This week's new articles from the alternative weeklies…
- Behind the tweets (San Francisco Bay Guardian)
A Guardian review of the voluminous e-mails and other public records behind the proposed Mid-Market tax exclusion zone shows how public officials and private power brokers promised millions of dollars in benefits to Twitter and greatly expanded the tax-exclusion zone to unrelated properties with little explanation, concern over impacts, or understanding of how it would affect city finances. The result was a proposal that could cost the cash-strapped city more than $17 million — a cost that even the city's fairly conservative economist Ted Egan told the Guardian isn't justified for many of the properties that were included in the proposal, particularly the large commercial office buildings along Market Street and the small businesses in the Tenderloin. Full article
- Unregistered lobbyist (San Francisco Bay Guardian)
In 2007 and 2008, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. paid former Mayor Willie Brown a total of $480,000 for consulting work. Since Brown has never been utility lawyer, it's almost certain that money has bought political advice and access. Brown is also working for the owners of the Fairmont Hotel, which wants to tear down one of its towers and build as many as 180 luxury condos. His public affairs institute shares office space with one of the most powerful lobbying firms in town. He meets with or talks regularly with the mayor and members of the Board of Supervisors. Yet unlike dozens of others who seek to influence public policy for hire, Brown is not registered as a lobbyist at City Hall. Full article
- U-Visa: Illegal Immigrants Become Legal Residents Via Crime Victimization (SF Weekly)
...The U.S. immigration system has long offered asylum to those who face persecution abroad. But in reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act of 2000, Congress created a new visa that responded to the violence immigrants face. Domestic violence or sexual assault? Apply here. Robbery or attempted murder? Step right up. "We have a sick sense of humor here in our office," says Fernanda Bustamante, an attorney on Lewis' team who handled Silva's case. "Like, maybe we should just go tell them to get a job as a pizza deliveryman or walk around Fruitvale with a bunch of money in their hand — of course, that's just totally kidding." Full article
- The Great Shark Slaughter (East Bay Express)
...Opponents of the proposed (shark fin) ban say it represents an unfair attack on Chinese-American culture and cuisine. They also contend that sharks aren't just killed for their highly prized fins, but also for their meat. "Costco sells shark meat," said Democratic state Senator Leland Yee at a press conference after the legislation was introduced. Yee, who is running for mayor of San Francisco, has come out strongly against a ban. "So those sharks that come in — what are you going to do with that fin?" But are sharks really being caught for their meat? And are shark fins just leftover byproducts that would otherwise be thrown away? According to numerous scientific studies and international trade statistics, the answer is a resounding "no."
- The Best of Silicon Valley 2011 (Metro Silicon Valley)
Spring's approach captures Silicon Valley's sunshine and optimism—the clear air, the seed planting, the lengthening days. Counterintuitively, we used to publish Metro's Best of Silicon Valley issue just as the damp, darkening days of winter clamped down during the greedy season of harvest and hunkering down, which didn't really fit our region's forward-looking ethos. So it was time for reinvention. That's why we moved the publication date from September to March. An issue that celebrates the good stuff around us is a good way to start the year off right.