- Newsom puts final stamp on days as mayor (San Francisco Chronicle)
After giving himself an extra week in office, Gavin Newsom used the time to put a final stamp on his seven years as mayor. He pushed his choice for interim mayor in a final skirmish with his more liberal rivals on the Board of Supervisors. He moved the police chief he once hired over to the district attorney's office. And he announced major agreements with bankers and environmentalists while generally cleaning his desk before moving to Sacramento.
Gascon Steps Through Newsom's Revolving Door (The Bay Citizen)
The man most residents still know as the police chief of San Francisco was sworn in Sunday afternoon as the city’s first Latino district attorney, 24 hours after outgoing Mayor Gavin Newsom first asked him to take the job. Calling the ceremony his “final mayoral act,” Newsom announced George Gascón’s surprise appointment during a hasty, crowded ceremony outside the mayor’s offices on the second floor of City Hall. Newsom will be sworn in Monday as lieutenant governor. Gascón, who had been police chief just 18 months, will be jumping from one scandal-ridden department to another. He replaces Kamala Harris, who stepped down to become the state attorney general.
In the wake of two police shootings of mentally disturbed men within a week, mental health advocates criticized San Francisco Police Chief George Gascón for cutting a program that trained officers in dealing with unstable suspects. For nine years, police officers underwent 40 hours of training apiece in how to recognize mentally ill suspects and de-escalate crises. The training was called for under a lawsuit settlement with the family of a mentally disturbed man whom officers shot to death in 2001 when he brandished a knife at them in a movie theater. More than 1,000 officers completed the training before the department eliminated the program in June. Mental health workers say police officials described their action as a budget-cutting move.
Old Sacramento was revived with the help of public redevelopment money, back in the 1960s. The city's new downtown nightlife venue, the "mermaid bar" complex on K Street, got millions of redevelopment dollars, too. Even the midtown loft building that Gov. Jerry Brown calls home was partially funded with redevelopment money. Now California's multibillion-dollar redevelopment industry is fighting for its life – with Brown as its would-be executioner. In the budget proposal he will release today, the governor is expected to call for the elimination of every local redevelopment agency in the state, according to a source familiar with the proposal.
It may be a very long time -- or maybe not at all -- for Berkeley's voter-approved medical marijuana farms to start growing the green. That's according to city officials and people in the industry who saw a letter from the Alameda County District Attorney warning Oakland officials they face prosecution for a similar plan. And to further dampen the spirits of potential Berkeley pot growers, those in the industry say there is no suitable space to grow pot in the city in the area designated in the plan approved by voters.
Richmond police try to curb celebratory gunfire (Contra Costa Times)
Sure, Jerry Wooldridge heard the gunfire. Which time? "Oh, it's a little disconcerting. But it is normal," the 40-year resident said in front of his home in central Richmond. "I hear it every Fourth of July, and every New Year's Eve." Until Friday, he never saw anyone appear in his driveway to ask about it. But now, after every holiday known for celebratory gunfire, police intend to knock on doors in neighborhoods with gunshots in hopes of learning more about why, and stopping it in the future.
In the summer of 1983, John Adams agreed to write the music for a new opera called "Nixon in China." But Mr. Adams, then in his mid-30s and with a young family to support, soon drifted into what he called "a first-class funk"—a seemingly intractable creative block. For 18 months, he was unable to break his dry spell, despite locking himself in his studio and undergoing psychoanalysis. A dream finally helped him to break out of this period of "creative lockdown." One night, he envisioned a supertanker blasting out of the San Francisco Bay and soaring up into the sky. That image gave him the inspiration to write the powerful, pounding E-minor chords that launched a 40-minute symphony, "Harmonielehre," which then opened the way for him to compose the much-acclaimed "Nixon in China."
While Ken Martin and Matt Adams were traveling in Namibia, Africa, a couple years ago, two of their hosts appeared with a digital camera and a photo printer. The men were photographing churchgoers in their Sunday best and selling the pictures on the spot. Martin said he admired their entrepreneurial spirit, but something else excited him about what he saw: "They transported it all on the back of a bicycle." As co-owner of the San Rafael-based Mike's Bikes chain, Martin wants more people around the world to ride bicycles. During the past several years he and Adams have expanded that mission beyond their Northern California customer base to Africa, where they see the bicycle as an affordable form of transportation in a region where cars are often out of reach and many people rely on walking.
Seven religious leaders climbed out of their vehicles on a recent weekday and scattered on foot across Whitewater Canyon northwest of Palm Springs. They were looking for clues to the character of the prophets said to have used the wilderness as a gateway to spiritual awakenings. ... Gazing across a broad, sandy gulch where the Whitewater River carried its cargo of silt and snowmelt past fortress-like sandstone walls, Petra Mallais-Sternberg, pastor of the First Congregational United Church of Christ in San Bernardino, said, "The basic elements of my faith are all around us. I see flowing baptismal waters, and boulders that stand for the cornerstones of my faith," she said.
A charismatic officer who led by example, Mr. Winters received the Distinguished Service Cross, the country's second highest decoration for valor, while conducting combat operations on D-Day. Mr. Winters led a small group of men on a raid of German cannon emplacements near Utah beach on Normandy's coastline. ... Later in the war, one of Mr. Winters's soldiers, Floyd Talbert, wrote a letter to the officer from a hospital in Indiana expressing gratitude for his loyalty and leadership. "You are loved and will never be forgotten by any soldier that ever served under you," Talbert wrote to Mr. Winters in 1945. "I would follow you into hell."