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Local leaders to celebrate Year of the Ox

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Beth Winegarner
San Francisco Examiner
January 30, 2009

For David Chiu, coming to San Francisco — with its thriving, thronging Chinese American community and its all-out celebration of the Chinese New Year — was something of a revelation.

The new Board of Supervisors president, representing North Beach and Chinatown, grew up in Boston, where the feasting and festivities of the Lunar New Year were predominantly a quiet family affair. San Francisco’s celebration, with its hundreds of banquets and internationally celebrated parade, was “great, and frankly, a little overwhelming,” Chiu said.

This week, San Francisco’s Chinese-­American community ushered in the Year of the Ox the same way as past generations: with multi-course meals replete with whole chickens and fish, and noodles for long life. Children will receive much-beloved red envelopes stuffed with coins, and families will perform a ritual of cleaning of the household and lighting a few firecrackers to start the new year with a bang.

The celebration began Monday, the official dawning of the Year of the Ox.

Then, on Feb. 7, some 500,000 people are expect to flock to Chinatown for San Francisco’s annual New Year’s parade, featuring more than 100 floats led by a new, 228-foot-long golden dragon, according to parade director Karen Eng. Most of the holiday traditions hinge on bringing long life and good luck to revelers.

In 2008, the Year of the Rat, couples rushed to get married or have children because the rat is the first sign of the Chinese zodiac, bringing with it the extra luck of a new cycle beginning. The ox, second in the zodiac, carries less significance — but the turning of the year is still a time of tradition.

“Everybody gets new haircuts before New Year’s Day because if you wait, it’s like cutting away your fortune,” Eng said. “Your house has to be cleaned beforehand, otherwise you’re sweeping away your fortune.”

During the Lunar New Year, the color red is everywhere, from paper lanterns to clothing, a suggestion of luck and vitality, according to Judy Hu, spokeswoman for the Chinese Historical Society. Citrus fruits also bring luck because they’re reddish in color.

“My daughter and I eat lots of oranges and tangerines to bring good luck,” said Supervisor Eric Mar, who represents the Richmond district.

Like many in San Francisco’s Chinese community, Mar’s favorite memories of the New Year hinge on food.

“I can still remember the New Year smells of my grandmother’s house,” Mar said. “Even though San Francisco has a fantastic range of Chinese restaurants, my grandmother’s home cooking, especially on Chinese New Year, will always be my favorite.”

Sunset district Supervisor Carmen Chu celebrates the holiday each year with her family, gathering around a spread of candy, fruit and flowers. Getting the whole Chu clan together — especially extended family — is especially meaningful, she said.

“It’s a true community affair,” said Chiu, who — thanks to his new place at the top of the Board of Supervisors — has been asked to attend dozens of New Year’s banquets this month. “I’ve had many wonderful New Year’s dinners with mixed-race groups — it’s a great way for community-building between Chinese and non-Chinese folks.”

This story originally appeared in the San Francisco Examiner.

Written by Beth Winegarner

January 30, 2009 at 6:48 AM

Rec centers ‘stretched very thin’

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Examiner Staff Writer
December 31, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO — City-run recreation facilities are understaffed and keep unpredictable hours, vexing locals and prompting an edict from the Controller’s Office that the Recreation and Park Department begin keeping better track of its offerings.

The department staffs 63 facilities, including recreation centers, clubhouses and playgrounds. Staffing at the facilities has dropped steadily since 2004, according to a report from Controller Ben Rosenfield.

As a result, newly renovated recreation centers — such as Upper Noe Valley and Minnie and Lovie Ward — have reopened this year with fewer hours, and don’t have predictable or posted hours, according to Isabel Wade, director of the Neighborhood Parks Council.

“Voters have approved public funds for these facilities, but if people can’t get inside it’s not a big improvement,” said Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who prompted the controller to investigate.

Minnie and Lovie Ward Recreation Center, in the Oceanview neighborhood, opened this fall after a $16.8 million renovation with six staffers. Since then, injuries, transfers and layoffs have reduced its staff to two, according to neighbor Mary Harris.

Neighbors were recently told that a staffer from the Merced Heights Recreation Center would be transferred to Oceanview, but that might mean closing Merced Heights more often, Harris said.

“Right now, we’re stretched very thin,” said Katie Petrucione, finance director for the parks department. “If a given recreation director calls in sick or is on vacation, we have less ability to backfill those posts.”

Three additional recreation directors are being laid off in The City’s midyear budget cuts, Petrucione said.

Before Upper Noe closed for $11.1 million in renovations more than two years ago, it was open during daytime hours seven days a week, according to advocate Alexandra Torre. Now, it’s open fewer hours during the week and is closed Sundays — despite locals’ offers to volunteer time or pay out of pocket for a staffer.

Dufty said he plans to meet with the department’s union to brainstorm ideas for boosting recreation facility hours.

Although interim parks director Jared Blumenfeld said he hadn’t seen the report, the department is aware of problems involving facility hours and is working to remedy them.

“I’m looking at every solution,” Blumenfeld said. “One that would help is to have an electronic key-card system so you can track every facility — so if it’s supposed to open at 8:30 a.m. and isn’t open at 9 a.m., you can send someone to open it.”

Only one facility still faces renovation
After a wave of renovations and reopenings, just one city-run recreation center remains closed for upgrades: Harvey Milk, located at Duboce Park.

Milk has been shuttered since July 2007 for $10.8 million in overhauls to everything from its roof to its elevators.

When the three-story center reopens next April, it will feature a new photo center and darkroom, rehearsal and meeting rooms, a recording studio and office space for staff and the public, according to Lisa Seitz Gruwell, communications director for the Recreation and Park Department.

Programs for the new center are still being finalized, but will include photo classes and youth music programs, Seitz Gruwell said.

Rec and Park celebrated a bevy of recreation facilities in 2008, including, most recently, Sava Pool in the Sunset district. The department is now putting the finishing touches on a few sites slated to reopen in early 2009.

Renovations to Ingleside’s Aptos Playground, including work on its restrooms, will be fully complete in February. That same month, North Beach Pool is slated to reopen, along with the newly built rhino and hippo enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo.

St. Mary’s Playground, in Bernal Heights, is scheduled to reopen in April with new playground equipment, drinking fountains, landscaping, irrigation and a restroom.

— Beth Winegarner

City’s suggestions
Among the findings of a city report on Recreation and Park facilities:

– The number of recreation centers closed for renovation has dropped from nine to one in the past two years
– Recreation staff has declined from 200 in July 2004 to nearly 175 in September 2008
– The department does not maintain official public hours of operation for its recreation facilities
– The department has no systematic means of monitoring facility closures, due to lack of staff

Recommendations:

– Rec and Park should develop a method for tracking and monitoring staff attendance, staffing shortfalls and unscheduled facility closures — possibly using 311
– The department should look at extending hours at recreation centers while compressing hours at smaller clubhouses

Source: Controller’s Office

Written by Beth Winegarner

December 31, 2008 at 4:50 AM

Truancy enforcement ramps up

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Beth Winegarner
Examiner Staff Writer
December 24, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO — Parents of kids who skip class are again in the crosshairs, as the San Francisco district attorney gears up to prosecute a new batch of caretakers of truants.

The stepped-up enforcement efforts are one piece of a large patchwork of programs aimed at ending chronic truancy in schools.

District Attorney Kamala Harris’ office prosecuted parents in six families last summer, after their kids missed more than 50 days of classes. In all cases, the children have since returned to school, although one had to be placed in foster care to make it happen, Harris told The Examiner.

The parents were given court-mandated instructions to keep their children in school and get support for the problems contributing to truancy, or face increased penalties, including a $2,500 fine or up to a year in jail.

Since then, another half dozen or so families have failed to keep their kids in school; the District Attorney’s Office is examining their situations closely.

“More cases have been referred to us by the school district, and we’re prepared to prosecute them,” Harris said.

Her attorneys also have mediated more than 1,000 truancy cases before they reached the prosecution stage.

Still, curbing truancy is a vexing problem.

Last school year, 5,449 San Francisco public school students missed more than 10 days of school. Of those, 2,472 were elementary school students, according to data from the San Francisco Unified School District. A student is considered habitually truant when they miss 10 days; a chronically truant student is one who misses more than 20 days.

Those numbers have increased slightly from 5,427 in 2005-06 and 5,417 in 2006-07. District officials could not produce new data for the 2008-09 school year.

Harris launched a $20,000 ad campaign in September urging the public to call a hot line if they see kids playing hooky from school.

The hot line received just seven calls that month and two in October, according to figures provided by the school district.

Not every call is going to that hot line, according to Harris.

“Since our ad campaign, we’ve had many anonymous calls and we’re referring those calls to the (school) district,” she said. “People are paying more attention, and that’s good.”

Meanwhile, the school district launched a Web-based program this year called School Loop, which allows parents to see everything from their child’s homework assignments to their unexcused absences, according to Superintendent Carlos Garcia.

“Our anti-truancy programs were designed not to punish people, but to find out why they’re missing school,” he said. “Sometimes it’s as simple as arranging child care. But the D.A.’s effort helps. We can say, ‘If you keep doing this, you’ll wind up in the [District Attorney’s] Office.’”

City officials have floated a number of truancy-fighting ideas, from boosting police intervention to enacting a daytime curfew, but none have moved forward.

One city-funded program, the Bayview-based Center for Academic Re-Entry and Empowerment, is helping hard-core truants transition back into public schools, according to Director Ethan Ramson.

Since its opening at the Bayview YMCA in February, the center has worked with more than 60 high-school-age kids, 24 of whom have returned to public school or obtained their diploma equivalent.

Leader urging adults to tell kids to quit playing hooky
One of San Francisco’s newest techniques for battling truancy could be a very old-fashioned idea: adults telling hooky-playing kids to get back to school.

Ethan Ramson, who directs the Bayview YMCA-based Center for Academic Re-Entry and Empowerment, plans to launch a new program next year in which Bayview district merchants and other adults talk to truant kids, or ask police to do it.

“When I was growing up, if I didn’t go to school, my mom knew about it by the time I got home,” Ramson said. “We want to get the elders involved. We’ve gotten away from that.”

One reason for that decline is that adults increasingly fear juveniles, according to William Siffermann, chief of the San Francisco Juvenile Probation Department.

Adults often feel that wayward teens are dangerous, and possibly carrying weapons, according to Siffermann. And with good reason: Many juvenile crimes, from graffiti to burglaries, are committed when youths would otherwise be in school, he said.

Left alone, many truants lead violent, and often short, lives, according to District Attorney Kamala Harris. Nearly 75 percent of truants ultimately drop out. Since 2003, 94 percent of San Francisco’s homicide victims under 25 were high school dropouts, according to Harris’ Office.

“There will be those in public safety who say, “Don’t engage these kids because it may provoke an attack,’” Siffermann said. “But I’m supportive of us elevating vigilance. As adults, we shouldn’t be afraid.”

District attorney promoting truancy prosecutions statewide
San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris has prosecuted a half-dozen parents whose children are chronically truant, and plans to prosecute more. Now, she’s urging other district attorneys across California to take similar measures to keep kids in school.

Should The City or school district hire truancy officers to round kids up and send them back to school? “I think this is an issue that requires many sectors and agencies to be involved. One of the ways we distribute resources is we say, ‘This is a priority.’ But that doesn’t mean we hire more people.

“My focus has been on truancy in elementary and middle school. And when you talk about [those students], we’re not necessarily seeing them on the streets. When you’re talking about a 7-year-old, likely they’re staying at home.”

Should The City pursue a daytime curfew and take legal action against kids who are not in school? “I’d want to know what age group are we targeting, what would be the penalty and method of enforcement and all of that. I can’t speak to that idea until I get some details.”

Other cities have used a variety of methods for curbing truancy; which models have you studied, and which ones do you think could work in San Francisco? “We’ve been working with California District Attorneys Association, sharing our method with other counties. In terms of best practices in other counties, they involve very much what we’ve been doing: a court model.

“Some jurisdictions have a truancy court. Some may prosecute high school kids, but we chose not to focus on that — we’ve been prosecuting parents, not children. I’m not saying prosecuting kids is not the way to go, but I’ve got limited resources. It’s certainly not because we shouldn’t be thinking about high school kids who don’t go to school. But bad habits start early. The kid who is chronically truant in elementary and middle school will be a dropout in high school.”

Are there any demographic trends among the cases you handle? “There’s no question there’s a correlation between the population you see as truant; it’s the same as a high school dropout, and who will occupy the County Jail and state prison. We’re seeing is a disproportionately high number of African American and Latino youth who are part of that whole trajectory.”

Is it something cultural or are there institutional frameworks in the schools that work against these kids? “It’s not that certain cultures are not interested in education. There’s a connection to poverty, access, support, child care for younger children, transportation issues.

“I always concede that it is legitimate to have a very long conversation about how we can improve public education in our state. But one thing we know for sure is regardless of what you think is the quality of education, if they’re not in school, they’re not getting an education at all.”

What will the District Attorney’s Office continue to do with respect to truants? “Part of what I hope to do is continue to raise the profile of truancy as one of the direct causes of victimization and crime, and one of the first indicators of who will be a perpetrator of crime. The links are direct between a child going without an education and an adult who is sucking up all our resources in the state prison. People think we should pay attention to kids because they’re cute and cuddly. I pay attention because in 16 years they’re going to be committing crimes against us if we don’t.”

Staying in school
Anti-truancy efforts in San Francisco schools:

Center for Academic Re-Entry and Empowerment (C.A.R.E) at Bayview-Hunters Point YMCA: Serves 20 truant youths at a time, offering basic English, math and other courses to help students prepare to return to public school. Launched in March, it has already served 65 kids.

District Attorney’s Office truancy court: Has prosecuted parents in a half-dozen severe cases, and is looking at prosecuting another batch. Also reviews and provides case management for 1,000 other families, primarily of elementary and middle school students.

Stay in School Coalition: Operated by the San Francisco Unified School District, it includes many city agencies and community-based organizations that work to provide support for truants.

Attendance liaisons: School-based staff who keep track of students missing school regularly, reporting them both to parents and to the Stay in School Coalition. Serious cases are referred to the District Attorney’s Office.

This story originally appeared in the San Francisco Examiner.

Written by Beth Winegarner

December 24, 2008 at 4:55 AM

Curfew idea sees light of day

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Beth Winegarner
Examiner Staff Writer
September 15, 2008

City and school officials have pursued numerous approaches to encourage students and parents to curb truancy, but some leaders say San Francisco needs to do more to just pick loitering minors up off the streets and return them to school.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi is pushing the San Francisco Unified School District, police and other agencies to step up enforcement of truancy laws, he told The Examiner on Monday.

At the same time, the Office of Criminal Justice is weighing a daytime curfew as one possible tool for keeping kids in the classroom, according to the office’s Maya Dillard-Smith.

“We need to get back to basics, and either have a trained protocol with the Police Department or another branch of government that can encounter truants and their parents and then have a facility where they’re able to admit them,” Mirkarimi said.

Police do pick up truant students and take them back to class or to The City’s lone truancy center, housed at the Bayview YMCA, according to police spokesman Neville Gittens.

However, Keith Choy, director of the school district’s truancy program, said police don’t get involved that often.

“What I hear from police is, ‘I should save my uniform for more substantive crimes,’ or ‘We don’t have a place to take them,’” Choy said.

Across the district, Choy has a staff of 65 attendance counselors — and one of their jobs is knocking on parents’ doors when kids start missing school. “I wish there were more,” he said.

The number of students who missed 10 or more days of school has held steady for the past three years, though it increased slightly to 5,449 in 2007-08, the same year District Attorney Kamala Harris began prosecuting parents of the worst offenders.

Six parents were given court-mandated instructions to keep their children in school and to get support for the problems contributing to truancy — or face increased penalties, including a $2,500 fine or up to a year in jail. So far, five of the six families are complying, according to district attorney spokeswoman Erica Terry Derryck.

Over the past four years, 94 percent of the city’s homicide victims under 25 were high school dropouts, according to Harris, who launched a $20,000 anti-truancy ad campaign Monday.

In addition, when students don’t attend school, the district loses money. District officials estimate it has lost $10 million in state attendance revenue because of truancy.

Other cities across the nation have daytime curfews in place to curb truancy. Students in San Mateo County who are truant multiple times can be fined up to $100 and lose driving privileges under the county’s curfew ordinance.

Mirkarimi said Harris’ prosecution efforts and the school district’s intervention programs aren’t enough without a citywide strategy and system of accountability.

Not everyone agrees that truants need more police intervention.

“Truancy should not be thought of as a criminal- or juvenile-justice issue,” said N’Tanya Lee, executive director of Coleman Advocates for Youth. “Our schools lack support. They’re stretched, and kids are falling through the cracks.”

Truancy rates 2006-07

Defined as students with three or more unexcused absences, San Francisco’s truancy rates are among the highest in the Bay Area

Oakland: 23,562 (49.76%)
Marin County: 4,284 (15.02%)
San Jose: 6,501 (21.05%)
San Francisco Unified School District: 15,149 (27.47%)
San Mateo County: 18,802 (21.42%)

Source: California Department of Education

This story originally appeared in the San Francisco Examiner.

Written by Beth Winegarner

September 15, 2008 at 11:14 PM

Recreation and Park shakeup may have been final straw

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Beth Winegarner
Examiner Staff Writer
September 11, 2008

A decision by the head of The City’s Recreation and Park Department to fire a popular manager may have been the reason he was pushed out of a job, officials said Thursday.

Following months of rumors that his job was in jeopardy and closed-door talks with Mayor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday night, General Manager Yomi Agunbiade announced Wednesday that he was stepping down from his post.

Just days earlier, Rhoda Parhams, director of the department’s capital division, told staff she would be leaving, according to spokesman Elton Pon. Agunbiade had taken steps to remove her, a department staffer confirmed.

Jim Lazarus, vice chair of the Recreation and Park Commission, believes the situation with Parhams may have contributed to Agunbiade’s announcement.

“I think that got the mayor’s attention in a negative way,” he said.

Mayor’s Office staff did not return calls for comment Thursday.

Agunbiade has been an unpopular leader, taking heavy criticism from park advocates for his lack of rapport with the public, as well as his handling of a number of bond-funded projects that were designed improperly, behind schedule or over budget.

He has also been at the helm through a number of high-profile crisises, including fatalities at the San Francisco Zoo last December and Stern Grove in April.

Additionally, in July, Recreation and Park Department spokeswoman Rose Marie Dennis was offered a job reassignment after she filed a personnel complaint against Agunbiade, charging him with harassment.

In recent letters to Newsom, supervisors and the department, residents said Dennis and Parhams were park staff who welcomed input from the community, while Agunbiade had a reputation for top-down management and rocky interactions with the public.

Agunbiade will remain in his post while a search team recruits his replacement, according to Newsom’s office.

Agunbiade declined an interview request with The Examiner on Thursday.

This story originally appeared in the San Francisco Examiner.

Written by Beth Winegarner

September 11, 2008 at 11:44 PM

Overtime battle not quite over

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Beth Winegarner
Examiner Staff Writer
August 22, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO — City agencies notorious for paying employees time-and-a-half say a new law aimed at curbing overtime spending will not reduce the need to have some workers clock more than 40 hours per week.

A city employee cannot earn more than 30 percent of his or her salary in overtime per year under the new law, unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors on Aug. 5. However, the rule does not cap overtime spending per department — and exceptions can be made in emergencies or situations where an employee’s specific skills are needed, Deputy Controller Monique Zmuda said.

“If, in the Coroner’s Office, all the physicians have already put in their overtime and there are still dead bodies to look at, the only thing they can do is hire more people — but that takes time,” Zmuda said. “So if they need more overtime, they could get an exception.”

Many of The City’s top OT spenders — including police, fire, Muni and the Department of Public Health — say the rules will not change the overtime need.

“Overtime is needed to fulfill the legal and ethical responsibilities of government,” said Joe Arellano, spokesman for Mayor Gavin Newsom’s office. “In some cases, like the Sheriff’s Department, we were responding to a mandate from the courts that no inmate could sleep on the floor — and that led to much higher overtime.”

In the first half of 2008, the Police Department had 172 employees who made more than $20,000 in overtime, while Muni paid 141 transit operators, maintenance workers and other personnel at least that much for working extra hours, according to documents from the San Francisco Controller’s Office. The Fire Department had 114 employees who clocked enough overtime to make $20,000 or more in extra pay between January and June.

Public-safety officers often work overtime to keep stations staffed when other workers are out sick or called away to other duties, SFFD Deputy Chief Gary Massetani said.

For Muni, overtime is necessary in the face of ongoing staffing shortages — and that’s not likely to change because of the new law, spokesman Judson True said.

“We’re approximately 150 operators short of a full complement [of 2000], and as long as we continue to have a shortage, we will be using overtime to fill runs,” he said.

In addition to having a number of employees who made more than $20,000 in overtime in the first half of this year, many departments had employees who made more than their base salary in overtime, such as DPH nurse Christian Kitchin, whose salary was $65,750.09 and overtime pay was $127,741.72. Marcus Santiago, a park patrol supervisor, made $32,744.03 in base pay and $40,361.42 in overtime.

Many agencies are still sizing up how they will redistribute overtime hours.

For police and fire personnel, those changes likely will mean rookie officers or firefighters will get a crack at overtime pay — which is currently snapped up by whomever volunteers first, officials with those departments said.

For Muni, where 98 percent of overtime is handed out to employees who sign up for it, mandatory extra hours are typically handed out to employees by seniority, True said.

Although the laws may not reduce overtime use, those changes could ultimately save The City money.

“Spreading it around to more junior employees [who are paid less] will make each hour of overtime slightly cheaper,” Arellano said.

Outrageous overtime
Hundreds of city employees banked more than $20,000 in overtime between Dec. 28 and June 13. Listed are the top OT department spenders, with the highest earner in OT pay.

POLICE DEPARTMENT
Employees who made more than $20,000 in OT: 172
Top earner: Capt. John Hennessey
Salary earned: $9,313.50
Overtime earned: $96,154

MUNI
Employees who made more than $20,000 in OT: 141
Top earner: Jorge Chavez, transit supervisor
Salary earned: $41,906.77
Overtime earned: $52,065.71

SAN FRANCISCO SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT

Employees who made more than $20,000 in OT: 131
Top earner: Barry Bloom, deputy sheriff
Salary earned: $39,445.13
Overtime earned: $89,475.39

FIRE DEPARTMENT
Employees who made more than $20,000 in OT: 114
Top earner: Gary Altenberg, firefighter
Salary earned: $45,976.97
Overtime earned: $71,676.51

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH
Employees who made more than $20,000 in OT: 49
Top earner: Christian Kitchin, nurse
Salary earned: $65,750.09
Overtime earned: $127,741.72

Source: San Francisco Controller’s Office

This story originally appeared in the San Francisco Examiner.

Written by Beth Winegarner

August 22, 2008 at 4:32 AM

Local officials resist immigration sweeps

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Beth Winegarner
Examiner Staff Writer
February 26, 2007

In the wake of recent sweeps by immigration officers in San Francisco and on the Peninsula, officials are struggling to assure residents that local police are not cooperating with federal deportation efforts.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will weigh a resolution, sponsored by Supervisors Chris Daly, Gerardo Sandoval and Tom Ammiano, that condemns the recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids. Meanwhile, the newly formed Redwood City Coalition for Immigrant Rights plansto bring a similar resolution to the Redwood City Council and the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors and perhaps create a “sanctuary” policy similar to San Francisco’s, in which law officers do not check residents’ citizenship status, according to Sheryl Bergman with the International Institute of San Francisco.

The San Francisco vote comes on the heels of a similar resolution sponsored by Supervisor Sean Elsbernd urging Congress to resume immigration reform talks abandoned last year.

“There are thousands of illegal immigrants living in the shadows, and our quality of life issues still affect them,” Elsbernd said. “They are here and by no means should we ignore them.”

Redwood City police officers and San Mateo County Sheriff’s officers already do not check immigration paperwork, but members of the coalition hope to make that message stronger, according to Bergman.

“A resolution would go a long way toward unifying the community and reassuring [residents],” Bergman said. “These are our neighbors, and we need to insist on policies that respect constitutional rights and public safety.”

Between Oct. 1, 2006, and Jan. 26, 2007, ICE officers arrested 838 people, 500 of whom had already received a deportation order from a judge and 338 of whom were newly entered into deportation proceedings, according to ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice. Those arrests included a number of San Mateo County residents, while ICE officers swept through a San Francisco meatpacking plant and have been seen checking papers in the Tenderloin, according to Renee Saucedo, attorney and organizer with La Raza Central Legal.

“We recognize the fact that local law enforcement has a very different mission from ICE,” Kice said. “But part of ICE’s mission is enforcing immigration laws, and people who are in the country illegally are subject to arrest.”

Redwood City parents kept children home from school recentlyafter a mother was arrested and unable to pick up her children.

Enrollment levels began returning to normal last week, according to John Baker, assistant superintendent in the Redwood City School District.

Those arrests have sparked outcry from immigrant-rights groups and high-ranking politicians alike. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom decried the raids in a statement this month, while Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, told ICE in a letter that its efforts are undermining local police’s efforts to build trust within immigrant communities.

Immigrant-rights groups are planning a series of events this week in San Francisco.

This article originally appeared in the San Francisco Examiner.

Written by Beth Winegarner

February 26, 2007 at 10:36 PM