The San Francisco Unified School District aims to spend its funds equitably, not necessarily equally. That means giving more to schools with the highest needs, based on a complex formula. But in the past decade, parents at some schools have developed sophisticated fundraising operations to make up for years of tight districtwide budgets. The result: parents at a few schools are able to significantly supplement their children’s education, while most are not.
Part of a special report on education inequality in San Francisco. A version of this story ran in the winter 2014 print edition.
There were protests Saturday around the country over the not guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman for the slaying of teenager Trayvon Martin in Flordia. Hundreds turned out in Oakland to remember the dead teenager and call for federal action in the case.
It’s never too late to prepare for the next big earthquake. The California Emergency Management Agency advises that the first 72 hours after a disaster are critical. Electricity, gas and water may be unavailable and first responders will be busy focusing emergency services on the most serious crises. Having an earthquake kit is key to toughing it out on your own. Here’s what it should have, at a minimum.
With little guidance from state leaders, local police, nonprofits fight for scarce funding
This special report appeared in the Spring 2012 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.
Across California, local agencies have been left to scramble for limited resources and improvise strategies to fight human trafficking, a problem whose scope has yet to be defined with reliable numbers. A high-profile state task force studying California’s human trafficking problem made 46 recommendations in October 2007 but set up no mechanism to monitor progress. Attorney General Kamala Harris has begun picking up the pieces this year. But without clear guidance from the state, nine regional task forces sprung up to devise their own solutions. Their efforts have been supported mostly by federal grants. But as the funding rules become more stringent, the groups at times have been pitted against each other for resources.
UPDATE 3/14/12: Charges against Trammell were dropped.
The arrest last week of a suspect in a violent San Francisco kidnapping capped a monthlong investigation headed by human trafficking and domestic violence officers from the Police Department’s revamped special victims unit. The case, police officials said, is one of the first fruits of a new collaborative approach emphasizing long-term investigations by officers across disciplines. The pursuit involved human trafficking investigators, who as recently as last summer were instead focusing much of their energy on arresting prostitutes on the street, leading some critics to say their efforts were counterproductive because they punished abuse victims.
Special victims unit to take a new victim-centered approach to human rights violations
The little-noticed use of San Francisco’s human trafficking task force to arrest street prostitutes over the summer underscores a sharp nationwide debate on how local law enforcement can help rescue victims of economic and sexual slavery. Until October, the city’s anti-trafficking team operated out of the San Francisco Police Department’s vice crimes unit. With the help of a federal-state grant, the team racked up more than 15 investigations of suspected traffickers. But in the spring it altered its tactics, making large-scale arrests of dozens of prostitutes in the Polk Gulch neighborhood, in response to complaints from neighbors.
Third interview is with Sharmin Bock
One of the more important and most overlooked races in San Francisco is the campaign to be the city’s next district attorney. When Kamala Harris left the post for state office last year, outgoing Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed then-Police Chief George Gascon to take her place. Now, Gascon is running for a full four-year term, but faces stiff competition from four other candidates. Previously, we spoke with Bill Fazio and David Onek. Today, we feature Sharmin Bock, a San Francisco native and longtime prosecutor in Alameda County, known especially for her work on child sex trafficking. Bock sat down with Jason Winshell and Hank Drew from the San Francisco Public Press.
The reorganization of the San Francisco Police Department’s Special Victims Unit has become an issue in the November vote for district attorney — at least for one contender in the race: Sharmin Bock, an Alameda County prosecutor. But in doing so, she clashed with police officials who said they need to rely more on federal investigators’ expertise. She said she has placed most of her emphasis on sex tafficking, but has little experience with labor trafficking.
The need to focus investigations on cases of suspected human trafficking was one of the key reasons for the reorganization of the San Francisco Police Department’s Special Victims Unit starting this week, the captain in charge of the new office said. The move places three full-time human trafficking investigators, including the police department’s acknowledged expert, in the same office space as more than 40 colleagues working in disparate areas such as sex crimes, domestic violence and financial crimes. Until now, no investigator worked full time on trafficking cases. The change will accompany increased coordination with federal law enforcement officials this week.
San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr is consolidating four sections of the Special Victims Unit scattered in offices throughout the city and combining them with human trafficking investigations, which were previously handled by the Vice Crimes Unit. The newly constituted Special Victims Unit will open for business Monday, Oct. 17, in a new office on the fifth floor of the Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant St.