MW Mobile Blog

For friends, family and the random search engine visitor. This blog started as an experiment in mobile blogging from my Palm TREO 600, 700, Prē, HTC Evo, Samsung 5, Pixel 3, Pixel 6 Pro. Now it serves as a simple repository of favorite activities. Expect bad golf, good fishing, great sailing, eating, drinking, adventure travel, occasional politics and anything else I find interesting along the way including, but not limited to, any of the labels listed here...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bringing it home on 18

Had my best drive of the day. On the fringe in two. Down in two. A good  finish.

MW 99

Sent from my Sprint HTC smartphone.

Traditional 17th hole portrait

You will notice the rest of my group has abandoned me. I cannot explain this. Actually I can. Due to our late start (see first post re: Pete), Kermit and Jim had to take off before we could finish. I had a shot at breaking 100, so decided to press on.

Sent from my Sprint HTC smartphone.

Kermit on 15th tee

Turned out to be a beautiful sunny afternoon.

Sent from my Sprint HTC smartphone.

Jim on 14th Tee

Finally timed his swing right for this shot. I had to push the button before he started the swing. Really.

Sent from my Sprint HTC smartphone.

At the turn

MW 50
KS 57
Jim Gregory 77

I am giving Jim a 10 everytime he picks up the ball.

Sent from my Sprint HTC smartphone.

Another Mike on the 8th...

... to 6 feet and a lip-out for a par. Mike was playing with us because Pete bagged out. He left after 14. I think we were too slow for him. Or the live blogging annoyed him. Or both.

Sent from my Sprint HTC smartphone.

Jim is working his way back to the course

He got there eventually.

Sent from my Sprint HTC smartphone.

Kermit under the watchful eye of the golf gods.

It's a lot of pressure.

Sent from my Sprint HTC smartphone.

Jim off the tee on 5

Sent from my Sprint HTC smartphone.

Live Blogging Lincoln...

...with the captain and occasional crew of the Morpheus. Jim and Kermit and Mike. Pete was supposed to be here. In fact, he requested the late start. Then he blew us off at the last minute.  Pete is best known for being chased below deck on the Morpheus by a demonic seagull. No, after further consideration, that was probably second to this.  Wait - oh yeah... nothing could top this. But I digress. Welcome to the unreliable golfer list, Pete.

Sent from my Sprint HTC smartphone.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sharp Park 12th hole

 I decided to not live blog or report the scores for this round.  It was just Roy and me paired with a couple of regulars at Sharp.  It would not be good golfing etiquette to distract them with my live blogging fetish. When you think about it, the game is its own reward. The score is really not that important. But - to memorialize the round thought I'd post one representative picture.

Here Roy hits it out of the trap on 12, on his way to a triple bogey 6. That's my drive on the green just to the right of the flag. Two putt for a par. That's all. You need to know about the day.

Sent from my Sprint HTC smartphone.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Not Live Blogging Lincoln Park

At the turn

Mike versus Mike in a mid week round at Lincoln Park. It was as good as it gets on this track.  Weather was perfect and the course was in great shape in preparation for the San Francisco City Championship. Which means they actually mowed the fairway and the golf ball rolls on the green. I decided not to live blog the round in the hope it might help my score. Compared to the last outing, it did. Still nothing to write home about.

Mike was leading 51  to 50 at the turn.

17th Tee

Final score: Mike 101 Mike 100.

Sent from my Sprint HTC smartphone.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Why the SF Sharp Park lawsuits will never ever end: We pay them to sue us.

In December U.S. District Judge Susan Illston dismissed a lawsuit filed by the W.E.B.L.E.E.D.U. Axis (Wildly Equitable Biodiverse Litigants for Ecological Extortion and Deep Untruths) to shut down the City's landmark Sharp Park golf course.  This led some to wonder whether the long running Battle for Sharp Park might finally be over.

Spoiler alert: No.

I was laboring under no such illusion. On Friday February 8, 2013 the WEBLEEDU's filed a pleading with Judge Illston that demonstrates exactly why these lawsuits will never end:

"In a curious twist in the long-running fight between anti-golf activists and San Francisco over the fate of the city’s historic public Sharp Park Golf Course, the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity, Wild Equity Institute, and a handful of other groups filed a motion here today in Federal Court, asking the same Federal Judge who dismissed their lawsuit in December, 2012 to order the City of San Francisco to pay their legal bill of more than $1.3 Million... The Plaintiffs’ fee motion was filed under a provision of the Endangered Species Act that authorizes the Courts to award legal fees “whenever the Court determines such award is appropriate”.  Plaintiffs seek payment for more than 2,000 hours of attorneys time, most of which are billed at hourly rates between $550 and $750."
The press release quotes Bo Links of the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance echoing the feelings of most people hearing this story - with bemusement and incredulity:  “It’s a head-scratcher... This is environmental litigation in Wonderland... they lose every motion they file, and their case is thrown out.  And now they want the Court to order the City to pay their attorney’s fees?

Of course it makes no sense. But that does not mean the WEBLEEDU's won't get paid.  It is very possible that the people of San Francisco will be forced to pay some or most of their attorney fees. Welcome to the Looking Glass World of EAJA (Equal Access to Justice Act) legal fee reimbursements.

The NeverEnding Sharp Park Lawsuits

In recent years, similar legal fees have often been awarded to at least one of the plaintiffs - the Tucson based  "Center For Biological Diversity".  Regardless of motivation, lucrative reimbursement of legal fees represent a significant financial incentive for litigants from CBD and their local "mini-me" variant the "Wild Equity Institute" founded by a relocated CBD staff attorney.  Think about it. As a lawyer, why go through all that hard work finding a client who will pay your hourly rate if you can just sue a federal agency, state or local municipality and have a judge grant you whatever fees you request?

The simple reason why these lawsuits in general and the Sharp Park lawsuits in particular will never end, is that we - the taxpayers - at a federal, state, and even municipal level are paying environmental ambulance chasers a lot of money to sue us.

Why, you may ask,  are we paying these fees? Therein lies a tale of unintended consequences.  For thirty years we have been sliding down a regulatory slope that started with Equal Access to Justice Act, was accelerated with the Endangered Species Act, and flew off the cliff with a series of poorly thought out legislative modifications and judicial decisions.  As a consequence, the good intentions of both these legislative acts are now regularly abused and perverted into something that was never anticipated by their authors.  This sordid legislative history is worth a detailed look, but first - What kind of a financial incentive to sue are we really talking about?  The recent Sharp Park filing is a good illustration.

The Sharp Park Legal Fee Reimbursement Windfall

Brent Plater was the lead attorney on the dismissed lawsuit against the City of San Francisco regarding Sharp Park. Mr. Plater learned the environmental litigation game when he was a staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. He branched out on his own and created the Oakland based Wild Equity Institute in 2009. As a non-profit they are required to file IRS Form 990 every year. The WEI forms for 2009 - 2011 are linked here.  This is what they say:
  • In 2009 WEI had $19,755 in revenue from contributions and $686 in expenses, none of which was paid out in salaries for Mr. Plater or anyone else on the staff.
  • In 2010 WEI had $38,919 in revenue from contributions and membership fees and $31,425 in expenses including $7,680 in salary expense and $14,465 in fees paid to independent contractors. According to the form, Mr. Plater was the only one on staff to receive a salary - a sum of $6,209.
  • In 2011 WEI had $100,918 in revenue from contributions, memberships, and "government fees" against $118,839 in expenses including $26,998 in salary expense and $73,594 paid to independent contractors. Mr  Plater received a salary of $23,028.
Their 2012 filing is not yet available, but I will update this post with the most recent information when available. There is no information on the form regarding who received the specific independent contractor payments.

The picture that emerges over the first three years is a small environmental activist organization staffed primarily by committed hard working volunteers working without pay - except for Brent Plater.  All well and good. That is the context.  Now lets look at the Sharp Park motion filed in District Court last Friday and the legal fees requested for reimbursement:
Case No.: 3:11-CV-00958 SI
According to Plaintiffs’ counsels’ contemporaneously maintained billing records, counsel have thus far spent the following number of hours on this case through January 31, 2013: 
Brent Plater: 857.7 hours
Howard Crystal: 844 hours
Eric Glitzenstein: 282.75 hours
Shawna Casabier: 47.15 hours
Kelli Shields: 217 hours
In addition, paralegals spent 691 hours working on the case... 
In light of that experience and background, Plaintiffs request the following rates for counsel: $750/hour for Mr. Glitzenstein; $700/hour for Mr. Crystal; $550/hour for Mr. Plater; $295/hour for Ms. Casebier; and $250/hour for Ms. Shields... 
Applying the requested hourly rates to the number of hours for which recovery is sought, Plaintiffs are entitled to a fee award of $ 1,451,556.  However, to account for any billing discrepancies, Plaintiffs are affirmatively reducing that request by 10%, to $1,306,400...
For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiffs respectfully request that the Court grant their fee Petition and award fees in the amount of $1,306,400 and $59,409 in costs.
All of the listed attorneys are identified in the motion  as "Attorneys for Plaintiffs". Since I have no idea how that breaks down between all the players in the WEBLEEDU Axis,  let's just focus on the lead attorney - Brent Plater, President of Wild Equity Institute.

 Mr. Plater is submitting his bill to be reimbursed for 857.7 hours at a rate of $550.00 / hour. His total fee on the case so far:  $471,735.00. This for his billable hours working on a case that was initially filed in March 2011 and continued through January 2013 when they filed an appeal after it was dismissed. That legal fees he is requesting is more than four times the total revenue that came into the Wild Equity Institute for the first three years of its existence. Not bad pay for 20 months work. And that is only one lawsuit. Active or imminent, there are more WEI / Plater lawsuits in the works. 

This begs all kinds of questions.  I have no visibility into what Mr. Plater would do with the funds should the court decide to reimburse him for his time as he has requested. My assumption is that as a committed environmentalist leading a struggling new environmental advocacy organization staffed by unpaid volunteers, he would naturally funnel the funds secured as a consequence of his leadership role in WEI back into WEI in order to continue its work.  That is what any commited leader would do. He would, of course, continue to draw a salary commensurate with the success and non-profit nature of the organization.This structure is sensible, if for no other reason but to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest with the organization he runs. In the most recent IRS filing, he took about 25% of the WEI revenues as a salary.

In any case, it would be a good question for an investigative reporter to ask directly of Mr. Plater.  Just where wound the money go if he prevails?

I have more questions, but first an apology.

Earlier in this post, I compared WEBLEEDU lawyers to "ambulance chasers". That was not right.  "Ambulance chaser" is a term that is sometimes used to describe personal injury lawyers who represent people hurt in accidents.  Personal injury lawyers generally work on contingency, which means they only get paid if they win a judgement in a court of law.  In the Sharp Park case, the WEBLEEDU plaintiffs are asking for $1.3 million  in legal fees to be reimbursed for a case they lost. A case that was dismissed.  My previous comment comparing the Sharp Park litigants to ambulance chasers was completely unfair. My apologies to any ambulance chasers reading this post. 

I really should end this post here, but I've got a more few more questions. To the casual reader, I suggest you stop reading now. I'm am about to embark on a deep dive. No telling how long this post is going to be.   If you are interested in accompanying me down the rabbit hole...

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Top 10 reasons San Franciscans should support the Baltimore Ravens in the Superbowl

Full Disclosure: I've lived in San Francisco for 30 years. However, as I originally hail from Chicago,  Da Bears, Cubs, Bulls, and Blackhawks will always command my sporting loyalties.  Still, I have made a sincere effort to get behind the local teams as my second choice. They've not made it easy.

Look -  I am enormously grateful to the Niners for knocking the Green Bay Packers out of the playoffs. After the Packers lay down against the Vikings to keep the Bears out of the playoffs, watching Green Bay go to the Superbowl would have been too painful to bear. Since then, I have enthusiastically cheered the Niners throughout the playoffs. But the Superbowl  is another matter. There is a very good case for my fellow City citizens to follow my lead and pull for a Ravens win.

Here the top ten reasons why every San Franciscan should reconsider their support for the Niners:

10) San Francisco 49er Fans

Even if you like the team, the players, the coach and Kaepernick's tattoos, you still have to put up with Niner fans. Over the years San Francisco 49er fans have been variously described as spoiled, entitled, effete snobs and football ignoramus's.  This is all true. Trust me on this. Even the 49er players hate them. This is what  local hero Randy Cross had to say about Niner fans in 1986:
"Hopefully, our white-wine sipping crowd will decide to get off its collective ass and cheer," the 49ers guard told reporters. "They didn't make much noise Monday night. I thought they had a bunch of cardboard dummies up there." When they made noise, Cross said, it was at the wrong time. "They don't cheer when the other team has the ball," he said. "When we get the ball, they are screaming and hollering so we can't hear the signals in the  huddle."

9) Colin Kaepernick's Tattoos

There is no accounting for taste. You can hate the tattoos because you are an old fart who thinks everyone with a tattoo belongs in San Quentin or you can hate the tattoos because he is literally wearing his religion on his sleeve.

And his biceps. And his back. And his pecs. And... whatever. Your choice.

8) Randy Moss

'Nuff said.

7) The SF 49er Owners Suck

The Denise DeBartolo and John York era has been an unmitigated disaster for the San Francisco franchise for most of their tenure. It's been 18 years since this once storied franchise made it to the Super Bowl. The York's have made exactly one right decision over that period of time. They hired Stanford Coach and ex-Chicago Bear quarterback Jim Harbaugh as Head Coach. That, as it turns out, was either stroke of genius or an example of a stopped clock accidentally getting it right. In one season Harbaugh took an average .500 team with a journeyman quarterback to the playoffs, and in two seasons he found a championship quarterback who could take them to the Superbowl.  Recall that prior to Harbaugh, the Niner's ownership were near the bottom of every "Worst Owners in the NFL" list. Now they are moving the team out of San Francisco. These owners don't deserve a Superbowl ring.

6) The San Francisco 49ers Are Not A San Francisco Team Anymore

Or at least -  they won't be in the very near future. San Jose / Santa Clara will soon complete a nifty new stadium for the so-called "Forty Niners". Next year The Team Previously Located in San Francisco will abandon Candlestick Park and move 40 miles away to a larger metropolis. Geographically speaking, even the Oakland Raider home games will be played closer to San Francisco than the supposed "San Francisco" team. Lets get real. San Jose is no more culturally, geographically or aesthetically connected to San Francisco than St. Louis is to Los Angeles. How many people in L.A. are still cheering for the St. Louis Rams? Calling a team located in San Jose a "San Francisco" team makes no more sense than San Franciscans laying claim to a team located in Sacramento, or Cleveland, or Kabul. It is only a matter of time until they adopt their rightful new name - The Silicon Valley Vultures.

5) The Baltimore Ravens are gayer than the San Francisco 49ers

Not that there is anything wrong with that. In fact, with EssEff at the leading edge of gay / lesbian culture and politics it is important for the citizenry of this diverse, tolerant and sexually liberated town to keep our priorities straight. Political correctness trumps sport. Which means that apology or no, San Francisco must leave this behind
“I don’t do the gay guys man,” said Culliver, whose Niners play the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. “I don’t do that. No, we don’t got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff. Nah…can’t be…in the locker room man. Nah.”

At least the 49er PR department should explain to their players exactly the purpose of the Public Service spots they are shooting.

4) Uphold the Long Standing Primacy of The Eldest Sibling

I am oldest of four in my family, including a two sisters and a brother. There is an important principle at stake in this game that goes beyond mere sport loyalty. If Harbaugh the Younger were to defeat his brother Harbaugh the Elder, it would be an affront to God and Nature. There is a natural order to things. If we do not want to see the universe turned upside down and inside out, the elder, wiser, and better dressed brother should win.

3) God is a Ravens Fan

I have this on very good authority - namely Ray Lewis. You just don't want to be on the wrong side of that equation. You know - fires of hell, eternal damnation, lakes of lava, melting flesh - all that. Why take chances?

God may not pick winners, but he is apparently taking Baltimore and the points.

2) It is Not Fair or Equitable or Progressive for the Niners to Win the Superbowl

We are a liberal city. Make that a very liberal city. Here in the Peoples Republic of San Francisco we are all about fairness, equability, redistribution, and sharing the wealth.  The Giants won the World Series last fall. The San Jose Sharks are undefeated and have a very good chance of taking the Stanley Cup. Even the Golden State Warriors are on a winning streak and only a few games out of first. On top of all that sporting glory winning the Superbowl would be a bit greedy, don't you think? Consider the self-esteem issues confronting every other city should the Niners win. Let's be fair. Let's give some other cities a chance. Let Baltimore win this one. I mean - the people in Baltimore actually have to live there. It's the progressive thing to do.

1) We Cannot Afford the Post Victory Superbowl Riot

Remember the great outpouring of civic pride after winning theWorld Series last fall?

That was so great! Burning that million dollar Muni bus and all the other fires and broken glass and vandalism.  Way cool! Only problem is that it was kind of expensive. And, despite saddling ourselves with even more taxes in the last election, the City is still broke (see previous point about being most liberal city in the country).  I'm just thinking it might be a little easier on the budget if a few disappointed drunks are all the City's finest have to deal with, as opposed to another full throated civic celebration.

Losing the Superbowl is the fiscally responsible thing to do. Go Ravens!

UPDATE: 03- Feb-2013 Post Game

Ravens win, and the local fishwrap seems disappointed that the celebratory riot has been cancelled:
"But as night fell - and the 49ers fell as well for the first time on football's biggest stage - it became clear there would be no celebratory mayhem this Super Bowl night. A different sort of grim reality gripped the city as the 49ers got behind the Baltimore Ravens within the first five minutes and never pulled ahead. The whoops that had filled the streets deflated to a worried murmur."
Thanks Baltimore Ravens. You saved our bankrupt City a lot of money tonight.