October 2010 Archives
On Nov. 2, Californians will have their chance to earn a place in history.
Proposition 19, also known as the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, is one of the many issues on the ballot for the upcoming General Election. If passed, the proposition would legalize marijuana possession and use for adults over the age of 21, in certain circumstances.
Pseudo-legalization of marijuana is not the only thing Proposition 19 would accomplish.
Max Meier is a 24-year-old entrepreneur within the "cannabusiness" industry. If the bill is passed, it could potentialy mean an increase in clientele he could legally service.
The Happy Café is one of his business ventures.
"Primarily we sell medicated edibles through licensed medical cannabis dispensaries," Meier said.
"We plan to open a physical café where we can serve our food hot and fresh and serve a much larger variety than we can offer through dispensaries," he said. "We're waiting for the results of the Nov. 2 election to see which direction we're going to take this."
Proponents of the bill believe it will help California come out of its current economic turmoil by generating tax revenue as well as saving the money the state currently spends prosecuting and imprisoning marijuana offenders.
"We just can't afford to keep arresting and punishing so many people for marijuana," said Tom Angell, spokesman for the Yes on 19 campaign. "We can also start to bring in new tax revenue from the controlled and regulated sales of marijuana after Proposition 19 passes. We could use that money to improve public safety and our schools."
On campus, Students for Sensible Drug Policy has been taking action to spread the word and convince students to get out and vote yes on 19.
"We back it 100 percent," said Josh Nermon, president of SF State's chapter of SSDP. "It will help the state, our incarceration situation and it will help our economy. It's a great cash crop."
Opponents say it is a poorly written measure that opens the door to huge problems by allowing cities and counties to determine the tax on marijuana individually.
Unlike the tax on alcohol and tobacco, it would not remain constant throughout the state.
"They claim their goal is to raise revenue from the state, but that's been debunked," said Roger Salazar, spokesman for the No on 19 campaign. "The California State Board of Equalization analysis said they can't figure out how much of any revenue will be raised because this initiative doesn't contain any mechanisms to generate revenue."
Cathy Smith, director of HopeNet, a San Francisco medical cannabis dispensary, fears that if the proposition passes, cities and counties could use the power they would receive to tax cannabis at any rate they want to help backfill the deficit in their budgets.
"We live in a pretty compassionate city. If this bill passes, the board of supervisors will probably pass a small tax on us," Smith said. "Other cities may look at is as 'Wow I can hire my police department back with this' and tax us out of existence."
Furthermore, Smith believes the bill will put her customers and all medical marijuana users in the state at a greater risk for prosecution than they currently are.
If passed, Proposition 19 would reinforce that using marijuana in the same dwelling as a minor illegal. Smith doesn't consider this justifiable if someone is consuming the drug for medicinal purposes in the privacy of their own home.
"Say your neighbors didn't like you, they could call Child Protective Services on you and have your children taken away," Smith said. "A lot of sick people have kids and they do medicate responsibly, but with this bill it would put them in danger of losing their kids if they smoked in the same building as them."
As a director of a medical marijuana dispensary against the legalization of marijuana, Smith recognizes that her views are outside the norm. She said after she gives her clients the actual proposition to study, its shortcomings often persuade them to vote no on its legalization.
"They are surprised that I'm against it," Smith said. "But once I explain why, it's like horror comes over their face. And I've had more than a handful of people say to me, 'I have to go home and take my yes sign out of the window.'"
According to Ellen Griffin, director of communications at SF State, if the bill were to pass, little would change at the University.
"Prop 19 would not change the fundamental laws and realities that govern marijuana use on campus," Griffin said. "We are still a university that receives federal funds for many programs and is required to uphold all federal laws."
Under current policy, students living in the dorms at SF State are only given one strike in terms of marijuana use before expulsion.
Three strikes are given for alcohol offenses even if the student who is caught drinking is under 21.
The SF State chapter of SSDP has been gathering signatures for a petition they hope will help change that policy.
Nermon believes if the proposition were to pass, the University would have to change what he sees as an unfair and imbalanced policy.
"With Prop. 19 passing, I see no reason why it wouldn't automatically switch to the three strikes standard," Nermon said. "Regardless, if it doesn't we have petition signatures and the bill passing would only help our argument with getting that policy changed."
However, Griffin maintained that even if marijuana were legalized throughout the state, it would remain illegal on campus.
"Smoking marijuana in a residence hall would continue to be a violation of existing laws and regulations, so there is no intention to change policies and practices regarding violations," Griffin said. "We are still a state-supported university governed by Title V, not by a local constituency."
Arizona and South Dakota both have measures on the November ballot to legalize medicinal marijuana like California did with proposition 215 in 1996.
Because of this, some believe Proposition 19 could be the catalyst for legalizing marijuana throughout the entire country.
People will do the strangest things to save a little money. We'll forgo outings because we perceive that they'll cost too much but then we blow $5 on a poorly made latte on a daily basis. We eat popcorn for dinner every night for a week just to end up blowing any money at the bar one fateful Friday night (...or was it Saturday?). Logic, obviously, doesn't live here. I suggest abandoning your extremist measures of money saving, this manic state of consumerism; and instead, make small changes that will save money long term without much personal sacrifice on your part.
One of the best ways to do this is to live a sustainable lifestyle. Little things can add up in a big way over time and it's stuff you wouldn't notice that you've changed. An example of this is using fluorescent light bulbs. I'm sure, if you're like me, that you're thinking, "fluorescent bulbs? The ones they use in department stores? That makes your skin look terrible? And strain your eyes?" Well, I found out recently that they now make fluorescent bulbs with a soft light filter that makes it much less painful to your eyes, and to your self-confidence.
Another thing that people don't often think about is actually turning their own recycling in. Sure, it's a hassle. If you don't have a car, it's even worse. But you did already pay the CRV on it, and essentially by cashing in your recycling you are allowed the chance to get some of your money back. Almost like you were simply borrowing the can.
This week is Sustainability Week at SF State and students can attend a variety of events and even have a chance to win some money! This is a great opportunity to learn easy ways to save money and help the environment. A total win/win in my book. Below is the schedule of events:
If you're interested in winning FREE STUFF and MONEY, you can sign up for a sustainability award every month with the chance to win $50 worth of prizes per month and an annual prize for Rainbow Grocery worth $300! The monthly prizes vary, but some examples are: water bottles, bamboo utensils, canvas grocery bags and travel mugs (totaling $50). If you're interested, fill out the entry form for the awards.
Living green is everyone's responsibility, and now that's it's getting easier and easier, there's really no excuse not to make sustainable decisions. Call me a hippie, but you can't deny the benefits. Save the Earth and save your money! At SF State, you know that's how we roll.
Until next time...
What do you do to live a sustainable lifestyle? Let Lindsey know on Twitter: @LindseyLeake
While Dallas newscasters freak out over all the green us San Francisicians apparently smoke, SF State is being recognized for the green efforts on campus.
SF State recently placed 69th (out of 289) in the Sierra Club's fourth annual Cool School's survey, according to an article released by the school. For those who don't know, the Sierra Club is a grassroots environmental group who do a lot of campaigning for green issues. They're also based out of Berkeley (no surprise there). I'm very impressed that even though our school lacks a football team, library and Ike's (not for long?), we do have a gorgeous campus.
This seems to be a trend around campus (as I noted in my last post). On the school's website, they even have a list of projects the school is working on.
1. Outdoor Compost Station
These are the compost bins that are now in front of Cafe Rosso, as well as oustide the Cesar Chavez Student Center. I'm not sure how well students adhere to separating their rubbish, but if you're living in San Francisco, you should probably know by now.
2. Clay Roof Tile Replacement in University Park South
Now this is really cool. I guess when it came time to replace the roof of University Park South, SF State removed the old tiles, updated the roofing and then put the old tiles back. According to the article, this process saved about 400 tons of tile from being thrown away. Good job guys!
3. The Sustainable and Environmental Equity Development Fund
This last project actually isn't spear-headed by the administration. ECO students are looking into a measure that would increase student fees by $4 for the 2010-2011 school year to create social justice and sustainably focused projects. Considering we're in the 2010-2011 school year, I'm curious as to what is happening with this. I contacted ECO students and will do a follow up post once I find out.
Do you have any projects you think the campus should do? Is a $4 fee increase worth it or enough? Let me know in the comments!
Three races this election season have gotten some aggressive attention by the media -- state battles for governor, the U.S. Senate, and a newcomer to the media storm, the position for lieutenant governor. Second in command to the governor, the lieutenant governor serves as regent of the University of California, a trustee of the California State University system, a member of the California State Lands Commission, and chair of the Commission for Economic Development.
There are six candidates running for the office, with the two major political parties leading the polls. Republican incumbent Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado and Democratic candidate and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, have been sparring on the different issues since the race started. A recent University of Southern California and Los Angeles Times poll shows that Newsom is leading the race with 39 percent of support from likely voters, Maldonado having 36 percent support, and 11 percent still undecided. On the right is a list of issues that Maldonado and Newsom have addressed during their campaigns.
|Opposes Prop. 23, which would freeze the provisions of AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. If Prop. 23 does not pass, Maldonado wants a one-year moratorium on AB32. In the past, Maldonado has voted for pro-environmental measures such as a ban on Suction and Dredge Mining, and voted yes on a measure increasing water conservation requirements.||Opposes Prop. 23 and supports AB 32. Newsom opposes offshore drilling, wants to maximize accessibility to open state lands, and prioritize research for energy and environmental technology by funding environmental research at the UC and CSU systems while serving on the Board of Regents.||
|Opposes fee and tuition increases in the future and is promoting online universities and class to make education more accessible.||Wants a reconciling of UC and CSU student fees and a four-year moratorium on fee and tuition increases. Newsom wants to limit teacher layoffs, end furloughs and pay cuts for faculty and staff, encourage a "collegegoing culture" in California, and have a more robust community college system.|
|Opposes Prop. 25, which eliminates the twothirds majority for legislature to pass budget. Maldonado said it gives politicians the opportunity to spend more money and wants to reform government through redistricting, a two-year budget, and a spending cap.||Supports Prop. 25. Newsom wants a two-year budget, a pay as you go system, consolidate job classifi cation, and fi ve-year fi nancial plans.|
|Economy||Wants to promote California business, expedite permitting processes, and coordinate state, federal and local governments to create more jobs.||Wants to create jobs by focusing on stem cell research, more focus on digital media and digital arts, create green collar jobs.|
With the California budget signed Oct. 8 - 100 days past its due date - an amendment to change fiscal matters in Sacramento seems all too appropriate for supporters of Proposition 25.
The proposed amendment, also called the "Majority Vote Budget Initiative" among supporters, will allow the state Legislature to adopt budgets by a simple majority vote of 50 percent plus one, instead of the two-thirds majority currently in place.
Proposition 25 has been met with enthusiasm in San Francisco, particularly among public education groups like the California Federation of Teachers and the United Educators of San Francisco, which have openly criticized the current state of budgetary affairs in Sacramento and its effects on the school system.
"With a two-thirds requirement, a very small number of people have the power in the Legislature to stop the passage of anything," said UESF Vice President Linda Festa Plack. "How are you supposed to hire teachers or buy books without a budget? This is America and everything should be able to pass with a majority vote."
The two-thirds budget vote requirement in California traces its origins to Proposition 1, or the Riley-Stewart Plan, named after State Controller Ray Riley and Senator Frank Stewart.
Implemented in a special election in 1933, the Riley-Stewart Plan was designed to curb spending by requiring the two-thirds voting threshold if the state's budget exceeded its limit by five percent.
It wasn't until 1962 that Proposition 16 removed the limit and required the two-thirds vote for all budget issues.
California, Arkansas and Rhode Island are the only states that currently require a two-thirds majority to pass a budgetary measure.
The CFT are the primary backers of Proposition 25 and see the two-thirds requirement as fundamentally flawed.
"We face a problem in the state budget process which prevents timely passage of the budget with adequate funding being compromised," said CFT spokesman Fred Glass.
"The minority party blocks passage of a budget and programs have to start borrowing. Schools have had to borrow money and pay interest with banks pocketing millions in fees which should go towards helping the state."
Opponents, mainly tax and business-oriented programs, argue that with a simple majority vote the minority party in the Legislature will lose its veto power.
Any spending bill, regardless of its state impact, could be passed with the majority party always having the upper hand.
"We believe that (Proposition 25) isn't really going to solve any problems and that it will allow state Legislature to play games with the budget," said David Kline, vice president of communications and research of the California Taxpayers Association, a Sacramento-based organization opposed to Proposition 25.
Proposition 25 is not the first attempt to lower California's legislative vote thresholds.
In 2004, voters rejected a similar measure, Proposition 56, which would have lowered the vote requirement for the budget and tax increases to 55 percent.
"There is language in this measure to increase spending and raise taxes. We don't feel that Prop 25 is best for our state," said a spokesman for Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.
Proposition 25, if passed, will retain the two-thirds requirement to initiate any applicable tax increases and only enforces the majority vote on budgetary matters, an obstacle California must still overcome.
"California is the only state (in) the country that requires votes from Republicans and Democrats to pass a budget and that's why we're in the mess we're in," Glass said.
The personal tensions of California's gubernatorial campaign have claimed their position in the headlines.
Issues affecting higher education, on the other hand, are seldom discussed.
Undocumented housekeepers, sexist slurs and falsified advertisements have scandalized candidates Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown, but they have neglected to address the crisis plaguing California's once-praised higher education system.
According to the U.S. News and World Report, California holds 13 of the nation's top 100 universities, more than any state in the country.
However, increasing tuition and fee hikes put higher education in an increasingly vulnerable position.
Both candidates have neglected to make this a key component in their campaigns.
Schendan said in terms of higher education, Brown would be most deserving of the student vote.
"Jerry Brown has historically funded higher education," Schendan said. "His father was instrumental to higher education."
Brown's father, former governor Pat Brown, developed the California Master Plan for Higher Education in 1960.
Brown said he plans to restructure the master plan if elected. He believes it has been undermined throughout the years.
Schendan also noted that Whitman's plan to eliminate some taxes and her promise to never implement tax increases would be troublesome for education funding.
"If you don't have the tax money you can't fund," Schendan said.
Whitman believes raising taxes is not the solution, but public universities can be improved by reforming the welfare system.
"California has a much larger share of recipients of welfare than the nation as a whole," said Darrel Ng, Whitman's spokesman. "There are efficiencies that can be found and reforms to be made."
Whitman said in a debate at UC Davis Sept. 28 that she plans to dedicate $1 billion to the UC and CSU systems through welfare and budget reform.
According to Whitman, California has five times as many welfare recipients as New York and only twice the population.
These funds would fall under the administration of the chancellors to decide the most immediate need for resources, Whitman said.
"She understands that the UC, CSU system is one of the jewels in our state," Ng said. "Whitman wants UC and CSUs to continue to be as affordable as possible and continue the pioneering research they do."
After graduation, students' ultimate goal will be to attain employment, Ng said.
"The number one thing on everyone's mind is jobs," said Ng. "People attend college to get jobs."
Whitman's plans include creating 5 million jobs in the next five years, Ng said.
"We can go back and reelect a part of Sacramento culture, a failure," said Ng. "Or they can elect a woman who has created jobs in the private sector and knows how to create them should she be elected."
Esther Labrado, president of the SF State College Democrats, said students should take much more interest in the upcoming elections.
"It's important that the next generation is highly educated," she said. "We are just entering the workforce, we are just entering the world essentially after graduation."
The College Democrats have officially endorsed Jerry Brown for governor.
Brown said he plans to end the displacement of funding taken from institutions of higher education and placed into the prison systems. His plans also include implementing additional online learning systems and increasing the number of transferable courses from community colleges.
"I think he understands that college students are the future," Labrado said.
With days left until the election, eyes are on California's neck-to-neck Senate race, which has the potential to shift power in Washington.
Long-time Democrat Senator Barbara Boxer is leading Republican opponent and former Hewlett-Packard CEO, Carly Fiorina by five points, in what many are saying is the toughest race of Boxer's career.
Boxer is seeking her fourth term but could be derailed by Fiorina, who could end the incumbent's 18 years in the Senate.
The poll was released Oct. 20 by Public Policy Institute of California and shows 43 percent of voters backing Boxer, while 38 percent support Fiorina.
"It's definitely a very competitive, tough race," said Boxer's campaign spokesman Dan Newman.
During these final weeks, getting the vote out and educating voters about the importance of the Senate seat is a major strategy for Boxer.
"Boxer needs all her supporters on campuses and elsewhere to show up and vote to counter the energy of Fiorina's tea-party backers," Newman said.
Independent and undecided voters are an important group Fiorina needs support from.
With the amount of people registering as Democrats and Republicans declining, Independent and decline-to-state voters accounted for 20.2 percent of registered voters in California in June, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.
The troubled economy and dissatisfaction with the Democratic majority in Congress can also give Fiorina an advantage, as Independents may start to look to the right for solutions.
"Things aren't going well for Democrats," said Howard Epstein of the San Francisco Republican Party. He said Independent voters tend to look at the way the current administration is working and then determine what side they support.
"(Some) people want to vote out the status quo," said Renee Darner, an SF State political science alumna and member of San Francisco Young Democrats. However, Darner, a dedicated Boxer supporter, disagrees with statements that label Boxer a "career politician" with no impact in Washington.
"She's one of the liberal champions," Darner said, and believes it would be a "downfall" for California to lose Boxer, whom she believes is one of the biggest advocates for women.
Fiorina has less political experience against Boxer's decades in the Senate, but Democrats are still holding their breath. "(Boxer) has a very good chance, but I don't think anything is certain," Darner said.
Epstein believes Fiorina's business experience gives her an edge in the race. Job creation is a top priority for many voters in California, where unemployment is third-highest in the nation.
"I don't think people realize how powerful Fiorina is," Darner said.
According to Newman, part of Fiorina's success also comes from her finances. Fiorina has poured millions of dollars of personal money into her campaign during the primary race, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee is supporting her as well.
President Barack Obama campaigned for Boxer in Los Angeles last Friday, in a final effort to rally California voters.
While Sarah Palin has endorsed Fiorina, Newman said Obama's support for Boxer is especially valued.
But no matter who endorses whom in the upcoming election, Epstein is confident in Fiorina's ability to win the state over next Tuesday.
"I think this is going to be a Republican year," she said.
Midterm elections are, in some respects, a way of measuring the performance of the party in power -- changing up the political landscape in tough times versus staying the course in fair weather. This year, the economy will take center stage as voters decide the fate of the Obama administration and Democrats in congressional elections Nov. 2.
In the wake of the worst recession since the Great Depression, Republicans are looking to make major gains in the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate, which could potentially make carrying out his agenda more difficult for President Obama going into the next two years.
"Every election is a chance for the people to tell their leaders how they're doing," said Jon Golinger, field director of the San Francisco Democratic Labor Coordinated Campaign. "Midterm elections have become a referendum on how the Congress and the presidency are doing, (and) usually they have everything to do with how the economy and employment are doing."
SF State associate professor of political science Jason McDaniel said because of the struggling economy, Republicans are the favorites to gain seats in the House, and Democrats would do well just to keep the race close.
"At this point, I expect Republicans to take over the House and I expect them not to take over the Senate," McDaniel said. "If they win less than 40, 45 seats (or) the Democrats hold on and lose only 30-35 seats, that's a big loss for the Republicans. They need to win 50 or more to fit the narrative that they've constructed of liberal overreach and Republican ascendance."
According to McDaniel, because of the particularly intense energy against the Democrats this election, this year's turnout should favor Republicans. The GOP's more conservative Tea Party movement has also drawn people toward the right this campaign by making economic issues their main focus while downplaying social and cultural matters.
Since the 2008 election in which turnout, especially among younger voters, was high, approval ratings of Obama have steadily dipped. An Oct. 22 Gallup poll had Obama's job performance rating at an all-time low of 43 percent.
But McDaniel contended that Obama's numbers fit the pattern of steady decline every new president experiences in his first years.
"Given the economic situation and, in fact, considering how bad the economy is -- and it is the worst economy since the Great Depression -- Barack Obama's numbers actually can be seen as doing better than you might expect," McDaniel said. "His numbers were higher than Reagan's were at this time (in his term) and Bill Clinton's at this time, and both of them had bad economies in their first two years."
Most of the conservative backlash against Obama and the gains the GOP are expected to make are part of the natural tendencies of midterm elections.
"In general, when the economy's down, the incumbent gets blamed," McDaniel said.
"Some of that is just the physics of politics," Golinger said. "People move in one direction and then back. When a party isn't in power, they aren't held accountable for their ideas. If (Republicans) took over Congress, they'll definitely be held accountable."
In 2009, Obama passed landmark economic stimulus legislation with a filibuster-proof supermajority in both houses of Congress. Later that year, Obama was unable to drum up the same support for the healthcare overhaul, which was subsequently stalled for months as Democrats struggled to compromise on the measure to get the 60 votes needed to break the filibuster.
Now, for the first time in his presidency, Obama faces the very real possibility of a Republican Congress, which would affect the administration's agenda in the future, McDaniel said.
"There's no doubt (losing the democratic majority in the House) will change the agenda," McDaniel said. "There's no doubt it will be a less ambitious agenda, but that's pretty normal as well. In the modern era, presidents get their agendas done in the first two years and then it becomes about smaller things, more compromises and eventually more foreign affairs-type things their second term."
But supporters view this as an important time for progressives to reaffirm their belief in their leader.
"In San Francisco, 80 percent of voters turned out, as opposed to 50-60 percent in elections before," Golinger said. "I don't think the country has changed so much since then. This election is important to show that we still believe."
During Obama's two years in office, many of the president's efforts to effect change in the economy, healthcare and foreign policy were met with partisan gridlock in Washington, leading many to become disenchanted with his campaign message of "change."
SF State political science major Derek Mills said Obama's campaign promises of change might have led many to believe social reform could take place overnight.
"Some people are disappointed with the Democratic Party because they thought that if they elected Obama, a lot of change would happen instantaneously," Mills, 23, said.
The ever-present threat of a Republican filibuster forced lengthy compromise on legislation -- such as with the healthcare overhaul -- leaving some on the left feeling as if Obama had compromised too much.
"The Obama administration feels they have been pretty moderate, that they've tried to compromise, and they've faced a Republican Party that has not been receptive to their attempts at that," McDaniel said. "At the same time, while doing that, Obama has lost some of his allies on the left who say, 'He's so eager to compromise with Republicans, and yet, the Republicans are not going to compromise."
Whatever the results may be, Nov. 2 will be paramount in determining the Obama administration's ability to function with the legislature.
"It's a crucial election, and it's hard to say how it's going to go," Mills said. "But, if (Congress) splits (between parties), there's definitely going to be a lot of bickering and not a lot is going to get done."
So what does this election mean for Obama? As it turns out, not nearly as much as the economy will in the years leading up to his 2012 reelection bid.
"It's always the economy," McDaniel said. "As long as the economy turns around, I expect Obama to have a pretty easy time when it's reelection. If unemployment is still 10 percent and the economy's not growing, I could very easily see Obama losing."
Timeline of Prop 20
The Legislature spent roughy $3 million in 2001 from its own budget specifically for redistricting activities, such as the purchase of specialized redistricting software and equipment.
In November 2008, voters passed Proposition 11, which created the Citizens Redistricting Commission to establish new district boundaries for the State Assembly, State Senate, and BOE beginning after the 2010 census.
In 2009, under the Proposition 11 process, the Legislature approved $3 million from the state's General Fund for redistricting activities related to the 2010 census.
On May 5, 2010 the Redistricting of Congressional Districts measure qualified for the Nov. 2 ballot.
The first part of the application process to become a member of the commission ran from Dec. 15 through Feb. 16, 2010, and the second phase - the supplemental application phase -- closed on April 19, 2010. The Applicant Review Panel reviewed the applications and interviewed nearly 120 applicants between Aug. 6, 2010 and Sept. 10. On Sept. 22 and 23, the panel held its final meeting and reduced the applicant pool to 60 of the most qualified applicants -- 20 Republicans, 20 Democrats, and 20 independents. The panel on Sept. 29 submitted the list of names to Legislative leadership.
The final selection of commissioners will be made by the end of Dec. 2010.
The Legislature does not anticipate receiving census numbers from the Federal Government until April 2011.
Under Proposition 11, the commission has until September 15, 2011 to draw the lines of districts. If Proposition 20 passes, the commission would have until August 15, 2011 to do
The power of establishing congressional districts may switch hands as voters have the option of removing elected representatives from the process by voting yes on Proposition 20.
The responsibility to determine the boundaries of California's districts in the U.S. House of Representatives has always been given to the state legislature - with the fundamental principle behind drawing new districts every 10 years coming down to accountability.
If Proposition 20 passes, the power would be given to the Citizens Redistricting Commission, consisting of 14 registered voters - five Democrats, five Republicans and four independents.
"Proposition 20 allows voters to hold politicians accountable," said Susan Shafer, director of communications for the Yes on 20/No on 27 campaign. "It makes it possible to vote against politicians who don't do their jobs and just help their friends in Congress."
According to a report by the Legislative Analyst's office, which is included on the official voter information guide, district boundaries were determined in bills that became law after they were approved by the Legislature and signed by the Governor.
But in November 2008, voters passed Proposition 11, which created the commission to establish new district boundaries once every 10 years beginning after the 2010 census.
"Each state is responsible for redistricting," said SF State political science professor Francis Neely. "People move. As a result, there is a lot of movement within a state. Lines are always redrawn."
According to Neely, elections have been unfair for a long time and partisan.
"It is a desire to hang on to power," he said. "It keeps coming up. The problem is having only a couple of competitive races. In a democratic process, you expect there to be close elections. That doesn't happen much across the country. Some states have this ballot measure and some don't."
According to Jason McDaniel, an election expert and California politics instructor at SF State, gerrymandering is a term used to describe the political manipulation of the district boundaries in which politicians run for office.
"Every 10 years, after the U.S. census, districts are redrawn for a variety of reasons including better representation of African Americans, Latinos, etc.," he said. "The idea of a gerrymander is a derogatory term used to imply that politicians are drawing boundaries for their own benefit and to improve their chances of winning elections."
Opponents argue that it is premature and gives members of the commission less time to do their jobs.
"The current law from Proposition 11 states that the commission needs to draw the maps by Sept. 15 of next year," said Trudy Schafer, senior director for the League of Women Voters of California. "If Proposition 20 is approved, then they will have until Aug. 15 to do so."
In addition, she said the 14-member selection process is being rushed. Last December, 30,000 Californians were eligible to be on the commission. Of those eligible, 4,500 submitted applications. That number has since been narrowed down to 120 and will eventually be cut to 60. The final 14 members must be selected by Jan. 1, 2011.
"Our biggest opposition is that in order for the reform to take effect, it first needs to have enough time to iron out any problems," Schafer said. "It needs to be tested, but not yet. If we hurry up and do it now, we think that that is not a good way to go forward."
What's the scariest thing about Halloween? The screaming children? The "sexy adult costumes" that, let's face it, are mostly worn by people who are NOT sexy, or worse, not adults! Or the five pounds of sugar weight and a case of diabetes? No. None of these come close to the ultimate fear that Halloween incurs: How the hell am I going to fund a costume and still have money to go out on Halloween?
The answer is simple: skip the high priced rave/balls that are thrown all around the city and scope out the cheap and/or free parties. Chances are you will have way more fun having a few different Halloween adventures for cheap than spending all your money to get into a party that may not be all it's cracked up to.
There's nothing worse than paying out the ass to get into a place, only to find out it's dead. Even if it's not dead, you're stuck at that one spot all night. Talk about putting all your eggs in one basket.
Costumes, well, cost money. There's really no way around it. You can pull from your closet and your prior years of masquerading and you may be able to piece something together. Thrift stores are your second best choice and from there, it's inevitable. At that point, whether you buy your costume or make it yourself, it will cost you money, regardless.
Here are a few events going on around San Francisco this weekend that I thought worthy to be a part of your Halloween experience...
RED HOTS BURLESQUE HALLOWEEN SHOW
This show should be hot! They have burlesque girls dancing Halloween themed dances and are screening some "filthy and freaky film footage."
They serve drinks, FREE oysters and have some amazing BBQ during Happy Hour (which was voted "The Best of the Bay" by SF Weekly).
Starting at noon and ending at midnight approx., this marathon is FREE and whether you show up for one movie or all 12 hours, it's an easy way to get spooked without being haunted by the bills of entrance fees past. It's held at Cellspace; 2050 Bryant St. (at 18th Street) in SF. It is happening both Saturday and Sunday, with the same movie schedule for each day.
The marathon will feature movies directed by Eli Roth (Hostel), and all proceeds from concessions will go to CELLspace, a non-profit collaborative art center in the Mission.
They will be selling beer and wine (until 2 a.m.), soda, coffee, snacks, food, and popcorn.
Check out the movie schedule below:
Noon: The Thing (1982) John Carpenter flick about an arctic monster, with Kurt Russel.
2 p.m.: Zombie (1979) Italian sequel to Dawn of the Dead from "Godfather of gore" Lucio Fulci.
3:45 p.m.: The Vanishing (1988) Not horror but more of a disturbing thriller similar to Hostel.
5:30 p.m.: MEAL BREAK!
6 p.m.: Pieces (1982) Spanish slasher film badly dubbed but with great chainsaw bits.
7:45 p.m.: The Wicker Man (1973) British horror w Christopher Lee set on creepy island village.
9:30 p.m.: Who Can Kill A Child? (1976) About a killer-kid, from "Spanish Hitchcock" Dir. Narciso Ibez Serrador.
11:15 p.m.: MEAL BREAK!
11:45 p.m.: Eraserhead (1977) Early nightmarish David Lynch flick it took him six years to make.
1:30 a.m.: Suspiria (1977) Operatic & weird enough for start time daze, filled w/ horrific imagery.
3:15 a.m.: Cannibal Holocaust (1980) Similar to Blair Witch Project, about guys who film a cannibal tribe.
4:45 a.m.: MEAL BREAK!
5:15 a.m.: Evil Dead (1981) Don't really have to sell this one. Bruce Campbell. Sam Raimi. Bam.
7 a.m.: Audition (1999) Japanese flick in which suspense builds and builds and builds and...
9 a.m.: Torso (1973) Italian slasher flick with lesbian erotic subplot. Not a bad way to end the day.
FREE CAB RIDES?
Here's a pleasant twist on the usual drunk driving story. Instead of lawyers getting involved after the fact, they are jumping the gun this Halloween. In an attempt to keep drunk drivers off the road, Alameda law firm Berg Injury Lawyers is sponsoring the "Safe and Sober Free Cab Ride Home" program.
Begins: Oct. 31, 2010 - 10 p.m. Ends: Nov. 1, 2010 - 4 a.m.
Alameda, Oakland, and Berkeley (within city limits or get a cab ride home to San Francisco) call Veterans Cab at (800) 281-4488. Tell them Berg Injury Lawyers is picking up the tab.
San Francisco (within city limits only) call Luxor Cab at (415) 282-4141. Tell them Berg Injury Lawyers is picking up the tab.
Sacramento ($30 limit) call Yellow Cab Company of Sacramento at (916) 444-2222. Patrons must be picked up at a restaurant, hotel, or bar within Downtown Sacramento to qualify for a free ride. Rides home must be within Sacramento. Tell them Berg Injury Lawyers is picking up the tab.
Due to the high number of ride requests, rides cannot be guaranteed for everyone who calls. Don't forget to tell them the ride is on Berg Injury Lawyers when you call.
Cab rides are made available to area residents who otherwise might attempt to drive home after drinking. Rides are provided from bars & restaurants (not from house parties) to an individual's residence and not to other drinking locations.
JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE NIGHT
I can't vouch for how crazy this gets because I've never been, but it sounds awesome!
The essential idea is that anyone who wants can meet up at 7 p.m. and begin their journey through haunted spaces in SF. It's a race and there are a series of checkpoints that have to be met while avoiding being caught by "chasers". Costumes are necessary (and fun!).You can use your feet and public transportation. Last year over 700 people participated, according to their website. For more information, hit them up:
This is happening on Saturday, Oct. 30th 2010 from 7 p.m.-11 p.m. Meet at Justin Herman Plaza (1 Steuart St., SF) at 7 p.m. for the start.
FOR KIDS: YERBA BUENA HALLOWEEN COSTUME WALK
There's tons of free stuff for kids and families on Halloween around the city. One of which is the Gardens Halloween Costume Walk (located at 760 Howard St., SF). Activities include scarecrow dressing, bean bag tossing, face painting and much more. There is also trick or treating in the neighborhoods afterwards.
Keeping your eyes out of free and cheap things going on in the city of holidays like this are really the way to go. These are just some of the great things we've got going on in our city by the bay.
Remember, keep it simple. The more money you save on events, the more money you can spend on your snazzy costume (and drinks!).
Until next time...
On Nov. 2 California voters will decide if marijuana should be legalized for individuals over 21 years of age to possess and cultivate despite the federal government's disapproval.
If the measure passes, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) plans to make the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control responsible for regulating the cultivation and sale of marijuana by taxing commercial use. Anyone over age 21 would have the legal right to consume less than an ounce of marijuana freely in non-public places without being penalized and would be allowed to cultivate marijuana in personal spaces limited to 25 square feet.
Ammiano's introduction of Assembly Bill 2254 which is currently pending, would tax $50-per-ounce and directly fund the state's drug related education programs.
"It's a 21 and over law and varies from county to county and if LA does not want legal weed, they don't need to have it. If San Francisco wants it, it can," said Joshua Nermon, president of the SF State Student's for a Sensible Drug Policy. "You have to start somewhere and everything in the past decade has built up to this moment, legalizing marijuana and starting to look at our whole drug policy in a totally different light."
Nermon said Proposition 19 would reduce the penalty for possession, send fewer people to jail and address the public's use of marijuana. He said medical marijuana is designed for patients, but people have abused it by using it for recreational purposes.
According to the World Drug Report 2010, provided by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the world.
"But in a way, it's a good thing because it has opened people's eyes to how harmless it is," said Nermon. "Marijuana does not create a dependency as other drugs like heroin."
Max Mier, a medical marijuana patient and the creator of the iPhone application "Herb Converter," gathered signatures for Proposition 19 by the Dolores Park Cafe in San Francisco's Mission District. He said, "Marijuana is a much safer alternative to relieve stress versus the currently available alcohol which does, in some cases, destroy families."
At SF State, "the typical consequence for possession (of marijuana) is completion of an educational module," said Ellen Griffin, spokesperson for SF State. However, a "student with an intent to sell is automatically evicted from University Housing."
SF State's policy on marijuana is in compliance with the federal government's Controlled Substances Act which recognizes marijuana as an illegal drug and does not acknowledge the difference between medical and recreational use of marijuana.
"Local or state laws do not apply on campus, so Proposition 19, if passed, will not affect the University," she said.
Proposition 19 is estimated to generate $1.4 billion in tax revenue and help fund state programs. Despite revenue generated, opponents are in disagreement.
"This free-for-all measure is deeply flawed and poorly written and it's doubtful that we'll see the revenue listed by proponents," said Roger Salazar, spokesperson forNo on Proposition 19.
He said unlike alcohol which is regulated statewide, this measure would leave it up to 536 different counties and cities to enforce and regulate laws in local jurisdictions. It would be "costing law enforcement more time and money to control marijuana and regulate authorized dispensaries." Salazar called Proposition 19 a "jumbled legal nightmare" and said he doubts it will pass.
"California will not see a single positive result if Proposition 19 passes," Senator Feinstein said in July when she announced that she would co-chair the No on Proposition 19 campaign. "It is a poorly constructed initiative that will cause harm to Californians on our roadways, and in our schools, workplaces and communities," she said.
Opponents predict legalized marijuana would lead to a decrease in its price, and the revenue generated from taxes will not be worth the efforts. It would also mean cheaper marijuana for patients who use it for medical marijuana purposes.
According to a study released by the RAND Corp, a non-profit research institute, the retail price of marijuana could drop to as low as $38 per ounce compared to the current estimated $375 per ounce.
In an email to [X]press, San Francisco based pro-marijuana activist and blogger Dragonfly De La Luz said that cities would have the right to levy unlimited taxes on cannabis and "possessing cannabis of any amount will be illegal if it was bought anywhere other than a licensed dispensary, restricting our coming freedom to possess whatever cannabis we choose."
Frances Hsieh, chair of endorsements at the San Francisco Women's Political Committee, supports Proposition 19 and said it would help bring money into general funds.
"The amount of money spent on law enforcement could be better spent on social programs involving the youth, family and children," she said.
The cost of education has been increasing with the state's budget cuts. Before Proposition 13 of 1978, People's Initiative to Limit Property Taxation, California schools were funded by local property taxes. After it passed, CA school systems became dependent on state general funds. Proposition 13 limited property taxes in California to no more than one percent of a home's assessed value, shifting the focus of control from local school funding, to the state.
"We'll be much better off if we wait until 2012 and vote for the California Cannabis Hemp and Health Initiative (also known as the Jack Herer Initiative)," said De La Luz. "It'll give us an opportunity to vote in on a legalization initiative that is actually worthy of the name, and that will make fewer people criminals, not more."
SF State was recently awarded $21,000 to create a rain garden and plant native flora around the campus, thanks to San Francisco's Community Challenge Grant.
The CCG gives funds to communities wanting to create, "environmentally sustainable infrastructure." I think by that statement they mean, "pretty looking places for you to sit and look at." While I'm not sure what the money is directly being used for, the University has been working on several projects around the campus.
SF State recently published the article, "Rethinking campus lawns," where they provide information about the work going on throughout the campus.
"Grounds workers have also added native plants like huckleberry, lupine, yarrow and willow in an effort to attract birds and pollinators. In three areas, pesticides, fertilizers and mowing have been eliminated," says the article.
A city wide disaster drill and SF State's Campus Safety Awareness Week activities were interrupted by a group of student zombies roaming around campus on Thursday.
SFSU Improv Nation performed their third annual "Zombie Walk," in hopes of promoting their organization and their upcoming events. Approximately 50 students attended the zombie apocalypse during the four hour event.
Some zombies even helped with the demonstration for the Safety Awareness program.
This year Improv Nation used theater blood, something not used in the past, to create wounded effects on their bodies.
Travis Northrup, a BECA studies major and president/founder of SFSU Improv Nation, said the group was much smaller this year but more enthusiastic.
The group ended their event with a "Thriller" dance at Malcom X Plaza.
Survivors of domestic violence joined with the Walk in Her Heels event in Malcolm X Plaza today to tell stories of abuse in recognition of domestic violence awareness month.
Walk in Her Heels, sponsored by The SAFE Place and The Clothesline Project, used men from various fraternities and campus housing - who walked around in high heels - to spread their message against domestic abuse.
"In today's society women are seen as more vulnerable and this is a chance to emasculate myself ... and I feel vulnerable," said Irving Rodriguez, 22, a senior business major.
Rodriguez, a member of Delta Sigma Phi, wore black high heels and collected donations for a domestic violence shelter in the city.
"I found out there is more domestic violence on campus than out there," Rodriguez said. "It's people that we know that cause the domestic violence. It sucks and it hurts."
The SAFE Place is an organization that provides a safe haven for victims of sexual and domestic violence, while The Clothesline Project, founded in 1990, uses decorated T-shirts to allow women who have been abused to express themselves.
Jazmin "Jazzy" Lindsay, 18, an undeclared freshman, took the stage and was first to speak about being raped by her boyfriend of nine months and her process of recovery.
"My first attempt at suicide was after the rape. When I survived I figured God wanted me to be here, but next I started cutting myself for four months," Lindsay said in front of the crowd that gathered.
After rounds of therapy and counseling, Lindsay became a public speaker to inspire survivors to speak out and help them cope with their trauma.
"People are afraid to talk about what happened. It's important for me to be strong and to give courage for people to come forward," Lindsay said.
After more testimonials from a survivor of child abuse and a performance by Nina Joe Smith, founder of The SAFE Place on campus, the Loco Bloco Drum and Dance Ensemble played.
Two of the drummers from Loco Bloco danced around in heels to support the event and encouraged audience members to join in as one of the dancers came out on stilts.
SF State alumna Amy Cappels was visiting a professor on campus when she heard the beat of the drums and followed the chalk outlines that led the way to the event.
"It's very important to get the message out that it's not always about women protecting themselves. It's about men having a choice to be respectful," Cappels said. "The idea to wear heels is very symbolic.You really need to think about every step you take, literally and physically. It's a very powerful move."
Pictures of the 1969 Indian activist occupation at Alcatraz were on display in the Richard Oakes Multicultural Center as the Resource Library opened its doors to all students for the "Open Mind, Open Library" event Oct. 20.
The event showcased and introduced students to a multitude of historical documents and material that are available at the ROMC Resource Library in the Cesar Chavez Student Center..
"We want to highlight the archival collection that we have," said Katherine Day, fund and resource developer for the ROMC. "We have some amazing archives from the annual events that celebrate our building heroes."
The AIS 215 - American Indian and U.S. laws - class came to the event to introduce unaware students to the ROMC and the Resource Library.
"I did not know (about the resource library). This was the first time I've heard about it, but it seems cool," said Andrew Quintero, an 18-year-old freshman and kinesiology major. "I probably will use it for (a research paper)."
Opened in 2003, the ROMC was dedicated and named after activist Richard Oakes in 1998. Recently digitized film footage was also shown at the event, which highlighted the dedication and naming ceremony in Malcolm X Plaza that took place in 1994.
Oakes helped develop the curriculum for the first ever American Indian studies department. He also encouraged Native Americans to fight for sovereignty and self-respect, encouraging as many as possible to enroll college - especially SF State.
"I think it's pretty awesome that we have this available," said Desiree Rios, a 22-year-old junior AIS and psychology major. "It's been really helpful for me to use for studying and papers."
The new online archival film footage and documents at the ROMC Resource Library presents culturally significant events that took place at SF State.
"This center will be an essential part of my classes," said AIS lecturer Philip Klasky, who took his class to the event. "And I see it as a very important resource for the university."
SF State kicked off its Campus Safety Awareness Week last Monday, only two days after the 21st anniversary of the Loma Prieta Earthquake, in an attempt to prepare students on what to do in the case of an eventual disaster.
The week will include blood donor drives by Blood Centers of the Pacific, cyber security workshops, and Community Emergency Response Team training, which specializes in teaching civilians disaster response. There will also be earthquake drills and a test emergency alarm system, so have your cell phones ready.
If not enough to drive the point in, "2012" will be shown tomorrow as part of a Disaster Film Festival.
For a full schedule of events click here
University Police are investigating the possible embezzlement of $3,600 from Alpha Phi Omega's Mu Zeta chapter by its former treasurer, according to UPD crime reports.
Alpha Phi Omega filed a report with UPD, which spurred the investigation, said University assistant spokeswoman Nan Broadbent.
According to the report, the alleged theft occurred over the summer when the fraternity is typically idle.
"No one's really in charge during the summer," said Jan-Michael Bueno Cartano, president of Alpha Phi Omega Mu Zeta chapter, a co-ed fraternity that came to campus in 1956. "But it'd be the new officers (who are in charge)."
While no charges have been filed, the investigation comes about a month after former SF State student cheerleading coach Ashlee Nicole Haley, 23, was charged with embezzling $20,000 from her teammates.
Leadership, Engagement, Action, Development - a department within the Division of Student Affairs - along with the Associated Students, Inc., is responsible for overseeing campus organizations and fraternities.
UPD declined to elaborate on the details of the investigation because it is ongoing.
When asked about the UPD investigation, LEAD's Managing Director Sara Bauer refused comment.
When organizations request event funds, ASI requires them to turn in request forms detailing each expenditure, according to ASI's business and administration website.
From there, the ASI finance committee and board of directors must approve the request and ASI retains all invoices and receipts.
LEAD, however, does not keep financial statements for organizations' events, said LEAD Director Joseph Greenwell in an email.
"As with all banking, the student organization is responsible for insufficient funds and additional penalty fees for poor financial management," he said.
However, LEAD has an agreement with Patelco Credit Union's University branch which allows student organizations to open bank accounts while maintaining safeguards against misuse.
According to Greenwell, these safeguards include prohibiting the use of debit and credit cards and requiring written consent from the organization's adviser to change or create new accounts.
Now, while advisers play a crucial role in overseeing organizations, each adviser's involvement differs.
"I think it would be nice to be more involved but faculty is overworked as it is," said Lorraine Dong, who has been Alpha Phi Omega adviser since the early 1990s. "I'm busier than I was then. I had more time (when I was a lecturer) because I was part time."
Dong, who is also chair of the Asian American studies department, said she typically becomes more involved when there are disputes or issues within Alpha Phi Omega.
"I didn't know about (the investigation)," she said. "But I guess I better ask them about that."
According to Travis Northup, chair of the Student Center Governing Board, a move to campus is a very real possibility for the hugely popular sandwich shop.
"Yes, Ike's is being considered," Northup said, confirming that Ike's Place submitted a formal request to occupy space left vacant on the student center's lower level when the New York Minute Deli chose not to renew its lease at the end of the spring 2010 semester.
"We knew they were considering it," Northup said. "We were surprised they turned in a proposal but it was good news because of their reputation. We want to bring the best to students."
More than one thousand SF State students have already joined the Facebook page "Bring Ike's Place to SFSU."
"It would be awesome, the crème de le crème of campus food," said 21-year-old senior Gavin Murray. "I would probably go even more often if they were on campus."
Ike Shehadeh, owner of Ike's Place, said he was approached by the student center and asked if he would consider opening a location there.
"I'm happy to have the opportunity to maybe come to SFSU," he said. "I'm happy and flattered they sent me an email that they wanted me to put in a proposal. I'm always humbled by all the support and the fans' response to Ike's Place"
After successfully opening his first location in the Castro three years ago, Shehadeh expanded to Redwood Shores and on campus at Stanford. He says he has at least two more locations planned for Santa Rosa and Burlingame.
"I'm excited to get in there," Shehadeh said. "I know we'd have a blast."
Shehadeh was forced to close his flagship location after being evicted due to complaints from neighbors about noise stemming from the sandwich shop.
"Cesar Chavez at this point is more than happy to have too many people," Northup said. "If that happened I'd be ecstatic."
According to Northup, it is now up to the students and vendor services committee to decide the fate of Ike's Place at SF State. The vendor services committee, which is considering other applicants, will make a recommendation to the governing board which will then make the final decision.
Meetings for the committee are open to student and held on the fourth Thursday of every month.
Once a vendor is selected to fill the space, they will be expected to set up shop by fall 2011 at the latest.
"I would open next week if I could," said Shehadeh.
Peter Ho was ready to board his plane to study abroad in Spain. A few days before leaving, he called his friend, Cameron Standish, and made plans to meet up later in the semester. After arriving at his destination, Ho went to an Internet cafe to tell his friends and family he arrived safely. He didn't get an answer from Cameron, so he sent an email. As weeks passed, there was still no reply.
One morning, he opened an email from Cameron's brother. Attached was Cameron's obituary, informing Ho that his 28-year-old friend passed away on August 30, 2009, five days after Ho left the country.
From the moment he read the first lines, Ho, then 22, began an experience he feels college students often face alone - grieving.
"You try to reach out, but you can't, there's nobody to reach out to," he said. "All you want to do is ignore your studies, ignore your friends and just be alone so you can have your connection with [the person you lost]," he said.
Derethia DuVal, director of Counseling and Psychological Services at SF State, said for the past five years, she's noticed more students who have lost peers coming in for counseling.
"Young people seem to be losing more friends, so we thought about doing a grief counseling group. It's a modern-day issue that older adults don't really know how to address," she said of older generations, such as her co-workers, who have realized they don't have any friends who have passed away.
At any given time, between 35 and 48 percent of university students are within two years of losing a close friend or relative, according to the National Students of Ailing Mothers and Fathers, the only national organization dedicated to helping grieving college students. The NSAMF launched the first annual National College Student Grief Awareness Week in universities across the country last April to educate universities about supporting bereaved students.
Breaking the silence surrounding grief is DuVal's message to students experiencing a loss, since the university environment can be a difficult place to cope, she said.
SF State doesn't have a grief support group, but DuVal said her department is aware of students' needs and will create a group if students demand it. She said bereaved students get personal counseling but most come in for other reasons, which is why there hasn't been a demand for a grief support group.
"They usually come in because they can't concentrate on their work or they don't know why they don't have any interests," she said. "But once they start talking, they say 'oh, my best friend just died," she said.
DuVal said many students have a hard time recognizing the grieving process. One of the most common misconceptions about grief is that it happens to someone and they must then be "healed."
"(Grief) isn't some time-limited illness," said Brian de Vries, professor of gerontology at SF State. "It's a change in our world views. It takes a lot (of time) for us to adapt."
He said people may feel they are "doing something wrong" if they still feel upset months or years after the loss.
Ho said some mornings he still feels irritated or sad for no reason and then realizes it's because he misses his friend.
Because college is generally viewed as a time for meeting new people and trying new things, DuVal said students will often try to put grief aside in order to carry on with academic responsibilities and social life.
Ho said he didn't have time to grieve in Spain and the loss became his last priority after school as he tried to focus on passing his classes.
This semester, between carrying 16 units and joining the International Education Exchange Council, Ho said he still doesn't have time to fully acknowledge the loss.
"Having to grieve adds to the already rigorous and stressful life of college," he said.
De Vrie's advice to students is to "begin a dialogue so (grief) isn't a silent issue." He said college is an ideal location to create a support group.
The University of California at Berkeley has a National Students of AMF grief support chapter and Mills College in Oakland is in the process of creating one.
Off-campus, San Francisco's Hospice By The Bay offers grief support groups and counseling sessions. On Dec 16, the organization will host a support group on coping with grief during the holidays.
De Vrie said reaching out shouldn't be seen as a defeat or shameful, but, as a way to get through the experience.
"It's a sign of courage and self respect to seek help and have our voices heard."
Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life found last month that large numbers of Americans are uninformed about major world religions other than their own. Atheists, Agnostics, Jews and Mormons are among the most knowledgeable about world religions in the U.S., outperforming Evangelicals, Protestants and Catholics.
Previous studies by Pew show that the United States is the most religious of developed nations. Yet, In last month's survey questioning the core teachings, history and leading figures of major world religions, Americans citizens could answer only half of the questions correctly.
"It's the nature of the American populous," said Chair of San Francisco Interfaith Council, Rev. James DeLange, "You ask them if they ever heard of Paris Hilton, and you betcha."
According to University of Southern California's Center for Religion and Civic Culture, Roman Catholics make up over half of San Francisco County's religious population. This group scored an average of one point lower than the national average on the religious knowledge poll.
Rev. John Itzaina of Saints Peter and Paul Church said in regards to the findings he doesn't believe that knowing about other religious practices is important to his faith.
"If I'm going to be a priest, I better know what I'm talking about and practice taking care of people that profess the same beliefs that I profess," said Itzaina.
Russell Jeung, advisor for SF State Christian Club, Young Life College, said this low performance is because Christians are so immersed in their own religious life, that they aren't exposed to other teachings.
"Many Christians are culturally religious," said Jeung "You don't have to practice to believe. More identify with spirituality than the religion."
Jews, Atheists and Agnostics also excelled in questions about religion in daily life and stood out for their understanding of Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism.
Dona Standel is an SF State alumna and Program and Engagement Coordinator for San Francisco Hillel - a group that accepts observing and non-observing Jews. Although non-religious, Standel's family would practice Shabbat, yet never attend temple. She attributed Jews' high awareness of differing secular practices to their strive for acculturation.
"Jews [in America] have a history of needing to prove competence career-wise and in education," said Standel. "Family values and assimilation contribute to their education [of other religions]."
Like Standel, Christian club leader Jeung said immigrants hold strong convictions in their faith to fit in.
"If you're a religious minority in the United States, you face more oppression; so you better know what you believe," Jeung said.
Jeung attributes Christians' poor education in practices other than their own to total immersion in the teachings. He said that many Christians aren't exposed to other beliefs because they are following customs without questioning the meaning of their faith.
Previous Pew Studies state that America is the most religious of developed countries, but last month's survey records that many people think the constitutional restrictions on religious teachings in public schools are stricter than they really are. Two-thirds of those tested said that teachers are prohibited from reading the bible in class, although the Supreme Court permits it for "literary and historic qualities" in a secular curriculum. Only 36 percent believe comparative world religion classes can be taught at public schools.
SF Atheists Action Coordinator Dave Fitzgerald said that self-examination is the best path to a larger understanding of religion.
"When I was Christian, I spent time thinking about what [non-believers] got wrong and why I was going to be saved, and they were going to hell," he said. "I lost my religion from the study of the religion I came from."
The best indicator of world religion knowledge was education and college graduates answered an average of eight more questions correctly than people with a high school education or less.
Jeung agreed that the study's secondary factors - daily scripture reading and discourse with friends and family - are the most effective route to attaining insight on other religions.
Although Standel has never taken a world religion class, she said involvement in college with her own religious identity helped her construe meaning of her inherited Jewish customs and sparked her interest in other widespread teachings.
"Now I ask a lot of questions why Jews do this and why [other religions] don't," she said.
What SF State Students Missed
Proposition 20:Proposition 20 is a key measure on the ballot that gives congressional redistricting authority to the 14-person legislative redistricting commission that was created with Proposition 11 in 2008. Proposition 20 is in direct competition with Proposition 27, which would eliminate the commission and restore redistricting power to the California State Legislature.
Proponents of Proposition 20 say it will make politicians more accountable to voters and ensure fairer districting by not allowing certain seats to draw their own districts. Opponents say the proposition will raise redistricting costs and divide districts by economic status.
If both pass, the proposition with the most "yes" votes will go into effect.
Proposition 25:Proposition 25 is the biggest issue affecting college students, supporters say, because it changes the two-thirds majority required for the Legislature to pass a budget to a simple "50-plus-one" majority. The proposition would not, however, change the two-thirds vote needed to raise taxes.
Supporters say Proposition 25 is a major solution to solving the state's budget gridlock by allowing the simple majority of legislatures to pass a budget. Opponents say the proposition makes it easier for politicians to restrict voters' rights to reject bad laws.
Proposition 23:Proposition 23 would suspend environmental regulations mandated in AB32, the Global Warning act of 2006, until the unemployment rate falls below 5.5 percent. AB32 demands that emissions be cut to 1990 levels by 2020.
Proponents of the measure say it saves jobs, prevents a rise in energy taxes and preserves California's air and water pollution standards. Opponents say it increases dependence on oil and stunts job growth and competition in California's emerging clean technology companies.
Hundreds of empty chairs filled Jack Adam's Hall at the Associated Students, Inc. "State of the Student" forum as voter registration forms and pamphlets remained in neatly stacked piles on a folding table by the door. Guest speakers armed with detailed information came in force, but their microphones were rendered useless as the chairs remained vacant.
On November 2nd, voters will have the opportunity to weigh in on issues that could affect them for years to come, but if the turnout at the Oct. 13 event is any indication, SF State students either already have their information or simply don't care.
Not a single student aside from ASI members and press attended the two-hour event that featured a thorough non-partisan breakdown of major ballot issues, discussion about funding for higher education and interactive PowerPoint presentations.
"It breaks my heart that no one showed up," said event organizer and ASI Vice President of External Affairs Travis Northup. "I think that the problem is students are one, apathetic, and two, they just don't understand. If you're a freshman here, how are you supposed to know what's been happening to higher education all of these years (and) why we have so few classes?"
To promote the event, ASI members distributed flyers, put up posters and confirmed attendance via Facebook. Still, some students didn't know about the event at all.
Ashley Rattmann, a second-year SF State student in the educational credential program was sitting outside Jack Adams hall while the forum went on.
"I'm only on campus two days most weeks and I had no idea it was going on," Rattmann said. "It's important because SFSU's broke but I think a lot of students think their vote doesn't count or that their opinion won't matter."
"You can't make the car run - the car being the state of California - if you have gears that aren't connected," said California Forward Coalitions Associate Caroline Vance. "So, you fix the structures of government. The open primary and the citizens' redistricting commission are meant to bring people who are elected to Sacramento closer to the middle."
Former Vice President of Advancement at SF State Lee Blitch emphasized the importance of Proposition 20 in curbing bipartisan extremism in Sacramento.
"The drive to undo the redistricting effort is very important," Blitch said. "You'll see two clumps of voters (connected) by a real narrow line, so you've got the politicians selecting the voters as opposed to the voters selecting the politicians. It's self-preservation that guarantees some seats will be democratic and some seats will be republican always, and it's kind of comforting if you're in, because then you can stick to your extremism and not have to come to any kind of a moderate conclusion."
Next 10 premiered its new website, CaliforniaChoices.org, which has specific information and official endorsements on all of the propositions on the November ballot.
Vance believed the disappointing turnout was a result of students' disillusionment with an ineffective state government.
"I think (the turnout) is reflective numerically of the level of distrust in state government," Vance said. "Right now, 93 percent of Californians think that the state government wastes some or a lot of taxpayer money. That's just the level of distrust that we have."
Northup has noticed a considerable decline in the level of student involvement on campus in the last semester, noting the decidedly small turnout at the most recent student-led "day of action" in front of the ethnic studies building Oct. 7th.
"Getting the state to fund higher education is something every student should care about, but I think that a lot of students are just tired," Northup said. "Students complain a lot about finding classes and about things they wish could happen on their campus, and the reason that state legislatures have ignored us and not given us more money is because students haven't been involved. We have 420,000 votes in the CSU system alone, but we have nowhere that many voices."
Since the all-time lows of last year, the CSU system was restored $260 million in funding, about half of what was cut.
Much of that funding has come from temporary tax increases and federal aid, both of which end after this year.
"Last was the worst year ever. We lost $584 million, there was a 32 percent fee increase, there were furloughs," Northup said. "Faculty were pissed, administrators were scared, students were so pissed and everyone was freaking out. Right now, students think it's OK because we got a $260 million increase this year, but that's just a drop in the bucket. Next year, all of the things that have been saving us are going to be gone and it's going to be even worse than a year ago."
A veteran of the higher education system, Blitch spoke at the event and voiced caution over complacency with the temporary CSU funding increase, citing the need for student involvement this election year.
"The fact that we dodged a bullet this year (getting funding restored) doesn't mean that the problems aren't going to come back next year," Blitch said. "We do not want to get back to that place where we can't take students who want to come here.
SAN JOSE, Calif. --- The atmosphere in the San Jose State University event center was one of optimism and involvement for the California Democrats, as thousands turned out in support of the Vote 2010 rally Oct. 17.
Around 8:15 p.m., the crowd erupted as former President Bill Clinton, lieutenant governor candidate Gavin Newsom and candidate for governor Jerry Brown all took center stage to talk to the audience about the upcoming midterm election.
Clinton urged young voters in particular to make their voices heard through social networking and to make it to the polls Nov. 2 in order to change the direction of California.
"Your future will be brightened, unless you stay home and the other party wins the Congress," Clinton said.
Newsom told the audience that the Democrats need to change the way business is done on Capitol Hill in order to fix the economy.
"You have got to be open to argument, you've got to be interested in evidence and you have to be in the business of getting things done," Newsom said.
Brown talked about the difference between him and his opponenet, Meg Whitman, comparing her political experience to a blank resume.
"She wants to start at the top," Brown said of Whitman. "Well, if you went in to any business in America and said 'here's my resume, it's blank,' they wouldn't even hire you for one of the bottom positions."
He was also critical of Whitman's campaign spending.
"Nobody has ever spent so much money to run for governor in the history of America," Brown said. "Since the revolution, nobody ever thought that they could spend $170 million, which is what she's spending."
Also, when trying to appeal to the college campus, Clinton urged young voters to use social networking sites such as Facebook and YouTube in order to give more attention to the election and the issues surrounding it.
He also talked about the recently passed student loan law, which helps ease the process of paying back government-issued loans and grants, so that bankruptcy is far less likely.
"You can change the outcome of the congressional elections in America from this campus if you use the social networks and tell the young people of the country what is in the student loan law, and that the Republicans have promised to repeal it," Clinton said. "This will change life forever for your generation. But you have to care enough to show up and vote to keep it."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discussed strategies for a successful Afghanistan and details of peace talks between government officials and the Taliban when she spoke at the Marriott Hotel in downtown San Francisco Oct. 15.
Climate One, an organization of the Commonwealth Club of California, hosted the sold out event.
"It is a very different environment for all the obvious reasons," Clinton said of Afghanistan. "But it is not a hopeless one and not a failing environment. It is one that has a lot of challenges that are inherent that have to be dealt with."
The crowd applauded and shouted as Clinton took the stage.
"This is the biggest speaker we have ever had," said Eva Moss of Climate One. "I think she's bigger than when George W. Bush was here."
However, the admiration in the room did not shield Clinton from addressing tough questions posed by the moderator and audience.
"Afghanistan is a place where the United States is trying to promote economic development and democracy," said Greg Dalton, founder of Climate One and moderator of the event. "How do you define success in Afghanistan?"
The question came days after Afghan President Hamid Karzai confirmed that his country's government had engaged in informal peace talks with Taliban representatives.
"I define it as a stable country that is able to defend itself and is making progress toward institutionalizing democracy and better services for the people," Clinton said. "In order to get to that we have to work with the Afghan government to build up their own security forces."
Clinton commented that there has been little progress in Afghanistan but there has been enough progress to see a positive path. The Afghan-led peace talks are being performed in a dual track strategy of reintegration and reconciliation, Clinton said.
"We have agreed upon red lines and there are two tracks to that," Clinton said.
Reintegration, Clinton said, has largely to do with reintegrating young men from the Taliban battlefields into law-abiding citizens of Afghanistan.
"These are mostly young men who were either intimidated into joining the Taliban or chose to do so through family or village pressure or because it was a way to make a living," Clinton said.
The Taliban has a high salary that can rarely be met elsewhere, Clinton said, so the government raised the pay of those who join the police force and the Afghan army.
"If they are willing to leave the battlefield, renounce violence, renounce any connection to Al Qaeda, and agree to abide by the constitution and laws of Afghanistan we will help facilitate their reintegration," Clinton said.
Also, Clinton noted that many Taliban leaders live in Pakistan, therefore requiring the cooperation of the Pakistani government.
"Many of the sanctuaries for the Taliban in Pakistan is where the planning and the organization and the direction and the coordination with Al Qaeda continues," Clinton Said.
Clinton said the U.S. government has been working much more intensely with the Pakistani government to ensure safety.
"We've made it very clear to them that we want a different relationship but we expect their assistance in going after not just the Pakistani Taliban that threatened them, but the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani network and Al Qaeda which threatens us," Clinton said.
You've probably heard that old saying, "why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?" Well, besides being completely outdated (unless you regularly barter in cows and chickens), this saying rings true. As a college student, there aren't a lot of ways to cut corners financially and get the preverbal milk for free. Luckily, the tides are shifting in our favor.
The SF State bookstore is now offering students the opportunity to rent textbooks instead of dolling out hard earned cash. According to the SFSU bookstore's website, the cost to rent them can save students 75% of their normal cost to purchase textbooks.
I'd venture to say that most college students have the same experience with textbooks that I have every semester. I gather every syllabus I have from my classes and compare prices on the books required. Sometimes I ask former students whether they have a copy lying around or if they even recommend buying the book. College students are a little masochistic in this way; we'll forgo buying "required" texts to save a little cash, but in return spend the remaining semester hoping to all hell that the text is never actually needed. God help you if there's a book check, research paper due or that you are just, well, not able to bullshit your way out of a paper bag.
Once I've bought my books, it's really a toss up whether I read any part of a single book, half of it, a page or none of it at all. It's aggravating at the end of the semester to know that you paid $50 for a book you never read, or read and despised and yet, after standing in line to sell it back, you leave with $2.50 in your pocket. Hey, you know it's true.
I love books, don't get me wrong. But I resent the investment when it's something I know I will never read again...or worse, never read in the first place.
The convenience factor on renting textbooks seems superior to the usual runaround. It takes time and energy to compare prices on books, check the editions, and after that, you end up ordering from three different places just to invest in pages you may never even touch after that particular semester.
Renting course textbooks is the perfect way to solve this problem.
Textbooks can be rented online and are shipped to the address you provide. The database is open to searching for books, and they have a pretty wide variety. You pick the rental term and you are charged accordingly. When your rental term is up or when you are done with the books, you are given a UPS prepaid label to send them back with. No shipping fee is charged unless you need an express delivery.
The company that is backing this project is BookRenter.com and they promote a green lifestyle. They associate themselves with the recycling industry because they are reusing paper and materials.
Not only can you save money, you can save the environment. If that's not a win/win, I don't know what is.
Until next time...
The SF State community is very familiar with Parkmerced. It's a major and important entity to the lives of students and faculty. As a result of their now approved $1.2 billion redeveloping of the complex, there are many questions as to what this project will finally look like and what it will mean for the area as a whole. One major question is how the new complex will take advantage of the advancements in green architecture and transit-oriented development (i.e., bikes and Muni). While in my last post, I talked about the big picture of Parkmerced's development and aid to help stall urban sprawl, this post I am going to show some of the sustainable practices Parkmerced plans to develop.
A gallery of some of the planned sustainability implementations for Parkmerced.
Of course, while all of these plans sound great, Parkmerced doesn't plan to finish until 20 years from now. Also, while Parkmerced released a study of resident concerns, it's hard to tell if the survey they did[pdf] truly reflects the neighborhood (off the polled group, 43 percent didn't respond). Past "green" redevelopment projects in San Francisco have received flack from city agencies, like the Planning Commission, and activists for not addressing the concerns of the existing community (See SFGate's story on Lennar Corp.'s Bayview-Hunter's Point project. Furthermore, [X]press recent published a story on current resident discontentment of mismanagement and conditions in their apartments.
Only time will tell how these developments build a better community and encourage sustainable and greener living. Check the blog 20 years from now.
Also, sound off in the comments about your thoughts on Parkmerced's plans? Do you want them? Do you think they'll work? Let me know!
The Latino community expressed concern Oct. 13 towards The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's funding inequalities toward HIV/AIDS prevention for Latinos, a group hit hard by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Latinos made up 15 percent of the U.S. population in 2009, they accounted for 17 percent of new HIV/AIDS cases, according to the CDC.
The forum, hosted by the LGBT Community Center, stressed the need for action on the national level and the need to put Latino HIV prevention at the forefront.
"We've been shortchanged a whole lot," said Eduardo Morales, executive director of Aguilas, the Bay Area's largest Latino LGBT organization and organizer of the town meeting. "We can't afford our Latinos' lack of trust and confidence in our health department."
Aguilas hasn't received CDC funding for the last several rounds of disbursement, which come every five years.
For 2010-15, the CDC is dividing $42 million among 133 HIV/AIDS organizations for prevention programs and outreach.
Bienestar, located in Los Angeles, is the only Latino-focused organization on the West Coast directly receiving CDC funding.
"To hear the news that there is a disproportion of funding for the Latino community is unfortunate," said State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco.
District nine Supervisor David Campos called CDC's funding choices "nothing short of unethical."
The CDC classifies Latino men who have sex with men as a high-risk group because they account for 78 percent of HIV transmissions within the Latino community.
But Morales said the CDC's statements about Latinos as a priority don't reflect their actions toward funding for the impacted minority group.
"The rate of infections for Latino men is twice than that of white men," Leno said.
Although no Latino-focused organizations in San Francisco, such as Instituto Familia de la Raza or Aguilas, are receiving CDC money, three general HIV/AIDS organizations - The Stop AIDS Project, Larkin Street Youth Services, and Asian and Pacific Islander Wellness Center - will receive some of the $42 million.
The Latino organizations may not get CDC funds because they do not meet certain criteria, said Armando Hernandez, HIV program manager at Instituto Familiar de la Raza, a non-profit Latino health organization in San Francisco.
CDC funding is very specific because it requires the money to be spent on certain programs from a list of approved strategies that have proven effective.
"The great majority of (these prevention strategies) have not been developed for Latinos," he said.
Effective HIV prevention for Latinos should focus on creating community support systems, instead of solely focusing on individual reduction risks, like using condoms, Hernandez said.
"You need to provide prevention that really addresses the dilemmas that they face," Morales said. "They are an invisible group. They aren't easy to do outreach to locate and identify."
Reasons for their silence include social oppression, isolation or feelings of discrimination, Morales said. Language barriers, immigration status, and shame of being gay can also make Latinos reluctant to seek out services.
"Yes, there's racism and homophobia," said Andrew Jolivette, an ethnic studies professor at SF State who has taught a class called "AIDS and People of Color".
"But within the (Latino) community, if you will, there's a very interesting machismo function," he said.
This oppression can lead to disempowerment and silence, which makes individuals less likely to act in their best intentions, increasing their chances of contracting HIV, Jolivette said.
Hernandez said he would like to see more community events working with families in order to create a support network for the people experiencing isolation.
Morales is launching a letter-writing campaign to President Obama, asking the administration to pressure the CDC to increase funding for Latino organizations and launch an investigation into their budget details.
"We want the CDC audited to find out how they're spending their money," Morales said.
Frankie Ninja, a member of Aguilas, said community discussion is good but people have to actually put the pen to paper when the meeting is over.
"We are the solution, if you put it into action," he said.
A new feature has been added to the restrooms being renovated in the Cesar Chavez
Student Center, geared towards facilitating Muslim students as they prepare for
Foot baths are being installed, along with a separate unisex stall, as the Student
Governing Board attempts to make the bathrooms more inclusive, according to
Edina Bajraktarevic, the Retail/Commercial Sales Manager for the building.
"I didn't know they were installing this (foot baths) and it's very good news," said
Danial Shaheaz, the president of the SF State Muslim Students Association.
As Shaheaz explained, a need for such a facility has existed for years, as practicing
Muslim students cleanse their body before each of their five daily prayers.
Most Muslim students have resorted to using water bottles to cleanse their feet, or
the more flexible ones have been using restroom sinks on campus.
"Sometimes the janitors have a rough time with us because water drips from our
hands and feet and leaves a mess."
Though they have worked around those obstacles, the process has been less than
ideal and awkward at times, according to Shaheaz.
"A lot of us have our foot in the sinks and people are like 'What the hell are you
doing? This is ridiculous, we spit in there...' Its kind of awkward for us too, but we
are required to do it so we don't think twice about it. We're very thankful now that
they have installed this for us for our main use."
For the most part, the awkward foot washing has created awareness about
"It's a good form of Islamic awareness even without them (the sinks), because people
question what you are doing. Then we have the opportunity to explain them," said
I asked Shaheaz if he was worried about getting any negative attention or
comments, based on the archive of sharpie-drawn xenophobic and racist comments
that existed on the stalls before the renovation. He doesn't believe students washing
their feet will be targets at all.
"If they don't put a chalkboard (directly over the foot baths) it's all good," he said
with a chuckle.
- Andrés Rico
SAN RAFAEL, Calif. --- Gubernatorial candidates Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown sparred over endorsements, immigration and the recent controversies that have consumed the media when they met in Angelico Hall at Dominican University Tuesday evening for their final debate.
Whitman, who has spent $120 million of her own money on her campaign, spoke of the advantages of funding herself.
"The ability to invest my own money does allow me independence," she said.
A kind of independence, Whitman suggested, her opponent does not have.
Whitman made several comments concerning the supposed unethical relationship between Brown and union workers that have backed the Democratic nominee. Just before the debate took place, union workers of California demonstrated outside Angelico Hall yelling above all other chants, "Vote for Jerry!"
"I think he's saying he has the police chiefs in his back pocket," Whitman said.
However, Brown also accused Whitman of developing an economic plan with her endorsers.
"She's raised $30 million from corporate executives," Brown said.
Those corporate executives, Brown said, support Whitman's economic plan that would take funding away from education.
The topic of immigration reform was also contentious.
"If you couldn't find someone in your home who was undocumented or illegal, how do you expect businesses to do it?" moderator Tom Brokaw asked Whitman.
Brokaw alluded to Nicky Diaz, Whitman's former housekeeper who was recently exposed as an undocumented worker.
"We have to hold employers accountable," Whitman answered.
She went on to say that California is in need of stricter border control and the elimination of sanctuary cities. Brown suggested that the topic of immigration should be discussed as a political and human issue.
The issue that solicited the most reaction from the debate was the incident of Brown's aide alluding to Whitman as a "whore".
Brown apologized for the comment but Whitman made it clear that this was not enough.
"I was stunned by Attorney General Brown's insensitivity about what that word means to women," Whitman said following the debate.
Brokaw said the word "whore" is to women what the "N-word" is to African Americans. When Brown disagreed, he incited a strong response from Whitman.
"The fact that you are defending your campaign for a slur is not befitting of California," Whitman said.
After the debate, Brown said the comments were minimal compared to Whitman's actions toward Diaz, when she claimed she did not know Diaz then retracted the statement and followed with an accusation that she stole Whitman's mail.
"That was not a word, that was an action," Brown said.
Kindergartners in San Francisco received a unique gift from Mayor Gavin Newsom, city supervisors and several philanthropic organizations with the launch of Kindergarten to College Oct. 5 at Sanchez Elementary School.
With help from San Francisco and various city and national programs, the plan will open a savings account for families in their child's name upon beginning kindergarten.
"There's no better long-term investment we can make as a city than helping our kids go to college," Newsom said. "Kindergarten to College will provide working families with the financial tools to turn a college education for their child from a distant dream to a practical reality."
Under financing from San Francisco and Citibank, which will create the savings accounts, every child in a kindergarten class in San Francisco public schools will receive an account and $50 from the city.
Children in lower-income families are eligible for an additional $50.
San Francisco has set aside $250,000 to fund the program, but its first year will only cover 25 percent of the roughly 5,000 kindergartners citywide, including those at Sanchez.
Sanchez is one of 18 public schools in San Francisco that will benefit from the plan this school year.
All 75 elementary schools are expected to join the program by the 2012-2013 school year.
The majority of schools participating this year are in primarily low-income neighborhoods and include Excelsior's Guadalupe Elementary and Bayview's Malcolm X Elementary.
"The only way districts are successful is when it is backed fully from the city. Every single course in our district will prepare these students for college," said Carlos Garcia superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District, referring to the recently mandated A-G graduation requirements for high school students in the district. "This is like frosting on the cake."
K2C, first announced by Newsom in September 2009, is the first program of its kind in the U.S. It is modeled after United Kingdom's Child Trust Fund which provides a £250 ($400) payment to every child born after Sept. 1, 2002 to fund their university education.
"We know that it's a challenge to build a savings account," said Bob Annibale, global director of Citi Community Development. "We are committed to working with the city of San Francisco to put in place a program that will help students in San Francisco achieve a college degree."
Annibale referenced a 10-year study by the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis that found children with savings accounts were seven times more likely to attend college than those who didn't save.
"In California, only 10 percent of Latinos and 22 percent of blacks have a college degree. We need to make it clear to these kids that in the land of opportunity, opportunity is available," Supervisor David Campos said.
Kindergartners at Sanchez Elementary, a school with a predominantly Hispanic student body, reflect a key point made in a speech made by San Francisco City Treasurer Jose Cisneros.
"One in two children born to African American and Latino families in San Francisco are born into a family with no savings or assets of any kind," Cisneros said. "Additionally, only one-tenth of children in low-income families will graduate college. With this program, even $5 to $10 a month will make a big difference by the time a child graduates high school."
Other participating programs include the Corporation for Enterprise Development, the San Francisco Foundation and EARN, a San Francisco-based non-profit which helps low-income families achieve financial prosperity.
"We have seen the power of incentive and with the right tools and incentives, low-income families can and do save," said EARN President and CEO Ben Mangan.
EARN announced it will match savings made by families participating in the program up to $100. The San Francisco Foundation said it would also match deposits.
Julissa Cruz, whose daughter Ingrid Lopez is a kindergartner at Sanchez, was excited to hear the news.
"It is wonderful to be thinking ahead," said Cruz through an interpreter. "Thank you for creating this program."
It is not yet known whether families who save money will be able to offset the relatively high cost of college.
The U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics revealed that two-thirds of all university undergraduates in the 2007-2008 term received some form of financial aid.
However, those students may choose to attend junior college or a publicly assisted university like SF State, where, according to the school website, about half of the undergraduate student body requires financial aid, a figure that is lower than the national average.
"This is a huge experiment and it's not going to be easy but the city has figured a way to make it easy," said CFED founder Robert Friedman. "San Francisco will be first, but not the last to encourage financial empowerment."
In preparation for the upcoming Creative Arts Center, a utilities extension project valued at $4.5 million and funded by the California State University Chancellor's Office is scheduled to begin Oct. 21 and end in the summer of 2011.
The project is the first of three phases in the building of a new arts center, planned to stand at the intersections of Font and Lake Merced Boulevards.
"The new building (will be) sited at this prominent location to improve the public presence of the University and gateway to the campus," said SF State campus planner Wendy Bloom.
Construction will include the installation of utility lines that will provide electric power, water, gas and telecommunications to the building. In addition, the University's website said the project will relocate a city sanitary sewer and storm drain line to accommodate the new center.
This extension of utilities will take place in the south area of the Village at Centennial Square, north and south of Humanities and along portions of Tapia Drive, Font and Lake Merced Boulevards.
Bloom said the utility lines are scheduled to be installed incrementally to minimize disruption to students, faculty, staff and the public.
"Work on Centennial Walk, which is a center of pedestrian activity, will take place during winter break when most students and faculty are away," she said.
During construction, some building entrances, as well as traffic and parking lanes in the project area will be closed temporarily. Project updates will be posted regularly on Twitter and to the Capital Planning and Disability Programs and Resources Center websites.
The construction of a new arts center is part of the final 2007-2020 SF State Campus Master Plan, which was approved by the CSU Board of Trustees in November 2007. Once completed, the new building will provide a total of 240,697 gross square feet.
According to the SF State website, the 2007-2020 campus master plan "employs a number of projects that contribute to the sustainability of the campus and the surrounding district."
Projects within the plan include increased campus housing, emphasis on alternative transportation and natural storm water management.
Bloom said the existing building has deficiencies that make it more cost effective to rebuild rather than renovate.
"Our current rehearsal spaces are far from ideal acoustically and often double as classrooms and storage areas," said SF State piano professor Victoria Neve.
Once the new building is completed, Bloom said the existing center would be demolished to create a site for future replacement academic buildings.
"I hope the (new center) will lead to more hands-on classes," said Christian Estrada, a 24-year-old BECA major who is completing his last semester at the University.
According to Bloom, the new center will include a 1,200-seat theater and orchestral hall, 450-seat theater, 300-seat music recital hall, Black Box Theater, television and radio broadcast studios, classrooms and workshops.
"Having new and more up-to-date performance venues will provide a more inviting environment to our performers and our audiences," Neve said.
Most would agree that dealing with the police is far from fun.
With this in mind, the SF State chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy hosted an event they hoped would teach students and community members how to assert their rights when dealing with law enforcement, or "put on a legal condom" as they put it.
The event, called Know Your Rights, was held Oct. 6 in room 108 of the Humanities building and featured a free screening of "10 Rules for Dealing with Cops," a documentary by educational nonprofit Flex Your Rights. The film aims to teach everyday people how to properly handle police encounters.
"It shows you how to just be confident and know what you should and should not do," said Marisa Soski, a 19-year-old biology major at SF State.
Soski and many other students at the event said they thought knowing how to properly handle a police encounter was something college students need to learn.
"It's not about coming to the event, it's about spreading the knowledge and having students be informed so we're not taken advantage of because we're so young," Soski said.
The demonstrations stressed that in most cases the police have no right to search an individual or their vehicle without his or her consent and urged citizens to assert their rights by saying, "I do not consent to a search."
"Students do not have enough experience dealing with police," said Joshua Nermon, a 22-year-old business major and president of the SF State chapter of SSDP. "Some officers are actually looking to get people incarcerated and give them tickets."
A Q&A session with James C. Clark, a Bay Area attorney who focuses primarily on medicinal marijuana cases and has co-authored two ballot measures to reform marijuana law, followed the documentary.
He believes this film and others like it are extremely useful in that they give viewers practical methods for dealing with the law which can be applied to real-life situations where heightened emotions can lead to self-incrimination.
"When you're scared and in a situation like that where you're unsure and don't know what's happening, the easiest thing is to defer to the authority," Clark said. "The authority says, 'do what I tell you,' and usually that is to make their job easier in busting you or someone you're close to."
Clark and the event's organizers hope to make the public aware of the constitutional rights they can invoke during run-ins with the law, such as declining to be searched, declining to answer questions without a lawyer present and asking an officer whether they're being detained or free to go.
"Students are the most vulnerable in the group of people who encounter police through situations such as possession and underage drinking," Nermon said.
Though the SF State chapter of SSDP has only been around since last semester, there are more than 125 chapters throughout the U.S. and Canada that have been active since 1999.
According to Sam Sager, 20, a sociology major at SF State and the event's coordinator, the campus chapter of SSDP's goal is to change drug policies.
"We work with policy on campus as well as the country," Sager said. "We have a petition right now for equalizing the penalties for alcohol and marijuana on campus."
Currently, SF State maintains a policy that mandates a student caught drinking in campus housing be given three strikes before expulsion. However, a student caught in possession of marijuana can be expelled after only one offense.
Sager and the SSDP see their petition as the first step toward equalizing the penalties, although they do not wish to make drugs an acceptable part of campus life.
"We're not an advocate of drugs by any means, we just see how our current drug policies are affecting the citizens of the nation and if it was helping them we'd leave it alone, but it's obviously not. There's something not right here," Nermon said.
Eight candidates vying for the District 10 supervisor seat addressed the need for job creation in Asian American and African American communities when they spoke before an Asian American studies class Sept. 12 in Burk Hall.
"The purpose of organizing this panel was that the demographic of District 10 is always changing," said Grace Yoo, the professor for Asian American Communities: Changes and Development, which hosted the forum." We really wanted to highlight that. We wanted to hold the District 10 candidates to that."
Chris Jackson, one of 21 people running for the District 10 seat, gave the most impassioned speech about the need to create employment opportunities in conjunction with education. The average District 10 resident reads at a seventh grade level, the former SF State student said.
"If you're a youth and you don't see that there is a lot of jobs in your community, why would you go to school?" Jackson said. "We have to intensify jobs so it's more affordable to go to school than slinging rock on the street."
Because of the issues facing the working class in District 10, each of the candidates' five-minute speeches focused on race.
Asian Americans and African Americans make up more than 60 percent of the population, according to a 2003 study by the California Urban Issues Project, a San Francisco organization that focuses on the city's quality of life.
And as such, each candidate acknowledged that District 10, which includes the neighborhoods of Potrero Hill, Visitacion Valley, and Bayview-Hunters Point, has major issues concerning diversity.
"In everyone of these neighborhoods (in District 10) race is an issue," said Steve Moss, who has taught classes in the University's urban studies department. "Throughout Bayview and (Visitacion) Valley, frankly gay guys are moving in, Latinos are moving in, Asian Americans are moving in, in what is historically an African American neighborhood and that is causing people some distress."
Meanwhile, Marlene Tran, who has spent more than 35 years as a San Francisco educator, stressed her value to the district because of her multilingualism. Tran - who speaks English, Vietnamese, Cantonese and Mandarin - vowed to have employers translate job applications, signs and descriptions.
"Whatever's posted outside of businesses in District 10 is in English only," Tran said. "What good is it in places like Visitacion Valley, which is 60 percent Asian and many of them speak limited English?"
Even though the candidates stressed race, once the nearly 35 audience members - most of whom were students in the class - had the chance to ask questions, jobs, the economy, crime and education took center stage.
"Everybody says there are all these problems in District 10, which there are," Moss said. "But behind every single problem, there is a fantastic solution. They say the streets aren't safe and full of garbage. Well, there's an opportunity for someone to pick up garbage and patrol the streets and make them safer."
Yet, Tony Kelly, a resident of Potrero Hill since 1994 and the founder of the Thick Description Theater Company, wants the city to prioritize a larger portion of the budget to District 10.
"I think city hall doesn't care about District 10," candidate Tony Kelly said. "We need to make the right choice about a supervisor to change that."
Other than Jackson, Tran, Moss and Kelly, the other present candidates for the District 10 seat were Kristine Enea, Dewitt Lacy, Eric Smith and Lynette Sweet.
As the forum, which lasted from 9:35 to 10:50, ended and the students began to disperse, Sweet brought it back to race,
"The best candidate does not necessarily have to look just like you," Sweet said to the predominantly Asian students. "You want leadership, you want representation, you want people that will get things done. We all bring something to the table that's quite unique."
Let's face it, shit happens. Whether you've been involved in a run-in with police or just a crappy landlord, legal advice can be a necessity. It can be a scary thing for someone with a limited budget.
Luckily, SF State has the Legal Resource Center. It's located in the Cesar Chavez Center on the second floor, room M-113A. And hey, take advantage of it because, guess what, you already paid for it! Forty-two of your tuition dollars goes to fund the Associated Students Inc., which consists of the LRC and eight other programs.
The center itself is run by students who are employed by the campus. Because of this, the center has been affected by the budget cuts (BOO!), which has resulted in their hours varying slightly; they are generally open between 12-5, Monday through Friday.
All the students employed at the center have completed Counseling 630, which covers traffic violations, landlord and tenant law, small claims, immigration law and many more legal areas. They are qualified to answer most general law questions. They also have other resources they can refer you to, as well as a variable law library at their midst.
When you come in, the first thing they will have you do is sign a liability waiver stating that the students working are not licensed attorneys. This covers their ass while informing you that, even though they are a valuable resource, the center is not the same as hiring a personal attorney to represent you. Keep that in mind.
If you have any documents or physical copies of violations, bring them with you.
Once they assess what kind of legal advice you may need, you will either talk it through with a student or make an appointment with one of the two attorneys that work there. They have a new attorney come in every week to work on the criminal defense cases; this includes drug possession, DUI's, bar fights, etc. and it is a free service.
The ONE real drawback is that if you come in to talk about a felony, you will be turned away. They can refer you to attorneys that you can hire independently, but that's about it.
In addition to personal counseling, they hold three different workshops on campus. One of these is coming up on Tuesday, Oct. 12 from 2:30-4:20 p.m. in room T-160. Titled FREE LSAT PREP with Nathan Fox, this workshop focuses on logic games. Nathan Fox is known for getting a 179 out of 180 on the LSAT, so I guess if anyone could whip you into shape, it would be him.
PLUS, if you have little to no interest in the workshop topic...they serve FREE pizza!
Until next time...
To be green in San Francisco is much more of a trend than a true way of life. That said, many residents are taking it upon themselves to actually live out a sustainable life. A few weeks ago, San Franciscans celebrated Park(ing) Day, "an annual, worldwide event that inspires city dwellers everywhere to transform metered parking spots into temporary parks for the public good," according to the official website.
Attendees interviewed in the [X]press story about the event talked about how they wanted less parking and more growing throughout the city. The sentiment extends beyond San Francisco residents, as several city agencies helped create the Pavement to Parks initiative, transforming derelict urban areas into temporary parks. The latest installation, a permanent one at that, is almost completed in the Crocker-Amazon/Excelsior neighborhoods on Naples Avenue between Geneva Avenue and Rolph Street.
This is all to say that San Francisco is trying to lessen it's carbon foot print by eliminating urban sprawl, or the creation of auto-dependent areas. And it looks like it's working. According to CEO for Cities, an urban and civic design think-tank, of the 186 hours Bay Area drivers spend in traffic, only four of those hours are due to urban sprawl. And considering Muni lines are running again and the city is trying to push more bike use, it looks like being "green" in San Francisco is becoming a way of life.
Park Merced is already catching up on encouraging a healthier, greener lifestyle with its proposed 20 year plan. The plan proposes bike routes, rerouting the M-Line MUNI car and reduction in energy and water waste per unit, hoping to make Park Merced "one of America's first net-zero carbon communities," according to the Park Merced Vision website. Considering, Park Merced's massive student residency and proximity to SF State, this could be a welcome change to the students attending the university. Too bad I won't be able to experience these changes unless I hold myself from graduating or become a professor and move next door (not a chance).
With the gubernatorial election looming less than a month away, hundreds of students, activists, faculty and other advocates of various causes turned out to rally in support of a united working class at SF State in front of the ethnic studies building Oct. 7.
The event, which was organized by the on-campus organization Student Unity and Power in conjunction with the International Socialist Organization, featured speakers advocating for a wide range of causes under the umbrella idea of uniting students, faculty and working class people together to fight for various issues on social justice.
"A fight for education also means a fight for the working class in general," said Jamal Jones, SUP member and event coordinator. "We need to elevate this beyond being student-centric."
Attendance at the event fluctuated throughout the early afternoon and swelled to more than 200 people at its peak.
Many of the speakers focused primarily on the education system, budget issues and the gentrification of SF State.
"A lot of working class people who are primarily black and brown are disappearing from this school because tuition continues to go up," Jones, 22, said. "It works out that black and brown people are usually of low incomes, so the school is getting a larger middle class character.
Though the event was organized and run by students with the general objective of getting students involved through education issues, each speaker brought up a different aspect of the discussion, cause, measure, or proposition on the upcoming ballot -- speakers voiced opposition to the sit/lie ordinance, Muni reforms, and the University's expansion and long-term development plan.
"(The University is) putting money into the downtown extension of the business center, and they're putting money into buying apartments in Park Merced," said Steve Zeltzer, representative from United Public Workers for Action. "They have money for what they want but at the same time they're raising the fees for the students. Young people want to have a future and they have a right to have an education. Right now, a lot of young people do not have that right."
The rally featured politically charged spoken-word poetry and even a ukulele-driven protest song. The SUP and ISO also registered people to vote. Opponents of Propositions L, G and B, tabled and actively promoted their agendas at the event as well.
But the speaker that drew the most attention by far was Cephus Johnson, affectionately known as "Uncle Bobby," uncle of Oscar Grant, who was killed by a BART police officer in a high-profile incident earlier this year.
"To be able to come here and convey a message from my experience of how the system has let us down brings the reality to other students that we're all Oscar Grant in a sense," Johnson, 52, said. "The system is by design taking away our education and the funding that we need for schooling and putting it more into prisons, which thereby opens the door for more Oscar Grants to either die or be locked up."
After an hour and a half of scheduled speakers, students and faculty voiced their own opinions.
"It's necessary for students and college campuses to have these events," said 20-year-old City College of San Francisco student Kilani Villiaros. "This is an important day, a statewide day of action, (and) I thought it was a good assemblage of speakers all representing different issues that are connected."
This semester, Andrés Rico will be blogging about all things broke and unsafe at SF State.
If you're a guy and you haven't noticed the big bathroom in the Cesar Chavez
Student Center is out of commission, --please let me know where to go about my
business without having to wait in line. If you are a woman, for now you are safe,
but bathroom changes in the building are about to affect you as well.
For the first time in 35 years, the restrooms in the Cesar Chavez Student Center are
being renovated. Though the past years have seen the installation of touch less
sinks (quickly replaced with normal ones) and automatic paper towel dispensers, it
seems the building management is doing a complete overhaul.
The project, in progress since the beginning of this semester, will cost $176,000 for
the men's room and $154,000 for the women's room, according to Guy
Dalpe, the managing director of the building.
The new men's room is set to be finished by the end of October, at which time, it
will be opened to women, while the renovation project starts on their old bathroom.
The estimated time of completion for the women's bathroom is the end of January
The renovation includes the installation of a separate unisex single occupant
bathroom adjacent to the entrances of both the women's and men's bathrooms.
Until next semester, I'll continue to search for a convenient spot that won't get me in
trouble for taking too long with my boss or with my bladder.
Nightclub owners, music fans and political leaders were among hundreds who gathered at Yoshi's Jazz Club on Sept. 27 as part of an advocacy campaign to promote and protect the City's local music scene.
Hosted by the Recording Academy and the California Culture and Arts Association, the forum gave the music community a chance to ask 12 supervisor candidates from Districts 6, 8 and 10 about their views on nightlife violence.
Apart from the City's Entertainment Commission, which mainly deals with granting venue permits, there is no unified political representation for the music industry.
Director of the Recording Academy's San Francisco chapter, Chris Wiltsee, believes the city's nightlife is threatened without a strong voice at City Hall. In order to unite the music community, he created the San Francisco Music Awareness Campaign.
His campaign started in response to City Hall's proposals to create stricter nightlife regulations after a surge of fatal nightclub-related shootings outside venues including Suede, Jelly's and the Regency Ballroom.
Supervisor David Chiu introduced an ordinance that would require all event promoters to register with the city and undergo criminal background checks.
Mayor Gavin Newsom is working with Chiu's office to draft tighter security laws to include more video surveillance and door security.
"We, as a city, should be ashamed if we can't make it safe to go out," said District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty.
Wiltsee voiced concerns over legislation that targets the entire nightlife community, saying these laws could discourage promoters from holding events in the city.
"Venues in a tough economy are trying to stay in business," he said, and shouldn't have to deal with "over-regulatory" measures.
"We need better practices, not laws," said District 10 candidate Tony Kelly, who suggested "community policing" as a way to curb violence.
Dufty stressed the need for law enforcement in particular to act with "sensitivity" toward nightlife in order to "understand what it's all about."
"The music industry is already exploited by police and record companies," Dufty said, adding that it is wrong "when people put the ills of society on going out."
Vilifying the entire music community because of a few bad actors is not the way to go, Dufty said.
"I know I'm not the queen on nightlife," he said, referring to his reputation as "the one who killed Halloween" in the Castro neighborhood.
Along with protecting nightlife, Wiltsee wants to raise awareness about the music industry.
"It often goes unrecognized that San Francisco is the fourth-largest music industry in the nation," he said.
There is no official data on how much revenue music and entertainment events generate in the city, according to Jocelyn Kane, executive director of the San Francisco Entertainment Commission.
The Recording Academy-SF partnered with SF State's Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts department chair, Scott Patterson, to conduct a nightlife study about what drives this scene.
The report will look at the number of venues, shows and revenue generated by clubs in order to give music professionals the right information to make policy recommendations to City Hall.
Wiltsee said the candidate forum and nightlife report are the first of many steps to nurture the local music scene.
"To commune with people who enjoy the same type of music is essential," Dufty said. "We live in a world where people are so disconnected. We need these events for people to plug in."
Tenants Together, a statewide organization that promotes the rights of tenants, announced the release of the Landlord Hall of Shame on its website Sept. 23. The organization hopes the list will expose nefarious landlords and inspire them to improve living conditions and provide basic rights for paying tenants.
"The idea is to collectively shine the public spotlight upon unfair landlords and place them under public scrutiny," said Gabe Treves, program coordinator for Tenants Together, based in San Francisco. "A lot of tenants feel voiceless and launching the program empowers the affected tenants to stand up for themselves, assert their rights and engage city regulators to fix whatever problems arise."
The list has gained support from key tenant-based organizations like the San Francisco Tenants Union.
"It's a very good thing for tenants," said Ted Gullicksen, executive director of the San Francisco Tenants Union. "There never was a statewide organization for tenants and this list they have is a better way to get the voices heard of current tenant organizations no matter where they are."
Some common problems tenants face in San Francisco are filthy or undesirable living conditions, harassment from landlords and eviction without being notified. According to the Tenants Union, Owner Move In evictions (when a landlord occupies a tenant's room without notification) are routinely abused by landlords, despite the passing of Proposition M in 2008, which prohibits such actions.
"Tenants have every right to an advocacy group, but they must also consider the rights of the person controlling the building," said Executive Director of the San Francisco Rent Board Delene Wolf.
The San Francisco Apartment Association does not support the list and would rather work to improve the landlord-tenant relationship in more constructive ways.
"Instead of creating more adversity and conflict between owners and tenants through lists denigrating one of the two groups, we seek to highlight the positive ways these two groups can work together for the maximum benefit of both parties," said Charley Goss, SFAA community relations coordinator in an email. "We are here to make the landlord aware not only of his rights while managing his property, but also the responsibilities and obligations he has. It is through advising landlords exactly as to what their obligations are that we work to foster a healthy and hospitable landlord/tenant relationship in which the tenant can enjoy their unit and the landlord can manage their investment profitably."
Tenants Together compiled a list of suggested Hall of Shame nominees in San Francisco based on complaints from tenants. The city's top three offenders were developers Laramar Group, Zanco Properties and Stellar Management.
Rogelio Foronda Jr., project coordinator for Stellar Management, whose properties include the SF-State-adjacent Parkmerced, declined to comment on the matter.
Both current and former residents of Parkmerced, a sprawling, suburban complex popular with students and families, have voiced their opinions about living conditions there.
William Sayin, 22, an anthropology major and former resident of the Parkmerced complex, recalled his experience there.
"I'm so glad I don't live there anymore," said Sayin, who moved out in 2007. "I remember mold being on the walls and they (the management) would come by and say it was going to be fixed. But they never came around. I was not going to pay all of that money to not have management listen to me. Tenants should definitely have a greater say when talking to their landlords."
Three years later, residents continue to voice similar complaints.
"It's very dirty," said current resident Jesus Pena, 18, a cinema major. "A lot of the time, there's trash in the hallways and it can be days before anybody comes to clean it up. That and there aren't enough washing machines for all the people that live here."
For some tenants, the experience of living at Parkmerced has been a positive one.
"I like Parkmerced. It's close to school and the people who work here are very nice," said anthropology major Michelle Smith, 22.
"As a tenant, sure, me and my roommates would love to have more of a say in things," Pena said. "I think the (Landlord Hall of Shame) is a great idea. I don't hate living here, but things could always be better."
Ana Ramirez lives in a garage in the Excelsior with her sons and husband.
The ceilings loom just seven feet overhead. Her sons, all under age 16, inhale particles of fiberglass from the exposed insulation on a daily basis, evoking a hacking cough.
There is one window, but it causes the rain to flood her bedroom and ruin the carpet.
This year, Ramirez's landlord is refusing to make any repairs to the three-room crawlspace and is evicting her family without any guarantee her deposit will be returned.
Ramirez cannot afford the expense of a new apartment. She is undocumented, can only apply for food stamps and has relied for 11 years solely on her husband's part time $14 wage at a bakery.
The final straw came last week when her landlord broke through her back door and shut down her 7-year-old son's birthday party.
"I feel bad because I don't celebrate my kid's birthday or nothing," Ramirez said. "In the beginning no one bothered us, but now I am tired of it."
Hundreds of families in San Francisco are jammed into single room occupancies, transition homes or small spaces unfit for living. With a nine-month wait time for a bed in a shelter, more than 549 people alongside their families are forced to the street, according to the City's Count of Homelessness Report last year.
Last October, the Human Service Agency halted enrollment for Right to a Roof, the only citywide subsidy homeless housing program. After 11 months, the freeze continues to be upheld although slots are available in the program.
The subsidy program, created by members of the Coalition on Homelessness, helps low-income families access affordable housing by providing up to $500 directly to landlords. The amount allocated is based on the size of each family.
Since 2007, the program has helped almost 200 families pay rent and maintain financial stability after transitioning off the program by requiring them to eventually match their yearly income to the subsidy.
"We don't just give them a sliver of hope," said Matthias Mormino, project coordinator of the COH. "We make sure they stay housed."
Originally, needy families asked that the subsidies match the financial need of each family and have no time limit. What they received was a program that imposed a two-year maximum for families to raise their income to $6,000 by the first year in order to keep the subsidy the following year. According to Mormino, the restriction discouraged many families from applying.
Last year, however, families put enough pressure on officials for the board of supervisors to expand the limit to five years.
Due to the five-year expansion and budget cuts last February, the HSA froze enrollment.
"I'm assuming we ran out of money," said Pamela Tebo, manager to the director of HSA.
The HSA refused other comments regarding the enrollment freeze.
Mormino said there's no reason why the hold shouldn't have been lifted when the new fiscal year began in July.
"Math is not an opinion," he said regarding the HSA's budget adjustment. "All they have to do is multiply the number of slots by $500 and multiply that by (the months in a year)."
The COH hopes to seize back the program from the HSA's grip by talking to media outlets to keep supervisors aware of the issue so families like the Ramirez's will have access to a proper home.
"I am desperate because there's no places (to live) right now," said Ramirez. "I want someone to hear (my situation), then help.
The controversy surrounding Proposition B has captured the attention of city employees and fiscal strategists. If passed, the proposition will require city workers to contribute 10 percent of their salaries to their pensions.
As police officers, firefighters, teachers and other municipal employees rally, proponents say that if the proposition does not pass, there may be serious costs.
"It's kind of like you go out to dinner and you pick up the check all the time," said Yes on B spokeswoman Darcy Brown.
Brown said San Francisco's $456 million deficit should alarm citizens and move them to seek a solution. She said summer school classes have been completely cut, parking meters and fines have gone through the roof and after-school programs are becoming endangered. But these cuts, she said, are only warnings for larger consequences.
"We're facing bankruptcy," said Brown. "There's going to be massive layoffs and we're going to start seeing jobs going away."
Proposition B was proposed by San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi and has been endorsed by former mayor Willie Brown, former supervisor Matt Gonzalez and multimillionaire Michael Moritz. Proponents of Proposition B say the pension reform would save the city $121 million.
According to SF Smart Reform, an organization backing the proposition, pension costs from city employees are increasing exponentially. Numbers have more than doubled in recent years from $175 million in 2005 to $400 million in 2010 and are expected to rise to $675 million within two years.
The No on B campaign, however, has been much more visible than their opponents. With numerous "No on B: Bad Medicine" signs plastered to windows, Proposition B advocates cannot compete in campaign strategy due to lack of funds, Brown said.
"We have no money to get out there and fight this," Brown said. "Our opposition has millions of dollars and we have nothing."
Brown said a major problem is many city workers receive large pensions paid for by taxpayers. For example, Brown said, one particular police officer earned $516,000 last year.
"Potentially you could have someone who retires at 55 and receives $250,000 for the rest of their life," Brown said. "What that's doing is creating a community of haves and have-nots," she said.
Rallied opponents on Proposition B include city workers from various occupations, but it is the workers of lower salaries that would be most affected by Proposition B said Vince Courtney, political captain of Laborers' International Union of North America Local 261.
"What really concerns us is that it's being presented as 'progressive,'" Courtney said. "It's kind of like the have-nots fighting the other have-nots."
Proposition B opponents argue it is unjust to hold all city workers to the standards of higher paid employees.
San Francisco city janitors, who earn $40,000 annually, would be held to the same standards as a police officer earning over $100,000 per year.
"It's anti-labor," said Courtney.
According to the No on B website, 90 percent of city workers already contribute 7.5 percent of their wages to retirement. Increasing the standards would double children's health care costs and the proposition fails to recognize the contributions of city workers, Courtney said.
"We've negotiated give backs," Courtney said. "We gave 2 percent back to the city through Gavin Newsom."
In 2010, San Francisco city employees voluntarily agreed to pay cuts resulting in $250 million.
Oscar De La Torre, vice president of Laborers' International Union of North America, rallied workers of Local 261 LIUNA Oct. 1 during a precinct walk and barbeque.
"It's not just the Democratic Party that's under attack!" De La Torre yelled out to the crowd. "It's the working class people that are under attack!"
The crowd of labor union members was a sea of orange shirts cheering on the vice president who spoke against a background of No on B signs.
"Don't be fooled, they believe working folks should not have health care for their families," De La Torre said, "All they care about is the bottom line. It's not just our fight, it's an all of the working class fight."
New legislation will streamline transfer students' entry into the CSU system, though university officials doubt the effects will be felt on campus until at least 2012.
Senate Bill 1440, signed into law Sept. 30 by Gov. Schwarzenegger, promises to allow California community college students to transfer into and graduate from CSU campuses in less time for less money.
The Student Transfer Achievement Reform, or STAR Act, was sponsored by CSU Chancellor Charles Reed and passed the state legislature unanimously on August 25. SB 1440 will create a new degree at California community colleges called a transfer Associate of Arts.
"The transfer associates provides a clear path for the units a student must take to cover the undergraduate general education requirements," said Erik Fallis, a spokesman with the Chancellor's office. "Community college students that obtain the transfer AA degree would be admitted to the CSU system with junior standing."
In the past, students who transferred to a CSU with an AA ran the risk of having to take additional courses because their community and CSU campus transfer requirements often differed.
Jo Volkert, associate vice president of enrollment planning and management at SF State, however, believed it would be a while before the bill started to make any drastic changes on campus.
"I'd be really surprised if community colleges will be able to act fast enough to get the new degrees in place by May," Volkert said. "The more likely scenario would be them going into effect by fall 2012."With SB 1440 in place, students who earn 60 transferable units from their community college will only have to complete another 60 units of course work at the CSU level to graduate.
The CSU believes this will help students avoid taking unnecessary and non-transferable courses, in effect streamlining their transfer pattern and easing them through the college process.
"Both the CSU and the CCC estimate millions of dollars in savings by eliminating excess units that transfer students often accumulate in completing their degree," Fallis said. "By simplifying the transfer process, SB 1440 also frees up seats for other students allowing the CSU and the CCC to serve an additional 50,000 students."
Franko Ali, a 21-year-old humanities major at SF State, is the creative arts representative for ASI. Like many of his fellow students, he transferred from a community college with a normal AA. Although he completed all the transfer requirements his community college demanded, when he arrived at SF State he realized he still had lower division classes to finish.
"I transferred following a transfer pattern from my community college and I completed every requirement," Ali said. "I used a philosophy class so I didn't have to take English 114 and 214, but coming here I was told I needed to take English 214."
With the introduction of SB 1440, future students will transfer in as juniors with all lower division requirements complete, no matter how the transfer patterns differ between campuses.
On October 1, SF State and all other CSU campuses began accepting applications for the fall 2011 semester, opening the door to new transfers. Although the bill was signed last week, its effects are not expected to be felt anytime soon.
"It's really more focused on people yet to transfer," said Ali. "Our enrollment is dependent on a lot of factors, primarily the state budget which has still not been passed so it won't affect us too much too soon but it is still a great opportunity for community college students."
SB 1440 will also allow students who are a couple classes short of a traditional degree to receive a transfer AA and leave their community college with something tangible.
"We don't know for sure what it's actually going to do yet," Volkert said. "The goal is to give students a clearer path and I'm hopeful this will help students know exactly what they need to be admitted."
Start-up website NoteUtopia.com is under fire from the CSU Chancellor's Office and administrators who are trying to stop students' use of the site's commercial services, which include sales and exchange of class notes and other materials.
The website, a social network in which students post, download and sell class notes and materials to other students, was served a cease-and-desist letter Sept. 21 by the CSU Chancellor's Office that claimed the site's practices violate California and CSU educational Codes, violations the company vehemently denies.
"Clearly, there are some legal violations going on," said Ray Murillo, Chancellor's Office associate director. "If the company was merely a social networking company to connect students and develop student community, great. But this website went way beyond this."
NoteUtopia.com enables students from similar classes to join and form discussion groups, post questions to classes, engage in live chat, receive feedback from professors and, principally, buy and sell class notes and materials.
The site itself does not provide any materials and students set their own rates, though the site suggests prices: $1 for class notes, $2 for a study guide and up to $5 for an exam. Students may also upload notes for free, but if they choose to sell, they must charge a minimum of 99 cents. The site keeps 40 percent of each sale.
California Education Code section 66450 states that "no business, agency, or person, including... an enrolled student" can sell or distribute commercially any "contemporaneous recording," including hand or typewritten notes, of a classroom presentation.
Additionally, Section 41301 of the CSU Student Conduct Code says that any student caught selling class notes is subject to disciplinary action. The notes being sold on NoteUtopia.com put the student's academic career at risk, said Murillo.
"The risk they run is, if they're selling class notes to this company, some other company or an individual, the students can be subject to sanctions, suspension, all the way up to expulsion from the University," said Murillo.
The Chancellor's Office sent the company a "cease-and-desist" letter telling the site to stop promoting to CSU students and requesting the company to prominently display on the website that California students are in violation of the aforementioned statutes and at academic risk. The office also notified all the CSU schools of the website and its violations.
NoteUtopia.com founder and president Ryan Stevens initially accepted the cease-and-desist, but denies that the materials posted on the site violate the educational code in the first place, asserting that notes written in one's own words and writing are not exact "contemporaneous recordings," but are the writer's own work.
"We totally agree with (the Calif. Educational Code and the CSU Student Code of Conduct) statutes and enforce those on our website," said Stevens, 22. "But the statute does not define what a class note is; you can only look at it in context. That's where we think it's wrong."
Writing classroom notes is similar to writing a movie review, said Stevens, creating an account of the movie, but in the writer's own words and being owned by the author. He said class notes are accounts of the classroom presentation, but in the student's own words.
"If a student is taking notes and writing it down in their own words, that's their work," said Stevens. "The statement with regards to the legality of NoteUtopia.com is false and misleading. NoteUtopia.com is a legal website and has great value to college students."
Stevens started the website with a team of six other people shortly after graduating from Sacramento State in June with a degree in business. His goal was to take classroom relationships to the Internet while also giving students the opportunity to make money.
Stevens' site is not the first service of its kind. UC Davis' Associated Students runs Classical Notes, an online service that, with the professors' permission, provides various class notes and materials for sale. UC Berkeley offers similar services through its school site.
NoteUtopia.com, however, was the first to heavily incorporate the social networking aspect and has become increasingly popular as a result.
"We wanted to create this perfect place for students to come and have everything they need," said Stevens. "We're trying to build social study networks and bring social networking back into education."
In the four weeks of its existence, NoteUtopia.com has seen a "dramatic increase in the number of users and notes posted," said Stevens. The site has become especially popular at the Sacramento and Chico CSU campuses, and Stevens' staff has been actively campaigning at CSU schools across the state, hoping to expand to campuses statewide and beyond.
But this expansion may be on hold for a while as the site faces more than just legal objections from administrators.
SF State Vice President of University Affairs Dr. Penny Saffold said the site's services are ultimately detrimental to the students that use them, providing for the opportunity to miss class and, in some respects, buy their education.
"(The site) would definitely have a negative impact on the student learning process," said Saffold. "There is value in being in the classroom and hearing the professor or teacher teach. The relationship between student and teacher is paramount in students' learning."
Though Saffold fully supported the idea of an online student community, she said the commercial aspect of the site is problematic.
"When you add the element of money to it, it takes it to a whole other realm, because now all I'm doing is buying something from you," said Saffold. "It changes the nature of student interaction altogether."
SF State anthropology major Tracy Masuda had mixed feelings about the site's services.
"It's a students dream to have something like this available," said Masuda, 22. "It just kind of sucks that you have to pay for it, and you can't help but think, Is this right?"
SF State denied NoteUtopia.com's request to promote on campus.
Despite the controversy, the website continues to grow. Ironically, as the conflict over its legality intensifies, the site has seen unprecedented growth since the initial cease-and-desist letter, with visits to the site more than tripling in the last two weeks, said Stevens.
Apparently, any publicity is good publicity.
"We'd never seen so much traffic to the website until after that letter came," said Stevens. "If anything, the letter did a lot of good for us."
We are the pirates of pocket change. The philanthropists of free. The connoisseur of cheap. We...are college students.
Every week will be a new update on something worth your while. Concurrently, "Not worth your lucky penny" will be a section that randomly appears when I meander upon something that is, well, not worth your lucky penny. Bank breakers, to say the least.
Today is an investigation into the little known world of FREE group fitness classes on campus. One of the best things about these classes are that they somehow remain fairly unknown so, lovely reader, it is your lucky day.
Consider this a definite perk of being a student at SF State. Future fitness trainers, gym owners and rehabilitation therapists have to start somewhere. All the group fitness leaders are students and from my experience, are all very welcoming and knowledgeable. All you need is your student ID and you gain access to these great resources.
I have only personally attended two of these classes, Beginning Yoga and ABsolution, but I would venture to say that any of them would be worth your time and money. Oh wait, they're FREE! No excuses!
- TurboKick: An intensive, fat-burning total body workout. Kickboxing, in a nutshell.
- Everlast X: For those of you with a death wish, or who actually workout regularly, this is an extreme version of TurboKick. I recommend starting off slow.
- Different Strokes: No pun intended I'm sure, this class focuses on swimming techniques such as (but not limited to) the Butterfly, Backstroke and the Breaststroke.
- B.L.T: I find this title rich, to say the least. This cleverly (or diabolically) placed acronym stands for butts, legs and thighs; as if there could be any doubt.
- Strengthen & Tone: Cardio and stabilization exercises improve posture and burn fat.
- Washboard, Core Beats, ABsolution: Yes, you too can wash clothes easily on your newly defined ab muscles! It's thirty minutes of intense tummy tightening and it's well worth it. People tend to think that working out your abs is more vanity then function but the truth is, your core determines your strength. Posture and breathing are just some of the many things that improve as your ab and back muscles strengthen.
- Beginning Swim: Get in shape and get Red Cross Certified. (Three lines down and I still want a sandwich. Bacon, anyone?)
- Cardio Dance: Keep your body moving while having fun! I've tried these types of workout dance classes at other places and have always found them completely fun and freeing.
- Ripped 101: Lean, mean fighting machine; enough said.
- Push It: This class is literally meant to push you past your comfort zone. Kickboxing, strength training and mixed martial arts make up this crazy workout.
- Water Goddess: Low impact, high intensity aerobic workout. (Aqua Fit is the intensive version of this class.)
- Total Body Power: Increase muscle strength, reduce body fat and increase lean muscle. It sounds so simple and yet, getting in shape and staying in shape can be such a challenge. This class covers all the bases.
- XL Strength Training: Learn the right way to strength rain and get into a healthy routine with this class designed to teach beginners and help intermediates push through their plateau.
- Co-ed Booty Camp: Though I appreciate the switch from "Boot" to "Booty", I doubt it'll make this class any less challenging. Plan to work up a sweat and tone some lean muscle.
- Beginning Yoga: Do you think yoga is the "easy" exercise choice? You figure, "It's just stretching", right? Well, wake up and feel the burn! I was definitely one of those people who thought yoga would be mostly breathing and relaxation. WRONG. Oh, don't mistake me, there's breathing and relaxation; but somewhere between downward dog and the warrior you may realize you underestimated this yoga thing. (Rockin yoga flow is the intensive version of this.)
Beyond group fitness classes, there is a strength and conditioning room and swimming pool that are available to all students. The hours and locations of each are posted on the bottom of the group fitness schedule posted below.
Hope this will make it a little easier to stay healthy, happy and above the poverty line! Until next time...
Noise Complaint, a dance party held on Oct. 1, aimed at giving SF State students a chance to mix and mingle at a flashy nightclub without leaving campus.
The event, held in Cesar Chavez's Cafe 101, was part of the University's new efforts to provide students with more late-night events on campus.
With 600 people in attendance throughout the night, the event put on by the Cesar Chavez Student Center, Student Life, Associated Students, Inc. and Leadership, Engagement, Action, Development groups, allowed students to have a taste of future late-night SF State programs to come.
"It's really up to us as first years to pick up on involvement," said freshman Andersen Seng. "Maybe our year can be the one to change how it is and get more people excited about meeting people and getting involved on campus."
Seng said that while student involvement on campus is generally low, having a DJ here on a weekend is a good way to get more people interested.
"No kids really like to hang out," he said. "Events like this benefit students more, if you don't offer students something to do, they are just going to go out and drink. Which would you rather do?"
Josh Kean, mechanical engineering major, and Alina Thattayathu, interior design major, are both first-year students who heard about the event from fliers posted on bulletin boards in the Science and Technology Tower Community.
"We heard about it from a lot of people" said Kean. "So we just came by to see what it was all about and if people were into it."
There are future plans to recreate a similar event on Oct. 29 with a Halloween themed party at the same place.
Jessica Nogueras, 21-year-old sociology major, said she initially showed up for a performance held at The Depot an hour before and later heard about the party.
"I've always lived around campus, so events like this are so convenient," she said, noting that even for students who don't live in dorms, but in surrounding neighborhoods, the trek into the city for activities and functions can be a little daunting.
Connections made through alumni networks can be a valuable resource to students involved in Greek life on campus.
Alpha Epsilon Pi, SF State's only Jewish fraternity, will create more of these connections this November when the chapter celebrates their tenth anniversary on campus, featuring a weekend of events that will be attended by all the current brothers and more than 70 fraternity alumni.
Eyal Chistik, AEPi's current president, says keeping in touch with alumni is important because it helps current brothers network and can lead to potential career opportunities after college.
"Alumni are constantly trying to help us break into the work force," said Chistik "They are always willing to hook us up with the right people or send us in the right direction. Personally, AEPi has gotten me every job I've had since I've been in college."
Genia Slavin, the treasure and alumni chair for AEPi, says that the connections he has made through the fraternity have already helped him professionally.
"I have talked to multiple alumni and that actually has helped me a lot," he said. "I have talked to some of them who are in my field and they have told me what to expect, and it's a little bit easier for me to get an internship in the future."
Chistik says that the upcoming anniversary events will provide a valuable opportunity for AEPi members because there is currently no formal network for AEPi alumi, so it can be a challenge for current brothers to get in touch with alumni from several years past.
"The point of alumni events is to help facilitate that contact between current brothers and alumni," Chistik said.