“We Are Never Ever Gonna Squat Together” by Julia Carrie Wong (sfweekly.com)

When Jeremiah Kaylor first came across the Versailles-inspired chateau at 3800 Washington St. in tony Presidio Heights, he thought to himself, “This is it. This is my headquarters. This is my Thug Mansion.”

In a jailhouse interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Kaylor explained that he was drawn to the vacant property — currently on the market for $17 million — by rumors that pop star Taylor Swift might buy it. Kaylor allegedly squatted in the property on and off starting in 2014, selling works of art off the walls for cash. He was arrested on Oct. 18 and has been charged with grand theft and trespassing.

“To me, I owned the house,” Kaylor told the Chronicle. Indeed, if he had managed to stay in the property for five years, that declaration might have merit.

In California, trespassers can take “adverse possession” of property after five years of continuous “open and notorious” occupation. If a trespasser maintains a physical residence in an abandoned building for that period of time — and pays property taxes — they can claim legal title.

That’s how Steven DeCaprio, CEO of housing rights group Land Action, came to own his home in West Oakland. DeCaprio’s successful acquisition of the bungalow he calls “Noodle House” made national headlines in 2012.

Adverse possession may be what DeCaprio calls the “holy grail of squatting,” but San Francisco activists have frequently made do with less lengthy stays. According to local activist and author James Tracy, The Diggers and the White Panther Party operated “squat networks” throughout the Fillmore and Haight Ashbury in the 1960s. Starting in the late 1980s, squatting became more political, with activists reclaiming vacant housing for the homeless. In 1992, the late Ted Gullicksen launched Homes Not Jails, which engaged in two different types of squats — one for keeps and one for show.

“Survival squats actually housed people for long periods of time,” Tracy explains. “Agitation squats were essentially civil disobedience where everyone expected to get arrested.”

Agitation squats were revived during the Occupy movement, but despite the more than 6,000 homeless people in San Francisco, the public squatting movement has largely fizzled here.

“With Ted being gone, the big push for political building takeovers has gone,” Tracy says. “He was a big lynchpin of that.”

San Francisco does have a decent stockpile of buildings ripe for the squatting. The Department of Building Inspections requires property owners to register vacant or abandoned buildings, and the list, which is updated quarterly, is a public document.

There are 235 buildings currently registered as vacant with DBI, about half of them in the southeastern quarter of the city. But you didn’t hear that from us.

DBI spokesman William Strawn says that, while the list is subject to San Francisco’s Sunshine Ordinance, the department purposefully doesn’t post it on its website.

“It’s a public record,” Strawn says, “but we don’t want to encourage enterprising folks like this Mr. Kaylor.”

Rest in Power: Pirate Mike

To Action Council Folks and Friends,

It is with a heavy heart that I share this news with you – Pirate Mike has passed on. From what I heard he was hit by a semi while he was on his mission. Will keep you all posted when I hear anything else.

The photo is of Pirate and his daughter Jordon – taken in February, before he left to  join Code Pink at Creech AFB.

–Adrienne Fong

REST IN POWER PIRATE MIKE!

“Only the happiest man on Earth…….’cept for maybe the Blitz…
most EXCELLENT time with my real better half and her man Jeff, but now it is time to go back to work…”

PirateMikeanddaughter

“Paris Prospects: The Shadow of Extinction over the City of Light” by Joe Sherman (Occupy.com)

At a recent talk by Elizabeth Kolbert about her book, “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History,” a stranger next to me fell half asleep after the opening minutes — a common response when the subject is climate change. Rousing herself at the end of the hour-plus event, she said rather lightly, “I liked the crow.”

The crow was named Kinohi. He was an Alala crow from Hawaii, one of about a hundred survivors of the species Corvus hawaiiensis. Twenty years old, a small bird with a big beak, Kinohi was bred and raised in captivity, Kolbert told her audience, but he could not ejaculate, even when stroked by caring naturalists. Whether Kinohi thought he was human, having lived his entire life among Homo sapiens rather than among his feathery friends, or he simply had a deeper sense of futility about the future than his two-legged companions, was unclear.

What was clear, the influential writer for The New Yorker said, was that Kinohi could speak words that a human could understand. He said repeatedly, “I know . . . I know. . . I know.”

It was a rather cryptic opening to an Armageddon-like talk about extinction, with an echo of Edgar Allan Poe. I liked it. I like crows. When I was a boy my sister, a Vermont hill farmer, had a pet crow who perched on her shoulder when she worked in the garden. It talked into her ear and gave me the crow eye. Watching it I felt both fascinated and afraid.

Like I feel now, frankly, thinking about climate change.

Crows are among the smartest creatures around. They’re gregarious, like to socialize, travel in flocks or “murders,” when there are enough of them in the wild. Not Kinohi, of course. A dark fate has made him a loner: a scout for the extinct. Kolbert seemed to be suggesting that crows are intelligent in ways humans are not. Using a single doomed crow to lure us into the story, she soon got to the three key elements of a sixth extinction.

FYI:

Earth’s first extinction was 440 million years ago in the Ordovician period.

Earth’s second extinction was 365 million years ago in the Devonian period.

Earth’s third extinction was 250 million years ago in the Permian period.

Earth’s fourth extinction was 210 million years ago in the Triassic period.

Earth’s fifth extinction was 64 million years ago in the Cretaceous period.

Continue reading

“Postal Banks are People’s Banks: 6 Things You Need to Know about Postal Banking” by Matt Stannard (Occupy.com)

It’s being called “Bernie’s Brilliant Idea,”, and Bernie Sanders’s embrace of postal banking is indeed brilliant, both in timing and substance. But while his insurgent presidential campaign may give a credible boost to USPS financial services, Sanders’s endorsement is far from sufficient. To make postal banking happen requires a broad, mass coalition willing to keep pushing the issue regardless of the outcome of the 2016 elections. If you want to be part of that movement, or already are, keep these six things in mind:

1. Postal banking has a long, strong history.

Nations all over the world have postal savings banks, and the United States had a successful postal bank from 1911 to 1967. At one time, as many as 10% of Americans used postal banks; unsurprisingly, it was lobbying from big banks that shut the program down by urging Congress to stop allowing postal banks to offer competitive interest rates. The emergence of postal banking as a 2016 electoral issue stems from a campaign that began early last year with a short, persuasive piece written by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who cited a report by the Postal Inspector General recommending that the USPS offer financial services – from check cashing and small loans to financial counseling and bill paying – as both a public service and business opportunity for the U.S. Post Office. Soon after, a large coalition of unions and economic justice groups – including the organization I co-founded, Commonomics USA – coalesced around the demand for postal banking. We strategized, pushed the message, hosted conference calls, forums and Q&As on postal banking, and waited.

One of the people we strategized with was Mehrsa Baradaran, a law professor at the University of Georgia who, in the process of releasing her book [“How the Other Half Banks: Exclusion, Exploitation, and the Threat to Democracy”](http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674286061], spoke at a forum we held in March. Baradaran’s argument is simple and forceful. “The basic idea of modern postal banking,” she writes, “is a public bank offering a wide range of transaction services, including financial transactions, remittance, savings accounts, and small lending. These institutions would remain affordable because of economies of scale and because of the existing postal infrastructure in the U.S. Plus, in the absence of shareholders, they would not be driven to seek profits and could sell services at cost.”

Baradaran’s book and accompanying articles coincided with Sanders’s sudden, somewhat media-driven embrace of postal banking earlier this month. Although Sanders has been a longtime supporter of public and postal banking, the concepts were not raised in his presidential campaign until after the first Democratic debate.

Continue reading

COP WATCH — These Streets are Watching

OccupyForum is organizing an OccupyForum field trip to go to a COPWATCH meeting in Berkeley (I think it’ll be at the Unitarian Universalist Church but will let you know) at 7pm Monday night. I’ll send an announcement with all the information, but wanted to send this out to you to save the date, and even RSVP to me at this email, or to my phone (415) 515-1259.

This is gonna be deep: they’re discussing what they’ve learned and want to work on re: the militarization of police, police accountability, training, your rights on the street for yourself and others, how to be a copwatcher, and more. Apparently there’s a video we can watch online beforehand called These Streets Are Watching: www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKeM6zWfAjs so you’re up to speed on what they’re doing.

I want to get a number of people to commit to coming ahead of time so I can let them know; also to give you guys an opportunity to hear first hand about this and possibly use it in your organizing work and your thinking about these issues.

Let me know what you think and if you can come!
Hugs, love and solidarity,
Ruthie

Action Council Events — October 29 to November 3

Thursday Oct. 29 
               11:00 am.  corner of 26th St. and Van Ness Ave.
                PROTEST AGAINST LENNAR CORPORATION
                Protest building 165 luxury condos in the Mission dist.
                when we need affordable housing NOT high priced
                condos.
                This was planned two years ago and people protested
                and caused Lennar said they were not going ahead with the
                plan — but that was a lie!  Lennar has gotten “sweet heart”
                deals in a land give aways in the Bayview and on Treasure
                Island.  Our city needs homes for the people living in the
                city now and getting kicked out by “gentrification”.  We
                need housing for working class people!
                 more info:  latinzoneprod@aol.com
Thurs. Oct. 29    4:00 pm  3711 19th Ave at Holloway (Park Merced)
                  RALLY AGAINST ROBERT ROSANIA
                  Rosania is an out of town developer who wants to build the
                  Monster in the Mission and who has fired the Park Merced
                  Union janitors.  He has contributed $180,000. to the NO on
                  Prop I,  His company has given $500,000. to that campaign.
                  Come to call out Rosania for his greed and disrespect for
                  workers and our community.
Friday Oct. 30
                  7:00 – 10:00 pm   1929 Cedar St. & Bonita St. Berkeley
                  UU Fellowship Hall
                  POLICE RESPONSIBILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
                  FORUM
 
                  Panel discussion about hiring for the police and police
                  training.  Should police officers live in Berkeley?
                  Panel: Ms. Richie Smith NAACP   Ms. Amanda
                  Weatherspoon, Divinity student, Black Lives Matter,
                  Mr. Jesse Arreguin, Berkeley City Council,  Andrea
                  Pritchett, recipient of an Courageous Spirit Award,
                  and a singer and songwriter
                  suggested donation  $5.00 to $10.. no one turned away
                  more info:   510-275-4272
                  7:00 pm.  2969 Mission St. 
                  PALESTINE: THE STRUGGLE INTENSIFIES
 
                  Speakers:  Eyad Kishawi, Palestinian Activist
                  Richard Becker, Author
                  Palestine, Israel and the US Empire
                  Discussion following.
                  more info:  415-821-6545
Saturday  Oct. 31
                  6:00 – 9:00   189 Elsworth St on Bernal Heights   S.F.
                  DAY OF THE DISPLACED
                  Join the Commons SF celebrating the spirit and the spirits
                  of people displaced by the real estate boom.  Bring your
                  tales of those who have departed as we build up our spirits
                  to fight back against the gentrification.
                  Kids and live music are welcome
                  RSVP are welcome in our planning the vegetarian meal.
                  www.TheCommonsSF.org
Sunday Nov. 1
                  9:00 – 11:00 am    UU Church 1187 Franklin St.  S.F.
                  SUNDAY FORUM
                  Pros and cons of SF. Prop I
                  speakers:  Pro  Peter Cohen
                                  Con   Tim Cohen
                   Q & A following
                   breakfast for a nominal fee
                  NO SF OCCUPY ACTION COUNCIL MEETING
                  Our regular space is needed for political work for the
                  election. Next meeting on Sunday Nov. 8
Monday Nov. 2  
                Regular meeting of the Occupy Forum
                the topic unknown.
Tuesday  Nov. 3
               6:00 – 9:00   145 9th St. S.F. 
               Independent Film Center
               MONSOON
               A film about the film makers chasing the monsoon from Kerela
               at the coast to India’s north eastern state
               A cinematic journey into the terrain where nature, science,
               belief and wonder of he most astonishing and breathtaking
               landscaper on Earth.  The film catches the human engagement                  with the natural world.
               more info:  www.greenfilmfest.org/2015monsoon

 

C.V. Nevius on the Wiener roast

“Wiener roast:   Advocates for the homeless staged a demonstration in front of Supervisor Scott Wiener’s house Friday.  Why?  No local pol is out and about more than Wiener.  If you want to protest him, pick any one of dozens of events.  Going to his house (or any politician’s) is intrusive and obnoxious.  And what’s the strategy?  Surely it isn’t to change the mind of Wiener or his neighbors.  Apparently the point was simple–to be intrusive and obnoxious.”

–San Francisco Chronicle, October 27, 2015