This week's new articles from the alternative weeklies...
- State Park Closure Plan Is Illegal (East Bay Express)
From the start, Jerry Brown's decision to close seventy state parks next year because of California's budget crisis seemed odd. Not only had no governor ever closed a state park in California before, but it became immediately clear that Brown's May 13 announcement wasn't going to have much impact on the state's $9.6 billion deficit. The Democratic governor, who often portrays himself as being environmentally friendly, acknowledged that closing state parks will only save about $11 million next year. In other words, the governor decided to create an instant controversy over a proposal that only addresses 0.1 percent of California's financial problem.
Thanks to excellent reporting by Paul Rogers of the San Jose Mercury News, we've also learned that Brown's plan has many more flaws than its relatively minor effect on the budget — namely, that portions of it appear to be illegal. Late last week, Rogers broke the news that the National Park Service has concluded that Brown cannot close sixteen of the seventy state parks on his list because they received federal funding. Full article
- Farmers' Markets: Who Benefits? (East Bay Express)
Spring Opara doesn't just shop at the farmers' market in her Grand Lake neighborhood. She does the farmers' market. Reusable shopping bag dangling from her arm and her stomach primed for a filling of fruit samples, the Air Force veteran marches down her hill across the street every Saturday, prepared for a long, lazy morning, taking it all in.
Salmon jerky. Macaroons. Hundreds of Oaklanders, including the neighborhood friends she's bound to run into. "I partake of just about everything here," said the fifty-year-old with bouncy, graying dreadlocks, as she sat perched atop a concrete slab next to the Afghan bread stand. "I love the products, I love the diversity," she gushed. There's just one thing that bothers the artist and businesswoman: "If you walk around and see where some of these folks are from, very few are Oakland residents." Full article
- Schoolhouse Rocked: S.F.'s Most Controversial Charter School Throws Off For-Profit Masters (SF Weekly)
Stepping onto Edison Charter Academy's schoolyard, you would never guess this is the most contested turf in San Francisco public education. The chapters in Edison's history book have been dramatic: First, the shamefully failed public elementary school. Then the takeover by a company seeking to profit off public education. The high-profile attacks from the school district. The notoriety in the national media. And now, after a decade of controversy, the chapter you probably didn't hear about: the quiet mutiny by teachers against the corporation. Full article
- FBI spying will be an issue for new Police Commissioner (SF Bay Guardian)
When Police Chief Greg Suhr got sworn in at City Hall a month ago, reporters each got to ask one question during a hastily convened media roundtable inside Mayor Ed Lee’s office. And since the Guardian’s story about the FBI’s secret agreement with the San Francisco Police Department had just hit the streets, I asked the new Chief, if he would welcome clarification around the duties of SFPD officers assigned to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Taskforce.
Chief Suhr said he believed an examination of the wording of the FBI’s most recent memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the department was already under way. "I believe that the MOU is being revisited,” Suhr said. “I have not been a part of that, but again I think we have a real good policy with regard to our intelligence gathering and that does supercede any ask of any other agency. The officers are bound by policies and procedures. And that policy was well thought out with tremendous community and group input years and years ago, from situations that have not since repeated themselves. I think a lot of people back then couldn't believe they happened in the first place, but I think measures were well thought out and put in place to make sure we don't have a problem again." Full article