Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

Anti-eviction rally in the Mission tomorrow supporting the Mission and Rene Yanez

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Tomorrow (Sat/12 at 2pm) advocates and defenders of working class San Francisco will march to protest a rash of recent Mission evictions, including the potential ouster of artists and activists Rene Yañez and Yolanda Lopez from their Mission district home. 

The organizers want the mayor to declare a state of emergency in the city as the recent Ellis Act evictions have intensified -- 125 Ellis Act eviction notices have been filed this year, with the most recent numbers going to the end of August, according to the SF Rent Board. But 175 requests for Ellis Act evictions were filed, meaning 70 percent of Ellis evictions were upheld. The march follows recent wins against gentrification, including blocking a Jack Spade store from opening in the Mission

Organizer Roberto Y. Hernandez said that since he announced the march he’s been getting calls of support from all over the city, but most notably in Chinatown, the Bayview, and the Castro. 

“I heard horror stories of what's happening to the gay community in the Castro,” he said. “This doesn’t just affect the Mission, this affects the whole city.” 

Each of those evictions represents a person or family whose ouster from their apartments may mean ouster from San Francisco altogether. Ellis evictions gained more notoriety this year, first with the plight of the Lee family and now the ouster of Mission artists Yañez and Lopez. 

Yañez is widely credited with bringing the celebration of Day of the Dead to the city. He co-founded the Mission’s Galeria de la Raza and practiced art in his home of the Bay Area since the 60s. Now, while suffering from cancer, the 71 year old is being forced from the neighborhood he helped to shape. Lopez, his former wife, is an artist with deep roots in the Chicano/a movements of the ‘60s, and is facing eviction as well. 

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Government shutdown puts thousands of SF veterans' benefits at risk

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More than 7,000 employees in Veterans Benefits Administration offices nationwide were furloughed today (Tues/8), the newest casualty of the federal government shutdown.

As the Republicans in Washington hold the nation hostage over President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, federal employees are leaving their offices in droves. Now the veterans who rely on the federal government for healthcare and education checks have nothing to do but wait on word of their uncertain futures. 

The furlough of veterans benefits workers comes at an especially awful time as they struggle to meet an enormous backlog of health benefit claims, revealed this year by the Berkeley-based Center for Investigative Reporting.

“VA’s ability to make significant progress reducing the disability claims backlog is hampered without the increased productivity gained from overtime for claims processors,” the Veterans Benefits Administration said in a statement released today. The agency has reduced the disability claims backlog by more than 190,000 claims over the last six months, it wrote.  

But even worse, it said that if the government shutdown persists into late October there would be no funding available to supply veterans with their November support checks -- money many rely on for rent and food.

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Friends in the shadows

How developers, corporations, and city contractors buy influence in San Francisco City Hall -- a 47th anniversary Guardian special investigation

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rebecca@sfbg.com, joe@sfbg.com

It's a simple fact of life: Money buys influence. But in San Francisco, despite strict sunshine laws to illuminate donations to city agencies and gifts to the regulators from the regulated, money still circulates in the shadows when it flows through the coffers of "Friends" in high places.Read more »

Project Censored

Annual media watchdog list critiques coverage of whistleblowers and wealth gaps -- and the notion of journalistic objectivity

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joe@sfbg.com

This year's annual Project Censored list of the most underreported news stories includes the widening wealth gap, the trial of Pfc. Bradley Manning for leaking classified documents, and President Obama's war on whistleblowers — all stories that actually received considerable news coverage.

So how exactly were they "censored" and what does that say of this venerable media watchdog project?Read more »

SFSU police get Tasers

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Just because the San Francisco Police Department can't get Tasers doesn't mean all the cops in San Francisco are missing out.

The San Francisco State University Police Department will soon arm its officers with conducted electrical weapons, known by the brand name Taser, following a statewide push from the California State University Chancellor's Office to arm all of its campus police statewide with the weapons.Read more »

SF State campus police arming themselves with Tasers (yes, before the SFPD)

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Just because the SFPD can’t get Tasers doesn’t mean all the cops in San Francisco are missing out.

The San Francisco State University Police Department will soon arm themselves with conducted electrical weapons, known by the brand name Taser, following a statewide push from the California State University Chancellor’s Office to arm all of its campus police statewide with the weapons.Read more »

Bill on Brown's desk to make two-tiered system of college tuition: for the rich, and the poor

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It seems that one California politician is adapting an old adage for a modern era: If at first students protest and get pepper sprayed, try, try that legislation again. Read more »

BART resists safety reforms in labor negotiations

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BART maintenance workers training under safety instructor Saul Almanza are taught this most important lesson: the objective when you go to work is to come home afterward.

He remembers two BART engineers who were hit and killed by the trains they were charged with repairing: Robert Rhodes in 2001, and James Strickland in 2008. Almanza imagines the dark tunnels where the safe places to stand are small and the lighting is scarce. He says he thinks of Rhodes and Strickland every day.Read more »

Fighting foreclosures

Richmond wins the first battles in its war against big banks on behalf of underwater homeowners

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joe@sfbg.com

It will be a long war, but for now, Richmond is winning.

Two battles in the start of the city of Richmond's war on foreclosures were fought and won in the past week. A US District Court of Appeals judge dismissed Wells Fargo's lawsuit against Richmond's controversial plan to use eminent domain to save residents with underwater mortgages (see "Not for sale," Sept. 3). And Mayor Gayle McLaughlin successfully fought off legislation at the Richmond City Council to torpedo the plan before it started.Read more »

Wells Fargo lawsuit against city of Richmond dismissed

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Richmond, 1, Wells Fargo, zip. 

In the first round of what may become a long and protracted legal battle, US Distict Judge Charles Breyer dismissed Wells Fargo's lawsuit against the city of Richmond today, and the reason for dismissal was clear: nothing has happened yet. Read more »