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Thursday, September 12, 2002

h. brown's column for September 12

September 12, 2002

Watching City Hall

by h. brown

I awakened to find a tall, black, young man with long dreadlocks standing over me.

- Me, on Saturday

Every now and then, someone stumbles over one of my secret sleeping places. It's never pleasant for anyone. Usually, none of us is supposed to be there. In this case, though I wasn't cribbing space, I didn't want visitors. You know how it is, they always want autographs and stuff.

The smell of raw sewage drifted through the window from the backed-up drain in the alley. Boneyard, my work-in-progress kitty, looked at the guy from her perch on my chest & sneezed in my face. A flea bit me in another secret place. It was not a good afternoon.

I looked around for something to hurt the guy with. Then I noticed he was wearing a tool belt. One of those mini models the cable guys wear. Ahhhh, just an AT&T sub-contractor moonlighting as a cable thief. He'd traced the line my daughter had installed for me & wanted to bootleg it somewhere. He didn't live in the building but he looked familiar. I asked for some ID. He refused (a sure sign he was a thief). I asked to see a job order. He refused. Then he asked me for a bribe to reconnect the cable he'd just disconnected. The man had a pair.

If he was only ripping off AT&T, I had to be on his side. But he was taking away my link to Government Cable Channel 26 and my daughter & son-in-law were paying for it. They don't have nearly as much money as AT&T. Plus, if I lost the supervisors' channel, I'd have to take a shower & go down to City Hall every day to listen to them. Soooo, I started arguing with the guy. To no end.

I went out & copied the license plate of the truck he was driving & let it go. When I went back, he was frantically looking for the lock to one of the cable boxes. He angrily accused me of stealing his lock. That was pretty funny. He said he saw me take it and he was going to call the cops. Now, that was funnier. Here’s a guy in the commission of a crime, threatening to call the cops.

He found the lock (on top of the box where he'd left it) & sealed the box. I asked him if that was the lock he'd said he "saw" me steal. "I didn't say that." That's what he said. Like I mentioned, he had a pair.

Lord, are you trying to tell me something?

A couple of days passed after the cable “event,” my son-in-law called AT&T. They'd sent no one, they said. They'd come out Thursday & check the connection. I knew already that the connection was disconnected because I saw it dangling free while the cable thief worked on whatever else he was doing. And, incidentally, he had the keys to the boxes, the unmarked black sub-contractor truck with the red ladder on top. Somewhere that day, he no doubt had a legitimate job or two to perform. A few lies and theft and bribery between honest effort was all he was doing. He probably counted on it to support his girlfriend or wife or whatever in the style she (or he) required. Why, he was no better than a politician!

I heard the yelling at about 1:00 am.

Let me out! … Let me outttt!!!

The guy clearly wanted out. Trouble proved to be … he wasn't “in.”

Don't make me go too deeply on this one. Same space. Same smell of sewage (they've tried to clear it & continue to do so). Same cat. Same fleas. This time, it's some drunk banging on the side basement door. One of the new tenants. (We gotta talk about how the quality of new tenant dives along with the economy - is there a connection here?)

One of the new tenants, apparently not able or caring to bring the guy to her apartment, had taken him to the basement & after some kind of confrontation, had locked him out in the side alleyway. I mean, it was no problem. The trashcans along the way should have shown the guy that all he had to do was follow them up the stairs & he'd be out. You aren't allowed to lock a fire exit and as an ex-firefighter, I never would. Anyway, here's this guy screaming to get “in” so that he can get “out.” I hope the cops found it as funny as I did. They arrived as I escorted the boy from the building.

The peace lasted a couple of hours.

Same chick. Same smell of sewage. Same cats. Same fleas. Noise, just as loud. 3:50 am my watch read. I made my way to the source of the party and found the same woman who'd had the guy in a couple of hours ago. She had two guys this time! Hunting must be better late at night. They were in a corner of the basement hall surrounded by empty booze containers and mashed cigarettes. I tossed em.

"C'mon! Gimme a huggg!" she coooed.

Naw. Nope. Nyet. No, mo-friggin' way! I cleaned up the mess and went back to my secret space.

First, I checked my emails. Two messages from Jerry Threet. That was a very good sign. I'm forever rebuilding bridges and the bridge over the river “Threet” had been down for a long while.

I went back to bed.

And awakened at my usual 5:30 am to struggle down and grab the morning copies of the Examiner & Chronicle to see if Gallagher had continued to dishonor his family name (much as I do daily - no one in my family reads this, you know) or if the Hearsts had rediscovered the fact that San Francisco exists. “No” on both. Frank only writes MWF and the Hearsts left their hearts in New York City long ago.

On the way out, I noted that the new tenant was sitting against the front stoop sipping a brew and looking at the traffic in the street. I'd seen it happen enough. When the economy is weak, people like this can con a real estate agent into renting her a place. When the economy is strong, she's into the street.

I pressed myself to remember that for every person like this who destroyed the environment wherever they lived and was poor because they deserved to be, there was someone like me, who was poor because I “gave it all for art.” Or something like that.

I considered my chances against Newsom’s Care Not Cash with this kind of person on my side. It didn't look good. I settled into the sports page.

Fang hired guns move to overturn the people's will

Did you know that Tammy Haygood has five lawyers assisting her in her effort to regain control of the Department of Elections? Six, if you count her. The Elections Commission in opposition to Ms. Haygood has two lawyers. Yet Warren Hinckle of the Fang press continually harps upon the high cost of the commission's representation. What's up with that? Did he not watch the Board of Supervisor hearings in which detail after detail of Haygood's waste of money in the last election was dissected? Of course he did. Warren is simply an expert at twisting half-truths until up becomes down. He's being a loyal trooper. A good soldier. He's trying to divert the reader's attention from the fact that the Fangs and PG&E and the Department of Elections and the City Attorney's Office go way, way back.

For instance, did you know that his fellow Fang columnist, Samson Wong, was a member of the Department of Elections' Citizens Advisory Committee? Guess how long. Seventeen years.

Hard to tell how many Directors of Election Samson saw come & go. As a matter of fact, while the free-spending Haygood has been banished from her office these past months, she's become the longest-serving director of elections in the history of Willie Brown's run as mayor. Not that it took long to do that. There were, after all, five of them in five years. Willie changed elections directors almost as frequently as he changed girlfriends.

I'd suspect it has something with not letting anyone know too much. That one director, what was his name? Dr. Phillip Paris. That fella claimed the place was full of thieves. You know what their response was? They accused him of holding an illegal fundraiser in City Hall. He did too. Know who the money was for? Willie Brown!

Yeah, Da Mayor accused Paris (who went to college with one of Willie's old cronies) of trying to give him tainted money. He's got a pair too. Don't he?

So Samson Wong just might be trying to make certain that certain documents still in storage at Pier 29 or in the War Memorial Building don't fall into the “wrong” hands. People who were there tell me that Wong had a habit of going into rooms in the Elections Department on election night and closing the doors where ballots were being “remade.” When Wong tries to destroy the new Elections Commission by screaming racism and homophobia, could it be that he is only trying to protect his own booty? Now I ask you, how the hell do you check things like that out if the mayor's people still have control of all the records?

And what about Frank Gallagher?

Gallagher worked for Don Solem doing hatchet work on behalf of PG&E during the last chance voters got to weigh in on whether public power is indeed 20% cheaper than private. Under Haygood, reporters were led around by the nose at City Hall while observers saw Solem enter the area (on election night!) of Pier 29 where the absentee ballots were being transferred. Oddly … heaven forbid, I'm not saying anyone committed a crime here … oddly, it was from this pier that the lids to more than enough boxes of absentee ballots to tilt the election toward PG&E first disappeared, then reappeared as far north as Stinson Beach. Could this have anything to do with Gallagher's repeated attacks on the new commission?

Three columnists. One goal. One concerted effort by people with very suspect motives. These guys have more red herrings than a giant fishing trawler.

Racism. Homophobia. Waste of money (that's a good one). Today, Hinckle even raised the possibility of insanity. They should relax.

What's REALLY gonna happen

You won't get caught, guys. Now, that would be some story. Naw, the new commission is full of nerdy, naïve nabobs. They couldn't catch the 38 Geary & it comes every five minutes.

Historically, San Francisco records get lost. I was just reading a book by William F. Heintz called San Francisco's Mayors, 1850 to 1880. Heintz noted was that one of the mayors was “lost” for about a hundred years. George J. Whelan. The 8th mayor, actually. Seems no one, including the press, liked the guy, so they ignored him. To such an extent that he was actually forgotten. Then, a hundred years or so later, Heintz was digging through a pile of old files in City Hall's basement (that's where the Department of Elections is located, folks), when suddenly he found documentation to prove the guy existed.

I'd guess the same thing will happen with the present records of the Department of Elections. I can see it now. A hundred years hence. Workmen tearing down a portion of an old pier come across a grisly find. Three mummified remains covered with stacks of cardboard boxes full of hundred-year-old absentee ballots.

The workers are San Franciscans. They are not surprised. "What you reckon happened to them?" asked one, scratching his head.

"That's easy." replied his partner. "They knew too much.

You need a black cat

If you follow my ramblings, you know I've had a little project (accidental) going for the past month or so. I've been sustaining, cleaning, carrying to the vet & loving four little black cats left homeless by the demise of their owner. Well, one of you (two, actually … Dirk & Chez) adopted Luna the day she got back from the SPCA, where she'd been neutered. That leaves three. The male (about a year) & one of the females (maybe six months) have been “fixed.” Please consider adopting one. I loves em but it's time they had real homes.

like sands of the hourglass: sobone@juno.com