Learn More: Tell Bank of Marin to Stop Financing Evictions!

Learn More: Tell Bank of Marin to Stop Financing Evictions!

For years, real estate speculators planning mass evictions for condominiums have stayed away from larger apartment buildings in SF. Now Bank of Marin is leading the small pack of lenders willing to issue a new kind of loan that has brought large rent-controlled buildings in SF into the crosshairs of real estate speculators.

Large rent-controlled apartment buildings generally cannot be converted to condominiums. For this reason, larger buildings have mostly escaped the epidemic of SF condo conversion evictions. In smaller buildings, speculators have used the Ellis Act (a state law that allows landlords to evict all tenants to get out of the landlord business) to throw out all tenants, and sell off individual interests in the building as so-called TIC’s (tenancies-in-common), for eventual conversion to condominiums. TICs are a form of ownership similar to, but not as desirable as, condominiums.

Traditionally, this strategy of evictions has not been applied in larger buildings because the speculators would be stuck with permanent TICs. Permanent TICs are hard for the speculator to sell due to the uncertainties of this form of ownership. For example, with a traditional loan, if one TIC owner defaults on their mortgage payments, the bank could foreclose on the entire building. This makes TIC projects particularly risky for big buildings, since the risk of default increases as there are more and more TIC partners.

Bank of Marin has begun issuing so-called “fractional loans” for TIC projects. Real estate interests are hailing these loans as a breakthrough that will allow the conversion of rental housing in larger rent-controlled buildings. They claim that these “fractional” loans will provide more stability for permanent TICs. (Fractional loans involve the bank agreeing to lend only on the particular TIC owner’s interests, thus decreasing the risk that the bank will foreclose on the entire property in the event that one TIC owner defaults). While there are many questions about these loans, there is little doubt that real estate speculators view fractional loans as an opportunity to begin targeting bigger apartment buildings that have in the past been safe from mass evictions.

Few banks have committed to making such loans. Bank of Marin has taken the lead. E-Loans has reportedly expressed interest in these loans. Other banks are reportedly interested, but will not identify themselves publicly, presumably because they know that these loans will ignite a public relations disaster.

Bank of Marin boasts of its connection to local communities. The bank’s mission statement asserts that the bank seeks to “positively impact the communities in which we operate.” According to the bank’s website, “Bank of Marin is proud to be a part of the unique communities we serve” and “Bank of Marin feels a strong sense of being in partnership with the community we serve.” Tenant advocates are asking whether Bank of Marin’s supposed commitment to the community extends across the San Francisco Bay.

 

Bank of Marin could take one very simple step to stop mass evictions in San Francisco. The bank could include a ‘no Ellis Act eviction’ contingency on their loans for large apartment buildings.

Please TAKE ACTION to demand that Bank of Marin stop financing evictions in San Francisco!

To learn more about this issue, contact Ted Gullickson, ted@sftu.org, or visit the Tenants Union website at www.sftu.org

Urge D.A. to Drop Charges Against Prof. Akom!

Urge D.A. to Drop Charges Against Prof. Akom!

Antwi Akom, 37, is an African American professor at San Francisco State University. On the evening of October 25, 2005, he went to his office to get some books he needed for teaching his class. A security guard contacted university police to report a suspicious person inside the campus classroom and office building. A police officer confronted Akom when he emerged from his office. Akom was arrested and charged with resisting arrest and assaulting an officer.

Akom’s supporters say that Akom came to campus around 10 p.m. in the evening. When he arrived in the front of the building where his office is located, he was approached by a security guard. The guard asked him what he was doing there. Akom told the guard that he was a professor and he was going to his office. He then went inside. When he left his office, he was confronted by a police officer. The officer demanded that he put his hands behind his back. Akom asked why he was being arrested, but the officer reportedly would not answer.

Akom has told supporters that he had a faculty identification card and was willing to show it. He repeatedly told the officers he was a professor.

The police tell a different story in the incident report that has been released. According to police, the security guard who contacted police reported that Akom refused to identify himself upon entering the building. Police claim that when an officer made contact with Akom as he was leaving his office, Akom “aggressively approach” the officer, stated that he was a professor, threw his books down and then assaulted the officer. Police say Akom also resisted being put in handcuffs and being placed in the police car.

Akom’s supporters claim that the charges of resisting arrest were brought to cover up the officer’s mistake in racially profiling Akom. Defense attorney Lidia Stiglich said she will be replaced by John W. Keker, former special prosecutor against Oliver North in the Iran-Contra scandal. “I believe he was improperly charged. I believe that he was innocent,” said Keker in a phone interview. Another of Akom’s attorney’s, Matt Gonzalez, was quoted in the SF Chronicle as follows: “In our opinion, it’s obvious that this is a case involving racial profiling by the San Francisco State police.” “He has no criminal history,” said Gonzalez. “Obviously, once they found out he was a professor, they wanted to fix their problem.” Gonzalez also told KTVU that “”They made a terrible mistake, they had an opportunity to deescalate what was happening and instead they made matters worse.”

A San Francisco Superior Court Judge reduced the battery charge against Akom from a felony to a misdemeanor, casting doubt on the police officers’ story that Akom physically attacked officers.

What is not disputed is that Akom was doing nothing more than going to his workplace when he was confronted by police. He had committed no crime. Even if Akom was not cooperative when confronted by police, criminal charges against Akom under these circumstances are inappropriate.

The incident has sparked outrage on and off the SFSU campus. Supporters argue that Akom would not have been confronted by police had he been white. Professors and students say that this is not an isolated incident of racial profiling. Instead, they allege a pattern of racial profiling by campus security and police. Akom reports that he was the victim of a racial profiling incident by campus police previously in November 2004.

SFSU President Robert Corrigan has called for an external investigation of the matter. Former SF Mayor Willie Brown and SF Police Commission President Louise Rennie will serve on a panel that will investigate the details of this incident. In the meantime, supporters are demanding that the charges against Akom be dropped.

 

Akom was arraigned on November 1, 2005 in San Francisco Superior Court. The Judge reduced the charges from felonies to misdemeanors. The misdemeanor charges are still pending, with trial set to begin on December 5. If convicted, Akom could face up to one year in prison.

Please TAKE ACTION to demand that District Attorney Kamala Harris drop the charges against Akom. You can also send emails to Robert A. Corrigan, President of SFSU atcorrigan@sfsu.edu, and Charles B. Reed, CSU Chancellor, at creed@calstate.edu, to tell them to take strong steps to prevent racial profiling on campus.

To get involved in this issue, contact Ashley Moore at ashleymoore@calmail.berkeley.edu.

Learn More: Demand a Sweat-Free UC!

Learn More: Demand a Sweat-Free UC!

In March, 2006, students from UCSD, UCR, UCSB, UCSC, UCB and UCD protested at the UC Office of the President in Oakland, demanding an end to the use of sweatshops to produce UC apparel and uniforms. Students occupied the president’s hallways for one hour, and were promised a meeting with President Dynes as a result of the protest. President Dynes had previously refused to meet with students for months.

Students are demanding that the University of California adopt the Designated Suppliers Program (DSP) to ensure that UC apparel and uniforms are supplied by companies that comply with basic minimum labor standards. Nine universities around the country have adopted the DSP, but UC has thus far refused student demands to adopt the DSP and end their use of sweatshop apparel. For more information about the national campaign for sweat-free campuses, see the website of Students Against Sweatshops.

Please join UC students and workers in demanding that President Dynes endorse adoption of the DSP to ensure that UC apparel and uniforms come from sources that respect worker’s rights.

 

Learn More: Stop Calpine From Destroying Medicine Lake!

Learn More: Stop Calpine From Destroying Medicine Lake!

The Bush administration has approved construction of a geothermal power plant in Northern California’s Modoc National Forest, a vision questing area considered sacred by Native Americans. Calpine Energy Corporation is planning a 200 million dollar project to build power plants and drill for geothermal energy in the Medicine Lake Highlands.

The Clinton Administration had blocked the project citing concerns about intrusion onto sacred tribal lands. The Bush Administration reversed this decision, and Calpine is poised to move forward with the project.

Pit River Indian Tribe members, along with community and environmental justice groups are demanding that Calpine immediately cease its proposed energy extraction plans that would devastate sacred Native land in northern California. Protesters gathered at Calpine corporate offices in San Jose on January 27, 2006 to send a message to Calpine.

Please TAKE ACTION to tell Calpine that Northern California will not stand for this intrusion on sacred native land.

For more information about the cultural and environmental concerns regarding this development see the following links:

http://www.klamathbasincrisis.org/medicinelake/disputeswirls011606.htm

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/1128-03.htm

 

To get involved in this issue, contact Ginger Mike-Mercado, Chairwoman of the Da’hu La’h As (North Headwaters) Sacred Sites Defense,vmercado@frontiernet.net, (530)336-7136

Support Equal Labor Protections For Household Workers!

Support Equal Labor Protections For Household Workers!

In California today, there are hundreds of thousands of household workers. They perform various duties in the home as caretakers, nannies, housekeepers, cooks, etc. Predominantly immigrants and women of color, many household workers endure abuses on the job including non-payment of wages and excessive hours without overtime pay.

The California Labor Code does not have sufficient labor protections for household workers. They do not have many of the rights other California workers enjoy. For example, personal attendents–those who care for our loved ones–do not have the right to receive overtime pay. This industry, with high levels of exploitation, needs stiff penalties against employers who fail to pay wages.

Assemblymember Cindy Montanez (D-San Fernando) has introduced AB 2536, a bill that would provide improved labor protection for household workers. AB 2536 would provide personal attendents equal overtime protection and all household workers rights to recover unpaid wages. The bill is before the full assembly, having cleared committee by a vote of 11-6 on May 17, 2006.

You can view the text of AB 2536, by clicking here and entering the bill number.

Please TAKE ACTION to urge your assembly member to support this important legislation!

This bill was created by the California Coalition for Household Worker Rights: CHIRLA (Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles), Mujeres Unidas y Activas, Pilipino Worker’s Center, and the Women’s Collective of La Raza Centro Legal.

For more information, contact andreacristina@mujeresunidas.net at Mujeres Unidas.

 

 

Learn More: Demand Funding For Public Housing in SF!

Learn More: Demand Funding For Public Housing in SF!

 

The San Francisco Housing Authority, which operates 6,000 units of public housing, is facing a $7 million dollar shortfall this year due to Republican-led cuts to the HUD budget. Having succeeded in cutting public housing by $1.5 billion since 2001, Congress has now created a $600 million shortfall in operating funds for already cash-strapped public housing agencies. As a result, agencies will be funded at a pro-rated amount of 85.5% of their identified need. The President’s proposed budget for 2007 guarantees further cuts.

San Francisco will be one of the hardest hit housing authorities. This is because at the same time that congress passed these cuts nationally, HUD used a nonsensical funding formula that unfairly cut even more funds to some agencies, including San Francisco.

The impact on San Francisco’s public housing residents will be devastating. The housing authority will operate with only $342 per unit, down from $454. (Since President Bush took office, per unit funding declined from $585 in 1999 to $342 for 2007.) The latest round of cuts will deprive San Francisco’s poorest residents of vital tenant services including adequate security and maintenance. The cuts will also undermine the Housing Authority’s ability to rehabilitate empty units for occupancy or to develop new housing units, while 30,000 families have been languishing on the waiting list for years.

Please TAKE ACTION today to tell your congressional representatives to take a stand against the Bush administration’s unconscionable attempts to dismantle low-income housing programs. Urge your representatives to demand passage of a $600 million budget supplemental for public housing now!

For more information, contact Sara Shortt, sara_shortt@hotmail.com, of the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco, or visit the website of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, www.nlihc.org

Learn More: Stop Censorship of Mission District Youth Mural!

Learn More: Stop Censorship of Mission District Youth Mural!

A powerful mural by Mission District youth regarding struggles for self-determination is nearly completed. The mural, located at 24th and Capp Street in San Francisco depicts self-determination for all and breaking down barriers as major themes. With many residents of the Mission fighting displacement locally and barriers separating them from their homelands, the work is a powerful statement of unity with those facing similar challenges around the world. You can view photos of the mural here http://www.araborganizing.org/mural

The mural was created by young artists from HOMEY, a grassroots organization that serves low-income Latino youth ages of 13 to 24 in the San Francisco Mission District.

The Jewish Community Relations Council is demanding that the San Francisco Arts Commission suppress the Palestinian images that are part of this mural proclaiming self-determination for all. Seeking censorship of these young artists, the JCRC has issued a formal letter to the San Francisco Arts Commission objecting to the mural, demanding that it be changed, and urging that the entire project come to a halt pending creation of a new “protocol” for murals.

Supporters of the mural are urging people to TAKE ACTION to support the HOMEY artists by writing letters to the SF Arts Commission. People are also encouraged to stop by and see the mural at 24th and Capp Street in San Francisco.

For more information, contact Arab Resource and Organizing Center atarabamericanlegal@gmail.com.

Learn More: Defend Health Care Justice in Sonoma County!

Learn More: Defend Health Care Justice in Sonoma County!

Sutter Health operates two hospitals in Sonoma County, playing a central role in providing critical health care needs in the region. In January 2007, Sutter Health announced that it planned to sell the Warrack campus of Sutter Medical Center Santa Rosa to the St. Joseph Health System, owners of Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, and to close the Chanate campus by early 2008.

Sutter Health leased the Chanate facility from the County in 1996, and currently has a contract with the County to provide care for the uninsured, as well as medical services for jail inmates and the family practice residency program. The closure is now on hold, but it is far from clear that current needs will continue to be met. Local activists are demanding that the County convene a Community Healthcare Oversight Committee including caregivers, health care advocates, community clinics, and County residents.

Health care activists warn that hospital consolidation leads to higher prices while rarely improving the quality of patient care. St. Joseph’s share of non-Kaiser acute-care beds in Sonoma County could grow from 53 percent to over 75 percent, and St. Joseph would become the only major non-Kaiser acute-care hospital in the area.

“Sutter Medical Center Santa Rosa is a critical part of the safety net in Sonoma County,” said John Borsos, Administrative Vice President of SEIU – United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW). “We must ensure that residents continue to have access to the full scope of health care services currently available and that the job security of dedicated caregivers of Sutter Medical Center Santa Rosa is protected.”

Sutter Health, based in Sacramento, operates 27 hospitals across Northern California and reported nearly half a billion dollars in profit in 2005. Orange County based St. Joseph Health reported over $215 million in profit in 2006.

SEIU-UHW West represents over 500 workers at Sutter Medical Center Santa Rosa including licensed vocational nurses, nursing assistants, technical workers and environmental service aides. In addition, the majority of caregivers at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and Petaluma Valley Hospital are organizing a union with SEIU-UHW.

Take action now to demand that Sutter Medical Center remain open until its services are fully replaced, and that the services provided by Sutter under the county’s Healthcare Access Agreement are maintained and enhanced.

 

CONTACT:
Health Care Justice Sonoma Cty
http://seiuaction.org/campaign/SonomaHealthcareJustice

NEWS:
Public Joins Campaign for Healthcare Justice at ‘SiCKO’ Premiere
http://www.chenuke.com/index.php?name=News&topic=30

Caregivers Demand Public Process to Evaluate Proposed Massive Reorganization of Sonoma County Health Care Services
http://www.smartbrief.com/news/aaaa/industryPR-detail.jsp?id=2AECB898-CC7F-4584-B51E-51ED3F2ACAF0

 

Learn More: Tell Lunardi’s: No Cruelty to Animals!

Learn More: Tell Lunardi’s: No Cruelty to Animals!

Lunardi’s Supermarket, a high-end grocery chain in the San Francisco Bay Area, offers an array of free-range and cage-free egg products. However, Lunardi’s still sells eggs from chickens confined in battery cages.

Recently, East Bay Animal Advocates documented shocking conditions at Lunardi’s egg supplier. The undercover footage shows intensive confinement of chickens in tiny battery cages, a particularly abusive industry practice.

EBAA launched a campaign recently to urge another local grocery chain, Andronico’s Market, to stop selling eggs from chickens confined to battery cages. The action was featured on Local Impact’s website. The campaign was successful: Andronico’s Market recently stopped selling battery cage eggs.

EBAA is urging people to contact Lunardi’s to urge the company to stop selling these eggs. The goal is to end this abusive industry practice.

For more information, see the web site of East Bay Animal Advocateshttp://www.eastbayanimaladvocates.org/ and their page on Lunardi’s athttp://www.LunardisAbuse.com. Also see the “No Battery Eggs” campaign of the Humane Society of the U.S.: http://www.hsus.org/farm/camp/nbe/

Please TAKE ACTION today to demand that Lunardi’s adopt a cage-free egg policy!

Learn More: Stop Censorship of Mission District Youth Mural!

Learn More: Stop Censorship of Mission District Youth Mural!

A powerful mural by Mission District youth regarding struggles for self-determination is nearly completed. The mural, located at 24th and Capp Street in San Francisco depicts self-determination for all and breaking down barriers as major themes. With many residents of the Mission fighting displacement locally and barriers separating them from their homelands, the work is a powerful statement of unity with those facing similar challenges around the world. You can view photos of the mural here http://www.araborganizing.org/mural

The mural was created by young artists from HOMEY, a grassroots organization that serves low-income Latino youth ages of 13 to 24 in the San Francisco Mission District.

The Jewish Community Relations Council is demanding that the San Francisco Arts Commission suppress the Palestinian images that are part of this mural proclaiming self-determination for all. Seeking censorship of these young artists, the JCRC has issued a formal letter to the San Francisco Arts Commission objecting to the mural, demanding that it be changed, and urging that the entire project come to a halt pending creation of a new “protocol” for murals.

Supporters of the mural are urging people to TAKE ACTION to support the HOMEY artists by writing letters to the SF Arts Commission. People are also encouraged to stop by and see the mural at 24th and Capp Street in San Francisco.

For more information, contact Arab Resource and Organizing Center atarabamericanlegal@gmail.com.