Kirsten Gillibrand Unveils A Public Option For Banking

The idea would provide a low-cost alternative to payday loans — and it might just save the Postal Service, too.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is introducing a postal banking bill, calling it a "solution whose time has come."

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is introducing a postal banking bill, calling it a “solution whose time has come.”

April 25, 2018

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is introducing legislation Wednesday that would require every U.S. post office to provide basic banking services, an ambitious step aimed at improving the lives of Americans with limited financial resources.

The bill brings to Congress for the first time a policy idea that has already won the support of liberal economists and anti-poverty activists: Turning the nation’s sprawling network of U.S. Postal Service facilities into places where working-class and low-income Americans who lack adequate access to commercial banking can obtain low-cost, short-term loans. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have both spoken out in favor of postal banking, but Gillibrand is the first to introduce legislation mandating it.

The central goal of the bill is to replace risky financial products like payday loans, which can trap borrowers in prolonged cycles of debt, with regulated alternatives.

“This is a solution to take on payday lenders, to take on the problems that the unbanked have all across the country. It’s a solution whose time has come,” Gillibrand said in an interview with HuffPost.

To hear Gillibrand and other postal banking proponents tell it, the Postal Service and underbanked Americans are the perfect complements.

The postal system’s 30,000 locations touch every community. A majority ― 59 percent ― are in so-called banking deserts, or zip codes that have either no bank branches or just one.

Launching a postal banking system would require startup funding that could either be obtained through a loan from the treasury or a congressional appropriation. Gillibrand’s staff plans to seek an estimate of the cost from the Congressional Budget Office.

A postal banking system could be a major boon to the financially strained Postal Service. If even 10 percent of the money Americans currently spend on interest and fees for risky financial products went toward postal banking loans that cost 90 percent less, the Postal Service would gain almost $9 billion in annual revenue, according to a 2014 study conducted by the Postal Service Inspector General.

“It is really an elegant solution,” said Gillibrand, who emphasized that benefits to the postal system, though significant, were a secondary consideration. “You have a system that already works. And you have the ability to let the unbanked have banking in a way that’s affordable.”

Literally the only person who is going to be against this is somebody who wants to protect payday lender profits.Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)

Under Gillibrand’s proposal, Americans could cash paychecks and deposit money in accounts free of charge at each post office location. Deposits would be capped at the larger of two amounts ― $20,000, or the median balance in all American bank accounts.

The postal banks would be able to distribute loans to borrowers of up to $1,000 at an interest rate slightly higher than the yield on one-month Treasury bonds, currently about 2 percent.

A postal banking system would be an alternative to the for-profit payday lending system, in which people routinely pay triple-digit fees to borrow money for bills that come due before their next paycheck. The average payday loan of $375 typically costs a borrower an additional $520 in interest and fees, according to Pew Charitable Trusts.

These costs are disproportionately shouldered by the most vulnerable people in the economy: Lower-earning workers who can’t afford fees that commercial banks levy if an account balance falls too low, or simply live in an area that lacks a traditional banking option. The lack of resources typically precludes these Americans from qualifying for a credit card with a reasonable interest rate.

More than one-quarter of Americans households (34 million homes) are either “unbanked” ― meaning they lack someone with a bank account altogether ― or “underbanked” ― relying on payday loans or other so-called alternative lenders to supplement the services of a traditional bank.

Their predicament shows how expensive it is to be poor in America. The average underbanked household has an annual income of $25,500, and spends nearly 10 percent on alternative financial products and associated fees, according to a 2011 KPMG study.

Due in no small part to racial wealth and income gaps, black and Latino households are more likely to be both unbanked and underbanked. The unbanked rate among black households is 18.2 percent, compared with 7 percent for the population as a whole.

“There is a huge racial justice issue,” Gillibrand said. “The average person who gets a payday loan is a 44-year-old African American single mom. It overwhelmingly affects communities of color.”

A women walks into the payday lender Speedy Cash on Feb. 21, 2018, in Lakewood, Colorado.

A women walks into the payday lender Speedy Cash on Feb. 21, 2018, in Lakewood, Colorado.

Postal banking is not a new idea. In fact, United States post offices provided savings and deposit services for Americans from 1911 to 1967, though it did not provide lending. The postal systems of a host of developed nations provide some basic banking services.

Mehrsa Baradaran, a national authority on postal banking and author of How The Other Half Banks, advised Gillibrand on the legislation.

“It’s the most important thing that we can be doing to make people’s lives easier that is basically cost-free to the taxpayer,” said Baradaran, a professor at the University of Georgia School of Law.

The U.S. Postal Service, as a self-funded federal agency, already has the legal authority to expand its sources of revenue without additional action from Congress.

Gillibrand legislation would add a congressional mandate to speed the process.

“They could do it themselves, but they haven’t chosen to do that in the last 40 years,” she said.

The timing of Gillibrand’s bill is deliberate. In January, Mick Mulvaney, the anti-regulatory ideologue now at the helm of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, shelved a new payday lending rule that had been imposed by his predecessor.

The payday lending industry has showered members of Congress with nearly $14 million in contributions since 2010, including $63,000 to Mulvaney, who left his House seat in 2017 to serve in the Trump White House. (Mulvaney told an audience of bankers on Tuesday that his willingness to speak to industry lobbyists depended on whether, and how much, they had donated to him.)

President Donald Trump this month ordered a review of Postal Service finances that some Democrats, including Gillibrand, fear could lay the groundwork for privatization of the system.

Gillibrand said she anticipates broad support for the legislation in the Senate Democratic Caucus.

“Literally the only person who is going to be against this is somebody who wants to protect payday lender profits,” she said.

Payday lenders’ main trade group, the Community Financial Services Association of America, did not explicitly object to the proposal, however.

“We welcome new entrants into the small dollar credit market provided they will be subject to the same laws and regulations as other lenders in this space,” the group’s CEO, Dennis Shaul, said in a statement. “Greater market competition spurs innovation and drives down costs for consumers, but to date almost all of the attempts to create small-dollar loan alternatives have been charity-based, required government subsidies, or were unprofitable and unsustainable. The private sector remains the best opportunity for serving small dollar, short-term loans.”

Postal banking is the latest progressive policy to find a champion in the U.S. Senate, where rumored 2020 presidential hopefuls are expanding the bounds of the debate.

On Monday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced plans to introduce legislation requiring the federal government to guarantee every American a job. Gillibrand has also voiced support for the idea.

Gillibrand in September was one of 16 Democratic senators to co-sponsor Sanders’ Medicare-for-all legislation creating a single, comprehensive government-run insurance plan for all Americans.

Asked why leading congressional Democrats have embraced sweeping economic reforms once considered marginal in Congress, Gillibrand said, “You need bold ideas to fix some of the structural challenges that we have in our economy today.

“You have so much income inequality,” she continued. “So if you are going to be tinkering around the edges and picking around the margins, you are literally never going to fix the problem.”

This article has been updated to include a statement from the Community Financial Services Association of America CEO.

Public Bank rally held with coalition of 14 organizations calling for San Francisco Public Bank 

San Francisco Public Bank rally Apr 25, 2018

April 26, 2018

On the day of Bank of America’s shareholder meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, an alliance of 14 organizations including Public Bank SF, Divest SF, Friends of Public Bank of Oakland, Mazaska Talks, California Nurses Association, Code Pink, SEIU and more rallied at a Bank of America financial center in San Francisco and marched to City Hall to call on the SF Municipal Task Force to create a fully functioning Public Bank within the next five years.

From the group’s press release:

“Our organizations represent San Franciscans who want a greener, more LGBTQ friendly, anti-racist, decarcerated, pro-indigenous, and more affordable city. … The organizations cosponsoring today’s protest are concerned that public bank task force members may follow Santa Fe and Los Angeles officials in using exorbitant start-up and operational costs of a public bank as an excuse to continue the city’s relationship with Bank of America and other Big Banks. … [Startup costs] would pay off in the long-run as a public bank can provide lower interest rates than the ones offered by Wall Street banks for public infrastructure projects …”

[see more photos and video]

Cannabis could supply green for San Francisco’s breakup with Wall Street

Wells Fargo, headquartered in San Francisco, was recently fined $1 billion for charging mortage borrowers unfair fees and charging clients for car insurance they didn’t need. As The City explores the idea of establishing a public bank, some are focused on mitigating the harm large corporate banks are causing. (Aleah Fajardo/2016 Special to S.F. Examiner)

By  on April 25, 2018 (

Today, San Franciscans will take to the streets.

More than a year ago, a coalition of Native Americans, environmentalists and concerned San Franciscans testified before the Board of Supervisors. Many of them experienced brutalities at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota as they protested the Dakota Access Pipeline’s impact on clean drinking water and Native Americans’ rights. They urged San Francisco to divest taxpayers’ money from banks financing the oil pipeline.

The supervisors listened. They directed Treasurer Jose Cisneros to establish a Municipal Bank Feasibility Task Force and to evaluate the creation of a public bank. A public bank could handle taxpayers’ money, provide loans to local businesses, fund affordable housing and ensure San Francisco isn’t complicit in preying upon the vulnerable and destroying the environment.

Last week, task force members began hashing out potential solutions for the bank’s high startup costs. Some believe the budding cannabis industry could give San Francisco the green it needs to break free from Wall Street banks and the harm they’ve caused.

But advocates remain concerned a public bank may still not move forward.

“A public bank in San Francisco is feasible,” Cisneros told me. “The more challenging question: Is it a good policy decision given the complexity, expense and risks?”

Other municipalities haven’t figured out ways to overcome these challenges. Last week, Santa Fe’s task force determined a public bank’s benefits are “at best marginal and at worst would carry risk of non-viability.” The Los Angeles chief legislative analyst called startup costs “exorbitant” in its report last February.

A public bank could require a minimum of $10 million in capital, approximately $1 million in startup costs and about $2 million for staff salaries, as well as additional funds for offices, branches, data processing, IT systems and security.

“I think the box we’ve been given is a public bank that will make, not cost, The City money,” said Steve Zuckerman, a San Francisco task force member and president of the Self-Help Federal Credit Union, during last week’s meeting. “All the problems we’re so passionate about need funding.”

Cannabis advocates rally in support of medical marijuana dispensaries outside City Hall in San Francisco on Nov. 28, 2017. (Mira Laing/2017 Special to S.F. Examiner)

Cannabis offers a cure. Federal law classifies marijuana as a “Schedule 1” drug, like heroin. Most banks are unwilling to face money-laundering charges for accepting drug proceeds. Their squeamishness has created a billion-dollar industry run primarily on cash.

If San Francisco’s public bank accepts deposits from dispensaries and other cannabis businesses, it could alleviate the industry’s cash problems and provide an initial revenue stream.

A few institutions in the United States provide limited deposit services. The Partner Colorado Credit Union, for example, averages $20 million in monthly deposits — about 80 percent of its monthly business — from the cannabis industry. Like other credit unions and community banks, it is willing to take on the risk and burden associated with the service, which includes in-depth investigations and documentation.

If San Francisco is also willing to take on the challenge, it could overcome the exorbitant cost of establishing a public bank and bring The City closer to divesting from institutions that fund fossil fuel corporations and abuse consumers.

Days ago, Wells Fargo was fined $1 billion for attaching unnecessarily high costs to its mortgage and auto loans. People lost their homes and cars as a result. The banking giant was also fined $185 million two years ago for secretly opening unauthorized deposit and credit card accounts.

“We have to get the banks to stop causing harm,” Kat Taylor, a San Francisco task force member and co-founder of Beneficial State Bank, told me. “We will never cleanup for the harm they’re causing. We have to stop it at the source.”

Although a public bank is not a promise San Francisco’s money will never cause harm, Taylor assured me it’s possible to accept money from cannabis businesses without compromising the bank’s values and vision.

But public bank advocates remain concerned. Figuring out how to get around federal requirements could complicate the process, slow it down or even stop it.

“The march is to demand city officials create a public bank now,” Kurtis Wu with the Public Bank San Francisco Coalition told me. “We’re facing urgent crises, and San Francisco has the unique opportunity to show the rest of the country how to break up with Wall Street.”

Members of the coalition and their allies will rally in front of the Bank of America building on Market Street at 4 p.m. today and march to City Hall. San Franciscans supportive of their cause can learn more on Facebook. Members of the public are also encouraged to attend the monthly Municipal Bank Feasibility Task Force meetings.


“What’s the solution for things that are kind of paper and kind of foil, such as the inside wrapper of cream cheese?” — Elizabeth Bell

It’s hard when your trash sends you mixed messages. Foil and paper are each, individually, recyclable. But when they join forces, they’re considered foreign waste and should be tossed in the landfill, according to Recology spokesperson Robert Reed.

Terracycle does accept mixed materials, like Clif Bar wrappers. Check out the recycling business’s website for details. Cream cheese also comes in plastic tubs, which are easier to recycle.

Some bagel shops may be willing to sell cream cheese to customers in bulk. Try bringing a reusable container to Wise Sons or Noah’s Bagels and see if they’ll fill it for you.

I love spreading shmear and sorting info. Email questions to

Robyn Purchia is an environmental attorney, environmental blogger and environmental activist who hikes, gardens and tree hugs in her spare time. Check her out at

Colin Kaepernick Condemns the Criminal Justice System While Accepting Amnesty International’s Highest Honor

Photo of Luke Darby

ACLU SoCal Hosts Annual Bill Of Rights Dinner - Red Carpet

Kaepernick is the latest recipient of the Ambassador of Conscience Award, joining Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai.

Since being named GQ‘s Citizen of the Year, Colin Kaepernick has received Sports Illustrated‘s Muhammed Ali Legacy Award and theEason More Courageous Advocate Award from the ACLU. Now, Amnesty International has awarded Kaepernick with highest distinction the organization has, the Ambassador of Conscience Award.

In the announcement naming Kaepernick this year’s winner, Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, wrote, “Just like the Ambassadors of Conscience before him, Colin Kaepernick chooses to speak out and inspire others despite the professional and personal risks. When high profile people choose to take a stand for human rights, it emboldens many others in their struggles against injustice. Colin Kaepernick’s commitment is all the more remarkable because of the alarming levels of vitriol it has attracted from those in power.”

Kaepernick accepted the award—which has gone previously to Belafonte, artist and activist Ai Weiwei, Malala Yousafzai, and Nelson Mandela—on Saturday, where he delivered remarks condemning the brutality committed against minorities by the U.S. criminal justice system. Per the Washington Post:

“How can you stand for the national anthem of a nation that preaches and propagates, ‘freedom and justice for all,’ that is so unjust to so many of the people living there?” Kaepernick, 30, said at Saturday’s ceremony. “Racialized oppression and dehumanization is woven into the very fabric of our nation — the effects of which can be seen in the lawful lynching of black and brown people by the police, and the mass incarceration of black and brown lives in the prison industrial complex.”

Just as Shetty wrote, this weekend the Fox & Friends B-team weighed in on Kaepernick’s award and speech, condemning him for going overseas to insult the U.S. to a bunch of “globalists who don’t love America anyway” (presumably referring to Amnesty International) and suggesting that if Kaepernick is troubled by the indiscriminate and routinely unpunished murder of black people by police, then he should move to another country. It’s safe to expect equally thoughtful commentary from the show’s regular couch-warmers this week.

Meanwhile, Kaepernick has completed his promised $1 million in donations despite being blackballed by the NFL.

“Toxic soil went from SF’s Hunters Point to state landfills, ex-workers say”

By J.K. Dineen, April 22, 2018 (

The scandal involving cheating in the $1 billion cleanup at the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard has until now focused on allegations of what was left behind at the site: radioactive dirt dumped into trenches to save the time and expense of testing and disposing of it properly.But former shipyard employees and environmentalists say that toxic waste removed from the site is of just as great a concern. Soil with potentially dangerous levels of radioactive waste, they contend, was trucked to conventional landfills across California — the sort of dumps that typically fill up with tree branches, construction debris and old dishwashers, not radiological waste from a former nuclear test lab that handled uranium and plutonium.

The shipyard, home to the Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory from 1946 to 1969, is now the site of the San Francisco Shipyard development project, regarded as perhaps the most important development site in the city. It is to contain more than 10,500 housing units, 300 acres of open space, millions of square feet of retail, schools, a hotel and artists studios.

Before developer FivePoint starting building condominiums in 2013, former shipyard employees say that Tetra Tech, the company that was paid between $350 million and $450 million to lead the cleanup of the site, relaxed the standards for what was allowed to leave the property starting in 2011. The portal monitors — radiation detection scanners used to prevent trucks containing dangerous materials from exiting — were reset to be less sensitive. An area with scaffolding that allowed inspectors to get on top of the trucks to inspect shipments was taken down.


• The Hunters Point Shipyard, Wednesday, April 11, 2018, in San Francisco, Calif.
SF city panel OKs redesign of giant Hunters Point Shipyard
• A worker crosses soil at the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, in San Francisco. The EPA says the U.S. Navy has drastically understated the severity of the failed cleanup at the shipyard, which is the biggest redevelopment site in San Francisco.
Editorial: SF deserves answers about falsified cleanup at Hunters
• Greenaction's Brian Butler speaks with members of the news media outside the Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure at Galvez Avenue, Wednesday, April 11, 2018, in San Francisco, Calif. Greenaction is an advocacy group for health and environmental justice.
SF shipyard activists frustrated by naval officials on alleged

And whereas previously trucks that set off an alert from the portal monitor more than twice would be made to dump their soil loads back on a tarp to be retested and cleaned of dangerous materials, the new policy just required an employee to walk around the truck with a handheld monitor. Those monitors rarely detected anything because the truck bed made it tough to get readings, according to workers.

Former shipyard employee Susan Andrews, who operated portal monitors in 2010 and 2011, said Tetra Tech management went to extreme lengths to ensure trucks were allowed to exit, no matter how many times they set off the radiation detector.

“Before 2011 that dirt was never to leave until the radiation detected was found, contained and put in a secure lockup box,” she said. “In 2011, they changed the way they did business.”

Andrews said she saw trucks leaving the yard at night after the portal where they exited was supposed to be closed for the day — something she witnessed in January and February of 2012 from her condominium on Cleo Rand Lane, right above the shipyard entrance. She was one of nine former Tetra Tech employees to raise concerns with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. She said she was laid off a short time later.

“I would be out with my dog about an hour after everyone had gone home, and I’d see these trucks full of dirt — 10 or 15 of them — going right by my condo,” she said. “It was crazy. Where on the site the dirt was coming from or where it was going I don’t know. But nothing should have been leaving after the portal monitor was shut down” for the night.

A recent review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state agencies found that as much as 97 percent of Tetra Tech’s cleanup data for two parcels at the shipyard was found to be suspect and should be retested, according to John Chesnutt, manager of the EPA’s local Superfund Division. A spokesman for Tetra Tech did not return a call seeking comment.

While the Navy has acknowledged the problems with the Tetra Tech work, it continues to insist that the materials were removed from the site properly and safely.

Derek Robinson, who is leading the cleanup for the Navy, said soil is stockpiled on-site and sampled to “to select the appropriate landfill for disposal.” Soil that meets both radiological and chemical cleanup requirements is put back into trenches on the site, places where structures may later be built.

Soil that doesn’t meet those standards is separated and either sent to a landfill that accepts specific types of contamination in the soil or to a low-level radioactive waste site.

Some batches of dirt hauled off Hunters Point were tested and deemed too “hot” for conventional dumps, meaning they contained unacceptably high levels of radionuclides like cesium 137 and strontium 90 — both can cause cancer. That dirt, at least 4,300 cubic yards, was transported in watertight steel bins to Clive, Utah, one of four disposal sites in the United States licensed to accept low-level radioactive waste.

The rest of the waste, the vast majority, about 7,800 truckloads carrying 156,000 cubic yards, was marked “nonhazardous” and went to conventional dumps.

It was hauled to Kirby Canyon in Morgan Hill, near San Jose. It was transported to Keller Canyon in Pittsburg. It went to a dump in Buttonwillow, near Bakersfield, and to facilities in Vacaville and Brisbane owned by Recology, which collects San Francisco’s household trash. Most landfills also have portal monitors, although environmental experts say they are used sporadically and do not test for radiation. If soil contaminated with radioactive material left the shipyard site without being properly vetted, it is possible it landed in one of these landfills.

The timing of the changes Andrews observed at the portal is consistent with testimony from other whistle-blowers, who say the entire culture of the cleanup changed in early 2011 when Tetra Tech’s contract was restructured from “time and material” to a “firm fixed-price model.” Suddenly, the contractor had a financial incentive to complete the cleanup as quickly as possible because it was working for a specific dollar amount.

Shortly after that contract change, worker and whistle-blower Bert Bowers, who was in charge of monitoring compliance with Nuclear Regulatory Commission standards, said he started to see violations of industry standards — equipment left where it shouldn’t be and employees working without proper oversight. He complained and was later fired.

“The incentive was there to cut corners and get bonuses, and I started to see the effect,” he said. “The standards started to become compromised.”

Anthony Smith, who worked as laborer and technician at the shipyard during that time, said he and his colleagues spent months taking soil from areas known to be clean — like the foundation of an old movie theater — and passing it off as coming from sections of the site known to be highly toxic.

“It came down from the higher-ups — ‘We’re gonna make this clean today. Go get a sample from the normal place, go get a clean sample,’” Smith said.

Lindsey Dillon, a professor of sociology at UC Santa Cruz who is writing a book about the cleanup and redevelopment of the shipyard, said it’s ironic that the champions of the redevelopment project cast it as “the heroic story of cleaning up a toxic military base” while the waste taken off the property is “creating a new geography of toxic exposure.”

Conventional landfills tend to be located in communities lacking economic or politic clout.

“It’s a systemic issue, because these landfill sites are located in particularly vulnerable areas,” said Dillon.

Don Wadsworth, a health physicist who specializes in radiation safety and radioactive waste management services, said the classified nature of Hunters Point’s history makes it hard to know what is buried on the property. But the federal government allocated plenty of money to do the job correctly.

“The problem you have is that Tetra Tech was on a program of deceiving the client and the regulators about the conditions on the site and the conditions of the materials leaving the site,” said Wadsworth. “In this case, the safety guard rails were not only ignored, they were ripped up and thrown away.”

Daniel Hirsch, retired director of the Environmental and Nuclear Policy Program at UC Santa Cruz, said the “release criteria” governing waste materials the Navy set at the shipyard were far lower than they should have been. And it is problematic that those standards may have been violated.

Hirsch said he has spent two years trying to find out what happened to the materials removed from the shipyard.

“The Navy have resisted and resisted and resisted,” he said. “My impression is that they knew this was a potential problem and didn’t want it exposed.”

Landfills sell material as well as accept it so it’s tough to say where all material from the shipyard wound up. Hunters Point soil could have ended up in rural roads, parks or building sites, Hirsch said. It could have been used as “cover” at landfills and ended up blown into nearby neighborhoods. It could contaminate water tables and irrigation used for crops.

In addition, waste and unwanted furnishings and metals such as pipes salvaged from razed buildings on the site could be recycled. Contaminated office furniture, fencing, metals and concrete from buildings all could have ended up in places where they could do harm to an unsuspecting public.

“I predict those communities will be up in arms, and they should be,” Hirsch said. “They have converted one Superfund site into perhaps many.”

Several of the waste removal and recycling companies that received soil and debris from the shipyard did not return calls.

Recology, which owns facilities in Vacaville and Brisbane, said it would review all shipments from Hunters Point. Spokesman Eric Potashner said his facilities require customers to sign a guarantee that the soil doesn’t contain contaminants that are not accepted, which would include anything radioactive.

“We have a robust sampling and acceptance criteria for all waste that comes into the site,” he said.

Andrews, who is from West Virigina, said Tetra Tech should be responsible for conducting tests at the landfills where the shipyard soil ended up. She said that her co-workers went along with the program because the Hunters Point jobs were the most lucrative in the country for workers in the hazardous waste remediation field. They paid $42 an hour plus $1,500 a week in expenses. Most of the workers were from Southern states where that kind of money goes a long way.

“I was told to shut my mouth, that I didn’t live there, had hit the lottery, that I should shut up and save my money. The more they said that, the madder I got,” she said. “I did care, and I decided that the people of San Francisco were worth more than my salary.”

J.K. Dineen is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @sfjkdineen

(Submitted by Ruthie Sakheilm.)

UPDATES ~ ANNOUNCEMENTS for Monday, 4/23 – Wednesday, 4/25

Please include ACCESSIBILITY info on events

Check Indybay for other events:


A. Accepting rights award, Kaepernick decries ‘lawful lynching’ (April 21, 2018)

 B. HSBC to stop financing most new coal plants, oil sands, arctic drilling (April 20, 2018)

C. Snipers ordered to shoot children, Israeli general confirms (April 22, 2018)

D. Leahy Law would cut aid to Israel, but no one wants to enforce it (April 19, 2018)

E. Peru: 89-Year-Old ‘Wise Woman’ Indigenous Leader Murdered (April 20, 2018)


Monday, April 23 – Wednesday, April 25

Monday, April 23 

1. Monday, 8:30am – 9:30am, Final 3 Days! Gascón: Charge Killer Cops or Resign!

Hall of Justice
850 Bryant St.

The family of Luis Góngora Pat (killed by SFPD over two years ago) and supporters will hold the final 3-day countdown to D.A Gascón’s self-imposed deadline to make a charging decision in his case. From Monday to Wednesday, April 23-25, from 8:30-9:30am.

Luis’s family and community impacted by police impunity across San Francisco demand “Gascón: Charge Killer Cops or Resign!”

At 5pm on WED. April 25th, at the end of Gascón’s last day to meet his deadline, AND on what would have been Luis Góngora Pat’s 48th birthday, his family will close the 15-day countdown with a press conference accompanied by community members.

A vigil will follow. (MORE SOON)

Sponsor: Mayan War Room in honor of Luis Góngora Pat


2.  Monday, 9:30am – 6:00pm, Impasse Resolution Proceedings  between  City and County of S.F.  and  S.F. Police Officers’ Association 

Hall of Justice
850 Bryant St., Room 551 (5th Floor)

There are 5 more days of arbitration, unless the parties reach agreement or the arbitrator comes to a decision prior to the final day. It would be great to have at least 1-2 folks in the room at all times. Anand with the No Justice No Deal Campaign has put together a sign up list. Click here to sign up: a sign-up sheet Even if you can only stay for part of a shift please come.

An update: tomorrow is likely to be a full day of hearings, potentially followed by mediation on Tuesday (and possibly Wednesday). Apparently, the arbitration board chair sets the schedule each morning.

Your presence and support during the hearings shows that the community is concerned about these negotiations.

Schedule days for hearings this week: Mon. April 23, Tue. April 24, Wed. April 25

 Schedule of Meetings / Agenda +More info:

3. Monday, 5:00pm – 8:00pm, STOP TORTURE  at SFO  (#Justice4Jerome) 

San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
780 McDonnell Road

On April 17th, 2018, Jerome Succor Aba, 25-year old peace advocate from Mindanao, was illegally detained for 28 hours, interrogated, and tortured by US Customs and Border Protection. At SFO before deporting him back to the Philippines, his home country.

Join us as we rally and denounce the Customs and Boarder Protection and the Department of Homeland Security ’s treatment of Aba. We must hold the U.S. government’s accountability for its Guantanamo-style repression of detainees.

VIDEO of Jerome’s experience at SFO:

Sponsors: Migrante Northern California & 7 Other groups


4. Monday, 6:00pm – 8:00pm, Rising Tides, Rising Voices: A Panel on Climate Justice 

Anna Head Alumnae Hall
2537 Haste St.

ADA Accessible

RSVP here:
Refreshments will be provided!


Jessica Tovar from Local Clean Energy Alliance,

Alvaro Sanchez from The Greenlining Institute,

Rachel Morello-Frosch from the College of Natural Resources – UC Berkeley,

 Esther Goolsby from Communities For A Better Environment.

Both environmental degradation and environmental benefits are unevenly distributed along racial and economic lines. This intersection of environmental and social justice is something that we must put at the forefront of our environmental movement. Join us in a panel discussing these intersections, their impacts, and what we must do to ensure that the environmental movement is fighting for those most marginalized.


Tuesday, April 24 

5. Tuesday, 8:30am – 9:30am, Final 2 Days! Gascón: Charge Killer Cops or Resign!

Hall of Justice
850 Bryant St.

See item #1 for detail

6. Tuesday, 9:30am – 6:00pm, Impasse Resolution Proceedings  between  City and County of S.F.  and  S.F. Police Officers’ Association 

Department of Human Resources
1 South Van Ness
4th Floor, Bayview Conference Room

This might be a potential closed mediation day – check schedule of agenda for info.

Your presence and support during the hearings shows that the community is concerned about these negotiations.

Schedule days for hearings this week: Mon. April 23, Tue. April 24, Wed. April 25

 Schedule of Meetings / Agenda +More info: 

7. Tuesday, 3:00pm, Say NO to the Condo Conversion for the Building Where 100-year-old IRIS CANADA was EVICTED 

SF City Hall, Room 250
1 Dr. Carleton B. Goodlett Place

The appeal on the rejection of the condo conversion application for 668-678 Page, which is where 100-year-old Iris Canada was evicted a year ago, will be heard at the Board of Supervisors meeting. We are asking board members to vote NO on the appeal. NO to the condo conversion of Iris Canada’s building. Don’t reward the people who evicted her.

Department of Public Works and the Planning Commission both have said NO to the application for condo conversion because city law says a building can’t convert if a senior has been evicted. The board should do likewise.

Info: Senior and Disability Action

8. Tuesday, 4:00pm – 6:00pm, Community and Teacher March for a Fair Contract 

Meet at:

Lake Merritt Amphitheater

Unite for Oakland Kids!!!

We are negotiating to prioritize STUDENT LEARNING over wasteful bloat in OUSD.

Oakland Teachers need a FAIR CONTRACT NOW. We are demanding SMALLER CLASS SIZE and FAIR COMPENSATION and the District has disrespected us over and over by offering us almost nothing.

On April 24th, we will show the District that Students, Families and Teachers are UNITED behind PUTTING STUDENTS AT THE CENTER!

Sponsor: Oakland Education Association


9. Tuesday, 5:30pm – 7:30pm, Sanctuary Rising 

SF Public Library
100 Larkin St., Koret Auditorium

a film screening and panel discussion addressing the history of the Sanctuary movement in San Francisco

Doors Open: 5:30 p.m.
Event Starts at 6:00 p.m.

In 2017, the SFAC Galleries launched Sanctuary City, a multiyear series of exhibitions and public programs featuring artists exploring San Francisco’s status as a Sanctuary City. Join us for our first of many programs planned for 2018!

Organized in partnership with the SF Office of Civic Engagement & Immigrant Affairs, Sanctuary Rising features a film screening by documentary film Director Theo Rigby followed by an expert panel addressing the history of the faith-based Sanctuary movement in San Francisco. The film and panelists will speak to the dramatic story of how San Francisco became a Sanctuary City in the 1980’s and how faith-based Sanctuary work is being enacted today in the Bay Area and throughout the country.

Rigby will screen an in-progress selection of work from Sanctuary Rising, a feature documentary that follows the dramatic fates of three undocumented individuals in sanctuary today and interweaves the story of the National Sanctuary movement in the 1980s. Following the screening, a panel of faith-leaders, refugees, organizers, and public officials will speak to the intricacies of the Faith-based Sanctuary movement throughout the last three decades. Each panelist will give a short presentation.

There will be a Q+A with all panelists and the filmmaker.

Panelists include:

Art Agnos, former Mayor of San Francisco
Jose Artiga, Executive Director, SHARE El Salvador/Fundación SHARE
Deborah Lee, Executive Director, Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity
Michael G. Pappas (moderator), Executive Director, San Francisco Interfaith Council
Eileen Purcell, Labor organizer and SF sanctuary movement co-founder. 

Watch a video about Sanctuary in SF.


10. Tuesday, 6:00pm – 9:00pm, Support Opposition to SB827 at Berkeley Council Meeting 

Berkeley City Council Chambers, 2nd Fl.
2134 MLK Jr. Way

Speak in opposition to Scott Weiner’s SB827, a giveaway land-grab for big tech and luxury development. Tell Berkeley city government to sign a letter against SB827. This bill won’t just transform the Bay Area; show solidarity with Los Angeles progressive groups that are fighting against the gentrification that SB827 will bring.

The council agenda item is currently listed as being on the consent calendar, however it will likely be moved to action where people can give public statements.

Sponsor: Bay Resistance


11. Tuesday, 6:30pm – 8:30pm, Tibet Since 2008: A New Era of Resistance 

Eric Quezada Center
518 Valencia St. (nr. 16th St. BART)

The 2008 Beijing Olympics saw unprecedented demonstrations around the world in support of Tibetan people’s struggle for freedom and Independence. A number of Bay Area residents, through Students for a Free Tibet, were involved in this campaign, including being a part of direct actions on the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the Great Wall of China, the Olympic Torch Relay through San Francisco and on the ground in Beijing during the 2008 Olympics. The 2008 uprising was a critical moment in Tibet’s history of resistance, reawakening a new generation of activists both inside and outside Tibet.

Join us to share stories from the 2008 uprising as experienced in Tibet, China, and around the world.

Special Guest: 

Dhondup Wangchen is a self-taught Tibetan documentary filmmaker who conceived and shot the film “Leaving Fear Behind” to portray life in Tibet in advance of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Shortly after his footage was smuggled overseas, Wangchen disappeared into Chinese detention…

Dhondup faced six years of harsh imprisonment in the Chinese prison. On 25 December 2017, Dhondup arrives in safety in USA after an arduous and risky escape from Tibet

Laurel Sutherlin is a dedicated Tibetan freedom fighter and was a key actions team member during the 2008 Olympics Campaign,

Ginger Cassady is a former Board Member of Students for a Free Tibet International. She played a pivotal role as a roving spokesperson on the ground in Beijing for a cascading series of direct actions during the 2008 Olympics

Dorjee is the Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet International. Dorjee was born in a Tibetan refugee settlement in India.

Moderator: Antonia Juhasz – Antonia is a leading energy analyst, author, and investigative journalist specializing in oil.

Sponsor: Students for a Free Tibet


Wednesday, April 25 

12. Wednesday, 8:30am – 9:30am, Final  Day! Gascón: Charge Killer Cops or Resign!

Hall of Justice
850 Bryant St.

See item #1 and item #17

13. Wednesday, 9:30am – 6:00pm, Impasse Resolution Proceedings  between  City and County of S.F.  and  S.F. Police Officers’ Association 

Department of Human Resources
1 South Van Ness
4th Floor, Bayview Conference Room

This might be a potential closed mediation day – check schedule of agenda for info.

Your presence and support during the hearings shows that the community is concerned about these negotiations.

Schedule days for hearings this week: Mon. April 23, Tue. April 24, Wed. April 25

 Schedule of Meetings / Agenda +More info:

14. Wednesday, 1:30pm – 4:30pm, Becoming Human: Lessons From The Ohlone Way, by Malcolm Margolin 

North Berkeley Senior Center
1901 Hearst Ave.

Malcolm Margolin, author, publisher, and cultural bridge- builder will share on his four decades of deepening involvement with the Native communities of California and how that has reshaped his view of the world, getting older, and the meaning of community, art, and laughter in making change

Sponsor: Berkeley East Bay Gray Panthers


15. Wednesday, 4:00pm – 6:00pmDivest San Francisco – Rally & March to City Hall 

Meet at:

Bank of America
1525 Market St.

Join us as we rally in front of Bank of America and march to San Francisco City Hall to demand the SF Board of Supervisors, SF Mayor, and SF Treasurer divest its $10+ billion dollar cash flow from Wall Street banks and create a People’s Bank!

April 25th is the day of Bank of America’s shareholder meeting and it is also one of the main banks that manages San Francisco taxpayer money. Bank of America, and most of Wall Street invests in things that do not align with SF values such as:

-the Dakota Access Pipeline
-fossil fuels
-gun manufacturers
-prison-industrial complex
-military-industrial complex
-predatory mortgage loans

We also demand that the San Francisco Employee Retirement System divest its $400+ million of investments in fossil fuels. SFERS has failed to divest from an industry that is not only destroying our planet, but costing retirees millions.

Sponsors include: SF Bernicrats + 14 Other groups


16. Wednesday, 4:45pm, Call out racism at SF Board of Appeals 

SF City Hall, Rm. 416
1 Dr. Carleton B. Goodlett Pl.

let the Board of Appeals know that upholding White Supremacy and ignoring the will of the people will not be tolerated. Demand they rehear the injunction to stop the removal of the Early Days statue and to decide in favor of the will of the people. Take down the monument that glorifies genocide!


17. Wednesday, 5:00pm, Closing Press Conference and Vigil 

Hall of Justice
850 Bryant St.

At 5pm on WED. April 25th, at the end of Gascón’s last day to meet his deadline, AND on what would have been Luis Góngora Pat’s 48th birthday, his family will close the 15-day countdown with a press conference accompanied by community members.

A vigil will follow. (MORE SOON)

Sponsor: Sponsor: Mayan War Room in honor of Luis Góngora Pat


18. Wednesday, 5:30pm – 7:30pm, Tech Profiling, Policing And Disruption of ‘Sanctuary Cities’ 

Academic Innovation Studio
117 Dwinelle Hall
UC Berkeley

A Conversation and Strategy Session with:

Lara Kiswani, Executive Director, Arab Resource Organizing Center
Christina Sinha, National Security and Civil Rights Program Co-Leader, Asian Law Caucus,
Cat Brooks, Executive Director, Justice Teams Network & Co-Founder Anti-Police Terror Project
Stephanie Lacambra, Attorney and Legal Analyst with Electronic Frontier Foundation
Juan Prieto, Immigrant Rights Organizer / Statewide Communications Strategist, CIYJA
-facilitated by Leslie Dreyer, organizer with Housing Rights Committee and Artist in Residence with the UC ACES Program 

Technologies coming out of the Bay Area are being used to surveil, profile, police and even deport vulnerable residents in our so-called Sanctuary Cities. Platforms claiming to promote democracy have corrupted it and recentralized power, while silencing dissent of targeted communities. Social media, license plate readers, facial recognition and AI are aiding local police, ICE, the Pentagon and beyond, and the most terrifying and distopian applications yet to be approved for use by our government get shipped abroad impacting the privacy and lives of international communities.

Combining analysis by legal experts and on-the-ground organizers, we’ll explore the following questions: What cross-movement strategies can we employ to keep undocumented folks and targeted communities safe? How can we pressure politicians who advance policies that threaten vulnerable residents, including immigrants of color, to work toward those that bring about real sanctuary? And how can we leverage our proximity to Bay Area-based tech surveillance behemoths to demand justice for those most impacted locally and abroad? 

Cosponsored by UC Berkeley’s American Cultures Engaged Scholarship Program, Housing Rights Committee of SF,
Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society and the Arts and Design Initiative


19. Wednesday, 6:00pm – 7:30pm, Earth Day Free Screening: JANE 

SF Main Library, Koret Auditorium
100 Larkin St.

SF Green Film Festival is pleased to present this special Earth Day screening of JANE – a film about Jane Goodall and her early years in Gombe.

Using a trove of footage unearthed from the National Geographic archives, JANE tells the true story of Jane Goodall as a young woman whose chimpanzee research challenged the male-dominated scientific consensus of her time and revolutionized our understanding of the natural world.


The Great Pacific Garbage Patch Is Growing

Plastic waste lies among other debris washed ashore on a beach in Sri Lanka.
Plastic waste lies among other debris washed ashore on a beach in Sri Lanka. Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP


Berkeley Occupation Update from Mike Zint

The previous post was a warm up for this one. Too poor to matter. I read authorized areas. Holy shit!

Draft 4-17-18
1) Purposes:
The purpose of these regulations is to ensure that everyone has access to, free
passage through, and use and enjoyment of Sidewalks and Parklets in Berkeley.
2) Protection of Constitutional Rights:
These Regulations shall be applied in such a manner that does not deprive any
person of rights protected by the California or Federal Constitutions, including
freedom of expression.
3) Definitions:
a) BART Access Corridor is a Sidewalk, including a wide plaza area, on the same
side of the street as a BART Station entrance, within 120 feet of such entrance.
b) Sidewalk is defined as provided in BMC Section 9.49.020 (I).
[“Sidewalk” is that area of improved real property between any curb face and the
property line of adjoining real property.]
c) Parklet is an improved area within the dedicated public right-of-way with seating,
tables, landscaping and other amenities, being used temporarily for the
enjoyment and use of all citizens.
d) Objects include any item or thing, attended or unattended, but does not include
animals or persons.
e) Objects in Transit are Objects placed temporarily on a Sidewalk, for up to an
hour, in the actual course of receipt, removal or delivery, and include, but are not
limited to, goods, wares, merchandise, containers, and suitcases.
f) Authorized Objects are Objects the Berkeley Municipal Code specifically
permits on Sidewalks or in other public locations. [These include newspaper
racks, parking meters, bike racks, bus benches and shelters, mail boxes, etc.]
g) Path of Travel is an area that must be kept unobstructed for free passage, as
i) For Sidewalks which measure 14 feet or less in width, the Path of Travel is 6-
feet wide;
ii) For Sidewalks which measure greater than 14 feet in width, the Path of Travel
is 10-feet wide.

Draft 4-17-18
h) Commercial Districts are Districts designated on the City of Berkeley’s official
Zoning Map with a “C” prefix.
i) Residential Districts are Districts designated on the City of Berkeley’s official
Zoning Map with an “R” prefix.
j) Manufacturing Districts are Districts designated on the City of Berkeley’s
official Zoning Map with an “M” prefix.
4) Storage Facilities:
The City shall provide one or more public storage facilities to securely store personal
belongings in an area or areas with concentrations of unhoused individuals.
5) Information:
The City shall ensure that fliers, posters or other materials are available for
dissemination in Commercial Zones, informing the public of rules and regulations for
Sidewalks and Parklets. These materials may be produced by the City or by
community partners, and shall be periodically updated. The City may also post fixed
signage informing the public of these regulations.
6) Objects – Residential Districts:
a) Except for Authorized Objects and Objects in Transit, Objects are prohibited on
Sidewalks in Residential Districts.
7) Objects – Commercial and Manufacturing Districts:
a) Objects, other than Authorized Objects:
i) May not be placed in Parklets
ii) May not be placed in the Path of Travel
b) Other than Objects in Transit or Authorized Objects, Objects on Sidewalks shall
not expand beyond a 9-square foot footprint (measured as 3 x 3, 4 x 2.25, 9×1,
c) Objects on Sidewalks cannot obstruct traffic, pedestrian or other signs authorized
by law.
d) Other than Authorized Objects or Objects in Transit, no Objects shall be placed
on any Sidewalk directly in front of a building entrance, from the entrance face to
the edge of the Sidewalk, except between the hours of 10:00 pm and 7:00 am.
e) Other than Authorized Objects or Objects in Transit, no objects shall be placed
on any Sidewalk area three feet to either side of a building entrance, from the
building wall to the edge of the Sidewalk, except between 10:00 pm and 7:00 am.

Draft 4-17-18
f) Objects must not interfere with normal access to or use of Authorized Objects or
with wheelchair ramps, driveways, or crosswalks.
8) Sitting:
Sitting is allowed on all Sidewalks and in Parklets at all times, except in the Path of
9) Lying: Sleep is a fundamental human right and necessity, and Berkeley must provide space
for individuals to lie down at all times. Lying is permitted in all City of Berkeley Parks
during open hours, which are posted at each park.
Except in the case of a medical emergency, lying is prohibited:
i) In BART Access Corridors. The City shall post signage announcing
restrictions on lying in BART Access Corridors.
ii) On Sidewalks in all Residential and Mixed Use Residential (MUR) Districts;
iii)On Sidewalks in all Commercial Districts and in the Manufacturing (M), Mixed
Manufacturing (MM) and Mixed-Use Light Industrial Zones (MULI) between
the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 10 a.m.
and 6:00 p.m. on Sundays and holidays. (Lying is permitted in these locations
from 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and 6:00 p.m.
Sunday to 7:00 a.m. Monday.)
iv)Within the Path of Travel.
10)Cushioning Material: a) Cushioning Material for sitting or lying in compliance with this ordinance is limited
to pads, folded blankets, mats or other material providing insulation or cushioning
while an individual is seated or lying.
b) Cushioning Material shall not expand beyond what is reasonably needed while
seated or lying, and shall be removed when not in use.
c) When being used for sitting or lying in compliance with this ordinance,
Cushioning Material may exceed or be non-contiguous with the allowed 9 square
foot footprint for Objects, but must maintain the Path of Travel.
No more than two stationary dogs shall be permitted in any 10-foot area on
Commercial Sidewalks or in Parklets, except for guide dogs, signal dogs or service
dogs, as provided by state law. [Same as current]

Draft 4-17-18
Ensuring broad public access to and use of Sidewalks and Parklets is the purpose of
these regulations. Enforcement must support this purpose while minimizing the
potential for criminalization.
a) Objects and Cushioning Materials:
i) If, based on complaints, direct observation or referrals, City staff become
aware that Objects or Cushioning Materials are placed in a location or
manner in violation of these or other regulations, notice shall be provided
stating the City’s regulations and the corrective action requested. If Objects or
Cushioning Materials are unattended notice shall be posted on or directly
adjacent to such Objects or Cushioning Materials.
ii) Depending on the impacts of the violation, notice shall state whether
corrective action must be taken immediately, or may specify any time period,
up to 1 hour, for Objects or Cushioning Material to be moved and brought into
compliance with these regulations.
iii) Failure to comply with actions requested in the notice within the time period
specified will result in Objects or Cushioning Material being moved by the City
to either:
(1) Conform with the City’s regulations (moved out of the Path of Travel, for
example); or
(2) For later retrieval, according to the protocols for Storage of Unattended
Property specified in the City of Berkeley’s Administrative Regulation 10.1.
iv) If Objects have been in the same location for more than 3 days and other
applicable criteria, if any, are met, Berkeley’s Encampment Response Policy
may apply. [Encampment Response Policy will be concurrently adopted]
b) Sitting and Lying Down:
i) If, based on complaints, direct observation, or referrals, City staff become
aware that an individual is sitting in the Path of Travel or lying at a location or
time that is not permitted by these or other regulations, notice shall be
provided to such individual, stating the City’s regulations and the corrective
action requested.
ii) If the individual does not come into compliance after being provided with
notice and a reasonable opportunity to comply, a Citation may be issued.
iii) Violations shall be charged as infractions, and not as misdemeanors.
iv) Fines for an infraction charged under this Section shall not exceed $100.

Draft 4-17-18
v) [Concept in development] The City may waive fines for an infraction charged
under this Section if the individual fined elects to access and receive specified
homeless services or to perform specified community service [program to be
determined]. For fines to be waived and the infraction to be cleared, written
verification of performance is required.
vi) If an individual has been inhabiting a specific Sidewalk location for more than
3 days and other applicable criteria, if any, are met, Berkeley’s Encampment
Response Policy may apply.
c) Dogs:
i) If more than two stationary dogs are within a ten-foot area on a Sidewalk in a
Commercial District or in a Parklet, notice shall be provided to the individual
or individuals in control of such dogs, stating the City’s regulations and the
corrective action requested.
ii) If an individual does not comply, after being provided with notice and a
reasonable opportunity, a Citation may be issued.
iii) Violations shall be charged as infractions, and not as misdemeanors.
iv) Fines for an infraction charged under this Section shall not exceed $100.