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Monday, May 3, 2002

[h. brown's column appears in this space Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.]

Watching City Hall

by h. brown

100 years from now, dear heart,

we'll neither know nor care …

what came of all life's bitterness …

or followed love's despair.


100 years from now dear heart,

the race will all be run. …

The glasses we turn down today,

we’ll be empty then … as they.


So fill the glasses up again …

and kiss me through the rose leaf rain.

We'll build one castle more in Spain …

and dream one more dream there.


– Identify the poet?

City Hall was great this week, and I'll get around to that. But first there are other far more important matters to share with you. As I hammer at my fading keys & watch the sun set out my friend's window overlooking Leavenworth, with my cat CC snuggled atop the monitor (tail draped down, mid-screen), CC's sister Naomi is curled in the tight tuck of a sleek diver, frozen in the sleep of contentment in an adjoining chair & Ariel Sharon is in a jet doing 700 miles per hour roaring across the Atlantic away from talks of peace, rocketing toward actions that could destroy us all within hours.

In a prescient moment yesterday, financier Warren Buffet predicted the inevitable explosion of a nuclear weapon within the boundaries of the United States. If it were only so simple. Here is the likelihood of what will actually happen. Here is what you should be ready to do, if it does. It is called “The Samson Option” and it is more real then your worst nightmare.

The Samson Option

Syria's Golan Heights are about as far away from downtown Tel Aviv as the Berkeley Hills are from San Francisco. A lob for even a very weak rocket. Israel is incredibly small and her population is concentrated mostly in a few urban areas. Both the Israelis and the Palestinians have been massacred and driven from this tiny area many times over the last 4,000 years. This time, the destruction is likely to escalate to world-wide dimensions.

The Israelis have several dozen nuclear weapons. When the first weapon destroys Tel Aviv, a great cheer will arise in Arab capitals from Cairo to Damascus. Hamas, Al Qaeda, the Syrians & a host of other Muslim armies will begin to gather to complete their cherished dream of pushing the Israelis into the sea. They won't have time.

Blinding flashes, core temperatures of 100 million degrees, and winds reaching hundreds of miles an hour will radiate from the center of dozens of Israeli nuclear weapons. Mecca will be only a distant memory. Every single major Arab population center will be incinerated.

Then, it gets worse. You see, Phase Two of this plan calls for an Israeli attack upon the Soviet Union. Which is no more. Doesn't matter. Both World War I and World War II were begun with outmoded plans. Russia will have to do.

Without enough weapons to completely destroy the Germans, French & British, the plan calls for the Israelis to use Russian missiles for the job. After the first five or six Israeli nuclear weapons descend upon Russian population centers, the Russians will reprogram their rockets and fire. It is all they know how to do. Like the German army in WWI. When Franz Ferdinand was murdered & the Germans mobilized, they only had one mobilization plan & it involved gathering behind a pincer movement headed into Belgium.

The Russian reprogramming will be detected by the Americans, who will be left with no option but to take out every Russian missile they can hit. At distances of up to 7,000 miles. (This is all true) The missiles from the Dakotas will take 45 minutes to reach Moscow. The giant Trident II submarines operating in the North Atlantic and the Bering Sea will have short sling-shot “decapitation” throws that can be completed in fifteen minutes or less. The Indians will destroy the Pakistanis. The Americans will obliterate North Korea & any remaining Arab capability will fall to 6th Fleet missiles within the first two hours. France & England will join in the attack upon Russia if they can do so before the first SS-25s land in Paris and upon Trafalgar Square.

It is not recorded exactly how many people the biblical Samson took with him. This modern Samson will kill from 300 to 500 million people within 90 minutes. Surviving submarines and silos will deliver death for days more. And it still will not be over. Both the Russians and Americans have elements of their strategic arsenal who will not fire. They are called the “Strategic Reserve.” Their job is to provide the hammer for negotiations when the war finally ends.

Guess who will then be the most powerful nation on Earth? Australia.

Here's what you should do

You'll need to stay bundled in your house for seven days (if you are lucky? enough to survive). Do not leave the house at all! Lay in enough bottled water for that period. Buy six or eight rolls of duct tape to seal your windows & doors in the room you choose as a bunker. Stock it with flashlights (plenty of batteries), portable radios (there will be plenty of surviving stations), lots of matches, lighters & a couple of cartons of cigarettes. All of these items will be worth more than gold when you emerge. Make arrangements to, as the Turks say, "play with your shit" for a week.

Your chances after a week are slim but you can survive. You'll only be able to stay out of doors for an hour and your ONLY mission that week will be to find water. Send one person at a time & have them direct others when they return. Gather water from the backs of toilet tanks & any cans or bottles that are INDOORS. Standing water can be harvested in an emergency by covering a cup with your hand and plunging it BELOW the surface of the pool. Oddly, radiation pretty much floats. Remain inside a second week. During that week, you'll have seven safe hours outdoors. This time, gather water & seek weapons. The third week … you'll have a day to clear the blast area. And test yourself … in the “brave new world.”

On a lighter note

San Francisco Board of Supervisors president Tom Ammiano has gone so far to the right that I'm expecting him to start dating some of Da Mayor's old girls. This week he voted to continue allowing Sprint & its cohorts to continue radiating your children ("Can you hear me?"). He also voted to stamp out this newspaper (hey, we're still a newspaper, even if we are having a temporary “out of pulp” experience – we're 150 years old!). He did this by voting to give control of the distribution of newsracks within the downtown area (l-o-o-s-e-l-y defined – “downtown” is everything from the bay to Berry and from the bay to Polk or maybe Van Ness) to a right-wing media giant called Clear Channel, which gobbles & censors media outlets like a putrid melanoma. That's cool with Tom. Hey, I didn't expect this guy to ever become GI Joe (or even desire to be) but he used to fight for things. I guess the more power these guys get, the blander they get. He's starting to act a lot like Gray Davis.

Tom not alone

Before Monday's Board meeting, there was a rally on the front stairs of Willie's palace. Jeff Perlstein, who runs Media Alliance, sent out a call (as in SF Call!) to all of the small publications that are likely to be shut out of distribution in the core population areas. Willie Ratcliff, publisher of the SF Bay View, spoke of having his City Hall reporter, Marie Harrison, evicted from the press room at City Hall by the major publications who suck corporate butt. Publication after publication stepped forward and called for support. Surprising to me, by his presence, was Guardian publisher Bruce Brugmann, who spoke powerfully to the gathered about-to-be-exiled, agreeing to renegotiate a distribution system that actually favored his publication. Maybe I misjudged the guy.

No nevermind. I managed to insult him & compliment him anyway. Hey, it's my style. Call publisher Betsey Culp did not speak but stopped me from getting my ass kicked by a big black cop who came to support Tammy Haygood. (I may be poor, but I'm far from bored.)

Only supervisors Chris Daly and Matt Gonzalez of the supposedly “progressive” board bothered to come speak for free speech. 3rd District supervisor Aaron Peskin hurried by the gathering with a smirk. Corporate shill Nate Nayman stood scowling beyond the edge of the crowd.

Freedom of speech lost 8-3 because Ammiano, Peskin, Maxwell, Leno & McGoldrick again backed away from a lawsuit as they did when threatened by the Shorenstein et al 85 million dollar extortion of last year, the Muni Cayman Islands rich man's tax shelter (you take the risk) & numerous other items of the past months.

McGoldrick first spoke glowingly of the independent press, saying, "The old box mounts represent the unencumbered democratic process." Then he voted against free press. Mark Leno – who later made (in my opinion) the most eloquent comments of his board tenure in defending every gay person on earth against the horrid insults the Catholic church has lately heaped upon them – Leno had no trouble voting to keep the Call out of the downtown area. Only Daly, Gonzalez & Sandoval supported free press. It's odd. The Fang and Hearst press calls this board “progressive” but these are the only three members who consistently vote against developers and corporate interests & Sandoval, too, often forgets who brought him to the dance.

Hey, you didn't lose completely. You get 450 new billboards out of the deal. Lighted ones! Just what you wanted, huh?

Apologies to Victor Hwang

You don't wanna get in the face of someone with the strength & temper of Rules chair Tony Hall. Gerardo Sandoval has done it a number of times and it cost the city a potentially great Ethics commissioner. 10 years as a public-interest attorney. Award winner from the Asian-American Bar Association. Stalwart of the Asian Law Caucus. Candidate for a five-member commission that has no Asians in a town that is over 30 percent Asian.

We lost the guy because Sandoval first tried to ram his own candidate through. "I knew him" was Sandoval's explanation as to why the only initial candidate (his) should have been appointed with no opposition. Failing that, Sandoval spent a month smearing the Latino (I guess, named Garcia!) independent candidate finally recommended to the board by the committee. When the nomination was returned to committee, 1st District supe Jake McGoldrick beat the bushes and came up with a real winner. Victor Hwang.

Too bad Sandoval had already kicked Hall in the ass. Always a bad move. In the end, Sandoval jumped on Garcia's winning float & left Hwang standing alone with McGoldrick.

We will see Victor Hwang again. He was the best candidate by far.

EVERONE is a racist

Ousted Department of Elections Director Tammy Haygood sent some more goons down to try & help her get back the keys to the ballot boxes & secret chambers (what they got hid there?). A sad lot. Most notable were Fred (kiss of death) Hobson & some black guy who said, "I belong to 40 organizations!" He must work less than me. The brother didn't even wait to get to his speech for Haygood to play the race card. He thundered that making him wait in line to speak was "racist!"

Maybe so. Maybe so. Whatryagonnadooo??

for nothin' & the chicks are free: sobone@juno.com


Watching City Hall

by h. brown

She had
A heart—how shall I say?— too soon made glad.
Too easily impressed: she liked whate'er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.

– Robert Browning

John Bovio is one hell of a painter. He has a small gallery at 547 Valencia chucked full of an amazing collection of canvases. His style reminds me of the Max Beckman oils I used to stare at long ago in the St. Louis Art Museum. Intensely revealing portrait/caricatures that run to the full size of the subject and beyond.

KPOO's Diamond Dave stood before his own likeness at Bovio's new show at City Hall in 5th District supe Matt Gonzalez's office and gazed. And gazed. I stood across the crowded room and watched Dave watch Dave.

There was a fairly good sized bird sitting on Dave's shoulder. In the picture. "What do you think he's thinking?" ventured a friend. "That's easy," I countered. "He's seeing himself 6' tall for the first time." (Dave's about my size, which is closer to 5'.)

Lotsa birds in the show too. John said it came from an incident in his childhood when a bird flew in the house & his grandfather chased it around with a broom & he chased after his grandfather. Ask him to tell it to you. It was a hell of an opening.

Supervisor Matt does his bit to make up for disappearing gallery & performance space by showing city artists' labors upon the walls of the

fabulously redecorated City Hall. Thanks Willie, for keeping the light wells. There were flamenco dancers performing before a large crowd of mostly Hispanics in one as we left. It was enchanting.

Gonzalez also hosts poetry readings in his office. Mixing poets & artists and their friends with the bass-playing politico and his compadres creates a mix that can reach reception Nirvana.

These are not just the “lefties” you might expect. I always look above the crowd to locate 7th District supe Tony Hall. There he is! Over by 8th District supe Mark Leno. We clasp hands in genuine good will despite the fact that I've done a dozen negative satirical pieces about him. Rugged Hollywood looks and the hard-bodied grip of the former world-class athlete and coach that he is. The man could be mayor easily.

We chat briefly. He is sponsor for the HOPE initiative promoting tenant purchase of their units, which I oppose for its details but not concept. Gonzalez has sponsored the Community Land Trust approach to achieve tenant unit purchases, which I support for its details. I've watched these two guys spend hundreds of hours in the Rules Committee, crafting and compromising to bring us winning election day propositions. I kibitzed with a City Hall insider. He agreed: "I think anything the two of them could support together couldn't lose in the polls."

The party flowed around us as Hall took his leave to go speak before some seniors at On Lok. The political hack in me watched him work his way to the door. Hmmmm. Friday night & not only is he still working but he's working the right demographic and he's sincere. He's just the kind of guy you want in the foxhole next to you & the last you want to oppose. The flow of the party erased the tall supervisor’s trail as he disappeared.

Little bunches of the most beautiful women on earth thread their way through the crowd, sprinkling awe without trying. There is an appropriate gaggle of male (& female) admirers around an amazingly provocative petite blonde standing in the corner. I clasp the elbow of Phil Benziger, the lean & lanky pirate radio spore out of Berkeley & use our conversation as an excuse to get closer to the radiating little fox. She has a small tattoo in Chinese characters perched upon a lithe shoulder blade like one of Bovio's birds. "Whatcha think it says?" speculates Phil. "I hope it says 'Yes!' in Esperanto," I reply.

It gets better. She has another tattoo just visible in a semi-circle atop the cleavage of her perfect derriere. The hip huggers she's wearing have everyone dying to decipher the mystery. Never one to beat around the bush, I inquire innocently: "What's it say on your butt?" Every straight, gay & bi within a radius of 20' leaned to hear the answer. "It says: 'Follow your dream,'" she replied. Two guys and a butch chick fainted.

To flee or pee?

I'm often not very nice in my columns to politicos and their minions. No, not nice at all. Now, sooner or later, if you even partially do your job as a City Hall reporter, you have to go to City Hall. There it is. No way around it. I always wonder if one of these people I've been trying to render to metaphorical soap is going to pull a dagger out of their toga & go for my aging ass. Surprisingly (with the exception of Aaron Peskin), they've proven to have more than adequate self-esteem & humor to not only weather my slashes but even … laugh!

I spotted 1st District supe Jake McGoldrick holding court before a double panel of Bovio's craft (if you need a centerpiece of art to re-decorate a room around, grab a Bovio – they're all at least 6' high & the multiple panel pieces run out to 4' or more, a powerful effect). There was McGoldrick, whom I've lampooned like a school boy doing graffiti. Like the rest of them, I've seen him under pressure. Verbose. Funny. Self-effacing. But with an occasional flare of the old country temper. I was a little askairt.

I started to head the other way but he was standing by the table where a friend of Tamara (the 7th) Ribas had gathered a bottled array of the best wine in town. I slunk low to the floor like a free-range (I prefer that to the term “homeless“) journalist/jackal darting to & fro around a ripe carcass & took my chances that Professor McGoldrick didn't know h. brown from da man in da moon. I recalled what my best friend's roommate said (Melisa Howard – broke her foot in last week's column doing a Russian dance). Melisa said she knew Jake's daughter's (Lauren) who knew her best friend Vicki who was a best friend of hers. Anyway, she said he was real, real nice. I took my chances. They were all correct. Thank you, Lord.

It's kind of like talking to Santa Claus without the beard. "I don't go online," noted big Jake. He immediately started being nice to ME! Whatryagonnadoo? He said he caught occasional pieces I'd done & related to the others enjoying his wit the jest of a two-part column in which I mimicked the theme of a popular TV show & imagined the outcome of a contest between the supervisors & mayor competing in an urban “Survivors” contest to see who'd get voted out each week. (Hmmmm, might be time for an update on that one.) That kind of flattery & good humor will get you everywhere with me.

I searched for Leno. He'd gone. I huddled back with Gonzalez to yap about an idea Green Party wonk Kimberley Knox had come up with. How's about extending the mayor's Poet Laureate program to include visual artists (like John Bovio – 547 Valencia gallery) & maybe (using no public funds but lotsa city building space where there is heavy foot traffic) get corporate or individual sponsorship for stipends & shows and … on … and … on. Gonzalez liked it. Loved it! Hell, he was already doing it. We were standing upon the site of just such an effort. He promised to bring the idea to the board. Imagine that … Willie & the Board working together to support, honor & perpetuate painters & sculptors … Maybe … maybe … maybe …

Closing shots

I have a Master's in Special Ed. I've worked with some seriously troubled individuals. I like them anyway. Frederick Hobson is like that.

Hobson & I have so much in common it is embarrassing. We both work around powerful people. Occasionally blasting them.

Let me get to the point. Hobson likes to play up to powerful people, then stab them in the back just to get attention for himself. He is a meticulous manipulator and he often hurts innocent people whom he sets up as unknowing shills. In my short time on the SF political scene, I've watched the guy repeat the routine several times. He's blind-sided Ammiano & Chris Daly. He ceaselessly harassed 6th District activist Michael Nulty.

It is to the point that ANYONE seen in this guy's company gets marked immediately. True. True. I've seen Hobson sort through complex notification requirements involving appointment to public commissions. To try and invalidate an appointment to whatever commission. Even when the appointee was the ONLY applicant. No matter. It gets Frederick what he wants. Attention. I don't want to begin to speculate on what happens within his psyche when he succeeds.

His latest target is Tony Hall. … Hang in there Tony!

The issue was an appointment to the Animal Welfare Commission. Leno (as last board's chair of Rules) had warmly welcomed Hobson to that commission a couple of years ago when it came to light that Frederick had run afoul of animal control for feeding song birds or something in his back yard in the Tenderloin. I mean, who the hell could know that Hobson was USING the song birds as helpless shields to winnow his way into the halls of power? Where he immediately began to sow dissension. And continues to.

Anyway, the appointment was for a vet who seemed to me to have excellent credentials. She'd sued the city for the group trying to keep the horses in Golden Gate Stables during renovation. That was one of the projects Hall championed & I opposed but it was all with genuine conviction & no hidden agenda. With Hobson, it is never that simple. Hey, these commissions are pretty much advisory & the appointments are honorary & totally at the will of the board, which normally takes the Rules Committee's recommendations without question. This isn't nuclear physics. You don't want to create trouble with an appointment that's really not a biggie.

Hall had collided with the vet (again, she & her friends seemed like marvelous people & that's why Hobson pushed his vile agenda behind them – they were clueless). Hall had collided with the vet in the lawsuit and wasn't disposed to appoint her. Nuff said. Vice Chair Gonzalez & committee member Gerardo (the shape-shifter) Sandoval could have voted Tony down & they've done it before as he's done it to them. Adjustments. Compromises.

Then Hobson goes & sits in the audience next to the applicant & drapes his arm across the back of her chair. End of story.

I told Hobson to his face at another political watering hole last week that he had to know that's why the vet had been rejected. He didn't comment. Which is rare. He used the woman, her friends & lots of Channel 26 time to be seen in the middle of controversy because … because … I don't know.

I'm still thinking of the chick with the tattoo circling the most intimate cleavage. … God, I love this town.

be good: sobone@juno.com


Watching City Hall

by h. brown

Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco received the diplomatic equivalent of the raspberry when China's visiting vice president refused to accept four letters she tried to hand him seeking action on alleged human rights abuses.

– Ed Epstein, in the Chronicle

The evening news reported that when Pelosi passed a stack of papers presenting the American request that China quit beating the crap out of Tibetan Monks & Falun Gong, the Chinese heir-apparent "snubbed" her, by simply passing the documents back acrossthe table. Anti-Falun Gong San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin thinks it's none of our business. He agrees with Hu Jintao.

Peskin had several other interesting things to say … and NOT say … during the board's Wednesday Finance Committee meeting. Which he chairs.

What's going on around here is …we're trying to do less with more.

– Peskin's bid for the Economics Nobel

Hey, he said it … or I wouldn't quote him. He misspoke, of course. He meant to say they were trying to trim the city's bloated budget of Da Mayor's mistresses, ward-heelers & inflated single-source contracts & move the money to housing and social services. What he said though, was one of those “slips” that reveal the true nature of things.

He soon backed up the “slip” with a few solid confirmations that he has absolutely no intention whatsoever to use his positions as chair of Finance & vice-chair/dominator of the Budget Committee as bases from which to reclaim the board's legal budgetary powers. That would mean throwing the entire pile of political fat out the window (as ONLY supes Daly & Gonzalez had the fur to do last year), tossing the pile of pay-off contracts, lies, and outright stashing of sex partners into high-paying jobs.

Damn! I love the mayor’s style. I mean, do you stash ladies in civil service? No! Not in civil service. They'd have to take a test to prove their basic sanity. Willie simply expanded the old “special assistant” position (y'all gotta define “special” for yourself, this bein' a family column).

Let me back off. The ladies, while definitely the high visual point of Willie Brown's two terms as our mayor, were barely a blip in the 5 billion dollar budget.

Returning to point, I want to say that the biggest failure of the new board has been its collective failure to retake the purse strings. Things haven't changed. 8th District supe Mark Leno once quoted the TRULY fabulous Sue Bierman as saying: "We really don't do anything around here." They still don't.

Wait till you see the knockers on the new deputy director

Willie Brown has managed with the help of Aaron Peskin, to embed 600 of his political cronies into the permanent San Francisco Civil Service at the highest rankings possible. Think department heads in every key department for starts – there are around 60 departments. No tests for these Willie clones.

The position I just mentioned is just an assistant (a "special assistant" in Willie's terminology) in the Mayor's Office of Community Development, who has a salary of 120 thousand clams. A year. The single assistant will make about the same as the combined salaries of any supervisor, their chief legislate aide & the second aide.

This, is no accident. The supes, who are Da Mayor's natural enemies, have virtually nil in the way of money. Willie spends around 50 million a year to surround himself with over 600 people he can fire in a heartbeat if they stop … uh … uh … uh … doing what they were hired to do. All 11 supes combined get a little over a million, which factors out to 33 bodies & minds representing the individual districts and citizens therein against 600 Rhonen. "Brutal, Juice!" some actor once commented in a commercial.

Outnumbered around fifty to one & outspent a hundred to one, it is no surprise that they often end up with blank stares on their faces when it comes to votes on issues costing billions. It doesn't help that all of the supes except for Hall, Gonzalez, and Daly are total political cowards. Vote against the mayor!? Let's close down the item on the special assistant in Community Development.

Get this straight. Do not deviate. Peskin played really dumb on this and he ain't. Just ask the folks at the Savoy Tivoli. Just ask the neighbors of “Ferry” Park. Ole Aaron, he like playfully chastises the department head (I see all this stuff on Channel 26, by the way - fourteen hours a day) … Peskin says to the guy: "I would have hired someone by now” – the position had been open for the last four months – "Bet you regret that now."

Uh huh. That's what he said. … You smiling? … You see, Aaron was playing the game. He's a “PLAYAH“! He was pretending that it was actually up to the director to choose his new “special” assistant. This guy is waiting for his god, Willie Brown, to send him someone whose boobs will probably poke your eyes out in a crowded room. If you think the guy Willie just appointed to run this outfit actually runs it … well, you're dumber than you look.

6th District supervisor Chris Daly refused to approve the totally superfluous appendage. Ammiano (still busy trying to woo Sunset rednecks by moving to the “middle” in a town of 75 percent leftists) just tried to act like he was looking out the window. But alas, there are no windows. Peskin muttered & tried to hide behind the city attorney: "Can I put a POSITION on reserve?"

Of course, cowardly little cowboy, a thousand years of lawyers have left you plenty of places to hide. Put it off.

The other matter was more far-reaching.

Deja vu all over again

– Yogi Berra

Keep the number 5 in your mind. As in 5 BILLION dollars. That's what the mayor spends yearly.

Uh huh. Him personally. Not the supes. They (except for Daly & Gonzalez) refuse to challenge the mayor's right to make every single expenditure. Right now (no kidding) the mayor's budget is accepted 99.7 percent of the time. Yep. If you ain't in the mayor's budget, the only way you're going to get any money is to be extremely lucky.

The thing with the assistant listed above was a tree in the forest. What happened next was a grove of trees came into view up close.

The item running past Finance yesterday was 30 million bucks. Hell, I can see that's not a lot. When you're talking 5,000 million, it barely lifts the needle on anyone's political power meter. But there are a bunch of organizations claiming little pieces of the pie. At around a quarter million apiece, around a hundred of them. But since the money is spent in community development, the actual human impact of these expenditures is all out of whack. It mattered!

You got that? It determined whether you had someone of your own color and your own language helping you to get established in the economy of San Francisco. That's pretty key. Even at a hundred clients a year average, that's 10,000 of your neighbors a year accessing services.

Now, how good are the services?

Oddly, since Willie Brown took over, it's hard to say. The head of the entire Willie team at this hearing was a woman named Pam David. Ms. David has the warmth of a buzzard working on eyeballs in the desert if you challenge one of Willie's grants. Viewers quickly learned why.

Among the ton of programs rushed through (too early to have numbers on this one … same for that one) & public comment on the same, came a guy who had the feel of an Asian Moses walking out of the desert (where he'd been watching Ms. David, no doubt).

Seems his program (Asian Inc.) had put San Francisco Asians into jobs for some 20 years with a high degree of success. Then their contract was canceled! Why? No one dared ask.

Wait! Someone did ask. Tall guy from the 6th District. Wearing an endangered species custom silk necktie featuring a pair of cheetahs gazing purposely. Chris Daly. He had the nerve to say, "Why didn't you get the contract?"

Mannnnn. Ya cudda heard a feather hit the surface of a bubble bath. I thought for a second that Peskin would faint. Ammiano too. They'd been putting whipped cream on Willie's 30 million in payoffs. Hell, I would too! You could have set a champagne glass on the hindsides of the women & the guys were obviously all ex-carnival barkers. Get your shots afore you wade into that group.

Anyway, guy finally softly answers: "Politics."

No one said a thing. It was a good-sized audience & it was as silent as I have ever heard at any political meeting ever … in my life.

There it was! The whole problem in a nutshell. The challenge to the new “progressive” board. Would they question this guy further? Would they call the mayor's lady vulture back and ask if Willie had approved all of these groups personally for purely political reasons?

Of course not! Oh, to his credit, Daly tried a little but he was outgunned and flanked.

They should have thrown the entire budget out the window & started over as the first volley in the People's Budget War.

Ya know what happened instead? You won't believe it, but I swear to God it's true.

1st District supervisor Jake McGoldrick (who is NOT on the committee & thus has NO vote – he gets to vote when the steaming heap gets to the full board) comes running in and says he was watching the committee on the tube & he wanted to make certain that Willie got his $120K special assistant. If this guy didn't ride to school on the “short” bus, he should have. They just laughed at him.

McGoldrick for mayor

We could do worse. He has a good heart. Wouldn't be the first clown at the head of the table. The guy is, in fact, the lead force in pressuring the board to make their meetings more accessible. He harangues them to define the acronyms they toss around because PEOPLE ARE WATCHING! Really. He seems the only one who realizes that.

There, I had to say something nice about him. I just found out from one of my many hostesses that "his daughter is a friend of mine!" Oh good. Now she's going to

poison me. Oh well. I hope she puts it in my bourbon.

Car 1010, where are you?

I don't know how this works & the cops won't say. I run around 6 miles a day now & I keep being shadowed by a cop car with the number 1010. I thought they kept cars in the same district. I mean, it gets a bit weird when you see the same car at Marina Green that sat across from your friend's place on Leavenworth. Today, I saw the occupants for the first time. A tall, white-headed uniformed cop & a stocky blonde female. They have this little habit of turning on their yellow flashing lights for a second just to let me know that they're there.

Paranoia aside

McGoldrick is indeed the media guru of this new group of supervisors. He's also the quintessential absent-minded professor, so he negates much of his own work in seconds, but he alone realizes that this town is increasingly occupied by the cable generation & you better make your programs make sense.

The staff at Channel 26 does an overall fantastic job of covering our duly elected bunch of scatter-brains. They have, however, made a change or two which detract from the programming & make the supes look dumber than is necessary. They stopped ringing the “gong” tone when speakers' times come to term. This makes the committee chair or board president look like a tyrant. When the speaker's time runs out, whoever is in charge is forced to call out to them to get the hell back to wherever they came from. This isn't the best way to end an association. That, and they've cut down on the close-up shots of the supes when they respond to questions.

You who read me know why, huh? I don't care if they've been having botox injections, but I am a tie freak & I like to see what whomever they're sharing whatever with made them wear that day.

Hu Jintao sucks: sobone@juno.com