Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Mother Jones


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Rebuttal in support of appeal of 13th Street bike project


FROM: 
Mary Miles (SB #230395)
Attorney at Law
for Coalition for Adequate Review

TO:
Angela Calvillo, Clerk of the Board, and 
San Francisco Board of Supervisors
Room 244, City Hall
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102

DATE: June 26, 2017

RE: BOS File No. 170638

APPELLANT'S REBUTTAL BRIEF IN SUPPORT OF APPEAL TO BOARD OF SUPERVISORS OF CATEGORICAL EXEMPTION, APPROVAL, AND IMPLEMENTATION OF "EASTBOUND 13TH STREET BICYCLE FACILITY PROJECT"

INTRODUCTION

Appellant hereby submits this Rebuttal to the June 19, 2017 San Francisco ("City") "Planning Department Response to the Appeal of Categorical Exemption for the SFMTA -13th Street Eastbound Bicycle Facility Project" ("Planning's Response"). Please distribute a copy of this Rebuttal to every Supervisor and place a copy in all applicable Project files. 

Planning's Response evades the impacts of the Project by misstating the facts, the law under CEQA, Appellant's argument, and fails to show that the Project is categorically exempt from the requirements of CEQA. 

Planning's Response also evades the fact that MTA illegally implemented the Project in plain violation of CEQA, before the public had an opportunity to appeal its determination and MTA's approval to this Board. (Pub. Res. Code [PRC"] §21151(c); San Francisco Administrative Code §§31.16(b)(3) [other departments "shall not carry out…the project" until the "CEQA decision is affirmed by the Board [of Supervisors];" 31.16(b)(5) [the public may submit materials to the Board of Supervisors prior to scheduled hearing on an appeal]; and 31.16(e) "The date the project shall be considered finally approved shall occur no earlier than either the expiration date of the appeal period if no appeal is filed, or the date the Board affirms the CEQA decision, if the CEQA decision is appealed." 

REBUTTAL ARGUMENT

I. CITY'S FALSE STATEMENTS DO NOT SUPPORT ITS CLAIM THAT THE PROJECT IS CATEGORICALLY EXEMPT UNDER CEQA

Planning's Response relies on factual misstatements and misrepresentations of Appellant's positions, including the following examples.

A. Planning persists With Its Falsehood That The Project Removes Only One Eastbound Traffic Lane, When In Fact City's Own Documents Show That The Project Removes Two Of Three Eastbound Lanes On 13th Street

Contrary to the falsehoods in Planning's Response (e.g., pp. 2, 6, 7), the Project clearly will remove two traffic lanes, not one, by eliminating two through lanes on 13th Street from Harrison to Bryant Street, and installing two forced left turn lanes at the 13th and Bryant Street intersection. (Appellant's Brief in Support of Appeal, June 16, 2017 ["Appellant's Brief"], Ex. A [Exemption], p. 3 and "Figure 3 at p.10"].) Forced left turn lanes are not through traffic lanes. 

It is well-established and common sense that where traffic lanes are eliminated the resulting queuing of traffic will cause delays at other intersections. Thus, City's "road diet" that removes two traffic lanes on eastbound 13th Street will cause traffic backups, congestion throughout and beyond the Project area, including intersections at 13th and South Van Ness Avenue and other major intersections where thousands of vehicles seek freeway access, major shopping areas, downtown, the ballpark, and elsewhere. 

Planning's Response (p. 6) disingenuously admits that "between Harrison and Bryant streets, or for approximately one-third of the area covered by the project, the project would remove two eastbound travel lanes." (Planning's Response, p. 7, emphasis added.) But Planning then contradicts that plain fact, falsely claiming that a forced left-turn lane would equal a through traffic lane. Planning's Response completely ignores the impact of removing nearly all of the parking on 13th Street, which will also cause traffic circling and diversion to find parking. 

Elsewhere, City simply lies, claiming that the Project reduces traffic capacity on 13th Street by only "one travel lane." (Planning's Response, pp. 2, 6, 7) City claims that Appellant "misunderstands the project" (Planning's Response, p. 6) However, City's own description and diagrams of the Project clearly show that it removes two traffic lanes, not "one." (Appellant's Brief, Ex. A [Exemption], p. 3 and Figure 3 at p. 10) 

Bottlenecking traffic on this heavily traveled corridor will obviously cause direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts throughout the Project area.

B. Planning's Existing Conditions Data, Including Traffic Volumes, Are Unsupported And Conflict With MTA's Traffic Data, Or Are Entirely Absent

City now advances its unsupported claims on traffic volumes that vary significantly from MTA's previous traffic volume counts, and it again fails to provide the dates, times, sites, and who conducted the traffic counts, or to describe the methodology used.[1]

In short, Planning's Response provides no substantial evidence to support its claim on traffic volumes at three intersections that it allegedly measured. Further, the Project area includes the major intersection of 13th Street and South Van Ness Avenue, which is entirely omitted from Planning's alleged traffic volume counts. 

C. Contrary To Planning's Response, Its Exemption Document Admits That The Project May Have Significant Impacts 

Planning's Exemption document plainly states that the Project will have significant impacts. Further, since that document admits that reducing roadway capacity "may result in increased delay at some locations, and therefore increased emissions of criteria pollutants or ozone precursors in those locations." (Appellant's Brief, Ex. A, p. 7-8) As already stated, where City's own documents admit a project's potential significant impacts, the Project cannot be categorically exempt. (Azusa Land Reclamation Co. v. Main San Gabriel Basin Watermaster ["Azusa"] (1997) 52 Cal.App.4th 1165, 1199)

D. City Failed To Provide Notice Or Information On Its Environmental Determination 

Contrary to Planning's Response (pp.4-5), City's March 17, 2017 alleged "public hearing" before MTA's Sustainable Streets Division of MTA included no information or discussion of its exemption determination. In fact, Planning's exemption determination was not made until April 10, 2017, and was not publicly available online at that time. 

After rushing its requested exemption through a non-public process, MTA then illegally issued a work order to implement the Project on April 11, 2017, before its scheduled approval hearing on April 18, 2017. (Appellant's Brief, Ex. D) MTA posted an agenda for the April 18, 2017 hearing, but its staff report did not include the Planning Department's exemption or any documents supporting it. 

Neither the exemption document nor MTA's staff memo to Planning were available on Planning's website before the April 18, 2017 hearing and had to be obtained through an Immediate Disclosure Request under City's Sunshine Ordinance. Requested records supporting the exemption determination were not produced after two Immediate Disclosure Requests. (See also footnote 1) The public was therefore denied the opportunity for informed participation in MTA's approval process, violating CEQA's basic requirement.

The MTA Board ignored Appellant's comment letter submitted before the April 18, 2017 hearing, and it also failed to include environmental review of the Project as one of the subjects of its hearing as required by CEQA Guidelines section 15202(b). 

II. CITY ADMITS THAT THE PROJECT WILL HAVE SIGNIFICANT DIRECT IMPACTS, AND IT WILL ALSO HAVE INDIRECT AND CUMULATIVE IMPACTS

A. City's Admission That The Project Will Have Significant Impacts Preclude And Negate Its Categorical Exemption 

City admits that the congestion caused by the Project will have significant impacts on air quality. (Appellant's Brief, Ex. A, p. 7-8) City may not determine the Project exempt with that admission. (Azusa, supra, 52 Cal.App.4th at p.1199)

B. City May Not Lawfully Remove Traffic Impacts From Its Impacts Analyses Under CEQA; Planning Commission Resolution 19579 Is Preempted, Illegal, and Void on its Face 

Planning's Response declares that "the department does not use automobile delay as a consideration in assessing impacts on the environment pursuant to CEQA," and that such analysis is "outdated and incorrect." (Planning's Response, p.8) Planning claims that City's Planning Commission adopted Resolution 19579 to "not use automobile delay as a consideration" in assessing such impacts. (Id. at p.7) 

City's claim and Planning Commission Resolution 19579 are invalid on their face, since they are contrary to CEQA's requirement to analyze and mitigate all impacts on the environment, including those on traffic, congestion, and parking. Resolution 19579 is preempted and conflicts with PRC §21099, which provides that the state Office of Planning and Research ("OPR") is "to prepare proposed revisions" to existing CEQA Guidelines and submit them to the state for certification and adoption." (PRC §21099) 

In fact, the OPR has not certified or adopted revised CEQA Guidelines. Moreover, even if certified and adopted, such Guidelines would only apply prospectively, meaning after such revisions were certified and adopted. (Guidelines §15007; PRC §21099(b)(2).) 

Even if such Guidelines revisions are certified and adopted by OPR, that would not remove City's burden to comply with CEQA's requirement to analyze and mitigate transportation impacts. PRC section 21099(b) states that upon certification and adoption of Guidelines revisions, "automobile delay, as described solely by level of service or similar measures of vehicular capacity or traffic congestion shall not be considered a significant impact on the environment." (PRC §21099(b)[emphasis added].) 

Thus, PRC §21099 explicitly does require that automobile delay must be considered as an impact but not as solely measured by level of service. Rather, the state may create additional and other criteria for measuring automobile delay as a significant transportation impact. (Id.) PRC section 21099 further does not eliminate the criterion of automobile delay, but states that "automobile delay, as described solely by level of service or similar measures of vehicular capacity or traffic congestion, shall not be considered a significant impact…" (PRC §21099(b)(2).)

Nothing in PRC section 21099, or elsewhere in CEQA, authorizes either the state or the City and County of San Francisco to claim that automobile delay is not a significant impact. In fact, PRC section 21099 makes clear that "The methodology established by these guidelines shall not create a presumption that a project will not result in significant impacts related to air quality, noise, safety, or any other impact associated with transportation." (PRC §21099(b)(3) [emphasis added] PRC section 21099 explicitly states that it "does not relieve a public agency of the requirement to analyze a project's potentially significant transportation impacts related to air quality, noise, safety, or any other impact associated with transportation." (Id.) 

City's mistaken claim that it need not analyze automobile delay as a transportation impact violates CEQA, and Resolution 19579, claimed as authority for doing so, is preempted, void, and in conflict with state law.

C. City's Defective Baseline Corrupts The Impacts Determination

Planning's Response provides no substantiation for its claimed measurement of traffic volumes at three intersections affected by the Project. Further, those intersections fail to include the major intersection of 13th Street and South Van Ness Avenue. As noted, Planning's Response has provided no substantiation for its alleged traffic counts. 

The baseline existing conditions for determining impacts must be supported by substantial evidence, including accurate data, not City's admittedly mistaken and incomplete counts. (Planning Response, p. 6, fn. 1) Impacts cannot be accurately assessed without knowing when traffic counts were made, particularly since eastbound corridors like 13th Street experience heavy AM peak hour commuter traffic headed to downtown and the freeway.

Planning's Response (p. 6) falsely claims that in conducting the alleged counts it complied with City's Transportation Impact Analysis Guidelines ("TIAG"). The TIAG clearly requires substantiated traffic volume measurements and analysis of traffic delay and congestion, which Planning's Response omits and calls "outdated and incorrect." (Planning's Response, p.7) Planning does not address the marked disparity between its alleged traffic counts in 2015 or 2016, since MTA's previous counts show much heavier traffic on 13th and Mission Streets. 

Planning's Response repeats the falsehood that the Project removes only one of three eastbound traffic lanes on 13th Street. (Planning's Response, p. 6) [footnote 2] That falsehood should negate any approval of Planning's claimed exemption. The Project would clearly remove two through traffic lanes on 13th Street, not one. (Appellant's Brief, Ex. A, p. 3, and Figure 3 at p. 10)

Even if Planning's unsubstantiated and contradictory claims were supported, 1,012 "passenger vehicles" would have to merge into one lane during peak hours with this Project. City fails to include trucks, shuttle and other buses, and motorcycles, which would also have to merge into the one remaining lane on 13th Street. 

Planning claims that the one remaining through lane (which is shared with a right turn lane) on 13th Street between Harrison and Bryant Streets has a capacity of 1,900 "passenger cars per hour." (Planning's Response, p. 7) However, Planning's dubious claim fails to include or analyze the backup and queuing that would occur at other intersections besides the three where it claims it counted "passenger vehicles" but got the year wrong. (Planning's Response, pp. 6-7; Appellant's Brief, Ex. A, pp. 2-3, 5, and Figures.) [footnote 3] 

Planning's alleged traffic count omits the largest intersection in the Project area: 13th and South Van Ness Avenue. The lack of accurate and complete baseline data invalidates City's conclusion of no impacts. (e.g., Poet, LLC. v. State Air Resources Bd. (2017) 10 Cal.App.5th 764,797 [agency's failure to justify use of correct baseline is an abuse of discretion and invalidates the impacts analysis].)

D. City Violates CEQA By Continuing To Omit Cumulative Impacts Analysis 

Planning's speculation that traffic will increase by only 150 cars in 2040 is unsupported and absurd on its face. Common sense and the City's population and vehicle growth, including "ride-sharing," lead to a contrary conclusion. 

City's formulaic computer exercise to reach that 150-car growth in 2040 figure was based on applying an unsubstantiated "projected growth in vehicle traffic volumes" of "15%" to Planning's alleged traffic counts to conclude that "the project would not result in a substantial reduction in available roadway capacity along eastbound 13th Street such that it would lead to a substantial vehicular diversion to other nearby streets in the vicinity, which in turn could substantially affect cumulative transit travel time." (Planning's Response, p. 8 [emphasis added] 

However, transit travel time is irrelevant to Planning's conclusion, since there is no transit service on 13th Street at the three intersections where City reached the dubious 150-more-cars-in-2040 figure. Nor is there any support for Planning's claim that the Project will not result in diverting traffic to nearby streets. 

MTA's Sustainable Streets Division announced recently that it intends to remove still more parking on 13th Street in the eastbound frontage lane between South Van Ness Avenue and Folsom Street, which provides access and parking for several businesses, to install a "Bikeshare station." (Ex. G, attached hereto) That action would add to the Project's significant reduction of parking in this commercial area that would have cumulative impacts on traffic, air quality, and parking under CEQA's general definitions as well as the definition in Guidelines §15300.2(b). 

The complete absence of substantial evidence or accurate data and analysis in Planning's exemption document, and City's omission of similar past, pending, and future projects in the area, invalidates its conclusion of no cumulative impacts on traffic, air quality, GHG, or energy consumption.

City has failed to support a preliminary analysis of the cumulative impacts of the Project on traffic, air quality, GHG, energy consumption, parking, and public safety that had to precede its claim of exemption. 

E. City's "Vision Zero" Fiction Is Unsupported And Irrelevant To The CEQA Determination Of Impacts 

City claims that its "Vision Zero High Injury Network is based upon empirical data and robust scientific methodology." (Planning's Response, p. 9) Such data has not been provided with City's Response, and City's position is therefore unsupported. 

Further, the data provided to this Commenter shows only seven, not 57 as claimed, bicycle collisions on 13th Street from May 31, 2012 to May 31, 2016, of which several were caused by the bicyclists themselves. That data is scientifically insignificant. The exaggeration is certainly "robust," but there is no substantial evidence for City's claims of the "urgency of safety improvements." (Planning's Response, p. 2)

Further, for the reasons already stated, the "Vision Zero" claims are irrelevant to the required impacts analysis as a matter of law. (Appellant's Brief, pp. 5-6) 

F. City's Claim That the Project Would Not Result In Air Quality, GHG, Energy Consumption, Public Safety (Including Emergency Vehicle Access), And Other Impacts Are False. 

City mistakenly implies that the preliminary review for significant impacts required by CEQA before an agency declares a project exempt must be supported by substantial evidence presented by the public. (Planning's Response, p. 9) In fact, the burden is on City, not the public, to support its preliminary review. (Save Our Big Trees v. City of Santa Cruz ["Save Our Big Trees"] (2015) 241 Cal.App.4th 694, 705

Indeed, as City admits, the public did not have the opportunity to participate in the preliminary review. (Planning's Response, p. 5)

Planning admits that "[t]he exemption certificate did not assess greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption, or noise impacts," in addition to not assessing traffic or parking impacts. (Planning's Response, p. 9) Instead, Planning states, again with no supporting evidence, that it need not evaluate those issues because its staff believed that "such an assessment was unnecessary because...it was determined that the project would not result in substantial diversion of vehicular travel in the project area and the project's construction activities were minor." (Planning's Response, p. 10) 

Contrary to that mistaken claim, City was required to conduct that assessment in a preliminary review to determine whether a categorical exemption applied to the Project. (Guidelines, §§15060, 15061) 

Indeed, City's own exemption document admits that reducing roadway capacity "may result in increased delay at some locations, and therefore increased emissions of criteria pollutants or ozone precursors in those locations." (Appellant's Brief, Ex. A, p. 7-8.) Where City's own documents admit a Project's potential significant impacts, the Project cannot be categorically exempt. (Azusa, supra, 52 Cal.App.4th at p. 1199

III. THE PROJECT IS NOT CATEGORICALLY EXEMPT FROM CEQA

For the reasons already stated in Appellant's Brief, this Project is not categorically exempt. (Appellant's Brief, pp. 7-10) 

City misstates the law on both of its invoked categorical exemptions. As admitted by the exemption document, there are no "existing" bicycle lanes on 13th Street. (Appellant's Brief, Ex. A, p. 4) For that reason, neither the Guidelines section 15301(c) nor 15304(h) exemptions apply to this Project. 

City also fails to support its claimed categorical exemption with substantial evidence in the record. An agency's claim of categorical exemption will not be upheld without substantial evidence in the agency's record supporting that determination (e.g., Save Our Big Trees, supra, 241 Cal.App.4th at p. 705). The burden is on the agency, not Appellant, to support its exemption. (Id.) Indeed, as City admits, the public does not participate in that determination. (Planning's Response, p. 4) 

Planning's Response (p.10) claims: "City streets have typically been used for a variety of purposes," and that this claim is supported by City's "Transit First" policy. However, City has failed to show that the Project fits within the Guidelines §15301 "existing facilities" exemption. 

Further, as already noted, the Project clearly changes the use of 13th Street by removing traffic lanes for all modes of transportation, removing parking, and installing separated bicycle lanes that are not usable for any mode of transportation except bicycling. That change of use removes this Project from the scope of the "existing facilities" exemption, as previously shown. (Appellant's Brief, p. 8-9)

Planning's Response also misstates the scope of the Guidelines section 15304 exemption, which applies only to minor alterations "in the condition of land, water, and/or vegetation…" (Guidelines §15304 [emphasis added] The example at Section 15304(h) includes "[t]he creation of bicycle lanes on existing rights-of-way." 

However, that example does not apply here, because there are no existing bicycle lanes or any existing exclusive bicycle right-of-way on eastbound 13th Street, and the proposed Project does not create a bicycle lane in an "existing" right-of-way. Rather, the project creates a bicycle facility for exclusive use of bicyclists by removing existing street parking and traffic lanes. (e.g., California Farm Bureau Fed'n. v. California Wildlife Conserv. Bd. (2006) 143 Cal.App.4th 173, 192 [Project to "improve habitat" where there was no existing habitat was not within section 15304 exemption, and was not a "minor" alteration]; (Save Our Carmel River v. Monterey Peninsula Water Mgmt. Dist. (2006) 141 Cal.App.4th 677, 698 [rejecting Class 2 exemption where city failed to show that a proposed "replacement structure…will have substantially the same purpose and capacity as the replaced structure"].) 

The Project is not a "minor alteration" but is a major alteration affecting at least 1,012 vehicles per hour at just one intersection, with significant impacts on traffic, air quality, GHG, energy consumption, parking, and public safety, including emergency vehicle access. 

On top of the Project's removal of nearly all street parking on 13th Street, MTA's Sustainable Streets Division plans to remove still more parking on 13th Street in the eastbound frontage lane serving several businesses on 13th Street near Folsom Street to install a private "Bikeshare station." (Ex. G) Those spaces and that frontage area are used to access businesses there. MTA's proposed expansion of use by bicycles invalidates the categorical exemption. The successive reduction of parking will also have significant cumulative impacts on parking, traffic, and air quality, triggering the section 15300.2 cumulative impacts exception to any categorical exemption.

IV. IMPLEMENTING THE PROJECT WITHOUT ADEQUATE PUBLIC REVIEW IS ITSELF AN ABUSE OF DISCRETION

CEQA's most fundamental mandate to allow the public meaningful voice and informed participation in environmental review has been violated by MTA's illegal implementation of the Project without allowing the public the opportunity to appeal its action to this Board. This Board should not condone or encourage such illegal action and instead should require MTA to remove its changes to 13th Street, both to comply with the law and to prevent its further violation by MTA.

CONCLUSION

The proposed 13th Street Project may have significant impacts on the environment, and it is not exempt from CEQA. This Board should grant this Appeal, set aside the Planning Department's April 10, 2017 Categorical Exemption and the MTA Board's April 18, 2017 Project approval, and order the MTA to immediately remove all physical changes and restore 13th Street and the surrounding area to the way they were before MTA's illegal implementation of the Project, pending further environmental review in compliance with CEQA.

[1] Two Immediate Disclosure Requests, on April 26 and June 20, 2017, were made for Planning's supporting data, including its alleged traffic counts. Both were effectively denied, with Planning failing to provide the alleged counts. (Ex. F attached hereto) 

[2] Planning's Response admits that "between Harrison and Bryant streets, or for approximately one-third of the area covered by the project, the project would remove two eastbound travel lanes," but disingenuously claims that "two travel lanes would still exist, one of which would be a dedicated left turn lane," and that "Phase II of the project would add a second left turn lane, which would create a total of three eastbound travel lanes on 13th Street, the same as existing conditions." (Planning's Response, p. 6) In fact, as plainly evident from City's own documents, the Project will remove two through traffic lanes on 13th Street between Harrison and Bryant Streets, leaving only one through traffic lane. (Appellant's Brief, Ex. A [Exemption], p. 3, and Figure 3 at p. 10) 

[3] City claims that "SFMTA provided the department with traffic counts collected for three intersections within the project limits: 13th and Folsom streets, 13th and Harrison streets, and 11th, 13th, Bryant, and Division streets…during the p.m. peak hour." (Planning Response, p.6) However, City's Project also includes the major intersection of 13th Street and South Van Ness Avenue. (Appellant's Brief, Ex. A)

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Another moral to the story

Muni's "peace" campaign

From Heather Knight's column in the Chronicle this morning:

An offshoot of Farrell’s push for a Maya Angelou statue that is just great? Kids around the city are becoming fundraisers for the project. The statue would cost $500,000 — Farrell has asked that the city pay half and pledged to raise the rest privately.

When Shannon O’Neill, a mom of two kids who lives in the Jordan Park neighborhood, read my column about the effort, she had a stroke of genius. Why not have kids promise to read a certain number of pages this summer and be sponsored by their friends and family? She’s calling it Reading for Representation, and there’s a link on Farrell’s fundraising page to participate.

O’Neill’s 11-year-old daughter, Olivia, has pledged to read 750 pages this summer and seeks to raise $750.

“It’s important for them to say, ‘Just because I’m a kid, it doesn’t mean I can’t make a difference and help be an active part of the change,’” O’Neill said.

Rob's comment:
Okay, but there are other possible lessons to be learned from Maya Angelou's life---that even good/great writers can sometimes be foolish.

Like other celebrity liberals, Angelou made the mistake of supporting cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, as if he was "a political prisoner framed for a murder he did not commit."

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

SF Examiner

From the SF Examiner:

City College of San Francisco’s likely new chancellor will make tens of thousands more a year than his predecessors at the fiscally troubled college if his contract is approved Thursday at the Board of Trustees.

Mark Rocha, a New York bureaucrat who has a long and at times controversial history of leading community colleges in Southern California, will earn $310,500 annually before benefits — about $45,000 more than Interim Chancellor Susan Lamb and $21,000 more than the last permanent chancellor, Art Tyler.

The news comes as City College continues to reduce its class schedule by 5 percent a year because of a $35 million loss in state funding this fiscal year, when stability funding meant to offset the decline in student enrollment ends.

Rocha will likely have the votes needed to become chancellor Thursday despite an outcry against the decision from the faculty union, according to trustees who spoke on and off the record with the San Francisco Examiner.

“There will be a lot of people testifying against him and for him,” said Trustee John Rizzo, who plans to vote in favor of Rocha because he was the “best” of four finalists for the job. “I just don’t see the board reversing its decision.”

The American Federation of Teachers Local 2121 is concerned that faculty at Pasadena City College voted no confidence in Rocha when he was president in 2013.

“This is not a person we want to be the chancellor of our school,” said AFT 2121 President Tim Killikelly, who heard “disturbing” reports from faculty at colleges where Rocha previously worked.

Trustee Rafael Mandelman, who did not support Rocha’s selection as the top candidate for the job, is also concerned with Rocha’s past and said he will not vote in favor of the contract...

“The record speaks for itself, and I think at this moment in City College’s history we need a healer,” he said. “It is absolutely my hope that Rocha will be that healer and nothing will make me happier than to have been wrong.”


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"People will die"



Thanks to Daily Kos.

Jonathan Chait:

The Senate bill, like the House bill, would represent the largest setback in public health and low-income support in the history of American government. That will remain true regardless of what concessions any “moderate” member might obtain. Any Senator who negotiates within its established parameters is accepting its monstrous moral calculus.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Dumb rail project in trouble 2

Alternative uses for Honolulu rail

Since Honolulu is $5 billion short to finish its $10 billion train boondoggle, Caleb Hartsfield proposes possible uses above for the half-finished project.


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The Giants are having fun losing



The San Francisco Giants are 20 games out of first place, and the season isn't even half over.

From today's SF Chronicle:

Before the game, Giants players had a quick meeting, and laughter was heard from a distance. “What’s amazing is, the clubhouse before the game, it was loose,” Bochy said. “They were still having fun, trying to keep each other loose doing some things. You could hear them laughing.”

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

In today's NY Times:

To the Editor:

The Trump administration should be pressed hard to explain how it is consistent to oppose improved relations with Cuba while promoting improved relations with Russia. 

Is one type of oppressive regime better than the other? For President Trump, the answer is obviously “yes.” Mr. Trump seems to hate oppressive regimes that convert private property into public goods for the benefit of the people, but he loves oppressive regimes that convert public goods into private property for the benefit of a few rich friends.

Stephen Gillespie
San Francisco

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Monday, June 19, 2017

57 homeless deaths in 2016

57 homeless people died on city streets in 2016, a bad year when compared to 41 deaths in 2015, 31 in 2014, 23 in 2013, 25 in 2012, 27 in 2011---I apparently missed counting 2010---15 in 2009, 26 in 2008, 44 in 2007, and 86 in 2006.

100 homeless deaths every year used to be routine until the city started doing more aggressive outreach. 

My annual count is based on the Homeless Death Form the city created more than ten years ago that makes a more precise count possible.

Name: Ian Sheffield
Date of Death: 1/01/16
Place of Death: Ocean Beach
Circumstances of Death: Drowning
Birthdate: 2/24/68
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: Mark Mansky
Date of Death: 1/03/16
Place of Death: On Derby Street
Circumstances of Death: Drug related
Birthdate: 8/11/68
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: Juan Sarabia
Date of Death: 1/04/16
Place of Death: St. Francis Hospital
Circumstances of Death: Possible 187[murder] assault
Birthdate: 7/20/97
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White Hispanic


Name: Thomas Connors
Date of Death: 1/05/16
Place of Death: CMPC-Pacific-ER
Circumstances of Death: Unknown
Birthdate: 1/18/62
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: Kenneth Goodteacher
Date of Death: 1/10/16
Place of Death: Bayshore Blvd.
Circumstances of Death:
Birthdate: 5/13/59
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Native American


Name: Phillip Monsky
Date of Death: 1/13/16
Place of Death: St. Francis Hospital
Circumstances of Death:
Birthdate: 5/4/56
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: Michela McFarland
Date of Death: 1/14/16
Place of Death: St. Francis Hospital
Circumstances of Death:
Birthdate: 5/31/73
Sex: Female
Race/Ethnicity: Black


Name: Jeremy Andrews
Date of Death: 1/21/16
Place of Death: CMPC
Circumstances of Death: In custody
Birthdate: 3/02/85
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: Kevin Reynolds
Date of Death: 1/24/16
Place of Death: Girl friend's res.
Circumstances of Death:
Birthdate: 6/19/63
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Black


Name: Diane Diggs
Date of Death: 2/14/16
Place of Death: St. Francis Hospital
Circumstances of Death:
Birthdate: 4/03/65
Sex: Female
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: Louis Nitschke
Date of Death: 2/10/16
Place of Death: UCSF Mission Bay
Circumstances of Death: Indigent
Birthdate: Not provided
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Other/Undetermined


Name: Eugene Jarrell Jr.
Date of Death: 2/24/16
Place of Death: NB 280 Between Monte
Circumstances of Death: Ped vs Auto
Birthdate: 10/26/66
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Other


Name: Franz Hockenbrouch
Date of Death: 2/26/16
Place of Death: Across 150 San Bruno
Circumstances of Death: App. 801 Asphyxia
Birthdate: 4/26/78
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: Karen Henderson
Date of Death: 3/06/16
Place of Death: In front of 1979 Mission St.
Circumstances of Death: IPV[intimate partner violence]
Birthdate: 1/17/57
Sex: Female
Race/Ethnicity: Black


Name: Susanne Stevenson
Date of Death: 3/26/16
Place of Death: Sidewalk
Circumstances of Death: IPV
Birthdate: 8/10/68
Sex: Female
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: Patricia Vanaskey
Date of Death: 4/03/16
Place of Death: IFO 3150 16th Street
Circumstances of Death:
Birthdate: 4/06/53
Sex: Female
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: Luis Gongora
Date of Death: 4/07/16
Place of Death: SFGH ICU
Circumstances of Death:
Birthdate: 4/25/70
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White Hispanic


Name: David Black
Date of Death: 4/09/16
Place of Death: CMPC Pacific Campus
Circumstances of Death: Poss. Assault
Birthdate: 11/19/51
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: Exquille Luna Sabido
Date of Death: 4/11/16
Place of Death: SFGH
Circumstances of Death: Indigent
Birthdate: Not Provided
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Undetermined


Name: Kito Fields
Date of Death: 4/21/16
Place of Death: IFO Asian Art Museum
Circumstances of Death: 187 Stabbing
Birthdate: 9/27/78
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Black


Name: Angela Lawrence
Date of Death: 5/03/16
Place of Death: Across from 3 Embarcadero
Circumstances of Death: IPV
Birthdate: 1/26/68
Sex: Female
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: Willie Tucker
Date of Death: 5/11/16
Place of Death: South Van Ness Avenue
Circumstances of Death:
Birthdate: 5/13/53
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Black


Name: Tim Jessup
Date of Death: 5/14/16
Place of Death: On Stevenson at 7th
Circumstances of Death: Natural vs Drug
Birthdate: 10/01/43
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: Margaret Binion
Date of Death: 5/16/16
Place of Death: IFO 50 Gordon
Circumstances of Death: Possible Drug Related
Birthdate: 2/23/67
Sex: Female
Race/Ethnicity: Black


Name: Cedric James
Date of Death: 5/21/16
Place of Death: St. Francis ICU
Circumstances of Death:
Birthdate: 2/22/55
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Black


Name: Stephen Williams
Date of Death: 5/24/16
Place of Death: Alvord Lake
Circumstances of Death: PC 187
Birthdate: 10/13/49
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: Peter Winterowd
Date of Death: 5/25/16
Place of Death: St. Francis
Circumstances of Death: Indigent
Birthdate: 2/03/66
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: Ariel Martinez
Date of Death: 6/04/16
Place of Death: SFGH ICU
Circumstances of Death: App. Natural
Birthdate: 9/18/71
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White Hispanic


Name: Michael Alexander
Date of Death: 6/15/16
Place of Death: Market Street
Circumstances of Death: IPV
Birthdate: 7/05/56
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: Samuel Sample
Date of Death: 6/15/16
Place of Death: CMPC ICU
Circumstances of Death: Poss. Drug OD
Birthdate: 7/07/45
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Black


Name: Sarah Smith
Date of Death: 6/15/16
Place of Death: CMPC ICU
Circumstances of Death: Poss. 801 Ingestion
Birthdate: 4/20/83
Sex: Female
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: Joshua Lockmier
Date of Death: 6/17/16
Place of Death:
Circumstances of Death: Poss. Drug Related
Birthdate: 6/29/81
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: Shanna Moreno
Date of Death: 6/19/16
Place of Death: CMPC
Circumstances of Death: Probable Drug
Birthdate: 2/19/69
Sex: Female
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: Rainer Thielmann
Date of Death: 6/21/16
Place of Death: CMPC
Circumstances of Death:
Birthdate: 9/14/51
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: Malia Thompson
Date of Death: 6/22/16
Place of Death: St. Mary's Square Park
Circumstances of Death: 801 Hanging
Birthdate: 12/03/79
Sex: Female
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: Richard Sorling
Date of Death: 6/27/16
Place of Death: IFO 233 Geary
Circumstances of Death: Poss. Assault
Birthdate: 8/26/62
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: Taron Coran
Date of Death: 7/05/16
Place of Death: IFO 3271 18th St.
Circumstances of Death: IPV
Birthdate: 4/15/52
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: Dwain Hunter
Date of Death: 7/16/16
Place of Death: UCSF Parnassus
Circumstances of Death: Indigent
Birthdate: 7/30/65
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Other


Name: Dani Long
Date of Death: 7/20/16
Place of Death: Staircase IFO 776 Market
Circumstances of Death: Poss. Assault
Birthdate: 7/25/71
Sex: Female
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: Donovan Renshaw
Date of Death: 7/27/16
Place of Death: UCSF Medical Center
Circumstances of Death: Indigent
Birthdate: 10/27/67
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity:


Name: Richard Boggs
Date of Death: 8/30/16
Place of Death: In Front of #3 Dodge
Circumstances of Death: IPV
Birthdate: 3/30/76
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: Parker East
Date of Death: 9/19/16
Place of Death: IFO 101 Grove Street
Circumstances of Death: IPV
Birthdate: 2/26/85
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: Gary Goldie
Date of Death: 10/09/16
Place of Death: 44 McAllister Street
Circumstances of Death: Drug Related

Birthdate: 3/28/53
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: David Cappello
Date of Death: 10/12/16
Place of Death: San Jose Ave.
Circumstances of Death: IPV
Birthdate: 11/19/68
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: Steven Raggio
Date of Death: 10/15/16
Place of Death: SFGH
Circumstances of Death: Indigent
Birthdate: 3/03/59
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: Shiv Kumar
Date of Death: 10/21/16
Place of Death: IFO 68 Golden Gate Ave.
Circumstances of Death: IPV/Drug
Birthdate: 2/22/82
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Black


Name: Robert Kelly
Date of Death: 10/22/16
Place of Death: St. Mary's Medical Center
Circumstances of Death:
Birthdate: 10/30/57
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: Marcus Polk
Date of Death: 10/24/16
Place of Death: 137 Addison Street
Circumstances of Death: 187 GSW
Birthdate: 12/23/70
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Black


Name: Veronica Fitzgerald
Date of Death: 10/24/16
Place of Death: 75 Dore Street
Circumstances of Death: IPV
Birthdate: 3/02/68
Sex: Female
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: Myron Hooker
Date of Death: 10/27/16
Place of Death: NW Corner of Funston
Circumstances of Death: IPV
Birthdate: 11/21/58
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Black


Name: Lonnie Burton
Date of Death: 11/06/16
Place of Death: In Front of 575 Eddy St.
Circumstances of Death: IPV Poss. Drugs
Birthdate: 5/06/67
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Black


Name: Alfred Cole
Date of Death: 11/08/16
Place of Death: CMPC Pacific Campus
Circumstances of Death: Drug Related
Birthdate: 3/06/60
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Black


Name: Alejandro Padilla
Date of Death: 11/16/16
Place of Death: NW Corner Oceanview
Circumstances of Death: IPV
Birthdate: 4/24/88
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White Hispanic


Name: Gregory Howe
Date of Death: 11/19/16
Place of Death: 350 Bay Street
Circumstances of Death: Unknown
Birthdate: 2/06/54
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: Roberto Castillo
Date of Death: 11/25/16
Place of Death: SFGH
Circumstances of Death: Remote Assault
Birthdate: 9/18/61
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White Hispanic


Name: Henry Decelles
Date of Death: 11/26/16
Place of Death: Public Sidewalk on 5th
Circumstances of Death: IPV
Birthdate: 12/11/38
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White


Name: Levi Borowitz
Date of Death: 11/30/16
Place of Death: Corner of Maiden Ln. 
& Grant
Circumstances of Death: IPV vs Drugs
Birthdate: 9/10/81
Sex: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White


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Right-wing propaganda on PBS

Getty Images

Diane Ravitch on Huffington Post:

...This month the Public Broadcasting System is broadcasting a “documentary” that tells a one-sided story, the story that Betsy DeVos herself would tell, based on the work of free-market advocate Andrew Coulson. Author of “Market Education,” Coulson narrates “School, Inc.,” a three-hour program, which airs this month nationwide in three weekly broadcasts on PBS.

Uninformed viewers who see this slickly produced program will learn about the glories of unregulated schooling, for-profit schools, teachers selling their lessons to students on the Internet. They will learn about the “success” of the free market in schooling in Chile, Sweden, and New Orleans. They will hear about the miraculous charter schools across America, and how public school officials selfishly refuse to encourage the transfer of public funds to private institutions. They will see a glowing portrait of South Korea, where students compete to get the highest possible scores on a college entry test that will define the rest of their lives and where families gladly pay for after-school tutoring programs and online lessons to boost test scores. They will hear that the free market is more innovative than public schools.

What they will not see or hear is the other side of the story. They will not hear scholars discuss the high levels of social segregation in Chile, nor will they learn that the students protesting the free-market schools in the streets are not all “Communists,” as Coulson suggests. They will not hear from scholars who blame Sweden’s choice system for the collapse of its international test scores. They will not see any reference to Finland, which far outperforms any other European nation on international tests yet has neither vouchers nor charter schools. They may not notice the absence of any students in wheelchairs or any other evidence of students with disabilities in the highly regarded KIPP charter schools. 

They will not learn that the acclaimed American Indian Model Charter Schools in Oakland does not enroll any American Indians, but has a student body that is 60 percent Asian American in a city where that group is 12.8 percent of the student population. Nor will they see any evidence of greater innovation in voucher schools or charter schools than in properly funded public schools...

I watched the documentary twice, preparing to be interviewed by Channel 13, and was repelled by the partisan nature of the presentation. I googled the funders and discovered that the lead funder is the Rose Mary and Jack Anderson Foundation, a very conservative foundation that is a major contributor to the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, which advocates for vouchers. 

The Anderson Foundation is allied with Donors Trust, whose donors make contributions that cannot be traced to them. Mother Jones referred to this foundation as part of “the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement.” 

Other contributors to Donors Trust include the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity and the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation.

The second major funder is the Prometheus Foundation. Its public filings with the IRS show that its largest grant ($2.5 million) went to the Ayn Rand Institute. The third listed funder of “School Inc.” is the Steve and Lana Hardy Foundation, which contributes to free-market libertarian think tanks. 

In other words, this program is paid propaganda...

The Diane Ravitch blog.

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Sunday, June 18, 2017



Gee, who would do such a terrible thing? Surely not an adherent of the Religion of Peace?

Later: Wrong! Turns out it was an Islamophobe, not Muslim on Muslim terrorism.


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Something small children do

In today's NY Times:

Olivia Wilde: But I’ll ask my son, “Did you brush your teeth?” He’ll say, “Yeah.” And I’ll say: “You did not. I was standing right here.” 

It’s funny. Kids lie without any real strategy. That’s why Trump seems so much like a toddler sometimes. His tendency to lie when it’s clearly a lie is something small children do. They also bully and take toys from each other. It’s something you’re supposed to grow out of by the time you’re 70.

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“There can be no peace until they renounce their Rabbit God 
and accept our Duck God.”

Thanks to the Friendly Atheist.


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