Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

Tears of a clown

The man arrested yesterday for allegedly making threatening threatening phone calls to the office of Rep. Nancy Pelosi appeared in court today for his arraignment and cried. The SJ Mercury News put it like this:

He was crying in court and appeared disheveled in a T-shirt and khakis. The magistrate ordered the U.S. Attorney’s Office to interview Giusti to see if he is mentally competent enough to be released to a halfway house, or if he should continue to be detained.

It could be said that a more sympathetic portrait of the man is emerging. If he’s just some poor crazy fuck, can he really be held responsible for his actions? Legally, that’ll be up to the courts, and I’m glad we live in a country where mentally ill people are not held fully responsible. And yet people who live with him, or have dealt with him in recent years — see the previous entry here — have found him scary and intimidating. At what point do you stop being a harmless if abrasive nut and start being a dangerous creep? It’s not up to the victims of a bully to evaluate his mental state or even confront him if they believe they are in physical danger.

Meanwhile, KGO’s Dan Noyes reported (via Politico.com) that his mother said her son was the victim of bad influences like “Fox News, or all of those that are really radical.”

We don’t need CalTrain for bullet trains, says HSR

California’s High Speed Rail Commission, the agency tasked with getting bullet trains running up and down the state sometime this century, says CalTrain’s “staggering deficit” and possible collapse will not keep it from proceeding with its plans.

Just because the local transit agency, which runs trains from San Francisco to San Jose (and Gilroy, at commute times), is facing drastic cuts to its schedule, even a possible shutdown, doesn’t mean the bullet train project can’t go forward. High speed rail would share the CalTrain right-of-way from Gilroy north (click for a Google map overlay of the bullet train route), and if CalTrain can’t hold it together in the decade or two before the bullet trains arrive, the High Speed Rail Commission might just take over CalTrain. At least that was the idea “floated” by HSR board member Rod Diridon, long-time transit mandarin. After all, they’re both essentially state agencies.

The map shows some details of the HSR plan on the Peninsula, where some sections would be in a trench, some on an elevated way, some at grade level.

Meanwhile, the threat of a lawsuit forced the CalTrain board to put on hold the long-planned electrification of the line. Inexplicably, the lawsuit is from an environmental group, even though electrification would make the line less polluting. Right now it seems CalTrain can’t do anything right.

Feds approve $$$ to scuttle Mothball Fleet

The Mothball Fleet, a collection of several dozen rusting military ships left over from wars of the past that has been mouldering in an upper reach of San Francisco Bay, will be finally removed soon under a plan just approved by federal government officials.

The collection of ships, tethered together in several rows in Suisun Bay off Benicia, have been there for decades; some of the ships last saw service in World War II. See this 2008 news story from KPIX channel 5, which points out that their lead paint made them a toxic hazard and that it cost $5 million a year just to keep them there.

Click the picture below to go to a Google satellite map of the ships.

Hey, it’s an election

times_squareIt’s election day! Who knew? In San Francisco, the only interesting thing on the ballot is Prop. D., the proposal to put giant Times Square-type advertising signs on Market Street in order to “enliven” it.

Are they kidding? Apparently not. Here are some arguments in favor and a Chronicle editorial against. And here is the whole list of issues and candidates running, including City Atty. Dennis Herrera (unopposed).

Go to the SF Dept of Elections for results tonight.

 
Flickr photo of Times Square by Scott Beale at Laughing Squid.

Aw, he’s no fun, he fell right over

newsom.xlarge

Associated Press photo of Gavin Newsom by George Nikitin

Saying his “young family” and his day job were bigger priorities, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom pulled out of the race for California governor today.

Newsom was once a Democratic Party rising star. Then:

And then in April this year he announced he was running for governor. So we see how well that went.

Newsom’s second term as San Francisco mayor lasts through 2011.

Things that happened to San Francisco

The mayor, every member of the Board of Supervisors, and several other elected officials take a 2.4% pay cut with the just-signed budget for the city.

Police have arrested a suspect in the series of car fires that struck the city last week, a 62-year-old homeless woman. She might also be responsible for the porta-potty fires that broke out several months ago.

The Eddie Bauer business is now the property of a San Francisco firm called Golden Gate Capital Partners, though its corporate headquarters will continue to be in Bellevue, Washington.

Calif. Supreme Court upholds Prop. 8, outlawing same-sex marriage

In a 6-1 decision announced at 10:00 a.m. today, the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8, a ballot initiative passed in November that outlawed same-sex marriage in the state. Here is the opinion (PDF file). Marriages performed before Nov. 4, 2008 are still valid, the court ruled.

6th anniversary of Iraq War brings out thousands

An anti-war march with at least a couple thousand diverse participants ventured up Market St this afternoon. The organizers were mostly focused on the sixth anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, but the marchers expressed a wide variety of dissatisfaction with numerous foreign & domestic policy issues. The contingent was loud, but peaceful, if not festive at times, replete with marching band and numerous chants bandied about the slow moving crowd that stretched for a couple full blocks.the ongoing war the US started in Iraq some six years ago was the main impetus for the demonstration. Local celebrity spotters can note the black Frank Chu 12 Galaxies sign rising out of the pack

Unlike recent splintered demonstrations in Oakland, a fairly large contingent of dozens of overtime collecting SFPD officers on foot and motorcycles seemed prepared to quell any possible property damage or disturbances from the bandana’d few who tend to ignite trash cans and engage in the more annoying and disruptive behaviors.

The march assembled near Justin Herman Plaza circa 11am and ended with a rally at Civic Center Plaza at about 1:30 , where a contingent of pro-Palestinian marchers were met with pro-Israeli occupation demonstrators stationed in front of City Hall.

Other marches took place concurrently in locations such as the Pentagon just outside of Washington DC, and in LA, while another protest is scheduled for tommorrow in Fresno.

Bringing up the rear, just behind the infamous Bay Area Women in Black, was this masked lone wolf demonstrator.
Thou  Shall Not Kill My Hope

SFGate to begin charging for content

chronicle_frontpage_27feb09Missed in the general reaction to Tuesday’s news that the San Francisco Chronicle will have to shrink radically, be sold, or closed — as Denver’s Rocky Mountain News went out of business today — was this bit, which I noticed courtesy MediaBistro: The Chronicle is also planning to charge online readers for its SF Gate online presence, Newsosaur reported.

According to the report, “(The plan) would require the elimination of nearly half of the 1,500 employees of the newspaper to wipe out the operating deficit. To avoid cutting that deeply into the staff, the Chronicle plans to boost revenues by increasing subscription prices for the newspaper and to begin charging consumers for access to certain features and sections at its website.”

Some observers speculated that Dean Singleton’s MediaNews Group was positioning itself to buy the Chronicle. The company also owns the San Jose Mercury News, the Oakland Tribune, and many other smaller dailies in the Bay Area — as well as the Denver Post.

Read more after the jump

Coming Home

Chestnut St

Just returning from a month away from SF & America and it makes me appreciate it all the more.

– Our weather rocks. I love putting on a hoodie, layering, whatever we do here to manage the slight variations in cold.
– First day back I walked up to a cafe, met a friend, and sat down to a long Scrabble game over beer. It’s a pedestrian city! We enjoy our casual cafes and don’t have weird alcohol restrictions. It’s a small, but urban city! Yay.
– A big cup of coffee and a not-too-sweet cinnamon roll for under $5. Our food is so high quality and so well priced!
– Bought a honeydew melon and oranges, in mid winter, for a few dollars. It was perfect. The oranges are sweet and heavy, the melon was ripe and tasty.
– You can eat so many different ethnic foods, at so many places, for so little.
– Just to wax American, for my relatives at least I have a new appreciation for the opportunities we have here, for its class-less society, for the attempt at least not to judge people by where they came from, who they were, what class or occupation they had. The lack of history is refreshing, and freeing, basically. (In Sweden, you were locked into your father’s occupation up until the late 1800s.)
– For our political process that allows for different parties and interests to come in and out, without fundamentally changing the process, but representing different interests. (From Bush to Obama, may seem revolutionary to international friends, but as a seasoned American, is par for the course- Reagan to Clinton, i.e. but really- how many other countries’ processes can see that change, and support it?)
– For our honest attempts at understanding recent history, for the flourishing journalism and blogging, and for our interest in accountability. (In Russia, you could really have a debate over whether Stalin was a monster. Same with Mao in China, his culpability is debatable. As a small example here, but we’re ready to impeach Blagojevich. For some, without flourishing journalist estates, that may seem hasty.)

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