for the City
friends, and assorted pols turned out last Friday for Mayor Gavin Newsom's
first big commission-appointments bash of 2005. The 10 new commissioners
say as much about him as about the kind of people who get his attention.
He picked a
writer for the Library Commission. A logical choice? Well, yeah. Except
that prior mayors' picks, and most especially Willie Brown's, were
obviously made to satisfy various constituencies and agendas (including
his own). The result is that only a few of the present panel appear to
have the appreciation for literature and education that should be the
hallmark of a policy body that oversees 27 libraries and 2.3 million
glance, Jewelle Gomez looks like the real deal. An African-American
lesbian activist, she has published several books, including a tome on
vampires. She's also a poet. How she does as a politician is another
matter. She's on the Hormel Gay and Lesbian Center board. She belongs to
Friends of he Library. She knows the drill.
picked an architect for the Landmarks Preservation Board. Well, duh. But
the difference here is that Alan Martinez was recommended by Board of
Supervisors president Aaron Peskin, an avid historic preservationist. Does
this signal a new rapport between Room 200 and the supervisors? Insiders
say the two savvy politicians maintain a healthy if guarded mutual
respect. Each appreciates the other's ability to get things done. Peskin's
intensity and deal-making skill match Newsom's laid-back bonhomie and a
penchant for risk-taking and plain-speaking that surprises even his
whom… Newsom must have been thinking of them when he appointed recently
deposed Ethics Commission chair Michael Garcia to the Board of Appeals.
All but the mayor’s stalwarts on the Board of Supervisors favored Eileen
Hanson for Ethics. She’s a Castro district activist identified with
progressive causes and easily got the nod for the vacant seat. The
liberals hope Hanson's influence will alter the mindset of the existing
body, which has been conspicuous for its reluctance to puncture
establishment poohbahs. And Garcia's impact on the BOA? He's a securities
expert and has worked as an industry arbitrator.
schmoozing with the new library commissioner were Commissioner Steve
Coulter, who serves with Gomez on the Hormel board, and a contingent from
Friends of the Library. San Francisco Public Library's grassroots support
group was conspicuous by its absence. SFPL didn't invite them.
the new library commissioner stand on the books vs. computers debate? "I
lean more toward books," she said. "But we need technology, too. You can't
do one without the other."
Gomez also thinks it's important to keep library facilities open as much
as possible. Recent citywide hearings on SFPL's hours of operation
resulted in a continuation of the status quo. In contrast to most other
departments, SFPL gets a set-aside (from property taxes). This produced a
$61 million budget for 2005-2006, an increase of about $2 million over the
Gomez has a
master's degree from the Columbia School of Journalism, which she attended
on a Ford Foundation fellowship. Her first novel, a tale of vampires
called The Gilda Stories, won two awards. She has published two
volumes of poetry and headed the Poetry Center at San Francisco State.