Mulch

Send in the Boy Scouts
Seems that ever-tolerant and friendly San Franciscans turn a blind eye to the elderly when they get behind the wheel of a car.

In overall pedestrian deaths among seniors, the city leads the nation, according to a recent report from the S.F. Health Department. Among those aged 75 and older, the city's pedestrian death rate is 13 per 100,000, more than double the national average of 6 per 100,000. And most of the elderly victims are hit when all the elements are in their favor: They are using a crosswalk, at an intersection, during daylight hours.

Particularly dangerous areas include the Inner Richmond, Market between Fifth and Seventh streets, Van Ness Avenue, and Mission Street, according to the Health Department.

The pedestrian death rate for people aged 55 and younger in San Francisco is on a par with the rest of the nation. It's enough to make you wish the Boy Scouts really were giving senior citizens a helping hand.

-- L.D.

Hallinan: Top Narc?
S.F. District Attorney Terence Hallinan's campaign platform included a promise to redeploy resources away from prosecuting low-level drug offenses. Since he took office last January, Hallinan and his deputies have been drawn into an often-public feud with S.F. Police Department narc cops who are displeased with what they see as lackadaisical prosecutorial work on their cases. Finally, Hallinan endorsed a new court plan that offers a handful of young defendants held on dealing charges educational alternatives to jail time or probation.

All those elements would suggest that, under Hallinan, felony drug prosecutions would have waned in 1996. However, it's just the opposite.

According to a computer analysis of court-managed arrest and prosecution statistics, felony drug cases filed increased to 4,494 in 1996 under Hallinan from 3,508 in 1995 under his predecessor, Arlo Smith. (Perhaps more telling, drug cases accounted for 55 percent of all felony matters in 1996, compared to 48 percent in 1995.)

The rise in felony drug prosecutions in large part reflects the activities of the S.F. Police Department. Cops made 9,328 felony drug arrests last year, an increase of 1,320 over 1995. (Drug arrests accounted for 35 percent of all arrests in 1996, compared to 31 percent in 1995.)

However, the Police Department is only part of the picture. According to court figures, Hallinan's deputies elected to file felony charges in 48.2 percent of the felony drug arrests vs. 43.9 percent for Smith's deputies the year before.

Go figure.
-- C.F.

Off With the Talking Heads
His Imperialness, the mayor, has struck such fear into local sources of information that cable television pundit Arthur Bruzzone has been forced to reformat his local politics show, the aptly titled SF Politics. Used to be Bruzzone, a local GOP activist, would moderate a discussion/debate between a mayoral official presenting one side, countered by an outside critic.

During the Jordan years, the show was frequently contentious -- and informative. But Bruzzone says since Mayor Willie Brown took office he has been having a hard time finding people to play out his point/counterpoint drama. Without the requisite fire to stoke a dialogue, Bruzzone has turned his show into a much tamer interview program. "There is definitely a chilling effect going on out there," Bruzzone says. Seems that talking heads often end up on the chopping block.

-- George Cothran

 
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