San Francisco is spending $1.7 million on one public toilet. It will be built by union labor, and won’t be finished until 2025. But the workers’ benefits are very, very, very good!

https://web.archive.org/web/20221019145714/https://www.sfchronicle.com/sf/bayarea/heatherknight/article/million-dollar-toilet-17518443.php

S.F. is spending $1.7 million on one public toilet: ‘What are they making it out of — gold?’

By Heather Knight

October 19, 2022

San Francisco politicians will gather at the Noe Valley Town Square Wednesday afternoon to congratulate themselves for securing state money for a long-desired toilet in the northeast corner of the charming plaza.

Another public toilet in a city with far too few of them is excellent. But the details of this particular commode? They’re mind-boggling, maddening and encapsulate so much of what’s wrong with our city government.

The toilet — just one loo in 150 square feet of space — is projected to cost $1.7 million, about the same as a single-family home in this wildly overpriced city. And it won’t be ready for use until 2025.

Assemblymember Matt Haney (D-San Francisco) secured the $1.7 million from the state for the toilet after hearing “loud and clear” from the community that families needed a bathroom. The plumbing is already there, added when the plaza was constructed six years ago, but there was never money for the actual bathroom. Until Haney stepped in.

The former San Francisco supervisor said the Recreation and Parks Department told him the going rate for one public bathroom was $1.7 million so he secured the full amount, not questioning the pricetag.

“They told me $1.7 million, and I got $1.7 million,” Haney explained. “I didn’t have the option of bringing home less of the bacon when it comes to building a toilet. A half a toilet or a toilet-maybe-someday is not much use to anyone.”

True, but instead we have a toilet-maybe-in-more-than-two-years that could have paid to house a family instead. So why is a public bathroom so insanely expensive, and why does it take so long to build? A joint statement from Rec and Park and the Department of Public Works, which will work together to build this extravagant bathroom, pointed to several reasons.

For one thing, the cost to build anything in San Francisco is exorbitant. The city is the most expensive in the world to build in — even topping Tokyo, Hong Kong and New York City. We’re No. 1! Even for places to go No. 1.

Like everywhere, construction costs have risen 20% to 30% in the past couple of years due to global supply chain issues and the rising costs of fuel, labor and materials. But like always, there’s a certain preciousness to the process in San Francisco. (Just look at the years-long, ongoing quest to design and manufacture bespoke city trash cans.)

“It’s important to note that public projects and their overall cost estimates don’t just reflect the price of erecting structures,” the statement said. “They include planning, drawing, permits, reviews and public outreach.”

For a toilet? Apparently so.

An architect will draw plans for the bathroom that the city will share with the community for feedback. It will also head to the Arts Commission’s Civic Design Review committee comprised of two architects, a landscape architect and two other design professionals who, under city charter, “conduct a multi-phase review” of all city projects on public land — ranging from buildings to bathrooms to historic plaques, fences and lamps.

The web-page describing that process states the point is to ensure “that each project’s design is appropriate to its context in the urban environment, and that structures of the highest design quality reflect their civic stature.”

Sorry, kid. I know you’ve got to go, but have you considered the context of the urban environment?

The project will then head to the Rec and Park Commission and to the Board of Supervisors. According to the city’s statement, it will also be subject to review under the California Environmental Quality Act. Then, the city will put the project up for bid.

“Once we start the project, we’ll have a clearer timeline, but we expect to be able to complete the project in 2025,” the statement read.

The city said the $1.7 million estimate “is extremely rough” and budgets “for the worst-case scenario due to the onerous demands and unpredictable costs levied by PG&E,” the possibility code requirements could change during the project and in case other unexpected circumstances come up.

The city is in a legal battle with Pacific Gas and Electric Co. over the city’s claim that the utility has slowed projects and forced them to be more expensive unless they obtain electricity directly from the utility instead of the city’s Public Utilities Commission.

The bathroom will be built by unions whose workers will “earn a living wage and benefits, including paid sick time, leave and training.”

“While this isn’t the cheapest way to build, it reflects San Francisco’s values,” the statement read.

I’m a union member myself, and of course the majority of our public projects should be union built. But does a $1.7 million single bathroom really reflect San Francisco’s values? I don’t think so.

The supervisors in 2019 approved a Project Labor Agreement between the city and unions that requires union labor for all “covered projects” — but this bathroom isn’t one of them because it’s not worth $10 million and it didn’t come from bond funding.

There are other, much cheaper options. I e-mailed Tom Hardiman, executive director of the Modular Building Institute in Charlottesville, Virginia, and asked him to guess what San Francisco was spending to build one toilet in 150 square feet of space.

“I’m going to guess high, I think, and say $200,000,” he wrote back.

I seemed to nearly give him a heart attack by telling him the actual figure in a subsequent phone call.

“This is to build one public restroom?” he asked incredulously. “What are they making it out of — gold and fine Italian marble? It would be comical if it wasn’t so tragically flawed.”

He then said he’d do some research and found a cheaper option within minutes. He said Chad Kaufman, CEO of Public Restroom Company, just delivered and installed seven modular bathrooms in Los Angeles for the same price San Francisco will spend to build one. These are not Porta Potties, but instead have concrete walls with stucco exteriors and nice fixtures with plumbing.

“There will be some onsite labor which absolutely can be union,” Hardiman said, pointing to crane operators, laborers and plumbers.

And, he said, they could be delivered in eight months.

Phil Ginsburg, director of the Recreation and Parks Department, said many park systems around the country use pre-fabricated restrooms, which are much cheaper — and he hopes San Francisco becomes more politically open to them too. The department has occasionally used them in the past — including at the Redwood Grove playground in McLaren Park — and it’s unclear why one seems off the table for Noe Valley.

“Given how much the public values and needs public restrooms, I would hope these could be more common features in our parks that don’t currently have restrooms,” he said. “Our parks continue to need investment and every dollar saved by installing one allows us to make additional improvements elsewhere in our parks.”

October 19, 2022. Tags: , . Government waste. Leave a comment.

The fact that San Francisco tolerates people shooting up illegal drugs in areas where schoolchildren have to walk through every day is an absolute abomination. The government even gives free needles to these drug addicts!

The city of San Francisco gives 4.5 million free needles to illegal drug addicts every year.

Source: https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/matier-ross/article/Why-San-Francisco-is-stuck-with-a-deluge-of-12952111.php

The city also employs 10 people whose “sole job” is to clean up those needles from the sidewalks and other public areas.

Source: https://www.sfexaminer.com/news/sf-s-new-needle-cleanup-team-to-get-van-and-branded-jackets/article_2bfad05e-f553-53f0-ae08-571d48d93221.html

Here’s a video about these free needles, and the city employees who clean them up, from the San Francisco affiliate of CBS News:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZCC4bY33iM

 

And most importantly, here’s a video from the San Francisco affiliate of CBS News, which shows schoolchildren walking through areas where drug dealers are shooting up:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2CVMCZ6F2M

I think there should be a place where drug addicts can go to get the help that they need, with doctors, and even safe injection sites. But it should not be in areas where schoolchildren have to walk through every day.

The fact that San Francisco tolerates people shooting up illegal drugs in areas where schoolchildren have to walk through every day is an absolute abomination.

What kind of society would force children to do that?

What kind of society would tolerate drug addicts shooting up right in front of schoolchildren?

And what kind of society would give free needles to the people who shoot up illegal drugs right in front of school children?

There is something very wrong – ethically and morally – with the voters of San Francisco.

September 16, 2022. Tags: , , , . Social justice warriors. Leave a comment.

Here’s more proof that San Francisco is pro-crime. They just released a guy who is allegedly responsible for half of the city’s anti-Asian hate crimes that occurred last year. The voters are getting exactly what they voted for.

By Daniel Alman (aka Dan from Squirrel Hill)

January 30, 2022

Derik Barreto has allegedly been a very busy guy.

He is allegedly single-handedly responsible for half of all the anti-Asian hate crimes that were committed in San Francisco last year.

Under a system of traditional justice, he would be in jail for a very, very long time.

But the voters of San San Francisco are against traditional justice.

Instead, the voters of San Francisco support something that they refer to as “social justice.”

Under this system of “social justice,” serial criminals cannot be kept in prison, because to do so would be “racist.”

So instead of putting this serial criminal in a “racist” prison, they are allowing him to roam free, committing as many hate crimes against Asians as he wants.

The voters of San Francisco are getting exactly what they voted for.

January 30, 2022. Tags: , , . Racism, Social justice warriors. Leave a comment.

San Francisco YouTuber Rebecca Watson: “I cannot stress enough that stealing from big box stores is fine”

Rebecca Watson lives in San Francisco. In this 12 minute YouTube video, she defends shoplifting from big box stores, and expands on a tweet that she had previously made about the subject:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FPZ0Zh0U20

https://twitter.com/rebeccawatson/status/1442245355572105227

Archive of tweet: https://web.archive.org/web/20210926215153/https://twitter.com/rebeccawatson/status/1442245355572105227

Screen capture of tweet:

rebecca watson shoplifting tweet

November 23, 2021. Tags: , , , . Social justice warriors. 1 comment.

This is hilarious. The people of San Francisco can’t figure out what to do with two serial burglars who just got arrested.

https://www.sfchronicle.com/sf/article/bike-burglaries-crime-castro-16593795.php

Two men with long criminal histories got caught for stealing bikes. What should S.F. do about them?

By Rachel Swan

November 5, 2021

The racket began around 3:30 a.m. on a recent Thursday, as two thieves rummaged through the basement of a three-unit Victorian in San Francisco’s Castro district.

Startled by the noise, a dog in the house barked frantically. One of the residents, Mauricio, scrambled out of bed and grabbed a baseball bat. He heard a clunk. By the time the man got to the shared basement, Mauricio told The Chronicle, the burglars had stolen his bicycle and his neighbor’s e-bike.

Mauricio, who asked to be identified only by his first name because he fears retaliation, called the police. Within hours they had apprehended two suspects — Nicholas Tiller and Tyler Howerton — at Seventh and Market streets downtown, known to be the center of the stolen goods trade in San Francisco.

According to documents reviewed by The Chronicle, both men had extensive criminal histories: Howerton had been arrested seven times on suspicion of burglary since 2019; Tiller had been arrested 13 times in burglary cases since 2013. Both were on probation at the time they were apprehended.

What to do about the two men is a quandary for a city pursuing criminal justice reform while debating how to manage rates of property crime that for years have been among the highest in the nation. District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s office has charged them with felony first-degree residential burglary, among other counts, and they could face six years in prison if convicted.

The district attorney’s spokesperson, Rachel Marshall, said in an email to The Chronicle that the office would consider other types of intervention, such as drug treatment, “if there is a specific, viable plan that can address what is driving their behavior.”

Superior Court Judge Brian Ferrall ordered Howerton released from jail with GPS monitoring. He did so over the objection of the District Attorney’s Office, which noted that Howerton wasn’t cooperating with his existing probation. However, as the judge pointed out, another prosecutor had not opposed Howerton’s release at his earlier arraignment.

Tiller remains in jail. Attorneys representing Tiller and Howerton declined to comment.

As of Oct. 31, San Francisco police had received reports of 810 burglaries or attempted burglaries this year in the jurisdiction of the Mission District Police Station, which includes the Castro. That number marks a 13% increase from the 716 reported by the end of October last year.

Police have dispatched more officers to the Castro and nearby areas to address the surge, fueled by a high-end bike boom and correlating with a drop in other forms of theft. The department also adjusted investigators’ work schedules, enabling them to respond to crimes in the moment. Such measures probably helped in arresting Tiller and Howerton, police said.

At the same time, residents and city leaders are searching for answers: Should they tolerate a high level of burglaries as a downside of city living, and focus on barricading their homes? Should people who are repeatedly accused of stealing be targeted with rehabilitation services, or incarcerated so they can’t commit more crimes?

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman is frustrated. He’s a longtime supporter of criminal justice reform whose policy views evolved as he grappled with property crime in his district — a persistent problem that makes residents feel vulnerable in their own homes.

“It raises tricky questions about incarceration,” Mandelman said. “Because so far we’ve been unable to release (Tiller and Howerton) without them committing more crimes. And the question for reformers is, ‘What do we do with someone like that?’”

The Castro and surrounding neighborhoods are hot spots for burglary, in part because many of the homes have garages or basements where residents stow bicycles — an enticement for thieves, because they are valuable and fairly easy to swipe.

Several factors are fueling the trend, from neighborhood architecture, to the e-bike craze, to the increased popularity of bicycles during the pandemic, because gyms were closed and people were driving less often. Thefts of e-bikes and bicycles took off at a time when auto burglaries became less appealing, owing to the dearth of tourist rental cars with luggage in their trunks.

“Unfortunately a lot of these victims have bicycles inside their garages that are being targeted,” San Francisco police Lt. Scott Ryan said. As head of the burglary and auto unit, he saw a rise in home break-ins as the pandemic got into full swing, along with another disturbing pattern: more burglaries happening in the early morning, when people were home asleep.

The timing of these crimes concerns police, in part because it could lead to confrontations between perpetrators and residents. To some, it makes the burglary feel more invasive. Castro resident and Google public affairs chief Rebecca Prozan shuddered, noting that a flight of stairs leads directly from her garage into her kitchen.

Burglars broke into the garage of her Victorian duplex twice at the beginning of the pandemic, she said, stealing bicycles, luggage and wine. They returned twice more to burglarize an adjacent mail room, after she secured the garage door.

Other residents say it doesn’t matter whether a resident is home when a stranger breaks in; the crime still feels like a personal violation. For some, the recent burst in property crimes, many of them unreported, has caused feelings of unease to permeate the Castro. The historic district, long known as a safe haven for the LGBTQ community, has become such a hotbed that police now recommend people lock up their bikes inside their garages.

“It’s not a violent crime, but when someone is in your garage, where you keep your Christmas decorations, your tools, your bicycles — it just makes you feel less safe,” Duboce Triangle resident David Burke said. He’s a civilian employee of the Police Department and serves as the public safety liaison for his district.

For many policymakers, burglaries present a vexing challenge. As Burke observed, the crimes are serious but not violent. The perpetrators are often methodical, repeat offenders with tools and expertise. They know how to drill holes and use wires to open garage doors; they don’t have the desperation of people who steal packages from porches, or even of the drugstore shoplifters who grab toiletries from shelves and toss them into garbage bags.

And in the case of the most recent arrest, both defendants have long rap sheets. Tiller even made headlines in 2016 for participating in a robbery of the Make-a-Wish Foundation at 400 Market St. and stealing — among other things — a scooter autographed by former Giants right fielder Hunter Pence.

Boudin and other policymakers believe that incarceration fails to address the underlying factors in property crime, such as poverty and addiction.

Although San Francisco offers diversion programs and collaborative courts that link people to treatment, the criminal legal system in general “cannot resolve all of the major, structural problems — including poverty, a lack of housing, and widespread addiction that create the conditions for property crime,” said Marshall, his spokesperson.

But some burglary victims have grown disenchanted with the city’s emphasis on programs and services over jail.

“When it comes to the point that these are repeat offenders who are well known and documented — that’s probably the line,” Mission Dolores resident Justin Forth said. Burglars broke into his apartment building’s communal bike storage three times in August, stealing bicycles and a trailer he uses to carry his dog.

While criminal justice experts and policymakers debate strategies and philosophies, Castro residents are taking steps to secure their homes. Eric Hansen said he has installed security cameras, upgraded locks on the windows and placed a sensor on the front door of his white stucco house, which was burglarized twice this year.

Police dusted for fingerprints and analyzed security footage after the second burglary, in September, but were unable to gather enough evidence to make an arrest. The man who jimmied open a door and stole a bike from Hansen’s garage had worn gloves.

Over the course of the year, Hansen and his neighbors acknowledged that property crime is inevitable in San Francisco. They began fortifying their homes with surveillance cameras, simulated TVs and timed lights, while also trimming back trees and removing retractable cords from garages.

“Police gave us some ideas about how to improve not just our house, but the whole block,” Hansen said. “The basic message that they have is, ‘If your block is anti-theft, they will go to another block.”

Some residents grudgingly accept this element of city living. Others are appalled, saying they’ve begun to lose faith in the legal system.

Prozan, the Castro resident who dealt with four burglaries during the pandemic, worked as a prosecutor under former District Attorneys Kamala Harris and George Gascón. She learned from experience that burglaries are difficult and time-consuming to investigate, and that police often see them as a lost cause, no matter who sits in the District Attorney’s Office.

Forth knows this firsthand. Recently while walking through the Castro, he passed by an encampment and glimpsed one of his stolen bikes, as well as the dog trailer. He called police, who were aware that Forth had filed reports for both items.

But the two officers who arrived said they couldn’t do anything. They believed Forth but lacked proof the bike and trailer were his.

“So the situation had to be me going up to people who happen to be living on the street, and saying ‘Hey, I think you stole that,’” Forth said. “And I just wasn’t willing to steal my bike back.”

November 8, 2021. Tags: , . Social justice warriors. 1 comment.

San Francisco Luxury Condo Overlooks City’s Worst Squalor

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GbcWOGyuq0

November 8, 2021. Tags: , . Social justice warriors. 1 comment.

Safeway In Castro [San Francisco] Cuts Hours Due To ‘Off The Charts’ Shoplifting; ‘It’s Sad, Upsetting And Frustrating’ [Shoplifters who steal less than $950 at a time don’t get prosecuted]

https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2021/11/01/safeway-in-castro-cuts-hours-due-to-off-the-charts-shoplifting-its-sad-upsetting-and-frustrating/

Safeway In Castro Cuts Hours Due To ‘Off The Charts’ Shoplifting; ‘It’s Sad, Upsetting And Frustrating’

By Betty Yu

November 1, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Yet another major retailer in San Francisco has made the decision to close earlier due to excessive theft particularly at night, according to San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman.

The Castro Safeway on Market and Church Streets was open 24 hours, but that’s not the case any longer. Signs posted on its entrance state its new hours are 6 am to 9 pm, effective October 24.

Many shoppers were surprised to find that the Safeway they frequent at off-hours is cutting back.

“I feel like it’s definitely an inconvenience, not everybody can make it to the supermarket between those hours, so it’s a little frustrating, especially for me personally. I like to shop later on,” said Chris Rankins, who lives in the Castro.

Mandelman’s district includes the Market Street Safeway. He said the company reached out to him to discuss problems with theft.

“I think like a lot of retailers they’ve been experiencing increasing property crime and theft from their stores,” Mandelman said. “I think the last 6 months from what they say has been sort of – off the charts in terms of how bad it’s been. It’s sad, upsetting and frustrating.”

Mandelman said he’s now working on organizing a meeting with Safeway, San Francisco police and the district attorney.

“It’s an equity problem,” he said. “There’s a lot of low-income folks, seniors, folks with disability, who rely on that Safeway and other Safeways around the city.”

For now, Johnny Denham, who works at night, will have to change his routine.

“It’s better for me to come up here after work, go shopping and go home,” he said. “Now it’s like I either have to go shopping before work, or on my days off, which I really don’t like doing.”

Safeway did not immediately return KPIX 5’s request for comment.

Mandelman added that Safeway told him police rarely arrest anyone for a property crime, by the time they make it on the scene.

November 1, 2021. Tags: , , . Social justice warriors. Leave a comment.

Racist San Francisco arrests black women at 13 times the rate of women of other races

Splinter News reported the following: (The bolding is mine)

Black women in San Francisco arrested way more often than white women, report shows

Black women in San Francisco are disproportionately arrested compared with their white counterparts, according to a new analysis of state arrest data from the Center on Criminal and Juvenile Justice.

Black women represent 5.8% of the city’s female population, but accounted for 45.5% of all female arrests in 2013, according to the report from the nonprofit, which works to reduce incarceration. For arrests related to weapons and narcotics—both felonies—black women made up 77% and 68% of all female arrests, respectively.

Black women were arrested “at a per capita rate 13.4 times higher than women of other races,” says the report. San Francisco’s overall black population declined from 60,515 in 2000 to 48,870 in 2010.

San Francisco is one of the bluest, most left wing cities in the entire country.

And it’s also one of the most racist.

October 26, 2021. Tags: , . Racism. Leave a comment.

Magnificent Mile no more: Chicago is blighted by shoplifting as ANOTHER American city goes down the toilet because its left-wing AG stops prosecuting shoplifters who steal less than $1000 of goods

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10112809/Chicago-blighted-shoplifting-shoplifters-prosecuted-steal-1000.html

Magnificent Mile no more: Chicago is blighted by shoplifting as ANOTHER American city goes down the toilet because its left-wing AG stops prosecuting shoplifters who steal less than $1000 of goods

Chicago’s Magnificent Mile has been the target of rampant shoplifting that caused several stores to close their doors

State’s Attorney Kim Foxx mandates that Chicago prosecutors only issue felony charges for theft of property over $1,000

Thieves know they can grab armfuls of merchandise without being stopped by store security 

The city’s crime issue may only grow worse as at least 50 cops have been put on unpaid leave for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine

Cities throughout the country are facing similar issues, including San Francisco, where Walgreens just announced is was closing another five stores

By Brian Stieglitz

October 20, 2021

Chicago is the latest city to be hit by rampant shoplifting and its Magnificent Mile, the once highly-populated retail destination, is now dotted with empty storefronts as businesses are being driven away by the brazen thieves.

The city has been plagued by a string of robberies and a wave of crime in the past few months, as some say that the city’s ‘soft-on-crime’ policies embolden the thieves. The issue may only grow worse as at least 50 cops have been put on unpaid leave for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Shoplifting cases grew more common following a December 2016 motion from State’s Attorney Kim Foxx that mandated Chicago prosecutors only issue felony charges for theft of property over $1,000.

Her officer said at the time that the move was meant to shift focus to the driving factors of the crimes instead of low-level offenses. In turn, however, thieves know they can grab armfuls of merchandise without being stopped by store security.

Chicago’s most recent shoplifting spree involved a group of men who robbed three 7-Eleven convenience stores downtown in a span of 30 minutes on Monday morning.

Four armed men robbed a 7-Eleven on East Lake Street at 8.29am, in which they took an undetermined amount of cash before fleeing in a black vehicle, police said. Five minutes later, police believe the same group wearing masks and hooded sweatshirts, robbed another 7-Eleven and, just before 9am, they made a final stop at a third 7-Eleven and robbed it at gunpoint.

No arrests have been made as of Wednesday afternoon.

‘It’s a serious problem, and we have to address it,’ Alderman Brian Hopkins told CBS Chicago, explaining that the issue affects commercial real estate as well as public safety.

‘The commercial brokers tell us that when they get potential interest from a tenant, that’s one of the first questions they ask, is what’s happening in Chicago to stem the tide of retail shoplifting rings that have been operating with impunity downtown? And we don’t have a good answer right now for that.’

Hopkins added, ‘I think we have to look at prosecution. Clearly there’s a feeling running through the criminal elements that there are no consequences here. We have to look to the courts, and I think we have to just look to all the players in this drama to get Chicago to what it once was.’  

The city’s approach to prosecuting retail crime is similar to one in San Francisco, where prosecutors only issue felony charges for thefts of property worth over $950. Walgreens cited the shoplifting issue as the reason it closed 17 stores and is planning to close another five throughout the city, the pharmacy chain announced last week. 

Stores throughout Chicago’s Magnificent Mile are doing the same as Macy’s closed its 170,000-square-foot flagship store in Water Tower Place last spring, Japanese retailer Uniqlo closed its 60,000-square-foot store in August and the Disney Store closed its 7,000-square-foot location on Michigan Avenue last month.

In the past few years, Gap, Forever 21 and Tommy Bahama have also closed stores on the Magnificent Mile. The vacancy rate has skyrocketed from 11 percent in 2019 to 19 percent this year, according to ABC 7.

‘We recognize community concerns around crime, and the impact it can have on one’s sense of safety as well as the economic stability of a business,’ the State’s Attorney’s office wrote in a statement to CBS Chicago before doubling down on its approach to retail crime.

‘We continue to prosecute retail theft cases as misdemeanors and felonies when appropriate to do so based on the facts and evidence,’ the statement continued.

The State’s Attorney’s office said that so far this year, its prosecutors have reviewed and issued 38 total charges for retail theft in areas of Chicago including the Magnificent Mile and Streeterville. Of that number, 18 were approved as felony charges, 10 were prosecuted and six were convicted. 

The city’s shoplifting issue could grow worse as the Chicago Police Department has started placing officers on unpaid leave for failing to report their vaccination status by Friday’s deadline.

So far, about 50 officers have been placed on an unpaid status, according to Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday, however, called the 50 officers a ‘very small number’ who have had their pay stopped by the city for refusing to cooperate with the mandate.

As of Tuesday, 4,543 officers – a little over one third of the force – have not complied and are being given one last chance to report whether they’ve been vaccinated or be put on no-pay status.

Meanwhile, the city has started seeking recruits from suburban Illinois to fill the potential staffing shortage.   

Robb Karr, president and CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, told CBS Chicago that loss of sales tax associated with shoplifting – on top of the closing stores – further hinder Chicago’s post-pandemic recovery.

‘The impression around the nation is that Chicago is not a very safe place to be,’ he said. ‘And the incidents we saw this morning, over the weekend, the episodes before that, only feed that.’ 

Late last month, a gang of shoplifters was filmed brazenly ransacking UIta Beauty store in the Windy City’s Norridge suburb over the weekend. Footage showed a gang of three hooded thieves emptying its shelves of expensive Christian Dior and Armani makeup into black trash bags.

It was shared on social media Monday, with the shocked cameraman, who hasn’t been named, saying: ‘Look at this, this is insane,’ as he films the theft unfolding before his eyes.

It came as CWB Chicago reported Chicago’s stores have been targeted by three different organized crime gangs. One of those gangs has been targeting upmarket designer stores on the city’s Magnificent Mile, whose businesses were hit by looting in summer 2020 during riots in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.

The second has targeted at least three Ulta Beauty stores – although it’s currently unclear if that is the same gang filmed at the Norridge location. And a third gang has been raiding Walgreen’s drug stores to steal cigarettes.

The first shoplifting crew was stealing from high-end Chicago stores between the Magnificent Mile and Rush Street, according to CWB Chicago. Twelve men were seen involved in a raid of 35 handbags at Bottega Veneta on September 27 – which go for thousands of dollars each- and left in two separate cars, including a gray Honda CRV.

The same crew allegedly attempted to steal from Salvatore Ferragamo an hour before but left after they were believed to be recognized by the store’s security guard. They already reportedly stole $43,000 worth of the store’s merchandise in August and injured the security guard during the theft.

‘Michigan Avenue is the economic engine of the city of Chicago. Almost 20% of the jobs are in the mag mile district jobs in the city of Chicago,’ Jack Lavin, the president and CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, said to ABC 7. ‘$180 million of sales tax revenue is generated by this district, it’s the largest neighborhood in the city of Chicago.’ 

He said that the Chamber is pushing for ‘innovative’ ways to attract merchants back to the Magnificent Mile, adding that this may involve breaking large spaces up into smaller retail shops.

Meanwhile, the most recent victim of Chicago’s violent crime wave was a police officer who was shot in the face on Monday and returned to work that same evening, saluted by his colleagues as he entered the precinct still wearing his hospital gown.

The unnamed officer was shot in the cheek when he confronted Jovan McPherson, a felon on probation, who was threatening and holding a woman at gunpoint at a busy Lincoln Park strip mall, Cook County prosecutors said Tuesday.

McPherson allegedly pulled out a gun and a struggle ensued as the officer tried to take the weapon away, prosecutors said. That’s when McPherson fired a shot that struck the officer in the cheek, prosecutors said.

Chicago’s pattern of crime and shoplifting mirrors that of other cities like San Francisco, in which Walgreens announced that it is shuttering another five of its stores because of rampant shoplifting by thieves who sell the items outside the drugstore chain’s doors. 

The national chain has closed 17 of its 70 San Francisco locations in the past two years because of the shelf raiders, who have swiped everything not behind lock and key.

Thefts in the chain’s 53 remaining stores are five times the average for their stores elsewhere in the country, according to company officials.

San Francisco and Walgreens officials have cited ‘organized retail crime’ – in which the thieves sell the swiped merchandise outside the stores – as a main reason for the most recent closures.

‘Organized retail crime continues to be a challenge facing retailers across San Francisco, and we are not immune to that,’ Walgreens spokesperson Phil Caruso told the Daily Mail last Wednesday.

‘Retail theft across our San Francisco stores has continued to increase in the past few months to five times our chain average.’

Viral videos taken throughout the summer have shown shoplifters brazenly sauntering out of stores with armfuls of stolen goods as witnesses watch in shock.

In one incident, surveillance footage caught a group of thieves in masks and hoodies sprinting out of a San Francisco Neiman Marcus with armfuls of designer handbags and others casually walking out of a TJ Maxx store carrying bags worth of goods.

In another, in June, a prolific shoplifter who had stolen from the same Walgreens on at least four occasions, was seen loading armfuls of Walgreens products into a trash bag, then riding his bike through the store with the stolen goods while the security guard and bystanders looked on.

The suspect, Jean Lugo-Romero, 40, was arrested on June 19 and remains in jail.

Shoplifting has been a problem in the Democrat-run state since 2014 – following the passage of Proposition 47, a ballot referendum known as the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act – that downgraded the theft of property worth less than $950 in value from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Cases have jumped during the pandemic as store staff and security guards choose not to pursue the thieves. Larceny and theft remain the most common crimes committed in San Francisco, increasing by about 8 percent from last year. There were 21,842 cases reported through October 10 of this year, compared with 20,254 cases during the same time through 2020.

The Walgreens locations that will be closing include: 2550 Ocean Avenue, on November 8, 4645 Mission Street, on November 11, 745 Clement Street, on November 15, 300 Gough Street on November 15, and 3400 Cesar Chavez Street on November 17.

New York City stores are also rife with shoplifting incidents and, earlier this month, a TikTok video went viral that revealed brazen thieves stealing from a Rite Aid in front of a security guard before leaving with their stolen items. The security guard, a woman named India who said she worked at a Rite Aid, posted the video to TikTok and dubbed it ‘a typical night at work.’

It showed a parade of people taking things off the shelves and walking out with one of the thieves even smiling and waving at her as he passed.

The comment led people to ask her why she isn’t stopping the thieves if she is supposed to be a security guard, to which she replied: ‘Because it’s illegal to touch, grab or use any physical force to stop them.’

Instead, she said, her job is to ‘observe and report.’

 

October 25, 2021. Tags: , , , . Social justice warriors. Leave a comment.

In-N-Out Burger tells San Francisco ‘we refuse to become the vaccination police’ after city closes restaurant

https://www.theblaze.com/news/in-n-out-burger-san-francisco-vaccination-police

In-N-Out Burger tells San Francisco ‘we refuse to become the vaccination police’ after city closes restaurant

By Chris Pandolfo

October 19, 2021

In-N-Out Burger blasted the city of San Francisco’s proof of COVID-19 vaccination requirements after the San Francisco Department of Health closed one of the popular California burger joint’s locations for serving customers who were not carrying the proper papers.

“On Thursday, October 14, the San Francisco Department of Public Health closed our restaurant at 333 Jefferson Street because In-N-Out Burger Associates (employees) were not preventing the entry of Customers who were not carrying proper vaccination documentation,” In-N-Out Burger’s chief legal and business officer, Arnie Wensinger, said in a statement.

“Our store properly and clearly posted signage to communicate local vaccination requirements,” Wensinger said. “After closing our restaurant, local regulators informed us that our restaurant Associates must actively intervene by demanding proof of vaccination and photo identification from every Customer, then act as enforcement personnel by barring entry for any Customers without the proper documentation.”

“We refuse to become the vaccination police for any government,” Wensinger declared, slamming the San Francisco Department of Health’s requirements as “unreasonable, invasive, and unsafe” and accusing the city of asking restaurants to “segregate Customers” based on vaccine documentation.

In August, San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced that the city would require businesses in “high-contact indoor sectors,” including bars, restaurants, clubs, and gyms to obtain proof of COVID-19 vaccination from patrons and employees before servicing them. The health order was implemented to “protect against the continued spread of COVID-19, particularly among the unvaccinated,” according to a statement from the mayor’s office.

“Many San Francisco businesses are already leading the way by requiring proof of vaccination for their customers because they care about the health of their employees, their customers, and this City. This order builds on their leadership and will help us weather the challenges ahead and keep our businesses open. Vaccines are our way out of the pandemic, and our way back to a life where we can be together safely,” Breed said at the time.

San Francisco was among the first major U.S. cities to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter indoor restaurants and other businesses. The city also implemented a vaccine mandate for workers at these places of business, which went into effect on Oct. 13.

In his statement, Wensinger accused San Francisco of forcing businesses “to discriminate against customers who choose to patronize their business.”

“This is clear governmental overreach and is intrusive, improper, and offensive.”

The San Francisco Department of Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

October 19, 2021. Tags: , , , . COVID-19, Police state. 1 comment.

San Francisco keeps making it easier and easier for shoplifters to destroy businesses

https://twitter.com/KTVU/status/1412291979048718337

https://www.yahoo.com/news/looters-ransack-san-francisco-neiman-141600425.html

Looters ransack San Francisco Neiman Marcus in broad daylight: Video

By Jake Dima

July 6, 2021

Looters were captured on video Monday ransacking a Neiman Marcus in San Francisco as thefts continue to plague businesses in the area.

At least nine suspects smashed display cases, snatched handbags, and jetted out of the building before law enforcement arrived to the scene at about 6 p.m., according to footage. The suspects were seen running out of the store with their hands full of merchandise before entering an apparent getaway car that sped off down a busy intersection.

A man was caught on video in June filling a garbage bag with what appeared to be hair products before leaving the drugstore on his bicycle. A security guard, who was recording the incident, tried to grab the individual, though he eluded custody.

Walgreens shuttered 17 of its stores in the San Francisco area in the past five years, and the company said thefts in the area are four times more likely than anywhere else in the country as executives budgeted 35 times more for security personnel to guard the chains.

Target executives in the city also decided to limit business hours in response to an uptick in larceny.

Shoppers can no longer buy products in the chains after 6 p.m. after once being permitted to shop until 10 p.m.

“For more than a month, we’ve been experiencing a significant and alarming rise in theft and security incidents at our San Francisco stores,” a spokesperson for Target said at the time.

San Francisco Police Lt. Tracy McCray faulted District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s “criminals first agenda” for the uptick in theft incidents.

“What happened in that Walgreens has been going on in the city for quite a while,” she said in June. “I’m used to it. I mean, we could have a greatest hits compilation of people just walking in and cleaning out the store shelves and security guards, the people who work there, just standing by helplessly because they can’t do anything.”

“The ‘criminals first’ agenda from the district attorney [is to blame] because he’s not prosecuting any of those crimes as felonies [or] as a commercial burglary. [Criminals realize,] ‘This is gonna get slapped down to a misdemeanor,'” she continued.

Thefts under $950 are considered a misdemeanor in McCray’s area of operation, she added, and suspected criminals are often issued citations instead of spending time in jail ahead of their court date. In some cases, she said, thieves will have their case thrown out if they skip their court appearances.

Neither the San Francisco Police Department nor Neiman Marcus immediately responded to requests for comment from the Washington Examiner.

July 6, 2021. Tags: , , , . Rioting looting and arson, Social justice warriors. Leave a comment.

S.F. spends more than $60K per tent at homeless sites. Now it’s being asked for another $15 million for the program.

https://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/S-F-officials-want-15-million-for-tent-sites-16269998.php

S.F. spends more than $60K per tent at homeless sites. Now it’s being asked for another $15 million for the program.

By Trisha Thadani

June 24, 2021

San Francisco’s homelessness department is pushing to continue an expensive tent encampment program that it says is crucial for keeping people off the sidewalks, despite its high price tag of more than $60,000 per tent, per year.

The city has six so-called “safe sleeping villages,” where homeless people sleep in tents and also receive three meals a day, around-the-clock security, bathrooms and showers. The city created these sites during the pandemic to quickly get people off crowded sidewalks and into a place where they can socially distance and access basic services.

The program currently costs $18.2 million for about 260 tents. Unlike the city’s homeless hotel program, the tent villages are not eligible for federal reimbursement. Some of the sites have been run by nonprofits Urban Alchemy, Dolores Street Community Services and Larkin Street Youth Services.

The department is now asking the city for $15 million in the upcoming fiscal year for a similar number of tents, which amounts to about $57,000 per tent per year. If the funding is approved, San Francisco will pay about twice the median cost of a one-bedroom apartment for people to sleep in tents for the second year in a row.

The department plans to close some sites this year, but said it will look for new ones to replace them. Officials said they plan to significantly ramp down the program in fiscal year 2022-2023, when it expects to need $5 million to fund the program.

Several supervisors said at a Wednesday budget hearing that the cost must be re-examined, especially as the city winds down its COVID-19 emergency response.

“It is a big deal to have showers and bathrooms, and I don’t dispute that,” Supervisor Hillary Ronen said at Wednesday’s Budget and Finance Appropriations Committee meeting. “But the cost just doesn’t make any sense.”

Gigi Whitley, the homeless department’s deputy director of administration and finance, said the bulk of the costs at the sites come from the 24-hour security, three meals a day, and the rented shower and bathroom facilities.

Whitley said she hopes the department can control costs as it takes over the program from the city’s COVID-19 Command Center.

The tent program is entirely paid for through Proposition C, a 2018 business tax measure that collects money for homeless services. The cost accounts for only a fraction of the more-than $1 billion that the city expects to spend on homelessness over the next two years, mostly due to Prop. C.

Still, Supervisor Ahsha Safaí said it seemed like an “exorbitant” amount for a program that would be phased out as the COVID-19 emergency comes to an end.

The discussion comes as the city prepares to wind down its homeless hotel program, which is currently sheltering about 2,000 people. While the homeless department has promised that every hotel resident will be offered a housing placement, the city is still grappling with a tight housing market and limited shelter options for the thousands on its streets.

Shireen McSpadden, director of the department, said group shelters are still not allowed to operate at full capacity, despite Breed lifting all other COVID-19 restrictions on June 15.

The department said it is still “reviewing” federal shelter health guidelines and waiting on state public health guidance to “finalize the local shelter reopening plan and timeline.” The capacity reductions are significant: For example, there are currently only 91 guests allowed at the 200-bed Navigation Center on the Embarcadero, the department said.

Because of the shelter limitations and the upcoming closure of some hotels, McSpadden said she feels “strongly” that the city should maintain the tent program at its current level.

“We need it as just another tool in our toolkit as we bring people out of the hotels,” she said.

The board’s Budget and Finance Committee will decide whether to approve the proposal next week, before the entire budget moves to the full board for a vote. Then it will return to the mayor for her approval at the end of the summer.

Supervisor Matt Haney, chair of the committee, was also critical of the program’s cost Wednesday. He said the committee will decide next week whether it wants to reduce the money given to the tent sites and “instead direct the funds to other, more cost-effective investments to get people off the streets.”

June 26, 2021. Tags: , . Government waste, Housing. 1 comment.

This guy tried to start a new business in San Francisco, but government bureaucracy forced him to abandon his plans after he had already spent $200,000

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/ice-cream-owner-tried-failed-110001498.html

The ice cream owner who tried, failed – and now owes $200,000

By Gene Marks

May 30, 2021

He tried, and he failed. But the worst part is he never got a chance to even start. And now he’s got a $200,000 debt to pay off.

That’s the story of Jason Yu, a 30-year-old father of two who had the audacity to attempt to open up an ice cream shop in San Francisco’s Mission District. Unfortunately, the city got in his way.

As reported by San Francisco Chronicle, Yu started his project – a shop that sold green-tea-flavored ice cream – in late 2018, and ultimately found a location in mid-2019 where he got to work. After committing to a lease ($7,300 a month – this is San Francisco, remember?) he hired an architect to draw up plans for the space, which proposed no structural changes or modifications.

Then the city stepped in.

After submitting plans to the department of building and inspection in November 2019, which required him to notify his neighbors, one of said neighbors – a competing ice cream shop no less – contested the idea and Yu was forced to wait until the following June before he could plead his case in front the city’s planning commission (more legal fees), who ultimately gave him the go-ahead.

So we’re ready to open, right? Wrong.

As the Chronicle explains: “Yu won approval, but then got stuck in the city’s never-ending web of securing permits. The Department of Building Inspection’s online permit tracker shows Yu faced 15 hurdles to secure his permits including getting the sign-off from a host of departments. The last to weigh in was the Department of Public Health, which said in December its review was complete, but that Yu owed more money in permit fees before the department could give the OK.”

Yu had spent a boatload – about $200,000 – by this point and still had nothing to show for it. It was then that he decided to cut his losses and abandon the idea. “This [the ice cream shop] became a nightmare project,” Yu said.

The problem facing small business owners like Yu is that, in San Francisco, existing businesses and residents are allowed to contest the establishment of new businesses or construction projects in their neighborhoods. Many – not surprisingly – have pushed these rights to their extreme because there’s little downside to filing even frivolous claims. So, as Mike Chen reports in The Frisc, an existing falafel shop can tie up a would-be competitor for months or neighbors can reject each other’s remodeling plans for the smallest of reasons.

“While community and neighborhood input is often positive, what we have here is overkill,” Chen writes. “The labyrinthine permitting and ‘Discretionary Review’ process (where appeals courts can decide what cases to hear) contribute to commercial storefront vacancies and to our housing crisis.” Chen says he had observed regulatory processes like discretionary reviews and environmental appeals “for years”.

The good news is that San Francisco’s political leaders seem to be waking up to the fact that over-regulation is killing commerce.

Yu’s story, which went viral last month (and spurred an online campaign against the competing ice cream shop owner) has drawn national attention to San Francisco’s burdensome process for starting up a small business. In late 2020, the city passed legislation – called Prop H – to help streamline the process for starting a new business but there have been few takers so far. According to Knight, as of the end of last month only 50 people have expressed interest and only two new businesses have been approved.

Thanks to Covid – and a good broadband connection – many workers and entrepreneurs are already moving out of big towns and enjoying the quality of life found in more peaceful surroundings where costs are lower and safe streets are a given. For cities like San Francisco to counter this growing trend, rules have to be relaxed and more businesses should be allowed to move quickly and easily open. Forcing a would-be owner of an ice cream shop of all things to spend $200,000 and then abandon the venture because of red tape is not a recipe for future economic growth.

May 30, 2021. Tags: , . Politics. Leave a comment.

Women’s Advocates Alarmed as Soros-backed San Francisco DA Drops Domestic Violence Charges

https://biznewspost.com/news/womens-advocates-alarmed-as-soros-backed-san-francisco-da-drops-domestic-violence-charges/

Women’s Advocates Alarmed as Soros-backed San Francisco DA Drops Domestic Violence Charges

April 25, 2021

Women’s groups are expressing alarm as San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin has decreased the rate at which domestic violence charges are filed, allowing many suspects to go free and potentially putting women and children in danger.

Boudin was backed by billionaire left-wing donor George Soros in his 2019 election race — one of several left-wing prosecutors Soros has funded in a bid to overturn criminal justice in the U.S., long before the George Floyd case.

In addition, Boudin is also the son of two members of the Weather Underground, regarded by the FBI as a domestic terrorist organization. As Breitbart News has noted, Boudin’s parents “were getaway drivers in a 1981 armored car heist that led to the deaths of two police officers and a guard, the UK Guardian recalled.” After taking office, Boudin began cutting prosecutors and dropping charges in serious cases, notably one in which a man allegedly attacked police officers with a vodka bottle.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, women’s advocates are alarmed by Boudin’s tendency to release domestic violence offenders — including a man who was arrested on suspicion of killing a seven-month old baby, and was released:

The news itself was crushing. A 7-month-old baby boy named Synciere Williams died Tuesday. The man charged with taking care of him that day, Joseph Williams, 26, was booked by police for allegedly murdering the child. And, it turned out, he’d been arrested twice recently on suspicion of felony domestic violence, in January and March, before being released without charges.

But when Kathy Black, the executive director of La Casa de las Madres, a shelter for domestic violence victims in the city, read how District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s office had explained the tragedy, she felt even more devastated. His spokesperson said the woman in the previous cases had refused to cooperate with prosecutors, so he couldn’t file charges.

The notion that charging cases hinges on whether battered victims will stand up in court against people with whom they’re in a relationship — and may rely upon for income and housing — is so old-school, Black was surprised to hear the famously progressive district attorney use it as justification for dropping the case. It’s true that such a lack of cooperation can make proving a case more difficult, but it certainly doesn’t make it impossible.

“It’s so archaic,” Black said. “Oh, my God. It’s just shocking to me.”

The Chronicle notes: “The District Attorney’s Office filed charges in 15% of felony domestic violence cases last year, a rate that has continued so far this year. The same figure ranged from 20% to 27% from 2016 through 2019. Boudin’s filing rate for misdemeanor domestic violence cases is 38%, which is more in line with previous years.”

Thus Boudin is charging felony domestic violence even more rarely than his left-wing predecessor, George Gascón. Gascón is now the Los Angeles County District Attorney, after being supported by Soros in his own election race in 2020. He is pursuing similarly radical policies, over the opposition of his own prosecutors, who have taken him to court.

Both Gascón and Boudin face now possible recall elections. Gascón’s political action committee recently donated $100,000 to help Boudin fight the recall effort.

April 27, 2021. Tags: , , . Social justice warriors, Violent crime. Leave a comment.

S.F. man accused of killing 7-month-old was arrested twice for domestic violence this year

https://www.sfchronicle.com/crime/article/S-F-man-to-face-homicide-charges-following-death-16122377.php

S.F. man accused of killing 7-month-old was arrested twice for domestic violence this year
 
By Megan Cassidy

April 23, 2021

A San Francisco man was arrested on suspicion of murder this week in the death of a 7-month-old boy who was in his care, officials said Thursday.

Officials with the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s Office identified the baby as Synciere Williams. The suspect, 26-year-old Joseph Williams, was booked into San Francisco jail Tuesday night, and is held on suspicion of murder and assault on a child causing death, among other charges.

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin said although the investigation is ongoing and prosecutors are awaiting a final cause-of-death determination from the medical examiner, he has decided to file homicide charges.

“The death of (Synciere) is a horrific tragedy and should have never happened,” Boudin said in a statement to The Chronicle. “The loss of a child so young is hard to even comprehend.”

Police said that, despite having the same last name, the child and suspect were not related.

At about 12:53 p.m. Tuesday, officers responded to California Pacific Medical Center on the 1200 block of Franklin Street regarding an unresponsive baby boy, San Francisco police officials said in a statement to The Chronicle. The boy had been brought into the emergency room by his “adult male caregiver,” who was Joseph Williams, police said.

Upon arrival, police learned that medical staff had declared the boy deceased and that hospital staffers had noticed signs of trauma on the infant. Officials with the Medical Examiner’s Office, San Francisco police’s homicide detail and Child Protective Services were notified of the death.

Homicide investigators later developed probable cause to arrest Joseph Williams for homicide, but police did not provide further details on the investigation.

Williams had two prior domestic violence arrests this year but was not charged with either incident, both of which involved a woman he was in a relationship with, police said. Officials with the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office said the woman refused to cooperate with the prosecution and told police she had attacked Williams first.

“Given the lack of cooperation with prosecution, we were unable to move forward with either of those cases,” said Rachel Marshall, a spokesperson the District Attorney’s Office.

The first arrest came on Jan. 7, when he was booked after an altercation with a woman near Market and Montgomery streets, San Francisco Police Sgt. Michael Andraychak said. Police said Williams was in a shoving match with a woman he was dating, and there was a stroller nearby occupied by a 10-month-old baby girl.

The woman told police the incident began in an apartment in the Tenderloin, where the two had an argument over their relationship. The woman said Williams grabbed her by the throat and left, and the argument spilled out into the street. Police at the time noted that the woman complained of bruising on her neck and that she refused medical treatment, Andraychak said.

Then on March 26, police responded to an apartment on the the 700 block of O’Farrell Street to investigate a report of a woman screaming and a baby crying. Officers spoke to the same woman as the previous incident, who told them that she and Williams argued about their relationship. She asked him to leave and attempted to push him out.

She had a cut on her lip and a mark on her forehead, and told police Williams had punched her and pushed her into a cabinet, Andraychak said.

For the Jan. 7 incident, Williams was arrested on suspicion of felony domestic violence, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and child endangerment, according to Andraychak. After the March incident, he was booked on suspicion of felony domestic violence and false imprisonment.

The chain of events, Marshall said, “speaks to the need for better services and responses to domestic violence reports.”

April 27, 2021. Tags: , , . Social justice warriors, Violent crime. Leave a comment.

One of the country’s best public high schools plans to replace its merit based admission system with a random lottery, because the school currently has too many Asian students

My own personal preference is for 100% meritocracy every time. I want the best engineers. I want airplanes that stay up in the air. I want bridges that don’t fall down. I want surgeons who save their patients instead of killing them.

This new policy of replacing merit based admissions with a random lottery is just one more example of the dumbing down of this country’s educational system.

https://thefederalist.com/2021/02/15/prestigious-san-francisco-high-school-to-combat-racism-by-selecting-students-based-on-skin-color/

Prestigious San Francisco High School To ‘Combat Racism’ By Selecting Students Based On Skin Color

Excellence is falling prey to activists who prefer to believe that social justice means making outcomes equal for every race at any expense.
 
By Kenny Xu

February 15, 2021
 
Lowell High School in San Francisco, California, has long been known as a public school dedicated to developing excellence in its students. Its educational resources have attracted many high-achieving families to the area. Lowell’s academics rank among the best in the nation, placing in the top 1 percent of California schools in math performance while producing such distinguished alumni as Justice Stephen Breyer and three Nobel Prize laureates.

Recently, however, “equity and diversity” activists have dismantled Lowell’s admissions system, leading a cadre of school board members to vote 5-2 to eliminate the merit-based admissions. According to the latest figures, Lowell is 50 percent Asian American, 18 percent white, 12 percent Latino, and roughly 2 percent black. The activists say this proves, not that black, white, and Latino children need much better academic preparation, but that Lowell’s admissions program systemically excludes black students in favor of white and Asian applicants.

A new resolution proposed by Lowell High School board members will permanently replace the school’s admissions system based on grades and test scores with a random lottery.

Lowell High School is the only high school in the San Francisco Unified School District with a merit-based admissions system instead of a lottery for entry. Indeed, the merit-based process is critical for the school to earn its reputation as a center of excellence whose students will ultimately go on to serve their community positively.

Julian Chan, a 2010 Lowell graduate, explains, “What they are doing would mean there would be no more Lowell High School. It’d just be another San Francisco public school, and we all know Lowell is not just another San Francisco public school.”

Yet “equity” activists made the devolution of the only public high school in San Francisco with merit-based admissions requirements a major thrust of its agenda. Citing the lack of black students, the school board released a proposal on Feb. 2 entitled “In Response to Ongoing, Pervasive Systemic Racism at Lowell High School,” suggesting the school’s admissions process reinforces “segregation” of black and Latino students.

The San Francisco School Board also took lessons from antiracist lecturer Ibram X. Kendi on how Asian American dominance on standardized tests reflects “racism” against black students:

[Advocates for standardized tests] will claim white and Asian kids on average score higher on tests because they are smarter or work harder. Meaning Black and Latinx kids are not as smart or not as hard-working. Meaning white and Asian kids are superior.

Board member Allison Collins was one of the school authorities taking her cues from Kendi, muttering in one town hall meeting with defenders of the merit-based process: “I’m listening to a bunch of racists.”

This is the kind of awful logic that unfairly blames Asian Americans for playing by the rules of the game. If standardized tests are a metric for entry into an academically excellent public high school, then it is not “racist” for Asian American students to study for them to get in. On the contrary, it shows both intelligence and preparation — meritorious characteristics we need to see reflected in more American students — to perform well on a standardized test.

But the biggest reason, it seems, that the school board is acting so quickly on eliminating the merit-based admissions program to Lowell High School is because the idea of merit itself is odious to its most fervent of today’s “social justice” advocates.

“Lowell High School has often been referred to as SFUSD’s ‘elite’ ‘academic’ high school,” the board wrote, “[but] San Francisco Unified School District does not believe that any student or school is more or less ‘elite’ than any other school.”

The hard truth is, however, Lowell High School has been referred to as an elite academic high school because it is an elite academic high school. Lowell’s mission was always to train the brightest students and offer a place for gifted students to achieve their full potential in the San Francisco region.

The school’s website asserts it is “one of the highest performing public high schools in California” and a four-time National Blue-Ribbon school of excellence. Without Lowell, parents of gifted children would likely be forced to dig deep in their own pockets to send their kids to private schools that can hone and refine their abilities.

Due to the coronavirus lockdowns, Lowell High School eliminated the merit-based admissions process for one year. Tellingly, a Change.org petition of concerned families with more than 11,000 signatures, reveals that Lowell High School alumni and parents feared back in October of 2020 that “the transition will become permanent and remove one of the two remaining academic and merit-based public high schools in the city.” Sadly, it appears their apprehensions were warranted.

The school district has also aggressively moved to implement other parts of a broadly “antiracist” agenda during this time, including renaming San Francisco Schools (including a school named after Abraham Lincoln) and adopting “ethnic studies” curricula in all of its high schools focusing on “African American Studies,” “Latino American Studies,” and “Asian American Studies.”

Ultimately, the elimination of Lowell’s merit-based system represents, yet another victory for the “equity” advocates who use the narrative of systemic racism to tear down San Francisco’s centers of excellence in the name of diversity and desegregation. Sadly, unless more Americans stand up to the schemes of leftists, Lowell will undoubtedly not be the last bastion of distinction to be toppled.

February 15, 2021. Tags: , , , , , . Dumbing down, Education, Racism, Social justice warriors. Leave a comment.

Cancel culture goes after the President who freed the slaves

https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:QzR9PHb0058J:https://www.sfchronicle.com/education/article/Washington-and-Lincoln-are-out-S-F-school-board-15900963.php+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

Washington and Lincoln are out. S.F. school board tosses 44 school names in controversial move

January 27, 2021

The names of presidents, conquistadors, authors and even a current U.S. senator will be removed from 44 San Francisco school sites after the city’s school board Tuesday deemed the iconic figures unworthy of the honor.

The 6-1 vote followed months of controversy, with officials, parents, students and alumni at odds over whether Abraham Lincoln and George Washington high schools, Dianne Feinstein Elementary and dozens of others needed new names with no connection to slavery, oppression, racism or similar criteria.

Critics called the process slapdash, with little to no input from historians and a lack of information on the basis for each recommendation. In one instance, the committee didn’t know whether Roosevelt Middle School was named after Theodore or Franklin Delano.

“I must admit there are reasons to support this resolution, but I can’t,” said community member Jean Barish, who said the process has been flawed and based on emotion rather than expertise. “These are not decisions that should be made in haste.”

School board members, however, have insisted that the renaming is timely and important, given the country’s reckoning with a racist past. They have argued the district is capable of pursuing multiple priorities at the same time, responding to critics who say more pressing issues deserve attention.

January 27, 2021. Tags: , , , , , , . Cancel culture, Dumbing down, Education, Racism, Social justice warriors. Leave a comment.

San Francisco employs 10 workers whose “sole job” is to clean up the 4.5 million free needles that it gives to illegal drug addicts every year

By Daniel Alman (aka Dan from Squirrel Hill)

October 3, 2020

The city of San Francisco gives 4.5 million free needles to illegal drug addicts every year.

The city also employs 10 people whose “sole job” to clean up those needles from the sidewalks and other public areas.

Here’s a video about it from KPIX CBS SF Bay Area:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZCC4bY33iM

October 3, 2020. Tags: , , , , , . Social justice warriors. 1 comment.

San Francisco elected official Hillary Ronen blames the city’s homeless problem on “Republican ideology.” She is wrong. Here are six reasons why “progressive ideology” is the real cause of the city’s homeless problem.

By Daniel Alman (aka Dan from Squirrel Hill)

September 1, 2020

Hillary Ronen is an elected government official who gets paid $140,148 per year to work as a member of the legislative body for San Francisco.

In this video, Ronen blames San Francisco’s homeless problem on “Republican ideology.” (Skip to 8:52 in the video).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uw8MACDZ3RI

Ronen is wrong.

“Republican ideology” is not the cause of San Francisco’s homeless problem.

Here six are reasons why “progressive ideology” is the real cause of San Francisco’s homeless problem.

First of all, here is a link to an article that was published by the Atlantic in 2007.

When a developer builds housing, there are three separate and distinct costs: the cost of land, the cost of construction, and the cost of getting a building permit (which the article refers to as the “right to build”).

The article includes this chart:

So in San Francisco, getting a building permit (which the article refers to as the “right to build”) adds approximately $700,000 to the cost of a new home.

And please remember, this cost for the “right to build” is completely separate from the cost of the land, and the cost of construction.

The cost for the “right to build” is determined entirely, 100% by zoning laws, density restrictions, and other local government policies.

Since Hillary Ronen is an elected government official who works as a member of the legislative body of San Francisco, she is one of the people who is responsible for the city’s zoning laws, density restrictions, and other local government policies.

Secondly, here’s another example of how hard it is to get a building permit in California:

http://www.aei.org/publication/texas-great-american-job-machine-solely-responsible-1m-net-us-job-increase-since-2007/

January 23, 2015

… there were more permits for single-family homes issued last year through November in just one Texas city – Houston (34,566) – than in the entire state of California (34,035) over the same period.

Let’s put this into perspective.

Houston is 628 square miles.

California is 163,696 square miles.

So even though California is 260 times as big as Houston, Houston actually issued more new building permits for single family homes in 2014 than did the entire state of California.

Just think about that for a minute.

Those numbers show just how incredibly, ridiculously hard California makes it to build new housing.

Anyone who has ever bought or sold anything at eBay understands that, all else being equal, the bigger the supply of something, the lower price, and the lower the supply, the higher the price.

By making it so difficult to get a building permit in California, the government is causing housing to be far, far more expensive than it would otherwise be.

Third, here is a great article by Thomas Sowell about how the politicians in California have waged war against the construction of new housing.

Fourth, this video also explains San Francisco’s war against the construction of new housing. And please note that it is progressives, social justice warriors, and other left wing activists who are the ones that are most opposed to building this new housing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExgxwKnH8y4

Fifth, in the video with Ronen that I included at the beginning of this blog post, she brags about creating a new government program that gives free illegal drugs to homeless people. (Skip to 7:56 in the video.)

Being high on illegal drugs makes the problem of homelessness bigger, not smaller.

And sixth, the Washington Post published this article, which is called:

“Rand Paul is right: The most economically unequal states are Democratic”

The article includes this chart, which ranks the states by their levels of inequality based on their Gini coefficients.

You can see a bigger version of the chart at this link:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://arc-anglerfish-washpost-prod-washpost.s3.amazonaws.com/public/NJ6UOCWVE426LBX7NOQN6ECZVU.jpg

The information in the chart verifies the title of the Washington Post article. Blue states have more inequality than red states.

So that’s six different reasons why Hillary Ronen is wrong to blame San Francisco’s homeless problem on “Republican ideology.”

In each and every one of those six cases, it is actually “progressive ideology” that is causing San Francisco’s homeless problem.

San Francisco is waging a very strong, major war against the constriction of new housing.

For Hillary Ronen to blame this on “Republican ideology” is a huge lie.

On the contrary, since Ronen is one of the left wing, progressive, elected government officials responsible for San Francisco’s housing policies, it is Ronen’s own fault that San Francisco has such a big homeless problem.

September 1, 2020. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Economics, Housing, Social justice warriors. Leave a comment.

Liberal YouTuber Rebecca Watson says, “… you definitely can vote for politicians who will keep their constituents healthy by easing income inequality…” Meanwhile, the Washington Post says, “The most economically unequal states are Democratic.”

By Daniel Alman (aka Dan from Squirrel Hill)

August 15, 2020

Rebecca Watson is a liberal YouTuber who lives in San Francisco.

At 7:45 in this video, she says:

“… you definitely can vote for politicians who will keep their constituents healthy by easing income inequality…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3wiCiKNFqk

Meanwhile, the Washington Post published this article, which is called:

“Rand Paul is right: The most economically unequal states are Democratic”

The article includs this chart, which ranks the states by their levels of inequality based on their Gini coefficients.

You can see a bigger version of the chart at this link:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://arc-anglerfish-washpost-prod-washpost.s3.amazonaws.com/public/NJ6UOCWVE426LBX7NOQN6ECZVU.jpg

The information in the chart verifies the title of the Washington Post article. Blue states have more inequality than red states.

And since Watson lives in San Francisco, I’d like to point out this article from Vanity Fair, which is called:

“San Francisco’s Income Inequality Rivals that of Developing Nations”

This video is called:

“Inside Nancy Pelosi’s District: This Is Not What America Should Look Like”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wh6saOx-Q6s

I’ve watched a lot of Watson’s videos, and I know that she hates and loathes Republican politicians.

It seems to me that Watson is voting for politicians who make income inequality bigger, not smaller.

August 15, 2020. Tags: , , , , , . Economics. Leave a comment.

Inside Nancy Pelosi’s district: This is not what America should look like

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wh6saOx-Q6s

August 9, 2020. Tags: , , . Politics. Leave a comment.

San Francisco’s 24-hour public toilets cost the city nearly $30 per flush. Officials want to add more.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/san-franciscos-24-hour-public-131200141.html

San Francisco’s 24-hour public toilets cost the city nearly $30 per flush. Officials want to add more.

* Since 2014, San Francisco has operated a program called “Pit Stop” that delivers mobile public restrooms to neighborhoods with dirty streets.

* In August, the city began offering 24-hour service at three of these stations.

* The cost of operating the stations overnight amounts to $30 per flush.

December 6, 2019

Even toilets are expensive in San Francisco.

Operating three 24-hour public toilets adds $300,000 to the city’s sanitation budget, according to recent city data reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Since 2014, a San Francisco program called “Pit Stop” has been delivering mobile public restrooms to areas where many of the city’s homeless residents live and congregate. In these locations, especially the Tenderloin neighborhood, sidewalks can wind up scattered with human feces.

The Pit Stop program started with restroom stations in just three locations, and it has since grown to include 24 stations across 13 neighborhoods. In addition to giving homeless residents a place to use the restroom, the stations come with used-needle receptacles and dog-waste disposal bins.

But only three locations are open 24 hours. They’re part of a pilot program that began in August and will last until July 2020. The other 21 stations have varying hours: Some are open from 9 a.m to 8 p.m., while others have more limited service.

Most of the additional operating costs for the pilot program goes toward paying staff attendants who help ensure that stalls aren’t misappropriated for drug use or prostitution.

The math works out like this: Thus far, the 24-hour toilets have been used around 10,500 times during the hours between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., when all other Pit Stop stations are closed. About a quarter of all flushes at the 24-hour stations took place at night, which means the overnight toilets cost the city about $30 per flush.

City officials are now considering expanding the pilot to other locations.

Matt Haney, who represents the city’s sixth district (which includes the Tenderloin and SoMa neighborhoods) on the Board of Supervisors, has advocated for keeping all of his district’s stations open 24 hours.

Changing every Pit Stop station in the city to stay open overnight would require more than $8 million, according to the city’s estimate. The city’s annual budget for street cleaning was roughly $72 million in 2019.

So far, however, the three overnight stations haven’t led to a significant reduction in the number of complaints about San Francisco’s dirty streets. The Chronicle reports that the Tenderloin saw just 12 fewer complaints in the last three months compared to the three months before the pilot started. (Complaints in the neighborhood dropped from 188 to 176.)

But Haney told the Chronicle that there’s still a need for the toilets in his district — and probably in nearby districts as well. The Tenderloin and SoMa neighborhoods currently have around 3,700 homeless residents. The total across the city has risen to nearly 10,000.

December 6, 2019. Tags: , . Government waste. Leave a comment.

Wealthy ‘NIMBY’ libs in Pelosi’s SF district raise $60G to fight center for city’s homeless

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/san-franciscos-wealthy-in-pelosis-district-raise-60g-to-oppose-homeless-shelter-as-city-struggles-with-homelessness

Wealthy ‘NIMBY’ libs in Pelosi’s SF district raise $60G to fight center for city’s homeless

March 29, 2019

Rich San Francisco residents in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s congressional district have collected more than $60,000 after starting an online crowdsourcing campaign to wage a legal challenge against a proposed center for the city’s homeless.

The campaign, called “Safe Embarcadero for All,” was launched March 20 after San Francisco Mayor London Breed proposed a 200-bed homeless Navigation Center in the city’s most desirable location, the Embarcadero along the coast of San Francisco Bay, earlier this month.

“The planned location for Mayor Breed’s #megashelter is home to thousands of families, visited by millions of tourists and at the center of some of San Francisco’s most iconic events – including the San Francisco Marathon, San Francisco Giants stadium and on one of the busiest bicyclist paths in the city,” reads the site posted by the group opposing the construction.

The campaign shamelessly raised over $60,000 and is on track to reach the desired $100,000 goal, with the money used to pay attorney Andrew Zacks, who often represents property owners, to help the dissatisfied “Not In My Backyard” residents in the neighborhood.

More than 130 people have chipped in, although many did so anonymously. The biggest donation came from an unknown resident who gave $10,000 to the cause.

A Fox News review of records found that multiple individuals – bank executives, professors and authors – who donated to the GoFundMe page have also contributed to Democratic political groups, including thousands of dollars to the Democratic National Committee, MoveOn, Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and other left-leaning organizations.

One of the donors, Jerome Dodson, who has since scrubbed his $1,000 contribution to the campaign, is reportedly a chairman of a “responsible investment fund” that seeks to make “a positive impact on society,” according to the Washington Free Beacon. The investment fund executive donated to Democratic candidates and groups over the years, including Pelosi and Hillary Clinton.

Fox News reached out to Pelosi’s office, asking whether she offered her support for the project designed to combat homeless in her own district.

A competing GoFundMe campaign was started in support of the project for the homeless in the city, attracting a $5,000 donation from GoFundMe itself. The effort so far has garnered nearly $33,000 in donations – surpassing a set goal of $30,000.

San Francisco’s mayor, meanwhile, slammed the group opposing the construction in a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle.

“People want us to address the challenges on our streets and help our unsheltered residents into housing, and I am committed to doing the hard work to make that happen,” Breed said.

“But it’s incredibly frustrating and disappointing,” she added, “that as soon as we put forward a solution to build a new shelter, people begin to threaten legal action.”

March 29, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , . Housing, Politics. Leave a comment.

San Francisco bans plastic straws, allegedly to reduce pollution, but gives more than four million free needles to illegal drug addicts every year, which is a dangerous pollution problem

The government of San Francisco has banned plastic straws, allegedly in the name of reducing pollution.

Meanwhile, the same San Francisco government gives more than four million free needles to illegal drug addicts every year.

The alleged reason for the city banning straws is that they end up in the ocean.

However, this ban ignores these four facts:

1) The real issue is littering, not straws. If people put their straws in a proper waste disposal unit, they won’t end up in the ocean.

2) Plastic straws make up only 0.02% of the plastic waste in the ocean.

3) 90% of the plastic in the oceans comes from just 10 rivers – eight in Asia, and two in Africa.

4) People with disabilities need plastic straws. Before plastic straws were invented, people with disabilities aspirated liquid in their lungs, developed pneumonia, and died.

There is no evidence to show that the plastic straws used in San Francisco have ever been a threat to the environment. San Francisco’s ban on plastic straws is nothing more than a form of virtue signaling. It won’t do anything to help the environment.

Meanwhile, there is plenty of evidence to show that the more than four million free needles that San Francisco gives away every year are a threat.

The San Francisco affiliate of NBC News reported that there was an abundance of used illegal drug needles on the sidewalks of San Francsiso, even on the sidewalks that are used by preschool students. The mother of a three-year-old girl told NBC that she “often” had to pull her daughter away to prevent her from stepping on needles (as well as human poop) that were on the sidewalk.

KTVU reported that a second grade teacher taught her students not to touch the needles they see on the ground.

Dr. Lee Riley, an infectious disease expert at UC Berkeley, said of San Francisco’s needle problem:

“If you do get stuck with these disposed needles you can get HIV, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, and a variety of other viral diseases”

Regarding the needles (as well as the human poop) on the sidewalks in San Francisco, Dr. Riley said:

“The contamination is… much greater than communities in Brazil or Kenya or India”

On a global scale, the environmental Kuznets curve shows that richer cities tend to be much cleaner than poorer cities. The fact that San Francisco goes in the opposite direction of this trend is highly unusual.

Business Insider reported that at Starbucks locations all over the country (not just in San Francisco), employees who clean the bathroom have repeatedly expressed concerns after seeing drug needles in the trash and on the floor. Some employees have been accidentally stabbed with drug needles that were hidden in trash bags, and had to go to the doctor so they could take antiviral medications to protect themselves from the HIV and hepatitis viruses that might have been in the needles.

Clearly, the free needles that San Francisco gives to illegal drug addicts are a substantial safety risk to innocent, law abiding restaurant employees who are just trying to earn a living.

This problem would still exist even if the San Francisco government was not giving away free needles. But giving away more than four million free needles every year certainly makes the problem much worse than it would otherwise be.

Although every free needle comes with a plastic safety cap that can be used to cover up the dangerous tip of the needle, many illegal drug addicts toss these caps aside instead of putting them back on the tip of the needle.

Drug needles were cited as one of the reasons for the recent cancellation of a previously recurring medical convention which, in the past, had brought 15,000 conference attendees and $40 million worth of business to San Francisco during each previous event.

The needle problem is so bad that the San Francisco government recently hired ten new employees whose sole responsibility is to clean up these needles from the sidewalks and streets.

Meanwhile, there is no evidence that the plastic straws used by the people of San Francisco are a threat.

And yet, San Francisco has banned plastic straws, while giving away more than four million free needles to illegal drug addicts every year.

January 12, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Environmentalism. Leave a comment.

San Francisco progressives wage war against women’s right to earn a living

According to this new article from the San Francisco Examiner, the progressives who control San Francisco’s government have ordered strip clubs to treat strippers as employees instead of as independent contractors.

Supporters of this new policy claim that it makes the strippers better off.

However, the strippers themselves say that it has actually made them worse off – so much so, in fact, that many of them have quit their jobs in San Francisco, and sought employment as strippers in other cities that do not have this same policy.

The article cites the following three reasons for how the new policy makes the strippers worse off:

1) The strippers get paid far less. For example, the article states:

A dancer at the Gold Club, who asked to be called Mary, said it had been common for dancers on average to sell around $1,000 in dances a shift and keep $750.

Under the new commission structure at the Gold Club, however, dancers said they keep none of the first $150 they sell in private dances, 40 percent of the next $250 they sell, and 60 percent of sales beyond that.

Some dancers said they must also pay a $100 fee for renting the private room.

Dancers at the Gold Club said they now walk away with only $60 on the first half-hour private dance they sell.

“When I make a customer pay $400 and I see $60 of it, it isn’t computing for me,” Mary said. “We want to do our job, and previously our business was to sell dances. And we still need to make living. But at the same time, where is the incentive?”

2) The strippers no longer get to decide how many days or which days they work each week.

3) When the strippers were independent contractors, they could choose to reject any potential client that they did not want. Now that they are employees, they no longer have this option.

The article also states:

He estimated that 200 dancers have quit their jobs since the change came down at BSC clubs, including Penthouse and Gold Club and said that the change has “dramatically affected the business and the profitability,” costing the clubs “several million dollars” a year.

and

The drastic pay cuts and availability of cheap flights have pushed some dancers to seek work outside of San Francisco, traveling as far as Las Vegas and Reno one or two nights a week while continuing to live in The City.

So there you have it. The elitist progressives, who think they know what’s best for everyone, claim that this new policy makes the strippers better off. However, the strippers themselves claim that this new policy makes them worse off.

 

http://www.sfexaminer.com/208300-2/

New rules for contractors have unexpected consequences for The City’s strip clubs

January 2, 2019

As some 30 dancers were handed the first employee paychecks ever issued to them by the Penthouse Club one evening in early November, a wave of panic swept the popular North Beach strip club.

“I opened mine in the locker room, and I was shocked,” said a former Penthouse dancer who asked to be identified as Jane. “All the other girls were also freaking out. Me and my friends decided right then that we were done. That was the final straw.”

Historically classified as independent contractors, the dancers were used to walking out of the club’s doors with cash each night — often hundreds of dollars — after their shifts ended. That changed suddenly when clubs across The City began enforcing a California Supreme Court ruling from April in an unrelated industry that set new standards for determining whether or not workers should be classified as employees.

The decision has shaken up the gig economy, but is also having an effect in unexpected places, such as in the hair salons and the adult entertainment industry, where workers have traditionally not been considered employees.

At local clubs, the move to convert dancers to employee status is causing an exodus, with many of them leaving San Francisco establishments.

“This whole business will be completely ruined. The whole point about being a stripper is you go in, get fast cash, no one knows how you’re getting it, it’s not documented and it’s not taken from you,” said a single mother who gave her name as Darla, who also recently cut ties with Penthouse Club. Like other dancers The San Francisco Examiner spoke with for this story, she asked to maintain anonymity for fear of retaliation.

Club owners say the changes are costing them as well.

A sign posted mid-October in the dancers’ dressing room at the Gold Club in the South of Market neighborhood said the club “felt that it was protecting your right and freedom to be an independent contractor.”

“However, as a result of the lawsuits and ongoing demands by the suing dancers and their attorneys, the club is now being compelled by Court order to eliminate the independent contractor option and require all dancers to become the club’s employees,” the sign read.

Axel Sang, marketing director of BSC, confirmed in an email to the Examiner that the dancers were formerly contractors but are now “club employees being paid an hourly wage and commission on dance sales.”

“The BSC-managed clubs now have matching payroll taxes, unemployment compensation, workman’s compensation, Healthy San Francisco costs, Affordable Care Insurance costs, and SF sick leave pay for several hundred new employee entertainers in addition to the hourly wage,” he wrote.

He estimated that 200 dancers have quit their jobs since the change came down at BSC clubs, including Penthouse and Gold Club and said that the change has “dramatically affected the business and the profitability,” costing the clubs “several million dollars” a year.

“A substantial reduction in the number of entertainers performing as well as the substantial increased payroll and other costs makes it very difficult to generate profits,” Sang said.

The California Supreme Court decision pushing the changes in the business came out of a lawsuit brought by two drivers for Dynamex, a same-day delivery and logistics company that converted its drivers to independent contractors in 2004. Under the ruling, workers may now be considered employees if they perform work within the usual course of the company’s business, said David Peer, a labor attorney in Carlsbad who has written about the Dynamex ruling.

“If you are running a strip club, you would think that the dancers are performing work within the usual course,” Peer said. “If the club owners want to play it safe, they should certainly be paying minimum wage and following the wage and hour rules that most organizations follow when they hire an employee.”

Lawsuits alleging improper classification of exotic dancers predate the Dynamex ruling, according to Harold Lichten of Lichten & Liss-Riordan, a Boston law firm representing Uber drivers who claim the rideshare company misclassified them.

“When you improperly characterize someone as an independent contractor you don’t have to pay social security tax, unemployment tax, minimum wage or overtime,” Lichten said, adding that the incentives were “incredibly great” for companies to “misclassify people because they were saving so much money at the workers’ expense.”

Lichten said the Dynamex ruling became leverage in ongoing litigation against Uber, and noted that it should also come as a benefit to the dancers, who now are now eligible for the protections afforded to all employees.

“The concern is that some companies may lower the amount they pay them to make up their losses,” Lichten said. “That would be unfortunate. But on balance, it’s much better to be an employee because you have legal protections.”

However the dancers interviewed by the Examiner said that while they are now entitled to minimum wage, benefits and the option to unionize, the reclassification has done more harm than good.

“Not one of those girls had a check for two weeks over $300. There was a lot of upset. A lot of girls packed up to leave that night. I was one of those girls,” Darla said.

“I can go work at McDonald’s for $15 an hour, and not take off my clothes, and not put up with the crap I put up with as a dancer,” Darla added, noting that all of the Penthouse dancers “have considered leaving.”

The vast majority of the strip clubs in San Francisco — 10 out of 12 — are owned or managed by BSC Management. The only exceptions are the Mitchell Brothers O’Farrell Theatre and The Crazy Horse.

Sang said the company is not paying dancers more than minimum wage because they “are paid commissions on dance sales which in most cases far exceed the hourly wage.”

But dancers said the commission structure for private dances has also been significantly cut.

Policies can vary for each club, but before the reclassification, dancers said if they arrived to their shift early enough they would keep 75 percent of their dance sales — which is where they made the majority of their money.

A dancer at the Gold Club, who asked to be called Mary, said it had been common for dancers on average to sell around $1,000 in dances a shift and keep $750.

Under the new commission structure at the Gold Club, however, dancers said they keep none of the first $150 they sell in private dances, 40 percent of the next $250 they sell, and 60 percent of sales beyond that.

Some dancers said they must also pay a $100 fee for renting the private room.

Dancers at the Gold Club said they now walk away with only $60 on the first half-hour private dance they sell.

“When I make a customer pay $400 and I see $60 of it, it isn’t computing for me,” Mary said. “We want to do our job, and previously our business was to sell dances. And we still need to make living. But at the same time, where is the incentive?”

Some dancers also feared being classified as employees would mean not being able to pick and choose which customers to serve.

Joe Carouba, an owner of BSC, declined to speak with the Examiner for this story because of pending litigation. But in a deposition he gave in October in connection with a lawsuit filed by Olivia Doe, he said he “firmly believed” dancers should be independent contractors so they can assert more control over which customers they will and won’t serve.

“I think they should control their own sexuality, they should control their own bodies,” he said. “The difference there being, of course, if you’re an employee, you don’t have a choice who you perform for, as an independent contractor you get to choose how you perform, whom you perform for, and what level you’re comfortable at.”

Dancers said many of them were poorly informed and caught unaware when the new contracts were rolled out.

Jane said she was one of the first Penthouse dancers to sign the new contract amid confusion, and wasn’t given a copy or time to review it.

At the Gold Club, Mary said management called dancers into the office in the middle of their shifts, still dressed in bikinis and eight-inch heels, and told them to look at a new contract on a computer screen and immediately sign it. Some dancers had been drinking during their shift, she said.

“We were given no opportunity to look at the contracts or have paper copies beforehand,” Mary said. “There’s really been no communication, no transparency.”

Sang denied the allegations, and said cameras were installed to protect the clubs from legal challenges over the new contracts.

“Signs were posted clearly that the areas were under video and audio surveillance. Each contract signing on video and audio clearly shows each entertainer was required to fully read the contract before signing,” Sang wrote in an email. “On camera, each entertainer was clearly given a copy of the contracts that they signed.”

Dancers said morale has plummeted at clubs across The City. Many are unhappy with how management announced and rolled out the change, but fear losing their jobs if they complain.

Because BSC has a virtual monopoly on San Francisco strip clubs, dancers said if they are blacklisted at one club, they are afraid they won’t be able to work anywhere else in The City.

While dancers across the country have sued clubs saying they should have been classified as employees instead of independent contractors, those who spoke with the Examiner said not everyone wants to be an employee. There are advantages to being independent contractors — so long as they are actually treated as contractors.

Mary said being treated as a contractor would mean being able to negotiate dance fees with clients directly rather than have the club set prices, and to pick which dates and times to work. Previously, as contractors, dancers could pick which days to work, but not which hours.

“Contractors should have autonomy,” she said.

An often-touted perk of being an employee is access to benefits, such as health insurance. But to qualify, employees must work enough hours to be considered full-time — which isn’t practical for most people dancing at a strip club. Dancers said even working three days a week is physically exhausting.

“You do what you need to do to maintain your boundary while making sure they have a good time. It takes a lot of emotional labor to do that,” Mary said. “I don’t think people realize that’s the most difficult part of our job. It’s not really talked about in the public perception of stripping.”

The drastic pay cuts and availability of cheap flights have pushed some dancers to seek work outside of San Francisco, traveling as far as Las Vegas and Reno one or two nights a week while continuing to live in The City.

“Girls are scrambling to find a job to fit their lifestyle or even make ends meet,” Jane said.

 

January 2, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , . Economics, Police state, Politics. 1 comment.

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