Thankful for November, always a month to remember
Time to get the raincoat out of the back of the closet, dig out the umbrella.
Two days after the fall election, Santa Claus was all over the television.
[...] here’s a toast with pumpkin latte to November, the 11th and least appreciated month of the year.
The sun goes down early in November, but the sunsets can be beautiful because the sun is moving south and the shadows are longer and there are more clouds than in summer.
Up the wet streets and through the little urban forest that led to the local hill, always a favorite walk on a sunny day.
[...] it was different: the pine and fir trees were dark and gray, and bent in the light wind.
There is nothing that makes the city feel more like the country than the wind in the trees.
There is a famous view from the top of the hill, but the city had disappeared, as if the rain had pulled a veil over San Francisco.
[...] best of all, the small rains had made tiny shoots of grass spring up between the dead, brown grass of the summer.
Mike Garofalo, who lives in the Sacramento Valley town of Red Bluff, wrote a verse about it:
If you were taking photos of November in the city, you would see tall buildings reflected in the puddles on Market Street.
The sun returned on the weekend and the November rains have swept the sky clean, so that the hills show their new light coat of green, and the bay mountains — Tamalpais, Diablo, Hamilton — stand out against what Henry David Thoreau called “the thinnest yellow light of November.”
Posted: November 23, 2014, 1:00 pm
The idea was to sell thousands of seats from the soon-to-be-demolished stadium as keepsakes for fans, with the city’s Recreation and Park Department getting 70 percent of the take. To make sure Montana’s business didn’t put a damper on the city’s sales before the holidays, the contract specified that he couldn’t start his sales until Jan. 2. [...] they went up early and big on the Internet with “Candlestick Park Seats for Sale,” featuring pictures of Joe signing stacks of seat backs. Robert Hemphill, whose Cotati company is partnering with Montana on the autographed seat sales, said they were just getting up and running when he got an e-mail from Montana last week telling him to hold off until after New Year’s — though he said the reason was never explained to him. There are even three colors of seat backs to choose from — red, orange and brown (actually, faded orange) — and each one comes with a certificate of authenticity. The Niners and Giants have helped San Francisco sell 10,000 pairs of seats as collector’s items in the past year. Not only did her Democratic caucus block her closest friend and fellow Californian, Palo Alto Rep. Anna Eshoo, from leapfrogging over senior Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey to be the ranking Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, but Pelosi took flak for trying to strong-arm the deal. At issue was her refusal to allow a proxy vote from Rep. Tammy Duckworth — a double amputee Iraq War veteran whose pregnancy prevented her from traveling to Washington from her home state of Illinois. “Our party should be the party that stands up for women,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, was quoted by Roll Call as saying at the caucus’ closed-door meeting. After reeling off several clips in which Pelosi promoted herself as a champion of women and voting rights — and one in which she called out the media for questions about whether she should step aside for younger leadership — Stewart said the trailblazing San Francisco Democrat had shown that “a woman leader can be every bit as politically craven as her counterparts.” Like workers in state courts across California, Alameda County’s judiciary has put up with a lot of cuts in recent years — but officials draw the line at limiting employee hydration. Alameda County’s Superior Court system is spending more than $4,000 a month to keep judges, jurors and staff supplied with bottled water. State administrative guidelines generally prohibit courts from buying bottled H2O except in limited cases — for example, if there’s a problem with a courthouse’s piped water. The bottle buy was one of a handful of questionable spending practices uncovered by a recent state audit.
Posted: November 23, 2014, 1:00 pm
A 12-year-old San Francisco girl who had been missing for almost two weeks was found Saturday on a Muni bus by her parents, police said.
Howell said the family believes she was making her way home when they rushed to greet her.
Police were investigating the possibility that Imani had been a human sex trafficking victim.
“We really don’t know what happened yet, but we just know that she’s home safe right now,” Howell said late Saturday.
Imani was evaluated by a doctor, and found to be in good health with no visible injuries, her father said.
Police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said that investigators were interviewing Imani and that the investigation is still ongoing.
When he wasn’t praying for his daughter’s safe return or plastering the neighborhood with flyers of her face, Howell said he had been spending the past weeks researching how to help victims of sex trafficking cope upon their return.
Posted: November 23, 2014, 6:58 am
Napa’s mayor has a wisecrack she likes to sling when strangers ask how her city is doing three months after a 6.0 earthquake hammered its way through the tony little downtown, spraying glass shards and toppling walls from one end to the other. Except for a few buildings that still have scaffolding as workers brush in finishing touches, there’s really not much to see anymore for those hunting signs of quake damage. Except for a gigantic blue tarp on a downtown wall that hasn’t been patched up yet, and scaffolding for repair work on the brick walls of the United Methodist Church on Sonoma Boulevard, the faded Victorian charm of the city is back to its old scruffy self. The Napa Valley’s fabled wine industry took an $80 million hit in shattered barrels, bottles and equipment. The disaster triggered a slow-moving government process of providing aid that will take years to play out, officials said. Under President Obama’s major disaster declaration, Federal Emergency Management Agency grants have been authorized for public infrastructure and individual home repairs. “There’s no way to know how much will eventually be paid out until all the assessments have been done and the assistance given out,” said Kelly Huston, spokesman for the state Office of Emergency Services. “We’ve still got a ways to go, but I think we’ve done a pretty good job of getting back up and running,” said Vallejo Fire Chief Jack McArthur, who is helping oversee recovery efforts in a city that suffered $19 million in damage. Finding recovery work often requires up-close scrutiny at places like the corner of First and Laurel streets in Napa, where city crews last week finished patching up the latest of a series of water-main leaks caused when the quake torqued pipe joints. Hundreds of chimneys — any earthquake’s most vulnerable victims — still need to be repaired throughout the region, and McArthur said the advent of cold weather has revealed damage to home heating systems. Perhaps most visible of all is the scaffolding and tenting on a block-long stretch of First Street in downtown Napa near Franklin Street, where Sushi Mambo remains closed and the airy, 141-room Andaz Hotel is getting ready to reopen most of its operations in two weeks. “It’s going to be pretty cool — it’ll be like we have a brand new hotel,” Andaz supervisor Steve Kay said as workers buffed the red marble floor tiles and cleaned around a gigantic woodcut of a tree in the lobby. Some, such as the John Anthony wine tasting room and the Playful Garden upscale garden-art store, have done fine since the quake. Playful Garden owner Mimi Glavin said business owners downtown are a close-knit group and have striven to help each other, pitching in for repairs and going out of their way to shop at the stores hurting the most. Over at Vallejo’s Mare Island museum of Navy history, directors are hoping that same spirit will compel generosity to help pay for $230,000 in damage to its 159-year-old main building.
Posted: November 23, 2014, 1:11 am
BART’s Oakland Airport shuttle gets rave reviews
BART’s new Oakland airport service got off to a wet start Saturday — with crews forced to squeegee off rain that had blown in and flooded the airport station platform — but nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of its jubilant first-day riders.
“It was great, it was wonderful, it was easy, quick and cheap,” said Susan Krones, a Lake County prosecutor who took the eight-minute ride to the terminal while headed for a flight to a conference in Anaheim.
[...] rave reviews aside, Mike Moran, a BART customer service representative, was worried about the rainwater that somehow blew in that morning.
Yellow warning signs alerted passengers to the risk.
Moran said the platform surface had recently been honed to improve traction when it is wet and prevent slip-and-fall accidents.
The water had pooled near the edge of the platform and did not make it to nearby drains, forcing BART workers with push-broom-style squeegees to force the water away.
The water clearly did not bother Connor Hunt, 19, an exuberant San Francisco State student who was toting his skateboard on a flight to Los Angeles and had one train entirely to himself.
[...] the water was a bit of a concern for Jeff Law, a landscape architect from San Diego, who liked the convenience of the new service, but shook his head at the puddles.
Posted: November 22, 2014, 11:50 pm
An elderly man died after a two-alarm fire at a San Ramon home Saturday morning, officials said.
Fire crews received the report of the blaze located on the 100 block of Avocado Court at around 7:42 a.m., said Kimberly French, a spokeswoman for the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District.
Crews arrived to the single-story home and took the occupant of the home outside and provided care, she said.
The fire, which originated in the bedroom of the home, was extinguished in less than 45 minutes, she said.
Posted: November 22, 2014, 10:33 pm
No building type proclaims the goal of social equality like a public library, open to all citizens for purposes ranging from edification to guilty fun.
[...] the aura of civic aspiration is particularly strong in the early 20th century libraries funded nationwide by steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie.
The Sunset branch was the fifth, a vision of Classical order that remains potent, even if some of the “great writers” inscribed on the outer walls now draw a blank.
Posted: November 22, 2014, 9:50 pm
Rain hits Bay Area but isn’t expected to last
The latest precipitation brought more than a quarter of an inch of rain to San Francisco and Oakland over the 12-hour period that ended at 9 a.m., said Roger Gass, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Monterey.
Hamed Aleaziz is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.
Posted: November 22, 2014, 9:42 pm
Chronicle sports columnist Ann Killion nominated for award
Chronicle sports columnist Ann Killion is one of three finalists for California sportswriter of the year, an award given by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.
“Ann Killion provides an honest, declarative voice in a sportswriting environment cluttered with noise,” said Al Saracevic, The Chronicle’s sports editor.
Posted: November 22, 2014, 9:37 pm
A squirrel that interfered with PG&E’s electrical equipment caused nearly 2,000 customers in Cupertino to lose power Saturday morning.
The electricity was out for less than two hours and power was restored at around 8:30 a.m., said PG&E spokeswoman Jana Morris.
Places affected included Miller Avenue, Greenwood Court, Atherton Avenue, Candlewood Drive, Brookwell Drive, as well as the area around Finch Avenue and Stevens Creek Boulevard, Morris said.
Posted: November 22, 2014, 9:15 pm
Hundreds of neighbors in their nightclothes rushed to the scene, along with every available police officer.
A police officer was stationed at the church, but was taken by surprise and was unable to catch the bombers as they drove away.
The mysterious bombers had terrorized the church, and the police seemed helpless to stop them.
Nationalists disliked the church because it had opposed Italian reunification, while radicals and anarchists saw organized religion as an opiate of the masses.
A number of North Beach Italians were sovversivi, or subversives, who subscribed to radical publications like L’Asino (the Donkey), an anticlerical satirical review founded in Rome that had a circulation in Italy of more than 100,000.
The Idealism of the Sovversivi in the United States, 1890-1940, one issue of L’Asino featured an open letter addressed to “Dear Madonna del Carmine, c/o Eternal Father — Heaven,” questioning her miraculous powers and asking sarcastically if she was the best and most powerful of all Madonnas.
After the fourth bombing, San Francisco police, led by Detective Louis De Matei — a cousin of a priest at the church — devised a plan to catch the culprits.
Thirteen undercover police officers were stationed inside and outside the church from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., linked by an elaborate system of phone and buzzers.
Some policemen were disguised as women, while others were smuggled into the building in laundry and bread baskets.
The first man laid his package against the building, struck a match and lit a fuse.
The police opened fire, killing him instantly, and put out the fuse.
The watchman tried to flee across Washington Square, but De Matei ran after him and opened fire, wounding the man.
Catholic Action, Anti-Catholicism and National Security Politics in World War II San Francisco, Eklund was “a well-known figure in the community of single men who lived in boardinghouses and residential hotels in the South of Market neighborhood, the area Jack London made famous as a hotbed of radicalism in his 1909 short story 'South of the Slot.’”
Eklund was a sidewalk preacher and rabble-rouser who had been arrested by the Seattle police during a demonstration held by supporters of the Industrial Workers of the World.
The IWW, with its slogan “one big union,” had significant support in San Francisco, but there is no evidence that Eklund was a member, and the IWW did not call for blowing up churches.
Galleanisti carried out a number of bombings in the U.S., including an attack that killed 10 Milwaukee police officers and a 1920 Wall Street bombing that killed 38 people and injured 400.
Gary Kamiya is the author of the best-selling book “Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco,” awarded the 2013 Northern California Book Award in creative nonfiction.
Every Saturday, Gary Kamiya’s Portals of the Past will tell one of those lost stories, using a specific location to illuminate San Francisco’s extraordinary history — from the days when giant mammoths wandered through what is now North Beach, to the Gold Rush delirium, the dot-com madness and beyond.
Posted: November 22, 2014, 9:04 pm
The first inkling that office workers scurrying along Montgomery Street had that something was wrong came when they looked up to see a blue blur falling from the sky.
With a thump and a crash of shattering glass, the middle-aged window washer smashed into a moving car just after 10 a.m. Friday morning.
In moments, they had called 911, set up traffic blocks and banded around the man, some bending low to urge him to hold on, hoping he could survive until paramedics arrived.
Within two minutes of being called, firefighters were on the scene near the intersection of California Street, and the victim was soon on his way to San Francisco General Hospital — alive, though with life-threatening injuries.
State workplace safety inspectors were assessing the apparent accident, and it may be months before they come to conclusions about whether Century Window Cleaning of Concord, the firm doing the job, is at fault.
Company officials did not respond to calls for comment Friday.
“He was one lucky man to survive that fall,” said Peter Melton, a spokesman with the California Department of Industrial Relations.
The terrible fall was the last thing the hurry-up Financial District crowd could have expected on a typical Friday morning.
A split-second difference in timing and the worker might have landed on the windshield, with potentially terrible consequences for Alcozai.
A traveling tech specialist, Alcozai said he was supposed to go on a call to Walnut Creek on Friday morning, but after it was canceled he wound up in San Francisco.
Dan Dunnigan, a San Francisco fire spokesman, said firefighters were dispatched at 10:03 a.m. and arrived two minutes later.
Melton, the state spokesman, said Century Window Cleaning was issued a citation in 2008 for four regulatory violations in Redwood City.
Despite Friday’s fall and other recent window-washing incidents that drew wide notice, industry representatives say the job is not that dangerous.
Last week, two washers at the 1,776-foot One World Trade Center were stranded for nearly two hours when their scaffolding malfunctioned on the nation’s tallest skyscraper.
Stefan Bright, safety director for the International Window Cleaners Association, said 14 incidents have been reported this year involving window washing that required rescue, and three of those involved injuries.
Posted: November 22, 2014, 5:34 am
Political insiders gathered in the Board of Supervisors chambers at City Hall on Tuesday to watch, as was alternately predicted, a “Game of Thrones”-like battle or a knife fight. The whole tiff was about schedules, vacations and who should be the fill-in gavel wielder between President David Chiu’s departure for the Assembly on Dec. 1 and the group’s winter break. At issue was Chiu's scheduling of the vote on the interim president for the one meeting his Assembly election opponent, Supervisor David Campos, would be on vacation in Bali. [...] Supervisor Katy Tang won the job — but not before supervisors on both sides sniped angrily that the others were being undemocratic and uncivil, one griped about having to wait 15 minutes when somebody was late to a committee meeting earlier that day and two walked out in protest. While that approach has paid off plenty of times since the era of politeness took hold in 2011 at the previously rancorous City Hall, there have been times we’ve wanted to shake our leaders and say, “Look alive here, people!” If you can’t muster outrage over poor people living among vermin and filth while the agency’s director drives it to the edge of fiscal insolvency, when can you? According to Singer, voters appreciate some emotion and anger in their politicians when the issue merits it — though scheduling the vote on an interim president doesn’t qualify. “If this was a serious matter and we were talking about Ellis Act evictions or talking about homelessness or sexual harassment or immigration, people would appreciate and value fiery oratory,” he said. The most recent homeless count found 6,436 homeless adults in San Francisco and 914 children and young adults living in the city without a roof over their head — or parents or guardians. The count has hardly budged since 2005, and despite the city spending $165 million a year on services for homeless people, people in sleeping bags and even big encampments continue to dot the city’s sidewalks. Proposition G, the antispeculation tax measure on the Nov. 4 ballot, failed and a federal judge last month declared unconstitutional the city’s new law to make landlords pay much higher relocation fees to tenants if they opt to go out of the rental business. City Hall has adopted a Vision Zero plan with the goal of eliminating traffic deaths in 10 years, but improvements to city streets are slow. When a longtime city worker was run over and killed in the crosswalk in front of Polk Street in full view of her co-workers and a busload of tourists last month, Lee said a traffic signal would be installed — next summer. Nicole Schneider, director of Walk San Francisco, which works for pedestrian safety, said she just returned from an international symposium on Vision Zero in New York City and that she was impressed by New York politicians’ relentlessness around pedestrian safety, including earlier this month bringing the speed limit on almost all city streets down to 25 miles per hour.
Posted: November 22, 2014, 5:28 am
A San Francisco man who was stabbed in the Tenderloin by a catcaller who had been harassing his girlfriend said Friday that he hopes his case raises awareness that street harassment is not a harmless act.
Schwartz had been walking home with his girlfriend of two years from a gathering at a friend’s apartment when they encountered an aggressive catcaller near Larkin and Ellis streets about 4:45 a.m.
Because Schwartz had forgotten his wallet, they had to pass the man three times, each time hearing him make rude and vulgar statements such as, “I’ll show you how a real man treats a woman,” and much worse, Schwartz said.
Police have not made an arrest and, to Schwartz’s chagrin, haven’t tried to contact him.
“One of the saddest days I’ve had with my girlfriend was when she came home and told me that some guy had thrown cigar shavings in her face because she wouldn’t talk to him,” he said.
Girls walk down the street every day and have guys saying things to them, and if a girl denies that or shows some sort of aggression toward that, that can bring violence and that can bring unwarranted things.
Schwartz, an advertising student, said he’s overwhelmed by the support he’s been getting on a GoFundMe account his friends set up for him, which raised more than $26,000 from more than 800 donors in just two days.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at (415) 553-0123, call an anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444, or send a text to TIP411 with “SFPD” at the beginning of the message.
Posted: November 22, 2014, 3:07 am
“Artists look at it as beneficial for them, but the real purpose is to enrich the city,” said Bruce Beasley, a renowned Oakland sculptor who helped spearhead the law.
The law requires developers to install art — most likely, large-scale sculptures, mosaics or murals — in a publicly accessible location on the property, or give the money to a city arts fund, where a panel will put it toward public art elsewhere in the city.
Many large cities, including Oakland, have long had “1-percent-for-art” laws for publicly funded projects, such as new train stations or post offices, but only a few have expanded it to private developments.
San Francisco sets aside 2 percent of the construction costs of public buildings for art, and in 2012 started requiring private developers to pay 1 percent for public art projects.
Some had relied on arts grants funded through redevelopment, but since the state eliminated redevelopment in 2012, commissions have been scarce, said Caroline Stern, an Oakland artist who specializes in public and commercial art.
Stern tries to hire local at-risk youth to help her on projects, and often works in Oakland public schools.
Some developers opposed the law, saying arts funding should be considered in the context of the myriad other fees developers face, said Greg McConnell, president of the Jobs and Housing Coalition, which advocates for Oakland developers.
The city is hammering out its developer fees for affordable housing, infrastructure, transportation and other community benefits.
Beasley has pieces in museums and cities around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim in New York, and is now working on a massive stainless steel sculpture for the city of Fremont.
Posted: November 22, 2014, 12:29 am