and its enablers in City Hall have never tried to put the Bicycle Plan---or any of its component projects, like the Masonic Avenue bike project or the Polk Street bike project---on the ballot for the city's voters to decide. Way too risky, since rejection would imperil the whole goofy anti-car policy that removes traffic lanes and parking on busy city streets to make bike lanes and a government that preys on everyone who drives in the city.

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Sunday, February 11, 2018

President Trump: Hypocrite

From the Friendly Atheist:

...Donald Trump spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast, the same event at which he once promised a repeal of the Johnson Amendment (which never happened) and trashed Arnold Schwarzenegger.

He didn’t make any promises this time, and he stuck to the prepared remarks, but that didn’t mean his speech was without glaring problems.

Just take a look at the transcript and you’ll see why this speech wasn’t just some generic support for people of faith. It was specific support for Christians at the expense of everybody else. And it perpetuated the myth of the “Christian nation” at every turn:

America is a nation of believers, and together we are strengthened by the power of prayer. This morning, our hearts are full of gratitude as we come together for the 66th annual National Prayer Breakfast.

That’s a lie. We are a nation of believers and non-believers, and the latter group is growing at an incredibly fast rate. Americans United for Separation of Church and State noted that even President Obama made sure to be inclusive of people who didn’t believe in the majority religion.

...It’s not hard for politicians to be personally religious yet still acknowledge that some Americans aren’t interested in being people of faith. President Barack Obama is a Christian yet when he spoke about faith, he often included non-believers when discussing the incredible range of religious and philosophical thought in the country.

Trump also suggested our nation was Christian at its core because of the ways God is referenced in our history:

Each year, this event reminds us that faith is central to American life and to liberty. Our founders invoked our Creator four times in the Declaration of Independence. Our currency declares, “In God We Trust.” (Applause.) And we place our hands on our hearts as we recite the Pledge of Allegiance and proclaim we are “One Nation Under God.” (Applause.)

Notice that he refers to the Declaration of Independence and not the Constitution, which has no reference to a Creator. (As the saying goes, the word “religion” appears twice in the Constitution, both times preceded by the word “no.”)

“In God We Trust” is on our currency for the same reason “One Nation Under God” is in the Pledge. They were shoved in there in the 1950s as a conservative response to the scourge of Communism, not because there’s some inherent truth to those statements. They were political moves. And Trump used them as evidence of some mythical historical Christianity our nation is founded upon...

See also Amazing Disgrace.

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President Trump: Chickenhawk

Draft dodger Trump in 1968, when he got his first deferment

Letter to the editor in today's Chronicle:

Regarding “Trump’s parade” (News of the Day, Nation, Feb. 7): I choked on my breakfast cereal this morning when I read in the News of the Day about Donald Trump wanting an elaborate parade to show appreciation for the military. I suppose he appreciated the military by deftly avoiding it with five deferments during the heat of the Vietnam War, thereby not subjecting dedicated soldiers to his bullying and narcissism.

Holly Hadlock
Mill Valley

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"Not a cigarette paper's worth of difference"

All the candidates support the high-speed rail project

Willie Brown in this morning's Chronicle:

London Breed backers are targeting former state Sen. Mark Leno for supposedly benefiting from the “backroom deal” that bounced Breed out of the acting mayor’s job. Leno notes that Breed is being helped out by a super PAC and declares that “big money” needs to stay out of the race.

And both Leno and Angela Alioto want “acting mayor” — the title Breed held at the mayoral campaign filing deadline — to be struck from her ballot designation.

The real story behind all this is that there isn’t a cigarette paper’s worth of difference between the candidates on the major issues.

All are calling for more affordable housing. All are calling for compassionate but firm care for the homeless. All say auto break-ins have to stop and that traffic is terrible.

But none of them has a concrete answer for how they will do any of it. It’s all about them — and none of it is about us.

Rob's comment:
Brown is right. That's also why city politicians and their supporters resort to playing the race card: there are few significant political differences between them, since they are all liberal Democrats.

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Why Americans rely on cars

Figure 1: Share of all commuters by mode, 2016

Brookings hates to admit it, but most Americans still rely on cars to get to work. They report the facts with a rebuke:

It’s impossible to look at American commuting habits and not report the obvious: Americans are still largely dependent on the automobile. Over 76 percent of Americans drive alone to work every day, while another 9 percent carpool with someone else. Considering that ACS counted 150 million workers in 2016, that’s at least 115 million cars and trucks hitting American streets every day. It’s no wonder congestion is so pervasive during morning and afternoon rush hours.

These driving rates come at a real cost to American households. Owning and maintaining a private vehicle is expensive...

But transit systems can't realistically solve the First Mile/Last Mile problem for many people.


Saturday, February 10, 2018

Most working people in the US need cars

SCAG: Southern California Association of Governments

[Later: I changed the hed on this post to reflect the reality]
This recent headline brought the bad news to Streetblog LA's readers: New UCLA Study Examines Transit Ridership Decline, Blames Increased Car Ownership:

While the diagnosis is far from conclusive, and nearly no prescriptions are offered, the report attributes the Southern California region’s falling [transit]ridership to increases in car ownership, especially among folks who have historically tended to ride transit: low-income immigrants, especially Latinos.

Immigrants and other working people understand that cars expand their job search to a a wider area and then make commuting to a job easier than on public transportation.

Streetsblog SF found the news so disturbing it didn't pick up the LA story. 

A report a few years ago by The Urban Institute---"Driving to Opportunity"---reached the following conclusions:

The importance of automobiles arises not because of the inherent superiority of the mode, but because public transit systems in most metropolitan areas are slow, inconvenient, and lack sufficient metropolitan-wide coverage to rival the automobile.

Cars facilitate searching for and commuting to jobs and therefore increase the likelihood of finding and retaining employment. Conversely, employment can provide households with the necessary resources to purchase automobiles; income is one of the strongest correlates of automobile ownership. 

In general, automobile ownership is associated with higher employment rates, weekly hours worked, and hourly earnings. Automobile ownership also reduces racial disparities in employment rates and unemployment duration.

Automobiles can be particularly important for low-income women who often juggle paid work with household-serving responsibilities and would benefit greatly from the flexibility offered by driving.

None of that is true when you only own a bike and don't have a car.

Randal O'Toole's interpretation of the UCLA study:

...But FTA data show Los Angeles Metro increasing rail service as it decreased bus service, with increasing rail ridership offset several times over by decreasing bus ridership. It is not hard to imagine that the growth in higher-income riders is mainly on rail while the decline in low-income riders was mainly on buses. The agency apparently made a conscious decision to sacrifice low-income riders so it could gain more high-income riders. My conclusion is that keeping fares low helped maintain ridership in the face of increasing auto ownership before 2007. But a stiff fare hike in 2008 led to a vicious cycle of declining ridership and service cuts that mainly affected low-income bus riders.

Driving to Opportunity

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Friday, February 09, 2018

The folly of playing the race card in San Francisco

Photo: Mira Laing for the S.F. Examiner

Unless there's some kind of explicit racism involved, playing the race card in the city always makes the player look foolish. Hillary Ronen's over-wrought speech at the board of supervisors' meeting during which London Breed was unseated as interim mayor, is no exception, since Ronen, a white woman, played both the race and the gender cards. Both were irrelevant. 

Joe Eskenazi's account:

At the tail end of last night’s marathon meeting, Mission District Supervisor Hillary Ronen launched into a 10-minute stem-winder of a speech...Ronen praised Breed and her supporters — “I can hear the love in the room....I have to say it,” Ronen continued, “there are white, rich men, billionaires, in this city who have steered the policies of the past two mayoral administrations. If not more. They got us into this absolute mess we are in today, where poor people and people of color cannot afford to live in this city,” the supervisor continued. “It is absolutely ridiculous and outrageous and it weighs on me as a supervisor. I can’t sleep at night. I hate to say it, I wish it weren’t so, but those white men are so enthusiastically supporting your candidacy, London Breed. And what you haven’t heard because you’re not in this inside world we all inhabit in City Hall is that they’ve been threatening people. They’re all saying if you don’t support London Breed that people’s careers will be ruined...It is happening right now in this Board of Supervisors chamber..."

Conway denies threatening anyone, and none of the other supervisors corroborated her claim. Breed's supporters in turn shrilly accused those who voted to oust her of racism.

Ronen is in the wrong business if she expects people with money to support her brand of liberal politics. And what exactly are her politics? Aside from Conway's money, how does her brand of politics differ significantly from Breed's? After all, both are liberals---as is Conway himself.

I've blogged about playing the race card here in Progressive Land more than a dozen times since 2005, beginning with a post about some foolishness about a proposed Starbucks in Japantown.

Randy Shaw played the race card against the Bay Guardian: Playing the race card in San Francisco.

Rose Pak played the race card against white critics of the Central Subway project: Rose Pak plays the race card.

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Thursday, February 08, 2018

Latest PR campaign by the MTA: "Groundplay"


The MTA is now campaigning
for more people to sign up to build parklets in front of their businesses. This is done under the latest incarnation of the old Pavement to Parks department, which has morphed into something called "Groundplay":

San Francisco’s Office of Economic & Workforce Development (OEWD) and the Planning Department’s Groundplay Program have issued a request for proposals (RFP) for up to two Neighborhood Parklet Opportunity Grants...OEWD and Planning are seeking proposals from non-profit organizations and small businesses to enhance and support public spaces via the installation of a parklet. Parklets support commercial districts, contribute to the vibrancy of neighborhoods, and provide needed gathering space. Each grant is for up to $20,000, to be matched with a 35 percent contribution by the selected applicant(s).

First: a "vibrant" alert!

If you stumble on the Groundplay website without this kind of intro, you can't tell from all the happy-talk that it's a city project unless you scroll to the bottom of the screen.

Parklets "support commercial districts" by taking away customer parking that local businesses need.

From the website:

Groundplay works with ordinary San Franciscans to build temporary installations that turn underused public spaces into joyful community places. Do you have an idea for transforming an area of your neighborhood? Come play with us. Together, we can break new ground.

"Temporary installations"? If the Divisadero business district is any indication, parklets are permanent, since both the original parklet in front of the bike coffee house that recently went belly-up and another by the defunct Cafe Abir at Fulton and Diviz are still there. 

Will the parking spaces removed to make the parklets be restored? Are the property owners now responsible for maintaining those vibrant "installations"?

Speaking of defunct, by my count there are now 13 empty storefronts on Diviz between McAllister and Haight. The coming recession---the country is overdue for one---will hollow out a lot of other properties.

Hard to understand how property owners can afford to leave storefronts empty.

See also Cow Hollow shops struggle to survive.

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The bad hair life of a phony

Like the train wreck as a metaphor for the state of the Republican Party, this video of his errant comb-over is a good metaphor for Donald Trump as a phony.

...It was the worst hair day of what has been a bad hair life. And it may seem cheap and low to mock Trump’s absurd efforts to conceal his hair loss. But Trump is a man obsessed with image in ways that go beyond the normal human concern with looking presentable. Image is Trump’s moral code. He dismisses his political rivals for being short. He sees his succession of wives as visual testament to his own status. He selects his Cabinet on the basis of their looking the part. He conscripts the military as a prop to bathe himself in an aura of presidential grandeur.

Trump’s absurd hair is of a piece with his lifelong attempt to market himself as a brilliant deal-maker and stable genius. So yes, it is okay to laugh when the ruse is exposed.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Ranked Choice Voting: The illusion of choice

Sorry to see this in the recent message from Affordable Divis, which is providing "Ranked Choice Voting Training for Activists and Organizers."

Affordable Divis elaborates on Facebook:

Ranked choice voting (RCV) gives voters greater choice and a stronger voice---it also makes election results much more representative of the voting base. This June, voters will be ranking their ballots to elect the next San Francisco mayor. In the 2011 mayoral race, 84.1% of San Francisco voters ranked two or more candidates. It is anticipated that at least 75% of voters will rank their ballot with two or more candidates for the mayoral race this year. Affordable Divis is offering a free hands-on training and strategy session for organizers in San Francisco who want to better understand RCV.

Actually, RCV provides only the illusion of choice, since it's often hard to find even one acceptable candidate.

No "training" is necessary, since political strategy under RCV is simple: advise your candidate to avoid taking stands on issues that might fall outside the mushy prevailing "progressive" San Francisco political consensus. With that fuzzy approach to issues, you might get the second or third choice from voters who will see you as a safe alternative to their first choice. 

Even better: make a deal, either explicit or implicit, with other candidates and agree to avoid sharp-edged criticism of each other. You might even list such opponents as good second or third choices on your campaign literature.

When the RCV system was on the ballot in 2002, the Voters Advisory Commission warned about the negative political results of the system:

...there could be collusion between various candidates to be listed on each other’s campaign literature as their second or third choices. The cost of that collusion would be to reduce the level of meaningful debate on the issues and to hide ideological differences. The losers would be the voters and the media who would be unable to discern one candidate from another.

Exactly. Which is why a run-off election between the two candidates with the most votes---assuming neither gets more than 50% in the primary---is crucial to allow voters to clearly distinguish the candidates after a debate on the issues. The only real advantage of RCV: the city saves money by not paying for run-off elections.

This is how London Breed was elected District 5 Supervisor in the first place, since she only got 27.87% of the votes in the first round, and Christina Olague was second with 19.75%. A run-off between the two candidates would have been helpful to voters. It turned out that Breed was the perfect RCV candidate---uninformed but black, a woman, photogenic---she was elected on second and third choices after a campaign that avoided serious debate on issues.

Dean Preston, the primary political figure behind Affordable Divis, followed the cautious, issue-lite RCV strategy outlined above when he ran against Breed in 2016---and he almost won.

This is how Breed's political ally on the board, Malia Cohen, was originally elected in District 10, as George Wooding explained after the vote:

For example, newly-elected District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen won by receiving only 11.7% of first-place votes cast in her district. After 19 rounds of ballot counting, she finally received 51% of the remaining votes by tallying 2,878 total votes. Less than 50% of District 10 voters even voted for Cohen. Cohen won because she was the best at attracting second-and third-place votes of candidates who were eliminated. Is this representative democracy?

No, it isn't. Instead it gives voters the illusion of choice with a system that's designed to limit debate on important city issues and rewards candidates who can best game the system by avoiding any discussion that might alienate a constituency.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2018

On the ballot: No eviction without representation

January 26, 2018: A coalition of tenant groups, neighborhood leaders, and senior advocates gathered today on the steps of San Francisco City Hall to submit 21,946 petition signatures---more than double the number of signatures required---to the Department of Elections to qualify a historic tenant protection initiative for the June 5, 2018 San Francisco ballot. At least 9,485 valid petition signatures from registered San Francisco voters are required to qualify the initiative for the June ballot.

“The overwhelming success of this petition drive shows that voters are ready for bold steps to stop our displacement crisis,” said Dean Preston, longtime tenant advocate and the ballot measure proponent. “A right to counsel for tenants facing eviction will deter unfair evictions and prevent homelessness.”

If qualified for the ballot and approved by voters in June, the No Eviction Without Representation Initiative would give all San Francisco being evicted from their home the right to legal representation, making San Francisco the first city in California to provide a right to counsel for tenants facing eviction. Last year, New York City became the first city in the nation to enact a tenants’ right to counsel law. Currently, in eviction legal proceedings in San Francisco, most tenants have no legal representation.

“I grew up here, and my living situation is stable, but I’ve been collecting signatures because I want others whose home is here in San Francisco to not be needlessly uprooted, especially working class people of color,” said Rhonda Smith, a tenant in the Visitation Valley neighborhood of San Francisco.

“Tenants have been scared out of their apartments by corporate landlords for too long, but with legal representation, we have a chance to stay in our homes,” said Sekani Moyenda, a retired elementary school teacher who has lived in the Western Addition neighborhood for over 20 years. She was able to prevent being evicted from her home because she had legal representation – which the vast majority of tenants now do not.

The Department of Elections has 30 days to review the petition signatures to confirm that more than the required number of valid signatures were submitted.

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SF's traffic congestion among the worst

From Fortune Magazine:

San Francisco is the third most congested city in the US and the fifth most congested city in the world---and we already knew that city streets are among the worst maintained in the country:

Five of the top 10 most congested cities in the world are located in the United States, according to a global traffic scorecard published annually by Inrix, a company that aggregates and analyzes traffic data collected from vehicles and highway infrastructure.

Los Angeles is the most congested city in the world, followed by New York City and Moscow, which are tied for the second place spot. San Francisco is the fifth most congested. (emphasis added) Atlanta and Miami also make the top 10 list.

The scorecard is based on an analysis of 1,360 cities. The congestion data provides insight into each city’s unique set of transportation problems and how they might be solved (or made worse) with technology and new forms of transportation such as ride-hailing, car-sharing, and eventually self-driving vehicles. 

It also shows what the transportation headaches are costing drivers and the city (meaning taxpayers) that must pay for road improvements and infrastructure maintenance.

Angelenos spent an average of 102 hours last year in traffic jams during peak congestion hours, costing drivers $2,828 each and the city $19.2 billion from direct and indirect costs. Direct costs relate to the value of fuel and time wasted, and indirect costs refer to freight and business fees from company vehicles idling in traffic. Those fees are then passed on to households through higher prices, according to Inrix.

The top 10 most congested cities in the world are:

1. Los Angeles
2. New York City (tie)
2. Moscow (tie)
4. Sao Paulo, Brazil
5. San Francisco
6. Bogotá
7. London
8. Atlanta
9. Paris
10. Miami

The top 10 most congested cities in the U.S. are:

1. Los Angeles
2. New York City
3. San Francisco
4. Atlanta
5. Miami
6. Washington, D.C.
7. Boston
8. Chicago
9. Seattle
10. Dallas

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"Stop throwing good money after bad"

The Cedar Viaduct of California's high-speed rail project is under construction in Fresno, California, on Monday, July 10, 2017. A $20 billion segment between Fresno and San Jose is scheduled to open by 2025. (Gary Reyes/ Bay Area News Group)
Gary Reyes, Bay Area News Group

The state's proposed High-Speed Rail project has been getting some well-deserved bad press. In this message we are providing you with some links to the most important stories and editorial statements. If you haven't seen these stories, then click on the links and find out how newspapers around the state are finally reporting on what is really going on.

Here is the bottom line: Reality is closing in on the state's High-Speed Rail Authority and its mismanaged project. Even the legislature has now recognized that an audit of the project is absolutely necessary. Maybe, when that audit is filed, the legislature will take action to stop wasting more state and federal dollars...

The "vision" of a High-Speed train linking the state from north to south has always been attractive. At some point though---and we may be there---our public officials need to compare the "vision" to the actual facts in the real world, and to realize that the people of the state have been sold on a "vision" with no reality to back it up.

That kind of analysis is what the press is now doing. Public scrutiny has led to the recently mandated state audit, and here is what any fair audit is going to discover: the authority has ignored the requirements of the law, has tried to wish away the facts, and has wasted the money that both federal and state taxpayers have made available. The authority's proposed project cannot be completed as promised, so every additional dollar spent will be wasted...

You can read all about it by clicking these links:

On January 21, 2018, in a very well researched article, The Los Angeles Times' reporter Ralph Vartabedian says the proposed project is facing an "existential crisis," because it doesn't appear that the project can be completed, period.

On that same day, January 21, 2018, a letter to the Mercury News accurately noted that the "high-speed rail project is raiding highway funds," as the governor and the authority scramble to avoid the total collapse of the project.

On January 22, 2018, an article in The Business Journal outlined all the problems and said, "we're all on the hook."

On January 25, 2018, in a strong editorial, the San Jose Mercury News says, "it makes no sense to continue wasting billions on a high-speed rail system that will probably never be completed and certainly will never live up to its billing." The Mercury News started out supporting the project, but when it became clear what was going on the paper deemed the project a "fraud." In this editorial, the Mercury News called it a "fiasco," and said the state "should stop throwing good money after bad."

On January 30, 2018, as reported in The Sacramento Bee, an official audit of the project has been ordered on a bi-partisan basis. Until this moment, no Democratic elected official has ever been willing seriously to question what's going on.

On February 4, 2018, in another article in The Los Angeles Times, Ralph Vartabedian documented what he called "a painful spectacle up and down the Central Valley." The Authority has bought up more than 1,272 parcels which they are not even close to using, creating "a 119-mile corridor of abandoned commercial buildings, vacant lots, dying orchards, boarded up homes and construction sites," which are now "an eyesore and a magnet for criminal activity that is affecting the surrounding areas. It has put stress on already hard-luck communities that grapple with poverty, homelessness and crime."

A rail property is strewn with trash in Fresno.
Los Angeles Times

It may just be that the end is near for the state's proposed High-Speed Rail project. It is great to have a "vision," but that's not enough. Actual performance is always the bottom line. CC-HSR will definitely keep you posted. We will let you know about our pending court challenge, too, which is now scheduled to be heard this month. 

As a final news story, read this analysis from The Almanac by CC-HSR Board Member Mike Brady, who documents some of the outstanding issues about the Caltrain electrification project, pointing out that viable alternatives to the current project can reduce costs up to 80%.[Rob's note: The comments to this op-ed are interesting]

Rob's comment:
From the beginning, this group has done the most thorough analysis of every issue on this dumb project.

To make a credit card donation, please go to the CC-HSR website and find the "Donate" button. Or, you can just click here. Credit Card donations will go 100% to CC-HSR.

To contribute by check, please send your contribution to:

Community Coalition On High-Speed Rail 
2995 Woodside Road #400
Woodside, CA 94062

If you would like most of your contribution tax-deductible, please make your check out to CC-HSR, but mark the memo line as follows: "75% Tax-Deductible." You should mail that check to CC-HSR at the address above.

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