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VOLUME 2, NUMBER 22   <>  MONDAY, JUNE 4, 2001

Watching City Hall

by h. brown

Another bad head job. Forgive me. Sometimes you just can’t hold back. They beg for it. They know better than to leave the press alone with an unlocked liquor cabinet. They should know better than to throw out a year’s supply of sexual double entendres inside of 20 minutes in a Board of Supervisors’ Finance Committee meeting and expect the less tasteful of us to pass up an easy spike.

Subject was the DPW’s unauthorized repairs to the Infamous Doggie Diner head out in Leland Yee’s domain. Just a few direct quotes to give you an idea:

Chairman Mark Leno:

“We didn’t live up to our responsibility and as a result … the head fell.”

“This head has a lot of fans.”


“There is also … lead paint in the head.”

“We’re doing everything we can to get it back up.”

Then Supervisor Yee said something like he thought Supervisor Aaron Peskin was against taking care of the obligatory head job due to “class distinction.” I thought Leland was about to break into a verse or two of Randy Newman’s “Short people got no reason to live.” I poured another bourbon, lit a joint, and turned up the volume for Lord Peskin’s response. It was good.

“Supervisor (began Peskin in his most sonorous tone), this is a very expensive nose job.” Then he commented on Yee playing the race card on behalf of the doggie head. “You’re being disingenuous.” That’s the way polite people call other people a big ole liar. Webster’s says:

disingenuous; lacking in candor; giving a false appearance; calculating

Boy, that’s Yee all over.

And that set me to thinking. Was Yee trying to hide something else in the item the committee was voting on? I dug through the notes. … Ah, here it was. While the head job for the poor dog was only 25 grand or so, there was an item for 60 thousand that Yee described as “planning” for how to clean up a couple of toilets on the ocean.

“Planning?” I thought. Sixty grand. Hell, I can get them cleaned & painted for 50 easily.

There was something else to it that the other supes seemed to miss in the turmoil over the doggie head. Yee said that there were bad things going on in those toilets, and the way to stop it was to increase “activity” around the toilets by perhaps “butting a clubhouse against them.” There it was. You got it? For 60 grand I’m betting we get a plan to build a couple of beach concession stands, for which we’ll be asked to pay a couple of million and which the mayor will give to some campaign contributors for a dime a month on a 50-year lease. Y’all watch.

It wasn’t all funny this week. At the same Finance Committee meeting, the Department of Elections came asking for money to pay off some voting machines. There just isn’t anything funny about D.O.E. these days. They’re kinda like the guy who drew the black rock in “The Lottery.”’ No one wants to stand too close to them. Warren Hinckle confirmed in this week’s Independent that the 3,600 ballots in question in Former Acting Temporary Much Maligned D.O.E. Director Phillip Paris’s charges against the Brown Machine are, in fact, missing. I wonder if one of them was your ballot.

Let’s take a worst case scenario on this. I’m betting they knew how to “game” the machine results before they even bought the machines. A source told me that on election night members of the Citizens’ Advisory Committee went around the counting area in gaggles, carrying keys to all of the “secure” areas.

There are lots of rats jumping off this sinking ship. Hinckle, again, described Controller Ed Harrington calling Nick Driver of the Examiner to confirm the “election-night chaos in the Elections Department.”

Speaking of Ed Harrington…

The cock had not sung thrice on Controller Harrington’s drive-by on the D.O.E. before Ed was standing before the Finance Committee telling them that the city had written a Request For Proposals “designed to make only the Independent eligible.” Hey … that doesn’t sound fair. Surely, a paper like the Call could use some of that city ad cash. I suggest that we could handle the added distribution by contracting with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They’re everywhere! That way you can get the “good news” and the bad news all together.

Caliban ponders Satebo. Ever know a gorilla? I did. His name was Phil and he lived at the St. Louis Zoo for around 30 years. I used to sit by his outdoor cage while I read the morning paper, and we got to know each other. One thing you learn right away is that gorillas don’t like being stared at. It’s considered poor form. What you do is sneak peeks.

Covering City Hall is kind of like that. At a typical board meeting there will be around 50 people in the audience and 49 of them know each other. But you’d never know it. Oh, there’s interaction. There are some amazingly intense love/hate things going on. And humor abounds. (Aaron Peskin is the funniest by far. I could spend a whole column just quoting him. For instance, after drawing out a staff park person on the condition of the city’s parks, Peskin summarized his findings: “Then, what you’re saying is … all of the district parks have been neglected … equally?”)

Fashion statements. Since my wardrobe is mostly stuff my tenants threw out, I’m always interested in sharp dressers. Biggest turnaround award goes to Matt Gonzalez, who is now dressing more like Niles Crane & less like Soupy Sales.

Big Matt paused in the aisle before us during Monday’s board (they come out in the crowd to press the flesh when particularly boring people are talking). Matt kindly put a hand to Doug Comstock’s shoulder and gently arranged Doug’s shirt collar in back so that the tie was actually under the collar instead of the other way round. It’s good to have people watching your back.

Then, there’s Sophie Maxwell! Lord, is that a gorgeous female. (Can I say that?) She makes the last board’s female members’ wardrobes look like … look bad. She has this kind of Grace Jones look going. Tall & powerful with a clear eye and a solid posture. She wore a kind of gold outfit to Monday’s board with a sort of spotted leopard thing cape.

I called in Kudzai, my son-in-law from Zimbabwe, and asked if women dressed that way there. “Yes,” he replied. “She looks very African.”

All that in a woman who is wrestling with giant power companies and the federal government to clean up the air, earth, and water in her district. Impressive.

Peskin is urbane, articulate, and a perfect player for any movie featuring a medieval English court. Chris Daly decided against the Van Dyke, which is a shame because I’d have enjoyed seeing it contrasted with Peskin’s Henry VIII style (they sit adjacent to one another at board).

“I’m glad I’m moving cause if you keep writing like this you’re gonna get shot.”

— Platonic friend/roommate Deby

It’s always good to be noticed.

Send beer to: sobone@juno.com

h. brown