Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The terrorists among us

The master race

Those in denial about Islamic terrorism pounced gleefully on the recent report counting the number of people killed in the US by right-wing violence and those by Islamic extremists. Actually, it's not really even a report, just a tally of those killed in this country by the two types of violence: only 26 killed in "jihadist attacks" and 48 killed in "right-wing" attacks since 9/11. 

The count of course is radically skewed by excluding the 9/11 attacks themselves, which killed 2,996 people, bringing the Islamist score up to 3,022 killed in the United States since 9/11.

The Chronicle used a New York Times study to the same effect in its editorial this morning, as if we can't combat both forms of terrorism. The Chronicle's point: that we are allocating too much to fight Islamic terrorism rather than right-wing terrorism, that any focus on potential Islamist terrorists is somehow "scapegoating" Moslems!

The Chronicle, like the rest of the local media, has been consistently wrong on this issue, as if acknowledging the special threat posed by violence motivated by Islam contradicts a liberal, multicultural perspective.

On the other hand, many islamist attacks in the US have been foiled since 9/11. The thing about Islamic terrorism is that, when successful, the casualties are greater. The Boston marathon bombers, for example, killed three people and wounded more than 200 with a couple of crude pressure cooker bombs. The foiled underwear bomber almost brought down a TWA airliner over Detroit. The foiled Times Square bomber could have killed hundreds, etc.

Both types of violence are going to be with us for a long time. The Dylann Roof kind of racial violence has already been with us for more than 200 years, while Islamist violence is a relatively new phenomenon.

Putting Islamic violence in an international perspective:

Thousands of Deadly Islamic Terror Attacks Since 9/11

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Marriage: The real deal

Lot of talk about marriage in recent days. Justice Kennedy in his decision on Friday:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death.

Sam Kinison and Kramer provide a different view:





The real cost of American gun violence



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"Shakeup" at the Presidio?


From Matier & Ross (below in italics) on Friday:

In a major shakeup at the Presidio, President Obama named three new members Friday to the board that helps run the national park---including Lynne Benioff, wife of Salesforce founder Marc Benioff...All three new members of the Presidio Trust board, in fact, are politically well-connected. The others are Janet Reilly, the former Golden Gate Bridge District president and wife of Democratic donor Clint Reilly; and philanthropist Nicola Miner, daughter of Oracle co-founder Bob Miner. She and her husband, writer Robert Mailer Anderson, have been big-time Democratic contributors. Obama also reappointed the Presidio Trust board’s vice chair, real estate consultant Paula Robinson Collins, to a second four-year term.

In reality President Obama deferred to whatever Senator Feinstein and Nancy Pelosi recommended for these appointments. These folks are "politically well-connected" to the Democratic Party. 

Is this really "a major shakeup" because the board rejected George Lucas's bid for a museum at the Presidio?

The appointments come 16 months after the seven-member board snubbed San Francisco’s political establishment — including Mayor Ed Lee and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — and voted against awarding “Star Wars” creator George Lucas the rights to build a large museum across from Crissy Field to house his Americana arts and Hollywood memorabilia collection.

But the board voted unanimously to reject not only Lucas's museum building but the other two proposals for the site, which suggests that not reappointing the two other board members had nothing to do with the Lucas vote. 

The city's "political establishment" is disappointed that Board Chair Nancy Bechtle and Executive Director Craig Middleton didn't accept Lucas's clunky design for a museum. But Bechtle is termed out, and Middleton is retiring after working at the Presidio for 18 years. If there's any residual rancor here or if Middleton was pushed out, it's been kept under wraps.

Will the new board revisit the Lucas decision? Nope, Lucas is committed to the Chicago location for his junk "art" collection.

We should be grateful that the previous board rejected his museum building, which looked like an I-5 shopping mall.

In a major shakeup at the Presidio, President Obama named three new members Friday to the board that helps run the national park — including Lynne Benioff, wife of Salesforce founder Marc Benioff.

Lynne Benioff already sits on a number of local boards — most notably the foundation of UCSF, where she and her husband are also major benefactors.

All three new members of the Presidio Trust board, in fact, are politically well-connected. The others are Janet Reilly, the former Golden Gate Bridge District president and wife of Democratic donor Clint Reilly; and philanthropist Nicola Miner, daughter of Oracle co-founder Bob Miner. She and her husband, writer Robert Mailer Anderson, have been big-time Democratic contributors.

Obama also reappointed the Presidio Trust board’s vice chair, real estate consultant Paula Robinson Collins, to a second four-year term.

The appointments come 16 months after the seven-member board snubbed San Francisco’s political establishment — including Mayor Ed Lee and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — and voted against awarding “Star Wars” creator George Lucas the rights to build a large museum across from Crissy Field to house his Americana arts and Hollywood memorabilia collection.

The first sign of change to the trust leadership came in February when Obama named San Francisco powerhouse attorney John Keker, another contributor to Democratic causes, to the board.

Board Chair Nancy Hellman Bechtle — who was front and center in the fight over the Lucas museum and who was originally appointed to the board by then-President George W. Bush — was termed out and is leaving the panel.

Obama did not reappoint two other current members, Silicon Valley investor William Hambrecht and parks champion Charlene Harvey, to second terms.

Among the biggest decisions facing the new board will be picking a permanent replacement for freshly departed Presidio executive Craig Middleton and deciding on the design of the new public space above the Presidio Parkway — near where Lucas had hoped to build his museum.

Proposed George Lucas shopping mall

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Senator Leno lies to reduce high-speed rail transparency



See Senator Mark Leno (starting at 2:26), representing the city in the State Senate, lie in support of SB-76, a bill that will require the High-Speed Rail Authority to report to the state legislature only once every two years instead of every six months. From Kathy Hamilton's account:

...So how did SB-76 (AB-93, Assembly side) get passed so quickly? It began life in the January 2015 as a placeholder for monkey business later, meaning it was nearly blank. It was amended in March and included all kinds of things, such as salmon, forestry, tribal issues, and it was labeled a water bill. No sign of high-speed rail in the bill. June 11th someone took a hatchet to the bill and excluded large portions of the March bill and assigned it to the transportation committee under Budget and Fiscal review as a trailer bill to the budget. Speedy action followed. This is called the gut-and-amend process or a spot bill and is specifically designed to push bills through without public debate...

There were some Senators who stood up and objected to this action when it came up for a vote. Toward the end of this five-minute YouTube, Senator Mark Leno, a Democrat from San Francisco, asks for their aye vote. He states that the High-Speed Rail Board discusses everything in public on a monthly basis including their finances, their hiring and firing, and updates about the project. Leno states making this change was to increase efficiency, to create less onerous reporting...

Nothing could be further from the truth. They rarely discuss finances at the regular board meetings. Instead these discussions are held separately, usually in an early morning finance committee meeting which makes it harder for people to access. The meetings are not live-streamed or audio or video recorded. And if the issues get too touchy, they have pushed the public out the door mid-meeting as they did in their March 10, 2015 committee meeting. They do produce financial reports but there is no explanation for abbreviations or terms to make them public friendly. It’s not held every month, either. In June there was no finance committee meeting.

This bill, SB 76, should be amended immediately. For a project of this magnitude---the largest infrastructure project the U.S. has ever attempted---the public wants more transparency and accountability, not less.

California’s track record on mega projects has not been good. Senator Mark DeSaulnier conducted a session called “Lessons Learned” after the Bay Bridge debacle went to $1.4 to $6.3 billion and wanted to explore what could be learned to avoid this from happening again. Reducing reporting was not among the action items...

And speaking of Parsons Brinckerhoff, there was lots of maneuvering at the board meeting on June 9th in Los Angeles to get a $700 million dollar contact approved with Parsons even if it meant that they had to call back Vice Chair Thea Selby, who was heading to the airport, to complete a quorum for the vote. Why was it so important to drag a board member back from the airport? Why couldn’t they pass this agenda item in Sacramento at the next meeting?

Is this an example of transparency?

Perhaps nothing illegal was done here, but clearly the board wanted to get on with the award at a busy meeting where the focus would not be on this subject. They wanted to minimize any questions. It was disclosed that the selection criteria were partially subjective and could have made the difference in a very tight race between Bechtel and Parsons Brinckerhoff, but we’ll never know for sure.

By the way, the CEO, Jeff Morales left his position at PB, where he was managing the High-Speed Rail project for them, and went directly to work for the Authority as their CEO. Previously he managed the Bay Bridge project for Caltrans and understated the costs of that project to the Legislature...


Steinberg and Leno screw state taxpayers

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The cartoons that led to the Texas attack

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Bill Maher on gay marriage and Obamacare

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Scariest anti-smoking commercials

Social revolution boxes in Repubicans


Jonathan Chait puts the decision in context:

The Supreme Court’s decision affirming marriage equality hastens what was already a fait accompli — public opinion has embraced the equal right to marriage at such a rapid clip that it was bound to spread to the deepest red precincts of America within a generation or two. The decision is also the latest signpost of an important structural change that will define the current era in American life. The United States is undergoing a period of social transformation as profound and rapid as any it has seen since the 1960s. The revolution — it may not be too strong a term — has been driven by elected officials and judges, and from the broader culture, the three strands all reinforcing one another...

Jeffrey Toobin deconstructs the dishonest right-wing attempt to destroy Obamacare:

...In dissent, Scalia cranked up his increasingly tired act as the Court’s sound-bite generator. According to Scalia, the Court engaged in “interpretive jiggery-pokery,” spouted “pure applesauce,” and should prompt Obamacare to be renamed “SCOTUScare.” The problem with Scalia’s dissent is the problem with the lawsuit as a whole. It’s a transparent attempt to undermine the law by whatever means happen to be available rather than by any consistent jurisprudential principle. Back in the nineteen-sixties and seventies, judicial conservatives believed in restraint—in deference to the elected branches of government. That led them to oppose such decisions as Roe v. Wade, which overturned state laws banning abortion, and to support broad exercises of executive power. The King case shows that some conservatives have abandoned their old idea of deference to the executive branch and are simply filing lawsuits against the laws they don’t like—and coming up with whatever reasons they can to support them...

Hard to see what the Republican long-term strategy is. They've systematically alienated many in the emerging voting majority: gays, Hispanics, labor, blacks, women. The clown-car gaggle of Repug candidates for president have to pander to their party's right-wing base in the primaries for even a chance at getting the nomination, which will doom that candidate in the general election in 2016. Next year we could see a historic Democratic Party landslide like LBJ's in 1964.

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Survey on Diviz and Oak development


Neighbors Developing Divisadero sends this:

Your two cents

Take this survey to shape the future of inclusive development at SE Divis & Oak.

158 units of housing along with ground floor retail have been proposed to replace the Shell gas station and car wash at 444 Divisadero. Neighbors Developing Divisadero has created an online survey so that we can take the neighborhood pulse on this proposed project. Here's your chance to weigh in on the proposal. This survey is geared towards neighbors who reside in the following zip codes: 94117, 94115, and 94118.

It's great that hoodline.com helped bring this to neighbors' attention with their recent article so that we can provide preliminary feedback to the project sponsors and Planning Department in an easy to read report, rather than waiting to give public comment on an EIR designation hearing a year down the road. 

Read the full preliminary project assessment here.

Neighbors Developing Divisadero has a mission to support inclusive, enriching, and sustainable neighborhood development in the Divisadero Corridor and surrounding neighborhoods. In alignment with the results of 2014's Proposition K, Neighbors Developing Divisadero actively promotes the inclusion of at least 33% on-site units for low-and- moderate-income households and at least 50% on-site units for middle-class households.

Rob's comment: The project calls for only 78 parking spots for 158 housing units. Instead there should be a parking spot for every unit.



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Obama on the Obamacare decision

+

The Huffington Post reports that the Repug presidential candidates are unconvinced.

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Traffic congestion: Excuse to bully motorists?


Will California use congestion to coerce motorists?

When Jerry Brown staged a symbolic “groundbreaking” for his pet bullet train project in downtown Fresno five months ago, he traveled to his event by car.

He wasn’t alone. The 350 miles or so he traveled on his round-trip that day were a minute fraction of the approximately 900 million miles that California motorists drive on streets, roads and highways each day.

Or to put it another way, autos account for well over 90 percent of Californians’ transportation. Even the most optimistic projections of non-automotive travel say that’s unlikely to change much in the future as the state’s population and transportation demands continue to grow.

That fact and years of political neglect generate two problems---the nation’s worst traffic congestion and its third-worst pavement conditions.

Brown says he wants to do something about the state’s deteriorating roadways and has called a special legislative session to explore ways to put billions of dollars more into maintenance and reconstruction.

However, he is silent on congestion. The special legislative session may bring a simmering dispute over that facet of the transportation conundrum into sharper focus.

Three months ago, Brown’s Department of Transportation, fulfilling a 2009 legislative mandate, began circulating a draft of a California Transportation Plan, aimed at setting policy for the next quarter-century.

Citing California’s commitments to reducing greenhouse gases and improving access to non-automotive transportation, the CTP proposes to reduce automotive travel by increasing motorists’ taxes, flatly rejecting “road capacity enhancing strategies,” and urging the state to “avoid funding projects that add road capacity.”

Implicitly, therefore, it contends that increasing traffic congestion and the cost of driving would compel Californians to abandon their cars in favor of transit, bicycles and other non-automotive modes.

A punitive approach doesn’t sit well with the California Transportation Commission.

This month, the commission declared the CTP “is planning for significant actions that will fundamentally alter how Californians will utilize our transportation system” and urged that it balance “environmental goals with economic and mobility needs.”

The CTP, the commission says, puts too much emphasis on reducing automotive travel and too little on technological advances, such as electric cars, that could reduce fossil fuel use---Brown’s goal is a 50 percent cut---while maintaining personal mobility.

Californians support greenhouse gas reduction. But do they also want the state to compel them to change their lifestyles by parking their cars, jumping aboard trolley cars and bicycles, and trading their single-family homes for denser housing, as the CTP and other state policies assume they must?

It would be interesting to put that question on the ballot.

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Punk "artist" Shepard Fairey busted for vandalism










The Department of Public Works fights this form of vandalism:



Thanks to The Huffington Post.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Our Southern "heritage": White supremacy


Ta Nahisi-Coates in The Atlantic:

...[Dylann]Roof’s belief that black life had no purpose beyond subjugation is “sick and twisted” in the exact same manner as the beliefs of those who created the Confederate flag were “sick and twisted.” The Confederate flag is directly tied to the Confederate cause, and the Confederate cause was white supremacy. This claim is not the result of revisionism. It does not require reading between the lines. It is the plain meaning of the words of those who bore the Confederate flag across history. These words must never be forgotten. Over the next few months the word “heritage” will be repeatedly invoked. It would be derelict to not examine the exact contents of that heritage.

This examination should begin in South Carolina, the site of our present and past catastrophe. South Carolina was the first state to secede, two months after the election of Abraham Lincoln. It was in South Carolina that the Civil War began, when the Confederacy fired on Fort Sumter...



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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Dave Snyder and the Marin Museum of Bicycling


After 11 years as head of San Francisco's Bicycle Coalition, Dave Snyder is now Executive Director of the California Bicycle Coalition. Earlier this month, he helped inaugurate the Museum of Bicycling in Fairfax:

Your California Bicycle Coalition’s own Dave Snyder spoke at the grand opening celebration on June 6, welcoming the museum and Mountain Biking Hall of Fame to the birthplace of mountain biking in Marin County. He praised Joe Breeze and the museum’s other founders for their ongoing support of everything that bicycling brings to people, from the thrill of screaming down the mountain on the Repack trail to the simple joy of pedaling across town.

Hey, how come Marin gets the Hall of Fame, not San Francisco? After all, this is where Critical Mass was born! 

It must have been a close call: Whether to honor city cyclists for screwing up rush hour traffic for more than 20 years or honor cyclists in Marin, famous for terrorizing hikers and people on horseback on Marin's fire roads. And also notorious for trashing Marin's open space by carving out their own bike trails.

But Dave Snyder is a moderate compared to Leah Shahum, his successor in San Francisco. She wanted to make city streets safe enough for six-year-olds to ride bikes, while Snyder only wanted to make them safe enough for eight-year-olds.

Recall that Dave Snyder and the Bicycle Coalition opposed the popular and successful parking garage under the Concourse in Golden Gate Park because it would be built for "the most pernicious form of urban pressure: the automobile."

Snyder was also the Big Thinker who formulated the failed city strategy to sneak the 500-page Bicycle Plan illegally through the administrative process ("Nobody will contest this...").

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Let them ride bikes---and shop somewhere else


SocketSite on this building planned for Market Street between Franklin and Van Ness: 109 condos, only 28 parking spaces, and three retail spaces on the ground floor:

The proposed development is composed of two distinct structures designed by Handel Architects and connected by a skybridge: one fronting Market Street with the project’s two main retail spaces, and the second fronting Oak Street with the building’s lobby, garage entrance and the third little retail space, likely a café.

What kind of cafe or retail businesses could survive in a high-end condo building? Maybe a Starbucks or other chains.

The comments are interesting, like these on the retail space issue:

Posted by Sierrajeff
A friend of mine recently moved to the northern end of Mission Bay/Mission Rock…there was actually a fair amount of sidewalk traffic (and this wasn’t even a game day), but I was startled to see that virtually every retail space was empty. And adding more buildings won’t necessarily help, because most of them will have ground-floor retail spaces too. I hope the city knows what it’s doing…

Posted by Dave
I’ve noticed this too. And Mission Bay is up and coming. A lot of mid-Market retail fronts are vacant. Despite Twitter, despite the condos that have been built in the area. Don’t see how more retail is all that viable here. Maybe some of the space will be taken by professional offices.

Posted by JWS
I continue to have hope that as these buildings actually fill up with residents, that the neighborhoods will grow. My one concern with the Mission Bay footprints vs Mid-Market is that they are the same that we see on King by the ballpark…extremely large and wide. Harder to get niche restaurants and cafes to pay those big rents, while the smaller Mid-Market lots being developed necessitate smaller retail.



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Monday, June 22, 2015

The "real story" of how the city works

Hoodline

In yesterday's Chronicle, we learn from Matier & Ross and Willie Brown (below in italics Brown brags about it)---in side-by-side columns in the Bay Area section---how city government works: you have to pay to play. Is anyone really surprised?

Matier Ross write about how "private donors" win City Hall's affections by donating money to pay for the America's Cup, the mayors' conference, the gaudy light system on City Hall, repainting City Hall, etc. No problem, according to the mayor's press secretary: "People have been working hard to raise funds and make sure that city taxpayers weren't left on the hook." Only grouchy old Aaron Peskin questions the practice.

On the same page, Heather Knight writes about how city residents are upset about conditions in the city (Lapses in public services tax San Franciscans’ patience): homelessness, potholes, Muni, poorly maintained parks, etc.

Two weeks ago, we asked City Insider readers what they think of the fact that San Francisco’s budget hit a whopping $9 billion a year — more than the budgets of at least 10 states. Now that more taxes are pouring into city coffers than ever before, do residents think they’re getting their money’s worth? We were surprised by the deluge of e-mails, which continue to roll in, and the very vehement responses. Every single person who wrote had valid complaints, and not one thought city services were up to snuff for one of the richest cities in the world.

City taxes mostly go to support a growing bureaucracy of 35,771 city workers, one city worker for every 23 city residents!

Willie Brown on big projects, like the Bay Bridge, the Central Subway, and high-speed rail: Dig a hole and fill it with money!

With City Hall turning 100, it’s time to tell the real story of how we got the gold leaf onto its magnificent dome.

It was a few years after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Part of my agenda when I became mayor was bringing a sense of luster back to San Francisco, and making City Hall once again a true “people’s palace” was at the top of my list.

We got the building seismically upgraded. We got the dingy offices returned to their wood-paneled glory, and the North and South light courts were made into some of the best event rooms in the city. But I could not use a dime of federal earthquake-recovery money to bring real gold back to the dome.

One day, one of the city’s biggest architects, Jeffrey Heller, comes to me and says, “I’m mad as all hell at your planning department for trying to force me to include some kind of public art in this building I’m designing. It just doesn’t fit. Can’t I just give the city some money for art somewhere else?”

Click! The light bulb turned on.

“Where is your building?” I asked.

“Just down the street.”

“Can you see the dome of City Hall from it?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“OK, how about instead of putting this required art piece in a building that only some people will see, we put it on top of City Hall as part of an artwork that everyone can see? And that ‘art’ will be the gold leaf on top of the dome.”

And that’s what we did.

It wasn’t long before every developer with a pending project realized that the quickest path to the front of the approval line was to come in with some gold leaf for City Hall and a paintbrush.

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Larry Wilmore on Charleston and Fox News

Daily Kos

Sam Harris on Islam

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Saturday, June 20, 2015

President Obama and Marc Maron?

WTF with Marc Maron

The Slate interview with Marc Maron is surely funnier than his interview yesterday with President Obama, which will be released Monday:

Did you put out snacks for everyone?

No, I didn’t put out anything. But they could use the bathroom. My one bathroom.

Then at some point the snipers came. You saw these guys pull up, and it was like, okay. These are the dudes with the big guns. Then they went up on my neighbor Dennis’s roof.

Poor Dennis.

No, Dennis was thrilled. Dennis is retired. This is very exciting for Dennis.

So then after everyone set up, there’s LAPD on my other neighbor’s deck, two snipers on Dennis’s roof. Secret service spread out in front, LAPD around the perimeter on the bottom of the hill.

They tell me to go outside and there’s a flurry of activity at the bottom of the driveway. One big police vehicle goes by. Another police vehicle goes by. And then a big vehicle drives up. All of the sudden there’s a couple Secret Service people, and some White House people, and then in the midst of them all I see a hand go up. And he says: “Marc!”...

I mostly watch sports on TV, but Maron's program is one I always enjoy.

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Caltrain wants to avoid environmental review

San Jose Mercury News


Caltrain Tries To Escape Environmental Laws 

This message is bringing you some news that Caltrain hasn't publicized. It's news that Caltrain doesn't want you to know about. 

Caltrain wants to undertake a major new project on the San Francisco Peninsula, and to avoid ALL the environmental review requirements contained in California State law. 

On May 19, 2015, the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, the official agency that operates Caltrain, filed a Petition for a Declaratory Order from the federal government's Surface Transportation Board (STB), claiming that the California Environmental Quality Act is "fully preempted" and does not apply to Caltrain's proposed electrification project. Caltrain also claims that it has already complied with NEPA, the National Environmental Policy Act, so that no additional federal environmental reviews should be required, either.

Caltrain's proposed modernization project would bring electrification to the Caltrain corridor. Many have applauded this effort, and Caltrain has claimed that this project would have lots of "positive" benefits, including positive environmental benefits. 

While CC-HSR admits that electrification can have some positive benefits, we don't believe that Caltrain has actually disclosed all the "negative" impacts of its proposed project. Caltrain has refused to acknowledge that electrification of the Caltrain corridor is inextricably linked to the state's proposal to drive high-speed rail development. It refuses to see as proof that it is accepting $600 million dollars from the Prop 1A money exclusively reserved for high-speed rail.

The High-Speed Rail project is planned to come right through the middle of virtually every community on the Peninsula. We believe that both projects need a full environmental review so we will know the true impacts of the entire project. Obviously, Caltrain disagrees.

Normally, when there is a difference of opinion about whether or not a project will have negative environmental impacts, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is in place to settle the question. CEQA insures that the questionable aspects of any proposed project will be fully tested through the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) process. 

CC-HSR, the City of Atherton, and others have raised questions about exempting the project from CEQA review, which is seen by most as more stringent than the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Caltrain is trying to escape from the environmental reporting laws that allow members of the public to insist that governmental agencies respond to issues that the public thinks need environmental review. 

As you might expect, CC-HSR is fighting back. On June 8, 2015, CC-HSR, with Atherton and others, filed a joint opposition to Caltrain's petition for CEQA preemption. We will keep you posted! 

In the meantime, we think everyone needs to be considering this question: If the proposed Caltrain project is as environmentally positive as Caltrain claims, then what is Caltrain afraid of? Why is Caltrain trying so hard to PREEMPT our state environmental laws? Could it be that Caltrain doesn't want us really to understand that the Caltrain project is actually just step one to a full-blown high-speed rail development right down the Peninsula? 

See also Coalition backing CA bullet train is fraying at CalWatchdog.com.

Kathy Hamilton reports more trouble in DC for the project.

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The homeless Navigation Center in the Mission



Thanks to SFist.com.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Frisco versus LA: Who cares?


Click-bait from some punk who just got here: Reasons Why Everyone in San Francisco Hates LA. Only the comments are worth reading. A sample:

He's 25. Do you think he knows anything?

Everyone is an asshole no matter where you are.

Everyone knows real life only exists outside these two places. Oakland.

California is one of the most diverse states in the country and extremely beautiful but the people are hands down the flakiest and most unreliable people on the face of this earth.

An earthquake should put California where it needs to be...In the water.

If I hadn't read the comments, I would never have learned about The Fake Baby in American Sniper:


Or how the Fake Baby Grows Up:


Enter "fake baby american sniper" on Youtube, and you can go down that rabbit hole as far as you want.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Andre Iguodala: MVP

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Stadium demolition porn


The Stick: Going, going, gone


Since we’re on the subject, one piece of the stadium debate that seldom comes up is that of waste. Not waste of money — that comes up all the time, of course — but waste of resources, of labor power, or energy, of carbon footprint, of all the stuff that you use more of by tearing down an existing building and erecting a new one. Not that nobody should ever build anything — and I’ll happily admit that the San Francisco Giants‘ new stadium is an awful lot nicer than the ‘Stick, for example — but there’s a predisposition in American political culture in particular to think of new development only for the jobs and economic activity it creates, without wondering if constantly building structures and then tearing them down again is the most efficient way to run a society.

But some buildings deserve to be torn down, like Candlestick---and the one below:

Fontana Towers

Candlestick Park was more than 50 years old and never was exactly an architectural gem. It had long outlived its original function as the home of the Giants when they moved from New York. The city providing a stadium was part of that deal. The Niners moved there ten years later, which was good for the city, since it got them out of an old Kezar Stadium, where every game brought traffic gridlock to that part of the city. Kezar is still a gem, since the city downsized it and turned it into an excellent stadium suitable for high school football, soccer games and track meets, with the track open to the jogging public when not being used for special events.

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Evelyn Waugh's diaries

Evelyn Waugh

I like Evelyn Waugh's novels. Sword of Honor, a trilogy about World War 2, is one of my favorites. But no one but a specialist should bother reading The Diaries of Evelyn Waugh. Waugh himself would surely be shocked that it's been published at all. Most of the entries are about eating and drinking and who he was eating and drinking with. I read it because I knew I would be rewarded by finding nuggets like these:

Saturday 13 November 1943
...There is a great deal of talk at the moment about the rocket guns which the Germans are said to have set up in France, with a range to carry vast explosive charges to London. This fear is seriously entertained in the highest quarters. I have accordingly given orders for the books I have been keeping at the Hyde Park Hotel to be sent to Piers Court. At the same time I have advocated my son coming to London. It would seem from this that I prefer my books to my son. I can argue that firemen rescue children and destroy books, but the truth is that a child is easily replaced while a book destroyed is utterly lost; also a child is eternal; but most that I have a sense of absolute possession over my library and not over my nursery.

Monday 23 December 1946
The presence of my children affects me with deep weariness and depression. I do not see them until luncheon, as I have my breakfast alone in the library and they are in fact well trained to avoid my part of the house; but I am aware of them from the moment I wake. Luncheon is very painful. Teresa has a mincing habit of speech and a pert, humourless style of wit; Bron is clumsy and disheveled, sly, without intellectual, aesthetic or spiritual interest; Margaret is pretty and below the age of reason. In the nursery whooping cough rages I believe. At tea I meet the three elder children again and they ursurp the drawing-room until it is time to dress for dinner...

March 1964
Randolph Churchill went into hospital...to have a lung removed. It was announced that the trouble was not 'malignant'. Seeing Ed Stanley in White's, on my way to Rome, I remarked that it was a typical triumph of modern science to find the only part of Randolph that was not malignant and remove it...

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800 cops and $1 million a day!?


Watching the daily headline stories about the escaped prisoners in upstate New York raises questions: Granted these guys are dangerous and the authorities should make a serious effort to capture them, at what point does this kind of police action become grotesquely out of proportion to the threat and against the public interest? There are now 800 law enforcement people searching the countryside at a cost of $1 million a day. What supposedly necessary jobs were all those people doing before the escape?

It's like police car chases and San Francisco's "pursuit policy": 

When it becomes apparent that the benefits of immediate apprehension are clearly outweighed by an unreasonable danger to the officer or others, the officer shall not initiate a pursuit or, if the pursuit is already in progress, the officer shall terminate the pursuit.

But those chases continue, though it's not unusual that they cause injury and death to bystanders:


"On Monday, two people driving in front of the Westfield Mall in downtown San Francisco were hurt in a crash allegedly cause be a wanted felon who was trying to evade police. In April, Bridget Klecker will killed while in a Financial District crosswalk. Police say the car that hit her was carrying three men who were suspects in an armed robbery spree. Police Chief Greg Suhr acknowledges that pursuits can be dangerous, but said that why their policy limits them only to situations involving violent felons."

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Debating San Francisco's housing crisis


I don't often find Tim Redmond's blog helpful in understanding local issues, but his latest (Why market-rate housing makes the crisis worse) at least raises the relevant questions. Reading the take-no-prisoners comments is also essential:

Peter Cohen and Fernando Marti at the Council of Community Housing Organizations have dropped a bombshell on the standard City Hall analysis of affordable housing. In an op-ed in Sunday’s Examiner, the two explain how market-rate housing construction is NOT the main source of financing for affordable housing.

In fact, they note, the money that market-rate developers pay to subsidize affordable units doesn’t even cover the housing impacts that their projects create.

Let me say that again, because it’s critical (and not easily understood, and should have a profound impact on policies like the Mission Moratorium): If you require less than about 40 percent affordable housing, the net impact of high-end construction is to make the housing market worse.

How is that possible? How could building more housing (at any level) be a net problem for the housing market? Doesn’t more housing trickle down and make things better for everyone?...

See also this and this from Planetizen.

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