State Assembly elections set / Movie theaters return to Van Ness Ave

11.15.21 * Circulation 3,108 * Members 119

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Hey there, San Francisco. 

Happy Monday. 

A story about a voting machine company might not seem like the most exciting way to start the week, but I thought this piece by the Examiner’s Jeff Elder was a good one. 

In a nutshell, only one company, Dominion, bid on San Francisco’s last voting machine contract in 2019. And when it won, Dominion doubled the rate it had previously charged the city. 

Without getting too into the weeds, voting machines might not be a perfect example of how a lack of competition has created questionable government contracts in San Francisco. That’s because there aren’t that many companies out there that make voting machines to begin with. 

Still, Elder’s reporting offers a helpful window into seeing how city contracts and relationships between vendors and department heads can go awry. As Elections Commission member Chris Jerdonek told him: “When The City has only one vendor to turn to for an extended period of time, it creates a real risk of becoming beholden to that vendor, both real and perceived.”

And with that...onto the news…

The special election to fill San Francisco’s empty Assembly seat in Sacramento has been set for April 19, the governor’s office announced late last week. That position was vacated by David Chiu, who became San Francisco’s city attorney earlier this month

The candidates thus far, as noted by the SF Standard, “include David Campos, a former city supervisor who is currently on leave from his last role as chief of staff to District Attorney Chesa Boudin; Supervisor Matt Haney, who represents District 6; Bilal Mahmood, an entrepreneur and scientist; and Thea Selby, a member of the City College Board of Trustees.” 

First, however, to whittle the candidates down to two, a primary election for the Assembly seat will take place on February 15. 

Quick bits: 

  • 🎸 On Monday, Mayor Breed announced that thanks to $2.5 million secured from the state, the city of San Francisco, working alongside local venues, plans to launch an outdoor concert series in 2022 called SF Live. ​​“We venues have been through so many difficult times...and having an easy pathway to produce outdoor events is a really exciting development,” Bottom of the Hill co-owner Lynn Schwarz said in a statement. “Everyone wins when a city invests in building up music.” (Chronicle

  • 📽 After a $1.2 million renovation, Landmark’s Opera Plaza Cinema located at 601 Van Ness Avenue is set to open this Friday. As noted by Chronicle reporter G. Allen Johnson, its opening night lineup includes “two San Francisco cop classics — ‘Bullitt’ (1968) and ‘Dirty Harry’ (1971).” 

    Also, I did not realize that the former AMC theater on Van Ness was renovated and reopened in September as “CGV San Francisco 14.” Together, the two updated theaters mark the return of “a combined 18 movie screens on the Van Ness corridor,” Johnson writes. (Chronicle

  • 🚪 The SF Business Journal confirmed on Monday that the famed Slanted Door restaurant in the Ferry Building is not shutting down despite rumors. In fact, owner-chef Charles Phan said it extended its lease 10 years, until 2034. The restaurant is undergoing major renovations, however, and isn’t set to reopen until summer 2022. (SF Business Journal

  • ✅ Local media venture Here/Say is now The San Francisco Standard, its Editor-in-Chief Jonathan Weber confirmed in a blog post explaining the name change on Saturday. “We have found, as you may have, that [Here/Say] was a bit too clever—and hard to spell. We believe The San Francisco Standard does a better job of describing what we are about: trusted, authoritative news and information about this city.” (SF Standard

What else I’m reading: 

  • All they wanted was to open a noodle shop. Their tangle with S.F. bureaucracy has them regretting they tried (Chronicle

  • Recall city: Will this be San Francisco’s new normal? (Mission Local

  • Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood Groups Taking Credit/Shifting Blame For Former McDonald’s Site Remaining Empty (SFist

  • Black Leaders Call on City to Donate Fillmore Heritage Center (SF Standard

And finally… The TVs that we grew up with were invented right here in SF 

Written by SF Minute reader and resident historian, Shawn Conly. 

The year was 1927 and the vision that twenty-one-year-old Philo Farnsworth had just years earlier as a high school student was about to bear fruit. Farnsworth was fascinated with electricity and believed in the idea that he could use it to send images through the air. After meeting West Coast financiers, he and his wife moved from Salt Lake City, Utah to San Francisco where he set up his lab at 202 Green Street near Telegraph Hill. 

While there were mechanical TVs at the time, they broke down often and could only produce fuzzy images. Farnsworth’s method used electronic “cathode ray tubes” to scan images and send them across a room. Eventually, he’d be able to send images and videos (including live video) across much further distances and in a much clearer way than his predecessors. 

Farnsworth’s invention grabbed the attention of investors, academia, and Hollywood movie stars—Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, for instance, made the trek to San Francisco for a demonstration. Mechanical TV would be phased out in the 1930s in favor of Farnsworth’s electronic version. They would be the TV set of choice for decades until digital ones replaced them in recent years. 

And while Farnsworth wouldn’t be as well known as other like Thomas Edison or Graham Bell, while watching Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon in 1969 from the TV he invented, he told his wife in the moment: “That has made it all worthwhile!’”

You can read more about Farnsworth’s story here

That’s all for today! Thanks so much for reading y’all and we’ll see you back here tomorrow. - Nick B.

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