Bay Area bagels spark outcry / Mayor Breed plans for $600 million federal funding

It's Tuesday, March 9th.

Good evening, San Francisco. 

There’s an outcry on the internet right now over a New York Times article that sings the praises of California’s current bagel culture. At the center of the debate is Boichik Bagels, a Berkeley shop that got its start just a few months before the pandemic and has quickly captured people’s attention. 

Times food critic Tejal Rao wrote that the bagels from Boichik are “some of the finest New York-style bagels I’ve ever tasted. They just happen to be made in Berkeley.”

I don’t really understand the fuss. There are more places to get a “good” bagel in the Bay Area right now than say, five years ago, and I don’t think many people would disagree with that. Elena Kadvany (who wrote yesterday’s story about Barter Bread) wrote an article in SF Weekly in January about the rise of the San Francisco bagel (where she highlighted Poppy Bagels, Midnite Bagel, and Schlok’s Bagels) and no Twitter eruption then. 

I guess the Times’ reach is a bit broader than the SF Weekly’s. And I think the title—“The Best Bagels Are in California (Sorry, New York)”—really set people off, including New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and YouTuber Casey Neistat. It’s unfortunate because otherwise, I thought it was a well-written, pretty straightforward trend piece. 

I dunno. Maybe as a lifelong Californian, I’ll never fully understand. I’m just happy to see places like Boichik thriving. 

Onto some news… 

On Tuesday, Mayor Breed confirmed that San Francisco stands to receive some $600 million should the $1.9 trillion federal stimulus package pass a House vote this week and receive a final sign-off from President Biden. Already, in a Medium post today, Breed laid out her goals for how the money will be used, including the prevention of job cuts for city workers and aid for small businesses most impacted by the pandemic. 

The influx of potential funding is welcomed, especially since San Francisco faces a $650 million budget deficit over the next two years. But the relief won’t necessarily solve the city’s long-term budget issues, as Chronicle reporter Trisha Thadani pointed out in her piece today. “We still have a problem,” a spokesman for the mayor said. “We just don’t have a problem right now.”

Supervisor Matt Haney, who heads the board’s budget and finance committee, told Thadani the federal money will help prevent personnel cuts but that “some reductions are still needed and should happen.” 

Some reacted to Thadani’s story on Twitter by calling the $600 million a “San Fran” bailout, to which the Chronicle reporter pointed out that the stimulus package included “$350 billion for *all* states, local governments, territories, and tribal governments.” 

Also, she said, “don't call it San Fran.” 

Former city official Sandra Zuniga pleaded guilty on Tuesday to money-laundering schemes dating back “as early as 2010,” in what’s become the latest development in San Francisco’s City Hall corruption scandal. Until her indictment last June, Zuniga headed the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services and Public Works Fix-It Team, which is tasked with addressing cleanliness and safety issues across the city. 

According to the DOJ press release today, Zuniga helped deposit checks from “associates” of former Public Works head Mohammed Nuru, who was arrested by the FBI last January over corruption charges. Zuniga allegedly used the funds to make “transactions that benefitted Nuru,” like mortgage payments on his Colusa County vacation house. (Zuniga and Nura were also allegedly romantic partners.) She now faces up to 20 years in jail and a maximum $500,000 fine. 

“This investigation continues, but the window of time for cooperation is closing,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds on Tuesday. “If you are involved in public corruption at any level, reach out to the FBI before the FBI reaches out to you. 

Quick bits: 

  • 🔶 Mayor Breed said on Tuesday that the city would “likely” move to the orange tier of the state’s reopening plan by March 24th. (Chronicle)

  • 🌳 There’s a new ropes course in McLaren Park that was built for local students and organizations. It is open to the public one Saturday a month, though spots are filled through June. (SFGate)

  • 🍴 Restaurant owners are subject to fines for not cleaning up graffiti on their property, but Supervisor Hillary Ronen wants those penalties to be relaxed for the time being. (Chronicle

  • ⚾ California health officials said late last week that outdoor stadiums will be allowed to open in April, meaning there could be fans at Oracle Park for the Giants’ home opener against the Rockies on April 9th. (SFWeekly

  • 🖌 The street mural on Sanchez, painted by local artist Amos Goldbaum and spanning an entire block, is complete! Take a look 👇

And finally… this “park hang” video by local comedian Alexis Gay is hilarious and worth a watch after a long day.

That’s all for today! Thanks to everyone who reached out yesterday regarding our trash troubles in the city. Lots of good ideas already and I’m excited to move forward with some of them soon! 

In the meantime, I’m super excited to say that I’ll be speaking with Edgar McGregor tomorrow at 2 pm PT. Edgar, if you missed it yesterday, picked up trash for 589 days straight at his beloved Eaton Canyon park down in LA. He’s an inspiration and I can’t wait to hear more of his story. 

You can tune-in live to our 2 pm talk on my Capiche page here. I’ll also post the recording in the newsletter tomorrow so you can listen then as well. 

Alright, have a great night everyone! - Nick B. 

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