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Your Need to Know News for the week of Jan. 19 – Jan. 25, 2018

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“It was the best of the times, it was the worst of times.”

The past week of news has been both inspiring and frighteningly destructive on different fronts. Here, we’ll try to wrap up some of the best, worst and weird stories impacting the country and the Bay.

Marissa Castelli, Sochi 2014

All that glitters

U.S. Olympic figure skater Marissa Castelli saw the darker side of San Francisco after two of her $1,000 costumes and a pair of skates were stolen from a car in Japantown during a visit she and her parents made to the Bay Jan 8. But the silver lining came late last week when it was reported by the East Bay Times that SF police had recovered all of her stolen belongings, although there was no confirmation of the condition the items were found in, or what the thief had intended to do with the outfits. Who knows? Maybe somebody just wanted to be pretty for a day.

To cave or not to cave

We all suffered through the insufferable week of rhetoric surrounding the federal government shutdown. The argument was supposedly rooted in disagreements about DACA protection and border security between Republicans and Democrats, who attempted flex their minority muscles to ensure a DACA fix. After Mitch McConnell made half-ass promises (intentions) to address the DACA issue, both sides garnered enough support to pass a Continuing Resolution that will expire on Feb. 8, at which time we will be right back where we started.

There is nowhere near enough space in this update to really unpack in the intricacies, idiocies and plethora of misinformation that swarmed around this debacle, but don’t worry, we’ll have the chance to explain it in detail as the next crisis looms in the next two weeks.

In the meantime, we can all feed off the newest #ReleaseTheMemo and FBI texting conspiracies that have emerged just as Robert Mueller’s investigation has reached it’s fever pitch up to the White House Cabinet ranks.

London Breed and Ron Conway speak onstage during Crunchies Awards in 2015. Photo by Steve Jennings

The “clearing” of London Breed

SF Board of Supervisors President London Breed tweeted Saturday that the city “cleared the unsafe tent encampment on Marin & Napoleon.” She applauded the work of SFHOT in their attempts to find indoor shelter for most of the campers and stated that the city would “continue to clear encampments” across San Francisco. She neglected to mention the shortage of shelter beds in contrast to the number of homeless people living in the city.

Wednesday, she herself was cleared, in matter of speaking, when conservative Mark Farrell was appointed as SF interim mayor, as reported by 48Hills. The news was a shocker to many but seems largely due to the conflict of interest Breed would contend with while managing roles as both the BOS president and acting mayor.

The Future Looks Pink

Saturday marked the first inaugural anniversary of Donald Trump in the Oval Office, but his self-imposed kudos were decidedly overshadowed by the 2nd annual Women’s March events that occurred across the country on the same day. In addition to the tens of thousands that participated in San Francisco, another approximately 50,000 women and allies converged on Lake Merritt, as reported by this site. The marches everywhere, including the most heavily attended in Los Angeles, carried a tone of action, specifically in the political sense – celebrating the gusto with which women have tackled the status quo over the past year and urging women to continue their takeover at the ballot box.

The words “Grab em by the midterms” were echoed by about a million supporters of women’s rights across the nation. Side note: it was a good week for makers of pussy hats.

Marshawn Lynch, Oakland native, and Raider. BEN MARGOT/AP PHOTO

Raider Nation

The Oakland Raiders released a press statement Monday to congratulate quarterback Derek Carr as he was selected to play in the Pro Bowl for the third time. He will join teammates Rodney Hudson, Khalil Mack, Kelechi Osemele and Donald Penn in the Orlando showdown of greats.

School Shooting: Just another day in Murica?

The New York Times said it all with their headline: “School Shooting in Kentucky Was Nation’s 11th of the Year. It was Jan. 23.”

It took the president of the United States a full day to acknowledge the tragedy that befell the rural community of Benton, KY Tuesday when one 15-year-old opened fire at Marshall County High School just before the bell rang. Two students were killed and another 18 were injured.

And like clockwork, within minutes the ultra Right took to the twittersphere to demand NO GUN REGULATIONS, because apparently “thoughts and prayers” are the only appropriate responses to kids killing kids with guns.

A bad man gets no mercy from powerful female judge

After the Michigan court heard emotional statements from 156 gymnasts who have accused former Olympic gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar of sexual misconduct and molestation, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina showed very little patience for the defendant and his excuses, as reported by CNN. She took joy in sentencing Nassar Wednesday to up to 175 years in prison, in addition to the 40 previously given for his love of child pornography. She acknowledged that the sentence was a “death warrant” and had no qualms in signing it for him. “It is my honor and privilege sentence you,” Aquilina said. “Because sir, you do not deserve to ever walk out of prison again.”

BART’s fancy new trains come up short

The “Fleet of the Future” is off to a rocky start. The new cars were put into service on Jan. 19, but two of the newbies were quickly taken out of service due to technical problems, including an issue with unexpected braking, according to SFGate. As much as we all want our transportation to do the basics like starting and stopping, BART cars stopping abruptly while traveling at high speeds is not exactly what most riders would consider safe. The cars may look pretty and still lack the smell of vomit, but they aren’t worth much until they actually function as intended.

Berkeley Housing War

Senators Scott Wiener and Nancy Skinner coauthored SB 827, a bill that “would require California cities to allow denser, taller housing developments near transit hubs and bus lines,” as reported by Berkeleyside. But many in Berkeley see this as a “declaration of war” against their neighborhoods, although they simultaneously concede that the housing crisis must be dealt with. The NIMBY folks contend that the bill “would deprive cities of their rights to control their own zoning and could also lead to unwanted density.” It can be expected that many other residents throughout the Bay will also balk at raising roofs above the skylines they’ve become accustomed to. There really is no easy solution in areas already highly populated with limited land available for development, but there may be some light at the end of the tunnel if people are willing to travel through the tunnel to the city of Concord, which is currently sitting on over 5,000 acres of property formerly owned by the Concord Naval Weapons Station.

As I reported earlier this month for the Diablo Gazette, one to watch is newly appointed Concord Mayor Edi Birsan, who has the tough job of navigating the city through development that will hopefully enhance life for current residents and help alleviate the pressure to house the Bay’s growing number of displaced residents from cities on the other side of the Caldecott.

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.