Image for post
Image for post
Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco is slated for a name change. Photo credit: Associated Press

By Joel P. Engardio

My elementary and high schools were named for once-prominent men who lived in Michigan in the 1800s. I never knew anything about them. I hope they weren’t bad men who supported racism, misogyny or the persecution of LGBTQ people.

San Francisco’s school board isn’t taking any chances. They want to rename up to a third of public schools that honor people now deemed “inappropriate.”

Many of the 44 schools slated for renaming involve obscure historical figures: Robert Louis Stevenson (author), Frank McCoppin (first Irish-born mayor of San Francisco), James Lick (land baron who inspired Ghirardelli chocolate). …


Image for post
Image for post
San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin and a memorial to two women killed. Photo credit: SFGovTV and ABC-7 News.

By Joel P. Engardio
Vice President
Stop Crime SF

This is an essay about the importance of accountability, especially when working to reform something with life and death consequences such as our criminal justice system.

It was tragic when two women crossing a street in San Francisco were struck and killed by an allegedly drunk driver who ran a red light on New Year’s Eve.

Yet outrage has only grown with reports that the suspect was on parole for armed robbery and remained free despite being arrested multiple times in recent months. …


Image for post
Image for post
Four Generations: The author (Generation X), his mom (Boomer), grandma (Greatest), great grandma (Lost)

By Joel P. Engardio

A new year is a good time to learn more about and honor the generations of past and present. I’m glad someone thought to take this photo of four generations in my family: great grandma (Lost Generation), grandma (Greatest Generation), mom (Baby Boomer), myself (Generation X).

Do you know your generations? I was surprised to discover that in 2021 the oldest Millennials turn 40! How did they become middle aged? Now, the torch of youth is held by Generation Z, age 24 and under.

To better understand the timelines, I’ve compiled a “Generations 101” explainer.

Lost Generation: Born 1883 to 1900
Came of age or in the prime of youth during World War I and the Roaring Twenties. Generation name popularized by Ernest Hemingway in the 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises that quotes Gertrude Stein: “You are all a lost generation.” Influential members: Eleanor Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, George Burns, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Harry Truman, Charlie Chaplin, Babe Ruth, Amelia Earhart, Colonel Sanders, Mae West, Duke Ellington, Coco Chanel. …


Image for post
Image for post
Joel Engardio and husband Lionel Hsu

I want to thank everyone who was part of my San Francisco supervisor campaign. We won the most first-place votes, but we lost after ranked choice voting was factored in.

The good news is that we can celebrate Joe Biden winning the presidency. Now, we can take a deep breath and think about better days for our nation. While we have many challenges ahead that require fixing and healing, we can be hopeful that solutions are possible.

With Joe Biden and Kamala Harris leading the nation, I believe it will allow us on a local level to feel more at ease and better focus on the daily issues in our streets and neighborhoods. We need to focus because the pandemic has given our city new problems to go with what we already had. That’s why it is important we give Supervisor-elect Myrna Melgar all the support she needs to be successful. I believe San Francisco’s best days are still ahead — if we’re willing to tackle today’s problems with a combination of innovation, common sense, and hope. …


Image for post
Image for post
Mohammed Nuru, also known as “Mr. Clean,” was the longtime director of SF Public Works. He was arrested by federal authorities in January and charged with corruption. Photo credit: Paul Chinn/San Francisco Chronicle

By Joel P. Engardio

You probably spent the morning of April 4, 2018 dodging broken glass from smashed car windows, discarded heroin needles and even human waste on the sidewalk as you went to work or took your kids to school.

If you cursed how this had become the everyday experience of living in San Francisco, you might have wondered who at City Hall was responsible for cleaning sidewalks.

That person was Mohammed Nuru, the director of SF Public Works, nicknamed “Mr. Clean.” But on April 4, 2018, he wasn’t busy cleaning anything. …


Image for post
Image for post
An seismically unfit and abandoned elementary school serves as the training facility for the San Francisco Police Department. An academy class (before social distancing) had to sit on the floor of the former school’s gym/auditorium. Photo credit: Rachael Garner/San Francisco Examiner

By Joel P. Engardio

San Francisco’s police department trains in a seismically unfit school near Diamond Heights that students abandoned long ago. At peak times the building holds 150 officers who risk injury if it collapses in an earthquake. A modern facility would be significantly safer, but will anyone agree to pay for it in today’s “defund the police” political climate?

Meanwhile, the fire department’s outdated training facility on Treasure Island is slated to be torn down for a new housing development. An alternate location must be found soon. While no one is protesting firefighters, City Hall’s projected $2.5 …


Image for post
Image for post
Photo credit: BRG

By Joel P. Engardio

Is fiber infrastructure the 21st century version of filling potholes? Today, a shaky internet connection at home is as frustrating and expletive-laden as driving down a bumpy road.

While we expect street repair to be a basic function of city government, what about the installation and maintenance of internet connectivity for all residents? A smooth car ride is nice. But a reliable online experience is a necessity for everyone who must work or attend school from the kitchen table.

Even after coronavirus, more San Franciscans will work from home permanently. The pandemic has forever changed how we work. …


Image for post
Image for post
Roberta Bechtel at Triangle Park on San Francisco’s westside.

By Joel P. Engardio

As City Hall grapples with coronavirus pandemic recovery, the threat of resurgence without a vaccine and a looming $2.5 billion deficit, it’s hard to know where to find solutions when the problems seem so big and insurmountable.

A small neighborhood park could be a good place to start.

Now that social distancing is the norm, open space is in high demand. Residents need it to safely walk dogs, exercise, play with kids or just sit in fresh air outside their homes.

An all-volunteer neighborhood team has spent countless hours trying to renovate Triangle Park, a little respite nestled among the homes between West Portal and Forest Hill that has been long-neglected. …


Image for post
Image for post
Joel Engardio with his in-laws and husband Lionel Hsu in Taipei.

By Joel P. Engardio

When I married Lionel Hsu, our dads didn’t attend the wedding. My dad abandoned my mom when she was six months pregnant. Lionel’s dad didn’t want to fly across the ocean to San Francisco from Taiwan. He’s never been on a plane and hasn’t left the island his entire life.

I didn’t have a dad growing up, but now I have a father-in-law and I can recognize good fathers when I see one. His name is 許繁雄. He never gave himself an English name as many in Taiwan’s professional class do. …


Image for post
Image for post
New York City. Photo credit: Erik McGregor/Light Rocket/Getty Images

By Joel P. Engardio

There is a lot of anger towards police right now. And for good reason, given the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and a long list of unchecked abuses of police power in many cities — including San Francisco — over many decades.

The video of Floyd’s agonizing eight-minute execution under the knee of a uniformed officer sparked nationwide protests on a scale not seen in more than half a century. Everyone was a witness to the officer’s callous disregard to Floyd’s pleas of not being able to breathe and calling out for his mother. …

About

Joel Engardio

Forward-thinking + pragmatic Democrat, civil liberties advocate, award-winning journalist, Westside SF homeowner. My local views at www.engardio.com/issues

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store