Monday, November 06, 2017

The New Yorker

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The leaning tower of San Francisco

Aaron Peskin was on 60 Minutes last night (beginning at 14:16). From the transcript of the program (The Leaning Tower of San Francisco):

...When the Millennium hearings opened to public comment, it brought some livelier moments. This, after all, being San Francisco---a city once described as 49 square miles surrounded by reality. Aaron Peskin has a certain vitality himself. A long time city supervisor, he starts most days with a swim in the Bay then meets constituents at a North Beach coffee shop, where the Millennium Tower is a popular topic. Peskin is leading hearings into what is causing the trouble.

Jon Wertheim: You subpoenaed some of the engineers involved with Millennium Tower. Why?

Aaron Peskin: We don't generally like to subpoena people. That power has not been used by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for some quarter of a century.

Jon Wertheim: 25 years, you've never issued a subpoena before?

Aaron Peskin: That's correct.

Jon Wertheim: When you got them in here, what did you learn?

Aaron Peskin: Their answers were less than satisfactory. Nobody has owned up to why this building is not performing...

Aaron Peskin

...Courtroom circus aside, we asked Aaron Peskin, the city supervisor, simply: what's going on here?

Aaron Peskin: Everybody is afraid to tell the truth. Because if we get to the bottom of this, they are worried that it is going to, in some ways, slow down the building boom that is happening in San Francisco.

Jon Wertheim: Time is money in construction, and we don't want to stop this frenzy.

Aaron Peskin: Absolutely. Absolutely.

This drama has hardly had a chilling effect. Everywhere you look in downtown San Francisco, they're building another skyscraper. And the latest must-have amenity for all these new constructions: bedrock. In what might be the first act of building on building bullying, tech giant Salesforce stuck it to Millennium via Twitter.

Aaron Peskin: "Bedrock, baby."

Jon Wertheim: You think that was in reference to what's going on across the street?

Aaron Peskin: I don't think it was in reference. I know it was in reference 'cause I know the people who built that building...

[Larry]Karp told us he can see the tilt from the middle of Mission Street a few blocks away. We couldn't see it so we asked Jerry Cauthen if he could.

Jerry Cauthen: No, I don't. It's very hard to see. It's not enough of a tilt to see. This is not like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

And there it is: the inevitable comparison to that greatest engineering gaffe of them all. Not the landmark any present-day developer wants to be associated with. Millennium Partners declined our request for an on-camera interview but pointed out their tower was built to code. They blame their neighbors, specifically construction of the Transbay Terminal---San Francisco's answer to Grand Central Station---right next door. 

Transbay declined an on-camera interview too but told us Millennium had already sunk 10 inches before work began on their project. And right on cue, here come the lawyers. Lawyers for Millennium Partners, for the Transbay Terminal next door, for the tower's structural engineers, and geotechnical engineers, for the architect and the builder, for the homeowners association and for the city, and yes---even for Joe Montana. There are 20 parties to various Millennium Tower lawsuits and counting...

Rob's comment:
Obviously, as 60 Minutes points out and Peskin implies, the building is "not performing" because its foundation doesn't even come close to reaching bedrock, only post-1906 debris and sand.

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Surprise! Repug tax plan favors the rich

Click image for larger view

From the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy:

...Some of the provisions in the House bill that benefit the middle-class — like lower tax rates and fewer brackets, an increased standard deduction, and a $300 tax credit for each adult in a household — are designed to expire or become less generous over time. 

Some of the provisions that benefit the wealthy, such as the reduction and eventual repeal of the estate tax, become more generous over time. The result is that by 2027, the benefits of the House bill become increasingly generous for the richest one percent compared to other income groups...

Even when measured as a percentage of income, the richest one percent receive a larger average tax break in 2018 and 2027 than any other income group. As illustrated in the graph below[above], the richest one percent receive an average tax cut equal to about two and a half percent of their income in 2018 and 2027. The middle fifth of income-earners receive a break equal to 1.4 percent of their income in 2018, falling to just 0.6 percent of their income in 2027...

Thanks to Daily Kos.

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