City College accreditor’s own experts didn’t want to shut the school down


By Tim Redmond

There are so many reasons to love the lawsuit that City Attorney Dennis Herrera has filed against the City College accreditors. It’s going to force this rogue group to show up in court and answer questions, it’s going to give a judge a chance to see just how rotten this whole deal was … and it’s going to bring a lot of new facts to light.

For example, this.

An LA Times reporter has been reading the documents that the ACCJC filed – and came on a stunning piece of information that everyone on every side of this issue needs to read and consider.

See, the ACCJC sent a team of experts to visit City College. It wasn’t a particularly balanced team – most of the members were administrators, only a small number were teachers. And many of its findings had to do with City College not having enough administrators.

But still: Even this biased team suggested that City College be put on probation and given time to fix its problems – NOT given “show cause” notice. The experts that the ACCJC appointed, the agency’s own team, didn’t want to move toward shutting down the school. Continue reading

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United adds Uber app — despite SFO ban on Uber faux-cab pickups


By Tim Redmond

Uber’s attempt at world domination doesn’t end with its somewhat dubious efforts to screw its competitors. The faux-taxi app is now partnering with United Airlines to attract passengers getting on or off a plane.

One problem: At a lot of airports, including SFO, it’s illegal for Uber’s faux-cabs to pick up fares.

A reader who is a regular United Airlines customer, and uses the United phone app, told me that the app offered her Uber connections for both SFO and LAX. And while Uber’s traditional limo service is licensed to pick up at the airports, the “ride-share” drivers are not.

And the app links directly to the Uber service, including the ride-share service. Continue reading

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The Karl Marx Tree: How Southern Pacific Railroad killed a socialist colony in the name of creating Yosemite National Park


It's called the General Sherman tree today, but the settlers of a socialist colony named it for Karl Marx

It’s called the General Sherman tree today, but the settlers of a socialist colony named it for Karl Marx

By Marc Norton

AUGUST 27, 2014 — There has been considerable hoopla this summer around the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln putting his signature on the Yosemite Grant Act of 1864. Lincoln set aside Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias for public use and preservation. Yosemite subsequently became a national park in 1890.

Missing from this commemoration are the machinations of corporate power brokers, specifically the Southern Pacific Railroad, in the founding of Yosemite National Park. The very same legislative act that created the park in 1890 also destroyed a socialist experiment in collective living and enterprise – the Kaweah Colony – that had been organized socialists and labor activists based in San Francisco.

The Kaweah Colony posed a political and economic challenge to the dominance of capital in general, and to Southern Pacific in particular. With the support of Southern Pacific, the act that created Yosemite National Park was amended in secret at the last minute to expand the newly created Sequoia National Park, in order to expropriate lands that the Kaweah Colony had settled.

Southern Pacific had its way, and the days of the Kaweah Colony were numbered. The road that the colonists had hacked out of the wilderness with their collective labor was stolen by the park service, without compensation, and served as the main route into Sequoia National Park for decades. The giant sequoia that the Kaweah colonists had named the Karl Marx Tree, by volume the largest known living tree in the world, was renamed the General Sherman Tree.

The power of capital triumphed over the power of the people. Continue reading

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Politics on Tuesday: The Milk Club, the soda tax — and the myth that the Campos campaign is “broke”

And this has what to do with the Campos-Chiu campaign?

And this has what to do with the Campos-Chiu campaign?

By Tim Redmond

AUGUST 26, 2014 – The big fuss of the week, to the surprise of the leaders of the Harvey Milk Club, is the assault on the club by both the soda tax campaign and the campaign of Sup. David Chiu.

The Chron’s Heather Knight reported that the club had decided not to endorse the soda tax – and allowed the spokesperson for the soda-tax campaign to allege that this was a conspiracy to raise money for the Milk Club slate card to promote Chiu’s opponent, Sup. David Campos:

Maureen Erwin, campaign manager for the pro-soda tax side, said, “Harvey Milk’s name and legacy was bought and sold at the Milk club. … With only $20,000 in the bank, I believe it was Campos’ last-ditch, desperate play to remain relevant in the Assembly race, selling out his community’s health and the legacy of a civil rights hero to win an election.”

The Bay Guardian managed to dismiss a lot of the swirling rumors around the Milk Club and the ABA ($300,000? Really?), but also quoted Nicole Derse, who works for Chiu, as saying

Do you really think it’s a coincidence David Campos is broke and needs a vehicle to fund his campaign?

It’s interesting: Right after the vote on the Milk Club endorsements, I happened to be talking to the club’s co-president, Laura Thomas, about another issue, and we were musing on the Prop. E. vote. See, Thomas supports the soda tax; Tom Temprano, who shares the club leadership with her, opposes it. And they both agree that, either way, it’s not the club’s priority this fall — as far as initiatives go, the Milk Club is all about the anti-speculation tax.

Temprano writes for 48hills. I’m friends with all of these folks. And I honestly believe that the Milk Club was split – not by money but by an ideological disagreement about sales taxes. It doesn’t seem to me that the soda tax is regressive; nobody needs sugary drinks. (As a nonprofit, 48hills doesn’t endorse candidates or initiatives, but my personal feelings about this measure are no secret.)

But Temprano, like other friends of mine in the Milk Club, had strong feelings against the measure long before the ABA gave the club a dime.

And for the head of the soda-tax campaign to insult Campos – who voted FOR the tax, and was the sixth vote to put it on the ballot – is a bit tone deaf.

Here’s the much bigger issue: Everyone involved in this theory is operating under the assumption that the Campos campaign is out of money. Not true; not even close.

The Chron reported about a month ago the Campos was down to $20,000. Which was accurate at that moment – the Campos campaign spent most of its cash on the primary.

But the campaign is hardly “broke.” Campos told me he has raised $200,000 in the last couple of weeks, and is on target to bring in half a million by Election Day. That won’t beat Chiu’s numbers, but it’s hardly “broke.”

“We have already raised $700,000, and that’s far more than most people ever expected a progressive could raise in this race,” Campos said.

And with all due respect, the Milk Club card – even if it’s funded by the ABA – isn’t going to be the deciding factor in the Assembly race.

The Milk Club’s No on E gives the soda industry (which is not my friend) some precious credibility on the left, which make a big difference in that campaign (passing the tax requires a two-thirds vote).

But Chiu vs. Campos? Not so much. The club will have enough money with or without the ABA to send out its card, which will be of some help to Campos – but most of the Milk members and allies are voting for Campos anyway.

I get it: The supporters of the soda tax want to undermine the credibility of a prominent political club that went the other way. But making this about Campos and Chiu is just silly.

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Tom’s Town: The city, ten years back

By Tom Temprano

Last week I celebrated the ten-year anniversary of my moving to San Francisco. A decade ago, at 18 years old, I enrolled at San Francisco State and moved into the Mary Park Hall dorms, more to begin my adventures as a San Franciscan than to pursue the Drama degree for which I had enrolled. Ten years later I’ve traded in the drama of the stage for the drama of politics and needless to say the city that I love has undergone some changes.

48hillstomstownHere are a few differences and similarities:


Back when I moved here there were WAY more Muni bus lines. I used to take the 26 Valencia from my first San Francisco apartment on Guerrero and Caesar Chavez all the way to my classes at SFSU. Muni no longer services Valencia Street, but ten years later there are still plenty of bus lines running up Valencia – they just happen to be operated by Google and Genentech.

Let’s not even get into the other ways Valencia has changed in the past ten years.


Despite moving here eight months after he left office, I have never lived in a San Francisco where Willie Brown wasn’t the mayor. While Gavin and Ed’s names may have technically graced the plaque outside of Room 200, we all know who the real boss has been. SFist once said it best using arguably my favorite headline of all time: Regarding Willie Brown and How He Will Never Stop Being Mayor. Continue reading

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Sup. Cohen takes campaign money from Ellis Act evictors — UPDATED


Sup. Malia Cohen has more than $3,000 in campaign money from people involved in Ellis Act evictions

Sup. Malia Cohen has more than $3,000 in campaign money from people involved in Ellis Act evictions

By Tim Redmond

AUGUST 25, 2014 — Some of the biggest and most loyal campaign donors to Sup. Malia Cohen have been involved in Ellis Act evictions, an analysis of the campaign donations shows.

Cohen’s re-election campaign has received the maximum $500 from Barbara Kaufman, Ron Kaufman, Mel Murphy, and Neveo Mosser, all of whom appear on the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project’s list of Ellis evictors, records on file with the Ethics Commission show.

Cohen also received $100 for her 2012 election to the Democratic County Central Committee from Denise Ledbetter, a lawyer who has been involved in at least eight Ellis evictions, according to the Mapping Project. Continue reading

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What the housing “dashboard” shows: Too many luxury condos

Council of Community Housing Organizations chart

Council of Community Housing Organizations chart

By Tim Redmond

Sup. Jane Kim wanted the city to develop a housing “dashboard” – an ongoing report that would link the development of market-rate and affordable housing. Her idea, later toned down a bit in a compromise with the mayor, would have mandated that developers building luxury condos go through an additional planning process whenever the balance was out of whack – when affordable housing was below 30 percent of the mix.

Those figures, of course, already exist – the city keeps track of how much housing is approved, and what type of housing, and the folks at the Council of Community Housing Organizations have turned it into a nice, easy-to-understand, chart.

The news here is not so much that the city is only meeting 27.5 percent of its middle-income expectation and only 58 percent of its very-low income need. It’s that we’re building 211 percent as many luxury apartments and condos as we need.

The “need” is a bit of a fuzzy figure, but it’s based on what the Association of Bay Area Governments sees as San Francisco’s responsibility for meeting regional housing needs.

ABAG, of course, is trying to push even more housing on San Francisco, and there are plenty of issues around its projections.

But there are also pretty solid statistics on the population of San Francisco, the employment base, the standard salaries, and the projected growth of different industries.

Tech, of course, is a growth industry. But so is health care and hospitality – and, right now, to a more limited extent, government. And most of the jobs in those industries – which are critical to the city’s future, more critical than tech – pay salaries that don’t even begin to cover “market rate” housing.

So we know how much housing we need for the existing workforce, and we can project pretty well what we need for the workforce of the future – and the dashboard shows how radically out of connection the city’s current policy is with what the city actually needs.

Even if building 30,000 more units of housing, as the mayor has proposed, will bring down prices a little bit – and the city’s economist, Ted Egan, says we’d need more than three times as much new housing to make a serious dent in prices – the mayor’s plan isn’t going to make a new condo affordable to a hotel worker, a teacher, or a hospital technician.

A condo that might go on the market today at 1.5 million could wind up selling for $1.2, or even $1 million, if supply causes prices to dip (and again, all evidence indicates that prices won’t dip with more supply).

(I can see a future Ed Lee press release: “Mayor’s housing policy brings market prices down 10 percent.” Maybe it’s 20 percent. No difference; no matter what happens, unless there’s a catastrophic jolt to the city’s economy, that new condo will never sell for $350,000 or rent for $1,500 a month.

No: The only way housing for the existing and future workforce will be built is if it’s constructed as below market rate units in the first place. And the vast oversupply of market-rate housing is doing nothing for the crisis.

That’s what the dashboard shows – and it’s why Kim wanted to slow down the luxury condos until we can build enough affordable housing to catch up.


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