Sunday, July 29, 2007


A recent announcement by Earthlink (passed along by public watchdog Kimo Crossman) spells an end to San Francisco’s “Free” WiFi charade.

Basically, Earthlink says they can’t make a profit from the kind of contract that is being negotiated with San Francisco. For Earthlink to make money from “free” municipal WiFi they need the municipality itself to a sign long-term contract to use Earthlink services. Earthlink calls such a municipality an “anchor tenant.”

Earthlink's announcement makes the entire process look like a bad faith effort, possibly on the parts of both Mayor Newsom and Earthlink, to sign a quickie contract and work out the (expensive) details later.

Newsom wanted a cool-sounding resume item. A number of public-commenters hauled in to a Supes Committee meeting said they needed “WiFive,” which sounds cooler yet.

With the Earthlink deal all but defunct, we’ll see if our mayor has a Plan-B for bridging the digital divide.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

WiFi UPDATE: Peskin Waits by the Phone

As a gay man I know, all too painfully, that just because a guy says he’ll call doesn’t mean he’ll call.

The young man from Earthlink seemed sincere…

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Over on Civic Center blog sfmike covers San Francisco’s treatment of Egyptian Revolution Day. Mike mentions a City Hall watcher named Abdul.

Here is Abdul’s public comment to the Board of Supervisors (7/24/07) regarding this importatant matter.

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My impression is that Mayor Newsom wanted to shove the sixteen-year Earthlink WiFi agreement through the Board of Supervisors quickly.

Why? It turns out that if you slow the process down and look at the actual terms of the agreement, it’s a really crappy deal for San Francisco.

As Kimo Crossman and other concerned citizens have pointed out, the San Francisco deal isn’t even as good as deals Earthlink has with other cities.

Free WiFi—who could turn it down?

How about some free sciatica? Or some free dysentery?

Sure, the best things in life ARE free, but so are some of the worst.

The agreement is scheduled to be considered today, Wed 7/25/07, in Budget and Finance at 1:00pm.

Kimo thinks the item will be continued because Earthlink hasn’t responded to Peskin’s queries from last week.

This is very good news. These sorts of decisions have lasting consequences. Think Candlestick Park. Think Muni Metro.

From Kimo comes this link to a nice overview of the SF/Earthlink plan, written for a British site. It discusses possible delays for environment impact studies, which are being advocated by SNAFU—an anti-microwave group.

A vote requiring the review could prove fatal to the proposed network, which is becoming an increasingly contentious issue between Newsom and his critics. Environmental reviews can take as long as a year to complete, a sizable delay that could ultimately cool enthusiasm for the project.
The technology is changing so fast that this proposal, in a year’s time, will be an anachronism.

Hooray for Kimo! Go SNAFU! ACLU, we love you!

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Friday, July 20, 2007


One of the Big Lies pounded into American ears is that the United States is a Christian nation, founded on Christian (sometimes they ignorantly say “Judeo-Christian”) principles.

My friend Jim, who introduced me to the Cockettes and is revered by many Fomers as a prophet, sends along these ten quotes from Thomas Jefferson about religion. Jim is a real artist. Check out his Blue Elephant blog.

Thomas Jefferson probably qualifies as an American “Founding Father.”

Not only did Jefferson famously pen the Declaration of Independence, he served as the nation’s first Secretary of State, second Vice President, and two terms as President.

Plus he did a lot of other stuff, some of it unsavory and sinful.


There are eleven quotes below. Ten of them are attributed to Thomas Jefferson, one of them is attributed to another American Founding Father. Can you pick out the non-Jefferson quote? Can you name it’s author. Answer in Comments.

1. Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.

2. Religions are all alike -- founded upon fables and mythologies.

3. This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.

4. Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man.

5. The Christian God is a being of terrific character - cruel, vindictive, capricious, and unjust.

6. The authors of the gospels were unlettered and ignorant men and the teachings of Jesus have come to us mutilated, misstated and unintelligible.

7. If the freedom of religion, guaranteed to us by law in theory, can ever rise in practice under the overbearing inquisition of public opinion, then and only then will truth, prevail over fanaticism.

8. The loathsome combination of Church and State…

9. In every country and every age, the priest had been hostile to Liberty.

10. On the dogmas of religion, as distinguished from moral principles, all mankind, from the beginning of the world to this day, have been quarreling, fighting, burning and torturing one another, for abstractions unintelligible to themselves and to all others, and absolutely beyond the comprehension of the human mind.

11. We discover (in the gospels) a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstition, fanaticism and fabrication.

This is all very tame compared to, say, Denis Diderot:

“Let us strangle the last king with the entrails of the last priest.”

Of course, Diderot, Jefferson, and Guess-who lived in a long-ago era called “The Enlightenment.”

[Note: This is a cross-post from Jesuit Watch.]

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Yesterday’s Board of Supervisors meeting saw an extraordinary, embarrassing event: a Supervisor, Chris Daly, made a motion and failed to receive a second. A few minutes later, Daly made another motion, with the same result.

At issue was final passage of the C&C’s $6.1 billion yearly operating budget. Daly’s un-seconded motions were attempts to make it, in his words, more of a “Robin Hood” budget.

There’s nothing wrong with being a lone voice. Worthwhile amendments should be advanced even if they have only the mover’s support.

But, before taking a motion to the floor, most politicians would sort of query their colleagues to see what kind of support is out there.

Daly’s seemed surprised that his motions “Died for lack of a second.” So him praises his own motives and impugns the motives of the other supervisors.

It seemed a painful moment for everyone there.

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Monday, July 16, 2007


“Redevelopment” in San Francisco has a major component h. brown calls “Negro Removal.”

Actually, those were the bad old days of the 1960’s, etc. Now, in the enlightened 21st Century, it would be called “African-American Removal.” Same difference to the removees.

Resistance to the current round of Redevelopment aimed at Bay View Hunters Point can’t help the moderate and low income, mostly non-white residents hold onto their neighborhood. Rather, my hope is that current residents can receive ample compensation for their displacement.

Prominent City Hall watcher and long time Bay View resident, Espanola Jackson, is on the scene to witness the skullduggery and to scold the skullduggers, and negotiate that fair price for her community’s grief.

San Francisco Magazine, in an article on the African American exodus (removal) from San Francisco, describes Ms Espanola Jackson thus:

Jackson is a round marshmallow of a woman who can usually be seen in what she calls her trademark church hat. She calls everyone baby, honey, or sweetie. She is 73, but moves more like she’s 60, stomping around as she rants about this or that. She is very stubborn.

Reportedly Ms Jackson has more than forty great-grandchildren—great qualifications for minding the Board of Supervisors.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007


For simplifying, rhetorical purposes, Newsom’s free gift to the City’s digitally-divided could be called “slow internet connectivity.”

Obviously Newsom wants to emphasize the last two words. I would emphasize the first.

The entire contract, for rhetorical purposes, can be summarized in one word—“Slow.”

“Say NO to Slow.”

“Vote NO on Slow.”

“No Dough? Go Slow.”

“Rich go fast, poor go slow.”

The radiation people might call it “Slow and Glow.” [If BVHP-VVSD residents don’t like getting asbestosed, they probably don’t like getting microwaved either.]

It’s great that SLOW rhymes with NO, also that WiFi rhymes with DiFi.

Here's an inspirational flyer from Kimo Crossman:

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Thursday, July 12, 2007


I watched BOS Budget and Finance yesterday, regarding WiFi, expecting to see a fight, and an actual meeting broke out! No kidding! It was, like, grown-ups.

Instead of the crappy long-term deal which Mayor Newsom “negotiated” with Earthlink, we might actually get a better, shorter-term deal.

Even the Earthlink guy seemed happy to have a serious negotiating partner (Board of Supes).

Board President Aaron Peskin, along with Ammiano and Mirkarimi treated the public advocates--Kimo, ACLU, EFF-- as valuable information resources, not nuisances.

Below is Kimo Crossman’s report on the meeting. [On a day when Kimo was being attacked by the Hearst flagship Examiner for “asking too many questions,” Kimo continued working to improve the WiFi deal for all San Franciscans.]

Kimo’s Report:

"Bridge the Divide, Before City Wide"

There was a productive hearing at Budget and Finance today (7/11)
watch here:

There were no fake Wi-Fi Now demonstrations. Oblivious seniors weren't bused in from their jamboree sessions.

Peskin started by saying he did not want to see another city franchise and then discussed some significant potential improvements to the deal which EarthLink *is considering* most of these were announced over the weekend - but also improvements to the privacy on the free tier to at least match premium tier privacy (still not even close to address ACLU/EFF concerns) ,an ability for the city to purchase network after the 8 year term and 500k free speed min. and that the city receive the same rental fee for its poles that PG&E negotiates (Most Favored Nation) as well substitution for the standard city indemnity agreement. Most importantly a requirement that Service Level Agreements SLA - performance standards be agreed to *before the contract is executed* and that the Board has an opportunity to *give thumbs up or down* after the Proof of Concept before additional network build-out may occur - hopefully informed by an independent audit of OUTDOOR and especially INDOOR access.

ACLU showed up once again with detailed suggestions to improve Privacy and Free Speech which was endorsed by EFF. "The poor shouldn't have to pay with their privacy for free internet access." see here:

For the first time in two years, the Supervisors appeared receptive to finally addressing these concerns.

Gilbert Criswell raised concerns about privacy and why the speed was only 500k vs the 1,000k Mountain View and other cities are receiving.

Kimo Crossman mentioned that Google previously indicated that PG&E in Mtn View quoted to Google a price of $5,000 a pole (vs the $99 a pole SF is getting for the city poles). Also, that the network needed a tested Proof of Concept - "Bridge the Divide, Before CityWide" with an independent audit, board approval for up/down and a ban on overuse of Trade Secrets claims to prevent transparency - remember Google claimed 90/100 pages of original proposal were Trade Secrets.

EarthLink spoke honestly and were open to the Supervisor's input and acknowledged they still had some challenges with coverage for geography and indoors and that they were committed to resolving them and indicated they would report back to Peskin on the requests early next week for a Budget hearing on the 25th... The Wi-Fi Categorical Exemption Environmental appeal is now set for the 24th. If EarthLink accepts the changes, the Supervisors will sponsor a resolution amending the contract accordingly.

DTIS at this point, is not part of the discussion.

Mirkarimi asked about starting with 1,000k speed free vs 500k or 300k and pointed out that the deal is only between EarthLink and the city (Google is buying access to EarthLink's network for the free tier).

Rumors still circulate that the Mayor may put the initiative on the November Ballot (deadline August 3rd) if the Supervisors do not approve the deal.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007


First bridge the divide,
Then go citywide.

Once again City Powers plays the race card, this time to advance the “free” WiFi deal with Google/Earthlink.

City Powers says the deal will “bridge the digital divide” which keeps poor people, mostly of color, from accessing the internet.

A commenter brought up how in her neighborhood, Bay View Hunters Point, she and her kids couldn’t use the computers at the public library because it wasn’t safe for them to walk to the nearby branch.

Problem: unsafe streets; Solution: free WiFi. It’s, like, City Powers accepts the idea that BVHP residents are prisoners in their own homes.

If this is the way we want to go, we should at least guarantee that the free WiFi actually does bridge the divide.

We must insist that infrastructure be installed and service rolled-out in neighborhoods suffering most from the digital divide, BEFORE, AND AS A CONDITION OF, installation of the system in more lucrative neighborhoods.

Until we know, for a fact, that the digital divide has successfully been bridged, it is only a promise, made to a community that’s sick of broken promises.

Without such a provision the Google/Earthlink deal holds as much hope for BVHP as the T-Third, another cruel joke played on poor people of color.

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In yesterday’s Board of Supes Land Use Committee meeting, residents of Bayview Hunters Point and their supporters testified against the Redevelopment Agency and its Nancy Pelosi connected contractor, Lennar Corporation, who they see as destroying their mostly black community, and in this specific case, their health by contamination from the building site.

Among the commenters was this gentleman, who employed a most striking visual aid:

Mr Shepherd's "mendacity" refers to the previous testimony of SF Dept of Public Health officials that the Lennar project was safe and the neighbors fears were unfounded.

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Monday, July 09, 2007


Below is a list of 19 problems or issues with the proposed agreement between SF C&C and Google/Earthlink to provide "free" wireless internet access to the City's residents.

The list was compiled by public citizen Kimo Crossman, an sfwillie'sblog hero, who has scrutinized the agreement to find the true public costs and benefits. The remainder of this post are Kimo's words. (Three cheers for Kimo.)

The reference to the Legislative Analyst (LA) memo is part of the packet located here (July 11th Budget and Finance Committee 1PM meeting):

1 Per LA Memo: Controller's report significantly overstates savings to citizens.
2 Per LA Memo and ACLU: Privacy concerns not addressed
3 Per LA Memo: DTIS and Earthlink agree to performance criteria after contract approval with no board input
4 No outdoor coverage requirements in contract
5 No no indoor coverage requirements which is where most people use computers, Will Earthlink pay for DSL for those who can't get indoor coverage?
6 Free 500kb/s speed is already an option in the revised contract
7 Mountain View has free 1,000k from Google, Why not San Francisco?
8 Pole agreement is actually exclusive to Earthlink because additional mountings by other vendors may not interfere in anyway with EarthLink devices. Earthlink will get most of the desired poles and building tops.
9 Budget Analyst report says that the agreement is a Franchise - this requires additional city procedures that are not being followed by this contract.
10 Why aren't city services part of this contract? Prediction: city will issue a Sole Source contract to Earthlink right after this deal goes through - basically subsidizing the Free WiFi.
11 EarthLink is playing both sides of the game by providing the infrastructure and retail services - this is a conflict of interest.
12 Google has exclusive free access - why not let other providers compete to provide this as well like MSN, Yahoo, Anchor Free?
13 CPE which will help indoor coverage (only sometimes) will cost between $100-$150 for the Free access.
14 Per LA Memo: Revenue from Earthlink in range of 150k-220k + Pole rental 100k = 250k-320k annually or 1.2M for 4 years rather than the 2M for 4 years in press releases.
15 No requirement for a network solution that is disaster tolerant or uses green concepts like solar panels for the network design.
16 No requirement to use city fiber in the creation of the network.
17 Proof of Concept should occur before any contract for a complete network is executed just like in Philly.
18 Every MuniWifi rollout to date has resulted in negative press with people unimpressed with the reliability of the network and the need to "manage expectations"
19 Eight years is too long when other wireless technologies are on the near horizon - four years would be more appropriate.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Some condemning the Libby commutation say that it disrespects the rule of law.

Many of these admirers of the rule of law were ardent advocates for the recent Immigration Bill, which would have granted commutations to 12-20 million law violators—so many commutations that we don’t even have an exact number.

By simply enforcing existing laws, illegal immigrants unable to find work would deport themselves. Not too hard to understand, is it?

Without the illegals, our economy would change. Low wage legal workers would get paid more. Eventually, even CEOs would have to wipe their own asses.

This is an issue about which Nancy Pelosi in her Pacific Heights mansion and George Bush in ‘bunkport or Crawford agree: we simply cannot have the entire workforce making decent wages and benefits.

It’s the inequality, stupid, that makes America great!

Happy fucking Fourth.

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