Friday, June 19, 2009

Are Trustifarians Endangered? We can only hope....

According to this article in the NY Times, "Trustifarians" are being hit by hard times brought on by their families' gambling on the stock market and on bad mortgage securities. "Trustifarians" are also known as "Trust Fund Hipsters", "Hij@s de Papi", "Subsidized Loafers", and other affectionate names.

Oh no! What will that artists-that-has-never-sold-any-art-but-lives-in-a-flat-in-the-mission-previously-rented-by-working-class-tenants do? Or what about the loafer hipsters who like to sit at Ritual Coffee on their computer all day, even though they have internet at home? I mean, who will wait an hour for mediocre food at Boogaloos? Will these Trustafarians be able to get a job and make it through four hours without "twittering" or taking artistic yet aloof pictures for their facebook/myspace profiles?

As a show of solidarity we can give them a gift bag of job applications, coupons, and fashion tips, such as don't wear your faded/yellow "Keep on Truckin'" t-shirt to a job interview and leave the ironic 80's fashion at home.

At this very moment capitalism continues to collapse onto itself, people continue to loose their jobs & homes, and the pinche mayor (gruesome newsom) is hells bent on gutting services for the poor and for the ill. The people of San Francisco are fighting to keep these services which people depend on every day. The least of our concerns is whether or not the offspring of the ruling class will have to move back with their parents or if they will have to confront the reality of 40+ hour weekday.

Welcome to our economic reality, Trustifarians. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

They Say “Save Medjool”… We Say “Save the Progressive/Historic Latino/a Mission District “

Everyday activists, organizers, non-profit workers, and community members in the Mission District always have to decide how to fight injustices barreling down on our community. From ICE raids to evictions to street violence, we prioritize and do the best we can to put our social justice values into action by “fighting the good fight”. Sometimes in the social justice movement we have differences of opinion regarding tactics and strategies, these differences can be intense and difficult but rarely do they reach a point where we are on opposite sides of the struggle for equity and justice. On those rare instances we are divided, it is usually on land-use issues and high-end condo projects because wealthy, well-connected, developers are able to corrupt the political process and divide the community through patronage.

The current controversy involving local, well-heeled, developer Gud Murad and his Save Medjool campaign, while complicated in some respects, is quite basic. As social justice activists we all stand against corruption, lack of transparency, gentrification, and the erosion of progressive democratic principles. The root causes of this current controversy are the implicit and overt racial and economic inequities shaping development along Mission Street, the districts main commercial corridor. As progressives we should also stand together against these deeply ingrained societal injustices. However, it seems that because of patronage and the lack of foresight to strive for socially equitable projects, some activists have compromised their values and actively campaign in support of saving Medjool and throw their support behind the proposed New Mission Theater project that would bring dozens more high-end condos to our neighborhood and a higher end version of Medjool.

Here is some historical background that may help clarify the situation and help us reconnect with our social justice principles:

• When the New Mission Theater was put on the market by City College, Gus Murad out bid local nonprofits, thereby undermining community based development;

• He was anti-union in selecting contractors for developing Medjool and the accompanying Elements Hostel;

• He chose to provide “community benefits” by selecting Mission Neighborhood Centers as the recipient of space on the ground floor of his New Mission Theater project. While providing space for a community-based nonprofit is, at first glance, certainly a worthy gesture, in this case it is not what it appears to be. Years of land-use based activism by groups like MAC have resulted in changes in the way developers approach the project entitlement process. For-profit developers in our neighborhood have come to understand that they need to show that they are “working with the community” in order to get their projects approved The simplest way to do this is to provide some commercial space to a community group willing to take the handout. For a project of this scale and impact, simply giving up some community space is not enough. This developer tactic creates the sad spectacle of community groups pitted against each other in hearings as those that are benefitting directly from small potatoes developer handouts fight for a project that that could potentially give a much greater benefit then the one that they are defending;

• Murad, notoriously, has given money and gifts to politicians and community leaders to gain their support, thereby compromising their principles and corrupting democratic processes;

• He bypassed the proper permitting process for his roof-top bar by using the political capital he has accumulated through political donations and favors.

While we in MAC support the preservation and expansion of job opportunities in the neighborhood, we will not be forced into accepting political patronage, more gentrification, and the undermining of a community-based planning process by siding with unscrupulous developers and building owners. Many of these developers have chosen to pursue the politics of favoritism instead of working with the community towards developing community benefits and assets that go beyond the nominal job or office space. They further jeopardize their community standing by not following the city’s proper permitting and development processes. It’s those actions that are putting at risk Medjool’s jobs, not the community or city officials that refuse to look the other way. Further, it is these high-end businesses that have put at risk or have driven or kept out hundreds of formerly existing and potentially existing neighborhood-based jobs in small businesses. These businesses can’t afford to operate in the Mission due to the speculation fever and greed that has gripped local land-owners and developers because they want their own version of Medjool, Foreign Cinema or a large formula retail business in their commercial space.

There is no righteousness in Gus Murad using resources to mount a campaign that uses phrases like Save Mejool or Save Mission Jobs especially when these large high-end, destination night-clubs drive up the rent along the corridor and drive neighborhood serving, sustainable and affordable business and their jobs out of the Mission District. Instead, progressive residents should oppose more Medjool-like developments and fight against the forced displacement of working class residents, businesses and institutions.

As I write this, the residents at 2789 Harrison Street are fighting for their homes and business as they face outrageous rent increases and harassment from their landlord because he wants to bring in wealthier residents and a Medjool-like business to 24th Street. As a community we must fight back and support sustainable community development based on the overall needs of the community and not on the speculative greed that has corrupted development in San Francisco and the Mission District.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Rest in Peace: Manong Al Robles

RIP to a our local fierce elder and warrior Al Robles. The following words are from our friends over at POOR magazine:

Out of the deep fog, we saw two birds...

After the news of the passing of revolutionary poet and scholar of the people Uncle Al Robles, Tony, his nephew, Tiburcio, and me (Tiny) went to the edge of ocean to say goodbye to Uncle AL - the powerful embodiment of everything that is the revolution, who began his journey to the other side at 9:30 am yesterday, Saturday, May 2nd, after approximately two months battling with an illness. His family was with him all the way through the struggle of health, healing, setback and passing.

There are no amount of words, images or thoughts that could be enough to honor the power and espiritu of Uncle AL. So in addition to any words or messages written in his honor we can honor him with all that he lived and practiced and accomplished... the continuing of each of our efforts at global and local organizing, writing, protesting, poetry,art, song, love, caregiving,family, eldership, indigenous resistance and perhaps most important, dreaming....

Family and Community will be planning a community event sometime in the next few weeks- we will update folks when the date is known...

and then they flew away...

Con amor y paz
Tiny, Tiburcio and Tony Robles

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Help keep the Ramirez family together! ¡Ayude a mantener unida a la familia Ramírez!

What: Fundraiser tardeada for the Ramirez Family Legal Fund

When: Sunday, April 26, 3 – 7 pm

Where: El Patio Restaurant (3193 Mission St.)


When the Ramirez Family migrated to San Francisco, their sons did their grade school homework in the flower shop that Mamá Ramirez ran out of their Mission District apartment. With tons of community support, they defended the flower shop from gentrification, and their campaign helped start the Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition. Ten years and many dozens of flowers later, the landlord found a legal way to evict them, and they were displaced from the Mission but not from the struggle.

Both mom and dad got their residency, but our messed up immigration laws prevented their two sons from qualifying despite having been here all their lives and despite one of them having a 5-year old daughter who was born and raised here. The family found a lawyer who promised to fix their immigration status, but instead he took all of the family’s savings, lost his legal license, and disappeared overnight, leaving their case in shambles.

Suddenly, the Ramirez family got a notice from immigration, stating that they were to leave the country immediately or face deportation. Completely shocked, they appealed for more time to resolve the problem that the fraudulent lawyer created for them. The appeal was granted.

A week later, near dawn, ICE raided their home in the Bayview, found one of the young men at home, threw him on the floor, held a gun to his head, and threw him into their squad car. Mamá Ramirez was not easily intimidated and demanded that her son be released. She waved the appeal letter in front of the ICE officer and threatened to call Univisión, pointing to the note on her dresser with the television station’s phone number, which she had from the last press conference organized to defend their flower shop and home. Her bravery and her history in the struggle paid off, and her son was released.

Now both the sons are still in legal proceedings, trying to adjust their status. The trauma of the raid still brings Mamá Ramirez to tears, and her bravery has inspired her sons to reach out to the community for support.

Please join St. Peter’s Housing Committee, and stand in solidarity with the Ramirez family! The April 26 tardeada will feature food, DJ and other entertainment, as well as a chance to meet the Ramirez family and hear their story. $10-25 donation requested at the door.

You can also donate directly to the legal fund here.

Don't forget to march for legalization on May 1st!


Cuando la familia Ramírez migró a San Francisco, sus hijos hacían la tarea de primaria en la florería que operaba la Mamá Ramírez desde departamento en el distrito de la Misión. Con un montón de apoyo comunitario, defendieron a su florería contra el aburguesamiento, y su campaña ayudó en dar a luz a la Coalición Anti-Desplazamiento de la Misión. Después de diez anos y muchas docenas de flores, la propietaria encontró una forma legal de desalojarlos, y fueron desplazados de la Misión, pero nunca de la lucha.

Mamá y Papá consiguieron su residencia, pero las estropeadas leyes de migración impidieron que sus dos hijos calificaran, a pesar de haber estado aquí todas sus vidas, y a pesar de que uno de ellos tiene una hija de cinco anos nacida y criada aqui.

Encontraron un abogado que les prometió arreglar su estado migratorio. Pero en vez de cumplir, se llevo todos los ahorros de la familia, perdió su licencia para practicar leyes, y desapareció de la noche a la mañana, dejando el caso hecho un desastre.

De repente, la familia Ramirez recibió una notificación de migración, diciendo que tenían que retirarse del país inmediatamente o enfrentar el proceso de deportación. En un estado de shock, solicitaron más tiempo para resolver el problema que el abogado defraudador les causó. La corte les otorgó la extensión.

Una semana después, cerca de la madrugada, ICE hizo una redada en su hogar en el Bayview. Encontró que uno de los jóvenes estaba en casa, lo tiraron al piso, le apuntaron con pistola, y lo tiraron en el auto patrulla. Pero Mamá Ramírez no es alguien que se deja intimidar facilmente, y exigió que dejaran en libertad a su hijo. Agitó la carta de apelación frente al oficial de ICE, y amenazó con llamar a Univisión, señalando a la nota en el estante que tenía el número de aquella estación de televisión, cuyo teléfono tenía por causa de la última conferencia de prensa que se organizó para defender la florería y su hogar. Su valentía y su historia en la lucha se hicieron valer en ese momento, y su hijo fue liberado.

Ahora ambos hijos estan todavía dentro del procedimiento legal, intentando ajustar su estado migratorio. El trauma de la redada todavía le saca las lágrimas a Mamá Ramírez, y su valentía ha inspirado a sus hijos a buscar apoyo en la comunidad.

Por favor únase al Comité de Vivienda San Pedro, en apoyo solidario a la familia Ramírez!

En la tardeada el dia 26 habrán botanas, música de DJ y una oportunidad de conocer a la familia Ramírez y escuchar su testimonio. Se pide una donación de $10-25 a la entrada.

También puede donar directamente al fondo legal aquí.

¡Y marche por la legalización el 1° de mayo!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mission District Hershey's Plant Threatened with Closure, While The Co. Increases Profits

So while there's talk and real fear of the Hershey's chocolate plant closing in the Mission District on 16th & Folsom, laying off over 100 local workers..."Hershey's profits rise as economy slumps"

The following is an excerpt from a news report that came out back in January talking about the banner year that Hershey's is having despite the economic crises.

"The company reported Tuesday that 2008 sales reached $5.13 billion, up 3.8 percent from its $4.95 billion in 2007. The company also was more profitable in 2008, making $311 million, compared with $214 million in 2007.

"Most food companies in 2008 did well," said Christopher Shanahan, a research analyst with Mountain View, Calif.-based Frost & Sullivan. "Hershey was definitely one of the leaders."

Hershey Co. CEO and President David J. West said the financial numbers show the company's strategy is working."

Peep out these links on how the French are getting down and radical: "United against the crisis, defend employment, spending power and public services."

French workers take manager hostage over job cuts

BBC News Video of People Taking to the Streets

Friday, March 20, 2009

Get Down with the Frisco Movement For Land & Jobs

Press Release: Bay Area community & labor groups want to stimulate equality and transparency in Green Jobs Stimulus Package

SAN FRANCISCO, CA— A broad alliance of community groups and workers centers will testify before Land Use Committee of the Board of Supervisors this Monday March 23 calling for greater transparency and community input in shaping the infusion of federal stimulus dollars slated for San Francisco’s developing green collar economy.

Community groups are echoing the frustration of City Supervisors and others in City Hall, all of who have not been given concrete and comprehensive information about the specific allocations San Francisco has secured from the Federal Stimulus Package, as well as other specific proposals the city has submitted for future allocations.

“The American people and the President have called for the highest level of transparency and accountability in the use of the stimulus funds, but here in San Francisco we haven’t seen any of the Mayor’s concrete proposals or allocations for public approval,” said Oscar Grande from PODER...

Click here to read the full press release

Join us @
The Board of Supervisors Land Use and Economic Development Committee
March 23, 2pm
SF City Hall, Room 263