Disruption at UC Berkeley dean’s home is latest campus flashpoint over Gaza

POLITICS

By Bob Egelko April 10, 2024 (SFChronicle.com)

UC Berkeley’s law school dean, Erwin Chemerinsky, and his wife, law professor Catherine Fisk, invited third-year students to their home for a dinner to celebrate the students’ upcoming graduation. But it became a scene of anger when a student arose to denounce the school’s financial support for Israel’s government — just the latest in a series of confrontations at the university over Israel and Palestine.

Malak Afaneh, leader of Berkeley Law Students for Justice in Palestine, stood up in the couple’s backyard Tuesday evening to denounce the university’s investments in manufacturers of weapons for Israel and had just spoken the words “as-salamu alaykum” — meaning peace and blessings to you — when Fisk grabbed her and tried to take away her microphone, according to the Bay Area Palestine Youth Movement.

An Instagram post by the two student groups said the professor was “violently assaulting” Afaneh. In the video, Fisk attempts to take Afaneh’s phone from her hand, then puts her arm around the student while telling her to leave her house. Chemerinsky said he and Fisk told Afaneh to leave, and about 10 of the 60 students left with her.

“I am enormously sad that we have students who are so rude as to come into my home, in my backyard, and use this social occasion for their political agenda,” Chemerinsky said in a statement Wednesday. “I have spent my career staunchly defending freedom of speech.”

He said posters had appeared on law school bulletin boards and social media last week showing a caricature of his face, with hands holding a bloody knife and fork, captioned “No dinner with Zionist Chem while Gaza starves.” “I never thought I would see such blatant antisemitism,” Chemerinsky said. 

The dean said student government leaders had told him to expect protests at the dinners, but he and Fisk decided to host them anyway, assuming any protests would “not be disruptive.”

UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ said she was “appalled” by the incident and had contacted Chemerinsky to offer her sympathy. “While our support for Free Speech is unwavering, we cannot condone using a social occasion at a person’s private residence as a platform for protest,” Christ said in a statement.

The student groups could not be reached for comment.

The issue surfaced at the university in 2022 when a number of student organizations, led by Law Students for Justice in Palestine, announced that they would not invite speakers who supported Zionism, which defines the land of Israel as a Jewish state.

Last October, a week after Hamas’ attack on Israel that began the current war, Berkeley law professor Steven Davidoff Solomon wrote a column in the Wall Street Journal accusing the student groups of antisemitism and urging law firms not to hire any of his students who agreed with the groups.

In November, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, a Zionist organization, filed suit accusing the law school of promoting antisemitism by allowing students to exclude pro-Zionist speakers. And last month, the Republican-controlled House Labor and Workforce Committee announced an investigation into allegations of antisemitism at UC Berkeley. 

Chemerinsky, who is Jewish and generally supportive of Israel, has been caught in the middle. He said he disagreed with the student groups’ policies — which, he noted, would exclude him as a speaker — but believed they had a right to invite only speakers who agreed with their views.

In an open letter to the Berkeley law community in October, Chemerinsky said Solomon “was speaking for himself and not for the institution” in calling on law firms not to hire students because of their views. UC Berkeley, the dean said, “is strongly committed to helping all of our students find employment.”

In February, Palestinian supporters stretched a banner opposing the “Zionist Entity” across Sather Gate, the south entrance of campus, preventing students from walking through the central arch of the gate.

Later that month, protests by hundreds of students prevented a speech by a right-wing Israeli lawyer, Ran-Bar Yoshafat, though he was able to speak at the campus in March. A female student who tried to shut the door on protesters at Yoshafat’s first scheduled speech, while she was wearing a Star of David necklace, said some of them put their hands on her neck and tried to choke her.

In March, Ron Hassner, a political science professor and chair of Israel studies at UC Berkeley, held what amounted to a two-week sit-in, eating and sleeping in his office after work, and said the school must take “steps to prevent violence between students.”

Reach Bob Egelko: begelko@sfchronicle.com; Twitter: @BobEgelko

April 10, 2024

By Bob Egelko

Bob Egelko has been a reporter since June 1970. He spent 30 years with the Associated Press, covering news, politics and occasionally sports in Los Angeles, San Diego and Sacramento, and legal affairs in San Francisco from 1984 onward. He worked for the San Francisco Examiner for five months in 2000, then joined The Chronicle in November 2000.

His beat includes state and federal courts in California, the Supreme Court and the State Bar. He has a law degree from McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento and is a member of the bar. Coverage has included the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, the appointment of Rose Bird to the state Supreme Court and her removal by the voters, the death penalty in California and the battles over gay rights and same-sex marriage.

He can be reached at begelko@sfchronicle.com.

Upzoning Ingleside: Proposal To Meet Housing Goal Still Shifting

The neighborhood could see building heights raised between six and 14 stories to meet the state’s demand for more housing.

ANNE MARIE KRISTOFF

Rendering showing Ocean Avenue with building envelopes.
A rendering shows what Ingleside’s Ocean Avenue would look like in the unlikely occurrence that all properties were rebuilt using proposed building height allowances. | Courtesy image

APRIL 10 2024 (inglesidelight.com)

The neighborhood’s transit corridors are subject to San Francisco’s state-mandated plan to raise building height limits.

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To meet the state requirement to build 82,000 new homes by 2031, the San Francisco Planning Department has been working on a proposal for upzoning the western and northern sides of the city for nearly two years with their first hearing about it taking place on Feb. 1. The plan includes upzoning more of Ocean Avenue’s properties near the City College of San Francisco toward the Lakeside neighborhood as well as most of Junipero Serra Boulevard from 19th Avenue to Sloat and St. Francis Boulevard to between six and 14 stories.

“The Planning Department’s rezoning effort is iterative and I agree that the focus of the height increases should be along major commercial and transit corridors, like Ocean Avenue, where we want to support more housing opportunities for workers, families and seniors,” District 7 Supervisor Myrna Melgar said.

Melgar also said that the upzoned parcels must be carefully considered so the plans best represent the city’s unique neighborhoods.

Areas along Junipero Serra Boulevard near Ingleside Terraces will be upzoned to six stories and the building at the corner of Junipero Serra Boulevard and Ocean Avenue, where the Chicago Title Insurance Company is located, will be upzoned to 14 stories or 140 feet. The proposal also includes two blocks of Monterrey Boulevard in Sunnyside which will be upzoned to six stories.

While Randolph Street and Brotherhood Way are not highlighted in the plan, despite lying along transit lines, Planning Department Public Relations Manager Annie Yalon said Brotherhood Way is and always has been a part of the rezoning proposal.

Randolph Street, however, is a part of their priority equity geography in the Housing Element, the vision for sheltering residents as the city grows, which will have targeted investments by the city to achieve certain goals like fostering racially and socially inclusive neighborhoods through equitable distribution of investment and growth.

Feedback from the community has been mixed.

Ingleside Terraces resident Monica Morse finds the plans to be misguided with an inaccurate projection of the growth of the city and how it displays an anti-single family home, anti-residential community way of thinking.

“I’m hoping they preserve some of these planned residential communities that are historic in nature,” Morse said. “Right now the plan goes through it. It has no regard for these communities. It’ll replace single-family homes. This idea that it was on commercial corridors, there’s very little commercial on Junipero Serra. It’s homes that go right up against it. It’s super irresponsible. It’s super aggressive.”

Professor and Haight-Ashbury neighborhood activist Calvin Welch told the San Francisco Chronicle that the rezoning would cause the demolition of single-story retailers. Demolition of residential units, however, would be protected.

As for the impact on small businesses along these upzoned areas, Ocean Ale House owner Miles Escobedo said it won’t affect his business unless it brings in affordable housing.

“It needs to be affordable so people can afford to go out and support small businesses that also have to pay rent or mortgage or insurance or taxes in this city that has a tough time supporting the little guy,” said Escobedo, who is also president of the Ingleside Merchants Association.

While meetings around the proposal are still ongoing, the city is eager to move things along with Mayor Breed’s Executive Directive on Housing for All last year requiring the Planning Commission to submit a final zoning proposal for consideration to policymakers by January 2024.

Despite this, the supervisors and Breed have not been on the same page with additional housing measures. In March, Breed vetoed District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin’s bill that would limit density along the city’s Northern Waterfront, claiming that it would counter the goals of the Housing Element that they unanimously approved last year. Her veto was overturned on March 26 with an 8-3 vote.

Breed announced an update to the Housing for All plan last Wednesday that includes switching the planning commission’s focus toward six- and eight-story buildings instead of maxing out allowable heights. High-rise buildings would still be included on the city’s widest and busiest streets. In addition, Breed asked the commission to consider removing density limits that currently restrict the number of housing units that can be built on parcel sizes to help combat the need for additional housing.

“If we want to be a city that families can afford to live in, where workers can be near their jobs, where seniors and young people can find safe, affordable places to live, then we need to completely change our approach to housing,” Breed said. “We have made real progress this first year but there is much more work to do to deliver real and lasting change to make San Francisco a city for all.”

While the city’s housing battle continues, the next steps for the upzoning plan include an additional hearing by the Planning Commission, which is to be announced due to rescheduling, before the proposal goes before the Board of Supervisors later this year.

Published in: Housing & DevelopmentNewsPolitics

Anne Marie Kristoff

Anne Marie Kristoff (she/her) is a recent graduate from San Francisco State University’s journalism program. She enjoys writing about the arts, entertainment and nature.VIEW ARTICLES

Mayoral Candidate Aaron Peskin Releases First Campaign Video

Photo from SFist.com

10 APRIL 2024/SF POLITICS/JAY BARMANN (SFist.com)

As we knew from his first announcements last week about his campaign for mayor, Supervisor Aaron Peskin is leaning into the concept of “recovery” — both as it pertains to the city of San Francisco’s return to prosperity and his own struggles with alcohol.

That’s the theme from the outset of Peskin’s first campaign video advertisement, posted to X on Wednesday afternoon. It’s two minutes long — more than will air as a TV spot, giving him some room to lay out how he differs from the other, more moderate candidates, and to defend against attacks that he has stymied housing development in the city.

“San Franciscans are still proud of their neighborhoods, but they’re feeling down about San Francisco. And that needs to change,” Peskin says in the video. “I’m Aaron Peskin, and I know something about recovery, and what it takes to rebuild from a very low point.”

Peskin goes on to show us a string of newspaper headlines that tout his good works, including the approval of “thousands of new homes in the Hunters Point Shipyard, China Basin, and SoMa.”

“We need a neighborhood mayor with the experience to rebuild our city from the ground up,” Peskin says. “We need a leader who will fix our city for everyone, not one who will ruin it for the many to please a wealthy few.”

Peskin is pledging to recruit more police and 911 dispatchers, to add 2,000 homeless shelter and treatment beds to “drastically reduce homelessness,” and he says he will “make sure San Franciscans are in charge of development decisions.”

By contrast, former supervisor Mark Farrell, who is also running for mayor, sounds a bit more stern and unrealistically draconian when it comes to homelessness, saying he’ll clear all large homeless encampments in his first 100 days, establish a “24/7 intake center” for a population that is not always looking to be taken in, and “mandate treatment-focused detention and a connection to services for individuals who are revived with Narcan on city streets.” He doesn’t mention a specific expansion of shelter beds, but he does say he will take a “shelter-first approach because San Francisco can’t just build itself out of the homelessness crisis.”

Daniel Lurie has pledged to build 1,500 new shelter beds, and to establish 24-hour shelters — he’s basically talking about more Navigation Centers — where people are not kicked out during the day.

Back to Peskin, though. He finishes the video saying, “Extreme solutions might feel good in moments of frustration and fear, but to truly recover we need to come together and heal our city while living up to the ideals that made San Francisco so great.”

We don’t yet know who is throwing funding behind Peskin — his announcement was just made last weekend, and data on the SF Ethics Commission website is still a week old. But as of now, Mayor London Breed has the most candidate-controlled funds, with just over $658,000 at her disposal, and Daniel Lurie has the most PAC support, with Believe In SF: Lurie For Mayor group commanding almost $3.3 million at this point.

Previously: Mark Farrell Wants to Bring Car Traffic Back to Market Street Downtown — Is That Wise?

London Breed Would Like a Chinese University to Open a Satellite Campus In SF’s Downtown

Photo from SFist.com

11 APRIL 2024/SF POLITICS/JAY BARMANN (SFist.com)

Another of Mayor London Breed’s goals in her upcoming trip to China, besides getting a panda for the San Francisco Zoo, is apparently to chat up a university there about opening a satellite campus in SF’s struggling downtown.

Breed already announced with some fanfare in February that she is trying to lure multiple historically Black colleges to take up some real estate downtown, dubbing the initiative Black 2 San Francisco. The schools the city is talking to in this effort are Charles R. Drew University, Howard University, Morehouse College, Morgan State University, Morris Brown College, Tuskegee University, and the University of the District of Columbia.

And in January, the University of California confirmed that it was entertaining invitations from Breed to open a satellite campus downtown as well.

Now, Breed tells the Chronicle that she is also seeking out a Chinese university for the same reason, and that this will be one of her goals while in China on a kind of marketing trip for the city starting Saturday.

Breed will reportedly meet with leaders from Fudan University, a research university in Shanghai, as one of the stops on her trip, which runs from April 13 to 21. Fudan University, Breed tells the paper, is “potentially looking at a site in San Francisco for a campus.”

The trip is being paid for by the privately funded San Francisco Special Events Committee, a nonprofit which falls under SF Chief of Protocol Maryam Muduroglu. And Breed is being joined on the journey by a delegation of some 30 business people, entrepreneurs, and local Asian community leaders.

In Beijing, Breed is set to meet with US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns. And other stops will include meetings with local government leaders in Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Shanghai. Breed is also reportedly traveling to Hong Kong.

In addition to the panda pleading and the university-luring, Breed says she is also on a Mission to drum up more tourism to San Francisco from Chinese tourists, and to encourage airlines to fly more routes out of China to SF.

“The economic benefits of tourists that come here from China [have] been significant,” Breed tells the Chron. “Tourists spend money. They shop downtown. They go to our neighborhoods. They eat in our restaurants. And we want to push for an economic boom.”

Breed was personally invited to visit the country, her office says, by President Xi Jinping during his APEC visit, but no meeting with Xi appears to be on the books.

The trip also marks the 45th anniversary of San Francisco’s sister city relationship with Shanghai, something that will also be celebrated next month with the mayor of Shanghai coming here.

Previously: SF Mayor Heads to China Next Week to Promote Tourism — and Lobby For a Panda

FYI: OJ Simpson’s Father Was an Out SF Drag Queen Known as ‘Mama Simpson’

Photo from SFist.com

11 APRIL 2024/SF NEWS/JOE KUKURA (SFist.com)

As many are remembering the complicated (mostly terrible) legacy of the late OJ Simpson today, we look back on his father, who came out as LGBTQ and was apparently a known San Francisco drag queen called “Mama Simpson.”

Many of today’s obituaries for OJ Simpson note the football star-turned-murder suspect’s San Francisco roots. Simpson was born in SF, raised in Potrero Hill, attended Galileo High School, and played one year of college football at SF City College before transferring to USC.

But there’s another curious detail about Simpson’s SF youth. His father, who came out as gay and was largely absent from the family once Simpson turned four years old, would become a local drag queen known as “Mama Simpson.”

There is admittedly little information about the life of OJ’s father, Jimmy Lee Simpson, who died of HIV/AIDS in 1986. But the few accounts there are have consistency across them.

We see reference in the 2015 book The Run of His Life: The People v. O. J. Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin (yes, that Jeffrey Toobin) that Jimmy Lee Simpson was a gay man. “His father was an intermittent presence in [OJ’s] life,” Toobin writes. “In later life, he came out as homosexual. He died of AIDS in 1985.” Though a Jet report from the time lists Jimmy Lee Simpson as dying in 1986.

OJ Simpson harbored ill feelings about his father’s leaving the family. “I resented his absence, especially when I became a teen-ager and was trying to find out who I was,” he said in a 1977 Parents magazine interview. “I really needed a man around then for guidance. I get along with my father now, but it’s taken years for me to come to terms with my feelings.”

ESPN’s Academy Award-winning documentary O.J.: Made in America interviewed one of OJ’s childhood friends, Calvin Tennyson, who recalled a visit he and OJ made to Jimmy Lee Simpson’s apartment.

“And when his dad opened the door, he was in a bathrobe, which is not a crime. But then his dad kind of opened the door more, and there was a guy in the back in a bathrobe too. So it was obvious that his dad was gay.”

“Back in our day that was the worst thing in the world that you could ever think about. An African-American man being a homosexual.”

George Carpozi’s 1995 book called The Lies of OJ Simpson dug deeper into Jimmy Lee Simpson’s SF drag activity, albeit from an unnamed interview source, who said:

“Mama Simpson, as he was known to me, used to hang around the hotel where I lived and was frequently dressed in drag. Everyone knew he was O.J.’s dad. He got to be known as Mama Simpson because he favored young, butch white kids as boyfriends.”


There is reason to connect OJ Simpson’s demonstrated physical abuse of late wife Nicole Brown Simpson (whom he was accused of killing in that celebrated murder trial) with homophobia.  Prosecutors cited one of her diary entries which read:

“Hawaii — gay man kissed [their son] Justin. O.J. threw me against walls in our hotel and on the floor. Put bruises on my arms and back. The window scarred me — thought he’d throw me out.”


It also seems OJ and Jimmy Lee reconciled later in life, and Jimmy Lee Simpson did attend his son’s Pro Football Hall of Fame induction in 1985. And as seen below, OJ Simpson appeared to wholly support Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib coming out of the closet in 2021.

Related: OJ Simpson Has Died at Age 76, His Family Announces [SFist]

Image: ESPN, ‘O.J.: Made in America’

Biden Says He Is ‘Considering’ Australian Call to Drop Julian Assange Charges

Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange demonstrate in Naples, Italy, on 26 March 2024. (photo: Ciro Fusco/EPA)
FOCUS: Biden Says He Is ‘Considering’ Australian Call to Drop Julian Assange Charges
Ed Pilkington, Guardian UK
Pilkington writes: “Joe Biden said on Wednesday that he was considering a request from Australia to drop the decade-long US push to prosecute the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for publishing a trove of American classified documents.”
READ MORE

Fallen football hero

March 5, 1969: Football player O.J. Simpson sings a football at the San Francisco Boys Club, surrounded by Michael Dorn, Rance Hightower, Michael cayman and Mark Schase.

Photo by: Gordon Peters (The Chronicle)

O.J. Simpson, the football star from San Francisco who was acquitted in the killing of his former wife and her friend but later found responsible in a separate civil trial, died at his Las Vegas home on Wednesday. He was 76.

The cause was complications from cancer, Simpson’s family announced on social media.

Simpson’s journey began in government-subsidized housing projects of Potrero Hill, and his teen years were marred by gang involvement and minor offenses.

“I was somebody who didn’t care about anything, and the best thing you can say about me and trouble was that I was borderline,” Simpson once told the Los Angeles Times.

His exceptional athletic talent and a pivotal encounter with San Francisco Giants star Willie Mays had a major impact on him. What followed was a storied career in the NFL, playing for the Buffalo Bills and later, his hometown San Francisco 49ers.

But Simpson’s legacy took a dramatic turn following the tragic knife murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman in Los Angeles in June 1994.  His life became forever marked by the notorious “trial of the century.”

Read more from Aidin Vaziri and Rachel Swan.

More:

  • From Scott Ostler: Did O.J. Simpson teach us anything about the risk of sanctifying sports stars?
  • From Mick LaSalle: O.J. Simpson was never a good actor, but he made the nation think he was a good guy.
  • O.J. Simpson’s most notable media appearances.

Bay Briefing is written by Kellie Hwang and Anna Buchmann and sent to readers’ email inboxes on weekday afternoons. Sign up for the newsletter here, and contact the writers at kellie.hwang@sfchronicle.com and anna.buchmann@sfchronicle.com.

(SFChronicle.com)

San Francisco City College is now stable, but its future remains tenuous

  • By Alan Wong | Special to The Examiner |
  • Apr 9, 2024 Updated 3 hrs ago (SFExaminer.com)
CityCollegeStudents
Olivia Wise/The Examiner

My entire family attended City College of San Francisco. It has shaped my family and the lives of so many San Franciscans.

After my father came to the United States and was laid off, he enrolled in English and culinary classes at City College to improve his language skills and chances of finding a decent job. This enabled him to become a hotel cook and sole provider for my family for two decades, and it allowed my family to live in The City with dignity.

After years of turmoil at City College, it now has the opportunity for a fresh start as it works to overcome its most recent challenges. Over the past decade, it has been plagued by financial instability and declining enrollment. However, CCSF is regaining its footing in both areas through a balanced budget with 5% reserves and increased enrollment.

Hemorrhaging student enrollment has finally been staunched. Despite a sharp decline during the COVID-19 pandemic, enrollment has stabilized and is now growing. Fall 2023 and spring 2024 enrollment were up by more than 10%.

The increase in 1,000 full-time students this academic year is an optimistic sign that our current efforts to grow enrollment are making an impact. We expect enrollment to continue climbing gradually.

Fiscal oversight and transparency have also been strengthened. City College spent down reserves for much of the last decade, faced budget deficits and lacked long-range financial planning.

These continuous challenges led me to propose reforms to the budget policy, which have subsequently been adopted. This required multi-year budget planning, mandatory monthly budget updates to the Board of Trustees, and two-thirds trustee approval before reserves could be redeployed.

Over the past decade, City College of San Francisco has been plagued by financial instability and declining enrollment.Craig Lee/The Examiner

This kind of planning forces City College to anticipate financial challenges over a three to five-year horizon instead of planning myopically for the following year.

For the first time since 1997, City College received a clean audit, with three independent financial audits verifying the health of the college’s general fund, parcel tax and general-obligation bond.

Furthermore, our budget is balanced with a 5% reserve. This new period of stability has largely been the result of the hard work and sacrifices of our students, faculty, classified staff, and administrators over the past several years.

Despite all this, City College is not out of the woods yet. In January 2024, although City College received an evaluation from accreditors indicating that it meets all accreditor eligibility requirements, policies, and 116 of 119 standards related to instructional programs, student services, and college operations, the report also warned City College that it must plan for long-range fiscal challenges in future budget years.

City College needs to address these concerns by March 2025, a process already underway.

The big elephant in the room is that beginning in the 2025-26 fiscal year, City College will no longer receive cost-of-living adjustments, and revenue will be frozen until City College is eligible for more funding under a revised state funding formula enacted in 2017.

To qualify for more state funding, City College must increase enrollment in line with the new formula, freeze expenses for several years or both. Assuming no more enrollment growth, City College might not be eligible to receive increased funding until the 2031-32 fiscal year. However, if City College grows 8% in annual enrollment in the coming years, it could be eligible for increased funding as soon as the 2028-29 fiscal year.

To further grow enrollment, City College has increased its marketing efforts using new digital platforms and traditional methods to communicate its affordability and array of courses for potential transfer students, mid-career professionals and lifelong learners.

The Free City College program, which uses municipal funds to directly pay student tuition, has increased access to education and encourages student enrollment. We have also prioritized scheduling the most in-demand courses supporting job training and transfers to four-year institutions.

Previously, City College tried two measures to address the impending funding freeze, including class cuts and a ballot initiative to increase revenue for the College. Both measures were highly unpopular with San Franciscans, and neither was successful. With this in mind, I have called on the City College administration to review employee attrition scenarios to curtail spending.

City College must take practical and actionable steps to ensure its long-term financial future is secure while minimizing harm to its current and future students.

To that end, I believe that City College must strike a nuanced balance between prioritizing the classes that San Franciscans need for vocational training and transferring to four-year colleges to grow enrollment, using attrition when faculty and employees leave or retire to keep spending flat, and informing potential students about the affordability and rich offerings of City College.

City College is steadfast in its mission to provide an accessible quality education, foster a supportive learning environment for our students, and remain fully accredited and open to serve all San Franciscans.

Alan Wong is the President of the City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees and Co-Chair of the Free City College Oversight Committee. As a City Hall education policy advisor in 2019, Wong drafted and passed the legislation guaranteeing a decade of ‘Free City College’ for all San Franciscans.

Chevron CEO Pay Jumped to $26.5 Million During Hottest Year on Record

Chevron CEO Mike Wirth

Chevron CEO Mike Wirth speaks during the CERAWeek oil summit in Houston, Texas, on March 19, 2024. 

(Photo: Mark Felix/AFP via Getty Images)

News of Mike Wirth’s 2023 compensation came after March was deemed the 10th month in a row to be the hottest ever recorded.

JAKE JOHNSON

Apr 10, 2024 (ColmmonDreams.org)

The chief executive of the U.S. oil giant Chevron saw his pay jump by more than 12% in 2023 as continued emissions from fossil fuel corporations helped push global temperatures to record heights.

Citing a new securities filing, Reutersreported Wednesday that Chevron CEO Mike Wirth received $26.5 million in total compensation last year. Chevron, the second-largest oil company in the U.S. by revenue, reported $21.3 billion in profits in 2023—a haul it used to lavish shareholders with buybacks and dividends.

News of Wirth’s 2023 compensation came a day after the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) announced that last month was the hottest March on record globally. The organization said March marked “the 10th month in a row that is the warmest on record for the respective month of the year.”

Samantha Burgess, deputy director of C3S, said in a statement that “March 2024 continues the sequence of climate records toppling for both air temperature and ocean surface temperatures.”

“Stopping further warming requires rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions,” Burgess stressed.

But oil giants like Chevron, the primary drivers of the global climate emergency, have been rolling back their already tepid climate commitments and buying up rival oil producers—a signal that the industry is bent on continuing to drill as much as possible despite increasingly dire warnings from scientists.

A Carbon Majors report released earlier this week found that Chevron is one of just 57 oil, gas, coal, and cement producers responsible for 80% of global CO2 emissions from those industries.

A separate analysis published last month by Global Witness estimated that the emissions of Chevron, Shell, TotalEnergies, ExxonMobil, and BP could cause 11.5 million additional premature deaths around the world before the end of the century.

“In the past few months, ExxonMobil and Chevron have invested more than $100 billion into new oil and gas reserves,” the human rights group noted. “BP and Shell weakened their climate pledges. And TotalEnergies plans to ramp up production in the next few years.”

“Fossil fuel companies’ systematic spreading of climate change denial, combined with lobbying, has slowed the transformation towards an energy system built on renewables,” Global Witness added. “And yet, the supermajors are asking us to trust them, to allow them to be the ultimate arbiter, despite the massive profits they’re making.”

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

JAKE JOHNSON

Jake Johnson is a senior editor and staff writer for Common Dreams.

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