by h. brown
|There are 110 million peaceful practitioners of Falun Gong
in the world.
|- Peaceful practitioner across from Newsom Coronation
I promised to go get coffee from the Beanery next to the Castro Theatre
and figured I owed it to my readers to do Gavin Newsom’s official entry to
the 2003’s race for San Francisco mayor.
Full stop on my early morning: What a magnificent day, with the sun
bringing us yet again from around 50 degrees in the dead of night to 70
degrees by late afternoon. It will do this, folks, 300 days a year! I keep
promising myself to start running again and get in shape, but I have been
waiting (as have you) to have an angel from the Lord awaken me before
daybreak and walk me (surely, at the point of some kind of serious saber).
We can’t be rushed into combat here.
Think of my work as your morning political crossword puzzle.
There are, as I mentioned, 110 million practitioners of Falun Gong in
the world. I am on my way to buy coffee in the Castro and have stopped at
the Newsom rally (which I truly expected to be the MTV-type presentation).
In fact, it was.
I like Gavin
I like Gavin Newsom. Yes, I’ve maligned him and slimed him. I just
don’t think Gavin represents my best interests or the best interests of
anyone inside the city limits who does not make a million dollars a year.
And my numbers crunchers tell me that a 10% shift in the APA vote can toss
the election to Alioto.
They came out by the thousands to cheer Newsom
Not enough thousands though. Ya know what I mean? It’s like I’m
watching a submarine movie and the boat is getting out of range of the
depth charges. It was getting to be a question of counting the crowd.
Newsom had promised near 6,000. By the scheduled start of the event, he
had round 1,500 in the corral.
I sidle up to a guard in the “Secret Service Wannabee” group and offer
to go bring in black people for $100 head. He doesn’t understand. He is
only there to protect Gavin from the poor people and has no idea…
We’re getting out of the range of Gavin’s depth charges. You can’t
believe his act. You go into his office and you find that he has, like
pictures of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy on his wall. He has a book
by Robert Kennedy open on the desk with certain phrases high-lighted. The
entire rally was so much of rip-off of a 60’s Kennedy rally that it was
And across the street there is the usual Falun Gong exercise class.
They go about their morning exercises. I go and talk to them. There are
over 110 million in their sect. They have actually gained membership since
the Chinese government began to persecute them.
Newsom is against them. So is Peskin. So is McGoldrick. Bad news.
The Falun Gong? They never heard of Newsom. Here is this young boy,
passing on hurt to the poor from Hunters Point to Peking and they never
heard of him in either place. That’s probably a good thing for him. They
should take his campaign and dive like the submarine while they are ahead.
Let me put this to those of you who are sober or straight one more
time. By accident, the Falun Gong had a more effective spontaneous
demonstration on Saturday than the Newsom machine. While Newsom sat on the
stage and moved to hug the likes of Amos Brown and Willie Brown and worse,
the Falun Gong went through their slow and graceful exercise routine and
gained strength. As Newsom peaked and turned nose toward the ground.
The more I’m around the Newsom campaign, the more surreal the whole
thing seems. It’s like they think that if they treat him like John
Kennedy, he will become JFK. Rachel Gordon of the Chron noted that Gavin
had twice the security detail of the governor. Newsom looks and talks more
like Max Headroom all the time. I can’t see San Franciscans buying this
superficial soap opera. The “Stepford” campaign stinks. Look for a
genuinely spontaneous Angela Alioto to catch Gavin in honest polls by
Urban Pioneers Rule
I used to be lots of different things. I was a firefighter for five
years. I saved the world as a Navy radioman for three years. And I taught
for five years too. Two of those years I taught Special Education in San
Francisco. As a teacher, the best program I saw for saving troubled kids
was the Urban Pioneers. I want to reach down now and try and explain what
a program like this means to kids.
I need to do this because S.F. Unified Superintendent Arlene Ackerman
tried to kill this program before, and in the tragic wake of the death of
two students on a Pioneer outing last week, she is certain to try again to
kill the 20+ year old crown jewel of successful district rehabilitation
programs. It works like this:
Everyone doesn’t learn in the same way. That doesn’t stop America’s
mostly white top educators from using the same yardstick for everyone.
If you don’t do well in the cognitive style of reasoning, you can
forget success in the modern American educational system. But in fact,
there are many other domains from which to address thought and action.
What a good educator does is find the kids’ strength and put them in a
program that plays to it. Unfortunately, virtually all U.S. school
superintendents are cognition-based educators. They reject other programs.
Taking it to the wilderness
My students were mostly gangsters. They’ll forgive me for saying that.
They were mostly proud of their tags. I taught the “Severely Emotionally
Disturbed,” and believe me, they were not “cognition based.” Plus, they
had been conditioned over the years to immediately start acting like butts
when they walked into a classroom.
Now, waking up in a tent in the Sierras or at Point Reyes is quite
another thing. Ya get them out in that situation and they act differently.
It is literally a “pioneer” experience. Out there, you have to help each
other. The courses emphasize challenge, with safety. There are places in
every course where the students cannot move from one point to another
without helping each other. There’s nothing like standing on a crop of
rugged ridge overlooking the Pacific Ocean with a bunch of kids of all
shapes and sizes and colors who are having the experience of a lifetime on
so many levels. Then you realize that you are, too.
Finally, a program that works! A quick description.
Newspaper accounts talk about the Urban Pioneers as a Charter School
and emphasize the student body of the school. Actually, the Pioneers are
the leaders of a much larger program. In my case, I took a half dozen of
my students, who were, as I said, “gangsters” - they caused absolutely
zero trouble during the three-day trip. Another dozen or so kids from the
school designated as “At-Risk” (of becoming a gangster) came with us.
Among the adults, I was the junior member. A police sergeant from Mission
station was our leader. There was a serious woods-type female biology
teacher. And there were the Urban Pioneers.
At first, we all thought they were college students. My kids were
middle school, and that’s how they saw the tanned and organized young
Pioneers who took us under their wings at the starting point of our
adventure (at an old munitions bunker out beyond Baker Beach where bay
becomes ocean). What we were seeing was a trained team of Urban Pioneers.
They carried the tents. They checked every pack of every student twice
before we even got in the vans. Every student had passed a “Ropes Course”
run by the cops and Pioneers in McClaren Park. What a program.
Let me cut to the chase. The Pioneers themselves were mostly just like
the kids they were now leading and protecting along this rugged landscape.
They were leading our kids over the same terrain they themselves had
traversed earlier. The program had allowed these kids another way to
develop life skills. Most important, it got them out of the often
disastrous influences in their homes and neighborhoods. It is the best
SFUSD program. Period! Push comes to shove, dumping Superintendent
Ackerman (who has always opposed the program) makes more sense than
killing the Pioneers.
Do you know how many teen-age kids kill each other in the streets
because they never had the chance to take that other path represented by
programs like Urban Pioneers.
The Cop Situation
Hallinan is right about the cops. That’s bad news for the cops and good
news for the majority of San Franciscans who don’t want thugs roaming the
street with SFPD badges (& guns!).
We have a great police department… for the most part. Like most police
and fire departments in the world, our public service agencies are run by
political appointments, beholden to the authority (Willie Brown, in this
case) who appointed them.
Earl Sanders is a great cop. He’s a lousy chief because he lets Willie
Brown tell him how to run the department and Willie is a long way from
being a good cop (even though he is, as he mentioned, “The God Damned
Commander in Chief!!”).
The way these appointments work is that Willie (or most any politician)
appoints department heads and commissions and authority people to pay off
political debts. (For example, the rich give Willie money & they want to
privatize the parks and restrict access and Willie appoints Elizabeth
Goldstein Director of Parks and in a couple of years the poor have been
evicted from the stables and pools and golf courses & she and her flunkies
are fighting more public access on Saturdays.)
I knew Willie’s agenda from finally looking at his record (after 20
years of voting for him!). When my man (Ammiano) lost in the last race, I
knew Willie would use his power to do just exactly what he has done. I
knew he’d give the rich every piece of property possible to develop to the
greatest extent possible with only profit and no thought of their
neighbors in mind. I knew that. I knew that Police Chief Fred Lau was a
payoff to Rose (“I only make 60k a year & that’s why I got 300 grand off
on my apartment at city expense) Pak. Knew Lau was a Pak payback and that
eventually we’d get Sanders. I thought when Earl got caught steering a
security contract to an old buddy of Willie’s he might not make it, but
Willie showed once again that he prefers staff with heavy baggage.
Especially, if they picked up that baggage helping Willie along the way.
So Earl becomes chief and we’re all kind of glad cause he’s had a mostly
good four-decade run.
And he’s black. You know, it looks good for your image back home when
the local politicians lead the nation and world in this area or that. It
was certainly high time we had a black chief.
Then Earl threw 40 years out the window by diving on a firecracker!
Not a grenade … not even a cherry bomb
My buddy Adriel Hampton of the Examiner wrote this morning that the
District Attorney “did not believe they had enough evidence to bring
(emphasis mine) such charges.”
Funny, how one word can change everything. That’s not what Hallinan
said. What he said (if you trust the leaks - which is where all the Ex and
Chron stories are coming from) … what he said was that he didn’t think he
could sustain or prove the charges. There’s a world of difference.
Basically, Hallinan is saying what every rational San Franciscan is
thinking: “These guys - the high command - are covering for Chief Fagan’s
kid and his thug buddies, but they’re smart enough to cover their tracks
and lie in unison, so you won’t get em!” But, we all know they’re guilty.
You walk out and ask any San Franciscan if they think the police high
command is guilty of a cover-up and most will just smile, shake their head
and say: “Of course.”
Proving it is another case. Time for a new kind of Police Commission.
Divorced from the mayor.
Wong and Gallagher
No San Francisco reporter knows more about the local political scene
than Samson Wong of the Examiner/Independent. I don’t just read his
columns, I study them. Wong was tops last week in his reading of the
effect the cops scandal might have on the race for District Attorney.
Still, I think he was wrong.
I think the effect of “fajita-gate” will be to not only assure
Hallinan’s re-election. I think it will give the aging one-time juvenile
delinquent coat-tails! Imagine Hallinan with coat-tails. All of the
ingredients are there. The tinted-glass view of cops that extended from
the 9/11 attack has worn thin on the local level. Everyone thinks these
cops are going to walk and it ain’t right. Terence’s opponents (Fazio &
Harris) are both squarely in the camp of the cop thugs and their
protectors. Hell, Fazio is representing a cop who has had over 60
brutality complaints filed against him.
And Frank Gallagher? He wrote this morning that he thinks Matt Gonzalez
is going to run for D.A. Well, let me say this about that.
Think higher, Frank. Think, like … mayor. As a stepping stone, I might
Gonzo could have been City Attorney last year. He could, most
definitely, be D.A. this year. The kid is real. Watch the contrast during
Board meetings. It’s like watching Dan Quayle debate Abraham Lincoln. Look
for Board President Matt Gonzalez to be dragged by his friends, kicking
and screaming, into the race for mayor in July and sweep to an easy
victory in November.
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