[Watching City Hall appears in this space
Wednesday, and Friday.]
Wednesday, May 15
by h. brown
There was something about the flashing amulet dangling
from airport consultant Karen Skelton's neck. Was that the source of her
She had the entire Budget Committee cowed as she
explained why she was worth a half a million dollars as a part-time
worker over the past two years. The lady is a real bone crusher. Full of
spite & condescension. Tight-lipped and hard-faced. Kind of reminded me
of my last wife. Heavy bags under the eyes. Snarling. I kept waiting for
her to go over & mark Peskin's desk in the usual manner or at least spit
in his face. Her victory was certainly that complete.
"I want to talk to city staff!" the Budget vice chair
had informed Skelton. To my (and everyone else's) total astonishment,
Skelton simply ignored him & kept on talking. He repeated the request.
"Who's running the airport?!" asked the fading Peskin. He got no staff.
Only another Skelton sneer and miles more of bullshit.
"From whence cometh this great power?" I asked, staring
into my glass of wine. The amulet! It had to be the amulet. I dug
through the deepest shelves in the musty library of magic until I got to
the amulet section. Continent by continent, I searched out the match for
the mighty lady's talisman. Nothing in voodoo. It wasn't South American,
nor Chinese. Ahhhh, it was African! There it was: "Contains powdered
politicians' gonads." No kidding. It made sense.
What neither Peskin (nor anyone else) asked
"Can a restructuring of SFO's 'gauge' & 'slot' policies
solve the time delay problem?" Why didn't anyone ask?
Ya know, there is one airport serving Tokyo. It has one
runway. The airport closes at 11 pm. And they get by. Wanna know why?
Because airlines fly big, big planes into Tokyo (gauge) and the airport
tells them the order in which they can land (slot).
New York City hasn't added to their area runway capacity
for 30 years. And they get by.
Why not here? Cause United Airlines, which pretty much
runs the place, would, as a consultant told the Finance Committee a
couple of years ago "tell you to go pound sand." Yep, that's what he
Republican deregulation didn't just cost thousands of
air traffic controllers their jobs. It took away the local
municipalities' right to control gauge & slot.
It was an ugly hearing. Top city staffers John Martin
(ostensibly, the airport director) & project manager (yeah, uh huh)
Stuart Sunshine cringed around Clinton fund-raiser Skelton like
broken-spirited dogs. Peskin took one last shot: "The 'Big Dig' in
Boston was hundreds of millions of dollars over budget!" The normally
balls-on Finance Chair was off by TEN BILLION dollars! You don't wanna
see that in your watch dog.
Yeah, Boston & the rest of America has poured almost 15
billion dollars into the “Dig.” Guess who's building it?
Hey, right! You're pretty good. Yep, Bechtel. You'll
recognize their shills. They all wear two thousand dollar suits. And
they all have these amulets.
A tree with a view
Bruce the raven, a stalwart in Phil Frank's great
“Farley” cartoon has had a big problem of late. Seems Bruce nests in the
Presidio during mating season and NAP (Natural Areas Program) wants to
cut down his tree. Two years ago, the poor bird had to fight dot-commers
for his spot. Today's enemy is worse. The NAP project is crossing the
lines of governmental jurisdiction like Frank's free-flying raven. Over
10 percent of the trees in San Francisco city parks have been marked for
destruction. The number in the Presidio is over 4,000 trees.
Being something of a conspiracy nut, I thought I'd take
a stab at why these folks want to shut off huge areas to citizens, dogs,
birds, and “free-range” journalists. I think they are cutting the
old-growth trees in the areas with the best views now so that it will be
easier to sell the land to private developers down the line. They won't
have to listen to a bunch of “butterfly” people chained to giant cypress
trees (or nested up with Bruce & his family).
You doubt? Few months ago in a Chronicle op ed piece,
Frank D. Inferrera suggested selling off a piece of McLaren Park. Yep!
Something about the land was shaped weird or something & they could make
the boundaries lots more even by chopping off a piece. Oh yeah, the odd
shaped piece did have one thing going for it. Great view.
It's no wonder the country is in such bad
shape. The only people who know how to run it are busy cutting
hair & driving cabs.
– Harry Truman
This is no place to drive a cab. The industry is
regulated by a commission, hand-picked by Da Mayor and dominated by cab
A couple of years ago, Supervisor Gavin Newsom led a
push to add 400 more cabs to the streets. Seems the patrons at his
restaurants were having to wait for their hacks.
Now, with the economy in the tank & earnings down, the
companies have added 7th District supervisor Tony Hall to
their charm bracelet. After meeting with industry brass, Rules Chair
Hall called for higher “gates” (the daily rental fees the drivers pay).
Ignoring the declining earnings of drivers, Hall has thrown his
considerable influence behind a move to further impoverish the drivers.
Adding insult to injury, Hall opposed a plan by which drivers with
airport fares could pass on the $2 fee that SFO charges for drivers for
each & every airport run (no other city has such a fee). Primed by
cynical execs Hall suggested drivers be allowed to tack the $2 surcharge
upon the poorest citizens in the most dangerous neighborhoods.
Hall needs to watch the taxi commission. He'll learn two
Lesson one: the company execs are lying scum. Lesson
two: the drivers are the most articulate independent contractors in
town. Given the thousands and thousands of people these folks talk to
daily, I wouldn't want them bad-mouthing me.
The tough 7th District supe should re-think
this one. No one ever became mayor of this town by kicking the
collective butts of working people.
think gauge … think slot:
Monday, May 13
by h. brown
Supervisor Lakey … from District 12.
– Ammiano turning a misspeak into a joke
Mr. President, I decline to serve.
– Deputy City Atty. Ted Lakey, showing good sense.
Ahhhh, Monday. The board returns. Let me highlight the
committees I watched last week & pass on a few rumors.
Public Works Committee
Comcast sucks. They proved this beyond a doubt by
appearing before the board's Public Works Committee & denying they were
the new owners of the AT&T cable franchise they just bought.
Long range, this could well have been the key hearing of
the week. The change of ownership (challenged, as I said, by Comcast
through a shell company) affords the board the chance to rewrite the
dreadful contract Willie's last Board of Mistresses handed to AT&T. Tons
of construction promises they never kept. Higher & higher rates for
declining service. Citizens came forward to tell of waiting hours to
talk to a tech rep but seconds to reach a sales rep. Yes, no doubt about
it, AT&T blows too. Non-profits came forward touting deals Comcast
agreed to under fire that gave more public access channels & better
As the printed media loses diversity, it is important
for progressives to seek a fairer opportunity to present our views
through electronic media. Other than “Ammiano Retorts,” there are no
news shows on AT&T's Channel 23 that do not represent the views of the
local plutocracy. Even the Park & Rec show is in Da Mayor's bag. Every
supervisor should have their own half hour show. At the same time every
week. Presently, the station runs the same insipid Hearst/Fang shows
several times each.
McGoldrick finds Emilio Cruz
Comcast knows how to play the phony public-support-at
hearings game. They not only had an “Uncle Tom.” They had an Uncle Juan
and an Uncle Lee & an Uncle Gay & an Uncle Disabled. Not so
surprisingly, they all used the same words in describing AT&T as a "good
Also no shocker: most of the fellows fronting for their
own particular demographic were getting money from AT&T through some tax
deductible outlet. The nice-looking, well-dressed Latino gentleman noted
that the “Hispanic Scholarship Fund” he represented was getting millions
from AT&T. Lot of money, I recall thinking. I wondered if the mayor had
people sucking down some of this corporate “charity.”
As if reading my mind, 1st District supe Jake
McGoldrick suddenly asked in an off-handed fashion, "Does Emilio Cruz
work for you?" The boy did a double-take, paused, then answered with a
smile, "Yes, he does." There were grins around the audience. Now we knew
at least one of the reasons AT&T got such a great deal from the mayor.
Cruz is, after all John Burton's much shuttled and appointed son-in-law.
Wonder what he makes over there?
Rose Pak's CAVE (Chinese American Voters Education
Committee) rep. came to praise AT&T. A citizen countered by noting that
she stayed up one night to check out the “extra” channels AT&T had added
without her permission & were now charging her for. She noted that they
seemed to be mostly infomercials for ab machines & cleaning products.
The people who weren't paid to be there don't like AT&T & they don't
like Comcast. They recommend the city attorney play legal hardball with
the new contract. Poor babies, don't they know? The City Attorney's
Office only plays legal hardball with the board!
In another screwed-up Willie move, the mayor cut funds
to Public Ed. Government Access TV (PEG). Speakers complained of a new &
inexperienced hierarchy that wasted money on their own salaries and put
everything into a new downtown studio facility which will now (w/cuts)
remain mostly unused.
That's our mayor for you. And our board too. They've
sold out or flaked before gas & oil companies. Communications giants.
Transportation's been attached by a shell Cayman Islands bank. A giant
construction giant has gutted our Public Utilities Commission.
Speculators plan secret projects on public lands. Your air waves, air
quality, views, pedestrian safety & water are for sale. They don't pay
Anti-Riot Bribes Approved
The Mayor's Criminal Justice Council came forward to
present their budget. They came expecting a fight. Nope. Nary a whisper.
Funds like these came out of riots in Watts & Detroit & D.C. A lousy
program in this area is better than nothing. Give em more.
Give the supes a raise
Do you really want to be represented by eleven people
who are either rich, on-the-take, or near starvation? It is utter
insanity that San Francisco Supervisors make $37,500 a year. It's just
another ruling-class ploy to keep the people’s representatives weaker.
Willie's big-boobed ex-girlfriends make up to & over a hundred grand a
year in a variety of departments. Only a rich boy like 2nd
District supe Newsom (see "Pluck, pluck, pluck … PLUCKKK!") wants
elections kept citywide, where expenses are so great that no Chris Daly
or Jake McGoldrick could win. Newsom wants to keep salaries down because
that gives him an advantage. (OK, I've refiled my Declaration of Intent
to run against Newsom – see “Pluck!”)
Last year the board asked staff to find out what
comparable salaries are for like positions around the local area and the
state. Screw em! It's cheaper everywhere in the world than here. Give
district supervisors as much as a lower-level mayoral mistress. Say …
$120,000 a year or so. I hate to tell you this, but that only puts them
into the middle class around here.
"Pluck, pluck, pluck … PLUCKKK!"
– Gavin Newsom's campaign strategy
I keep getting messages from people who should know that
Gavin Newsom is planning to back out of a race against me in the 2nd
Supervisory District this fall. Word is he wants to use Lynne Segal as a
stand-in. What's up with that?
C'mon Gavin, I'm old, poor, weak, ugly, stupid. Whatcha
afraid of? Do you like surprises? I have lots of kinds of surprises
planned for you. Music, mimes, musicians. Added debates … OUT OF
Yeah, don't you want to debate me in front of an
auditorium full of Falun Gong in Chinatown? Let's give em a show, boy. I
understand you've never beaten anyone in an election. Hey, what does it
look like if you bail out and leave a woman to protect your home turf.
“Pluck, pluck, pluck!”
Transportation & Commerce
The DPT (Department of Parking & Traffic) wants your
car! They ain't gonna let you write it off as a donation to a Russian
Church either. Trust me on that one.
Can I get an “Amen” on getting up early in the morning
or in the middle of the night to go move your car? Can I get an “Amen”
if you've ever sat in your pajamas waiting for the spot you're in to
become legal? Can I get an “Amen” if you've ever been trailed around the
block by a hovering Mosquito-like PCO (Parking Control Officer – Meter
Maids to you non-PC thugs) cause they know you have to move your car and
they've chalked your tire & checked your tire stem. (An old PCO told his
trick: "The stem was at 11 o'clock & now it's at 4 o'clock!")
They talked about the difference between 500 feet and a
“block.“ They spoke of doubling this and that fine. $100 for blocking a
bike lane but only $50 for blocking an entire vehicular lane. More
stress, fights, angrier motorists & truckers & PCO's. Committee Chair
Jake McGoldrick put it into perspective: "You know how the Strategic Air
Command always keeps a certain percentage of their planes in the air?
Here, we have 500,000 cars and only 320,000 parking spaces. Twenty-four
hours a day, someone is either illegal or circling."
Friday, May 10
by h. brown
What's a dream worth?
– Daniel Cohen
I sell ads!
– Bruce Brugmann
If you come up with a good idea, before you
leave, it will be OUR idea.
– Willie Brown
In San Francisco, it's ok to lie, cheat & steal.
– Willie Brown
That information is “proprietary.”
– Dennis Normandy
Everybody stand and say, "Goodbye, Treasure Island."
No, you weren't trying. I know, because I've been in
riots, and you really aren't trying.
Once more: "GOODBYE TREASRE ISLAND!!"
That's much better. Now, pay attention & please feel
free to grade my prescient abilities. I'm no psychic, you understand.
I'm just old and I come from a place where politics is even more crooked
than here. So, call me the “early warning (paranoid) outpost” and see if
I'm right a year or so from now.
Movement afoot to privatize Treasure Island
It is no secret that Mayor Willie Brown has never
thought the best use for Treasure & Yerba Buena Islands was for housing
& rehabilitating our homeless and jobless and most desperate. Early on,
Mayor Brown proposed such deliciously enticing scenes as a Grand Prix
Race Course for the fastest cars on earth (I'd love to see that one run
in the Tenderloin!), a Casino (that would be better as an “INDIAN”
casino on Alcatraz) and, of course, the winning combination, a series of
short (tall hotels would be an embarrassment when they fell into the bay
in a mild tremor) hotels (eight stories or so) that wouldn't quite
splash into the bay as they crashed.
Let's be real.
Willie Brown is an expert at selling land, the extending
the use of land, lowering taxes, displacing the poor … for a commission.
It's happening on Treasure Island.
Recall that scene from The Godfather where Brando turns
and says something to the effect of "We got some reporters in our
pockets, right? Some editors? Have them get out the story that …."
Remember that? Sure you do. I won't go on till you say
OK, I lied.
Anyway, Willie & his masters turned loose the reporters
from Family Fang’s Independent on Tuesday last to begin to create a
favorable public opinion for when the mayor starts doing the following
things to San Francisco's Treasure Island:
1. The island (islands, actually – Yerba Buena too) will
be cleansed of the poor. Presently, there is an 850-student Job Corps
center there, but as Willie Brown flunky journalist Warren Hinckle
related in the aforementioned edition, using the most valuable section
the island for job corps does indeed say:, "Good-bye golf course or
whatever might have ‘bad’ (sic) bucks for beleaguered San
2. Hinckle then went on at length about the Treasure
Island Yacht Club, which his (and Bill Clinton's!) good bud (Ron –
supermarket billionaire) Berkle is developing along, with expanding the
present yacht harbor on T.I. from 104 to 400 berths. Well, imagine
that!!!!! 300 more yachts. Mini hotels. Casinos. A race track. No room
for homeless shelters, schools, or rehab facilities in that kind of a
setting. The land is too valuable. The poor must go.
3. Setting the stage for the removal of the poor,
Hinckle attacked: "The gaggle of nonprofit dimwits whom Mayor Frank
Jordan handed the keys to the joint." Better to hand them to Willie &
John Stewart, huh Warren? Narrowing it down to a fellow whom Hinckle's
masters obviously consider a continuing threat, Warrenboy said, "This
band was led by Larry Florin, who was in the middle of the decision to
turn the center of the island … to the Jobs Corps"
Hinckle followed this attack on Florin, which ran in
Tuesday's Independent with a comment in a Thursday ad in the Fang daily
(well, we wish), a comment sure to be pored over by a couple of thousand
political junkies (such as me). Old Warren, he throws in a piece here
about how Gavin Newsom had a traitor on his staff (that is, in the inner
circle), who was, in fact, "Larry Florin … quick to deliver the
kitchen-chats strategizing to … Rose Pak – who uses said information to
strategize for her candidate for mayor, Police Chief Fred Lau."
Sounds like Warren is trying to get this Florin guy out
on the street with me. Let's see if Gavin is dumb enough to dump a
friend on the advice of Warren Hinckle.
Hmmmm. What else is going on that short stone's throw
away on T.I.?
Mayor steals professor's idea
In the same edition of the Independent where Hinckle
first took out after Larry Florin ("shoot the leader first, then the guy
with the radio"), in that edition (5/7/02) was a wonderful story about a
wonderful new idea by one of the mayor's close, honest, public-spirited
advisers (PUC Commission member Dennis Normandy, to be exact). Dennis
had this idea to put a huge statue out on the end of Treasure Island to
balance the East Coast's “Statue of Liberty.”
When I spoke with the good commissioner on the phone
("This is an attack interview!" – Well, duhhh.), I asked him when he
came up with the idea. He couldn't recall.
When I put the same question to staff at Supervisor
Gavin Newsom's office earlier in the day (Newsom had pushed the idea
earlier but backed off when authorship of the idea was challenged),
staff said Newsom never claimed it was his idea. "We read it somewhere"
was the best I could get.
Normandy spoke of years of meetings discussing the
statue but every single one of them, it turns out was "proprietary
information." He suggested lawyers at 10 paces. I declined. Hell, I
don't even have a bed, let alone a lawyer. I told him I'd smear him
instead & we parted amicably. Let me summarize what I know for certain.
Two years ago, when I started running for supervisor in
District 6, there were eighteen of us running. Ahhhh, we were an
interesting group. I called us “the thundering herd” and suggested we do
polka weddings when the campaign ended. But sometimes it's best to be
Anyway, one of the things that made the debates
interesting was that three of the candidates had actually designed &
built models of structures they hoped would praise, enable ,and house
our community. There was Jim Reid's module shelter for the homeless
(still, the best idea presented). There was James Leo Dunne's tunnel
through Nob Hill to be built by thousands of homeless who would then
actually live inside the tunnel (nice model – bring lotsa Right Guard).
And there was Stanford professor Joan Roughgarden's "Statue of
The statue caught everyone's idea. Apparently, even Da
Mayor's. The good professor spoke at length about the importance of
something here to match the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast as a
solid and symbolic representation of what America stands for. Oddly, it
was almost, word for word, the same speech I heard from PUC Commissioner
Dennis Normandy when he explained why the statue was important. Hell,
they even ripped off her pep talk.
Normandy, refusing any documentary proof that he is not
a plagiarist, admitted he'd heard of the professor's idea a while back
and had even seen drawings of the proposed statue. But, he thought of it
Put these two scenes together – Newsom's office: “Let's
see, where did I get that idea?” and Normandy: "It's 'proprietary'
information." Hey, what movie? C'mon. Yeah, congrats to you quick ones:
“Working Girl“!! Sigourney Weaver steals Melanie Griffith's idea, then
the bitch get's what she deserves!!! I mean, losing Richard Gere, plus
that view to die for out the office window.
Why would Normandy do this? Why would the mayor do this?
I'm uh guessin' homophobia
Normandy's statue (if you can believe this) is going to
be different from the Statue of Liberty so's it can represent US. That's
why he's calling it: “The Flame of Liberty” !! ??? !!! Now, how
many consultants did it take to come up with that one? These people
aren't even bright enough to come up with an original name!
And get this. They already have the name copyrighted! Uh
huh, I wouldn't lie to you. OK, I might. But, I'm not now. You just have
to take my word for it. I mean, would I lie to you?
I was saying … they had a meeting of a whole buncha rich
folks to unveil this idea. Oddly, I never heard of it. Anyway, the mayor
did. Big gang there. Not the professor. Commissioner Normandy said he'd
never heard of her. Till my call.
Heard of her idea. But his came first. Couldn't prove
it. The proof was a secret.
Know what? I don't believe him. I think that the mayor &
the business community did not want to have a statue designed and named
by a member of the city's gay/lesbian/bi/transgender community. I think
they feel it would be mocked. I think they ripped off the idea. They cut
off its balls and its breasts & named their new eunuch “The Flame of
There will be 200,000 square feet of museums &
restaurants in the statue's base. He didn't mention the Jobs Corps.