Former Department of Public Works head Mohammed Nuru was the subject of an FBI corruption probe that became public earlier this year. In response, local lawmakers have proposed Proposition B, which would split the department into two agencies.

With Corruption on the Ballot, San Francisco Could Learn Oversight From Other Scandal-Plagued Cities

When it comes to good government, dysfunction and disgrace can occasionally inspire some of the brightest ideas for reform. And getting the whole community involved in the cleanup — through the ballot box — can be one way to make those changes happen faster. Though the parallels are not exact, the tiny scandal-ridden city of Bell, near Los Angeles, could hold keys to fixing a culture of corruption that has insinuated itself deep in the heart of San Francisco’s massive and opaque bureaucracy.

Registered nurse and union activist Jennifer Esten protests understaffing at Zuckerberg S.F. General Hospital

Nurses in S.F. Department of Health Demand Thousands of Hours in Overtime Pay

During the pandemic, nurses have been given a lot of praise for the vital, frontline work they do, but some nurses working for San Francisco’s Department of Public Health would like to be paid the overtime they have put in. In a lawsuit against the city, several nurses claim that due to chronic understaffing, the public health department is forcing them to work overtime to cover the gap. They are demanding thousands of hours in back pay.

A recent study from Bruce Conklin (left), Melanie Ott (center), and Todd McDevitt (right) points to potential long-term consequences for COVID-19 patients.

While We Wait: COVID-19 Research Beyond Vaccines

Scientists in San Francisco have made significant discoveries in recent months about the impacts of COVID-19 as well as prevention and treatment of the disease. For one thing, they’ve discovered how SARS-CoV-2 — scientific shorthand for the coronavirus that’s causing the pandemic — slashes through muscle fibers in the heart. In another advance, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco have developed a nasal spray with the potential to prevent infected people from developing full-blown cases of the disease. One major driver of the advances has been an unprecedented level of collaboration.

Jessica Lo Surdo, M.S. (foreground), a staff scientist at the Food and Drug Administration, studies chain reactions in stem cells in an FDA laboratory on the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda, Md.

Insider Opposes $5.5 Billion State Bond to Fund Stem Cell Research

Proposition 14 asks California voters to approve a $5.5 billion bond to allow the institute to continue to provide grants for stem cell research, with the goal of creating new treatments for some of medicine’s most intractable problems. Jeff Sheehy has been a lonely voice on the board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, where he stands in opposition to the state ballot measure that would fund the organization for years to come.

A registered nurse with the Florida Department of Health explains the process of specimen collection to a nursing home resident in Northeast Florida, May 1, 2020.

Senior, Disability Advocates Mobilize to Ensure Care Facility Residents Vote

The coronavirus pandemic has transformed elections, and for people who live in residential care facilities like nursing homes, that may be creating barriers to participation. Last week, organizers with Senior and Disability Action called together advocates and experts to lay out what rights these residents have and how to ensure they are able to exercise them.

Local leaders have criticized a proposed mandate that would require the majority of office workplaces to ensure 60% of their employees are working from home on any given day.

Bay Area Leaders Reject Proposed MTC Telecommute Mandate

Bay Area political leaders are throwing cold water on a controversial work-from-home rule proposed by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission as part of a regional climate change plan. The proposed mandate, part of a long-term sustainability initiative called Plan Bay Area 2050, would require the majority of office workplaces to ensure 60% of their employees are working from home on any given day.

Workplace Inclusion Expert Reflects on Federal Diversity Training Ban

In September, news broke that diversity and inclusion trainings at two research labs in the Bay Area were being suspended at the direction of the White House. President Trump issued an executive order characterizing trainings about racism, sexism and white privilege as anti-American propaganda. Federal employees and contractors, including researchers at federally funded labs and immigration judges, are now prohibited from engaging in that kind of training. Lauren Aguilar, who holds a PhD in social psychology and is president and founder of the inclusion and diversity practice at the consulting group Forshay, described the language in the executive order as Orwellian and said the ban ignores evidence that everyone has biases which influence decisions about workplace diversity and inclusivity. Eliminating workplace programs designed to address those biases, Aguilar said, can result in highly skilled employees leaving their workplace, or their field entirely, when discriminatory work environments are allowed to persist. 

“In the federal government’s eyes, unconscious bias is like a dirty word.

Election 2020: What’s on the Line in San Francisco?

The Public Press hosted a panel discussion October 14 examining San Francisco propositions and local races on the November 2020 ballot. Panelists provided attendees with a nonpartisan breakdown of the measures and candidates, explaining them in plain language and answering audience questions. Our panelists were:

Laura Wenus, host and reporter, “Civic,” San Francisco Public PressJoe Eskenazi, managing editor, Mission Local

The discussion was organized by issue and moderated by Lila LaHood, publisher.

A – Health and Homelessness, Parks and Streets Bond
K – Affordable Housing Authorization

Government Oversight
B – Public Works Commission, Department of Sanitation and Streets and Sanitation and Streets Commission
D – Sheriff’s Department Oversight Board
E – Police Staffing

Taxes & Business Policy
F – Business Tax Overhaul
H – Neighborhood Commercial Districts and City Permitting
I – Real Estate Transfer Tax
J – Parcel Tax for SFUSD
L – Business Tax Based on Comparison of Top Executives Pay to Employees’ Pay
RR – Caltrain Sales Tax

Election Reform
C – Removing Citizenship Requirements for Members of City Bodies
G – Youth Voting in Local Elections

Board of Supervisors, School Board, City College Board and BART Board candidate races

Watch a full recording of the conversation.


How Proposed S.F. Tax Measures Could Affect Inequality

Among more than a dozen ballot propositions that voters are deciding on in November, several are tax measures, including ones on businesses, property, and purchases. Many have components meant to reduce inequality or fund much-needed services. “Civic” talked with Donnie Charleston for an outside expert’s perspective on the tools local governments have to address income and racial inequities, and on some of the tax measures up for voter approval in San Francisco.