Listening to the death of Alejandro Nieto – and what an audio recording of the shooting suggests

Alex Nieto via Amitis Motevall, via Bernalwood


By Tim Redmond

APRIL 23, 2014 — I just listened to a recording of the death of Alejandro Nieto, the young man shot and killed by San Francisco police on Bernal Hill March 21. It’s chilling.

The police haven’t released their own incident reports, and you can’t tell from the 911 tapes exactly how many shots were fired. But one of my neighbors in Bernal has a security camera that records both audio and video, and it was running that evening, and he lives close enough to the park that he was able to get the sounds of the gunshots.

A lot of gunshots.

My neighbor shared the recording with me. It’s a bit hard to make out (and I promised him I wouldn’t post the raw footage, because he wants to protect his identity and the video would show where he lives), but a couple of things are clear – and they raise important questions about the shooting.

On the tape, you can clearly hear two shots … then a few seconds pause. Then you hear about 13 or 14 more shots, in a fast volley.

I spoke to Adante Pointer, attorney for Nieto’s family, and he confirmed that he has also heard a similar recording.

What’s it mean? Let’s start. Continue reading

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Politics on Tuesday: The Warriors, The Mayor, and Airbnb

Whoops – not happening


By Tim Redmond

APRIL 22, 2014 — The proponents of Prop. B, which would mandate a vote of the people for any height increases on the waterfront, are (properly) celebrating the Warriors’ decision to abandon the notion of a waterfront arena for a site on dry land. Between the defeat of 8 Washington and the huge lead Prop. B has in the polls, the team’s owners apparently got the message: San Franciscans don’t want big, tall, hulking, development projects on the waterfront.

That, by the way, has been the case for decades. One of the pivotal moments in the birth of the urban environmental movement in San Francisco was the fight against a US Steel highrise on the waterfront. Generations have looked at the Fontana Towers and said: Miami Beach, yes. San Francisco, no.

But while the mayor laments the loss of his spaceship on the Bay, the reality is that the Warriors were looking at untold hundreds of millions of dollars in costs for building on a site that is (a) on a crumbling pier that will have to be replaced; (b) on the edge of the Bay, where there are all sort of regulators involved; (c) in a place that could be underwater in a decade; and (d) already hugely congested.

Dry land looks kinda nice by comparison.

(Not that Mission Bay is really dry land. It’s fill. Old, bad, fill. But the construction costs on the new site are at least somewhat predictable.)

And now that the major opponents of the project have said they are fine with the new site, the team won’t have to spend even more millions hiring every political consultant in town to fight every progressive in town over a bad project. Continue reading

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What the Keystone Pipeline delay really means


By John H. Cushman Jr

APRIL 22, 2014 — By delaying a final decision on the Keystone XL pipeline until Nebraska devises a legally valid route across the state, the Obama administration may have pushed the question off for months—most likely until after the November mid-term elections. That lets the president ride out the hotly contested campaign for control of Congress without having to decide whether the controversial pipeline is in the national interest.

But the most important effects of the postponement might not be about politics at all. Rather, the passage of time may well highlight two substantive issues for all to see that will factor significantly into the national interest determination: the pipeline’s significance for America’s oil supply and demand and for the world’s climate conundrum.

As rapid changes in the oil markets continue, and as developments occur in urgent international climate change negotiations, they could significantly influence President Barack Obama’s ultimate decision on the project. The Keystone would carry diluted bitumen, or dilbit, from the tar sands of Canada toward refineries on the Gulf Coast.

Already a lot has changed during the years of contentious debate since pipeline builder TransCanada first filed the application for the project in 2008. For one thing, the risks of spilling dilbit have become better understood. Congress also has proven itself unwilling to enact major climate legislation, making presidential decisions on major energy infrastructure projects all the more important in addressing climate change. And a growing public protest has made rubber-stamping projects like this one a thing of the past. Meanwhile, the pipeline’s southern leg has already been built and is in service. Continue reading

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City Beat: Dissecting the mayor’s interview on KQED. Plus: Ammiano Clean Energy bill moves forward — and why does SF spend so much on homeless programs?

By Tim Redmond

APRIL 21, 2014 — Mayor Ed Lee didn’t really say anything new on KQED’s Forum this morning, but he gave a few hints of his stand on some important issues, to wit:

The mayor is not going to support a $15-an-hour minimum wage, and clearly opposes the efforts by SEIU to put that pay hike before the voters. He told Michael Krasny that he would consider supporting “up to $15,” but wanted the Chamber of Commerce at the table when that’s hashed out.

Lee is actually considering changes in Prop. M, the landmark 1986 growth-control law. “It’s time to have a review,” he said, and determine whether the annual limits on office space are a becoming an impediment to growth. That would be a major step that would require a ballot fight. He mentioned repeatedly that he thinks some of his foes and critics are “anti-growth,” harkening back to the days of Dianne Feinstein and Willie Brown, who promoted constant growth in highrise offices as essential for the city’s future.

Lee said that the loss of black families in San Francisco is due in part to the decline of blue-collar jobs – something that the tech-office growth he’s promoting only makes worse. Continue reading

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Ask the Bud Man: What’s the Future of Weed?

By Ngaio Bealum

Dear Mr. Weedseer, what do you think about the future of cannabis in the next 325 years?

Mr. Peabody

Staring into my crystal bong, I see the future spread out gloriously in front of me. By 2017, weed should be legal in all of the Western states. I am including Alaska and Hawaii in the west. Canna– tourism will be booming, with all kinds of festivals and competitions and I expect a farm or two to open its doors to visitors.

48hillsngaioMaybe guests will even be able to take part in the harvesting and the trimming (would you call that a “doob ranch”?)   I also expect most of the East Coast (although maybe not New York for some reason) to have legal cannabis by 2020. I think Florida will try to get in on the legalization train as well. Once we get the East and west Coast, we can start to make our ways inland. Michigan is almost ready. Missouri may take a little longer. Illinois is getting there. Texas will probably be the last state to “go green.” Heh.

When it comes to how we will ingest weed, who knows? What’s after dabs? Tabs? They already have cannabis infused breath strips. I don’t think anything will ever replace a joint, but there could be an even bigger explosion in art glass and cool smoking devices. There will probably be more vaporizing and less smoking, though. Continue reading

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Tom’s Town: Finally, we win a name change

By Tom Temprano

APRIL 18 — Willie Brown may have his bridge, Dianne Feinstein may someday have her airport (or terminal), but I’m thrilled to say that I’ve finally come out on the right side of a naming battle!

48hillstomstownOn Tuesday, the Board of Supervisor’s Land Use committee unanimously recommended adding “Vicki Mar-Lane” to the 100 Block of Turk Street. Many of you may be familiar with both Vicki and the 100 Block of Turk thanks to the successful drag shows she threw at Aunt Charlie’s for more than a decade.

I lived nearby for years, and whenever I had out-of-town guests staying with me I would tell them to skip the Golden Gate Bridge and Coit Tower and to go see Vicki instead. “The Lady With The Liquid Spine” was my kind of San Francisco landmark, having performed in drag here since the 1980’s and continuing to do so until her death at age 76.

The street renaming, a first for a member of San Francisco’s transgender community, was no breeze. It took a couple years of organizing by Vicki’s friend Felicia Elizondo (aka Felicia Flames), Harvey Milk Club member Sue Englander, and others to rally property owners on the block and other community organizations to get on board. Ultimately the leadership of D6 Supervisor Jane Kim, as well as our two gay supervisors David Campos and Scott Weiner, saw this one through to its rightful, and successful, conclusion.

The street will be re-christened at the end of this year’s Trans March, a fitting scenario that will not only honor Vicki, but the legacy of trans activism on the block that began with San Francisco’s stonewall (which actually happened three years before Stonewall – take that New York!), the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot.

Vicki Mar-Lane wasn’t the only good thing to come out of Tuesday’s Land Use meeting as a packed house of nightlife and transportation advocates rallied to increase San Francisco’s late-night transit options. As someone who works in bars, and who, when not working, occasionally stays out at bars until their 2am closing times, I can attest to the dearth of ways to get home safely.

Having been mugged and nearly mugged on several late-night occasions, it causes me serious panic whenever a friend tells me that he or she spent 20 minutes unsuccessfully searching for a cab and was forced to take a 30-minute solo walk home after a night of drinking. Our lack of safe and affordable options for getting home between the hours of midnight and 6am are a public safety hazard for workers and patrons alike, and I was happy that Supervisor Wiener convened everyone from transit agencies to party professionals to try and get some changes made.

The lack of reliable Muni Owl busses, which ought to be added to whatever endangered species list their disappearing cousins, the Northern Spotted owl are on, as well as the absolutely ridiculous lack of late-night BART trains, were addressed numerous times by department heads and members of the public.

While much of the hearing was focused on safety concerns, taxi operators showed up en masse to air their grievances with the also present ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft. It made for an off-topic, though entertaining diversion from the issue I would have rather been focusing on, but I was happy to sit through the hours of testimony on an issue that I feel personally involved in.

Here’s to getting the Owl off the endangered species list, getting rid of BART’s bed time and getting drunk folks, and those who serve them, home more safely.

My suit got to make a rare public appearance this past Saturday at the EQCA Equality Awards at the mind-boggling fancy Palace Hotel. But seriously – I can see why Willie Brown throws his parties here. It seemed like money was literally dripping from the ceilings.

Kudos to event co-chair Bevan Dufty for throwing a hell of a fete. The party (and the after party) was a blast and seemed to raise a boatload of money for Equality California. My personal highlights included seeing David Campos give DPH’s Barbara Garcia a much-deserved award, a Katy Perry cover by American Idol’s Frenchie Davis — and an open bar that included scotch. Scotch!

MOVIE TIME: After several failed attempts at watching House of Cards something finally clicked last night. WHERE HAVE I BEEN? I’m going to have to cut the rest of this column short, cancel my weekend plans and see how the hell Frank is going to salvage this education reform bill.


1)    Hunky Jesus in Golden Gate Park. With Dolores Parklet half-closed for the holiday’s the Sister’s will be moving there beefcake crucifixion contest to Golden Gate, which should magically coincide with the park’s regular 4/20 activities. Just be sure to pick up after yourselves and be cool because the City won’t put up with any hijinks. Take it from Police Chief Suhr whose lead quote in the Chronicle may as well have come from straight from the mouth of Spicoli.

2)     Daytime Easter/Reefer Madness. Sunday at El Rio from 3-8pm. Not to be outdone, the monthly party I throw with the lovely Heklina and the dashing Stanley Frank will also be awkwardly combining two of San Francisco’s favorite holidays. Come check us out after your morning of Golden Gate Parking .

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Big battle brewing over funding for children’s programs


Chelsea Boilard, children's advocate, wants to see a significant increase in funding for services for children and youth

Chelsea Boilard, children’s advocate, wants to see a significant increase in funding for services for children and youth

By Tim Redmond

There’s a serious battle brewing over the re-authorization of the Children’s Fund and the city’s funding for public schools, possibly pitting the mayor and some of the supervisors against a grassroots coalition that has spent more than a year preparing reports and studies showing how the fund should be expanded.

The Children’s Fund, approved by the voters in 1991 and reauthorized in 2000, sets aside three percent of San Francisco’s property tax money for services for children and youth. It expires next year, and pretty much everyone at City Hall agrees it has been a success and should be extended.

The city also sends money to the public schools through the Public Education and Enrichment Fund, which pays for music, arts, sports, preschool and other programs that the low levels of state support can’t cover. That’s up for re-authorization too.

The Children’s Funding Community Coalition is asking for three major changes to the Children’s Fund: An increase in the fund from 3 cents per dollar of assessed value to 5 cents, the addition of services to some at-risk youth as old as 24 – and a new commission to oversee the Department of Children, Youth and Families and monitor the spending of some $50 million a year.

That would add another $30 million or so the money allocated entirely for children and youth services – and would take some of the authority for spending the money away from the mayor.

The group wants to extend the PEEF and make it more stable.

The coalition has hundreds of people involved, from community-based groups all over the city. It’s a grassroots group that is completely united behind the effort to expand and improve the two funding sources.

But just as the coalition was working on its plan, Mayor Ed Lee and School Superintendent Richard Carranza engaged a company called Learning for Action to conduct a “stakeholder” study of children’s services and needs. The results would be used to frame discussion on the re-authorization of the two funding programs. Continue reading

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