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[UPDATE: Kevin Montgomery of Uptown Almanac reacts.]
[UPDATE II: The Twitter-stream of one @kylekirchhoff just went private. C'mon, Bro! You gotta engage with the peeps. Today is your big day. It's not that incrimernating, is it? Bro discusses how much he doesn't like Twitter, McAfee Antivirus Inc, and how many people got shot on a MUNI #14 last year. You know, all the usual stuff. But I'll tell you, withdrawing from Web 2.0 is what criminales do, right? You're just a bro with a bus. Nothing wrong with that.]
[UPDATE III: Aaron Sankin of Huffington Post San Francisco weighs in.]
[UPDATE IV: And now Ellen Huet of the San Francisco Chronicle:
John Avalos, a supervisor who has fought against private companies use of Muni stops, called Kirchhoff’s comments “very disingenuous.”
“What a crock of s—,” Avalos said. “How does blocking a Muni stop make the city more efficient? You’re trying to make money, and you’re creating a two-tiered transportation system in San Francisco.”]
I’ll tell you, I’ve been waiting years for a MUNI alternative to pop up and look, it’s here.
Now I’m not talking about the corporate buses (like Google, Apple, FaceBook and so on) that have been around for a decade or so, and I’m not talking about Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and the like and I’m not even talking about the private version of the taxpayer-subsidized Twitter Express, the 83X.
It looks like this, as seen just yesterday:
Here’s what the site looks like:
See that? The bus comes with WiFi and leather seats, but they cost three times as much as MUNI. And I’m supposing you and your wheelchair would be better off on MUNI, just a guess. And, oh yes, you pretty much need an Apple iPhone (or as close an iOS device as possible) to climb aboard.
Now you’d think the MSM would be all over this new company, but no. So far, Leap has escaped notice, except from this bloke called Stilgherrian from Down Under. (Uh, he’s _not_ a fan. I haven’t seen a booting like this since Bart vs. Australia)
“This little blue bus symbolises everything that is wrong with the current bubble and boom of internet startup culture. It’s in San Francisco. It belongs to Leap Transit. And, on May 13, this “better bus” — OMFG, it has leather seats and wi-fi! — began operating as part of what’s billed as a “shuttle service for San Francisco commuters.”
Bonus bon mot:
“This socialized [x] is slow and unprofitable. Let’s start a [x] for rich people that pays its employees less.”
Leave there be no doubt, Leap Transit is a wannabe MUNI disrupter. See?
So far, reaction around town has been mixed.
I don’t know, if the 30X just passed you by ’cause it’s raining and you see a Leap bus coming at you and you have an iPhone and you’re already signed up, well then Leap just might be worth the six bucks.
All the deets:
Every time you ride with leap, your credit card will be charged $6.00 automatically upon entering the bus. You…
Our shuttles flow downtown in the morning, and uptown in the evening. You can get on at any of the stops desig…
We’d love to. We’re expanding as rapidly as possible. If you’d like us to add service to your area, please sug…
Leap runs on weekdays during commuter hours. That’s from 7:00 AM to 10:00 AM and from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM.
We currently only support iPhone, but we will be supporting other platforms very soon.
We do not currently have a way to have your employer cover the tab. But it is something we’re working on.
To the right of this accident scene is Octavia Boulevard.
And to the left, a block away, is Octavia Street.
And in the middle, you’ll see NIMBY Green with a newish Mercedes Benz CLS sitting on top.
Via ciprofloxacin – click to expand
You see, Octavia used to be a regular old street until Redevelopment (a bad idea from the 20th century) and the failed Octavia “Boulevard” experiment (a bad idea from the 21st century) came along.
Anyway. this is what results when “activists” are valued more than traffic engineers…
[UPDATE: Senator Leland Yee is on the case this AM - he's doing a presser involving this latest allegation. (I guess it's too late to call this an October Surprise, and frankly, it's not all that surprising neither. Let's call it a November Expectation. Brace yourself for more.) Oh, and Leland is onto some Chinatown voting sting operation as well.
And there's this: "Statement from Chiu Campaign on Money Laundering Allegations - SAN FRANCISCO (November 2, 2011): Addisu Demissie, spokesman for the David Chiu for Mayor campaign, released the following statement about a San Francisco Chronicle report of potential money laundering by supporters of Mayor Ed Lee:
"This is now the fourth allegation of illegal conduct by Mayor Lee's supporters, and it should be investigated fully by the District Attorney and appropriate authorities,” Demissie said. “With six days to go before Election Day, it will be up to the voters to decide whether this kind of bullying, pay-to-play politics is what they want to see at City Hall for the next 4 years. David is going to spend the last 6 days of this race talking about why he represents a new generation of leadership for San Francisco that will stand tough against the special interests and shake things up at City Hall."
Paid for by David Chiu for Mayor 2011, P.O. Box 641541, San Francisco, CA 94164, FPPC##1337108]
Well, it looks like early-rising City Attorney Dennis Jose Herrera is the first one out of the gates to follow up on today’s piece from San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writers John Coté and Heather Knight.
“Too many of Ed Lee’s supporters act as though they’re above the law — on money laundering, on ballot tampering, and more – and Ed Lee isn’t strong enough to stop it.
Earlier this year, Ed Lee was picked unanimously to be an Interim Mayor. He wasn’t picked to be a Reformer. He’ll never be a Reformer.
In Ed Lee’s world, the notorious Willie Brown Administration deserves an A+, Rose Pak is not a cancer on Chinatown, and corner-cutting PG&E (“KABOOM!“) is simply “a great local corporation” and a “great company that gets it.”
Is Ed Lee Breaking Bad? Has the City Family corrupted him? Or has he corrupted the City Family? A little of both?
Click to expand
All the deets:
“Herrera calls on FPPC to join D.A. in investigating new Ed Lee campaign money laundering charge - CitiApartments’ former eviction goon led reimbursement-for-donation scheme, suggesting political payback for City Attorney’s 2006 tenant-protection lawsuit
SAN FRANCISCO (Nov. 2, 2011) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera this morning called on the state Fair Political Practices Commission to join District Attorney George Gascón in reviewing new allegations reported in today’s San Francisco Chronicle that Ed Lee’s mayoral campaign received donations that appear to have been illegally laundered to skirt San Francisco $500 per donor contribution maximum. Andrew Hawkins, a property services manager whose harrowing tenant intimidation tactics were central to Herrera’s lawsuit five years ago against the Lembi Group landlords’ once high-rolling CitiApartments empire, promised reimbursements to at least sixteen employees in exchange for maximum contributions to Ed Lee’s mayoral campaign at an Oct. 18, 2011 fundraiser, according to the Chronicle.
It is the second major allegation of campaign money laundering to benefit Ed Lee’s campaign. The first, involving GO Lorrie’s airport shuttle, is the subject of separate investigations by Gascón’s office and the FPPC, the state commission responsible to investigate and impose penalties for violations of the California Political Reform Act. Such schemes have been prosecuted as felonies in California for conspiring to evade campaign contribution limits, and for making campaign contributions under false names.
“I think San Franciscans have now seen enough,” said City Attorney Dennis Herrera. “Too many of Ed Lee’s supporters act as though they’re above the law — on money laundering, on ballot tampering, and more — and Ed Lee isn’t strong enough to stop it. If this is how they behave before an election, just imagine how they’ll behave after the election, if Ed Lee wins. This scheme is clearly a bid for political payback by CitiApartments henchmen for my litigation to protect tenants five years ago. It is patently illegal, and I call on the FPPC to join the District Attorney in investigating.”
Hawkins is listed in Ed Lee’s campaign disclosures as the owner of Archway Property Services. As the one-time head of CitiApartments’ “tenant relocation program,” the gun-carrying Hawkins is reported to have coerced more than 2,500 tenants out of their rent-controlled units, and once boasted in civil court testimony, “I run people out of their apartments for a living. It’s what I do.“
Several recipients of Hawkins’ email invitation to an Oct. 18 event on Russian Hill made contributions to Ed Lee’s campaign on the same date. All contributed the maximum $500.
Herrera sued the CitiApartments residential rental property behemoth in Aug. 2006 for an array of unlawful business and tenant harassment practices, which sought to dispossess long-term residents of their rent-controlled apartments. The coerced vacancies freed the company to make often-unpermitted renovations to units, and then re-rent them to new tenants at dramatically increased market rates. The illegal business model enabled CitiApartments, Skyline Realty and other entities under the sway of real estate family patriarch Frank Lembi to aggressively outbid competitors for residential properties throughout San Francisco for several years — before lawsuits and a sharp economic downturn forced the aspiring empire into bankruptcies, foreclosures and receiverships.
A 2009 San Francisco Magazine feature story on the Lembi real estate empire described Andrew Hawkins as “a burly former nightclub bouncer who headed up CitiApartments’ relocation program.” Hawkins reportedly led teams as large as 14 full-time employees, according to the report, and the company estimated that “Hawkins relocated more than 2,500 tenants.” An earlier exposé in 2006 by the San Francisco Bay Guardian cited civil court testimony in which Hawkins boasted to one tenant’s family member, “I run people out of their apartments for a living. It’s what I do.”
# # #
And here’s the version of the same story what’s in the National Section of today’s New York Times:
And here they are – Interim Mayor Ed Lee and Mayoral Spokesmodel Tony Winnicker along with the Fourth Estate (including feisty Gerry Shih and feisty Luke Thomas) at San Francisco City Hall:
All the deets:
“Herrera calls for criminal investigation of laundered campaign donations to Ed Lee
Letter to U.S. Attorney, State A.G. and San Francisco D.A. says only investigators with authority to subpoena records, question witnesses under oath can resolve questions
SAN FRANCISCO (Oct. 7, 2011) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera today called for a formal criminal investigation into allegations first reported late yesterday afternoon that donors to interim Mayor Ed Lee’s campaign conspired to exceed contribution limits by laundering money through business associates. Herrera’s three-page letter to U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón noted that the published admissions by employees of Go Lorries Airport Shuttle may indicate felony and misdemeanor violations of state and local laws. The California Fair Political Practices Commission has already announced a civil investigation into allegations that donors were reimbursed cash to make campaign contributions to Lee.
Further heightening concerns about the apparently illegal contributions, Herrera wrote, is that the donations closely followed official actions by mayoral appointees that significantly benefited the purported donors’ employer. Those actions include altering shared-ride the loading zone configurations at San Francisco International Airport to favor Go Lorries Airport Shuttles “due to feedback” from unspecified parties. Lee’s campaign has reportedly returned some $8,500 in donations that were questioned yesterday.
“Investigations are warranted when credible allegations risk undermining public trust in our local government — and we’ve certainly reached that point here,” Herrera said. “Only independent investigators with authority to subpoena records and question witnesses under oath can adequately resolve questions to which San Franciscans deserve answers. A formal investigation will best assure justice while protecting innocent parties. I hope interim Mayor Lee’s campaign joins in calling for such an inquiry, and cooperates with it fully.”
Herrera’s letter noted that multiple political endeavors on interim Mayor Lee’s behalf for much of the year have been plagued by ethical and legal questions, including political activities by city contractors, and the advent of a controversial “general purpose committee” that advanced Lee’s candidacy throughout the summer while sidestepping legal restraints that normally apply to candidate committees.
Urging “a full, fair and speedy investigation,” Herrera’s letter to federal and state criminal prosecutors concluded: “Allowing these questions to remain wholly unanswered can only serve to betray San Franciscans’ confidence in the integrity of their public institutions, and potentially diminish the legitimacy of their elected leadership.”
Let’s see, where to start with horrible Octavia Boulevard.
Oh, here we go, with some bold, confident words from all the way back in 2003:
“The replacement freeway and Boulevard were charged with ensuring a level of service comparable to the previous structure and configuration. This has been achieved…”
In no way, shape, or form does the newish Octavia Boulevard have a level of service comparable to the old Central Freeway.
And, BTW, did the Central Freeway block Fell, Oak, Page, Haight and Market? Nope. Does Octavia Boulevard? Yep, every day, all the time.
(This is an example of misplaced confidence, of the hubris.)
Now, what kind of signal timing does it take to accommodate a 3000-mile-long freeway ending on Market Street. Well, let’s take a look here. Do you notice that Market street peds have about four seconds to begin the journey across Octavia during the 95-second cycle? Why is that? I mean, that means that any given ped on Market has over a 95% chance of having to stop and wait for all those cars on Octavia to go by. Is that fair? Now, what about cars and streetcars and bikes and buses and whatnot heading outbound on Market – do you think it’s much better for them? Well, it’s not. Just 20-something percent of the traffic signal cycle allows traffic to flow uphill on Market at the Octavia Intersection. Why are the lights so biased in favor of the cars driving through on Octavia, you know, as opposed to Market Street?
Check it (oh yeah, that’s some homeless dude coughing at the end there, not me.)
Now, the term “fork-tailed doctor killer” used to be the nickname of the Beechcraft Bonanza, you know, the plane what killed Buddy Holly on the Day That Music Died. But that whole V-Tail sitch got addressed and now, Beech makes those Bonanzas with regular old straight tails. So let’s recycle this phrase and use it for Octavia Boulevard, why not?
Here’s the fork of the tail:
Now, how can I justify blaming the whole “Boulevard Movement” fad of the aughts for an famous accident that killed that UCSF doctor if the UCSF van driver ran a red light? Well, take a look at this:
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See? Sometimes half the lanes of Oak have a red light and the other half have a green. Does that make sense? Well, if you’re struggling to make pathetic Octavia work and you don’t want traffic routinely backing up to Golden Gate Park, well then you yourself would be tempted to do whatever you could to help Octavia flow.
Does this unorthodox design factor in human nature, you know, the nut behind the steering wheel? No, it doesn’t. The fact is that car drivers, those sheeple, follow the pack. If the car to the right goes, then they want to go.
Of course, drivers should do better, but we need to factor in their behavior when we design roads, right?
What we shouldn’t do is to let Hayes Valley insiders, that very small but very influential group, to design anything for the rest of us.
And BTW, why on Earth are left turns allowed on inbound Market onto Octavia? Could it be for the convenience of those Hayes Valley insiders? Check it out. You’d think that Hayes Valley types would be satisfied with being able to make a left at the prior intersection or the next intersection, but no, traffic on Market has to wait on a dedicated signal for a dedicated lane of drivers.
Does that make sense?
Why not this? Why not narrow Octavia dramatically and just give up on the whole boulevard experiment? Just take out the frontage roads and all that on-street parking and those medians and that would be a good start on “completing” the Horrible Octavia Experiment, turning it into a “Complete Street.” Even the Great Designer of Octavia admits now that the boulevard is too wide.
And let’s get rid of that left turn lane that was built just for the NIMBYs of Hayes Valley. Why should Market Street, the more important one, take a back street to Octavia, which is basically a glorified freeway onramp?
And why not give people on Market Street half the time of the light signal and then the people on Octavia the other half? Wouldn’t that be more fair?
Or, we can continue to value higher condo prices and “trendy restaurants and high-end boutiques” over everything else in this world:
“Before the destruction of the Central Freeway, condominium prices in the Hayes Valley neighborhood were 66% of San Francisco average prices. However, after the demolition and subsequent replacement with the new Octavia Boulevard, prices grew to 91% of city average. Beyond this, the most dramatic increases were seen in the areas nearest to the new boulevard. Furthermore, residents noted a significant change in the nature of the commercial establishments in the area. Where it had been previously populated by liquor stores and mechanic shops, soon the area was teeming with trendy restaurants and high-end boutiques.”