City officials and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition hailed the May 8 Bike to Work Day as a success, with the official SFMTA count finding 76 percent of vehicles along Market Street during the morning commute were bikes. But a pair of motorcycle cops ticketing cyclists that afternoon on the Wiggle put a damper on the celebration.
As we reported in last week’s paper (“Cycling to City Hall”), cycling has come to enjoy almost universal support in City Hall, at least in terms of political rhetoric, although the Mayor’s Office and SFMTA have committed only a small fraction of the funding needed to meet official city goals for increasing ridership. And the BTWD bike sting on the Wiggle, a key east-west bike corridor in Lower Haight, felt like a slap in the face to the SFBC.
Since another series of police stings targeting cyclists on the Wiggle last fall, SFBC Executive Director Leah Shahum has been working closely with the San Francisco Police Department on its goal of focusing traffic enforcement resources on intersections with the most collisions, none of which include the Wiggle (the SFPD’s Focus on the Five initiative pledges traffic enforcement resources to the five most dangerous intersections in each police district and the five most dangerous traffic violations).
On May 7, Shahum was even at the Police Commission hearing discussing the issue, and she says that Police Chief Greg Suhr and other top brass in the department have offered their assurances that such arbitrary stings on the Wiggle weren’t a good use of SFPD resources.
After recent hearings on how SFPD officers have refused to give citations to motorists who hit cyclists, Suhr and the department have also pledged to do so. But Shahum said she also heard from a cyclist on Bike to Work Day who was the victim of a hit-and-run by an impatient, road-raging motorist on 18th Street, and he told her that police refused to take a report even though he took down the license plate number.
Shahum said she’s disheartened by that story and those of the half-dozen cyclists she heard from who were ticketed on the Wiggle for not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign on the Wiggle.
“I’m not confident the commitments from the chief and the commission are making it down to the officers. They are still pursuing very outdated traffic enforcement policies,” Shahum told us.
Shahum said she spoke to Capt. Greg Corrales, whose Park Station precinct includes the Wiggle, and Cmdr. Mikail Ali, who heads traffic enforcement, and both said they had no knowledge of any enforcement stings on the Wiggle. SFPD spokesperson Albie Esparza told us the officers were there based on citizen complaints about people running stop signs, but that the timing on BTWD wasn’t intentional: “It was a random thing they happened to be there that day.”(Steven T. Jones)
MARCUS BOOKS EVICTED
For months, we’ve been covering the story of Marcus Books, the nation’s oldest continuously operating black-owned, black-themed bookstore located in San Francisco’s Fillmore District. Facing eviction from the purple Victorian where the bookstore had operated since 1981, the family that owns it had launched an ambitious fundraising campaign in an effort to remain in place.
Widespread community support for the culturally significant bookstore even led to the Board of Supervisors granting landmark status for the bookstore’s Fillmore Street address, on account of “its long-term association with Marcus Books … and for its association with Jimbo’s Bop City, one of the City’s most famous, innovative and progressive jazz clubs.”
But the bookstore was evicted on May 6. As of May 12, the owners had been locked out and unable to access their books — but community supporters were vowing to keep the pressure on.
In the meantime, an open letter sent to supporters via email by bookstore co-owners Tamiko, Greg, and Karen Johnson begins, : “Dear Supporters: It was difficult to know what to tell you about our struggle to stay in our building, its winding path of lawyers and judges and protests and promises, hopes and gravities made it difficult to report our status on a curved road. But the current property owner has changed the locks to the door of 1712 Fillmore Street.” (Rebecca Bowe)
While business and political leaders within San Francisco continue to express optimism that the technology industry will keep growing and filling all the new office space we can build — there’s even talk in the business community about overturning Prop. M, the 1985 measure that placed limits on new office construction — the rest of the world seems more concerned that the latest tech bubble could pop.
That would hit San Francisco — where 13 percent of private sector jobs are in the tech/information sector, giving this city more job growth since 2007 than all but three entire US states — harder than other cities in the world. San Francisco Controller’s Office has repeatedly warned how vulnerable we are to significant drop in tech valuation, even though it has also predicted that this time is different and things seem fine for the foreseeable future.
But with indicators such as Twitter’s rapidly tanking stock, the irrational exuberance of Google and Facebook paying billions for companies with big ideas but no real business model, and total venture capital investments surpassing levels from the last dot.com crash, San Francisco could be in big trouble. (Steven T. Jones)
BAN THE BEANBAG
Injured veteran Scott Olsen is calling on Mayor Jean Quan to ban the Oakland Police Department from using less-than-lethal weapons during protests and other crowd events.
The announcement came through his attorneys at the National Lawyers Guild on May 6, on the heels of the Oakland City Council’s vote to approve a $4.5 million payout to Olsen for brain injuries he sustained at the hands of the OPD at an Occupy Oakland protest in 2011.
An OPD officer shot a beanbag into the crowd, striking Olsen in the head. His skull was shattered and part of his brain was destroyed. Olsen had to learn how to talk all over again. The beanbag may have been “less lethal,” he contends, but the injury cost him dearly.
“Other major Bay Area cities don’t use SIM [Specialty Impact Munitions], chemical agents, or explosives on crowds, and we don’t need them in Oakland,” Olsen said, in a press statement. “OPD can’t be trusted to abide by its policies. These dangerous weapons must be completely banned at demonstrations and other crowd events. ” (Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez)
GENERAL HOSPITAL AS ASSEMBLY LINE?
San Francisco’s Department of Public Health has a $1.3 million contract with Seattle-based Rona Consulting Group to implement the Toyota Management System, a workflow methodology based on the auto-manufacturing model, at San Francisco General Hospital.
This new model, which aims for greater workflow efficiency, is being implemented just as healthcare staffers raise concerns that staffing levels at SFGH are dangerously low.
“Nurses often work through their breaks, and they stay after their shifts to get charting done,” said David Fleming, a registered nurse who has been at SFGH for 25 years. “I think nurses are getting the job done — but they’re at the edge.”
A group of healthcare workers spoke out at the May 7 Budget & Finance Committee meeting, during which supervisors discussed the DPH budget. Public employee union SEIU 1021, which represents healthcare workers, is in the midst of contract negotiations but Fleming said they had been grappling with reduced staffing for awhile.
According to a contract request to the Health Commission sent anonymously to the Bay Guardian, DPH entered into a 24-month contract with Rona totaling just over $1.3 million, for the purpose of implementing the Toyota Management System methodology as part of the transition to the new SFGH acute care facility, scheduled to open in December 2015.
The Bay Guardian received a copy of the contract request via BayLeaks (see “Introducing BayLeaks,” Feb. 18), which uses encryption software known as SecureDrop to enable sources to anonymously submit documents. (Rebecca Bowe)