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Monday, May 23, 2016

Hey, Registered Independents: Here's How To Vote for Bernie (Or Hillary or Trump)

Posted By on Mon, May 23, 2016 at 4:16 PM

None of this for you 150,000 independents.
  • None of this for you 150,000 independents.

If you're like most San Francisco residents, you're already registered to vote in the California primary election, to be held in just over two weeks' time on June 7. Good for you, as today's the last day to register, which you can do online at registertovote.ca.gov. 

However, if you're one of the city's nearly 150,000 voters who is registered as an independent — one who declined to state his or her party preference — you may encounter a nasty surprise when you step into the booth in two weeks. It's one you've already encountered if you're an independent who is a permanent vote-by-mail voter, with a ballot already sitting on your kitchen table: on your ballot, you will find no Trump, no Bernie, and no Hillary.

Yes, Sen. Bernie Sanders is an independent who is running for the Democratic nomination, and yes, California has an open primary system — but not for every office. For president, the state has a "modified closed primary system." 

So, in order to participate in a very, very meaningful California Democratic primary, you have to request a Democratic ballot.

But fear not: you have until midnight tonight to register as a Democrat or a Republican (if that's your thing). If you want to stay independent, you can vote in the Democratic primary.

Click on through after the jump for detailed instructions on how (if you haven't already clicked links throughout this post, like this one).

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What Bubble? S.F. Employment is at Record Levels (As Workforce Shrinks)

Posted By on Mon, May 23, 2016 at 12:44 PM

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Sanguine news today from the state Employment Development Department. Employment — as in the opposite of unemployment, which is a bad thing — in San Francisco is at a 16-year high, and the city is closer to full employment today than at any other time since 2000. Which are good things.

The city's unemployment rate is 3.1 percent, according to the EDD. A great thing, even, as that low figure ties San Francisco with Marin County for the lowest unemployment rates in California.

Politicians are, predictably, celebrating. "We are experiencing a tremendous economic recovery from our unrelenting focus on putting people back to work and bringing opportunity and hope back," Mayor Ed Lee said in a statement. (Lee noted that unemployment was in double digits when he took office five years ago.)

What's not to love? Pessimists and pejorists, rejoice: for every job San Francisco added, two people left the workforce, according to EDD data.

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Airbnb Still Refusing to Help S.F. Enforce Airbnb Regulations

Posted By on Mon, May 23, 2016 at 11:48 AM

"Bunk bed 1" (of many) available at "Sunnyside Travel House," available to you on Airbnb. - AIRBNB
  • Airbnb
  • "Bunk bed 1" (of many) available at "Sunnyside Travel House," available to you on Airbnb.
San Francisco has regulated short-term rentals like those for offer via Airbnb for over a year, but the city's rules have done almost nothing to change the habits of the companies facilitating the rentals and those who host the properties. As in, the laws do not appear to be working.

Airbnb and other similar services were the subject of a pair of scathing investigative reports from NBC Bay Area last week in which it was revealed that Airbnb is more interested in making money than following rules and the city itself is ill equipped to handle its own regulations.

Of the 7,046 hosts in San Francisco, who have offered nearly 9,500 listings, only 1,281 have acquired the "required" registration. Worse than that is the notion that 2,000 of these units are in rent-controlled apartments, removing them from a rental market in the worst housing crisis of our lives.

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Friday, May 20, 2016

New SFPD Chief Toney Chaplin Promises "Reform, Reform, Reform"

Posted By on Fri, May 20, 2016 at 3:22 PM

New police Chief Tony Chaplin, center.
  • New police Chief Tony Chaplin, center.
The four golden stars pinned to acting San Francisco police Chief Toney Chaplin's collar sometime in the past 24 hours — when Mayor Ed Lee named him to succeed Greg Suhr, ousted after yesterday's fatal police shooting — shined in the Chinatown sun when Chaplin arrived at a news conference in the Ping Yuen housing projects on Friday.
Ostensibly called as a "community meeting" meant to give the mostly Cantonese-speaking seniors who live in the concrete high-rises an update about an assault that occurred there in April, the meeting instead was between the media and Chaplin, who has a low political and public profile despite 26 years on the city's police force.

A veteran of the Gang Task Force, the since-gutted narcotics unit, and an inspector and a lieutenant in the homicide unit who rose from handling cases to deputy chief in charge of implementing changes to policy and practices to running the department in just three years, Chaplin made his priorities clear. 

"Reform, reform, reform," he said.

That was what Suhr promised, too. Whether he'll be able to do it — and whether he'll be able to keep those stars as a full-time, permanent chief, or at least keep their luster — is another matter, not entirely in Chaplin's hands.

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Should S.F. Elect its Police Chief?

Posted By on Fri, May 20, 2016 at 10:23 AM

On the campaign trail. - MIKE KOOZMIN/SF EXAMINER FILE
  • Mike Koozmin/SF Examiner file
  • On the campaign trail.
When he fired police Chief Greg Suhr on Thursday and appointed an interim replacement a few hours after police shot and killed an unarmed black woman suspected of stealing a car, Mayor Ed Lee was bending to the will of the public and to a growing number of politicians calling for Suhr to go. The buck stopped with Lee, who alone has the power to hire and fire the chief. (Yes, the Police Commission has to approve his appointments, but Lee can also fire police commissioners.) 

It’s worth noting that the public drama over San Francisco's police chief happened this way because the position is appointed — and not elected, like the sheriff, district attorney, and Lee himself. All major U.S. cities appoint a police chief, but at least in the Bay Area, there's an elected chief: in Santa Clara. 

What if San Francisco also elected the chief and made the position directly responsible to the voters, whose safety and lives they put in the chief's hands?

It might seem tantalizing for voters to have the power to pick this important position, especially in a city with an engaged voting population like San Francisco — and one that wants a direct say in how policing is carried out — but that oversimplifies the job.

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Police Chief Greg Suhr Is Gone; Mayor Appoints Replacement

Posted By on Thu, May 19, 2016 at 5:34 PM

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Hours after police shot and killed an apparently unarmed black woman in the Bayview, San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr handed his resignation to Mayor Ed Lee, the mayor announced Thursday afternoon at City Hall.

Suhr, a San Francisco native and a police officer for 36 years, had served as chief since 2011, completing a remarkable turnaround following several scandals that nearly wrecked his career.

But following several high-profile fatal shootings —  including the deaths of Mario Woods in December in the Bayview, and Luis Gongora in April in the Mission District — there was mounting calls from the public and from four members of the Board of Supervisors for Suhr to resign, despite his public embrace of (limited) police reform.

Lee met with Suhr on Thursday afternoon following the fatal shooting this morning — which was the last straw for the mayor.

"The progress we’ve made has been meaningful, but it hasn’t been fast enough. Not for me, not for Greg," said the mayor, who dismissed the hunger strike demanding Suhr's resignation as "political rhetoric" but pressed the need to "heal the City."

"That’s why I have asked Chief Suhr for his resignation."

The police department is now led by interim Chief Toney Chaplin, who is black. Chaplin served as a deputy chief, in charge of a new bureau tasked with overseeing police tactics and reform.

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Police Shoot, Kill Female Auto Theft Suspect in Bayview

Posted By on Thu, May 19, 2016 at 1:19 PM

JONAH OWEN LAMB/TWITTER
  • Jonah Owen Lamb/Twitter
An unidentified African-American female suspected of stealing a car was shot and killed by police this morning in the Bayview District, according to police.

It does not appear the woman — who was shot while in the vehicle, which she had crashed after fleeing from police, according to the San Francisco Examiner — was armed. She was later pronounced dead at San Francisco General Hospital. 

Police working an auto burglary detail encountered the woman driving a stolen car at about 9:30 a.m. Thursday, police Chief Greg Suhr said at a morning press conference. Officers approached the woman, who drove off and crashed the car into another vehicle at Shafter Avenue and Elmira Street.
Police tried to extract her from the vehicle when a "back and forth" ensued, Suhr said, after which the woman was shot once.

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Yesterday's Crimes: A Box of Bones and the Disappearance of Valerie McDonald

Posted By on Thu, May 19, 2016 at 8:15 AM

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This is the third installment in a three-part series on the disappearance of Valerie McDonald from her North Beach apartment on Nov. 9, 1980. Here are the links to parts one and two.


It took over 20 years to identify the human skull and pieces of torso found on the floodplain of the Kettle River just outside of Danville, Wash. near the U.S.-Canadian border.

J.R. Sharp was just a volunteer deputy with the Ferry County Sheriff's Office when the bones were first examined and stored in the basement evidence room, but he stayed with the case even after they failed to match a nearby missing persons case.

"The driving factor was we had some human remains in our evidence room and a family out there," Sharp told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 2003.

"It's our responsibility to that family to do all we can to make an identification," he added.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

VIDEO: Bernie Sanders Drops in to Downtown SF; Is Photographed

Posted By on Wed, May 18, 2016 at 6:52 PM

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Were you near the cable cars at California and Market streets in the Financial District on Wednesday afternoon? If so, you were in the immediate vicinity of Bernie Sanders, as the Vermont senator and still-in-it contender for the Democratic nomination for president made a brief stop at a rally organized by two San Francisco labor unions.

Sanders spoke at a larger, advertised, "official" campaign rally in San Jose this morning, and is scheduled to speak at another planned rally on the Vallejo waterfront this evening. (The California primary, which will certainly make or — more likely — break Sanders' bid to edge out Hillary Clinton for the nomination is June 7).

Wednesday's affair in San Francisco was almost impromptu: there were no security checkpoints with metal detectors, and San Francisco police only briefly closed down a block of California near the 101 California building, long enough for the Sanders campaign motorcade to approach and for the #Bern himself to pop out of a white SUV and give a brief speech. It was his standard stump stuff — the billionaires, the 99 percent, single-payer healthcare, and a higher minimum wage — with some San Francisco name drops thrown in.

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  • Best Of SF 2016
    On Thursday, May 19th, SF Weekly held it's annual Best Of SF party! Winners and guests partied at The Factory, celebrating the city with food and drink tastings, comedians, a burlesque show, music, and more.

    Photos by Marcio Rivera