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The GrowSF Report: Battle over judges
PLUS: Algebra ballot measure moves forward
What You Need To Know
Here’s what happened around the city for the week of November 13, 2023:
- Battle over judges
- Algebra ballot measure moves forward
- Corruption at DBI - several more people charged
- Daily Driver’s big-deal bagels now in Cow Hollow
- Andina brings arepas & Venezuelan brunch to Hayes Valley
Battle over judges
Stop Crime SF, a volunteer group, has been monitoring judges for the past year with the intention to publish a judicial report card and voter guide. The incumbent judges (and Supervisor Aaron Peskin) are none-too-happy about this challenge and are pushing the idea that we should lose our right to vote on judges.
Jonah Lamb at The Standard penned an interesting (and long) account of the history and goals of Stop Crime SF, as well as how their volunteer “court watch” program works. One volunteer, Hatun Noguera, has been attending public court proceedings for over a year to follow what happens to repeat offenders, how judges make decisions, and if those judges are following the law.
Judges typically get re-elected without any challengers, but there are exceptions: In 2008, Gerardo Sandoval challenged (and defeated) incumbent judge Thomas Mellon. Supervisor Peskin supported Sandoval’s run, even though the Bar Association of San Francisco rated Sandoval as “unqualified” for the bench. So Peskin’s hypocrisy is a little rich as he calls to end judicial elections to protect his favored judges.
Algebra ballot measure moves forward
It’s been nearly ten years since public schools in San Francisco have offered algebra in 8th grade. The Algebra controversy took center stage during the 2018 School Board race. The members who supported eliminating algebra, like Alison Collins, were recalled in 2022.
Supervisor Joel Engardio introduced a ballot measure to urge the school district to offer Algebra in public schools by eighth grade. On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 to place it on the March 2024 ballot, with Supervisor Walton opposing, according to Mike Ege at The Standard.
Although SFUSD can choose to ignore the vote, it is viewed as an opportunity for the public to rally behind math education, and specifically algebra, as a keystone to math-based careers.
“The Board of Supervisors doesn’t have control over the school district, but every resident of San Francisco is our constituent, including parents and students, and their voices deserve to be heard,” said Supervisor Joel Engardio.
Corruption at DBI - several more people charged
Since the arrest and conviction of Mohammed Nuru, the former head of Public Works, the list of people facing corruption charges continues to grow.
Here is a recap of the scandals this month:
Van Zeng, a city building inspector, was hired by the city to inspect his own home. He also allegedly inspected properties owned by his family and work done by his father. This was clearly a conflict of interest and violation of the Department of Building Inspection’s code of conduct. Zeng is now on administrative leave.
Rudy Pada and Cyril Yu, department of building inspection employees, allegedly accepted bribes to approve building permits. In exchange for their work, they allegedly received free meals, drinks, and cash from a construction firm. Pada is also accused of accepting an $85,000 loan from Freydoon Ghassemzadeh, a developer related to Sia Tahbazof, the founder of SST Investments and SIA Consulting, a design and engineering firm.
Then there is Supervisor Asha Safaí. According to Michael Barba at The Standard, Safaí worked with Sia Tahbazof and Rodrigo Santos, “who were both accused of arranging illegal payments for a disgraced building inspector.” Safaí also invested in properties alongside a nephew of Tahbazof who allegedly bribed disgraced (and convicted) former building inspected Bernie Curran.
We wish we could make this stuff up. It’s a tangled messy web. And it’s the reason why we want more accountability and transparency in City Hall. And that starts with the Board of Supervisors.
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Recent & upcoming openings
A great city is constantly changing and growing, let’s celebrate what’s new!
Daily Driver’s big-deal bagels coming to Cow Hollow December 6
Open: December 6
Location: 1977 Union in Cow Hollow
Honestly, that picture speaks for itself. Go grab some delicious bagels at Daily Driver’s new Cow Hollow location… once they open, which should be December 6 according to Eater SF!
Andina brings arepas & Venezuelan brunch to Hayes Valley
Opens: December 3
Location: 201 Franklin - at SF Jazz
Paolo Bicchieri at Eater SF brings the good news of Andina’s growth from pop-up to full-time restaurant complete with their great Arepas and a new Venezuelan brunch offering. Opens December 3!
Your Action Plan
Now that you know what’s happening, help us shape what happens next:
Defend your right to vote for judge
On March 5, 2024, San Francisco voters get the chance to elect judges who reflect the values and demands of San Francisco. GrowSF will be researching the options and endorsing the best people for the job.
But Aaron Peskin is getting in the way: he has introduced a resolution at the Board condemning the election of judges, which has been a long-time part of our Democracy. Peskin has equated the upcoming election to a hostile takeover by the people of San Francisco!
Peskin is trying to take away your right to vote for judges because he favors the incumbents. Not only is this anti-democratic, but it's also hypocritical! In 2008, Peskin endorsed Gerardo Sandoval for judge when Sandoval was running against an incumbent judge! To make matters worse, the Bar Association of San Francisco had rated Sandoval unqualified for the bench.
To safeguard your right to vote on judges in the March election, email the Supervisors telling them to reject Peskin’s resolution to take away your voting rights and that you believe in fair and free elections.
The Spirit of San Francisco
There’s a lot to love about our city and the Bay Area. Here’s what makes it great. Brought to you by The Bold Italic.
What we’re doing this week
Unveiling of 12 ft. Tall “Sugar Castle” 2023 at the Westin St. Francis
Resembling a French Chateau inspired by Chef Houdré’s hometown of Bordeaux, the castle weighs over 1200 pounds and is adorned with over 20 grand circular towers, approximately 30 rooms, illuminated windows, and is surrounded by a charming village and a running train. Adding a delightful twist this year, a replica of the hotel’s beloved mascot, Francis the dog, will playfully explore the castle, rewarding those who spot him with a special prize from the concierge desk.
The public is warmly invited to witness the grand unveiling where complimentary hot chocolate and treats will be served, adding to the festive spirit of the occasion. Additionally, a specially designated area in the lobby will be set up for children to write their letters to Santa, sending their heartfelt wishes on a journey to the North Pole.
WHEN: November 22, 2023 from 11– 11:30 am
WHERE: The Westin St. Francis, 335 Powell Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
What we’re writing about
San Francisco is dead? Tell that to the thousands at Chinatown Night Market
Thousands filled Grant Avenue this weekend to sample neighborhood restaurants, take in a lion dance or dance themselves beneath the warm glow of dēnglóng lanterns at the Chinatown Night Market. Who was there? Everyone.
SkyStar Ferris Wheel arrives at Fisherman’s Wharf just in time for the holidays
Within whiffing distance of Boudin Bakery and spitting range of the Pier 43 arch, the SkyStar Wheel features more San Francisco than previously thought possible to squeeze into fifteen minutes: both bridges, every neighborhood between the FiDi and Fort Mason, the SS Jeremiah O’Brien and all the other historic ships bejeweling our quays. Never mind the lightning speed at which it rolled on over the hills to the waterside.
While Westfield Centre flounders, Stonestown Galleria thrives
Cultural style comes and goes, and retail trends are no different. Big enclosed shopping malls have fallen out of fashion in America, especially in tech-savvy cities like San Francisco, where everyone orders everything online. The shopping mall culture of the late 1900s has slowly eroded in the new millennium, to the point where U.S. malls have lost nearly 50 percent of their value since 2016.
So we were ready to manage my expectations on a recent field trip to Stonestown Galleria, originally built in 1952 and at the time was the country’s 4th biggest shopping center.
Need more arts in San Francisco? Superfine Arts Fair has you covered
Superfine Arts Fair at Fort Mason is a carefully-curated event designed not only to provide attendants with access to exciting new artists but also provide the artists with support in their careers, you can feel good knowing that 100 percent of the sale revenue goes to the artists. We walked around opening day and found more than just an art market, it’s also a space for making connections.
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