Hotel Workers win after 2-year struggle


UNITE HERE Local 2 has reached an agreement with San Francisco’s leading hotels after a two-year struggle.
So far, 13 CLass A hotels have agreed to a settlement that includes card check neutrality, which means that if a hotel buys up a smaller, or non-unionized hotel, workers at the non-unionized hotel have a right to join the union, too.
This settlement covers 4,200 workers.

UNITE HERE Local 2 is now working on settling with another 30 SF hotels, where contracts of 5,000 workers have expired.
As UNITE HERE Local 2 president Mike Casey put it, ” we’re not done until all of the hotels are settled.”
Casey feels that the hotels that have settled have created a pattern for others to follow.”
“It would be unacceptable for a hotel to think it could get some cheaper deal or have a competitive advantage over other hotels,” he said of what he sees as a “citywide standard that doesn’t create 2nd class citizenship for other hotel workers.
Casey is hopeful that the ovewrwhelming majority of hotels will settle up in next 30-45 days. He notes that for the handful of hotels that are non-unionized but that some day could be bought by a uionized chain, the settlements include a provision that allows their workers to join the union and raise their standards.
“The hotels resisted and said they’d never allow it,” says Casey of the card check provision. “It’s quite unprecedented. I think the hotels finally decided to make a smart business decision. They realized it was costing them more to fight than to settle with us.”
Unite Here Local 2 spokesperson Valerie Lapin also told the Guardian that settlements had been reached in New York, Chicago and Monterey and that others are still being negotiated in a number of cities, including San Francisco, Hawaii and a couple of hotels in Monterey that aren’t covered by the settlement that’s already been reached in that city.
While the details of each settlement varies, Lapin said that overall the settlements are good.
“The wages and benefits are very good, which is a reflection of how prosperous the industry is, and the settlements guarantee the rights of workers to join a union,” she said.
In additFor more details of the settlement, check out www.unitehere2.org.

Burning reentry


By Scribe
I returned from Burning Man a week ago today, one of the nearly 40,000 souls reentering the real world from the one that we call “home.” There are more of us than ever given that the population of Black Rock City jumped more than 10 percent this year to by far it’s largest level yet, with the Bay Area still the main source of BRC citizens. The event is growing fast, and at a time when there is increasing concern about global warming and other environmental problems associated with unsustainable consumption of resources. So I was pleased to see founder Larry Harvey and his board announce next year’s theme — Green Man — just as this year’s event was wrapping up. The idea is to better connect the isolated event with the larger world, to increase awareness of our impacts on the environment, and to start offsetting that impact with tree planting and other year-round projects. It’s a natural step in the evolution of an event that began on Baker Beach in 1986, but one that needed to be deliberately taken, a challenging move than will test whether Burning Man is ready to return from the desert and project its values outward.

$20 million to spy on the press


By Tim Redmond

This lovely little gem dropped Friday afternoon, just before the Labor Day weekend, when much of hte nation was’t paying attention: The Pentagon is looking for bidders on a $20 million contract to monitor news media coverage of Iraq I could save the generals and admirials some money:

Get a clue, folks. The once-fawning news media is turning strong against the war.

You can make the check out to me.

Volume as a religion


By G.W. Schulz

Meant to blog a while back on a stack of records I’ve picked up recently. I’m only going to write about a few. I don’t articulate myself very well when it comes to music. I’m a reporter. But these records, I thought, deserved a mention. Below the jump is a list of the others.

(Tortuga Recordings)
Tortuga is a blood relative of L.A.’s Hydrahead Records (formerly of Boston) created several years ago by the singer of Isis, Aaron Turner. Both labels have always specialized in droning, deep volume, but there have been big rock, up-tempo releases in the past. 5ive falls within two of Turner’s ongoing obsessions: brutal stoner rock and dark ambience. The band is made up of just two guys – drums and guitars – but the way they calmly build into colossal crescendos has always struck me as remarkable. There isn’t necessarily a deep chug in the guitars, but the grime that replaces it is, as Nate Denver might say, “satisfying.” This is their fourth and newest record. I’ve owned both “The Telestic Disfracture” and “Continuum Research Project” for some time now, and I still enjoy each of them. Now’s the part where I admit that I’ll buy pretty much anything with Aaron Turner’s name even remotely connected to it. I’ve followed his career for years, and 5ive is another addition to what I’ve always believed was a great group of bands.

Bailed Wolf worries federal shield laws won’t protect independent press


Like a mole emerging from a hole, bespectacled freelance journalist Josh Wolf squinted into the September sunlight, as he stood on the steps outside the U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit building on Seventh Street in San Francisco. It was the 24-year-old’s first taste of freedom after a month-long stint inside Dublin Federal Correctional Institute for refusing to give a federal grand jury video outtakes of an anarchist protest turned violent.
During his stretch at Dublin, Wolf was only able to breathe fresh air for an hour each day, and he looked as if was relishing the feeling of the sun on his skin, as he voiced his belief that what should have been a SFPD investigation into an assault on an officer, turned into federal witch hunt, involveing the FBI, the Joint Taskforce on Terrorism, a grand jury—and the thousands of tax payers’ dollars to prosecute and jail him.
As Wolf, who’d traded prison dudes for black jeans, blue shirt and white sneakers, began to speak, jackhammers went off across the the road, as if some evil mastermind was making a last ditch effort to censor the truth. The crowd of camera wielding, microphone-holding paparazzi pressed closer, as Wolf expressed his hope that the 9th Circuit’s decision to grant him bail was a positive sign. (A month earlier, District Court Judge Alsup denied Wolf bail, calling his case “a slamdunk for the federal government.”)
“The late Senator Paul Wellstone once said that significant social change comes from the bottom up,” said Wolf, who hopes his case will ultimately help cement the rights of the independent, as well as those of the traditional, media. Expressing concern that the federal shield laws that are currently on the table “do not encompass people who meet my criteria,” Wolf critiqued the proposed laws for only protecting those who are employed by or under contract with an established media outlet.
“There should be a common law to protect journalists,” he said, voicing the belief that anyone who is involved in gathering and disseminating news and information is a journalist, whether they are paid for their activities or not.
“I am a journalist, I have a website, I’ve sold footage, including to MichaelMoore.com,” said Wolf, who worries that proposed federal reporter shield laws will create two classes of journalists, those that report and get paid, and those that do it out of volition. “It will create a corporatocracy in which only corporations are media,” he said. “It goes against the idea of a free and independent press.”
Wolf also critiqued what he saw as an increasing abuse of grand juries, which were established to protect the rights of those accused, but increasingly appear to be used by the feds to secretly coerce and investigate targets.
“There is no means that any extended stay in jail is going to bring about a coercive effect,” said Wolf, who believes the case of former New York Times journalist Judith Miller, as well as those of the two BALCO reporters from the San Francisco Chronicle who still face jail time, helped publicize his plight, as did the blogosphere.
‘It’s egregious that the feds took up an investigation into an assault in a SFPD office,’ said Wolf, who believes that the alleged arson to a SFPD car was a hook, allowing the feds in simply because SFPD receives federal funds.
“In my tape you hear someone yell, ‘Officer Down!’ That’s the extent of it,” said Wolf, in reply to the question of what interest the feds could possibly have in his clips on the cutting room floor.
“I don’t want my case to be a reason why people don’t get involved in grassroots journalism,” he said, acknowledging that his case shows there are risks involved. “But an individual can decide what’s important and truly change the world we live in,” he said, comparing that freedom to the restrictions imposed on journalists who work for corporate media.”
To help freelancers, Wolf would like to see more information out there on what independent journalists should do, if they are subpoenaed. “Know your rights and how to protect them,” he advised.

The fools running the hotels


By Tim Redmond

Interesting analysis in BeyondChron on the impact of a hotel strike. I think Randy Shaw has it right: The union is ready for this, the city will be behind the workers — and the hotels will be up against the wall. The hotels ought to settle; pushing Local 2 to strike is really, really dumb.

RIP Leather Tongue


You will be missed.




City Attorney sues major San Francisco landlord


The City Attorney’s Office announced today that it’s suing one of San Francisco’s biggest landlords, Skyline Realty, aka CitiApartments.

Some of you may remember our three-part series on the company, published in March, in which current and former rent-controlled tenants claimed either in lawsuits or during interviews that they were victims of a patterned attempt to oust them from their apartments.

A brighter Sunday at the Chronicle


Things improved at the Chronicle with yesterday’s weekend edition, compared to some of the fluff that graced its pages last week.

Congrats to cops-and-crime reporter Jaxon Van Derbeken for snagging the story on an out-of-control snitch named Marvin Jeffery Jr. that the San Francisco Police Department used to arrest a suspect in the 2004 shooting death of Officer Isaac Espinoza. An identity-theft master, Jeffery was repeatedly released from jail in exchange for information he’d provided to the department. And each time, he went right back to formulating fraudulent monetary schemes making somewhere around $3 million in the process. Now the department is not sure where he is.

NOISE: Whoo! I mean, Wu! Rock the Bells…


Guardian assistant art director Ben Hopfer checked out the Rock the Bells rap convo on Aug. 6 in Concord:

Redman carouses backstage at Rock the Bells.
All images by Ben Hopfer.

Rock the Bells sets the bar for what a quality hip-hop festival should be all about. Last year’s lineup was good — members of the Wu-Tang Clan appeared, including Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, and Method Man — and this year’s bill embodied hip-hop at its highest level. The entire Clan — excluding the RZA — performed in tribute to the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard.


Wu-tang Clan definitly brought the motherfucking ruckus with the highly energetic Method Man trading off on leads with Ghostface Killah.



Other members all had their own distinct styles. Pictured: Mastakilla, Raekwon, U-God, Method Man, and the GZA.

Festival organizers always find the right mix of quality hip-hop from the Bay Area and beyond. Local talent like Zion I, Del tha Funkee Homosapien from the Heiroglyphics, as well as the Living Legends were going to be on hand this time, so I knew in advance that the show was going to be insane. In addition to those artists, the lineup was back-loaded with some pretty big names: De La Soul, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Redman, and of course, the Wu-Tang Clan. Toss into this already diverse stew the politically charged Planet Asia and Immortal Technique, and you have the spectrum covered.

Planet Asia introduced energy early on at the festival.

Immortal Technique offers revolutionary music to the masses.

Immortal Technique lets me know what he thinks of the Minutemen with the Brown Berets.

When it came to the music, the festival was top-notch. I can’t say the same about the venue. Call me a purist, but I like to see my hip-hop up close. Pack me in a club well past the fire marshall’s limit — I won’t care. Hip-hop crowds need to be enclosed. We’re kind of like cattle that way. The Concord pavilion just wasn’t built for this kind of show. Some ’80s arena rock, yes. Mos Def, no.

Zion-I holds it down for the Bay backstage.

De La Soul gives the crowd some love.

I don’t want a seat when I’m seeing hip-hop — I want to rush the goddamn stage! The cheaper seats were so far back that I needed a mini-Hubble to see what was happening on stage. Hell, even a $100 ticket couldn’t get me to the stage — thank god for press passes. Big ups for the Wu-Tang Clan. They told the crowd to rush the stage, knowing that without crowd energy, things just aren’t the same. But while one bar was raised, another was missing: the lack of alcohol for the 21-and-older crowd left a sour taste in my mouth. Actually, I should say a dry taste in my mouth, as I just wanted a beer or three.

Sway from the Wake-Up show talks with Domino from the Heiroglyphics Crew. Did I just hear that Heiro is workng with Prince Paul? Shhh!

Supernatural, now the world record holder for longest freestyle (nine hours!), showed his skills by freestyling only from items handed to him by the crowd.

Redman proved once again that his presence can bring the crowd to their feet.

A Blackstar reunion of sorts: Talib Kweli (left) and the mighty Mos Def (right).

Oh snap, is that Dave Chapelle? Yeeeah!

I don’t mean to complain about the show. I mean even at $100 you got your money’s worth of unbelievable hip-hop. I understand that Rock the Bells needed a bigger venue this year to get all of these artists together for the day. I just miss the intimacy of last year’s festival. Here’s hoping next year’s will be a little more crowd friendly while still bringing some hip-hop heat.

Murs of Living Legends shows everybody that he has much love for the Bay.

The Living Legends pulls no stops when performing as a group. Pictured: Asop, the Grouch, Luckyiam, Scarub, Sunspot Jonez, and Bicasso.

Farewell, Sue Bierman


I never had the honor of meeting Sue Bierman, but news that the former San Francisco supervisor died Monday afternoon after her car crashed into a dumpster in the Cole Valley, got the current supes sharing memories of her at the August 8 Board meeting. leaving me with the impression of a much loved, sometimes feared, outspoken and universally respected 82-year old.
Here’s just a sampling of some of the many tributes made:
“Volumes could be written about the accomplishments of this woman,” said Sup. Gerardo Sandoval said. “She was probably a grandmother/sister figure to many of us.”
Sup. Aaron Peskin called her “an incredible person, an FDR-type Democrat,” and the woman responsible for stopping the expansion of the freeway into the panhandle.
Said Sup. Ross Mirkarimi, “she was a hero in so many battles in San Francisco..most recently, when we were trying to bring attention to excessive, disproportionate closure of schools, Sue Bierman and her daughter were on the front line. She was very disarming, but very strong. I will miss her dearly.”
Sup. Sean Elsbernd acknowledged that “should she and I have served on the board together, we would have had a few disagreements. I’ll miss her look.”
Sup. Tom Ammiano recalled how,”When Carole Migden put on lipstick, Sue would follow. You knew something was going to happen, as if a secret handshake was involved…I don’t know if there’s a highway to heaven, but thanks to Sue it ain’t a freeway.”
Sup. Bevan Dufty remembered how Bierman had a lot of influence over Mayor Willie Brown. “If you heard him cussing at Sue, you knew she’d won one over him.”
Sup. Michela Alioto-Pier noted how she and Bierman often did not agree when they were both on the Port Commission.
“She very eloquently told you, she was very forceful, she was always the first person to call, it was dismaying to hear her voice on the machine, saying, ‘Michela,’ in a shaky voice,” Alioto-Pier recalled.
Sup. Chris Daly said bBerman was the champion of young adults–and renters.
‘She understood what made San Francisco great.”
And Gloria Young, clerk of the board, recalled trying to get Bierman, who served on the Board from 1992 until she was termed out in 2000, vacate her office at noon on the last day , so to tidy up before the new supe [Peskin] arrived.
“Absolutely not,” Bierman is said to have said. “I’ll be working until the end of the day, It’s important to acknowledge the constituents who put us in office.”
“And she left me with a big stack of books,” added Peskin. “They’re still on the shelf.”

Love thy Immigrant Worker


It was cool to hear Sup. Gerardo Sandoval give it up for all the immigrant workers, documented or undocumented, as he read a resolution at the Board of Supes meeting that supports the Immigrant Workers Rights’ March to be held over Labor Day Weekend.
An estimated 75,000 immigrant workers and their supporters protested in SF on May 1, 2006 and another demonstration is planned for the first weekend in September.
“The Board of Supes acknowledges the endless contributions of immigrant workers to the City by supporting their right to peacefully demonstrate over Labor Day weekend,” read Sandoval, adding that the “immigrants participating are not followers, but leaders. It’s our duty to protect SF workers, immigrants or not.”

Do you support the Olympic Games?


Olympic Question
BY Sarah Phelan
“Do you support the Olympic Games?”
That ‘s the question that Sup. Gerardo Sandoval believes Mayor Gavin Newsom should, but is afraid, to ask.

“”I love sports and I’d love nothing more than to have the Olympics come to San Francisco,” said Sandoval at the Aug. 8 Board of Supes meeting. “But as a supervisor I want to ask the voters whether it should be SF’s policy to host the 2016 Olymoics, given the costs and benefits.Why is the Mayor’s Office afraid to do so?” said Sandoval, noting that academic studies show only a “very modest gain,” whereas Chambers of Commerce-related reports cite “huge gains” for cities that are Olympic hosts.
“We shouldn’t be afraid to ask,” said Sandoval, criticizing the mayor’s “behind doors conversations,” on matters such as the financing of the 49ers stadium–a stadium, which as Sandoval noted, is to be included as an venue in the mayor’s vision for the 2016 Olympics.
“I’m happy the mayor has acknowledged that we need to ask the voters,” said Sandoval, adding that Newsom believes it’s “premature to ask right now”.
“Premature implies maturity,” said Sandoval, suggesting that the Olympic question will be asked some time in the future, as he tabled his own motion “to ask voters” for now. But feel free, SF, to tell us what you think about the plan . We’re not afraid to hear it. Heck, it might even reveal what people do and don’t know.

Do you support the Olympic Games?


Olympic Question
BY Sarah Phelan
“Do you support the Olympic Games?”
That ‘s the question that Sup. Gerardo Sandoval believes Mayor Gavin Newsom should, but is afraid, to ask.

“”I love sports and I’d love nothing more than to have the Olympics come to San Francisco,” said Sandoval at the Aug. 8 Board of Supes meeting. “But as a supervisor I want to ask the voters whether it should be SF’s policy to host the 2016 Olymoics, given the costs and benefits.Why is the Mayor’s Office afraid to do so?” said Sandoval, noting that academic studies show only a “very modest gain,” whereas Chambers of Commerce-related reports cite “huge gains” for cities that are Olympic hosts.
“We shouldn’t be afraid to ask,” said Sandoval, criticizing the mayor’s “behind doors conversations,” on matters such as the financing of the 49ers stadium–a stadium, which as Sandoval noted, is to be included as an venue in the mayor’s vision for the 2016 Olympics.
“I’m happy the mayor has acknowledged that we need to ask the voters,” said Sandoval, adding that Newsom believes it’s “premature to ask right now”.
“Premature implies maturity,” said Sandoval, suggesting that the Olympic question will be asked some time in the future, as he tabled his own motion “to ask voters” for now. But feel free, SF, to tell us what you think about the plan . We’re not afraid to hear it. Heck, it might even reveal what people do and don’t know.

Halloween not a Friendly Ghost


Fear not, ghouls and goblins. You’re still welcome in the Castro, at least one day a year. That’s right: Halloween’s back on. We got the word Wednesday night while we were celebrating all that is the Best of the Bay. Check out our Guardian’s San Francisco blog-all-about-it, and the Examiner ran a bit on it today as well. Sharpen your fangs, only three months away!

Lebanon in ruins


The NY Times offers an amazing before-and-after graphic of a south Beirut neighborhood that contained the Hezbollah headquarters. Found this on Digg.com

The vanishing Tenderloin


Casey Mills in beyond Chron has a nice little tidbit on how Gavin Newsom’s press release endorsing the little-known Rob Black for District Six supervisor conveniently omits any mention of the Tenderloin.

Mel Gibson is responsible for all the wars in the world!


While major media outlets like the New York Times and the SF Chronicle are busy interviewing PR agents to see if good ol’ smelly Mel’s antisemitic tirade is going to affect his career (now there’s an angle for some real investigative reporting!!), we here at the Guardian have uncovered our own global Gibson conspiracy: Mel Gibson himself is responsible for starting almost every war known to man! Think about it.


Braveheart = Tribal warfare.
Apocalypto = Indigenous warfare
Signs = Alien wars/Crisis of faith
Pocahontas = Colonial wars (bonus “war is hell” points for singing)
Tequila Sunrise = War against Michelle Pfeiffer
Chicken Run = Interspecies war
Conspiracy Theory = War of THE MIND
What Women Want = War of the sexes
Lethal weapon = Race war
Mad Max = War of THE FUTURE
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome = Tina Turner

and pretty much every other movie (Gallipoli, The Patriot, Air America, Passion, Year of Living Dangerously, The Chili Con Carne Club) — all about WAR!!! And he started them all! OMG!!! —Marke B.

Clearly, the good shit’s happening THIS week


Pardon the slow post, but last week’s Project Runway was kinda on the ho-hum side. (Of course, it’s still the best reality show currently on the airwaves, so a ho-hum Runway is still better than the greatest-ever Rock Star: Supernova, if in fact a greatest-ever ep of that show ever existed. Sorry, can’t get past the weirdly sculpted facial hair of one Dave Navarro.)
Anyway, the challenge was to design for a woman and her purse-dog … Uli made a slinky dress for her human model, and her canine model was a pug, so it was a no-brainer that she’d win (though Alison‘s pair o’ ensembles were pretty cute too). There are still so many contestants that the editors have no choice but to highlight the folks who’ll have the top and bottom scores. Basically, if you don’t get a lot of airtime prior to the runway show, you’re IN.

Despite the puppy presence, special Guardian correspondent Max the dog — who would fit in no one’s handbag, and would certainly not appreciate it if you tried to shove him in one, anyway — snoozed through most of the episode. Well, there’s always this week — the promos hinted at the BIGGEST CONTROVERSY IN RUNWAY HISTORY. Tim Gunn is gonna bring the hammer down! (Could it be due to a certain alleged rip-off artist?) In your face, last season’s motherfucking walk-off!

NOISE: Manu Chao at the Greek


Guardian art director Mirissa Neff checked out Manu Chao and Kinky at the Greek Theater on Friday, July 28… here’s what she saw and heard:

All images by Mirissa Neff

After only playing LA and NYC when he’s made it to the states, Manu Chao finally played a Bay Area show last night. He didn’t disappoint…

A few of us did a Q+A with Manu before Kinky went on. One of the highlights was when the Chronicle’s Delfin Vigil asked Manu about the World Cup and whether he sided with France or Spain. Manu replied, “I am not a nationalist. I have a passport for both countries but I don’t understand this mentality of seeing that someone is from a different place than you and wanting them to die.”

I asked Manu if he had plans to release Siberie M’etait Contee [a French only release] here and he said, “No… maybe someday. But I have a new album that just needs to be mixed. Then it will be ready for release.” Hmmmm…

Kinky opened the night with their unique Norteno-flavored electronic funk. Ulises Lozano and Gil Cerezo got the crowd going:


People just lost their shit when Manu Chao’s Radio Bemba Sound System hit the stage. Here’s sexy guitarist Madjid Fahem:


Meanwhile bassist Gambeat held down stage right with lots and lots of reverb:


After about five encores the crowd was still screaming for more…

SF’s real sister city


By Scribe
Like most of the roughly 16,000 San Franciscans who attend Burning Man, I had a hard time focusing on work this morning because of the announcement of where all of this year’s theme camps would be placed in Black Rock City. It’s like suddenly finding out whether you get to live in a cool neighborhood like the Mission or the Haight, in a party zone like SOMA, or whether you’re going to be way out in the avenues or the Excelsior (Tribesters spent the morning commiserating or celebrating). Personally, I was stoked that my Ku De Ta camp was placed right next to Camp Katrina, the Burners Without Borders project that did hurricane cleanup on the Gulf Coast after last year’s festival (which I covered and wrote about). In addition to burning art projects in the neverending campfire, just like we did in Mississippi, they’ll be collecting used lumber at the end of the event to recycle through Habitat with Humanity. It’s just the beginning of a concerted movement within the burner community to offset our environmental impacts. My sources say to look for some big announcements coming soon. I’ll keep you posted on an exciting effort to combat criticisms of the event’s consumptive role.

$349 health care and $10 beers


My love for baseball dates all the way back to childhood, when my dad used to let me stay up past the seventh to watch the Sox on TV. Once a year we made a pilgramage to Boston, where my family dominated a whole row of seating in the nosebleed section, and I got to drink a soda and eat a hot dog and watch my hero, Roger Clemens, pitch from his own mound. Yesterday, for the first time in my life, I went to see my native team outside of Fenway Park, and was shocked by the greeting I got at the gate.

Ricardo and Girl Talk


From the desk of: Johnny Huston

It’s Monday, it’s hot as hell, I’m wearing devil red from head to toe and I’m counting the hours until Os Mutantes save us all!

Other music I’m loving at the moment? Let’s start with the Ricardo Villalobos career-span comp Salvador, especially the hypnotist’s power of the lead-off track, his 2006 remix of “Que Belle Epoque.” So the Germany-based (by way of Chile) Villalobos likes Baby Ford? He can oochy koochy and beach bump onto my stereo anytime.


Then there’s Girl Talk and his three recordings, especially the new Night Ripper. Mash-ups? Please. More like plunderphonics with DJ Assault’s attention span and sense of dirty humor. The wishes of the Justified Ancients have been granted. Gimme more. And what if god was a project bitch, anyway?


fave new graffito


This morn, after weathering a couple of the worst car commercials I’d ever seen in my nightmares: Hummer’s “Restore Your Manhood” campaign which features a guy embarrassed by buying tofu running out to buy a Hummer, followed by Chrysler’s “cleaner vehicles” ad which features SUVs tearing up a local ecosystem — I emerged into the sunlight to be greeted by my new favorite graffito: a sticker on the SFBG box on my corner that reads “Obscure Pop Culture Reference.” Drive it home! — Marke B.