This week's new articles from the alternative weeklies...
- Blowing Smoke: Obama Promises One Thing, Does Another on Medical Marijuana (SF Weekly)
...That the man in the White House was even willing to put "medical" and "marijuana" together in the same sentence was a step forward for California's cannabis advocates. They had endured such spectacles as the sentencing to five years in federal prison of a pair of El Dorado County providers — Mollie Fry, a breast cancer survivor, and Dale Schafer, a hemophiliac — and the DEA seizing six plants belonging to Angel Raich, who had an inoperable brain tumor. Legal outdoor growers were living in fear after an unprecedented string of DEA raids in the state's pot-producing counties in 2007. In the Bay Area, the U.S. Attorney's Office, headed in the last years of Bush's presidency by Reagan appointee Joseph Russoniello, sought stiff sentences against two brothers for running a dispensary in Hayward.
To hear Obama say change had come to California's pot users was welcome balm indeed. That Obama's DEA had raided dispensaries in Los Angeles, Lake Tahoe, and San Francisco was an aberration, the White House said: Our guys aren't in yet.
- Green Days: An expurgated history of some key moments in Bay Area environmental history
1892: The Sierra Club is established by John Muir and a group of professors from UC Berkeley and Stanford in San Francisco. In its first conservation campaign, the club leads efforts to defeat a proposed reduction in the boundaries of Yosemite National Park.
1902: After two years of intense lobbying and fundraising, the Sempervirens Club, the first land conservation organization on the west coast, is successful in establishing Big Basin Redwoods State Park — the first park established in California under the new state park system.
...In one fell swoop in November 2008, the Tree Services Division shed 40 percent of its workforce — a reduction from 32 to 19 employees, including the loss of four drivers, four trimmers, and three supervisors. The deep budget cuts forced the department to curtail one of its most essential services: routine trimming and pruning, which help keep trees from becoming overgrown to the point that they require immediate attention.
Now, the city named for a native tree is forced to regard its arboreal citizens as hazards, tending only to those that pose a direct threat to public safety by blocking signs, buckling concrete, impeding emergency vehicles, or threatening to drop limbs or fall altogether.