Saturday, March 9, 2019



THE MICE once called a meeting to decide on a plan to free themselves of their enemy, the Cat. At least they wished to find some way of knowing when she was coming, so they might have time to run away. Indeed, something had to be done, for they lived in such constant fear of her claws that they hardly dared stir f rom their dens by night or day.

Many plans were discussed, but none of there was thought good enough. At last a very young Mouse got up and said:
"I have a plan that seems very simple, but I know it will be successful. All we have to do is to hang a bell about the Cat's neck. When we hear the bell ringing we will know immediately that our enemy is coming."

All the Mice were much surprised that they had not thought of such a plan before. But in the midst of the rejoicing over their good fortune, an old Mouse arose and said:

"I will say that the plan of the young Mouse is very good. But let me ask one question Who will bell the Cat?"

It is one thing to say that something should be done, 
 but quite a different matter to do it.


Report Warns of Fraud Risks in Low Income Housing Program

Report Warns of Fraud Risks in Low Income Housing Program

SEPTEMBER 19, 2018


Agovernment watchdog report released yesterday is raising questions about an $8 billion dollar taxpayer program meant to help house the poor.

The report by the Government Accountability Office found that the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program (LIHTC) is vulnerable to fraud because of a lack of oversight and data on costs.

The report comes at a time when the housing program is already facing increased scrutiny as federal investigators examine whether Wells Fargoand PNC Bank may have improperly benefited from the taxpayer program. (Wells Fargo hasn’t commented directly on the probe; PNC has said it is “fully cooperating.”)

Concerns about the costs of the program were the subject of a FRONTLINE and NPR documentary, Poverty, Politics and Profit.

The LIHTC is the nation’s largest housing construction program for low-income renters. About 20 million families are what housing experts call “rent burdened,” meaning they pay more than 30 percent of their income to keep a roof over their head. Of those, 11 million pay more than half of their income in rent. So at a time of growing need for affordable housing, FRONTLINE and NPR wanted to understand how well this program accomplished its primary mission: creating new units for low-income families.

To do so, FRONTLINE and NPR analyzed data from the program between 1997 and 2014 and found that the annual number of units dropped 16 percent while the annual cost of the program to taxpayers increased 66 percent. The film tried to understand that discrepancy and explored one potential explanation: fraud, which was an increasing concern to federal investigators. They’d found several instances in which developers padded their pockets through shell companies and kickback schemes.

Those cases illustrated that the program required developers to submit only limited accounting about how they used taxpayer money to state agencies, which makes it harder for regulators to spot fraudulent transactions.

The watchdog report flagged the same concerns. The report, which surveyed 12 states, found that the median cost of each unit ranged tremendously by state, from low of $126,000 to a high of $326,000. Some individual projects were almost double that.

At the same time, the report noted, few agencies had a requirement to help “guard against misrepresentation of contractor costs” — which it said was a known fraud risk.

“Because the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does not require such certifications for LIHTC projects, the vulnerability of the LIHTC program to this fraud risk is heightened,” the report stated.

In practice, just five of the 12 states surveyed had any tracking for construction costs — and the agency was only able to identify four other states that do so.

The report also found that because the federal government has limited data, it was unable to adequately oversee the efficiency and effectiveness of the program. The GAO recommended designating a single agency to better collect and analyze LIHTC costs. The IRS, which oversees the program for the federal government, disagreed with this recommendation, saying it did not have authority to collect all the information the GAO requested.

Damon Connolly votes No on the CASA Compact Dec 19, 2018

Supervisor Damon Connolly votes "NO" on the CASA compact on December 19. 2018 at the MTC Directors Meeting.  His cites the importance of informing local communities about the massive project that will collect $1.6 BILLION dollars from local taxpayers,  rob cities of their ability to plan and fund their infrastructure.   


Friday, March 8, 2019

Thousands of New Millionaires Are About to Eat San Francisco Alive

Thousands of New Millionaires Are About to Eat San Francisco Alive

Uber, Lyft, Airbnb and Pinterest plan to go public. California’s newly minted rich will be hungry for parties, houses, boats, bikes — and ice sculptures.

By Nellie Bowles
March 7, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO — Big wealth doesn’t come in monthly paychecks. It comes when a start-up goes public, transforming hypothetical money into extremely real money. This year — with Uber, Lyft, Slack, Postmates, Pinterest and Airbnb all hoping to enter the public markets — there’s going to be a lot of it in the Bay Area.

Estimates of Uber’s value on the market have been as high as $120 billion. Airbnb was most recently valued at $31 billion, with Lyft and Pinterest around $15 billion and $12 billion. It’s anyone’s guess what prices these companies actually will command once they go public, but even conservative estimates predict hundreds of billions of dollars will flood into town in the next year, creating thousands of new millionaires. It’s hard to imagine more money in San Francisco, but the city’s residents now need to start trying.

Welcomed finally into the elite caste who can afford to live comfortably in the Bay Area, the fleet of new millionaires are already itching to claim what has been promised all these years.

They want cars. They want to open new restaurants. They want to throw bigger parties. And they want houses.

One recent night, in a packed room with a view of the Bay Bridge and an open bar, real estate investors gathered. Standing at the front presenting was Deniz Kahramaner, a real estate agent specializing in data analytics at Compass.

“Are we going to see a one-bedroom condo that’s worth less than $1 million in five years?” he asked the crowd. “Are we going to see single family homes selling for one to three million?”

No, he said, not anymore. The energy rose as he revealed more data about new millionaires and about just how few new units have been built for them. San Francisco single-family home sale prices could climb to an average of $5 million, he said, to gasps.

“All cash. These are all cash buyers,” he said. “It’s just going to be astounding.”

Now, seemingly the whole city — and not just the financial planners and the real estate agents and the protesters who block tech buses — is scrambling to prepare.

If you live here now, you might have to move soon.CreditJim Wilson/The New York Times

ImageIf you live here now, you might have to move soon.CreditJim Wilson/The New York Times

Housing Madness

As the idea of the coming I.P.O.-palooza took on currency, sellers started pulling their houses off the market. The broader California housing market has softened, and home sales are down, but here’s one fix for that.

“Even if just half the I.P.O.s happen, there’s going to be ten thousand millionaires overnight,” said Herman Chan, a real estate agent with Sotheby’s. “People are like, ‘I’m not going to sell till next year, because there are going to be bajillionaires everywhere left and right.’”

One of those is his client Rick Rider, a 61-year-old C.E.O. who decided not to publicly list his Bay Area house until some of the I.P.O.s have happened.

“Our particular house is not a family home. It’s a Double Income No Kids sort of home,” Mr. Rider said. “So it would potentially play well for a lot of the people that would be benefiting from the I.P.O.s.”

The spending wars will likely stay close to work.

“The millennial tech workers are really looking for convenience,” said Christine Kim, the president of Climb Real Estate. “They seem to not want to own cars, and food deliveries are really easy now, and they want to be close to entertainment, so they’ll stay in the city.”

When Google in Mountain View and Facebook in Menlo Park went public, their workers were spread across the Bay Area, and so the impact on housing was diffuse. Now, many of the biggest start-ups are based in San Francisco, in part thanks to the city’s tax breaks. Brokers say San Francisco is where the workers want to stay.

In 2018 there were 5,644 properties sold in San Francisco and only 2,208 of those were single family homes. Software employees represent more than 50 percent of those buying, according to Compass. One real estate firm estimates an average one-bedroom in the city now rents for $3,690 per month. (Another firm puts that average at $3,551.)

“Now you’ve got all these I.P.O.s at the same time, and we’ll potentially have thousands of young people, all now with money, looking to buy homes,” said Shane Ray, a real estate agent. “You’ll be able to feel it.”

Those in the market for a house are trying to buy them fast while the inventory shrinks but before the wave hits.

“I had this sense of existential dread that if we didn’t buy before all the I.P.O.s, we would forever be priced out,” said Tom McLeod, the founder of storage start-up Omni, who has been renting for nearly a decade. “We ended up pulling the trigger.”

The Airbnb HQ.CreditJason Henry for The New York Times

The Airbnb HQ.CreditJason Henry for The New York Times

Don’t Buy Boats

Companies instill in their employees a belief that stock only goes up. At this point, a decade since their founding, start-ups like Uber and Airbnb have been asking their employees to hold that faith for a long time. Now, wealth managers are hoping to rattle the religious.

Ryan S. Cole, a private wealth adviser at Citrine Capital, said he has started getting an influx of new clients who are preparing for wealth. He is worried. This generation of the start-up wealthy seem especially bullish on their company’s success.

“We’ve been trying to get them to exercise a little more caution, just because they’re so excited,” Mr. Cole said. “I don’t think a lot of them think there ever could be a downturn.”

He cautions that no one can be sure how well a stock will do. A company like Uber is still dramatically unprofitable, he tries to remind his clients. So many I.P.O.s turn out to be busts. Groupon opened around $26 a share and now trades around $3; Snap opened around $27 and now trades at $9.

“A lot of them are young — they’ve just seen their valuations going up forever and they don’t really understand that tech stocks are volatile,” Mr. Cole said. “And they have their managers painting especially rosy pictures of where the company is headed to get them to work harder.”

Mostly, he just urges his clients not to spend too much yet.

“They shouldn’t be buying boats,” Mr. Cole said. “We see a little bit of that.”

Electric bikes, on the other hand, are a favorite mode of transportation for the San Francisco tech worker. Owners of the electric bike shop New Wheel say they are preparing for the I.P.O.s by ordering 30 percent more of the Stromer ST3 — the most popular configuration retails for around $7,500 — and 200 percent more of the Riese & Muller front-loader bikes, which sell for around $9,500.

Michael Biggica, the founder of Pixel Financial Planning, said 2019 is the year of “pent-up demand” and that the excitement of a windfall can be intoxicating.

“My role is eliminating that emotion,” Mr. Biggica said.

Jonathan K. DeYoe, another private wealth adviser in the region, started working with tech clients in 1997 during the first dot-com boom. He said it was pretty exciting back then. Now, as he thinks about thousands of new millionaires coming onto the scene, he is worried about the region’s inequality.

“There’s some who’ve talked about pitchforks,” Mr. DeYoe said. “And I don’t think we’ll go there, but there’s a point when that makes sense.”

“It’s very visible,” Mr. DeYoe said. “This kind of wealth is very visible.”

A Lyft.CreditChristie Hemm Klok for The New York Times

Party City

In cities like Oakland and Berkeley and San Francisco, millennials obsess over Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Twitter and attend Democratic Socialists of America meetings. But the socialist passion doesn’t seem to have impacted the city’s zeal for I.P.O. parties, which the party planning community says are going to surpass past booms.

Jay Siegan, a former live music club owner who now curates private entertainment and music, is gearing up. He has worked on events for many of the I.P.O. hopefuls, including Uber, Airbnb, Slack, Postmates and Lyft.

“We see multiple parties per I.P.O. for the company that is, as well as firms that are associated to them,” Mr. Siegan said. Budgets for start-up parties, he said, can easily go above $10 million. “They’re wanting to bring in A-list celebrities to perform at the dinner tables for the executives. They want ballet performers.”

A popular new feature he’s noticing is clients hoping to curate their own theme concerts featuring fleets of bands. Mr. Siegan says he recently put on one for a 1980s loving tech executive, featuring the B-52s, Devo, The Bangles, Tears for Fears and Flock of Seagulls.

In a warehouse in Concord, Calif., the I.P.O. ice sculptor is getting ready to staff up for what he says will be a long year.

“It’s going to be a lot of 14-hour days,” said Robert Chislett, founder of Chisel-it, who has around 15 ice sculptors currently employed.

Together, they have chiseled a full-size ice car for a tech executive’s party in Atherton and a 10-foot ice Taj Mahal for another’s swimming pool in San Jose.

But, he says, executives usually want predictable things. An ice chair with the logo on the back, for photos. A lot of logos carved into ice rockets, to indicate that the company’s stock will be like a rocket. And ice cubes, for drinks, with the company logo on each one.
To the Barricades and Back Again

And of course, the tech backlash, mostly quiet as stocks have vested, is preparing for its own revival.

At Radio Habana Social Club in the Mission district, housing rights activists gathered one recent evening for a drink. By now, there is a well-known choreography: the cash comes flooding in to a few and the stock-less masses begin to gather. They will protest evictions, fight developers, organize against tax breaks and unfurl banners in front of tech buses.

“It’s going to mean mass displacement,” said Sarah “Fred” Sherburn-Zimmer, the executive director of the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco, of the coming wealth influx.

She paused for a moment.

“It feels like the same game,” she said.

Activists stood elbow-to-elbow around a table of hummus and pepper jack cheese.

“We’ve lived through boom times before,” said Maria Zamudio, the group’s associate director. “We’ve learned our lessons. We know what a massive influx of money looks like. Concessions we made in the past, we will not make this year.”

Nellie Bowles covers tech and internet culture. Follow her on Twitter: @nelliebowles

The Mayor of Redondo Beach California strongly opposes SB-50

Marin's New District Attorney, Lori Frugoli March 6, 2019

Marin Coalition Presents: Wednesday March 6, 2019  “What’s On The Agenda for Marin’s New District Attorney” Speaker: Lori Frugoli - District Attorney, County of Marin For the first time since 2005, Marin County has a new District Attorney: After two elections, Lori Frugoli prevailed over the field in both the primary and November runoff and replaced retiring D.A. Edward Berberian (a 42-year Marin County prosecutor) in January, becoming the second woman elected to that post. Come hear our D.A. describe her priorities as a newly elected office-holder and answer your questions about the direction she hopes to take her department. Lori Frugoli’s commitment to public service through public safety began early.  She is a Marin native and was first inspired to keep Marin safe when she participated in a Terra Linda High School Ride-a- Long program. Throughout her career, Lori has been a pioneer, “breaking the glass ceiling” in law enforcement as the first women to volunteer as a Reserve Police Officer in San Rafael and on the Downtown Walking beat in the Santa Rosa Police Department. In addition, Lori worked in investigations on arson, property fraud and embezzlement; undercover in drug and prostitution crimes; and as a member of the Hostage Negotiations Team. She continued working as a Deputy Sheriff in Marin County while putting herself through law school became a Deputy District Attorney for the County in 1990. Throughout her 28-year career as a Deputy District Attorney, Lori has represented Marin in thousands of cases and over 100 jury trials. Her diverse and challenging caseload has included seeking justice for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, home invasions and elder abuse. She has served as coordinator and supervisor for various criminal departments in the DA’s office and Alternative Justice Courts. Lori was one of the first prosecutors in California to present expert evidence and testimony using Mitochondrial DNA evidence. The recipient of many prestigious awards and recognitions, Lori has an established reputation in the community for treating all people with respect and professionalism.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

China bans 23 million from traveling as part of citizen report card system

China bans 23 million from traveling as part of citizen report card system

By Christopher Carbone | Fox News

A screen shows visitors being filmed by AI (Artificial Intelligence) security cameras at the 14th China International Exhibition on Public Safety and Security at the China International Exhibition Center in Beijing on October 24, 2018. (Getty Images)

China has blocked millions of travelers from purchasing train or plane tickets as part of the Communist country's controversial "social credit" system, which has drawn the ire of privacy advocates who fear the surveillance-based system could lead to dystopian outcomes.

The Guardian reports that Chinese courts banned travelers from buying flights 17.5 million times by the end of last year, and that citizens put on blacklists for so-called social credit offenses were prevented from purchasing train tickets 5.5 million times. The report said: "Once discredited, limited everywhere."

The social credit system, which is still being built and now exists more as a patchwork of local and regional systems, purports to incentivize trustworthy behavior through various penalties when Chinese citizens commit a range of offenses, including not paying taxes, jaywalking, smoking on a train, walking their dogs without a leash or taking drugs.

Although a wide range of countries, including the U.S. and the U.K., already use data to judge a person's creditworthiness when it comes to applying for a mortgage or a credit card, the Chinese system aims to expand these practices to all areas of life.

Experts fear the system will lead to a crackdown on anyone who challenges China's government.

General view of passengers at the Beijing rail station. (Getty Images)

For instance, journalist Liu Hu, who writes about censorship and corruption in China, has been arrested and fined because of his work. According to Wired, Liu found that his name was placed on a list of "dishonest persons" who is "not qualified" to buy a plane ticket, buy property or take out a loan.

"There was no file, no police warrant, no official advance notification. They just cut me off from the things I was once entitled to," he told The Globe and Mail. "What's really scary is there's nothing you can do about it. You can report to no one. You are stuck in the middle of nowhere."

According to The Guardian, Chinese citizens can also be prevented from buying insurance, real estate or investment products if they run afoul of the credit system. The British news site also reports that 3.5 million people or companies paid taxes or debts they owed because of the credit system.

Experts have said that Western countries should not look to mimic the Chinese system.

"Often comparisons are drawn between private applications like Uber and its rating system for customers and drivers. While these private company systems are extremely problematic in my view, they are fundamentally different," Samantha Hoffman, a non-resident fellow at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, told Wired. "The People’s Republic of China is an authoritarian country, the Chinese Communist Party is responsible for gross human rights violations for decades... There is nothing any liberal democratic society should even think about copying in the social credit system."

Pirates of the Caribbean

Recall bid targets Dixie trustee Marnie Glickman

Recall bid targets Dixie trustee Marnie Glickman, a leader in name change effort

Intent to launch petition drive filed in Marin County elections office

By KERI BRENNER | | Marin Independent Journal
PUBLISHED: March 5, 2019 at 4:23 pm | UPDATED: March 6, 2019 at 6:11 am

Dixie School Board member Marnie Glickman speaks during a board meeting in San Rafael, Calif. on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. (Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal)

A recall drive was announced Tuesday against Dixie School District board member Marnie Glickman, a leader in the movement to change the name of the district.

“Trustee Glickman’s failure to act in the best interest of the Dixie School District as an elected fiduciary and trustee has caused her constituents, district staff and fellow board members to lose trust in Ms. Glickman’s ability to serve in a representative capacity to further Dixie School District’s goals,” according to a notice of intention filed Tuesday with the Marin County Registrar of Voters office by a group of Dixie School District residents.

“Ms. Glickman continues to disrupt board meetings by monopolizing their agenda with her own personal goals.”

Glickman has seven days to file an optional 200-word “answer” to the notice. If she files an “answer,” it must be included in the final petition format that would be approved by the elections office before any petitions are circulated.

Glickman declined comment on the recall effort on Tuesday. Others in the community, however, said the attacks on Glickman will not alter or improve the situation as long as the district has a name that some people of color and others find offensive because of its ties to the slavery and racism of the Civil War-era South.

“This is truly sad, but not shocking,” said district parent Teri Bleiweiss. “Marnie advocates for underrepresented voices in our community.

“Recalling Marnie Glickman will not silence people who oppose anti-Semitism and racism, nor will it halt their efforts,” Bleiweiss added. “The local community has been activated and the eyes of the nation are on us. Although the recall petitioners are acting within the law, history will not look back on them kindly.”

Marin County elections official Dan Miller said the petitioners would need to collect 2,851 signatures, or an estimated 20 percent of the more than 14,200 registered voters in the district, for the recall process to be successful. Beyond that, it was not immediately clear what steps would be taken, such as whether there would be a recall election or a ballot measure or some other option.

“We just got this today, so we need to review the elections code,” said Lynda Roberts, Marin County registrar of voters, on Tuesday.

Miller said the last drive to recall a public official in Marin was for then-county supervisor Susan Adams in spring 2013. That effort was curtailed after it was determined that a special recall election would cost up to $250,000 and that Adams was up for re-election in June in any case — which, at that time, was only a few months away. Adams, who had served 12 years in office, was ousted in the June elections by Damon Connolly, who replaced her as county supervisor representing District 1 in January 2014.

Glickman’s current term expires in 2020.

The recall petition drive is being led by Terra Linda residents Laurie Ann and Joseph Roy Pirini and eight other residents who all signed the notice of intention filed Tuesday. It is separate from the We Are Dixie group, which opposes a name change for the district, according to a statement on the website set up by the petition drive organizers. They say that all costs for the effort will be borne by private donors and that no district funds would be used.

Marin before and after if SB50 passes in Sacramento in 2019

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Marinwood CSD Commissioner Shane Valentine Fears Public

Marinwood CSD Parks and Recreation Commissioner argues to keep his contact information secret because he believes that no one should be allowed to communicate with him.  It is a bizarre take on public service.  Virtually every government agency has a way to contact members of their board .  What is Shane Valentine worried about?

Eichler neighborhoods Before and After if SB50 Passes

Artist depiction of upzoning of an Eichler neighborhood.  This four story building is only 50' tall but SB50 allows EIGHT story buildings given certain provisions.  All of Marinwood/Lucas Valley/Terra Linda can be affected because of their status of "jobs rich community" in the legislation.
Eichler neighborhoods like this will be destroyed.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Should they build Tiny Homes on Your Street?



THE NORTH WIND and the Sun had a quarrel about which of them was the stronger. While they were disputing with much heat and bluster, a Traveler passed along the road wrapped in a cloak.

"Let us agree," said the Sun, "that he is the stronger who can strip that Traveler of his cloak."

"Very well," growled the North Wind, and at once sent a cold, howling blast against the Traveler.


With the first gust of wind the ends of the cloak whipped about the Traveler's body. But he immediately wrapped it closely around him, and the harder the Wind blew, the tighter he held it to him. The North Wind tore angrily at the cloak, but all his efforts were in vain.

Then the Sun began shine. At first his beams were gentle, and in the pleasant warmth. after the bitter cold of the North Wind, the Traveler unfastened his cloak and let it hang loosely from his shoulders. The Sun's rays grew warmer and warmer. The man took off his cap and mopped his brow. At last he became so heated that he pulled off his cloak, and, to escape the blazing sunshine, threw himself down in the welcome shade of a tree by the roadside.

Gentleness and kind persuasion win where force and bluster fail.