By Kwan Booth (article) and Kim Komenich (photography, audio)
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Part One in a Series
West Oakland’s struggles over diesel pollution linked to high local rates of asthma and cancer brought a confrontational protest to a recent Port of Oakland meeting — the latest in a year-long clash between residents, port officials and the trucking industry. Heads turned and presentations stopped mid sentence as approximately 50 community activists and union truck drivers stormed the meeting early on, equipped with protest signs, a bullhorn and calls for “good jobs, clean air.” “Protesters interrupt May 2 Port of Oakland meeting”
At issue is the proposed Comprehensive Truck Management Program, which would require new pollution controls for trucks serving the port. Although the protesters said the plan wouldn’t be effective, many independent truckers said it would put them out of business due to added costs for pollution controls. Emotions ran high, and one truck-company owner who attempted to speak was repeatedly shouted down by protesters.
Our look back at 2008’s top NYMHM issues continues. These topics do appear in the commercial press, but only NYMHM delivers systematic, diverse and ground-level coverage, compared to the usual mass-media gloss. These and other core topics will be coming up repeatedly in 2009, so keep an eye on News You Might Have Missed as we deepen our coverage, and our service to you, the reader. Contents & Summaries
* WATER: As droughts and pollution deepen, the push for privatization os met with public-water campaigns around the world. *
by T.J. Johnston, Newsdesk.org
• Sidebar: “Homelessness, by the Numbers?” • Sidebar: “Human Faces, Lost in the Statistics”
Ricky Green of Bolinas, Calif., and Anthony Waters of Cleveland, Ohio, don’t know each other, but they have this much in common: both are homeless and both were brutalized by packs of teenagers in June. But their outcomes differed. Green survived. Waters did not.
Main article: “Attacks on Homeless Excluded from Crime Data: Advocates”
The National Coalition on the Homeless’s 2008 report, “Hate, Violence and Death on Main Street, USA,” combined government crime statistics with reports from local homeless advocacy groups, media reports and self-reported narratives by homeless people to develop a new index of attacks on the homeless. Although federal crime statistics indicate no upswing in violence against homeless people, and that the juvenile crime rate is actually going down, the NCH report found only increases. Advocates for both statistical methods say their counterparts’ methods are flawed. Key NCH findings about violence against homeless people:
ATTACKS PER STATE
In 2007, Florida led all states with 31 attacks
California is second with 22, Nevada with 14, Ohio with 13 and Texas with 8
TOTAL ATTACKS, 2006-2007
Total 2007 attacks: 160
Total 2006 attacks: 142
Attacks increased by 13 percent
TOTAL NONLETHAL ATTACKS,
2007 nonlethal attacks: 132
2006 nonlethal attacks: 122
Increased by 8 percent
TOTAL FATALITIES, 2006-2007
2007 fatalities: 28
2006 fatalities: 20
Fatalities increased by 40 percent
By T.J. Johnston, Newsdesk.org
Main article: “Attacks on Homeless Excluded from Crime Data: Advocates”
Since 1999, when the National Coalition on the Homeless, started releasing yearly figures on attacks against people without housing, it has claims to have tracked 774 violent acts against homeless men, women and children in 235 cities throughout 45 states and Puerto Rico. Of these attacks, 217 were fatal. Newsdesk.org took an up-close look at four individuals made victims by this violence in 2007 — and found real human faces lost in the statistics. New York: “Quality of Life”
Before David Pirtle found housing in 2006 and became an advocate for the National Coalition on the Homeless’s speakers bureau, the former restaurant manager spent two-and-a-half years homeless in New York City. One autumn night in 2004, Pirtle was sleeping in an abandoned stairwell.
Although development is a perennially hot-button topic in San Francisco due to concerns about gentrification, Proposition D, which would facilitate Pier 70 revitalization, is a seemingly controversy-free measure that has garnered wide support from neighborhood groups, environmentalists, city officials and developers. Pier 70 is a 65-acre site along the Central Waterfront, just south of Mission Bay. According to the Port of San Francisco’s proposed master plan — which will be finalized by early 2009 and then released to the public for comment before going to the Board of Supervisors for approval — the redeveloped port would feature retail sites, restaurants, public parks, cultural venues, parking and continued maritime industry (Pier 70 is the oldest continuously operating shipyard on the West Coast for boat building and repair). In fact, many anti-gentrification activists are supporting D because they see it as a way to not only save the historic buildings, but also to insist on more green space and less dense retail-type development. No Opposition?
By Matthew Hirsch, Newsdesk.org/The Public Press
The Truthiness Report: No. 10 in a series on election advertising. The proponents of Proposition A want voters to believe that the Nov. 4 election is a matter of life or death for San Francisco’s main public hospital. The measure has an enormous list of supporters, including elected officials, newspapers, community groups, and the local Democratic, Republican and Green parties.
By Tim Kingston, Newsdesk.org/The Public Press
The Truthiness Report: No. 9 in a series on election advertising. Rancorous is always a good way to describe tenant-landlord relations in San Francisco, and the debate over Proposition M — an anti-harassment initiative put on the ballot by tenants’ rights activists — is no exception. The inelegantly dubbed Changing the Residential Rent Ordinance to Prohibit Specific Acts of Harassment of Tenants by Landlords attempts to do just that — at great length, and has spurred an exchange of pro and con arguments around free speech and the role of lawyers. Proposition M replaces a simple one-paragraph definition — “any act or omission …
By Tim Kingston
The Truthiness Report: No. 11 in a series on election advertising. • Sidebar: “Moderate vs. Progressive?” For a measure that is completely nonbinding there is much sturm und drang around the “Policy Against Terminating Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) in Public High Schools.”
By Bernice Yeung, Newsdesk.org/The Public Press
The Truthiness Report: No. 8 in a series on election advertising. Proposition L, which would guarantee funding to San Francisco’s new Community Justice Center, is supposedly an initiative that would “stop efforts to play politics with community justice,” according to advertising paid for by proponents. However, given the heated debate among city officials — rooted in a longstanding feud between Supervisor Chris Daly and Mayor Gavin Newsom — that surrounds the creation of the court, the measure appears to serve a political purpose itself. Modeled after successful programs in New York City, the CJC is a “problem solving” criminal court that would provide social services instead of incarceration for defendants who commit misdemeanors or nonviolent felonies.