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Friday, April 24, 2015

San Francisco Settles Police Department Whistleblower Lawsuit Out of Court

Posted By on Fri, Apr 24, 2015 at 5:04 PM

Police Chief Greg Suhr was accused in a lawsuit of wrongful firing an SFPD attorney. The city agreed Friday to settle the suit. - SFMC FILE PHOTO
  • SFMC file photo
  • Police Chief Greg Suhr was accused in a lawsuit of wrongful firing an SFPD attorney. The city agreed Friday to settle the suit.

The San Francisco Police Department appears to have dodged a major embarrassment.

The City of San Francisco today agreed to settle a whistleblower lawsuit against Police Chief Greg Suhr that was filed by Kelly O'Haire, a former attorney in the city's police department.

“Mrs. O’Haire is thrilled with the result,” Randy Strauss, attorney for the plaintiff, told SF Weekly's sister publication, The Examiner.

“Settlement in cases is always a potential, but I am a little bit surprised because I was not optimistic that we would be able to reach a result in this case," Strauss said.

The city agreed to pay O’Haire $725,000 in exchange for dropping the lawsuit. O'Haire claimed Chief Suhr fired her in 2011 after she began investigating his alleged record of misconduct.

Details of the civil lawsuit have been seeping out in recent weeks, and early this week documents made available from O'Haire's suit brought increased scrutiny on Suhr and the police department.

At the core of O'Haire's allegations are questions about possible improper conduct by San Francisco's embattled police chief.

Mayor Ed Lee and an Aide Also Mentioned in Whistleblower Suit

Suhr was not the only high-profile public official named in the whistleblower case filed last year by O'Haire:  the lawsuit also contended that Mayor Ed Lee and his chief of staff Steve Kawa knew O'Haire had been subjected to retaliatory firing — and that Lee and Kawa failed to report the matter as is required in whistleblower cases.

In her lawsuit, O'Haire said she was fired from the San Francisco Police Department after she investigated alleged misdeeds around a 2009 domestic violence case; in the course of gathering information on the case, O'Haire says she uncovered a “pattern of skirting” the law with violations that included failing to make a report and lying to the FBI to get top secret security clearance.”

The domestic violence case involved a woman who was said to be Suhr's friend.

O’Haire was fired in 2011 soon after Suhr was appointed chief by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

Suhr and attorneys for San Francisco contend O'Haire was fired because the department had a major shortfall and had to reduce staff.

Mayor Lee said he has no recollection of having talked with Suhr about O'Haire.

Suhr has said the allegations against him are false.

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You Guys, the Warriors Are on Fiyah!

Posted By on Fri, Apr 24, 2015 at 8:11 AM

Let us pause from the seemingly endless stream of news and chatter about tech, restaurants, housing costs, and the drought.

If you've lived in San Francisco longer than five minutes, you may know that among the region's major league sports teams, the Golden State Warriors are kind of the freckle-faced step children.

But some of us believe the Warriors are pretty remarkable, and that they have been since they came here from Philadelphia in 1962. They are actually Phoenix-like in their ability to continually rise from the jaws (or ashes) of defeat, a trait much admired in these parts.

While we can't  claim to have been around back in the day when the team first arrived, we were on hand during the '74-'75 season, when former Warriors player-turned-coach Al Attles led the team to an NBA title. Back in that day, we marveled at the swift, sharp athletic ability — and DREAMY EYES — of one Jamaal "Silk"  Wilkes; we gawked, perpetually elated, and yes, surprised at the toughness and precision of Rick Barry.

And during a long, long drought (the bulk of the '80s and '90s), some of us never gave up on the Warriors, even as they sagged along at the rear of the league year after year.

Now they're on a tear. And if you're not paying attention, well, enjoy that craft beer and whichever new app-based frivolity it is that holds your attention for the next ten minutes. We'll just be right here, amped up and riveted by the Warriors' tenacity and creativity in the paint.

Never more so than last night, when the team staged an incredible comeback overtime win against the New Orleans Pelicans in game 3 of the Western Conference playoffs. They surmounted a 20-point deficit with furious rebounding and defensive play — and a heart-stopping 3-pointer by Stephen Curry in the final seconds of the game  — to claim victory.

They're now up 3-0 over the Pelicans in the playoff series.

From The New York Times:

But it was offensive rebounding that was crucial to the Warriors’ latest amazing feat, a 20-point fourth-quarter comeback against the host New Orleans Pelicans late Thursday night.

It was the third biggest fourth-quarter comeback in N.B.A. playoff history

When a team comes from that far back, a lot must go right. Ordinarily, a lot goes wrong for the other team too. But offensively, at least, the Pelicans did not play terribly in the quarter, scoring 19 points, not a horrible total.

And for the first six minutes of the quarter, there were no signs the game was slipping away: the Pelicans still led by 17. But after a dunk by Norris Cole to give New Orleans a 15-point lead with five minutes left, the game turned. The Pelicans made just one field goal and three free throws in the rest of regulation.

And a look at the amazing final minutes, via ESPN:

Warriors Image: Courtesy of Tyson Beck
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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Supervisor Says Rent Control Caused Housing Crisis

Posted By on Thu, Apr 23, 2015 at 8:53 AM

Photo of Sing Tao Daily
  • Photo of Sing Tao Daily

The local race to watch this election isn't the mayor's race (no well-funded opposing candidates? bo-ring), but instead is the red hot race for District 3 supervisor between incumbent Julie Christensen and not-quite-incumbent-anymore Aaron Peskin.

Now a new flub by Christensen, who allegedly denounced rent control in a meeting concerning affordable housing, is the newest entry in the District 3-slugfest. 

Peskin was District 3 supervisor for eight years, first elected in 2000 and again in 2004, and also served as board president. Christensen's experience is mostly in the private sector, though she also performed advocacy work in North Beach.

The more conservative/moderate wing of the Board of Supervisors, as well as the mayor, all fear a Peskin win, which may help tip the balance between moderates and progressives on the Board of Supervisors to progressives' favor. 

So Lee and other moderates have much funding (including an eye-popping $25,00 from Lee's friends, the tech industry) and much political capital riding on Christensen, making the race for D3 all the more explosive.

Much of that conflict is playing out in Chinatown, where advocacy groups and some residents are more than a little peeved at Christensen for referring to them as "lower class" in a January speech, which she later called a "first day flub." District 3 includes Chinatown and North Beach, among other neighborhoods.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Quick, Before The Bubble Bursts: Let's Put On a TV Show About SF Start Ups!

Posted By on Tue, Apr 21, 2015 at 3:59 PM


Oh sure, Cynics predict the tech bubble will burst in approximately nine months. But the Sunny Optimists among us prefer  to focus on the media and tech-related bounties that apparently grow on trees around here.

Case in point:  A production outfit says it plans to develop a TV series based on the start-ups of  the Mission District.

Working title: 94110.

Clever, am I right?


The series may or may not be a satire, by the way.

But it will happen, and has real funding and production schedules and placement and such — at least, according to an unnamed co-creator of the project who talked with Mission Local recently.

As Mr. Unnamed Co-creator tells it, 94110 is a TV series akin to Silicon Valley that depicts the lives, hopes, loves and dreams of skinny jeans-wearing, pizza- and sushi-scarfing Man Children of Mission Street start-ups.

No, really. It seriously is a real thing that will some day be among your TV line-up. That is Anonymous Co-creator's story and he's sticking to it.  

The production outfit, he says,  is holding open auditions in San Francisco on May 16 and 17 at SF Arts Quarterly Projects Space on O'Farrell Street.

The anonymous co-creator told Mission Local, "The goal is to have production happen this summer.”

The co-creator asked that his name not be used because he didn't  want his past projects, including some provocative performance art and video projects, to reflect on 94110, which he says he doesn't want to be spoiled by backlash so early in its development.

Oh, well, sure, that sounds legit.

Can't wait to see the filming get going, presumably here in San Francisco, whose tech world, you know, doesn't get nearly enough attention.

It is our fondest wish that  94110 will debut on tablets, mobiles and  flat TV screens near you real soon....ideally before the bubble bursts.

Photo: generic start up kids, via ShutterStock

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Silicon Valley to Host "Our Very Own Kind of Comic Con" in 2016

Posted By on Mon, Apr 20, 2015 at 2:00 PM

  • Sam Aronov/Shutterstock
This week Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak announced that he will be co-producing the first ever Silicon Valley Comic Con, where geeks can celebrate an art form they are helping make obsolete.

“The presentation of information in a non-digital format is over,” said Facebook VP of Epistemic Closure Harry Sealowe. “Libraries, publishers, book stores will all be extinct in 10 years. And I am so excited to go trade comic books with the people who are making this happen!”

Sealowe, like many other attendees, is a huge fan of the TV shows based on movies based on comic books.

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Should 4/20 Be An Official Holiday? Bill Maher Thinks So.

Posted By on Mon, Apr 20, 2015 at 12:25 PM

Let us hail 4/20 together. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • Let us hail 4/20 together.
Traffic on San Francisco's west side is snarled thanks to street closures, police are out in force, and merchants and denizens in the Haight-Ashbury are either in full-on opportunist mode, making a buck off of the thousands of people descending on the neighborhood — or in hiding.

420 — April 20th, the stoner Mardi Gras — has evolved into San Francisco's biggest "unofficial" holiday. According to police, crowds began arriving in Sharon Meadow in Golden Gate Park at 5 a.m. today, dragging couches, tents, and barbecue pits with them.

With legalization possibly around the corner — and with Barack Obama himself announcing support for legal weed on CNN last night — it may be time to legitimize 420. That's what Bill Maher is trying to do. And he needs your help.

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Just in Time for the Weekend, Here's Some Promising Health News

Posted By on Fri, Apr 17, 2015 at 12:49 PM

And now, some good news on the health front:

State health department officials say the measles outbreak  has been contained — at least for now.

You may recall that late last year, a low-boiling panic swept  across the land after health officials revealed that Disneyland ("the Magic Kingdom," of all places!) was epicenter of several measles cases.  The announcement set off a statewide public awareness campaign — and a heated national debate — over vaccines.  Here in the Bay Area, a couple of cases emerged, both said to have been linked to tech workers who had subsequently reported riding public transportation. 

For the better part of fifty years, measles, which is highly-communicable,  has been a preventable sickness— as long as infants are immunized; California, though, has "'pockets of non-immunization," according to Dr. Gil Chavez, Deputy Director of the California of Public Health. The statewide outbreak included 130 people who were diagnosed, 17 reported cases in the Bay Area.

During a media briefing earlier today, Dr. Chavez also said that the last reported case of measles related to the Disneyland outbreak was diagnosed on March 2, 2015.

Chavez and other health department officials urged the public to get vaccinated.

In response to the 'pockets of non-immunization' in parts of California that are said to have helped fuel the outbreak — looking at you, Marin County — state representative Richard Pan of Sacramento introduced legislation to eliminate an exemption that had allowed parents to opt-out vaccinating infants against the disease based on "personal beliefs."

The outcome of that legislation has yet to be determined.  

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Why Yes, This Cement Floor IS a Cool Design Feature

Posted By on Thu, Apr 16, 2015 at 9:20 AM


If you're new or new-ish to San Francisco and experiencing shell-shock in the search for "affordable housing," good news may be on the horizon.

Thanks to a March report by the urban planning and environmental non-profit, SPUR, which laid out the potential benefits of allowing owners of single-family dwellings to convert garages, storage spaces, and basements into rental properties,  a San Francisco Supervisor is introducing a local rule to do just that.

The only hitch?

San Francisco City and County Supervisor Scott, Wiener, who represents District 8 — which includes the Castro, Eureka Valley, and Upper Market, among other densely-packed neighborhoods — wants the new "In-Laws and Granny-Flats" rule to apply only in three neighborhoods: Diamond Heights, Noe Valley, and Glen Park.  

The Board of Supervisors passed a similar measure last year, which applied only to the Castro.

Supervisor Wiener recently told the San Francisco Business Times:
Ten or 15 years ago, I don't think any of them could have passed. We have a housing crisis. We need more housing of all different varieties. ....My take is, let's focus on the neighborhoods where people really want it, rather than taking it city-wide and starting a huge fight. We're trying to be respectful of the desires of the different neighborhoods."
So, take heart, Weary Apartment Hunter. Relief may arrive soon — Wiener's proposal has to undergo a 30 day review before the full Board votes. And keep in mind: With the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco currently hovering in the $3,000 range, those who scoff at the idea of living in a converted laundry room do so at their own peril.
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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Michelangelo Signorile is Coming to Books Inc.

Posted By on Wed, Apr 15, 2015 at 5:54 PM

Radio journalist and activist Michelangelo Signorile has a new book out in which he argues that the current celebratory mood among many LGBT organizations and citizens is actually brewing a dangerous complacency. It’s Not Over: Getting Beyond Tolerance, Defeating Homophobia, and Winning True Equality makes a case that the true backlash against LGBT rights is only now getting underway, and settling for same-sex marriage is wholly inadequate. He will further expound upon his arguments on Thursday, April 16 at Books Inc. in the Castro.

It’s definitely a combative, polemical work, meant to stir people to action. Although the conclusions he draws occasionally contradict one another, and Signorile does not shy from dubious armchair psychology when questioning why progressive LGBT allies sometimes come to different conclusions on an issue than he does, the book’s thesis is a sound one. True equality means more than the sight of two women marrying in a deep-red state like Utah, and if recent events in Indiana are any indication, pernicious ideas about so-called religious freedom won’t die quietly, not even if the Supreme Court establishes same-sex marriage nationwide.

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Watch This Beautiful Drone Footage of the Golden Gate Bridge

Posted By on Wed, Apr 15, 2015 at 4:59 PM

While visiting San Francisco to photograph a wedding, Dane Christensen felt inspired by the city's various landmarks, and a picturesque day, to also capture drone footage of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Christensen's drone setup, which set him back about $3,800 (including the iPad he uses as a viewfinder), was almost lost due to high winds around the bridge. But luckily for Christensen, and fans of super hi-def YouTube videos, the drone made it back down safely into an argument about a dystopian future where armies of drones choke out the sun.

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