10 brightest ideas of the week: Aug. 31, 2008

History is made in candidate selection, music festival in Golden Gate Park is a success and Major League Baseball adds instant replay to its games.

Bright light of the week

Gavin Newsom

What: The mayor gained some face time with national audiences during the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Why: Although Newsom was not a speaker at the convention, he was in the spotlight when named one of Time magazine’s list of five Democrats to watch. His face also popped up on CNN and other news channels (especially notable was him clapping during Barack Obama’s acceptance speech) and he sat down with PBS’ “Online News Hour.” Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who have been named as a possible contenders in the 2010 run for California governor, also had back-to-back speeches that garnered attention from news outlets.

Next: Newsom, who has formed an exploratory committee for a possible gubernatorial run, could use the national coverage he had at the convention to raise his profile in the race for the statewide seat. This may be even more important after Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the state’s senior senator, announced she is considering a run for the same seat.

10 brightest ideas of the week


1| Democratic nominee makes history.

The details: In selecting Sen. Barack Obama for their presidential candidate, the Democrats made history. No matter who you vote for in November, everyone should acknowledge the historic moment of the first black presidential candidate selected by a major political party.

VP surprise

2| McCain selects Alaska governor as running mate.

The details: In a move that surprised the Republican Party, presumptive candidate John McCain selected Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. The move could help the campaign attract female voters, especially disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters. San Francisco Republican Party Chairman Howard Epstein acknowledged McCain’s choice of the 44-year-old Palin, elected governor in 2006, might shake up the establishment somewhat. “Well, he’s blowing up the boxes, for sure,” Epstein said. “He went out of what would be the mainstream picks of Gov. [Mitt] Romney, and so  on.”

Rockin’ event

3| Outside Lands festival is a success.

The details: The three-day music festival brought thousands of people to Golden Gate Park, and the first-of-its-kind event ran with merely a few hiccups. The concert was the first event to receive a permit to have live music in the park after dark, which was a concern for nearby neighbors who fretted about the noise. So far, discord about the event has been muted, and the Recreation and Park Department even stands to gain about $1 million from the event.

Play it again, Sam

4| Major League Baseball adopts instant replay.

The details: After several controversial calls early in the season, in which balls that didn’t clear the wall were called home runs, America’s pastime became the last of the four major professional sports leagues to adopt a video-review system. Thursday was the first day Major League Baseball’s war room was on standby to watch for controversial calls on home runs or whether fans interfered with a ball in play. While there is the potential for games lasting slightly longer, getting the call right — especially if the World Series is on the line — is what matters most.

Iraq withdrawal

5| Target set for U.S. troops to leave Iraq.

The details: Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki toughened his language this week when discussing U.S. troops leaving Iraq. The prime minister said the goal for combat troops to leave Iraq is 2011. This comes after the Iraqi government said it would like U.S. troops to end patrols in Iraqi towns and villages by the middle of next year. The Iraqi government should be taking control of its country as soon as security benchmarks are met, but not before.

Rail accountability

6| High-speed rail measure to provide clear language.

The details: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger decided to abandon his threat to veto all bills that reach his desk before a budget is passed, allowing himself to sign legislation that firms up the language about the high-speed-rail bond that will be on the Nov. 4 ballot. The language will now add specific oversight and spending limits to the measure that would allow $10 million in bonds to be sold for the project.

Golden memories

7| Beijing Olympics close with a bang.

The details: It was a golden Olympics for the Americans in China. One word may sum it all up: Phelps. Along with the star American swimmer’s eight gold medals, there were 17 days of events to keep everyone busy. To top it all off there was the superstar-studded closing ceremony. This was the first time that China hosted an Olympics, and the greatest criticism was not about the games — it was about the country’s human-rights record.

Culture bus

8| Muni proposes coach to museums and attractions.

The details: The transit agency is working with The City’s cultural institutions and the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau to have a bus speed visitors around San Francisco to places such as the SFMoMA and de Young Museum. At $7, the fare is steeper than a typical Muni ride, but in line with the agency’s “special event fares.” The money will also be a boon for the cash-strapped agency’s coffers and could bring more visitor’s to San Francisco museums and attractions.

Smile, you’re on camera

9| Tenderloin shooting caught on tape.

The details: A nonfatal shooting that injured one man in the Tenderloin was caught on camera, but not The City’s wildly expensive (and questionably useful) crime cameras. Three buildings in the area had cameras pointed outward that are meant to help protect the business from the rampant crime in the neighborhood. As a bonus, they apparently will help police track down the shooter.

The tax man

10| Minnesota accountant beats the IRS.

The details: Charles Ulrich, an accountant from Baxter, Minn., thought it was fishy the way the IRS taxed shares and cash distributed by mutual life insurance paid out when the firms reorganize as public companies. It turned out that Ulrich’s interpretation was right. It’s unclear how many taxpayers may benefit, however, since the time frame for filing claims may be closed. It remains to be seen if the IRS will fess up and extend the deadline for the people it cheated.

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