Bay Brief

Saturday October 20, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO — Nearly one in three San Franciscans would have difficulty electing an immigrant to public office, according to a new citywide poll. 

Voters would have less of a problem voting for gay men, lesbians and Arab Americans, according to the poll, which was commissioned by the Chinese American Voters Education Committee. Members of the civic education group found those results troubling, in part because a strong majority of the city’s Asian population is foreign born. 

“Clearly there are pockets of anti-immigrant sentiments,” said David Lee, the group’s executive director. “We should not assume since we live in progressive, liberal San Francisco that the voters are as progressive when it comes to immigrants.” 

The poll also found that San Francisco voters hold generally favorable opinions of Asian Americans. Though they are about one-third of the city’s population, currently only one of the city’s 11 supervisors is Asian American. 

The phone survey was conducted this month by David Binder Research. It included 600 frequent voters and had a 4 percent margin of error. Respondents were 67 percent white, 13 percent Asian, 6 percent black, 6 percent Hispanic and 4 percent multiracial. 





SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — During the prime of the old New Economy last year, Silicon Valley paychecks were fatter than those of Manhattanites — historically the nation’s best-paid workers. 

That fact, reported Thursday by the Labor Department, could have fleeting significance given this year’s dot-com crash. 

Still, during 2000, Santa Clara County rode a 24 percent rise in average wages to overtake New York County as the county with the highest average yearly pay. Santa Clara residents made an average of $76,076, while those living in New York County — that is, the island of Manhattan — earned $71,115. 

San Mateo County residents jumped to third-best compensated, on the strength of a 30 percent growth in average pay over 1999. They earned $66,943 in 2000. San Francisco County registered sixth at $57,626. 

The national average was $35,296. 

The data were based on an analysis of employment and pay trends in the nation’s 315 largest counties. Labor economists warned that the pay raises in 2000 will not likely stick. 

“The data do not reflect current economic conditions, nor do they reflect what has happened in the stock market this year,” said Stanley Stephenson, regional commissioner of the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. 


MARTINEZ, Calif. (AP) — Neighbors of an oil refinery that has leaked noxious clouds twice this week are pressing for tighter regulation of the plant. 

Accidents at the Equilon Martinez Refining Co. forced area residents to shelter in their homes Sunday and Wednesday, as plumes of yellowish, sooty smoke billowed from the plant. While no one reported serious injuries, the incidents are prompting Contra Costa County supervisors and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to consider new controls over the plant. 

One idea is to let public health officials shut down refinery operations after chemical releases. The county has issued two public nuisance citations against the company. 

The Martinez City Council will hold a town meeting Wednesday about the plant. Councilman Mark Ross said he has received several calls from people wanting to close the refinery, though that is unlikely. 


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco International Airport will use a fingerprint scanner to conduct employee background checks. 

The Federal Aviation Administration is requiring major airports to recheck the backgrounds of employees who have access to tarmacs or planes. 

Airport officials said the $40,000 scanning system should be installed within weeks, making it the ninth major airport in the nation to install the Identix TouchPrint 2000 technology. 

The fingerprint reader, which is tied to a computerized database, means employee background checks will take hours instead of weeks, said SFO spokesman Ron Wilson. He said the airport has about 35,000 employees, most requiring new checks.