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Monday, February 25, 2002

Watching City Hall

by h. brown

I have consulted with Marilyn Chambers on this issue.

– Tom Schultz, Chair, SF Elections Commission

Of course, it was a misspeak … a Freudian slip … a boo-boo. Whatever you want to call it. Recent GAO grad (as was Harvey Rose) and spanking new Elections Commissioner Schultz was referring to someone else named “Marilyn” & everyone in the audience & on the board committee was willing to let it pass.

Everyone but me.

I went for it like a dung beetle on a fresh pile.

What the hell happens to honest people when they go to work in the basement of City Hall? Is there something in the air down there? Is there something not in the air that should be there? Are workers required to start every day with a hit of LSD-25?

These people are funnier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest. Even a bottom-dwelling rogue satirist like me doesn't need to make things up when you cover these people. You just write down the things they actually say. People are always e-mailing me to say things like: "I thought you were kidding & I watched the tape & they really did say that."

Then they tried to hire me.

Department of Elections finally bottoms-out!

I thought the call was from someone trying to cash in on the guaranteed million-dollar windfall sure to come to the first insider to go public with the real skinny on how da mayor has been able to rig the last gadzillion elections. It was a cryptic message on my friend's answering machine. Someone (whom I won't name, lest they end up in a Jersey landfill) called & asked for me to return the call. A Department of Elections employee.


The department is barreling down upon another complicated ballot with lots at stake for Burton & Brown & the developers. Uh huh, now was definitely a good time to give me & my crack investigative crew (no pun on Chambers intended) … time for us to set up our cameras in hidden alcoves, arrange tag-team surveillance with the U.S. Justice Department, tap a few more phones. Yeah, it was just in time actually.

I made a few calls, set the huge bank of recorders going & cued the other guys at the long tables strewn around the warehouse. Then I rang the number back.

It was the Department of Elections all right. They were just kind of “randomly” going over some lists & had decided that I just might be the kind of guy they could use to be a “poll worker.”

Discreetly ignoring the obvious phallic reference, I pressed on. Two agents across the room gave elaborate hand signs to indicate I should draw the conversation out until they got an exact fix on the department's location. I feigned confusion & asked just why they thought I might be the kinda guy they needed to oversee democracy's nerve center.

It was a “cold” call

It would seem that I was one of what Ilene Lelchuk reported in the Chronicle as 800 "middle-age and elderly voters" the department contacted at home to fill in 500 remaining empty job slots at polls around the city. Tammy Haygood described my demographic as "retirees who vote frequently, tend to be the people who have the most time and [are] the most committed."

Uh huh.

Yeah, uh huh. And Oswald acted alone, I thought. Why did she call me really? I dug a bit.


Seems the department has 2,500 workers on a given election day and, Lelchuk reports: "The job has been a big draw for homeless residents in past years." However (and she's right here, as all of my past wives, roommates & employers will verify), “some homeless people have trouble getting to polling places, get drunk or high on election day and have 'public decorum and personal hygiene problems.'" She's quoting Director of Elections Tammy Haygood on that last bit.

Now, I certainly fit that profile. But … let me get the scene straight. Here's the situation they want me to join: sometime before the sun comes up on March 5th, some 2,500 stinking, drunk, high, raving, insane, infirmed, incontinent, & senile citizens will again take on the job of gathering and counting the votes in Willietown.

Could I live with that? Are you kidding? It's my element. Sounds like a Brown family reunion. And the bennies? You can't believe it. About a hundred dollars for fuckin' with people's minds all day; then you get to take all the ballots you can carry home & vote as many times as you like. Lelchuk reported that "one volunteer returned 400 blank ballots one month after the election this past Nov. 6." I guess they stopped filling them in after PG&E got 500 votes ahead.

What a chance to be a part of democracy as it really works. You do your 10-12 hours, throw a box or two of blank ballots over your shoulder & head out for a rave with friends, where you watch election results on the tube, get higher & swing the election to whichever side pays you the most. In the end, I think we'd be better off just letting the Olympic skating judges choose our winners.

I did try to pick up a few bucks on the election. A friend told me the Associated Press paid “stringers“ $100 bucks to phone in election results around the country on voting nights. San Francisco was already taken but they said I might get some bucks covering Sonoma or Napa. I returned that the San Francisco election was sure to be loaded with more buckshot than the “Jumping Frog” & they should fund me to cover it … or to go to Afghanistan or Zimbabwe. No answer. Apparently, their reputation still matters to them.

On a more serious note

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has yet to deplore the assault & imprisonment of San Francisco citizens by the People's Republic of China’s thugs less than 2 weeks ago. This is outrageous. Board members who voted against chastising the brutal Chinese regime for its treatment of the 100 million strong Falun Gong membership include:

Mark Leno (anti-Falun Gong) who is running for state office in the 13th district (vote for his opponent - Harry Britt).

Sophie Maxwell: After a strong speech noting Black History Month, Ms. Maxwell voted in favor of a government that persecutes on a religious basis.

Aaron Peskin: Noted strongly that the board's actions did not have international ramifications. Wrong again.

Gavin Newsom: Rich boy. Friend of no colored or poor person. The Falun Gong problem could cost some of his mentors big money in China trade.

Jake McGoldrick: Has become so intoxicated with the trappings that he has lost touch with the humanity that made us love him.

Leland Yee: This Space for Sale!

Tony Hall: He's a nice guy with pretty much totally Republican values (as in “party“). … Hey, lots of my family down south are Republicans.

Anyway, 2 of these folks need to change their mind and acknowledge that we need to join the U.S. Congress and the California State Legislature and most of the civilized world in deploring the Beijing regime's brutal suppression of a humble religion. These votes will never be forgotten by the 100 million Falun Gong and their supporters throughout the world. I would love nothing more than to throw this vote in all of these supe's faces as evidence of the brutality their callous hearts engendered comes to the tube in more graphic film. This one is a “deal breaker,” a litmus test. If you can't oppose having your citizens' beaten because of their religious views, what kind of person are you and why would anyone want you representing them?

(The Chinese regime supported Falun Gong until 1999 when the membership of Falun Gong became greater than the membership of the Communist Party.)

Wish me luck

No job yet. I have a last interview to substitute teach on Treasure Island at the Job Corps. I didn't want to teach again but this would be a new thing. Older kids. The island, a virtual naval museum & I'm a Navy guy.

I keep writing on friends' computers. Sleep around. Read everything. Avoid City Hall.

No on 45! Sobone@juno.com