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June 6, 2003


Watching City Hall

by h. brown

The Privatization/Gentrification of Frisco

The world is too much with us.
Getting and spending, we lay waste our power.
-- Wordsworth

I’ve spent the last three years or so ranting about the demise of the San Francisco that drew me here and the “world class” (means full of offices and pollution) city that is quickly replacing it. I’ve ranted about those who have sold out our air and water and power and trees and harbors and golf courses and stables. I was incensed when our elected officials used their power over the Hetch Hetchy right-of-way to create 50 years of quarry dust for the little town of Sunol, which had done nothing more than be in the way of a fast buck. I’ve been particularly alarmed by the reanimation of the Hearst monster, grown larger and hungrier and soon-to-be alone as a daily San Francisco paper. Imagine the lone San Francisco daily being a paper that censors not only its news but also its employees. Imagine not being allowed to protest in San Francisco!

Forgive if I meander but it is early (9 am) and I only have 3 ½ hours of smoking pot in. I did have one glass of wine too. There’s another of those “ponies” my Palestinian buddy, Mar Wan, sells me for a buck and a half on the corner. (Look for one of his nite countermen to do a column in English and Arabic in my new rag, da SFBulldog.com, which is coming along nicely.)

So I have another glass of wine & plenty of pot to finish this column for the last SFCall.com posting before Betsey Culp (Call publisher and chief writer) goes out to the garden to dig in the soil, trying to regain her perspective (and blood pressure, no doubt). She’ll be back. If there’s not a full Call (complete with “Watching City Hall,” I hope) on your electronic doorstep a month before the November election, I’ll kiss Warren Hinckle’s dog’s butt (it’s a very short dog)) in Union Square on election day.

Speaking of which …

He still thinks they’re “his” parties

I hope each and every one of you dropped by Board President Matt Gonzalez’s office on Friday, June 6th from 5 to 8 pm to meet most of the contributors to the new Bulldog (that’s at http://www.sfbulldog.com). The wine was free until it was gone, then a liter of tequila or two most likely showed up. Oh, there was be a new art show on the walls too, so I hope you acted like that’s why you were there. What you and I were having was kind of a “party-within-a-party,” whatever that means. It was a secret thing. To me, it meant that I couldn’t afford to buy booze and I had no place of my own but I’d like to be able to get together with my friends. So, I piggy-backed on Matt’s party. Was that wrong?

He knows. If I come late, he always asks something like, “Where’s your posse?” I always answer something like, “You don’t even know how to pronounce it.” Matt likes eccentric people. He thinks we’re all geniuses. Actually, we’re all crazy. Still it makes for a good party by City Hall standards. Everyone likes Matt and you get to rub elbows with your heroes/villains all in the same three rooms. It is a hugely eclectic and supremely San Francisco crowd.

Lord, I hope they really give that boy a pay raise. I understand Newsom is arguing before the Civil Service Commission that the supes will only use their money on alcohol and drugs. While this is mostly certainly probably true, it nevertheless stimulates the economy. I mean, c’mon Gavin, the Kennedy family is your model, right? Bunch of whiskey-running criminals. Wait! So are you! OK, point in your favor.

Where was I?

Oh yeah, the new “progressive” Board has failed to halt privatization and gentrification. They’ve accepted a mathematical demographic definition of “affordable” housing which, essentially precludes the construction of housing (in any form) for anyone making under 50k a year. Basically, that means (without a subsidy) there will shortly be no space for most writers and dancers and musicians and waiters. The Board has failed.

It is time therefore to issue my yearly report card evaluating the members of our esteemed Board of Supervisors. We will go in reverse order this year, listing those with failing marks first.

Daly leads charge to the right

(Grade for year - “F”)

Since Chris Daly’s re-election as 6th District Supervisor in the most dynamic development area in the city, he has not only completely gone over to the side of developers wishing to gentrify his area, but his chief of staff, Bill Barnes, has told numerous people that he (Barnes) plans to run against 5th District supervisor Matt Gonzalez in District #5 next year. Apparently emboldened by newly manufactured ties to the Residential Builders Association and the Burton machine, Barnes signaled his intentions by opposing Instant Runoff Voting for the Democratic Central Committee’s elections. The new Daly machine has already fronted for thousands of new market-rate housing in his district while thousands of such units already stand empty. A Demo insider says word is out that Barnes may be a straight spy for Jack Davis. You believe that?

It will be interesting to see which of Daly’s insiders is first to defect. The camp has some of the left’s finest minds, and not many of these people are going to want to expend their energies on projects that actually displace their constituency. Bottom line on Daly is that he was elected twice (both times w/my support) as a force against displacement and gentrification. Both remain rampant in his district & on his watch. He’s the biggest disappointment on the Board.

Maxwell firmly in Willie’s camp

(Grade for year - “F”)

There’s a cruise ship sitting down in Daly’s District 6 boat parking lot now. It is putting out (according to the Guardian) pollution equivalent to that of over 10,000 automobiles. One plan presented before a Board committee to solve this problem is to move the cruise ship terminal a little further south & park it at a pier in Sophie Maxwell’s district. I thought that was kind of funny in a macabre sort of way. I mean, hell, the blacks down there already get all of our doo & pee (I’m for re-opening the treatment plant next to the St. Francis Yacht Club & letting the rich smell their own stuff - yeah, there’s a plant there - the City uses it as a carpentry shop now). The crap goes to Hunters Point. The worst polluting power plant is in District 10. District 10 supe Sophie Maxwell should chain herself to the gates of that power plant. She should be joined by Amos Brown and Arnold Townsend and Charlie Walker. She won’t be. Instead, they’re backing the white developers of Linnar LLC. Maxwell will (assuming Board rubber-stamp) be assigned as a kind of czarina over the expedited populating of the radiation-soaked former Navy shipyard.

Crap. Smoke. Nuclear radiation. Hell of a place to call home.

Then, there’s Ammiano

(Grade for year - “F”)

Around 3 or 4 years ago, then Board president Tom Ammiano began negotiating on behalf of a growing citizens’ group opposed to the unchecked installation of microwave antennas used to transmit cellphone traffic. Armed with new research data showing that the transmissions can alter DNA, the group called for a moratorium on placing additional antennas. Experts testified that 50 antenna arrays could easily cover the entire city (if the companies shared facilities). What’s ole Tom done about that? “Nuttin’ honey!” Yeah, at last count we were up to 2,500 antennas!! Barely a hitch in the unleashing of cosmic energy turning San Francisco into one big microwave oven.

Ya know, I hate to bring that up. I’d rather simply back off and wait for Supervisor Ammiano to drop out of the race for mayor with as much luster as possible remaining. I fear his ego may not allow that. He’s taken to thinking more of himself than the greater good and that’s gotta harm his legacy. Recall that in January, Ammiano allied himself with Willie Brown in trying to make Sophie Maxwell Board president. Tom is an old champion in desperate denial. He and Willie Brown are both on their way out and both are exiting poorly. It’s kind of fitting that these icons of the left & the right should both go out with the same term-limits tide.

Oh, they’ll both survive. Doing what they do best. Tom will repair his rudder and return to his roots of championing progressive gay causes. Willie? He’ll keep “lying and cheating and stealing” until he goes to claim his 72 virgins in the hereafter (and they won’t be “virgins” long).

What about Sandoval?

Gerardo’s gotta go

(Grade for year - “F”)

11th District supervisor Gerardo Sandoval has two distinctions. First, he was the only supe who voted in favor of Sprint (without comment) in the debate in which the public first swayed the Board (amazingly, this Board is still sometimes swayed by the public - meaning, they don’t all come in bought off with money in their pockets and a predetermined vote on every issue). Gerardo voted with the microwave people, even after about a hundred speakers and every other member of the Board decided against (this was a first) the placement of an antenna site.

Sandoval also ranks first in the “horrible rumors” category. I’m gonna leave you hanging there and save the real dirt for next year when someone like Rebecca Silverberg (I’d prefer Richard Marquez) takes him on out of public office. Trust me on this one … you can’t trust him.

Gavin is already bored with being mayor

(Grade for year - “F” minus)

Attacking the poor. Mouthpiece for the rich. Pretty standard credentials for a Republican standard bearer. Unusual for someone who claims to be a Democrat. Don’t let the label fool you, the boy is a hell of a lot closer to John Ashcroft than he is to John Kennedy.

You know, he’s brought a strange phenomenon into my life. People keep coming up and patting me on the shoulder and telling me not to worry. “Newsom is too transparent for San Francisco.” They tell me the pollsters and consultants are merely whacking the Getty bank account and that even they know that Gavin Newsom can never be mayor in this town. I hope they’re right. But I know one thing. He can beat Ammiano in a runoff, and without IRV implementation, that’s what we’ll have.

That’s 5 “F” grades in a row. Now, you might disagree with me. But that would only mean you are getting money or some other form of compensation from the local rich (“swells,” historically). Yep, I truly think those five supes need to be replaced. The sooner the better.

Of course, I understand it doesn’t happen that way. You can isolate them though. You can refuse to give time or money to efforts by Chris Daly to undermine the Green Party (that’s what he’ll do, you know - he is now a junior member of the Brown/Burton machine). You can ignore anything Sophie Maxwell reads to you from a paper. Willie Brown’s white lawyers wrote it and Amos Brown added his scent so’s it would pass for black. You can completely and totally ignore Gerardo Sandoval. The rest, you know enough about already.

Close it out …

Like the Call, I never really die. I’ll carry on with my yearly evaluation of the Board in tomorrow’s Bulldog … if we can get the proper codes and the like for putting it online after drinking all of Gonzalez’s wine this afternoon. Right now, I gotta make a noon deadline, so’s I can be in “last” edition.

Smile, dream, dare: sobone@juno.com