Development shows no sign of slowing in San Francisco's most-contested retail corridor, and the class wars are starting to heat up. They'll persist until every last nonprofit is priced out, and every arts organization crumbles, and even the city's homeless have to migrate to Oakland. Rachel Swan


Crash Landing: Asiana and Its Aftermath
It would be wholly accurate — albeit a slight understatement — to describe the July 6 crash of Asiana Flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport as "a concatenation of horribles." New documents released by the National Transportation Safety Board this month reveal that 16-year-old passenger Ye Meng Yuan was run over by not one, but two San Francisco fire rigs as they rushed to rescue the victims. And the first vehicle to hit her was properly equipped with both a heat sensor and "spotter," contrary to previous reports.

But the misbegotten rescue effort was eclipsed by a flurry of lawsuits launched against Boeing and Asiana for running shoddy aircraft, and by a bizarre reporting blunder from local news station KTVU, which erroneously named the Korean pilots as "Sum Ting Wong, Wi Tu Lo, Bang Ding Ow, and Ho Lee Fuk." The botched names went instantly, massively viral as soon as the station aired them, begetting yet another lawsuit — this one filed by Asiana against KTVU. Asiana withdrew the complaint shortly thereafter, evidently heeding the words of local attorney Joshua Koltun, who deemed it "spectacularly inadvisable."

So, not surprisingly, many people spent the rest of the year apologizing. Asiana and Boeing had to make amends with crash victims' families, while local firefighters bewailed what Chief Joanne Hayes-White called "a tragic accident." For its part, KTVU expressed utmost contrition to the Korean community. In December, the station tried to atone by airing a 30-minute documentary on Korean-American "Success Makers," hosted by former reality TV star Yul Kwon. Members of the Korean American Bar Association of Northern California, who'd helped conceive the idea, called it a nice gesture.

The organization's vice president, Taewoong Koo, said he'd like to see more comprehensive coverage of Koreans, and of Asian-Americans at large — and not just in the event of a major gaffe, or a plane crashing into a seawall. RS


A Circus at BART
Circus acrobat Yenier Perez Garizabaldo gained Internet notoriety this summer, when a BART surveillance camera caught him doing perfect cartwheels and pirouettes over a station turnstile — in the nude. Though he was quickly fired from local circus troupe Clowns Not Bombs and charged with sexual battery of a BART employee, Garizabaldo became an instant star in the blogosphere. He was also a harbinger of bad things to come for BART, at a time when employees and managers were stewing in a protracted labor dispute.

Weeks after his arrest, Garizabaldo became a cudgel in BART labor negotiations, when union organizers strung together a film montage of his antics. He became a bit player in a film meant to rouse the general public, about the horrors that station agents confront every day. Not only do they face long hours, meager benefits, and cranky customers, the unions said, they also live in fear of being molested by circus escapees.

Two labor strikes ensued at BART this year, one in July and another in late October, resulting in heavier air pollution, a temporarily battered economy, and two worker fatalities that are still under investigation. Two weeks ago, the transit system's labor unions filed a lawsuit against BART management in Alameda County Superior Court. Trains still rattle down the tracks each morning, but the specter of another nude acrobat hovers everywhere. RS


America's Cup, Spilled
When yachting billionaire Larry Ellison ebulliently hoisted the America's Cup over his head, it capped a modern-day San Francisco tale of success: The self-interested tech oligarch, with the orgiastic support of city government and little regard for rules, crushing poorer, more homespun opposition.

Root, root, root for the home team.

To be fair, Oracle Team USA's come-from-behind victory deserves to sail into the sporting pantheon. It was, truly, an amazing comeback and a testament to the men aboard the yacht. It was not, however, a "stirring" comeback as described in the sporting press; that would require large numbers of people to be "stirred."

Optimistic counts bandied about by event organizers claim 700,000 people took in the Cup action during the course of three months. Grand — but that's far fewer than the number of folks who showed up to watch Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in one weekend. And no one can say for certain just how many people actually showed up to watch the regatta who wouldn't have visited the city anyway, and if these people didn't actually crowd out other would-be tourists flooding San Francisco in peak tourist season.

The promise of a $1.4 billion infusion into the city's economic veins was sharply downgraded to $900 million in March before reports this month it registered a $364 million impact. And yet, it remains uncertain how much of that money wouldn't have been generated, regardless, by the hordes of visitors visiting our visitor-friendly city.

A less friendly — and more definite — number is the minimum of $5.5 million biting taxpayers in their taxpaying rear ends: money out of public coffers to subsidize a billionaire's boat race.

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6 comments
yanttodd
yanttodd

Happy Nude Year to you!!!

 
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