Political Theater – Junior High Drama Dept. Style AKA “Question Time SF”

If you wanted to see “political theater” in action, Junior High School Drama Department style, all you had to do was watch the co-production between the Offfice of the Mayor, the San Francisco Party Party, the Bay Guardian, the SF People’s Organization, and the cast of city-paid extras. Unlike past Political Theater productions by such talented director/producers as say, Willie Brown or any of the Burtons, this was a strictly amateur production.
Watching the reaction of Mayor Newsom’s administration to what was easily one of the most unimportant referendums on the ballot last year was the basis for last week’s production. A strictly advisory measure asking the Mayor to respond to questions from the Board of Supervisors was passed by a slim majority of voters last year. Mind you, there is nothing in the law that forces the Mayor to actually do anything to comply with it.
Thus, if it is opinion of the Mayor, his esteemed staff, and allies that the referendum is bogus, then they should say so and ignore it. It’s not like the police are going to break down Mayor Newsom’s door and put him in jail for not answering questions, right? Instead, the Mayor’s team gave this wild idea credibility by trying to meet it halfway, and the media feeding frenzy that has followed hasn’t made anyone look very good.
Watching the defensive reaction to the appearance of a couple of goofballs in chicken costumes I began to wonder – is El Alcade so inept that he needs a staff 20 deep to “protect” him from a bunch of Burning Man doofuses?
Last time I checked, Mayor Newsom is an adult, he’s the Mayor, he’s a smart guy, and I would think a couple of silly protestors would be no big deal for him to handle should anything “happen.” And of course, nothing “happened” except the aforementioned goofs sitting in the audience, occasionally entertaining small children. (Oh, except for one shout out to the costumed critters by one of the Mayor’s panelists that raise a few minor hackles – but other than that, no one really gave a hoot, so to speak about said chickens).
Frankly, the Mayor and the fair citizens of Our City would have been better served if he’d taken a stroll down any major street and talked to people in various coffee shops along say, Clement Street, or at Irving and 9th, backed up by a staffer and a bodyguard. Not only would it have been cheaper to “produce,” it would probably have been more fun for all involved! Not to mention a lot easier to control.
The Mayor and his team weren’t the only ones co-producing this Political Junior High Drama Department production, however. The Bay Guardian inexplicably devoted a front page cover story (the kind usually reserved for investigative pieces on PG&E), and then added to the dogpile with an editorial, and a cutesy piece of cover art (which bore a suspiciously close resemblance to this little chestnut from the SF PartyParty.)
If that wasn’t enough, they also posted not one, but two blog postings to drive the point home. All over an advisory measure that has no force of law (or even a code that would indicate how such a “Question Time” would work.)
For a paper that supposedly does investigative reporting, uncovering the news the MSM does not, devoting this much space to a non-issue makes you begin to wonder just how credible the paper can claim to be on civic issues. At best, they seem more invested in the success of pranksters from the “SF PartyParty” (who were last seen devoting time and energy to the lost cause known as Alix Roenthal’s Supervisorial bid) than they are in devoting precious column inches to covering an issue of more direct importance to the City (crime, poverty, MUNI, someting I don’t know, etc.)
After a few hours of amateur hour, I took off. I posted some pictures at Flickr.com (you can also see them on the new Flickr Badge I have on this site in the right column as well).
All in all, the best minds of the city found a way to make a Himalayan mountain range out of a molehill. Judging by the endless coverage on blogs, newspapers, YouTube and elsewhere, I think that the Mayor’s folks and the progressive folks might wanna take a “time-out” before planning any more political theater productions, since this last one was such a bomb.

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