SF News

Visit Tarantula Town and See Collection of Arachnids at Exhibit Opening

Guests visiting the San Francisco Zoo will be able to venture through a tarantula burrow, flip through a giant tarantula anatomy book and see a unique collection of the eight-legged arachnids starting this weekend.

The grand opening of Tarantulas: Alive & Up-Close! is today.

The exhibit will be open through Labor Day. It is free with paid zoo admission.

For more details, visit: sfzoo.org.
CONTACT: Gwendolyn Tornatore, San Francisco Zoo (415) 753-7080

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Lunch With Warren Buffet Auctioned Off for More Than $2.6 Million for Glide

A auctioned-off power lunch with legendary investor Warren Buffet raised over $2.6 million for San Francisco's Glide foundation, topping last year's record-breaking bid.

The online charity auction, which started at $25,000 on June 5, ended Friday night at $2,345,678.

The winner, who wished to remain anonymous, wanted to top last year's bid, however, and pledged an additional amount to bring the total to $2,626,411 -- the entirety of which will go to the Glide Memorial Church's social service organization, a Glide spokeswoman said.

"We are thrilled and astonished by Mr. Buffet and the winning bidder for their generosity and philanthropy, which allows Glide to continue to help those on society's margins transform their lives," Glide founder the Rev. Cecil Williams said in a statement.

This is Buffet's 12th annual power lunch for charity. The winner will be allowed to bring up to seven friends to a lunch at New York City's famed Smith & Wollensky steakhouse.

Alan Stillman, the founder of Smith & Wollensky, had pledged to donate an additional $10,000 to Glide.

Over the past 12 years, Buffet's lunches have raised nearly $9 million for the Tenderloin neighborhood organization, a Glide spokeswoman said.
CONTACT: Denise Lamott (415) 381-8793

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Nancy Pelosi, Kathleen Sebelius Describe San Francisco General Hospital As Model For New Partnership

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius identified San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center as a model for providing better care at lower costs to patients during a roundtable discussion at the hospital this morning.

San Francisco General Hospital was featured as one of the 1,500 hospitals nationwide that have joined Partnerships for Patients, a federal program that focuses on preventing hospital-acquired conditions and reducing readmission rates for patients.

In three years, the program is expected to reduce hospital infections by 40 percent -- saving an estimated 60,000 lives -- and reduce hospital readmissions by 20 percent -- meaning 1.6 million patients would not return with avoidable complications, Sebelius said.

Doctors, former patients, and hospital officials joined Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and Sebelius to describe some of the innovative ways San Francisco General Hospital is meeting these goals.

"We're used to doing things with limited resources and that has forced us to be creative in our approach to patient care. We're really proud of the work we do here," said Susan Currin, CEO for San Francisco General Hospital.

Flight attendant Crystal Elmendorf of Sacramento highlighted the care she received to prevent complications after she suffered a traumatic brain injury when her Jeep rolled over on her way to work in 2001.

After Elmendorf, now 41, was treated and released from the hospital, Dr. Geoffrey Manley continually provided follow-up care, she said.

When Elmendorf developed a staph infection during her outpatient rehabilitation, Manley provided consultation.

"No one ever skipped a beat. The communication was incredible," Elmendorf said. "No matter what, all the options were laid out."

Also designed to help patients make decisions, the Acute Care for Elders project is focused on educating and empowering patients while they are in the hospital, its medical director Dr. Edgar Pierluissi said.

Patients are told about possible warning signs and given handouts describing their medications and treatment, Pierluissi said.

The project, which treats patients who are at least 65 years old, has never been "tested in a population like ours, with 20 languages, a number of Medicare and Medi-Cal eligible patients, who have higher rates of disability," he said.

This is a novel idea, Pierluissi said, but it could reduce hospital readmissions by 30 percent.

The project involves calling the patient 48 hours after being released to discuss how the patient is feeling or any difficulties encountered, such as going up stairs or eating, he said. Ten days later, the patient will receive another follow-up call.

"It's very simple patient-centered things, but they make a huge difference," Pierluissi said.

A transition care program aimed at those at least 60 years old, Support from Hospital to Home for Elders, helped San Francisco resident Gregory Lyons recover after a stroke this January.

"The SHHE program was all about reintegrating me in a healthy way back into where I live," Lyons said. "I live on the third floor. They were concerned about stairs. They were concerned about shopping."

The "nuts-and-bolts questions" the hospital asked about the quality of his life were basic, but important, Lyons said.

"Don't have a stroke, but if you do, you want the kind of care that I got here," he said.

Sebelius said if other hospitals emulate these types of programs, the Partnership for Patients could potentially save up to $35 billion, with a minimum of $10 billion in savings for Medicare in the next three years.

The Affordable Care Act, passed through Congress last year, has invested $1 billion into the Partnership for Patients.

The goal is to "help other providers across the country take on this effort," she said.

Sebelius described San Francisco General Hospital's population as "challenging," because of the many older patients with chronic conditions who arrive in debilitating shape speak a number of different languages.

"If it can happen here, we can make this happen across the country," Sebelius said.

CONTACT: Melissa Nitti, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (202) 573-6249m, Rachael Kagan, SF General Hospital (415) 206-3170

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City Opens Kindergarten to College Savings Accounts

The city of San Francisco is investing in its youth -- its kindergarteners in particular -- with the opening of Kindergarten to College savings accounts.

The city has opened the nation's first universal children's savings account program and made an initial deposit of $50 for about 1,200 kindergarteners -- a first step on the path to college.

"With Kindergarten to College, soon every student entering kindergarten in public schools in San Francisco will have a college savings account and some seed money to get started.

The account is not just a vehicle for savings, but a vehicle for hope," U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement.

An additional $50 was provided by the city for students receiving free or reduced price lunches.

Private philanthropic interests are funding a dollar-for-dollar match for the first $100 of savings, with a $100 bonus for families who sign up for automatic monthly deposits, according to city officials.

Citibank is providing the bank accounts, which include savings incentives for students and their families.

The bank is also providing a financial education program as part of the initiative, city officials said.

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Man Stabbed in Back in Tenderloin Thursday Night

A man suffered life-threatening injuries when he was stabbed in the back in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood on Thursday night.

The stabbing was reported at about 8:20 p.m. near the intersection of Turk and Taylor streets.

The 53-year-old victim was approached by another man who accused him of taking his property.

The suspect then stabbed the victim in the back and ran away, according to police.

The suspect had not been found as of this morning.

Anyone with information about the case is encouraged to call the Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or send a tip by text message to TIP411.

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Pedestrian Struck by Car in SOMA, Suffers Life-Threatening Injuries

A pedestrian suffered life-threatening injuries when he was struck by a car in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood Thursday afternoon, police said.

The collision was reported at about 2:40 p.m. near the intersection of Harrison and Harriet streets.

The 46-year-old victim was walking east along Harrison Street when he was struck by a gold Subaru traveling south on Harriet Street, according to police.

The driver of the car, a 45-year-old man, stopped at the scene and is cooperating with the investigation into the collision, police said.

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Thousands Begin to Gather for Funeral for Fallen Firefighters

Thousands of people were beginning to gather late this morning at a church in San Francisco where a funeral is being held today for two firefighters who died after fighting a blaze in the city's Diamond Heights neighborhood last week.

Family, friends and firefighters from around the country are attending the services for Lt. Vincent Perez, 48, and firefighter-paramedic Anthony Valerio, 53. T

he pair died of injuries they suffered while battling a fire at a home at 133 Berkeley Way on June 2.

Perez died later that day and Valerio succumbed to his injuries on Saturday morning.

A vigil was held for the two men Thursday night at St. Mary's Cathedral, the site of today's funeral being held at 12:30 p.m.

After the funeral, the men will be buried at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma.

Streets are being closed around the city to make way for the funeral and procession to the cemetery.

Fire trucks were already beginning to line up late this morning on Geary Boulevard, one of the streets being closed during the services.

The funeral has brought firefighters from around the country who came to mourn their colleagues.

Matt Vaitiskis, a firefighter from Boston, said, "This is what we do. They would do it for me, the brotherhood transcends nations."

Tim O'Brien, a firefighter from Chicago, said last year two firefighters died in a building collapse in their city, and firefighters from San Francisco came out for that funeral.

"You're looking at all my brothers," O'Brien said. "We live together, eat meals, cook together, scrub floors, and at the end of the day we might walk into a very bad situation together."

BART officials this morning were designating the last car of each train for the hundreds of fire personnel coming into San Francisco.

Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, Mayor Ed Lee, and Bill Storti, the captain of Fire Station 26 where the two men worked, will be among the speakers at the funeral, as will Perez's brother and one of Valerio's longtime ambulance partners.

Perez and Valerio were badly burned when objects in a room of the house apparently heated to the point of ignition, a dangerous phenomenon known as a "flashover," Talmadge said.

A female firefighter suffered smoke inhalation and minor burns. She was treated at the hospital and released later that day.

Talmadge said the initial fire that day appears to have been sparked by something electrical, but its exact cause remains under investigation.

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UPDATE: Police Investigating Suspicious Death Near Buena Vista Park

San Francisco police are investigating a suspicious death after firefighters responding to a small brush fire near the city's Buena Vista Park early this morning found a partially burned body there, a police spokesman said. 

Firefighters responded to a small fire at 4:39 a.m. near Buena Vista Avenue East and Haight Street, a fire dispatcher said.

While extinguishing the blaze, a small brush fire near trash cans, firefighters found the partially burned body of a victim who was already dead, police Lt. Troy Dangerfield said.

Police are considering the death suspicious.

Homicide inspectors and the arson task force are investigating the incident, Dangerfield said.

No information about the victim was immediately available this morning, he said.

Anyone with information about the case is encouraged to call the Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or send a tip by text message to TIP411.

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Community Members, City Officials Kickoff Juneteenth Celebration

San Francisco community members and city officials gathered in City Hall Thursday to kickoff Juneteenth, the annual celebration that honors the release of slaves in Texas in 1865.

Although the Emancipation Proclamation was made official in January 1863, blacks were enslaved in the Southwest for more than two years until Union soldiers enforced the order on June 19, 1865.

San Francisco's 61st annual Juneteenth festival will take place on June 18 and June 19 on Fillmore Street to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States, said Lateefah Simon, the executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area.

About 10,000 people are expected to attend the festival, which will feature music and entertainment on two stages, health and job fairs, and classes in Zumba, skateboarding and roller-skating.

Supervisors Malia Cohen and Ross Mirkarimi, who represent Districts 10 and 5 respectively, stressed the importance of the celebration to the city.

"It's very important that we not forget...where we come from so we do not stumble and forget and remain vigilant in where we're going," said Cohen, the only black member of the Board of Supervisors.

Juneteenth changed the direction of America and San Franciscans should never lose sight of this day, Mirkarimi said. Mirkarimi also said the location of the celebration in the Fillmore neighborhood, or "the Harlem of the West," was important.

With urban populations in the city thinning out, neighborhoods like the Bayview and Fillmore need to be recognized and cultivated, he said. Juneteenth enriches the African-American community to be stronger and more vibrant and entrepreneurial, former supervisor Bevan Dufty said.

In addition to celebrating the end of slavery, the event also honors Mary Helen Rogers, a civil rights activist who fought for equality in San Francisco.

Rogers spent her life fighting "exclusion, injustice, ignorance and meanness," said the Rev. Amos Brown, a pastor at the Third Baptist Church in San Francisco and former supervisor.

"Celebrations only last for a moment, but the struggles of liberation go on from one generation to the next," Brown said.

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June 11, 2011

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Some of them get quite passionate.

It’s 6:24 a.m., 53°, and we’re headed for 62°. Sunny. Pretty much exactly the same weather as yesterday. Details are here. A few things you could stop by today: Cries of SF Market Day at Mint Plaza. Here’s a link to some coverage of the project’s opening at Southern Exposure. Local music school Zambaleta, in...

The level of dysfunction in the Muni dispute is breathtaking. You've got union leaders who clearly don't represent their members. There's management, crowing about the success of a tentative contract that turned out to...

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The San Francisco Zoo's newest star attractions have eight legs and fangs. They move fast. And boy, are they hairy. But while tarantulas aren't exactly known as the cuddliest creatures in the jungle, they're far less...

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The first draft of California's once-a-decade redrawing of its political map ignited a chaotic game of musical chairs Friday, with analysts saying the shifting boundary lines could give Democrats at least three more...

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@MLNow: Good Morning Mission, Friday, June 10th. Pastrami news, Bloody Marys, a the funeral route and great photo, … More @MLNow: Military-Industrial Ghosts at Hunters Point http://ow.ly/5f2OO … More @MLNow: SFPD Recap: Police Arrest Two Suspects Who Stole Ring http://ow.ly/5f3xA … More @MLNow: SNAP: So Close and So Tempting http://ow.ly/5f3za … More @MLNow: Extra! Extra!...

June 10, 2011

The bodies of two San Francisco firefighters who died in the line of duty were taken into a church for a memorial.

Vincent Perez and Athony Valerio, honored today for giving their life on the line of duty with the San Francisco Fire Department, are the 146th and 147th casualties in the San Francisco Fire Department’s 160 year history, according to the U.S. Fire Administration’s memorial data base. They were the first casualties since  2003 when Melinda...

Hundreds paid tribute to fallen firefighters Anthony "Tony" Valerio and Lt. Vincent Perez at St. Mary's Cathedral, on Friday, June 10, 2011.

Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137