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City HallThe AgendaThe (other) big problems with APEC

The (other) big problems with APEC

Powerful CEOs and politicians meet in secret to promote global catastrophe. Plus: Judges, cops, and crime ... That's The Agenda for Nov. 12 to 19


We have seen plenty of stories about the impacts of APEC on all of us who live in San Francisco. The Chron has carefully informed us how to avoid traffic, which is already awful. Peter Hartlaub and Joe Garofoli have what is actually a pretty funny and accurate guide to visiting reporters writing about San Francisco’s Doom Loop.

We know that homeless people are getting swept out of the area.

Protesters talk about APEC Sunday. Photo by Daniel Felde, courtesy No on APEC Coalition

We have heard a lot less about what’s going to happen in the secret meetings that will happen inside those gates.

This is what the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation group claims to do:

APEC ensures that goods, services, investment and people move easily across borders. Members facilitate this trade through faster customs procedures at borders; more favorable business climates behind the border; and aligning regulations and standards across the region. For example, APEC’s initiatives to synchronize regulatory systems are key to integrating the Asia-Pacific economy. In such cases, a product can be more easily exported with just one set of common standards across all economies.

That’s just factually untrue.

Mexico is a member. So is the United States. So is Canada. Do those countries work to allow “people to move easily across borders?”

Does the United States make it easy for people from Peru or Thailand or Vietnam (all members) to easily move here?

No: It’s not about people moving. It’s all about money.

These trade deals that will be discussed—these “more favorable business climates”—are lingo for neo-liberal policies that have enriched multinational corporations while impoverishing tens of millions and doing indescribable environmental damage.

There is no public input at APEC. It’s a gathering of powerful CEOs and top political leaders who get to discuss in secret arrangements that will impact the lives of people around the globe—mostly in negative ways.

From the Bay Area Climate Justice Spokescouncil:

“APEC is simply a tool of big business and the ruling elite to increase their profits at the expense of people and the planet,” emphasizes Brandon Lee of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines. “Contrary to the city’s branding, APEC will not be epic. It will be a waste of millions of taxpayer dollars and it will only result in further worker exploitation and environmental destruction. I know this from direct experience, after having spent nine years living with the Igorot indigenous peoples of the Philippines as they defended their land, rights and lives in the resource-rich area known as the Cordillera region. I saw firsthand how neoliberal policies supported by APEC, such as the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, liberalized the mining industry, allowing foreign mining companies to reap 100% of the profits from the plundering of indigenous people’s lands. Unbridled mining destroyed the environment and forcibly displaced indigenous people who had been living there for generations. When the people protested against the foreign mining companies and the policies that enabled them, the State responded with violence.”


The U.S. will host the APEC summit for the first time in almost a decade under the theme of “sustainability,” and yet sponsoring companies such as Amazon and Microsoft have an ongoing legacy of causing extreme environmental harm.  Last year, a CNBC report said Amazon returns generate nearly six billion pounds of landfill waste a year and 16 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, and this year, Microsoft’s global water consumption increased by 34% according to their own report via Fortune.

“APEC’s free trade agenda will harm millions of workers, women, and migrants in the US and across the Asia-Pacific, yet those who will be most impacted are not at the table,” explains Rhonda Ramiro of the No to APEC Coalition.

From Rev. Joanna Lawrence Shenk:


APEC reinforces import-dependent and export-oriented trade imbalances that keep Pacific Rim countries underdeveloped, in debt, and reliant on foreign powers. To put it bluntly, this economic ordering enriches and keeps the ruling classes of these nations in power so long as they’re subservient to global capitalism…. No matter what the summit organizers or city officials say, the economics of APEC can never be about resilience for the people or sustainability for the environment because they are beholden to capitalism’s priority of profit before all else. Do not be deceived, these profits will be protected with violent force, both here in San Francisco and around the world.

This is what the city worked hard to get, what the mayor is closing parts of downtown and sweeping homeless people for.

I am reminded of The World Economic Forum in Davos, which brings together top economists, politicians, and celebrities to talk about “sustainability” while the all fly into Switzerland on private jets. Nobody at Davos ever suggests that part of the solution to the global economic crisis might involve anyone at Davos giving up even a tiny fraction of their immense wealth.

Sup. Aaron Peskin has introduced a resolution that in essence calls out the right-wing group StopCrimeSF and its new effort to blame judges for crime in the streets.

The measure is called:

Resolution reaffirming support for the fundamental role of an independent, impartial, and qualified judiciary in upholding the law in the pursuit of justice and the functional operation of a healthy democracy.

It notes:

Following national trends and starting earlier this year, political action committees with undisclosed donors have capitalized on voter frustrations with societal problems post-pandemic and, looking for individuals to scapegoat blame, have forwarded a continuous recall campaign for all levels of government, including actively recruiting challengers to sitting incumbent judges appointed by the Governor.

Then it gets into the real issue here: StopCrimeSF wants to force judges to lock more people up, even before trial, when they are, by law, presumed innocent:

Arraignment judges must follow the California Constitution, Article 1, Section 12, which defines a presumption of pretrial release, and that a person shall be released on bail by sufficient sureties, except in cases involving Capital crimes when the facts are evident or the presumption great and in felony offenses involving acts of violence or sexual assault on another person, or other felony offenses where evidence that the person has threatened another with great bodily harm and that there is a substantial likelihood that the person would carry out the threat if released.


In 2021, the California Supreme Court affirmed a decision by the California First District Court of Appeals in a Habeas Corpus case deciding that setting money bail in an amount a defendant cannot possibly afford amounts to unconstitutional detention of a person before they have been convicted of a crime.

By law, you can’t hold people behind bars on nonviolent drug crimes just because they can’t afford bail.

Some of these right-wing folks have been putting posters up accusing judges of letting people go free who then committed other crimes. They’re not even accurate, but the goal is to inflame public sentiment against judges.

It’s a resolution submitted without going through a committee, so it needs eight votes. If Sups. Joel Engardio, Matt Dorsey, and Catherine Stefani vote against it, and I’m guessing they will, Peskin can lose only one more—which puts Sup Rafael Mandelman as the swing vote.

The resolution will come up Tuesday/14 but will have to be continued for a week.

Meanwhile, the police-staffing ballot measure will come to the full board, and Dorsey, the original sponsor, no longer supports it. The issue: If the city is going to do a Charter-mandated set-aside of more than $300 million for cops, where is that money going to come from?

Dorsey, who has a long background in public relations, has called the amendments that would require a revenue source a “cop tax,” and says that policing should be part of what everyone already pays for.

But there isn’t enough money for all of the elements that make up public safety in San Francisco, and the situation is about to get way worse.

Six supes need to approve the measure to put it on the ballot, and that seems likely to happen—which could set the tone for future measure like this.

Sure: Mandate spending on certain priorities. But also mandate that somebody figure out where that money is coming from, and be honest: The city’s budget is going to be $500 million out of whack in the next two years. Would you, the voters, support a mandate for more cops if that meant less money for 911 staffing, public health nurses, emergency room doctors, and mental-heath treatment? Would you support more money for the cops if that meant less money for affordable housing and more homeless people on the streets? Would you support higher taxes on the very rich to pay for more cops—and better social services?

Maybe this debate is the start of a more honest way of addressing these voter-approved mandates.

The supes will also hold a Committee of the Whole hearing on a Charter amendment that would give the mayor the ability to reject Muni fare hikes and the expansion of parking meters. It’s an interesting one: Mayor London Breed has been arguing that she needs more power—but she’s always been happy to duck the very controversial issues of fare hikes and parking meters to the appointed Municipal Transportation Agency.

The full board meeting starts at 2pm.

TechCrunch reports that a company called Zeus Living, backed by Airbnb, is folding. It’s business model: Buy up houses and apartment buildings, do a little renovation, and lease them out as intermediate-length corporate rentals.

Every one of those units was taken off the market for long-term residents of San Francisco.

Zeus blames higher interest rates, which make it harder to buy property.

But the Intermediate-Length Occupancy market in San Francisco is still thriving as the owners of existing buildings take their permanent rental units off the market and turn them into corporate apartments.

Every week, including Thursday/16, more ILOs are on the Planning Commission “consent calendar.” While the Yimbys wail about the need to approve more housing, which isn’t getting built anyway because of interest rates, I hear very little about preventing existing rental units from vanishing in the name of higher rents as ILOs.

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Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.


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