About Me

Based on a career (mis)spent in American politics, I debunk politicos, pundits and spinners, usually with a dose of humor to make it fun.

Email me with news tips, comments, and ideas for disinfo rehab any time!

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June 5, 2012

Why I'm Not Running for Supervisor, Despite the Rumors

Several months ago, a rumor began about the possibility of me running for the Board of Supervisors in 2012. Naturally, this got the SF Internet Rumor Mill treatment for a while, and then as the months passed, quieted down. As many people still ask me if I'm running or not, I am saying today that the answer, sadly, is "no."

I've entertained this notion as I have met people around the City, writing about City politics (particularly when it comes to Muni), who have encouraged me to run. The fact is I have a better understanding of how the SFMTA and Muni works than any other candidate, declared or not in the race for District 5, and I'm well aware of how the corruption, the lawmaking process and the money work at City Hall also. My only promise would be that I would never beholden to them, while others may or may not be.

If I was somehow elected, I'd owe no one anything and I would focus on getting things done at City Hall, not spending endless hours debating phony non-binding resolutions or catering to loud, small groups that too often get the ear of City Hall over Everyone Else.

As I began to research this, however, a few problems began to emerge. When I plotted a Google Map of every potential supporter of mine, a pattern emerged - many people did not live in the district (even if they lived in the Inner Sunset!). This is due in part to the fact that once again, the So-Called Progressives jammed a portion of the Inner Sunset into one of the most leftist districts in town. (Thanks for nothing, once again, guys!)

This has had the effect of dividing the Inner Sunset (for example I can walk a few blocks from my home and end up in District 7), and would put me at a disadvantage. Basically this means it doesn't matter if the Appointed Incumbent can't find the Inner Sunset on a map, because ultimately she can blow it off and still win election. Meanwhile, many voters would regard me as someone from the Farallon Islands, at best. So, this made me realize that right here, right now, this may not be a great idea.

The second, of course is money. Now that I no longer work in consulting, and have a little spare cash, I thought at first I'd be able to finance the startup capital to get the campaign going in a credible manner. However, much of my money is tied up right now in a couple of business ventures that are pending, so I can't tap it like I thought. Plus - I had to ask myself how much I wanted to spend money on dead tree mail and online ads vs. health care or a vacation (an alien concept to me in recent years) or on things for my family. You can guess where I land on that.

More importantly, the Appointed Incumbent will have the billionaire 1% types and others who funded Ed Lee's campaign last year AND the support of city labor unions who rely on the City for members to enhance their power. Going up against both of those without at least a solid base of support within a district meant that at best I'd raise "name ID" for a future run.

The prospect of that, and of having to spend most of my time at some forum answering the same questions in 1 minute or less made the prospect, at least for now, not worth it. Besides, when I do something I do it to win, not to "place" and would want to go to City Hall to do something, not just see myself on TV and blab on about stuff like most do.

Still, I have to say that many, many people came forward and offered support. I couldn't possibly name them all here, but it was truly amazing to have people I never heard of tell me "do it!" and offer true support. I have also had many amazing offline conversations not just about the problems Our City faces, but how there seems to be a Silent Majority out there of folks just waiting to do their best and make SF once again the "City That Knows How."

In recent times plenty of politicians have appropriated words like that, only to offer us more politics of the clubhouse and corruption. Needless to say, it's nice to know not everyone thinks this is sustainable over the long term.

Finally, let me say this: I made the mistake in my early adulthood of getting as far away from San Francisco as I could, for whatever reason. While Washington DC and Seattle were nice places, it is only when I returned in 2000 that I realized this is where I belong, despite the nonsense. To paraphrase Mat Honan's essay a while back, San Francisco has plenty of problems, but despite all that, I'd rather live here than elsewhere. If there's some way I can continue to make things better, I want to go to there.*

For now, I'm going to keep on blogging, writing, and listening to the people about their daily lives and I'll get involved when events warrant as a citizen. I want to thank again my friends, as well as the friends I didn't know I had, for their support, and look forward to one day enlisting all of your help for something positive for Our Fair City.

PS: As for the 2012 race for Supervisor: I'm happy to have any candidate meet with me and tell me why they are the best person for the job, but they can't use canned rhetoric or try and BS me. If one does emerge that warrants your vote, I'll let you know.

PS2: While I may not be running, you can watch this entertaining trailer about a friend of mine in Seattle who challenged the Establishment back in 2001 (the pre Twitter/Facebook era) that's coming out soon. Although my effort might have been a bit better organized, it would have retained an anti-Establishment tone. Also, you really should support my friend Kevin Montgomery and get him to run in District 9.

*Does anyone get this joke?

April 11, 2012

Even This Close to the Deadline, We Might Be Able to Save the Inner Sunset at City Hall

Watching the twists and turns of the San Francisco Redisricting Commission as they create new district maps for the Board of Supervisors has been like watching several well-meaning people play ping pong all at once, on meth in the dark. Things happen so fast, and change so dynamically, usually with no MSM coverage, by the time you think you know what's going on, things have changed. Again. And again. AND...well you get the idea.

It was just about a week ago when I looked at what was the latest map, and it partially corrected the injustice committed on residents of the Inner Sunset by partisan progressive interests 10+ years ago-forcing part of the neighborhood into District 5, while cutting out many of the blocks of the Inner Sunset and put them into District 7. This injustice had the following effects:

- Many of us were forced into a district that elected Matt Gonzalez and Ross Mirkarimi, both "progressives,' who paid more attention to more politically correct parts of the district. It also ensured that anyone from the Inner Sunset would have a harder time getting elected, since people in say, the Western Addition probably regard the Inner Sunset as they do the Farallon Islands - far, far away.

- The residents of the Inner Sunset were divided into two districts, making contact with the appropriate Board member confusing. Also, as I've stated before, this meant trying to get two busy Supervisors to attend a neighborhood meeting to express concerns. In Allegedly Sophisticated and Smart San Francisco, this is stupid.

Just recently there seemed to be a fix in teh works that would have at least contained more of the Inner Sunset in District 5, thus solving at least part of the problem. Unfortunately just a few days ago, the Commission decided to roll back the borders, citing the 'traditional' borders from 2002.

NEWS FLASH, Commissioners: that "historical" border was a partisan gerrymander hack designed by partisan progressives to jam a few precincts in to try and "help" narrow progressive itnerests, the residents be damned. Relying on this precedent is, for all intents and purposes, bullshit.

There are two remaining meetings of the Commission - one is tonight at 6pm at City Hall, Room 406. The other is this Saturday, April 14th, at 10:00am in Room 400. Both should be televised at SFGovTV online and on cable, but you never can tell if it's going to be live or just taped it seems. UPDATE: Our Friend Paul Hogarth says the live link should be this one at SFGOVTV online.

I am going to try and attend tonight but it is a close call since I have to go spend most of the day out of town and given the commuting foibles of going from county to county, might not make it.

However, there's nothing stopping you from going. The one good thing about the Commission is that they will listen if people show up, and will try to do their best to accommodate people, without worrying about what a few political bosses think. So that's a good thing.

March 15, 2012

An Amended Modest Proposal: Reform "Public Financing" of Campaigns The Easy Way

There's a whole cottage industry revolving around "campaign reform," and for the most part it's produced a lot of nonsense, locally and nationally. However, I am daring to get in the game and make a few modest proposals of my own, not for the sake of helping one partisan side over the other, but instead to give voters a clear choice and to be able to understand for whom or what they are voting for.

Earlier this year, I proposed that anyone running for office in San Francisco in 2012 be asked to sign a pledge saying simply that if they won election (or re-election) to the office they campaigned for, they'd actually serve the full four year term they asked voters for.

This may sound a bit nitpicky, but look at what happened in 2008 - we had several people run for Supervisor who asked the voters to send them to serve as Supervisor. Halfway through their terms, these newcomers then decided they'd had enough, and ran for Mayor. So did a lot of other elected officials.

Not only did they spend a lot of their time away from their six-figure salaried jobs, they asked for taxpayer money to finance piles of junk mail. In fact, we had so many people last year running for Another Office, things pretty much shut down at City Hall, all at a time when we needed people on the job. Add to the fact that taxpayers subsidized most of the Mayoral races (and yet the guy with the Super PACs funded by the 1% won anyway) and it's clear something is wrong here.

Today I amend my suggestion that candidates running in 2012 sign a pledge to serve out their full terms in office and not run for another during said term with this:

Any candidate that takes taxpayer money in 2012 to run for office in San Francisco should serve out their full term. If they do not, they should be forced to return the tax money they used in 2012 to run for office if they decide to run for another job (Assembly, State Senate, Dogcatcher, Sheriff, etc.)

I don't think this is an unreasonable request. I'm sure the politicians will ignore it, as they do anything that demands accountability or gets in the way of taxpayer dollars to finance their career advancement. It'd be interesting to see who, if anyone makes such a pledge. San Francisco voters would certainly be the beneficiaries though, since now they at least can figure out who's telling the truth when they say "vote for me in 2012" and who is not.

January 23, 2012

A Modest Proposal for Campaign 2012: Signed Pledges to Serve Full Terms in Office!

This year we have a lot of elections this year - everything from President down to Supervisor here in SF. You can expect the usual avalanche of junk mail, advertising, and whatnot everywhere you go. Today I'm making a modest proposal for Campaign 2012 focused on our local elections - a signed pledge by every candidate running for Supervisor in San Francisco stating that they intend to actually serve the full term of the office they claim to be seeking in 2012.

This may seem superfluous, but look back to just last year. We had several candidates for office who got elected in 2008 saying they wanted to serve as Supervisor or in some other capacity, but within a few years were spending most of their time running for Mayor. Not only did this mean they spent a lot of time not doing the job they were elected to do (and well paid for) but also spent taxpayer money to get that other big job.

I don't think it's unreasonable for people who are filling our boxes with junk mail and ads saying how they're going to do all sorts of wonderful things as Supervisor to sign a pledge saying that they will actually do said job.

Obviously there's nothing legal binding anyone to said agreement, but anyone breaking it sure would look shady, that's for sure. Likewise, those who did honor it would restore some integrity to CIty Hall.

Here's a suggested pledge:

I (state your name) am running for Supervisor in 2012. If elected by the voters of my district, I hearby pledge to serve the entire term in office.

I will not run for higher office during my term, nor will I raise money to run for another office during my term.

I will serve the people of San Francisco to the best of my abilities and will stay at City Hall during my four year term.

SIgned (state your name)

It'd be curious to see if anyone signed this pledge. I certainly would like to know if I vote for someone or volunteer on their campaign that they'd actually follow through, and not just use City Hall as a campaign office for another gig.

If you have suggestions for this proposed pledge, leave a comment in the section below. Thanks!

January 20, 2012

Why Is The Inner Sunset SF's Perennially Politically Abused Neighborhood?

innersunsetfrakked.jpg
Here we go again.

As you may or may not know, after every census, legislative districts at all levels are redrawn to better reflect a growing and/or shifting population. Other times it's to reflect the decline in population of an area. No matter what, how those districts are drawn are important, especially in a city like San Francisco. However, once again, it seems the Powers That Be at the Redistricting Task Force want to once again gerrymander the Hell out of the Inner Sunset neighborhood at the Board of Supervisors.

For ten years a strip of the Inner Sunset was tacked on to the former District 5, which was represented by Matt Gonzalez, and later Ross MIrkarimi. From what I've been told, this was a way to "ensure" the district was progressive. Never mind the fact that it created a strange division in a neighborhood, or disempowered community activists - it was serving the "Progressive" needs that came first. Whenever local leaders wanted to organize an event with local Supervisors, they had to find a time when both Supervisors Elsbernd and Mirkarimi could attend, since both represented the area. I remember moving literally across the street and down a block and finding myself in another district.

The proposed changes make things worse. Now, it's proposed we divide the neighborhood into three districts. I've posted a zoom in view of the map, but you can go to the Redistricting Task Force website

You'll note, for example that UCSF, the area's biggest employer and with whom many in the area either work for or attend school at, is now in District Eight. However if you cross the street, suddenly you're in District 5. And for the mostest fun ever, you can walk to 8th and Kirkham and play the local version of Four Corners (but with three districts!) as you step from one to the other.

The Inner Sunset has traditionally been identified as a westside neighborhood, and its interests align themselves with other contiguous neighborhoods. The political gerrymandering of this area to serve shallow interests that could care less about our neighborhood has to stop. I would hope that some adults would intervene and make some changes. In the meantime, email the commission and the politicals at City Hall and let them know you're tired of seeing our neighborhood cut to pieces to serve the politicians' needs, not ours.

December 6, 2011

OccupySF Continues to Disappoint. Maybe It Should be Called CampingSF Instead?

occupysflogo.jpgWTF, OccupySF?

Seriously. First I read this story where the "brave" Occupy Army went and harassed a locally owned business based on totally false information that made them look like complete idiots. Wow! Way to show solidarity with the 99%, gang! What's next, beating up hot dog vendors in the Mission?

Second, I read a story in the Chronicle about the increasing number of homeless kids in SF public schools. (the story doesn't mention the number of kids who may have a roof over their head, but still live in poverty). This, in a city of billionaires and innovation? Really? Even worse, these kids have to compete against kids in wealthy suburbs (who have all the advantages necessary) on standardized tests. You'd think that would inspire some direct action, perhaps at a billionaire party, or a corrupt fundraiser for the "Mayor" or one for Supervisors, or for anyone in the Political Establishment? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

Instead, there's just more infighting about whether to camp in the Mission, or whatever. Fortunately, the disorganization at City Hall is about the same at OccupyCampingSF, so no raids are forthcoming. Thank goodness the camping can continue.

I don't disagree with some of the points the Occupy movement is supposed to be making - it's a sick world we live in whereby profitable banks like Wells Fargo are getting huge tax rebates (and bailouts from taxpayers) and meanwhile I'm fighting off illegal charges to my dead dad's estate by similar banks and the like, charged in the hopes I'm either too dumb or too frustrated to fight them. It's even more frustrating to see needed projects get held up in bureaucratic limbo - but a stadium for billionaires gets a pass on CEQA and a billionare yacht race is being subsidized by a broke city.

Unfortunately once you leave echo chambers like blogs and IndyBay and other said media, the message ain't getting through to the people who really are part of the true 99%. Anecdote: During the holidays I was at a suburban pizza place and the news was on some of the TVs. When the latest footage of Camping SF came on, I couldn't help but overhear comments by folks, most of whom wrote the whole thing off as a bunch of kids playing protester. However, these people are also folks who are getting screwed over by a tax burden shifted from the wealthy to the 99%, who are paying more in taxes and getting less in services, and so on. They should be joining the movement (if they do in fact feel it's in their interests) but they won't because who wants to be around a bunch of smelly protesters bent on God Knows What?

In the end, this is becoming a clusterf*ck on all sides, and like most "protests" on the left, will go nowhere. That's too bad , because another loud, unruly lot, the Tea Party folks, have practically "occupied" the GOP to the point where a joker like Herman Cain was considered a real candidate for President.

WTF, indeed.

November 16, 2011

#Occupy is No Longer About Important Issues We Need To Deal With, It's About Camping

occupysflogo.jpg(This is an expanded version of a post I did earlier this week.)

The #Occupy movement, be it in San Francisco, Oakland or elsewhere insists on having "no leaders" to distinguish themselves from The Man, Wall Street, etc. That's lovely. However, this leaderless movement has created an unintended consequence: we're no longer talking about issues of economic inequality, democracy, corporate accountability or other Really Big Problems, and how to fix them.

Instead, we're mostly talking about a movement centered on camping in parks.

While there’s a core group of people who are committed to an Actual Cause, there’s a growing part of the encampments that are only about people wanting to camp in parks and be allowed to do whatever they want, laws and civility and cleanliness be damned.

Mike Aldax's day with #occupysf made this clear - and that the growth of the "camp" has less to do with people working to bring up issues, and more to do with transients taking advantage of the situation for their own selfish needs (drugs, booze, etc.) Needless to say, this isn't doing much to expand the people involved to include more of the Actual 99% they claim to represent.

I support the Occupy movement bringing up their issues and forcing people to confront what they’ve been in denial about, but it’s time to apply some creativity. We don’t have to have people camping in crappy tents in a park to continue to force local and national government to deal with the issues mentioned above. They also need to do some (gasp!) self-policing and tell those who are there to cause trouble to fuck off, and work with the police to keep the peace if they want to keep claiming the moral high ground.

The “shock and awe” movement of the initial Occupy movement is over - its time for Act II. Be creative. Don’t repeat the past like a Civil War re-enactment (looking at you, 21st century hippies). Blow minds, not with your funk, but with something that really shows why financial abuses by the few at the top harm the many, and why we who aren't hipsters, hippies, or Those Not Part of the Left should give a damn.

Oh, and that "human microphone" thing? Cute, but the joke's over. At this point it just sounds like a Protestant church overrun by angry white kids.

Don't take my word for it. Here's some additional insight from those who've seen this all before, and make some suggestions, which of course will be ignored by Occupy.

Final thought: How many of ‘em went to vote in the SF Mayoral election, where LITERALLY the “1%” bankrolled a campaign to protect their tax breaks and elect our "Mayor" ?

Oh, right. They were at the camp site.

October 31, 2011

Why I Like #OccupySF but Don't Like the Symbolic Resolution A Certain Candidate for Mayor Proposes

I've made no secret in the past that I am a true "law and order" kind of guy, in that I believe both the state and the people need to abide by rules, created by the people, and enforced by the state, to ensure than tyranny by the mob does not rule.

That said, I don't disagree with most of what the #occupysf folks are out there for. Even as a capitalist who technically should be on the side of those shi*tty big banks who bankrupted the world economy, I cannot abide by them. That is because at heart, I am a true capitalist, and I think those who manipulate government to allow for so-called "investments" that would not meet the standards of the shadiest Las Vegas Casino, much less what the SEC should allow, need to seriously STFU. Also, those shithead "banks" are fucking over real capitalists and have shit interest rates. So, yes, the #occupysf movement is making a point, and if it means some days in the park, whatever.

Today, however I talk about talk vs. action. In San Francisco we have a member of our Board of Supervisors (A county legislator for the rest of you outside our fair City and County, a unique blend of government in California), who is trying to ride the #occupy movemenet to City Hall as Mayor. That is his right, of course, but what I find offensive is the use of the most impotent weapon out there: the Non Binding Resolution.

What this means to you, the #occupy supporter in San Francsico, and to the millions of you outside of San Francisco who are ticked off at income inequality and at a political system that makes money #1 and the people #230002893203020320302 is that despite all the heat and light discussed tomorrow, at the Board of Supervisors meeting is that, no matter what, not a goddamned thing will change.

Yes, you'll have a nice piece of paper with the City's name on it supporting La Causa. A failed candidate for Mayor will have something to slap on some cheap dead tree in the last 7 days of the race. The Temp Mayor, who is truly the mayor of the 1% will have to either go nuclear in his response or save it for November 9th, post election. In the end, the "politics of feelings" will have won and a chance at stopping the localized version of corruption will be swept away, a la Oakland last week.

There is another option.

That option is to tell all the self-serving politicians who show up and talk liberal platitiudes at #occupysf and tell them to fuck the Hell off unless they do the following:

-They renounce Ed Lee, a puppet of the corporations who is doing what he is told and is well paid to do so

-They renounce things like a billionaire yacht race that gives away the City to the Billionaire 1% while they pay not a dime, all in the promise of "trickle down economics"

-They stop giving billionaires like Sean Parker tax breaks, while small businesses in our neighborhoods shutter because they can't make payroll.

-They stop supporting a plan that kills public transit for the pathetic needs of a few so-called "non profits" and steers money away from the N-Judah, the 5-Fulton, the 38-Geary, the L-Taraval, the M-Ocean View and more.

It's up to you #OccupySF and up to you, Liberal San Francisco. Don't be bullshitted by dead tree mail or empty actions. It's the votes that count and if after 10+ years of So-Called Progressives running the legislative branch of City government you can't stop it?

It's time to admit you lose.

And you and John Avalos can take your "symbolic resolution" to the nearest impotence clinic, as that is the best it will be.

October 27, 2011

Approve of Occupy Oakland? Don't Approve? Either Way, Jean Quan F*cked Up

Whether you support Occupy Oakland or if you think they should not be at Ogawa Plaza at night, there's one thing everyone can agree on: "Mayor" Jean Quan is a complete f*ck up. Her lack of leadership, lack of accountability, and past failures regarding public safety came to a head and the result is that now people worldwide know just how much Oakland sucks.

Listening to Jean Quan's babbling at the press conference, it was clear she was in way over her head, and resorted to invoking Bil Keane's "Not Me" as often as she could. Apparently Ms. Quan (the same "Mayor" who can't be bothered to maintain her home) had plenty of excuses, but never once said "the buck stops here" the way a real leader would.

Quan has never had a strong record on public safety to begin with, firing lots of Oakland police officers (only to have to re hire many once the crime rate soared) and the epidemic of violence plaguing the city, particularly African American citizens, has never been a priority for Quan to begin with. Heck one of her top advisors is a pro-criminal attorney (who, in an ironic twist, will represent protestors from Occupy Oakland).

Now, she's found a new way to piss off everyone. For those who wanted the protestors out of the plaza at night, as per "the rules" she has failed miserably. The heavy handed response (which included critical wounding of an Iraq war vet) was way out of proportion, and inflamed the situation. Now, we have more people in the park, tensions are higher, and in response, last night Quan decided to let the protestors stay.

In other words, she was for beating them down before being against it. One day it's a threat to the Republic if the protestors stay past 10pm, the next it's peachy keen. What the f*ck? No matter which side you're on, we can all agree that this isn't how to run a city.

Quan's non-management had an impact far beyond Oakland, however. Any plans by the SFPD to clear out the encampment at Justin Herman Plaza went out the window, because the last thing Temporary Mayor Lee's political advisors were going to do was allow him to pour more gas on Quan's flames. More importatnly, the images of Oakland went worldwide, and today we have people marching all over the world, protesting Quan's incomptence and mishandling of a delicate situation.

Finally, a word about the ranked choice system that gave us Jean Quan in the Mayor's office: it sucks. She never had much support, her election was due to a flawed system, and now, thanks to that, we have a so-called "mayor" who isn't up to the job, and has no support.

One wonders what will happen on Election Day in SF as voters are subjected to this bullshit system and who might end up as Mayor. No matter what happens in November, I predict we in SF will show once again why we're better than Oakland, and send RCV to the dustbin of history so we avoid the potential of a Jean Quan in office here at home.

UPDATE: Now Ms. Quan has completely capitulated to OccupyOakland. So basically all the violence and cracking veteran's skulls were totally unecessary. She's now pissed off everyone at City Hall and everyone at OccupyOakland because, well, she has no idea what the f*ck she's doing. Time to resign, Jean, you're just not up to the job.

Also, if you'd like to help out Scott Olsen, the vet critically injured by Quan's indecisive "leadership, here's a link to some resources so you can get involved.

October 20, 2011

Campaign 2011: Vote NO on LEE

we3n.pngSo far this election season has been one of the most depressing ones we've had in a while. At a time when San Franciscans have a chance to change our City and make things better, we've seen the full force of political corruption joining with corporate/plutocrat funded media to rig this election as much as possible.

It's bad enough that Temporary Mayor Ed Lee has proven to be a liar, and to be a corrupt, arrogant "business as usual" politician, but it's worse when we see the lamestream media pimp a candidate like the Chronicle and the Bay Citizen, to name a few, have this year. The print journalism people wonder why it is that they're going the way of the dinosaur - perhaps their corruption is just too much for readers to take.

As for the charity-funded "media" - their days are numbered when the wealthy find a new fad to invest in, but in the meantime have provided some of the most biased news in town, so bad it would make even the political pamphlet known as the Bay Guardian blush

However, thanks to the bullshit voting system known as Ranked Choice Voting (or whatever the f*ck it's called now), things get even blurrier. Because one has to vote for three candidates, you can bet that many people will end up putting St. Ed Lee on their ballot somewhere. This will do more to help him than anything else, because under ranked choice voting, if you put the front runner ANYWHERE on your ballot, you're more likely to help them, even if they aren't your first choice.

Yes, that's right. I am hoping we abolish this system after this election and send it back to the east coast lefties who sold us this snake oil, and we can go back to honest elections.

In the meantime there is one solution to the corruption at City Hall - vote for ANYONE but ED LEE. Vote for whomever you want, but for the love of God and City, don't put this thug's name anywhere on your ballot.

If you're wondering who to vote for, three reformers come to mind: Public Defender Jeff Adachi, an effective administrator, author, businessman and filmmaker, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, an effective reformer who fought for gay marriage and is against the Central Subway to Hell, and Assessor Phil Ting, who's trying to run a campaign not based on lies, but instead asking voters to help create solutions at City Hall.

These are just a few, but whatever you do, vote for ANYONE BUT ED LEE. We can't afford another four years of corruption and lies and Willie Clown Brown and his minions.

Artwork created by Eric of Baghdad By the Bay.

September 16, 2011

Which of San Francisco's Artwork for Campaign 2011 Window Signs Do You Like Best

It's campaign silly season again, and we're about to see a massive deforestation effort to provide endless piles of junk mail, doorhangers, window signs and the like all over Our Fair City. Having worked in this business for some time, one thing I find interesting is the amazing graphic design (or total lack thereof) in these things.

In the past, I've scanned in mail pieces and done some critiquing (which you can find to your left in the Categories section). I may do some of that this year too. Today, however I'm asking readers - which of the many candidates' window signs do you find look the best, design-wise, regardless of whether you support them or not?

I have some thoughts, and I've mentioned a little before about those awful Run Ed Run design abortions (complete with ironic captions), and about the politics of black and orange. However, add your thoughts in the comments below. Remember, this is all about design only - not about the candidates themselves (that's another column).

August 7, 2011

Just How Much Is Anyone Making Off Mayoral Candidates in SF?

To nobody's surprise, it seems Temporary Mayor Ed Lee, backed by powerful financial interests and a shadow campaign that has yet to see sunlight, is running for mayor. And again, as the unofficial press spokesperson, the Chronicle once again provides cover for their candidate.

Today we read about how St. Ed is not taking public money for his campaign, instead relying on the aforementioned shadow campaign, and whatever private money he chooses to take. This contrasts with others who participated in the public matching funds/spending limit program provided by the City of SF. The Chronicle, naturally, uses this to somehow distinguish St. Ed from his opponents. It's a nice hit for Ed, but it's just the latest in a line of articles that the Chronicle has written that basically promote Ed. That's fine, but if I wanted to read a dying medium's political endorsements sold as news, I'd read the Guardian (which I don't).

However, putting that aside, the article also starts to rattle off how much consultants have made off the other candidates, again implying that they were all "subsidized" with tax dollars. There are several problems with the reporting on this piece of news.

First, the matching funds are only awarded if a candidate has raised money from a lot of private donors, who can ONLY live in San Francisco, and they have to have significant disclosure as to who donated. There is also a cap on how much campaigns can get from the city, and the majority of their funding is private, despite the Chronicle's insinuations. Moreover, there is more disclosure than there ever was for the shady "Run Ed Run" campaign which denies helping the Mayor even though it was helping the mayor.

Second, the amounts. I've yet to meet a reporter that understands how the political consulting business works, especially when it comes to the actual business of running such an operation. So when I read about "fees" for consultants in the Chronicle, my first question is how this amount is computed.

Naturally, the Chronicle wants to provide an image of these "consultants" raking in the big bucks on the poor taxpayer's dime, and so on. What the Chronicle doesn't seem to understand is that just because a campaign handed over a big bundle of cash, the consultant doesn't necessarily keep all the money, depending on the arrangement.

For example, I used to work for A Big National Consulting Firm That Shall Not Be Named a few years ago. Our company was working on a Big Campaign, and if you looked at the disclosure forms, you'd think we were raking in the big bucks. However, what the disclosure statements didn't point out was how much of that was going right out the door to pay for printing, letterhead, campaign staffers we administered payroll for and other products the campaign elected to purchase. Out of about $180,000 or so in "moneys" we got, we kept maybe $5000-$7500 that could be considered a fee.

Another example: some campaign consultants don't take more than a modest retainer at the start, and then charge no consulting fees at all, and mark up things like TV ads, direct mail (printing/production, not postage!) and other items at the standard industry rate of 15% to cover their overhead costs (taxes and staff and a modest profit). So looking at the gross amount isn't very realistic.

There's also another thing about San Francisco campaigns that no one in the press corps seems to understand - working in SF politics is no way to make a living in the consulting business. Even with a well funded campaign, with campaign donation limits, as well as the "consultant tax"** and other unique requirements for campaigns in San Francisco, you won't be netting a large landslide of cash. Supervisor races make very little for anyone involved as well.

That's not to say they pay so little no one will work on them, but with all the limitations, being a consultant for city candidates isn't a great way to make a living. Consultants are better off working for either a labor union(s) or other organizations, or working in jurisdictions Not In San Francisco. When I was working in the business, most of my work was out of state. Not only did it pay me as a freelancer fairly well, it was also a lot easier.

I'd expect the gaggle of New Yorkers working for the various chain-owned online entities to get this wrong, but I'd expect more from the supposedly Old School Journalistic Entity located here for over 100 years. I guess when you keep on firing the people who make the product you're supposedly selling, mistakes happen.

**The "consultant tax" I refer to is a profoundly bone-headed attempt by the Board of Supervisors, ages ago, who hated a certain consultant, and decided to clobber him a little with this law. The intent was to make consultants pay a special "consultant tax" and disclose for whom they were working for. This is stupid for several reasons. First, the "tax" they impose also applies to campaign day to day workers. Ironically the big companies and out of town companies can pay this no problem, but the poorly paid, day to day overworked staffer ends up paying proportionally more than the Big Companies.

Second, the disclosure as to whom people are working for is already done in the campaign finance reporting that is required for every candidate. So once again a typical SF Progressive FAIL: More rules that hurt the lowest paid people, and duplicate efforts elsewhere.

August 2, 2011

Post Filing Debate Set for August 16th, Courtesy of the Alliance for Jobs and Comcast!

Debates are a tricky proposition when you have more than 2 candidates running for office. Endless side debates begin about Who Gets To Participate and Who Doesn't, and so on. This has been especially difficult since we still may have more candidates running for Mayor here in San Francisco after the official filing period ends.

That's why the debate on August 16th at 7:30pm, co-sponsored by the Alliance for Jobs and Sustainable Growth, and Comcast, is worth checking out. This will likely be the first major broadcast of a debate, post-filing, and given the sponsors, should be a quality event. If you're not familiar with the Alliance, it's a coalition of business, labor and community groups dedicated to finding long-term prosperity for San Francisco that benefits everyone, not just the connected. Comcast, you know of course, but the fact Comcast is putting time and effort to produce this event deserves a high five.

Best of all, you, the voter can participate. Go to the Facebook Page for the debate, and once you "Like" the page, you can post suggested questions for the candidates for all to see. This is your chance to ask the tough questions and see what happens. Check it out!

July 26, 2011

Who Paid For This Anti-Ed Lee Ad On Facebook? No Assuming, Please! UPDATED

dontruned.jpg
So this morning while on Facebook (something I use rarely), I noticed an anti-Ed Lee ad appearing on the side of the page. Curious as to what it was all about, I clicked on it, assuming I'd be taken to either a Facebook Fan Page, or linked to a campaign website that would tell me who was putting this ad on Facebook, and what they were all about. Instead, it just linked me to the Mayor's official website and its "Contact Ed Lee" online email page.

Facebook keeps pushing back on disclosure for political ads, but here's an example of how their "links are disclosure" defense doesn't hold up. I, the voter, am left to make assumptions instead of having facts. When I posed the question to Twitter, naturally it started endless speculation that Leland Yee's campaign, or perhaps his consultant, Jim Stearns, posted the ad.

Personally, I don't think that's very fair to Yee or Stearns, since it's not a fact, it's an assumption. If they didn't do it, they're getting tarred with something they had nothing to do with. If they did buy the ads, then they should just say so somewhere. However, given the fact that Yee and Stearns have been aggressive in attacking the less-than-transparent doings of the "Run Ed Run" operation, I don't imagine they'd be dumb enough to pull a shady move of their own that would be as un-transparent as the "Run Ed Run" movement.

I'll be waiting to see what, if any, information is later found. Given how lame the Ethics and Elections office is in San Francsico, and how SF politics tend to be some of the most corrupt, I doubt we'll ever know. It's kinda like that anti-Leno site that stole my pictures off flickr.com and never paid me for my stolen image.

UPDATE: In a tweet to myself and another Twitter user, Mr. Stearns confirmed that neither his firm, nor the Yee campaign purchased the Facebook ad.

July 23, 2011

Is San Francisco Setting a New Record for the Number of Electeds Running For Office?

So there I was, reading yet another "What if Temporary Mayor Lee Runs For Office" blather on some news site or whatever, and it got me to thinking - just how many people are running for office, while (supposedly) serving the public?

Let's take a look:

Current Mayor - Running? Not Running? (this tease is getting very tiresome, btw)

City Attorney - Running for Mayor

Assessor - Running for Mayor

President, Board of Supervisors - Running for Mayor

Supervisor Avalos - Running for Mayor

Supervisor Mirkirimi - Running for Sheriff

District Attorney - Running for DA (Appointed in 2011)

State Senator - Running for Mayor

To be honest, with so many people in office running for another in an "off year," if Mr. Lee decides to have a "do over" on his promise to be a caretaker, look for City Hall to basically shut down for the rest of the year.

There'll be so many people posturing and looking for short term gimmicks so they can slap some crap on a piece of dead tree mail and spend special interest cash to pay for it, you can't expect much to happen.

July 14, 2011

Just How DO Paid Signature Gatherers Get Paid?

Today's Chronicle had a report that signature gatherers for Public Defender Jeff Adachi's pension reform measure were "caught on camera" saying things to voters that were "misleading." After checking out, all I can say is that if anyone thinks they found a smoking gun, they may not be aware of a) how words can be twisted and b) how paid signature gathering works.

First, the words: many canvassers in the video were saying things like "if you want to prevent night time parking meters sign this petition." It is very correct that the petition says nothing about it, but at the same time, it would be almost impossible to prosecute. That's because if city pensions begin to dominate city spending, why yes, one could reasonably infer that "nighttime parking meters (WTF?) could in fact be a response to said financial crisis.

So could a tax on unicorn horns. You see where this is going.

Also, those that point the finger should be darn sure none of their folks pulled any similar weasel word stunts too - these things can backfire spectacularly if you're not on solid ground.

I avoid signing petitions at all costs, unless it is for something that I've heard of that is sponsored by people I trust. I think people in San Francisco would be doing themselves a favor by not signing these things based on some emotional chatter they get from some fool collecting signatures. It sucks, because many good things are put on the ballot this way, but I think we need to thin the herd on ballot measures for a while.

Second, the methods. When the press talks about paid signature gatherers, they'll usually do their research and find out how much they're paying per signature. In California it can be as high as $6 a signature. The question is - did the hippie in front of Safeway who asked you to sign a petition get $6 for your signature? Probably not.

Campaigns usually hire a professional firm to gather signatures for a ballot measure (local or state). That company will then hire contract workers who then go out and get the signatures. However, these sub-contractors don't simply go out with a stack of clipboards and start earning $6 per signature. Instead, they go out and hire another series of sub-contractors, and pay them a percentage of the $6. In some cases those sub contractors might even hire another level of folks, but that is rare.

Let's make it simpler: Campaign Signature Company "A" hires contractor "Elvis" to get signatures at $6 each. "Elvis" then hires a crew of 10 people to get signatures, but pays them only $3 each. This means that 10 people are being managed by "Elvis" bringing in signatures, who is getting $3 each and isn't actually out there doing anything - he is instead managing a crew of 10. Any one of those could take a dollar less and sub out the work themselves too, if they wanted. In the end, "Elvis" is going to make more money farming out the work to 10 people, each armed with 4 clipboards a piece, than he ever would alone getting the full $6.

Most of the people who do this are pros who follow the action wherever it goes, similar to those who once followed the Grateful Dead back in the day. They may or may not be from the jurisdiction and in almost all cases are simply trying to play a numbers game, racking up as many signatures as they can. Needless to say, these aren't people who know or care much about what the petition is for, so it's easy to see where the incentive is to make up stuff just to get people's signatures.

A bill to regulate the signature mills made its way through the state Senate. Predictably it was all on party-line votes - Democrats wanted it regulated to prevent fraud, while Republicans want to ensure that money buys access to the ballot.

One thing you can do right away is if approached to sign something is to ask if they are paid or not. Under the law, they have to tell you and it must be printed on the petition.

Either way, take the time to read the fine print before you sign. Just because something is called "The Kittens Puppies and Rainbows Initiative to Save The Children" doesn't mean it's so.

June 8, 2011

The Politics of Black and Orange.

Graphic design in political communications is either Really Amazing, Generic & Dull, or Crapola. Really Amazing is so rare when one finds it, you have to document it otherwise no one believes you. Generic & Dull is SOP for the political business (and gets worse every year as professional designers are pushed aside for Nephew Gary who "knows computers"). As for Crapola, well...the less said the better.

Most signs, for example are in some sort of combo of red, white, and blue. A terrible combo (red and blue don't work well side by side), and one that's been done to death. So when I see a campaign that tries something that's either Really Amazing, or at least uses contrasting colors so you can can see the damned sign in various situations, I take notice.

Bevan Dufty's campaign e-literature and website have been featuring a new sign/logo that looks like a postcard from the Good Old Days. It's very simple, easy to read, but also captures scenes from around San Francisco. Whether you support him or not, one has to admit that design catches the eye, and communicates something, and does so well.

Sup. Avalos' campaign for mayor took a simpler approach. Using nothing but bold, sans serif type and the colors black and orange, it stands out because it's easy to read, and when you get a bunch of them together...it kinda looks like a bunch of Giants fans at first. Either way, it's easy to read, and those of us who are Giants fans have that knee-jerk reaction to anything black and orange that makes you want to take a second look.

He's not the only one picking up on this idea. Last night at the Board of Supervisors, many people were testifying on various projects, pro and con. I noticed that members of the Laborers International Union (good hard working folks all) had a special shirt with a custom union logo...and their shirts were orange and black. Same reaction from me - the first thing I thought of, before reading the logo was , "how cool", and even after I figured out who it was, I have to tip my designer hat to them for good communications via design.

This made me wonder if campaigns would be better served making their signs in the color of their local team (when feasible) instead of some eye-blinding combo that sucks? At the very least, choosing good colors that contrast well, along with good typography, ensures that their logo is represented well as a sign, a letterhead, a sticker, online, etc. Also, if someone on the staff suggests crowd-sourcing this stuff, fire them immediately and send them back to school. Seriously.

In all of these cases, the power of good design be it detailed (like Dufty's logo) or simple (like Avalos' and the union's art) provides an extra punch in what is likely to be a difficult election season in 2011 and beyond.

May 25, 2011

Now It's Official: "Sit/Lie" Hasn't Changed Much in Upper Haight, According to the SFPD.

It seems that a report by the San Francisco Police Department analyzing the effects of the so-called "Sit/Lie" law indicate what those who read my blog have known all along - it's not working. Despite the big cheers on election night by folks who sold this as a Holy Grail to make the City jerkass-free, it hasn't worked as advertised. Nor did it get people to vote for certain candidates that year over others. In the end, whoever spent their money on this campaign got a big ol' failwhale instead of something effective.

For fun, here's my original article where I opposed "Sit/Lie" and its counterpart in 2010. (News flash politicos: putting ballot initiatives on the ballot to influence how people vote in Superivsor races never works, so please stop it.).

Over here, we find a post-election piece about how SFPD initially didn't even enforce the beloved law, and here's a more recent piece about how the law isn't enforced anywhere else either, even as the "gutter punks" get pushed into adjoining neighborhoods.

I'm not humble enough to not say "I Told You So" once in a while. (If anything it makes me wonder why I can't get paid more for being able to accurately predict these things as I've been known to do).

More to the point, I really wish we could get rid of these expensive ballot measure campaigns that generate a lot of intense emotions on all sides, but really don't do anything at all. (throw in nonbinding "resolutions" and ballot measures too, for good measure). All political sides are guilty of this, and it needs to stop.

We could have saved ourselves a lot of nonsensical debate, and saved some trees too by not doing this, and instead having our well-paid elected officials and City Hall employees do the job they're hired to do and keep the streets safe. That's not too much to ask.

Until San Franciscans decide that they'd like laws enforced and for good people from all areas/income levels/etc. of the City to enjoy the many things our city has to offer, without being hurt by crime and criminal like behavior, we can pass all the silly laws we like and nothing will change.

News Flash: Park Merced, As Is, SUCKS. There, I Said It.

After much talk, hearings, discussions, screaming, and caterwauling, the Board of Supervisors gave preliminary approval to a plan to transform Park Merced, an aging post-war, suburban style development into something from the 21st century.

Depiste expanding rental opportunities, offering to pay for Muni improvements, building facilities, reducing car dependence, and using earth-friendly building techniques to reduce carbon emissions, predictably, the "change nothing" crowd, in concert with the left-leaning supervisors, voted against it (but it passed anyway.)

Ironic. Despite all these things San Francisco allegedly values, 5 Supervisors voted "no" anyway. I guess being a "progressive" in San Francisco means that it's better to talk big in campaign junk mail vs. doing something in the real world. Mindblowing.

However, let's put aside the bizarro politics for a moment for now and talk about something we can all factually determine about Park Merced, as is. It sucks.

It really really sucks.

Seriously.

I'll say it before and I'll say it again: Park Merced has sucked for decades and will continue to do so unless it is substantially redeveloped/rebuilt. Anyone thinking this place is some sort of rent-contorlled Shangri-La is either an idiot or delusional. Pick one, I don't care.

In my entire adult life I can't remember a time when people didn't find these units to be overpriced, easily damaged, and had problems with deposits, repairs, etc. Many people I grew up with went to San Francisco State in the mid 80s and would end up renting a place there since it was near the school, and back then it sucked too. In the ensuing decades, every so often I'd know someone who'd move there, only to move out within a year or so because of all sorts of problems. (You'd think that someone who's worked at SFSU for 20 years would know this already, but I suppose not.)

While the current owners deserve some praise for getting the asbestos out and at least trying to make the place look nice, even now you can do a Google Search for "Park Merced Sucks" and you'll find a long list of blogs, Facebook pages and more decrying the decaying apartment blocks and bungalows.

The point is simply this: If we leave Park Merced to continue to be what it is, it is going to fall apart soon anyway and all that housing will simply go off the market, rent control or not. Good luck getting anyone to pour more money to "save" these decaying, cheaply built blocks - no sane owner would bother to do so, laws and "rights" be damned because it's a money pit. They'll just let it rot and collect the rent.

In the end, this whole episode exposes once again how some people in San Francisco sure like to talk big on issues like "the environment" , "climate change" and "housing" , but when asked to do something beyond a meaningless "non binding resolution" or a symbolic law that doens't really do anything, some people are content to simply walk away and vote to keep the status quo, no matter how screwed up it is. Worse, they cloak their do-nothingism in politically charged rhetoric about "tenant rights," even though they supported a similar deal a few years ago downtown.

The big difference? Someone on "their side" authored the deal. Partisanship trumps practicality once again at City Hall.

Meanwhile, Park Merced STILL SUCKS.

PS: Comments that are polite and stick to the issues are welcome. Comments that are rude or stupid, however, are not.

May 9, 2011

A Minor Suggestion to the SF Film Commission: Copy This Idea from NYC. Now.

Hey! San Francisco Film Commission! Listen up!

I have a great idea for you to raise a few bucks, promote San Francisco as a filming location, and help local cartoonists and artists!

Thanks to the good people at Laughing Squid, I found this post at Gothamist featuring a poster of (almost) all of the movies filmed in Manhattan, in cartoon-like form.

I'm not one to endorse wholesale copy-catting, but something similar tothis, using some of our talented local artists and cartoonists could be a triple win: promoting the movie biz in SF, helping local artists, and selling them coulposterisawesome.jpgd make some quick petty cash for the office.

Hmm? Whaddya say? Email me if you think this might be kinda cool.

Image copyright Bernie Hou of Alien Loves Predator

May 3, 2011

The Lies of Sit/Lie Continue: Focus on the Inner Sunset

loser.jpgIt seems like you can't walk down the street or read in the news another screw-up with the so-called "Civil Sidewalks" initiaive (aka "Sit/Lie") without seeing just what a failure it's been so far. Whether it's the delayed enforcement of the law, or the fact it's going to cost the City a lot of money to enforce, this law clearly isn't the magic bullet proponents promised.

I find it laughable that anyone associated with this thought the fines from enforcement would offset the cost. I mean, you're issuing these citations to "gutter punks" and schizo homeless people, who as we all know have bank accounts to pay said fines. Brilliance.

Even more genius thinking at the SFPD - first time offenders get a "warning." That's effective. Why don't we just give these alleged public menaces a hug and a lollipop too? Throw in a free Muni pass so they can spread their joy to those of us on transit, even.

I'm being scarcastic. Even though I've thought this whole law was a joke from the beginning, let's just assume that "sit/lie" is law now. Let's also assume that it's a Grand Idea, and our well paid SFPD is supposed to enforce said law (along with the many, many other laws we've passed to improve the "Quality of Life" in San Francisco). Case study for today: The Inner Sunset.

While the Inner Sunset is no Upper Haight, as the indigent population is pushed out of one area, inevitably they go somewhere else. In the photo above, I have a picture of a mentally ill guy who's been sitting in front of Posh Bagel for some time now. From his ramblings and behavior, it's clear he is in need of some mental health regimen. But in this photo he's actually breaking several laws - the "Sit/Lie" law AND the "no smoking near a window" law the Supervisors pat themselves on the back about all the time. He's occasionally acted up and driven business away from the bagel shop.

That's beside the point, however - he's breaking two laws and no one seems to mind. The SFPD could easily bust this guy for multiple charges and get him off the street. They just don't. Why?

Another case study: I was taking some pictures of signs on 9th Avenue for a potential piece I wanted to do about street signs, and this greasy, aggro homeless guy started screaming at me claiming I took his photo (why would anyone take a picture of a greasy piece of shit like him is beyond me) and he threatened me mumbling something about a "knife" and claimed the "FBI" would be calling me to protect his tinfoil hatted ass*.

Why didn't I call the police?

Simple. By the time they showed up (if they did), he'd have run off to his warren in the park or wherever aggressive dirtbags hang out. Even if he did stick around, they wouldn't do anything, and the greasy piece of shit would get away with it, and likely stab me some night when I'm returning home from the Muni. I'd have been better off shooting him or something just so I can go get a burger without being hassled, but then I'd be the "bad guy." Whatever. So much for "Sit/Lie."

It gets better. On Monday, there was a bomb scare on Irving Street because of an unattended package, shutting down the N-Judah and causing major disruptions for everyone. Turns out it was an empty suitcase. Who wants to bet it belonged to one of the many homeless people who use the entrances to stores on Irving as hotel rooms, right next to the "No Trespassing" request for enforcement notice? Again, it's not like the police don't know this is happening, and couldn't do something about it. In this case we went from clearing out people who are trespassing to shutting down a neighborhood because of a potential bomb threat.

Now compare this to the response by SFPD to an informal "Park(ing) Day" on a Sunday a few weeks back. In the past, these impromptu affairs, whereby people take over a parking spot for a few hours to enjoy the public space have never been challenged by the police, even when they're not part of the official day that happens once a year.

So what happens when some peaceful community folks got together to hang out? There was the SFPD, breaking it up, claiming there was an "anonymous" complaint. (Sure there was). So there you have it - people doing something to enhance the neighborhood get chased out, while the bums get their way and get to scream and yell. See why the "Sit/Lie" selective enforcement is bullshit?

It all comes down to this: San Francisco has been passing these laws for years. The campaign is always heated, people either think it's the silver bullet to clean up SF or Satan's decree, the stupid law passes, and then it NEVER GETS ENFORCED so nothing really changes.

Then again, most of these laws were never about doing anything - they were about trying to influence election results by somehow enlisting support for some "law," it will influence who gets elected at City Hall. Even though this never works, it's a staple of SF politics and it's here to stay.

Meanwhile if you're just a regular person who wants to enjoy public space that one pays for via the many taxes the City levies, you're being pushed out. In a few years, when Parks and Rec is done privatizing the parks and the only people out there are either homeless poor or out of town rich, you'll be the one paying the penalties in the end.

UPDATE: Oh, it gets better. On my way home I passed by the bank and guess what I saw? A homeless person camped out next to the ATM. We're aware, of course, that "aggressive panhandling near ATMs" was made a crime under Newsom (or Brown, I think it was Brown but I can't remember right now). Either way the moral of the story is this: even if you agree with this crap that's put on the ballot, you might as well vote no since it's not like it'll ever be enforced. Sure you get that election FU to the liberals, but in the end NOTHING CHANGES. So cool it, willya?

February 13, 2011

Once Again I Was Proven Right - Sit/Lie Turned Out To Be A Lie, After All...

When I wrote several pieces saying the proposed "sit/lie" law was an bogus piece of unnecessary legislation, people got upset.

Apparently pointing out the fact this law was as useless as all the other laws we've passed to "get tough on the homeless" have been made people uncomfortable for some reason. I even noted how one could easily clean up Upper Haight (or anywhere, but during the campaign the debate centered solely on an overpriced neighborhood that attracts a bad element) with existing resources and laws. Or, bring back the Committee on Vigilance, if that doesn't help. (Hey, it worked in the past!)

Folks didn't like that, and I got a lot of nasty mail saying I was pro-criminal hippie gutter punk or some such nonsense. Which is not true, as I pointed out many ways that one could use existing laws to put law breakers in jail, but no one wanted to talk about that.

This is S.O.P. for SF politics - put "feel good" measures on the ballot, get everyone all riled up to think this is either The Big Thing That Will Solve All Problems, or The Worst Thing Ever To Happen to Humanity, have lots of well-funded antagonism clog your mailbox. Newspapers get to print Big Headlines and pundits get to drone on and on, and consultants make the big bucks!

Meanwhile, nothing really changes. I think pointing out that is what annoyed folks the most!

So, reading today in the Chronicle that the SFPD is still not enforcing the law because of vague concerns about "training" and appeasing the pro-Upper Haight punk lobby or whatever just validated every criticism I had of this useless law.

Sure, CW Nevius and the pro "sit/lie" folks got their Election Day victory, and for about 5 minutes could say that voters "did something." Today, however, we find that nothing has changed at all - there are still gutter punks in Upper Haight, there are still homeless people begging for change on sidewalks, and it's a safe bet than in a year from now, aside from adding more lines to the law books, very little will be any different than it was a year ago.

San Francisco needs to make it harder to get things on the ballot, or its electorate needs to think more before signing petitions. Just because something sounds good doesn't mean anything will change. Better to use the many, many laws and expensive resources on hand to make our city the best it can be.

UPDATE: A little short of a month later, the Examiner ran this story about the sh*storm in Upper Haight, as the SFPD doesn't enforce the law, the "punks" are worse than ever, and nothing has changed (aside from a pricey chain store moving in across from a McDonalds.) Super #FAIL.

PS: Lower Haight still rocks. I'm glad I don't spend my money or time in the Upper Haight, though!

February 10, 2011

Did San Francisco Get Played By Twitter? Did San Francisco Even Care?

So far, the Transactional Politics era that kicked off with the selection of Mayor Ed Lee seems to be up and running. The latest example is the much-hyped tax break given to Twitter (ahem, businesses that locate in mid-Market) announced by Mayor Lee, and Supervisors Chiu and Kim.

This all came about after folks at Twitter suggested they might move to Brisbane (!) if it didn't get something form the cash-strapped city government. However, skeptics in the business news media wondered aloud if that was ever going to happen, or if it was just a public negotiating tactic.

Now, let's be clear: I enjoy using Twitter's services, and have no problem helping startups and the like cut through red tape and start new and innovative businesses. After all, it's part of what makes living here so much fun, right?

That said, I am surprised, what with all the Ivy League graduates we have serving on the Board and such, it never occurred to anyone to ask a few questions before rushing to the podium and feeding the media a "story" that will end up on some junk mail the people in question will be sending us the next time they run for office. (Now, to be fair, you can read a witty argument in favor of Twitter's deal at my friend Elaine's blog, Court and Snark (and I highly suggest you do).)

Here's a few:

- Twitter's valuation is on paper only - it is not a public company, nor does it make a profit. There's no indication that it will even exist in a couple of years, or not. Wouldn't we have learned from Dot Com Bust I that betting on what Internet company will be around in the future is riskier than betting on a "hard six" at the craps table? (See: FOX purchase of MySpace as an example of how betting on social media companies can work out).

- By their own admission, 25% of Twitter's employees ride a bike to work. Twitter places a tremendous value on its talented workforce and has always worked to create not just a great product, but a great place to work so they get the best out of their people every day. A move to Brisbane (which is cut off from SF via any decent transit, etc.) would be a significant disruption for these folks, and, well, it's Brisbane.

I used to work in South San Francisco, and trust me, working in suburbia can really suck if you're from SF and there's no decent transit connection. You have to drive to work and spend a lot on commuting, and you're cut off from anything going on in SF. (That said, when I worked in Lafayette, it wasn't so bad, just a lonnnnng ride on BART and then a mile walk to the office. Time consuming, but at least no car!)

Part of the allure of locating in a place like San Francisco is that you don't have far to commute, and you're still in a vibrant city, not sitting around in some office park where you have to drive 30 minutes to find a decent burrito.

- Also, in this economy, it's not like office space costs nearly as much as it used to, certainly not like it was back at the peak of Dot Com Bust I. Perhaps Mr. Brown doesn't realize that the country is in a depression, and it's not boom times (with lots o' dollars to give to pals) like back in the day.

These are just a few thoughts. I think, however the lesson that should be learned is that we don't need Supervisors rushing around, lurching from faux crisis to faux crisis, just to accommodate a few businesses that suggest in public they "might" be moving. As it stands, our City has made it clear that all one has to do is make a threat, and they'll jump.

A more reasonable response would be to create a better set of regulations that make sense, and make it easy for people to try new ideas and start new businesses with a minimum of NIMBYism and BS in the first place. This way, all thriving businesses, Twitter or not, wouldn't even think of leaving a place that's affordable, liveable, and fun to be in, no matter what you do for a living.

February 1, 2011

How to Read a Campaign Financial Disclosure Statement!

This week, the first campaign finance disclosure reports for Mayoral hopefuls were released. Via SFist and the Examiner, we learned how much each campaign had raised as of December 31, 2010. (If you were on any of these candidates' mailing lists, you probably got a million emails asking for money up until 11:59pm December 31.)

While these do report how much they raised and spent, they do not necessarily indicate how much money each candidate has on hand as of today. That's because virtually every campaign engages in a little trick whereby they will defer certain payments (salaries, etc.) from friendly vendors or employees, until after the reporting period. This then allows them to show more money on hand, even though the very next day (January 1) they'll pay out the money owed to whomever hasn't been paid yet.

Making this link is almost impossible, since the next reporting period won't be for several months, and by then, no one will remember this. It's a neat trick, for sure, but it can also bite a campaign in the backside later on. If in fact a campaign really doesn't have the money after paying out their debtors, moving forward in 2011 can be tough.

So in the end, these reports don't mean much if you don't know if the campaigns are playing the deferred payment game or not. A better way to do reporting would be to have campaigns report daily, their donations and expenditures, and have that information online and printed out and distributed to the public to designated locations daily, or weekly. That ends the deferment game, and the public would be better informed on who is paying for whom in an election season.

Of course, the next step would be to regulate taxpayer funded campaign mail, which we'll have in 2011 in the Mayor's race this year, with several candidates likely to take advantage of the program. After all, we're paying for their propaganda - shouldn't we at least regulate it in the best interests of the citizens that fund it?

January 18, 2011

The SF Weekly Calls Out San Francisco's Do Nothing/Feel Good/Soundbite Politics!

Once again, the only paper that seems willing to call out City Hall politicians of all stripes on their nonsense is in fact, the SF Weekly. They've called out the city's "pay more/get less" governance in the past, did a great piece on Muni (horn tooting time, I co wrote it), SF's pension crisis, the phony plastic bag ban, and so on.

Today's target were the do-nothing, feel-good, soundbite politics that politicians here just love to engage in.

That's because with term limits, they need to be thinking ahead to the next campaign and the next job. What better way to fill the junk mail, online ads, Facebook pages and TV ads with endless streams of feel-good bullsh!t that will make you feel great about voting for them. Unfortunately, they also accomplish absolutely nothing.

Meanwhile your taxes go up, your Muni fares go up while Muni continues to fail, we have a bazillion dollar deficit and big long term problems that no one wants to solve, and the mainstream press is more caught up with the latest horse-trading and political games at City Hall. In the end, it's the citizen that loses.

When talk of Supervisor Mar's phony "happy meal" ban started up, I too pointed out what a clusterfuck the school lunch system was under his reign on the school board, and it hasn't changed much for great majority of SF Unified students to this day. Instead of doing something constructive that would have had an impact when he had the chance, he's off pulling this crap instead. Meanwhile, I doubt anyone could name a single action he's taken to do things like say, help all those businesses in the Richmond that are the target of predatory lawsuits. Then again, that wouldn't play well on TV.

Or does it? Watching Sup. Mar's cringe-inducing performance on the Daily Show makes you wonder if he really understands much of what he's doing.

Likewise, I've been calling out both the alleged "moderate"* ex Mayor Newsom and so-called "progressive"** Mirkarimi, who have successfully bullsh!tted the entire worldwide media that the City banned plastic bags, when in fact they did not. Either really do it and take on the powers that be, or get off the high horse and admit this was all for headlines.

Until San Francisco voters decide that accomplishing something is more important than flavor of the month press releases, they will continue to get a government that they truly deserve - one that works for special interests, for politicians ,and sends the bill to the citizen and his/her children. Good luck with that.

* The term "moderate" is a meaningless piece of doublespeak that we need to dispense with. It has no inherent meaning, and it is used to cover up policies that are anything but.

** The term "progressive" is a meaningless piece of doublespeak that has no meaning either. In this town, anyone can use it so it has no inherent meaning, and the range of politicians claiming said label renders it useless. Discard, please.

January 7, 2011

President Roslin Shows Us How to Throw Down Vs. Another Public Official

Sup. Chris Daly made headlines when he threw down with Sup. David Chiu earlier this week with his whole "It's on like Donkey Kong...I'll HAUNT YOU!" line at the Board of Supervisors meeting earlier this week:

As always, though, President Roslin shows us how it's done (pardon the poor quality, it's the best I could find on short notice:

Although, as someone pointed out, for progressives, the new status quo is really more the equivalent of the Emperor and Darth Vader winning at the Battle of Endor.

January 6, 2011

Some Things About Ed Lee You Might Want to Read Since the Media Won't

Watching the ongoing sh*tshow that is City Hall right now, with Ex Mayor Newsom still hanging around, the Supervisors mostly acting like fools, and the endless array of public commenters and the echo chamber of "insiders," you can't help but get scared. I mean what if something Truly Horrible happened, like an earthquake, a terrorist attack or something else bad happens? THESE people are the ones in charge?

God help us.

Anyway, whilst hearing all the chatter about Ed Lee, I kept thinking to myself "Hmm, wasn't he involved in some weird shenanigans with Willie Brown back in the day?" But alas, it seems local media can't even search their own archives, so I did a little snooping at the inimitable SFGate.

There, I found a few articles by Chuck Finnie and Lance Williams (both of whom have left the then-Hearst owned Examiner for bigger and better things) that might be worth a read by certain Supervisors and so on, just so we all know what we're getting into here. There's more, but this was just a sampler. If I were so inclined I suppose I could research and post more links, but this will do for now in advance of Friday's showdown that's moot, since it's not like Supervisors or the Mayor or anyone involved in these dealings really cares about running a city on behalf of its citizen.

Take a look, and make up your own mind:

This piece from 2001 is the last part of a 6 part article about all sorts of shenanigans under Mayor Willie Brown.

Here's another piece, detailing problems with the Human Rights Commission under Lee.

Remember when the FBI was buzzing around City Hall, finding all kinds of weirdness? Sure you do. Right?

There were all sorts of abuses of the minority set asides used in contracting. Basically companies were getting the set-asides, despite the fact that no people of color were owning or running them. In other words, the City was extolling its virtues, while living like sinners. Surprised?

Anyway, this only took me about 15 minutes of searching on the Gate. Kind of curious that the Gate doesn't seem to read its own archives. Even more curious that all these grant-funded folks who allegedly are here to "save journalism" don't seem to be aware of things that happened prior to 2008. Hmm.

PS: For all you fans of the sit/lie law, check out the raucous debate in 1999 about an anti panhandling law that did eventually pass. How's that working out for you all?

And how's the enforcement of Sit/Lie going?

(insert sound of crickets chirping here)

December 1, 2010

Why "Progressives" Have Proven They're Not Fit to Govern: Then Again....

Reading the assorted coverage in the press about the so-called "selection process" that the Board of Supervisors has chosen to engage in to choose a successor to "Mayor" Newsom is proof of a few things. First, that so-called "progressives" are simply not qualified to be in charge of things at City Hall, and second, that frankly, NO ONE in the political class is qualified to be in charge of things at City Hall.

At the center of all of this is Board President David Chiu. Now, bear in mind that he's not qualified for his current job - he is Board President only because of the progressive-on-progressive antagonism that denied it to Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi. Instead, they picked Chiu, who never served on the Board, to run it.

Now he wants to be Mayor, so he's hoping to delay things by creating a patently bullshit bunch of "rules" that have no basis in reality or the law, to delay things and ensure that he gets the top job once Newsom leaves office.

Think about it: A guy whose big experience was pimping the Christian Right online, among other things, who has never served, and has presided over one of the most unproductive Boards in recent history, content to tilt at windmills while Muni fails, and the City's finances burn.

Now he wants to be Mayor?

Give me a f*cking break. This long list of bullshit rules he's invented have no basis in reality - you simply need to have 6 votes to be the Interim Mayor - this nonsense about no texting, being in the room or not, etc. is all a pile of crap, and "Supervisor" Chiu should be embarrassed at these kind of time and tax wasting games.

This, however, has been the hallmark of the So-Called Progressives - they're all out only for their own personal ambitions, and don't give a damn about real problems, or even their own gang in politics. Instead they engage in foolish things, or write bad laws that are good for nothing but headline grabbing, and don't help anyone. The Class of 2008 that got elected largely because it was a big presidential year and many first time voters just voted "Democrat" no matter what, has brought us some of the worst legislation we've seen in a while.

Outgoing Sup. Daly might be a pain in the ass, but he did understand his role and how to move legislation, and he's been calling BS on all of this. These new kids are children who think they're in pre-school at recess, and not in charge of a city people have to pay taxes and live in.

And now, where I piss off Everyone Else in SF Politics....

That all said, it's time to face facts: we wouldn't be in this position if "Mayor" Newsom gave a damn about finishing the job he was hired by the voters to do in the first place. Because he too placed personal ambition above the good of the City, we're in a situation where no matter what happens, working on SF's many real problems is going to be tossed by the wayside in favor of bullshit politics. Worse, it's not like he's advancing to a real office - he's going to be Lite Governor - a job with no practical use aside from sitting around waiting for the Governor to die or quit.

We were sold on Gavin Newsom in 2003 as the guy who was going to get things done and be some sort of guy focused on "policy." Instead we got a rich pretty-boy who was great at press conferences, empty promises, and endless Big Talk, but who as Mayor always catered to public employee unions, enhanced the financial destruction of the Muni system with his dishonest budgeting, and who clearly never really cared much for San Francisco or the people who work hard and pay the taxes that made his stupid gas guzzling SUV possible.

I place the blame for this guy squarely on the people and special interests who backed him, screaming and yelling how if we'd elected that Communist Matt Gonzalez the sky would fall. Well, we didn't, and guess what? We still had a wasteful Room 200 that was devoted to political games, not getting anything done.

What does this all mean? Well, regardless of what the fools at City Hall do now, or in January, you have a say in who will be in charge in 2011. There are many people already running for office. Here's a helpful hint: don't vote based on some bullshit you read in a piece of junk mail, or something the chatterers in the press or online say in the echo chamber of buzzwords.

Scrutinize the Hell out of these people who claim they want to be in charge. Demand they speak up and say what they plan on doing to make things different. Don't fall for a pretty face or a cute slogan or someone who's name you've heard.

Instead, be very skeptical, and make them earn your vote. The kind of San Francisco you'll be living in for the next few decades depends on it.

November 19, 2010

Tired of Dead Tree Political Mail? Tired of Seeing Tax $$$ Go to Shady Political Ads? Here's a Solution!

IMG_1597.JPGSan Francisco loves to pride itself on being the "leader" on all sorts of issues. Problem is, its "leaders" come up short. We say we ban plastic bags - but we don't because every liquor store in town is using plastic bags. We claim to be for all sorts of Big Important Non Binding Resolution on Big Issues, but of course, no one's listening because no one cares.

Today I propose some tough new laws that would make San Francisco in the vanguard of something we can all agree on - the end of that massive flood of dead tree mail full of hysterical BS that infects our mailbox every election year.

One of the main reasons you get so much of this junk is because….you're paying for it. Yes, that's right, you the San Francisco taxpayer were funding that flood of crap in your mailbox. That's because some do-gooders decided it's better if you pay for it, instead of those mean ol' "special interests."

Instead, the mean ol' special interests go ahead and fund their own campaigns, free of any interference from said candidates. This is better, how?

It's time for the citizens of San Francisco to ask our leaders to do better, and to set a high standard for taxpayer funded campaigns. That's why it's time San Francisco institute strict conditions on the use of tax cash for political communications.

Let's call it the San Francisco "Truth or Consequences in Taxpayer Financed Political Advertising " Law. And unlike some non-binding resolution, this will be something that has some consequences. Break the law? You pay the taxpayers back the cash - with interest.

Key Provisions would include:

-Telling the Truth: Any campaign mailer, online ad, TV ad, must file within 24 hours all the research detailing the claims in any ad. Said filing would be posted online within 24 hours for voters to review. If it's not filed or the campaign is found to be lying, they must refund the taxpayers the cost of said mailer. With interest. (For those that can't get online, print copies would be made available at all public libraries).

-Carbon Neutral footprint: this means ONLY using post consumer recycled paper, ONLY using organic inks, and all other means including eliminating gas-driven delivery, and so on. If that means direct drops to carriers, well that's life in the world of climate change, kids. This also means using local printers to do said work, since it's just San Francisco and it's not like anyone's sending mail to Vallejo or Los Angeles, so there's no reason they can't print locally at locally owned businesses.

-Tax-financed campaigns would also be required to file daily reports of campaign contributions from private sources. Instead of quarterly reports that are manipulated by campaigns, and making them hard to find online, campaigns would send in a list with copies of all checks (minus information that could lead to fraud) and said information would be posted online, within 24 hours for voter review.

And no one say it can't be done, this is where Google, eBay, Yahoo, Intel and a whole host of companies come from, so outsource it to someone from the second decade of the 21st century to do it, not some fools at the City who would just boondoggle it.


This is just a rough draft, and certainly not a set in stone policy. Obviously any taxpayer funded TV, radio, robocall or online ad would fall under the same general guidelines, etc. But I don't think it's unreasonable for us to ask the "big talkers" to stop talking, and start putting their alleged beliefs into practice.

It is time for us to ask more of those who are using taxpayer money to kill trees and send out political advertising. We've had enough of screaming headlines and distortions of facts from the people claiming to be "clean money" candidates. It's time for them to take the "clean money" - but stop playing dirty with the voters.

November 4, 2010

Is This The Election That Ends IRV in San Francisco?

The election results are in and the winners are.....well we don't know yet. We may not know for several weeks as mail ballots are counted and the tedious so-called Instant Runoff Voting process begins. But we do know this - there are many close elections, but due to the fact we're not having a runoff, and we're using IRV, some weird things are happening.

In District 10, we have a situation where the top vote getter on election day got 1200 or so votes and may be on the way to the Board of Supervisors, out of only 10,000 votes cast. (Hey wait, wasn't IRV supposed to increase turnout?). That's rather scary - when you consider that others had to get many more votes than that to also serve. We'll do the IRV counts going through the many, many loser candidates who got a handful of votes, and of course this all assumes people voted "1 2 3" (which they didn't), and in the end, God knows what the result will be. After a campaign that had a mob of candidates making 1 minute statements into a microphone, the voters really don't know who or what they're ending up with.

In District 8, we had higher turnout and a spirited contest between several well-funded campaigns. However, we also had some of the most negative and deceptive campaigning mailers produced (hey wait, wasn't IRV supposed to make this more "positive?") and we won't have a traditional runoff where candidates running such shamelessly negative campaigns would have been held accountable - and we'd have a clear choice and better debates.

And so on. The endless mess in District 6, which featured some of the nastiest campaigning, the shady "independent expenditures" and a distinct lack of disclosure on the part of certain candidates has led to a situation where any candidate elected in the IRV debacle is not going to have a clear mandate, or again, be held accountable to their statements.

Traditional runoff campaigns would provide voters a chance to make their choices clearly and force candidates to be more accountable for their general election campaigns. Also, voters would have had more time to focus on the local elections, free of the distractions of eMeg and Uncle Jerry and the endless list of stupid ballot measures that clutter the ballot in November. Plus, after a Giants season like this, voters would be more likely to pay attention than they could when having Giants Fever in October.

The promises of IRV have not materialized. They have not saved money. They have not rigged the elections for progressives. They have not made the campaigns "more positive." They have not resulted in more cooperation amongst the candidates. The second and third place endorsements are wankery for political hacks. And more money was spent on elections locally than ever before.

Time to hit the reset button, and take this out-of-town sponsored lab experiment and dump it in the recycle bin of history, kids.

October 25, 2010

Lies, Damn Lies, and Campaign Mail from "No on G"-A Disinfo Rehab Session With the NJC!

bsflayertwu.jpgOver at my more popular blog, the N Judah Chronicles, I posted a rather lengthy disinfo rehab session about the shamelessly dishonest mail being pumped out by "progressive" political consultant Jim Stearns and the TWU Local 250 A. I've already been called a "Nazi" by some anonymous troll who used a fake email address, so Godwin's Law was invoked literally minutes after posting. A new record.

Prop. G, as you may know, is the Fix Muni Now proposal put on the ballot by Sup. Elsbernd and a measure that I originally opposed, but changed my mind after spending a week or so reading every piece of paper about Muni employment rules, regulations, contracts, etc. when I co-wrote the Muni Death Sprial for the SF Weekly.

Anyway, go check it out. I have to say that among the many violations of the Geneva Convention this election has inflicted on us, the No on G campaign ranks up there with the blatant dishonesty that more well funded campaigns have been pulling this season. It's even more ironic the consultant doing this also was the consultant on the 2007 Prop. A measure that was supposed to try and help Muni, but was butchered by organized labor before it even got on the ballot. The same consultant that works for all the "progressives."

Just remember - what a "progressive" doesn't know about Muni could fill every bus and train and storage facility in the system, and still have plenty left over to fill all those hot air balloons they generate at the Board of Supervisors.

And the Award for Epic "Green" Campaigning Goes To...

So there I was, a day before all that rain, walking home when I noticed something in the doorways of all the apartments on my street...piles of doorhangers. In the picture, note how this "grassroots" campaign covered the front gate with no less than 7 on the gate and a few more on the ground.

Guess what happened to them?

These went in to the recylcer and NO ON SAW THEM. The other ones made their way onto the street, and by the next day, when it rained, they were a papier mache mess.

Now, the candidate in question shouldn't take all the piss on this one - just about every Big Campaign, especially the "No on B" campaign, did the same thing.

News flash: it is the second decade of the 21st Century. Sending a bunch of people in the last weeks of the campaign to put up expensive die-cut door hangers made of dead trees in piles around the city is NOT GRASSROOTS CAMPAIGNING.

(I guess no on listened when I said this before.)

For the same price as a pile of junk mail, these campaigns could have chosen a better way to get the message out. With online advertising being as cheap as it is, they could have spared the neighborhood some dead tree papier mache, and instead put the money into window signs and a hyper targeted mailer.

Just remember: In San Francisco, we force everyone to compost...but we never force politicians to be more Earth-friendly with their tax-funded campaigns.

Wait a minute....this may become a "thing." What if candidates who took the public financing in SF were required to use only soy inks, super-recycled paper, vegan snacks and other tough regulations?

Hey, it could happen, especially with the so-called "progressives" in charge!

And the Award for Epic Design Fail For Campaign 2010 Goes to...

This campaign season has been one of the worst in history in terms of the sheer amount of bullsh*t heaped onto the public via the media, and not just from Her Megness and Carlyfornicated and Uncle Jerry and about a million ballot measures. Combine that with some of the worst design I've ever seen, and my eyes are ready to bleed.

So imagine the amount of eyeball blood spilled when I saw this ad in the Sunset Beacon. I've shown this to professional designers and we all agreed - if they'd submitted this work to a client, they'd have been fired, and rightfully so.

What kills me is that the people who paid for this thing had a ton of cash, and it's not like you can't find decent print or web designers in San Francisco who understand political advertising.

Anyway, more political razzies as events warrant.

August 19, 2010

Solving the Sit/Lie Problem Without A Sit/Lie Law: No, Really! Read On!

Attention San Francisco! Listen up! I have a simple solution to all the bullsh*t going on right now! We can knock out several birds with one stone, and we don't have to pass any new laws to do so! Read up!

So apparently because Haight Street has some criminal punks littering the sidewalks, we in the rest of the city have to vote on some stupid "Sit/Lie" law to appease a few people in one street in one neighborhood. We don't need to do this though. (And really, do you want to get a pile of junk mail and epic yelling from all sides on this for the next 3 months? Hell no!)

So here's what I, as someone who's not a six-figure city employee, came up with in about 20 minutes:

-I was reading at the ever entertaining Uptown Almanac blog a raging debate about sweeps done by SFPD via motorcycle, crackin' down on drinkin', smokin' and the like. But look, there's like, 6+ members of the police on motorcycles. For one park! Even though there's way worse crime going down in Golden Gate Park (tree murders! muggings! coyotes having sex! Whatever!) And it's a bigger park!

-So then, I thought "But wait. The eastern edge of Golden Gate Park has way more problems, and it's also where the bad and sad that is Haight Street begins. Perhaps it might be smart to redeploy these police officers there?" Think about it. If Haight Street is the epicenter of crap in San Francisco, perhaps a rapidly deployable police force in the area might help, yes?

-So here's the deal - take 4 of the SFPD at Dolores Park. Move them over to Haight Street. Have a vigilant populace call in any criminal crap these kids pull (drugs, harassing people, threatening people with dogs, etc). Send in motorized police, have them arrested, and put in jail. Seize any and all illegal substances, and make sure everyone see this happen. Repeat as necessary until stupid trustafarians and kids from the suburbs get the message: it ain't the f*cking 60s anymore, and you can't bully and steal and do drugs on the streets.

There. Problem solved with existing laws (surely crack smoking is illegal, Mr. Mayor?!?), and we don't have to listen to the epic whining on all sides about the "sit/lie" law. Problem solved.

PS: And if that doesn't work? File ADA lawsuits for all the mean kids blocking the sidewalks. Because if there's one thing we know that work's like Thor's hammer in SF, it's an ADA lawsuit. I'm not kidding. I suggested the same to shut down the illegal prostitution in the Outer Sunset.

August 5, 2010

Big Corporation Spends Big Bucks for Right Wing Politician: This is News Because.....?

Oh Target. Everyone was atwitterin' about how the chain store was finally opening one up in San Francisco. Yes, it's a chain, blah blah blah, but if you're buying household items and other said necessities, sometimes one doesn't want to buy an artisan macrame frying pan, they just want to buy one that's cheap, and not have to go to Colma. It didn't hurt that Target had a great local PR team to boost its chances, either.

Then the "big news" started to trickle out about Target's donation to a group backing some right wing guy in Minnesota (home base of Target) running for governor who thinks that all waiters make $100,000 a year, and dislikes gay people. What a surprise! A big company supports a right wing candidate based on their economic views? Shocking. Just shocking.

Naturally, this started a storm of fiery Internet critiques. Newspaper ads appeared, and trusty MoveOn.org launched Yet Another Email SPAM Blast begging for money and whatever else it is MoveOn.org begs from you, blasting away at the now Evil Target. Predictably, conservative bloggers and talkers rallied to Target's defense, and engaged in their own brand of self promoting babble. Blah blah blah.

Finally, Target "apologized." Their first foray in direct corporate funding for political camapigns ended in a bit of a standoff, with no one really "winning" (aside from all those lefty and righty groups, bloggers and whatnots who made a few pennies off the sh*tstorm).

Let's take a breather from all the hot air, and let's review a few facts:

- The Awl makes the very obvious-but-not-obvious point that Target's corporate management and PACs have always supported very conservative candidates for office. That is their right, after all - the leadership of Target is free to support whomever they choose.

Yes, Target does some donations and other things that are GLBT-positive. But that's not a moral decision - that was a business decision to appeal to the GLBT consumer. Target also makes political donations to conservative politicians - that was a business decision to benefit Target's bottom line.

That's perfectly logical to upper management - unfortunately that kind of "having it both ways" doesn't always play well with the public. Hence the downside of engaging in politics - the Other Sides have the same right to engage in free speech too.

- Target has made a priority of expanding into urban markets with smaller stores, similar to the ones proposed in San Francisco. Urban areas tend to have well-organized, vocal GLBT communities, and losing their support because of this latest kerfuffle could cost those urban locations. I'm sure that when whoever is in charge of Giving Target's Corporate Cash Directly To Campaigns Department made the big donation to that PAC in Minnesota, they figured no one would care outside of MN. A logical assumption, but not necessarily the right one in the Age of The Internet and the Age of Angry Hyper-Partisanship.

Besides, despite all this support for anti-gay candidates, the Human Rights Campaign Fund gives Target (and allied retailer Best Buy) a sparkly 100% rating for being GLBT friendly. Remember that when they come begging for money from you on a street corner next time.

- I don't know that this whole thing will make a bit of difference in Target's plans for San Francisco. Despite the alleged liberalism of San Franciscans, they have shown a unique ability to abandon principles in favor of material goods. Target does provide cheap products from China and other necessities people seem to like, hence a lot of Target love in Liberal SF.

When they announced Target's plans, it was very difficult to find the usual band of NIMBYs and lefties who go to protest rallies speaking out against this particular chain. Then again, San Francisco plants a wet one on Whole Foods every time it opens another store, despite being one of the most obnoxious and overpriced chains in the country, so again, big surprise. The Castro welcomed a Levi's store (complete with sweatshop made clothes) with open arms, as well. The common thread being that chains that hire the best local PR people tend to get their way, because the local PR people know how to use the Politics of Feelings to keep the local hippies in check.

Target didn't do anything criminal in donating directly to some right wing group. However, the donation had the net effect of slapping their logo onto a partisan cause for the far right, for all to see. This, at the same time it's trying to have it both ways with all sorts of marketing to GLBT consumers. Given the bloodbath that is political discourse nowadays, it's not hard to see why this ended up as a PR FAIL for Target.

People know the Target brand, and it's easy to see why people might feel a bit put off when they see their favorite store supporting people that think they have no right to exist, at the same time the same company is running around saying it's pro GLBT. It's a bit of (oh God not an Orwell reference) doublethink in the classic sense of the word. Makes sense inside the office, but doesn't play well outside.

As for Target's plans in SF - bring it on. There's nothing at the old Sears location on Geary right now anyway, and if moving Target in means keeping some sales tax dollars in SF instead of seeing it all go to Colma, fine. It's not like some artisan hippie collective is going to be doing anything useful in the space.

If people really dislike Target's politics, they don't have to shop there. As for me, I've never had any delusions about what big corporate stores are and are not. They are not benevolent charities and paragons of goodliness and socialism, they are in business to make money for shareholders and themselves any way they can. I've never thought Target was the former - and I don't see why anyone else would think so either.

PS: If some corporation decided to pony up the cash for some left wing candidate for Governor (unlikely but hey, this is America), you can bet that the conservatives would be throwing a temper tantrum worse than a spoiled child too. The shoutalot ideologues in our country who make a buck off of antagonism tend to operate in the same way, be they left or right.

UPDATE: It seem the shareholders aren't too fond of all this hullaballoo. This is no surprise. Corporations are in the business of making money and serving the financial needs of their shareholders. If engaging in any politics (left or right) impedes this, then shareholders will not be pleased.

July 8, 2010

Random Thoughts on Today's "Day of Protest" at Craigslist Worldwide HQ In the Inner Sunset...

smallversionoftwitpic.jpgEarlier today the Inner Sunset had something it normally does not: a loud angry protest gathered on the sidewalk, in this case in front of Craigslist Worldwide Headquarters on 9th Avenue. This is a drastic change from normal - usually the biggest thing we see are aggressive panhandlers activists raising money or gathering signatures on Irving and 9th. So I figured I'd use my lunch hour away from the home office to check it out.

Quite a bit of news media was represented from the major network affliates, and KPIX blogger Beth Spotswood was there, as was Jim of SF Citizen, Bay City News/SF Appeal, and a documentary film crew based in Hawaii.

Needless to say it was a bit of a circus, and the N Judah almost ran over a few people who were rubbernecking in their cars or who were spilling out of the sidewalk. I took some photos, which you can see here.

Here's a few random thoughts on today's events, in no particular order:

- Jim at SF Citizen (who posted his post in record time, I might note) raises the question - why aren't they protesting at the Bay Guardian or other print publications that also feature adult-oriented advertising. I asked this to one of the organizers, who basically said that Craigslist was a "multinational corporation" and the excuse that they couldn't "fight in more places than one at a time." I hear that - no one criticized Martin Luther KIng Jr. of only having the Bus Strike in one city and not more at the same time, but then again, this is the age of the Internet, and it's foolish for anyone to ignore the fact that if one eliminated craigslist.org's ads, they'd simply move to another site or back to print - but not be eliminated.

It is also foolish to ignore the fact that there are plenty of calls to attack craigslist coming from other entities that would eagerly take the cash for said ads. The fact that protesters had an online competitor of craigslist.org speaking there was a bit much. They might as well have invited eBay to jump in too. (Meg Whitman oversaw an expansion of eBay's adult sales so I guess she couldn't have shown up. That and the whole lawsuit thing.)

-I've met Craig Newmark and I think he means well. I've seen him take a lot of unneeded crap from people (Chronicle employee, you know who you are), and Craiglist did wonders for me personally when I needed to rent a place to live, or sell furniture online without it costing me a fortune. On the day I launched the N Judah Chronicles, he posted a cool post that helped generate initial interest, and the fact is if Craigslist wanted to, it could have been 100x as big as it is now and make literally billions, but chose another route.

That said, I think craigslist.org's handling of the bad publicity, and the legitimate public policy questions raised by many has been poor. Like almost every other tech-based business, there seems to be the sense that because it's not a traditional Industrial Age business, somehow it's immune from those that would wish it to be burnt to the ground (both in the print world and elsewhere). It's similar to the folks at Facebook.com and other tech companies that ignore those in power that have sway over little things like "antitrust laws," "privacy" and the like.

If I was in the kind of trouble these guys are in ("Craigslist Killer?" Really? WTF??) I'd hire a company like Barbary Coast Consulting or Dezenhall Resources to better defend the company - not paint over the craiglist.org sign.

-I dislike immensely the idea of human trafficking and I've read enough about how organized crime operates to know this is a problem. We have also had a serious problem with this in the Outer Sunset where cartel-run operations have busted for some time now. I don't like the idea that the Outer Sunset, because of its relative calmness and "remoteness" (Remote? In a city of 49 square miles? Really?) is being targeted by cartels for the prostitution business and the drug businesses. The fact that people are being hurt and killed in these situations is sickening too.

That said, we have had tough laws on the books for years, and that hasn't stopped anything - it just pushes things into the shadows, ironically giving organized crime even more power than it already has (drug war anyone?). California is likely to legalize marijuana this fall (!) and there have been suggestions that legalizing, regulating and taxing (and punishing like hell those that break said laws) it would have an effect on organized crime profits. (i.e. like the drug cartels growing marijuana out here).

Could something like this work and create a safer, regulated, less crime dominated situation for consenting adults? I'm nowhere near an expert on said matters, but outright bans, and big penalties for those who do this haven't eliminated the problem. Is there some other way? Regulating personal behavior can go too far - watch the opening credits of Milk for an example.

People of the Internet, you tell me.

That's all. I'm sure I've said plenty to irritate everyone on all sides of the issue. I'm happy to post constructive critques, but namecalling and insults will be deleted. Flame on.

PS: Debunking the Disinfo Here: This blogger claimed (or at least implied) that the Mercury Insurance sign at the location of Craiglist HQ was designed to "hide" Craigslist.

This is a mistake.

Craigslist.org has always only occupied the street level portion of this property. The upper stories have always been other businesses. There is in fact an actual Mercury Insurance agent at this location. Prior to that it was something else. Just sayin'!

June 22, 2010

"Meatless Monday" Resolution Doesn't Go Far Enough - We Need "Do the Hustle" Tuesdays Too!

IMG_0965.JPGSo, in old news recycled, we're being reminding in various web-spaces that the City of San Francisco did indeed pass a non-binding resolution declaring a weekly "Meatless Monday" in order to "encourage" (love that word) people to be more holy or something. The people for it think they've really made a difference or something. Plenty of outsiders have seized upon this as another billy club to beat on Our Fair City with, and out-of-state Gate commenters are literally so angry and screaming mad they're going to need their blood pressure meds re-upped early.

Calm down, people and take a nice deep breath before you blow a blood vessel, let's review for a moment, shall we?

-Like any emotion inducing non-binding resolution, the key word here is non-binding. That means it's nothing more than a majority of supervisors expressing an opinion, albeit under the aegis of the City of San Francisco. Still, if a majority of Supervisors were sitting in a bar, and all agreed they liked Guinness, that would have about as much legal impact as a "non binding resolution."

The twist is, however when these things are doing at City Hall, emotional proponents and their feisty opposition scream and yell, cry and moan about this like it means something. IT DOES NOT! I can go to McDonalds, buy a big bag of burgers, and stand out on the street giving them out to anyone I so choose and the Man can't crack down on me.

Hell, I can even SIT DOWN ON THE SIDEWALK and hand out burgers and (for now) no one can stop me. If I want to eat NOTHING, not even VEGETABLES but simply go breatharian, I can do that too!! The point is, nothing is going to change, aside from some dead trees to print this thing up. Ooh, how "revolutionary!"

-I have no problem with Supervisors expressing their views on current events, by the way. I can respect other people's points of view, and I'm sure this had good intentions. There is an irony here, however - the resolution's main supporter, Sup. Sophie Maxwell, currently lives in a district with no real grocery stores. Try finding vegan anything or just some fresh produce on a regular basis, and you'd be hard pressed to do so. During a recent trip on the T Line I took the time to walk the neighborhood, and news flash, one has to get in a car or take a train to get any decent food. I certainly didn't see anyone thinking "Gosh we should stop selling meat on Mondays to save the planet" - because of course wealthy liberal types aren't going to go take the T Line to dialogue on these - they're too busy parking a Prius or something.

Continue reading ""Meatless Monday" Resolution Doesn't Go Far Enough - We Need "Do the Hustle" Tuesdays Too!" »

June 8, 2010

Why I Didn't Do My Usual Scan and Critique of Mail...

For years I've often picked up pieces of political direct mail and scanned them in, with critiques, much like the way mainstream media does with political TV ads. I'd collected some for this season, but two things got in the way of doing so in advance of the election - technical difficulties (both with the blog software and my scanner) that took forever to fix, and a lack of material.

Normally I tend to get a lot of mail because I'm a mail ballot voter. But this year most of my mail was concerned with things like this zany Democratic Central Committee stuff (I mean really, do you even care who's on this, much less remember ever hearing about it before this year?) which is lovely for those who produce it and for the people running. As I sat here trying to come up with something to write about the actual mail, it was hard write it in a way that people would actually read. I mean, it's one thing if you're writing about advertising for a big campaign for Governor or Mayor, but Central Committee? Really?

I suppose what surprised me the most, with all this money being spent, is how not one slate of candidates, or any of the various local organizations promoting their favored candidates, used any online advertising. When you consider that the typical mail piece costs $600 per 1000* voters mailed to, versus online advertising where you're paying less than 10% of that**, you'd have thought that maybe allied candidates or whatever would have mixed in a little online advertising to reach voters, instead of relying exclusively on dead tree which end up in the recycle bin. And it's not like their consultants wouldn't have made money either - they just wouldn't have had the overhead of paying designers, printers, mailhouses, postage and shipping, but would have still made their 15%.

Ah well. I'm kinda glad this boring primary is over. I'm really hoping the next few months we see something better out of our candidates for state office, and for city office. I know it's asking for too much, but would it kill some of these people to avoid devolving debate into small smart-ass soundbites and instead demonstrate that they know something besides what some smart guy told them to say?

June 1, 2010

The Disinfo Rehab Guide To the Worst Primary Election Ever

mckay1970s.jpgThis Democratic Primary hast to be the worst yet, because we have a lot of no-names running for office, super low turnout projected, some truly goofy candidates, and a lot of other things to vote on because people with a lot of money put 'em on the ballot. Meanwhile our state is literally falling apart. THIS is the best we can do?

It's all a big mess, so I've put together a list of things I voted for which you can use or not use, your choice. In many cases I'm leaving my ballot blank or writing in candidates. This is especially true for "unopposed" candidates - hey, unopposed incumbents, you're all wonderful people, but what's the point of voting in a race with only one candidate?

So, here goes:

Governor: If AG Brown's challenger had started up their efforts last year, instead of last month, this might have been an interesting race, especially after Gavin Newsom went down in flames like the Hindenburg on crack. But he didn't, so former Governor, Mayor, Secretary of State, Community College Trustee and Attorney General Jerry Brown gets the vote. Still, it would have been nice to have a real race, to help strengthen the eventual nominee.

Lt. Governor: F*ck this Peter Principle crap. "Mayor" Gavin Newsom has been about as useful as a football bat and as honest as a BP oil executive. The last thing we need is to give him a promotion so he can act like more of an insufferable bigshot. Vote for Janice Hahn - she seems like a nice person (So nice she hasn't really used the treasure trove of info against Newsom that much) and her dad was a cool Mayor in the 60s. More importantly, in a general election, you can bet the Republicans will use his record to engage in a political beating that in all likelihood will result in violations of the Geneva Convention. No one wins with that.

Attorney General: This has to be one of the worst primaries I've ever seen. You'd think that the California Democratic Party would have some top notch people running for this. Instead we have a DA that has an aversion to prosecuting crime (Kamala Harris), an Internet executive who's well meaning, but never served in law enforcement (Chris Kelly), and a trio of term limited legislators (Nava, Torrico, and Lieu who I am sure are all good people). I don't know that any of them are qualified in an era of high tech crime, violent crime, and so on to be our top cop in California. Given that only Harris and Kelly even have a shot, I'm voting for Kelly and hoping to GOD that if he wins, he hires some good people to ensure that the problems of crime are taken seriously in the next 4 years. Besides if Harris wins, her record is a killer outside the boundaries of Liberal San Francisco.

Insurance Commissioner: Having once worked for an Insurance Commissioner (in Washington State) I can safely say that this job seems like a yawner, but it can be often the most important job in the state. A good Insurance Commissioner can make sure that insurance companies are held accountable and fight them when they try to pull shenanigans like Prop. 17. The fact that our current one is a joke doesn't negate that. Vote for Dave Jones, as he's endorsed by all the Good People.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tom Torlakson's record on education in the Legislature was actually pretty good, and he used to be a science teacher so there's that. I've met him a few times and he was always willing to listen to people worried about education, when others wouldn't so I voted for him. Also, the ruler in my desk drawer somehow has his campaign logo on it - I think I got it at a convention or something, and it's a good ruler.

All of the rest of the state offices are uncontested, so I'm not bothering with them. Congrats in advance, people.

There's more, click on through for the rest!

Continue reading "The Disinfo Rehab Guide To the Worst Primary Election Ever" »

May 28, 2010

Is Critical Mass Getting Special Treatment at Ocean Beach? UPDATED

UPDATE: Our friends at SF Appeal did the responsible thing and picked up a phone, and here's their report. Thanks for the link, SFA!

hankmoody.jpgSince it's the last Friday of the month, that means your commute home, be it by bus, car or bike, will be interrupted by "Critical Mass," San Francisco's taxpayer-subsidized, police-escorted party time for the cool kids with their fixies and assorted cool looking bikes. What's interesting is that unlike in the past, they've published their entire route on flyers at a website. This is strange because the claim has been that "no one" organized Critical Mass, that's a spontaneous thing, blah blah blah.

Strangely enough, on their own website and flyers, they not only give out the route (which is nice in that you can avoid this temper tantrum in advance), but they also tell people that "wood and beer (are) welcome." Wait, what?

A quick review of the rules at Ocean Beach clearly state that alcohol is forbidden, and that permits are required in advance for a group of 50 or more (and it's clear there's going to be more than 50 people participating in the ride.) So the question is this - will the sheer mass of people participating allow them to break the rules everyone else has to follow?

Continue reading "Is Critical Mass Getting Special Treatment at Ocean Beach? UPDATED" »

May 25, 2010

Why I Like Watching "Treme" But It Also Scares the Hell Out of Me

treme.pngIf you've not had a chance to see HBO's latest show, "Treme", by author/ex-journalist/blogger hater David Simon (he of "The Wire" fame), I strongly urge you to do so, by any means necessary. If you have HBO and OnDemand, it should be there, if not, well wait for the DVDs or explore (ahem) alternate means of content delivery or whatever, but you really need to see this.

The Short Recap: it's a story about people from various parts of New Orleans in the immediate aftermath of Hurrcaine Katrina in 2005-2006. We all know what a supreme f*ck up FEMA and the feds were after this disaster, and we've all seen the pictures on TV. What Treme manages to do is to personalize those stories and do that expertly woven tapestry of lives and events that Simon pioneered in The Wire.

It's both fascinating, and horrifying to see what can happen to an American city in the 21st century, and how "shock doctrine" ideologues, good old fashioned corruption and racism, and the economic realities of a debt-ridden nation of do-nothings can collide and create the mess that we still have to this day.

Now, while I enjoy the drama and a well written TV series, and so on, Treme still scares the Hell out of me every week I watch the show. That's because I truly fear what is going to happen to San Francisco when the inevitable Big F*cking Earthquake hits us.

We are not prepared for what people will do to our city after the quake, and after years of rule by Prince Gavin Newsom and the Board of Supervisors, I genuinely believe that the only line of defense we have against a horrifying immediate aftermath is going to be the citizens of SF, and them alone, helping each other out. What's scarier though, is how this corrupt city will no doubt use the disaster as a way to destroy neighborhoods and create "Suburbia By the Sea," and historical anything be damned.

Continue reading "Why I Like Watching "Treme" But It Also Scares the Hell Out of Me" »

May 20, 2010

What Is A DCCC? Why Are You Voting For it in the June Primary? And Why Am I Writing In Myself?

sampleballotwritein.jpgIf you are registered to vote in the Democratic Primary, by now you may have received your ballot, and after voting for things like nominees for Governor, Equalization Board, and State Senate, you find now you've got a section for "Democratic County Central Committee" with about 453,213 candidates listed. And, you have likely received more political junk mail for this office than you have in the past. All the while you wonder "why am I voting for this?"

Quick Review: the DCCC is the Democratic Party's official party organization in this county*. As a registered Democratic voter, you can pick who serves on this committee, which decides local endorsements that will bear the "official" Democratic Party seal of approval on them. In addition to the people you vote for, Democratic members of the state legislature, the US House, and so on also have a vote (usually represented by proxy from someone in their office).

Big yawn, right? However, in San Francisco, it's not a big yawn because whomever controls said DCCC becomes the one that's in charge of the endorsements for local office. Since so many people simply read the Official Endorsements of the Democratic Party slate card (and any junk mail said organization issues) and votes that way, no matter what, you can see why this then becomes a Very Big Deal to political types who care about such things.

If you run for DCCC, you're running for a thankless job. No pay, endless hours spent at meetings, meetings which are held in a concrete bunker downtown (really), and all sorts of political acrimony. Running also means trying to contact voters in 1/2 of the City, usually with little or no money. Having helped out on one of these ages ago, I can tell you it's very very difficult for the average citizen to run for these things and be able to get anyone to know their name, much less win, because the cost is so high, especially if you use dead tree mail. So why do people run for this thing again?

Continue reading "What Is A DCCC? Why Are You Voting For it in the June Primary? And Why Am I Writing In Myself? " »

May 18, 2010

How Many Trees Must Die For the Sierra Club's Sins?

There's a really boring primary coming up in June and by now you've likely received a voter guide, and some political junk mail. It's rather amazing to see so many groups and campaigns (especially for DCCC) that have little money to begin with, who are spending big money on dead tree mail and doorhangers.

It's especially baffling to see the Sierra Club, which is allegedly in the business of Saving The Earth or something, literally littering neighborhoods with thousands of dead-tree doorhangers. In fact on the day they hit my neighborhood, not only did they do a poor job of distribution (often just dumping them in a pile at the front door or in our case putting them on our gate), but because it was windy, 80% of them blew all over the place. Really effective and "green," smart guys.

It was followed up by what is likely to be their one postcard sent to voters before the primary - one that cost a lot to mail because postage is now so high for bulk mail, and because they had to use a special blend of smug and soy to print the damned thing. Guess how much I (or any of my neighbors) looked at it? Well you can come by the recycle bin by our mailbox and see how effective all those dead trees were.

It never ceases to amaze me how lower budget campaigns insist on using dead trees as their exclusive campaign communications medium. It's especially amazing given that San Francisco has the highest concentration of voters online anywhere in the United States, and by using targeted online advertising, they could reach more people for less money, and a big percentage of their budget wouldn't be at the Post Office. And yes, their consultants could still make the same 15% they would off the junk mail.

San Francisco: Where talk is cheap - and so is "going green!"

February 25, 2010

OUCH! Former Newsom Campaign Manager Garry South Issues Scathing E-Blast On...Gavin Newsom?

frustratednewsombayview.jpgOuch.

That's all I could think of when I was sent this email from Garry South, the chief strategist of the Hahn for Lt. Governor campaign, who also happens to be a former advisor to the now defunct Newsom for Governor campaign. Newsom, as you may know, might actually run for LG after all, and the fact one of his former advisors is working for another candidate? Well one had to wonder if that was going to end in tears or not.

Today, the following communique was issued by Mr. South. Upon reading it, all I could think of was just how much of a knockdown dragout fight this race could be. Read on:

STATEMENT BY GARRY SOUTH

CHIEF STRATEGIST, JANICE HAHN FOR LT. GOVERNOR

FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR, GAVIN NEWSOM FOR GOVERNOR

I am surprised and perplexed that my friend and former client Mayor Gavin Newsom apparently has decided to jump into the lieutenant governor's race at the last minute - especially against an already-announced candidate who would be the first woman lieutenant governor in California history.

In every one of several conversations we had about the job while he was running for governor, the Mayor expressed nothing but disinterest in and disdain for the office of lieutenant governor. In fact, he was derisively dismissive of Gray Davis's decision to run for and serve as lieutenant governor prior to running for governor ("I'm not a Gray Davis," he said). On a couple of occasions, he directed me to repudiate publicly in the strongest terms that he had any interest in ever running for lieutenant governor.

The Mayor himself told the Chronicle in October that rumors he may run for lieutenant governor were "absurd" and "a complete lie," and angrily accused Jerry Brown of personally spreading false information to that effect. As recently as December, he himself said flatly "no" when asked directly on a San Francisco radio show whether he intended to run for lieutenant governor.

In addition, when he precipitously pulled out of the governor's race in late October - against my advice - he said he couldn't continue as a statewide candidate because he was a husband, a new father and the mayor of San Francisco. So far as I know, he's still a husband, a new father and the mayor of San Francisco. So it's pretty hard to see what's changed over the last four months that would now allow him to run for another statewide office.

If the Mayor does run, it is his responsibility to explain why he now claims to want an elected office he summarily dismissed publicly numerous times over the last several months, and which just earlier this year he called "a largely ceremonial post" … "with no real authority and no real portfolio."

I've got to wonder why Mayor Newsom would want to subject himself to a statewide race against some of his own people, who seem quite willing to take out the blowtorch and pliers and go to work on the Mayor over here. I sure as Hell wouldn't want to go through that, and I can't imagine why Newsom would either. Even if he won the primary, he'd come out of it with enough damage that it might make the LG in reach for the Republicans in November since everything's kind of up in the air now.

Bring on the pain, Democrats!

February 4, 2010

Some Relevant Facts on "District Elections" to Consider....

This morning there's word some folks downtown are trying to change how we elect the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco (again). This time, there's a proposal to elect some via district and some city-wide. As with any "reform" in San Francisco, this is less about making government work better for all, and is instead another attempt to game the system for one side over another.

That's not to say that the current system, implemented in 2000, didn't do the same thing. However, I'd suggest that the problem isn't with district elections as a concept (even in a smaller city like San Francisco) - instead it's been the inability of certain factions to adapt and overcome the new terrain. Put simply, if you are faced with district elections, you need to find good people that you can work with to go forth and run who are actually, well, you know, known in the neighborhoods they'll be representing.

This is basic campaign strategy 101, and yet for almost 10 years, this concept seems to have been lost on some, who seem to want to only support candidates who merely take orders, like a waiter or a waitress in a diner. There are at least two Supervisors elected in 2008 who could have been defeated, had perhaps one side used some tactics not involving the political equivalent of a sledgehammer, but didn't, and well, they lost.

However, there's one thing lost in all the discussions about "district elections" that people have generally missed as they blabber on SFGate comments about "the system"- prior to 2000 it was literally impossible to run against a single incumbent Supervisor. Yes, you read that right. If you didn't like what Supervisor John Doe was doing, and you wanted to run against him and give voters that choice, it couldn't happen. (Yes, we did have district elections for a short time, which elected Sup. Milk, among others, but it was repealed soon after the assassinations in 1979.)

That's because of the peculiar way Supervisors were elected prior to 2000. Basically you had many candidates run en masse for Supervisor for a few open spots. The top vote getters would get the seats on the Board, and everyone else would lose.

If we were using this system today, we'd have five spots for people to run for. Every single candidate from the serious to the goofball, would all be on the ballot. This, being SF, you'd have literally a bajillion names to choose from. You, the voter would pick 5, and the top vote getters would be elected, and the rest would lose. You can see how this protects incumbents, who'd have the most money available and "name ID" (which you San Francisco voters really get off on), and how difficult it would be to target a poor performing incumbent who has a lot of cash.

It's fairly stupid, and between this, and the fact that in the 1990s at one point the Mayor at the time appointed most of the Supervisors anyway, you can see why people rebelled and sent a very loud, very pointed "FU" to Mayor Willie Brown and his appointed princes and princesses.

The only problem with district elections in San Francisco, frankly, is the size of the districts. They're so small, and often so oddly drawn, they lead to some strange stuff. For example, I used to live on one side of Judah Street and was in Sup. Elsbernd's district. I moved a block away, and suddenly was in Sup. Mirkarimi's district. WTF?

There is one idea, however, that might have been worth considering, but I think back in those hyper partisan days when it was the downtown folks sticking it to everyone the way the progressives do now, no one was interested. In many cities (such as Seattle, where I lived for 7 years), they elect candidates citywide, but each position is "numbered."

This way, each council seat has its own list of candidates to choose from. If there's an incumbent people can run against them, and if there isn't, then the seat is open. It creates some accountability with incumbents, but doesn't have the limits of a district based system, which was a concern amongst some in Seattle. (Oh and in the Irony Department, it was I who first suggested district elections for Seattle based on experiences in the runoff of 2000. Ha!)

The point is simply this - we have been trying to game the system for one side or another with lots and lots of laws and rules, many of which contradict each other. We tried to punish "big time consultants" with a special tax and filing - we ended up punishing the low-paid campaign manager of the struggling citizen campaign. We passed IRV/RCV/WTF and it has been nothing but an expensive pain in the ass that hasn't delivered on its promises, or gamed the system well (ironically since IRV it is protecting incumbents and "moderate" candidates for citywide office have been unopposed!). District elections have benefits, but there's nothing suggesting that City Hall is any more responsive to the citizen on Real Issues (Muni, anyone?) than it was before.

San Francisco citizens deserve a process that allows them to choose who they want to represent them at city hall that's free of too many corrupting influences, while also being compliant with the Constitution. We do not need the government to game the system to help one faction or another, and we do not need a system so complex, only the wealthy can run.

I can't imagine how it is that a city with so many smart people has to make things slow, stupid, and difficult, and I've got to believe there's enough Smart People out there who can press the reset button and end the howler monkey nonsense that passes for political debate about issues like this. People have had it with a City That Doesn't Know How, and would like to get their money's worth when they pay for a multi billion dollar City/County system that could be doing a lot better.

February 1, 2010

Ha! I Was Right! Elsbernd IS Gunning For Higher Office!

A few weeks ago, I was asked to write a guest blog post for the SF Weekly's blog, "The Snitch," about the upcoming week in joy that was the Board of Supervisors that week. Since it was also the week they were taking most of the week off, it was a short post.

However, it seems one of my predictions was right on the money. In the post, I noted that Supervisors often come up with big sounding (but do nothing) "charter amendments" so they can sound like they're a big knowitall when they run for Some Other Office. People disputed this, but as it turned out I was right about Sup. Sean Elsbernd's plans for his career.

Today the SF Weekly reported that Elsbernd is aggressively courting supporters for a run for the US House seat held by Jackie Speier, should she decide to run for Attorney General. That's interesting because a) most of the candidates running (6? or more) on the Democratic side are unknown outside their home base, b) Speier leaving the US House after just winning the special election not too long ago says a lot about the US House, and c) Speier could declare for governor and have a ton of support, since there is no declared candidate for Governor on the Democratic side, and the election is just 4 1/2 months away (!).

Does Sup. Elsbernd (or any Supervisor for that matter) deserve a promotion? Personally, I'd hold out for a better candidate, preferably someone not contaminated by the do-nothing dysfunction of Sacramento, or the culture of blame and recrimination that infects the Board Chambers or Room 200.

All of this is moot, if Rep. Speier stays put. Given how crazy the Democrats are, and how they are prone to dumping gasoline on fire and lighting the match, I figure their potential collapse just gets more and more likely the crazier these primaries get. No one votes in them anyway, so if you do vote, you're like 1000 votes instead of one. Have fun!

January 11, 2010

Supervisor Chris Daly's "Language Issue" - Who Gives a FRAK?

bulworth-poster.jpgSo it seems the only way you can get the mainstream news media's attention these days is to put a witty update on "Facebook," and suddenly everyone loses it over a throwaway remark. I'm talking, of course, about Supervisor Chris Daly's "vow" to use the dreaded "F-word" (no not "frak" which would have been way cooler) at every meeting he attends.

To which I say, "who cares?"

Watching the mainstream media lose it over this, however, has been the really obscene thing. I mean, it's not like there's so little going on, what with earthquakes (are we prepared), Muni (are we burning it to the ground) and Everything Else worth reporting - no, take those precious column inches and airtime to yak about this. Predictably, one of the few people who has a rational, sane take on this is none other than Beth Spotswood, over at the SF Appeal.

Personally, I don't care what kind of "language" he uses, and it's a bit much for the Mayor to get all pious now, after the long running disaster his mayoral reign has been. I'm much more interested in what Sup. Daly, and the Board, and the Mayor are going to do to try and repair the damage caused by Gov. Doofinator and his allies in the Democratic Legislature to the budget, so that things that actually matter to me, like a functional transit system and a safe city to live in, are addressed.

If saying "f*ck" helps that along, well that's fine with me. Just go do something productive, and no one will care. Certainly not the mainstream press!

December 16, 2009

Please Read The SF Weekly This Week If You Want to Save San Francisico...

4215461.47.jpgIf you haven't already done so, either go get this week's SF Weekly at the newsrack, or go read the article "The Worst Run City In the US" online as soon as you can. It's a fact-driven piece that takes an in-depth look at why San Francisco city government is a stew of FAIL. Rather than an ideologically driven hit-piece, instead it points to actual facts and actual things that happen, and exposes the systemic bumbling that is ruining our city every day.

I would add one thing to this - in the end, while we can all complain about (insert politican(s) here), voters have to take some responsibility for this state of affairs. The fact is that none of these people would have been elected without SOMEONE voting for them, more often than not based on emotions, rather than reason, based on silly issues rather than real policy. It doesn't help that voters give every single incumbent an automatic second term, no matter what. (This defeats the point of term limits)

That's why so much of this goes on. The fact that supervisors spend endless amounts of energy on non-binding resolutions over policies they have absolutely no control over is proof. They know they can peddle this "feel good" crap to the voters, who will think Something Is Being Done, when it's not. Just this week we had the pathetic spectacle of "Supervisor" John Avalos parading people to speak out on a resolution to "urge" the state to allow convicted felons the right to be home health care workers. Plenty of heartfelt testimony was broadcast live on cable TV, and everyone got to feel good about standing up for the rights of people convicted of felonies to take care of people's grandmas in their home. WTF?

Mind you, if you think that Governor Schwarzenegger and the State of California (who are in charge of said policies) gives a hoot about what San Francisco elected officials think, go talk to Tom Ammiano about that one (and he's actually important and stuff). It's politics at its most cynical, offering false hope to a few, and a false sense of accomplishment to the electorate and the politicians.

But the Other Side is no better. Mayor "Football Bat" Newsom has been excreting press-release policies since day one, all to make him sound like a great guy, but when you look at his actual record, the only thing he's managed to do is give big pay increases to government workers, and f*ck Muni up bigtime. We were told endlessly in 2003 that if we elected that "crazy" Matt Gonzalez, we'd have a government out of control and an executive who would not be able to manage a city responsibly. Well guess what? Plenty of people DID vote for Matt Gonzalez, and yet, that's exactly what we got anyway.

Over at The N Judah Chronicles whenever I've talked about the Muni budget, I always point out that people are always being asked to pay more for a system that is getting inferior by the day. I can't even count the number of days where the train system has had a total meltdown - always at rush hour time. The same goes for most functions. We're always asked to borrow money (in the form of bonds) for basics like roads and water repairs, while real money goes to pay for poorly managed services. This is like borrowing money to pay one's living expenses each month while spending one's paycheck on crazy crap, then wondering why one is broke and in debt.

Until voters demand better candidates, or step up themselves, and are willing to make their decisions based not on how many f*cking junk mailers or Facebook fan invites or ads they get, and treat this like the serious problem that it is, they will continue to be served up a failing government, and frankly, they will deserve it.

Our City is worth saving, because it's OURS and it's awesome. Or at least it could be if we actually wanted it to be so.

Image credit: SF Weekly

November 17, 2009

Just Go, Gavin. Just Go. You're Obviously Done with SF, and Now We're Done With You.

By now everyone knows Newsom press spokesman Nathan Ballard has decided to leave, and use his consderable talents elsewhere. This is just the latest in an exodus of talent from the Newsom "Administration," now in full force since his departure from the race for Governor (and his subsequent absence from work).

Pretty much everyone has been dogpiling on him since then, especially after he took off for Hawaii, and since returning, doesn't talk to the press, lies often, and doesn't seem to be doing his job. Now, I don't like kicking a guy who's down because his dreams of being Governor died recently, but we are paying him to be the chief executive of San Francisco, and right now we have a lot of bad stuff going on.

When I saw this clip from CBS5, I realized what a petulant, bratty little child our "boyish mayor" really is. After reading about yesterday and today's many Muni failures (for which he was AWOL), among other Big Problems, it's time for the adults to take over Room 200.

It's time for us to say Go, Gavin Newsom. Just go. Don't wanna be Mayor? Fine. Go back to your businesses, your family, and never have to be responsible for anything again. Just do your thing and it's cool and we'll move on, and everyone will be happier. But it's time for adults to take over and start taking this "running the city" thing seriously. No more "big ideas" or press conferences.

UPDATE: As I write this, the always awesome Mat Honan posts this link to a single-serving site: Has Gavin Newsom Resigned Yet? And don't forget I Love You Gavin Newsom.com as well.

October 29, 2009

Just In Case You Were Wondering....Some Ideas on How To Vote on 11/3...

So there's an election going on next Tuesday, but I think this off-year must have set a record for Most Boring Election Ever. Aside from some mail I've received about Prop. D, and a mailer from the local Democratic Party, this election has been a snoozefest. That may be a good thing since next year you're going to see elections from Governor on down to Supervisor that will more resemble something out of Braveheart.

Most of the measures are of the "And WHY do I have to vote for this?" variety. It never ceases to amaze me how I can vote for gay marriage rights, arcane changes to the City Charter, President, judges, and how the Board of Supervisors conducts its internal affairs, but I (and all SF citizens) are deemed intellectually unable to vote directly for anyone who runs Muni. Hmm.

Whatever. So here's a few recommendations, as well as some ways to have some fun with your ballot....

Prop. A - Some Thing About a 2 Year Budget Cycle - If you really want to change how the Board and the Mayor do the budget, elect better people to office, instead of relying on "Name ID" and a pile of junk mail to tell you how to vote. I've seen nothing out there that explains how we're going to get Budget Nirvana by passing this, so I voted "no" just to send it back to the kitchen for a re-do.

Prop. B - Some Thing About How Many People Can Work For a Supervisor - Again, why do we have to vote for this? Does the Mayor have ballot measures determining how many people he gets to hire? No. I actually voted "yes" but only because I seriously doubt, in these crap-tacular budget times, you'll suddenly see Supervisors with a legion of "aides" running around City Hall. But who knows? I think I voted yes for the "WTF" factor.

Prop. C - Some Thing About Candlestick - I'm not sure the 49ers give a hoot about San Francisco, and I don't know that a mere 700k is going to change their minds if we get some company (hey what about Depends?) to rename the stadium. Sure, "Depends Stadium" sounds really cool repeated about a million times, but the other wrinkle is that the city's take on the money goes exclusively to...park directors.

Wait WHAT? These "one thing has nothing to do with the other" measures are lame. I voted "no."

Prop. D- Some Thing About Billboards Saving The City - This is the only thing that I've seen any mail for - about a million pieces saying "yes" and one saying "no" (with the most irritating disclaimer I've ever seen). These kinds of measures usually devolve into two arguments - Passing "D" will turn around the crappy part of Market Street into a mega Nirvana, because all you need are big light up signs to change a street that's spent decades falling apart. The other side argues that passing "D" means you ensure a total destruction of the city and our way of life. Neither side is particularly credible.

I honestly don't see how, in an economic depression where ad spending is way way down, slapping up a few light up billboards are going to make the pee and the dilapidated theaters and porn shops go away. That said, no one else is doing anything to improve a really crappy part of San Francisco either. I might have accidentally voted "yes" for this (I really don't remember) in the spirit of "hey it couldn't hurt." So vote as you see fit.

Prop. E - Some Thing About City Buildings and Billboards - I suppose we're supposed to hate all ads or something, since this is a theme this year. There's just one problem with this measure - in an attempt to keep ads off the City Hall dome, there's an interpretation that could end up wiping out all the Muni bus shelters.

Right now the entire cost and maitnenance is covered by the contractor who is required to build and maintain them. They pay for them with advertising. I'm sure if this were passed, some person with the money and/or time to persue it , could find a way to kill the contract. Then you'd have cash strapped Muni in charge of the bus shelters. Rather than risk waiting for the N in the rain sans shelter, I voted "no."

Fun with the Waste of Time That Is IRV This Year

Remember how we were told that voting for so-called "instant runoff voting" was going to usher in this big future where under-funded candidates could be freer to challenge The System and all that?

Yeah, I know. Worked out well so far, right (insert sarcasm tag here).

The problem this year is that we have two incumbents, each running unopposed this year. This is nothing new - three years ago I wrote about this very same phenomenon and offered up then what I'm offering now - Fun With IRV Ballots.

I mean, the city went to all the trouble to print "IRV style" ballots, the least we can do is use them. So, while we all like ya, Mr. Herrera and Mr. Cisneros, and you did get my vote, I decided to enter in a few names for 1st and 2nd who will most assuredly lose. This year I used the names of favorite TV characters:

For City Attorney:

1. Don Draper
2. Bert Cooper
3. Dennis Herrera (Winner!)

For Treasurer

1. Hank Moody
2. Greg House
3. Jose Cisneros (Winner!)

Fill out your ballot with your own favorite characters. If all of this seems silly, well it is. So is the fact that all the promises made about IRV never came true. We're left with paying for an expensive system that hasn't lived up to its promises. If someone is a lame nobody running for office, they still lose. Just because we played games to fit the needs of a handful of ideologues whose true agenda has yet to be revealed, doesn't mean anything is different.

Incumbents are always re-elected, and the candidates who have the most support always win. It's even easier when no one bothers to run against them! So have fun. Besides, Don Draper is cool.

October 14, 2009

The Most Annoying Disclaimer On A Piece of Mail. Ever.

IMG_4080.JPGSo I was going through what little political mail I've been getting during this quiet political season, and the other day I got one from the No on D campaign, decrying the horridness of billboards on Market Street and so on. Whatever.

I mean this is one of those magic bullet measures that proponents say will bring an era of rose petals and unending "free money" for whatever, and the opponents say will be the beginning of Armageddon. So I normally don't pay attention.

However, this little chestnut on the mail piece, next to the union bug was an eye opener:

"Printed with VOC-free, soy based inks at a 100% wind powered union shop."

Wait. WHAT?

You have to be f*cking kidding me. They really went there, huh?

As always, my colleague "Mason Powell" had the best response upon seeing said disclaimer:

"You mean a beer fart from the pressman counts as wind power?"

F*ck yeah!

October 9, 2009

Let's Show Gavin Newsom How Crowdsourcing Is Supposed To Work

image.php.jpegSo the other day I ranked on "Mayor" Newsom's gubernatorial logo crowdsourcing efforts, something I still stand by. I mean, not to go all Don Draper on this, but this selection is a joke. I say this with many years of experience conceiving and executing mail and online campaigns. And as I've said before, although I personally do not do design, I know how to talk to creative people in the design field to execute good products.

After talking to several colleagues, we all agreed that perhaps this might be an opportunity to show how crowdsourcing is done properly. Now while I can't offer cash prizes for submissions, I DO have a couple of projects coming up soon that will need some work, and I'm interested in casting a wide net for talent.

So, in the spirit of Being Constructive and Having Fun, I'm putting out a call for my own Gavin Newsom Logo. Here are the design parameters I'd like you to consider:

-Since we're not the official campaign, we're going to go with "Go Gavin Newsom!" as our slogan/logo/whatever.
-Stylewise, I'm looking for something that's pop-culture aware, but not too cutesy
-The artwork has to be easily seen from a distance (signs) and reproduce well on a variety of media (t shirts, stickers, mousepads, signs, etc)
-Irony, humor, satire and so on are welcome if done well
-If you use the Obama Font, do so carefully. It's already overdone as is, so show me something new.

Personally, my biggest wish in the political mail business was to do a bio of a candidate in the style of a 70s action movie poster (you know the one where they have scenes of the movie behind the main actor, all popping out at you from the center), but no one ever went for it. I suppose action scenes of commission meetings and speaking out at public comments time aren't as cool to detail as chasing bad guys in a speedboat in Louisiana.

May 18, 2009

Why BART Board Member James Fang Is a Liar or A Fool....or Both!

In politics, a bad idea never goes away, especially when it is campaign gimmickry designed to boost the fortunes of a politician desperate for headlines. The problem is these silly campaign gimmicks can often end up becoming very bad, very expensive policy, and you, the citizen, end up paying the price.

The latest example has been this ongoing media barrage BART board member James Fang has been creating over his half-baked idea to use cell phones to pay BART Fares. Today's Matier and Ross detailed Fang's $4000 trip to London to go to a conference hosted by vendors of said technology. All this in addition to BART resources directed to "study" this issue at great cost. This, during a budget crisis.

But let's take a trip in the political Wayback Machine to Fang's 2006 campaign. Fang is a Republican in one of the most non-Republican parts of California. In a re-election bid against Emily Drennen, an advocate for transit and other Good Things, he had to find a way to ensure his re-election, using, of course the taxpayer-funded resources BART could offer.

The result was a completely phony "demonstration" of technology that simply does not exist in the United States (on the scale it does in other nations), with a whole slew of media on hand to "document" a completely falsified event. Naturally, in the closing days of the campaign, Fang, with a local press ready to reprint his every word like good PR people, was able to eclipse any discussion of real issues and win re-election. All based on a lie.

It should be noted that yes, you can use cell phones in Europe and Asia to make purchases of all sorts. Cell phones in Europe can be used with vending machines to buy sodas, and Japanese cell phones can show television broadcasts and so on. There's just one problem - not one US cell carrier currently supports any "pay by cell" techonlogy, nor do any other transit agencies, any vending machine companies and so on. So Mr. Fang is either a liar or a fool when he somehow suggests that magically, within a couple of years, the US will be falling in line with European or Asian standards for cell phones amongst all its cell phone carriers.

The TransLink system, which cost a ton of money and allows for more efficient fare collection with BART, MUNI, AC Transit, and Golden Gate Transit, is FINALLY almost ready to go. MUNI passengers are already finding that using a TransLink pass is easier, and it's expected to help all beleaguered transit systems with money issues. And yet Mr. Fang insists on spending scarce taxpayer dollars to go on junkets and insist on repeating his campaign gimmicks - on our dime. Worse, he's actively undermining a significant regional project the public seems to like for no other reason than his own personal political gain.

The press needs to be admonished for going along with this phony baloney gimmick during the election and not asking the tough questions instead. However, Mr. Fang should also be admonished for wasting taxpayer dollars at a time of crisis, as should BART's management for allowing this to continue. Mr. Fang's actions are no longer a matter of political disagreement, but are costing taxpayers money, and the lies and foolishness need to stop NOW.

BART riders can't afford it any more.

January 28, 2009

A "June Special Election" for San Francisco? What, Are You Kidding?

A lot of folks around town are talking about the city's budget problems, and the prospects of a special election and whether it'd fly or not. While the City deals with its headaches, the MTA and MUNI are dealing with similar misery.

There's a multitude of bad laws that deny people the right to determine what they want to do or not do locally (so much for local control of local government), but putting all that aside, I don't see how anything put on the ballot for a "June Election" would succeed.

First, while the board voted to call out the situation as an "emergency" to get the ball rolling to have the actual election, there is nothing in writing, ready to go to the voters as of now. So that means we've got at least a few weeks, maybe a month before we'll have some sort of tax thing, probably written in a hurry, that'll be approved by the board and go through all the legal wrangling by early March.

Ok, now the fun begins. We have some sort of thing or things to "vote on" but guess what? No money raised, no campaign committee ready to go, nothing. And we're in the beginning of March. That means that now, the group of Good People, trying to do whatever, have at best two and a half months to pass a major tax measure on the ballot, during terrible economic times, and when recent history has shown how hard it is to pass these things in the first place.

This is just asking for a fail. Let's look at recent history:

-To get the SF General Hospital Bond passed (2008's Measure A) took a tremendous amount of hard work by a committed team of experts, a lot of coalition building over a long period of time, and more, to win the supermajority needed to pass. And that was a huge bond for something most people like (i.e. most people are not likely to want to blow up the hospital).

-To get the MUNI Reform Measure passed (2007's Measure A) took a significant amount of serious negotiations over many months before we finally got something worthy of the ballot. It eventually passed, but it had well-funded opposition and it took a hard working team to get it passed.

See where this is going? Without building up a solid coalition of support, and a campaign that can fight a tough fight with a solid organization, all this talk will just result in failure.

If you believe that some sort of new tax source is necessary to save the city, you might want to consider holding off a little bit and have a chance of winning, instead of the usual "put something on the ballot and hope it passes" strategy.

November 2, 2008

UPDATED: Case Study: One To One Campaign Marketing AKA Why I'm Supporting David Chiu

One of the most misunderstood parts of Campaign 2008, be it the Obama for President campaign, or a down ballot race, has been the power of social networking and one-to-one marketing in political decision making. Plenty of consultants and the like know buzzwords like "social networking," "Facebook," and so on, but many still don't quite understand what we're really talking about here.

While the Internet and Web 2.0 have brought about new, fast, easy ways for people to talk to each other, in the end it has been the power of friends and neighbors talking to people they know, who have emerged as the "king makers" in elections. This is nothing new - the only difference is that today, it's much easier and quicker to get people to engage each other and do the kind of one-to-one marketing and grassroots organizing that was possible in the past - but with a significant time/money/staff cost.

A case study could be how I chose to support David Chiu for Supervisor in District 3. Now, normally I would either a) not care or b) not necessarily support someone that's being pushed by the fatwa issuing Bay Guardian and Chris Daly.

But because I heard about David's campaign from people I know and whose judgment I trust, such as my friend Stan (the quizmaster at the Blackthorn's trivia Mondays), and my friend Anna at Metblogs (who lives in the district), their opinions mattered more to me in the end than what some ad said or what Chris Daly's shifty junk mail says.

Now, think for a moment about this year's campaign season, which has seen a blizzard of junk mail and TV ads from various groups all wanting to influence local elections. Few of them, however, regardless of political side, really mobilized a one-to-one communications plan, or did old-school organizing to beat back the "big money".

Case in point: The Realtors! They have been noted for their flashy spending on tv ads and mail. Ironically, the biggest weapon they had in their arsenal went virtually unused - the many Realtors who have blogs, email lists of their customers and business contacts and so on. A campaign to organize these Realtors, and transform take someone people trust - their Realtor - and turn them into an evangelist for the issues and candidates the Realtors as a group care about, went largely unused.

Had they borrowed a page from the UFW/Old School Organizing handbook, and utilized Today's Technology, they could have been the stealth army that would have taken everyone by surprise.

There's been some interesting analyses of the Obama campaign and all note the importance of technology.

However, without millions of Americans getting involved, being organized, and talking to their friends about who they supported for President, all the gadgets in the world wouldn't have made a difference.

Ironically in a digital era, it's the kind of old-fashioned organizing at the grassroots level that will have the most impact now, and in the future.

Progressives in town seem to think a grassroots campaign has to be an underfunded mess of people running around in circles, gossiping and dropping dead-tree lit on people's doorsteps. Others seem to think the only way to win is with big TV ads and lots of mail.

Neither side gets it - in an era of high tech, going back to what politics used to be - the door to door organizing and listening to voters (as well as talking with them) is what will win in the future. The only difference is now there are many new tools to make this easier and more efficient.

UPDATE: Today, the Chronicle had an interesting story about how blogging can help Realtors get more clients and develop a relationship with their customers.

Hmm. How about that!

October 26, 2008

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished - Why Is the Yes on H Campaign Resorting to Dirty Tricks?

Disclaimer: I do some work for No on H.

It seems no good deed goes unpunished. Sunday, the Yes on H ran the strangest attack rally yet, calling anyone who opposes Prop. H a "liar." And yet, in promoting the rally, which was both pro-Prop. H and against Prop. 8, the ban on same-sex marriages, it seems the pro-H people engaged in a bit of lying of their own.

First, they put out press releases claiming that the Alice B. Toklas Democratic club was participating in the rally. Not true, according to sources at the Toklas Democratic Club, who declined to particpate formally as a group.

But second, they seemed to omit the fact that PG&E, one of the sponsors of the No on H campaign has given a significant donation to the No on 8 campaign, as have many large corporations (Apple and Google being some of the most notable).

Now here's where the tortured logic begins. It seems that giving to No on 8 is not "good enough" for the angry partisans supporting Prop. H, which frankly I don't understand. The No on 8 campaign needed help. Many large companies decided to stand up and give significant donations to fight Prop. 8. To me, that sounds like a good thing.

Now, obviously, when it comes to any issue, be it Prop. H, what search engine to use, or what computer to buy, there is going to be a diversity of opinion within the LGBT community. That's fine. What's not fine is seeing Prop. H engage tell lies about it, and condemn a corporation that is now the target of a boycott campaign for standing up against Prop. 8 and make the suggestion that PG&E is for Prop. 8.

That's the worst kind of lie, especialy when we see the hateful actions of folks on the other side.

October 1, 2008

Is This REALLY The Best Way To Make Serious Energy Policy Decisions?

Presidential election years bring with them not only a Big Decision about who will lead our country, but a plethora of ballot measures at the state and local level. This year is no exception - we're being asked to vote on a tremendous amount of policy questions (and in SF, a lot of non-binding "feel good" resolutions that have no power at all). In particular, however, voters are being asked to make some pretty major decisions about energy policy at the local level, and with 2 state propositions.

Energy policy is a complicated question at best, and our state's experience with the disastrous "deregulation" scheme should have been a warning about the dangers of politics in energy policy. We were promised lower rates and competitive energy providers - instead we had Enron and others driving up costs and causing rolling blackouts when there was no reason for them.

Now, we're being asked to make some serious decisions this November, and while the campaigns all use the language of Good Intentions, all seem to be hiding something in the details. People are right to be concerned about global warming and our dependence on oil from unstable regions of the world. Unfortunately, the three measures we're being asked to vote on contradict each other, or hide what they're really about.

Prop. H, on the San Francisco ballot, claims to be about requiring the City to use clean energy sources in the future. It even has produced campaign commercials online that claim the support of Sen. Obama and Vice President Gore for the measure (even though neither has endorsed it). More importantly, though, the measure is not really about clean energy at all - it is all about a public takeover of the power system from PG&E. Ironically, PG&E has signed the world's largest contracts for solar and wind power - but that's something Measure H backers won't tell you.

There is no reason why the two should be connected at all - yet the promoters of Prop. H are playing off people's good intentions to pass something else - and give the City the authority to take over any "utility" - even if it has nothing to do with power generation.

Likewise, Propositions 7 and 10 make many similar green promises about clean energy. What's strange, though is that many people already in the business of providing solar or wind power oppose these, because they were written to benefit specific companies or people (such as T. Boone Pickens, the right wing oil billionaire). Even an expert would have a hard time decoding what these things really do or do not do, so it's hard to imagine how we, the people are supposed to make a decision about this when we have our daily lives to lead and so on.

It is too bad that our Governor and our Legislature are busy posturing and politicking to perhaps come up with one comprehensive energy strategy for California, one that helps us reduce carbon emissions and provides us with stable energy supplies we need to compete globally. This patchwork of local and state measures, none of which seem to coordinate with each other, is a recipe for another energy mess like we had in the past, and it's time citizens demanded more from our supposed leaders.

I have to believe with all the smart people we have in California, be they from academia, business, the technology sector, and so on we can't come up with a better way to make good energy policy that will leave a positive legacy for ourselves and our planet, instead of this hodge podge of politically motivated ballot measures.

September 17, 2008

UPDATED: When "Progressive" Becomes A Synonym For "Lying A**hole" : Case Study with Steve Jones, Guardian City Editor

I've never made a secret of what I do for a living - anyone can find my LinkedIn profile or my resume online, and so on. I've also created several blogs to voice my opinions for fun, including the N Judah Chronicles and BSG fanblog Adama for President. And, as a result, I'm often asked to contribute writing and analysis for private compaines, often because of the work I put on display here.

So it was funny to get an email from Steve Jones, the City Editor of the Bay Guardian, who wrote this rambling, nonsensical note, apparently upset that I don't worship at the altar of Public Power, and was asked to come work for those opposed to the $4 billion power grab by Supervisors Daly, et al:

So you troll the blogs calling people out for not being progressive enough, and now you're PG&E's bitch. I hope they've paid handsomely for your soul, you hypocritical scumbag.

(I penned a short, polite response to Mr. Jones, sans profanity and homophobia, but I won't post it until he sends another insult via Facebook. Folks shouldn't have to read private correspondence online.)

UPDATE: You can see a transcript of the silliness here. You can see how unhinged (and how much of a liar) he is. Despite the fact that I always said I was working on the campaign once I got hired, and despite the fact I complied with all the rules, and went overboard to make sure that people knew what I was doing, he's just too angry, stubborn and stupid to admit he's printed lies. Oh, and I wonder if his bosses ever just picked up the phone and screamed insults at their subjects like he did.

I love the part about "corporate sponsorships in Seattle and the East Coast." Um, dumbass, I didn't have a blog in Seattle, I never published anything back then, and I worked in fundraising for legislative candidates. East Coast? Yeah, the corporations sure were hard at work electing Mark Green in 2001 or Felix Arroyo in 2003 in Boston. I guess if all you have is anger, stupidity, and a blind belief in outdated Marxist bullshit, you don't need to do any work. Or admit you're a foil for the Yes On H campaign.

Um, whatever. The first part of his little note (gotta love that junior college journalism degree writing there) makes no sense, but the last part just sounds childish. I mean really, my "soul?" I didn't realize the method of transmitting power to customers involved the spiritual realm, but according to the Great and Wise Mr. Jones, it does.

Now remember, folks, this is someone who claims to be a "journalist" but in fact is a partisan as any "flak" for a cause or candidate. Pot calling kettle black, for sure.

Thin skinned and a poor journalist, I've had some exchanges with Mr. Jones about the medicority the Bay Guardian has slid into. And each exchange reinforces what I've believed all along - Mr. Jones just doesn't have the temprament to be a reporter and just isn't a very nice guy. Some of his former colleagues have confirmed that notion.

Continue reading "UPDATED: When "Progressive" Becomes A Synonym For "Lying A**hole" : Case Study with Steve Jones, Guardian City Editor" »

September 8, 2008

The Dirty Secret Behind the So Called "Clean Energy" Initiative in San Francisco

There's no denying that people want to see Good Things happen in San Francisco, and around the country, when it comes to global warming. People have responded to Vice President Gore's film, and want to do the right thing. So it's a bit disturbing when people's good intentions are manipulated by politicians, as they are with the so-called "Clean Energy Act" (aka Measure H) in San Francisco.

The measure claims simply to be about "clean energy" sources for San Francisco. But once you read the measure, you find out two things. It's not really about encouraging the use of clean energy sources for San Francisco residents - it's about a multi-billion dollar take over of a private utility by the City of San Francisco's Board of Supervisors. But more importantly, the measure would actually replace enforceable state regulations with regards to clean energy, and allow a City-run utility to use any power source - clean or not - so long as it's "non nuclear."

Yes, you read that right. The so-called "Clean Energy Act" has two loopholes large enough to drive a fleet of panda-burning Hummers through that allow this to happen. First, publicly owned utilities are EXEMPT from the strict regulations that will ensure private power companies will adhere to rules that require clean energy sources. So while PG and E, a company strictly regulated by the Public Utilities Commission, must comply with these rules, a City-run system will not.

Worse, the act defines clean energy as simply any source that is "non-nuclear." By that definition, coal, natural gas, diesel, and other fossil fuels could be used by a City owned system. While San Franciscans will go to the polls and think they're voting for clean energy, in fact they could be voting to open the door to more polluting energy sources if a City-run system can't provide the power we need to turn on the lights every day.

San Francisco has an unfortunate history of packaging bad legislation in good wrappers - in the 1950s citizens voted to "save" the historic Cable Car system - but the measure in fact dismantled the useful and profitable network and turned it into the tourist ride that it is today.

Likewise, the proponents of the Clean Energy Act use the spirit of Al Gore's call to fight global warming to package an expensive takeover of a private utility by the Board of Supervisors - one that has consistently been rejected by voters in the past. Voters will need to cut through the packaging and see this plan for what it really is.

August 28, 2008

The City's Voting Machines STILL Uncertified? Yes We Can!

One of the bigger lies that was told during the campaign to force IRV/RCV/WTF down everyone's throats was that the system would "save money," because it would mean no runoff election.

Well, once again, that absurd little promise is proving once again to be false. Last year we had to hand count and re-do people's ballots for them, all by hand, because of problems with our voting systems. Now, the ugly little problem no one wants to talk about rears its head again, as it's been revealed NONE of the City's voting machines are certified for use. Yes, really.

There's a hearing, of course, but it is scheduled 6 weeks before the election. There is a good chance that the vendor in question might not make the cut - meaning that in an election with a huge turnout, a ton of things on the ballot, and yes, IRV/RCV/WTF, we will be hand counting at tremendous expense, for weeks.

Last year we saw the specter of IRV/RCV/WTF advocates actually attacking Secretary of State Bowen for doing her job to maintain the integrity of the election system - because they wanted to defend their ideological vies, voter rights be damned. Look for a repeat performance this year.

IRV/RCV/WTF's many promises have mostly been proven false as the system has been implemented. Campaigns are NOT nicer, the top vote getter on Election night wins anyway, incumbents are ensured re-election (thus essentially giving all elected officials 8 year terms) and the crowded podium at debates and in news coverage ensures that the discussion of complex city policy is reduced to 15 and 30 second soundbites at endless "debates" that tell you nothing about what these people plan to do. That is, when we even bother to have people run against each other.

July 22, 2008

Misc. Reasons I'm GLAD I'm Going to Nerdvana This Week...

Tonight I depart for San Diego, where I, and 149,999 of my nerd brothers and sisters will be gathering for San Diego Comic-Con. Three times the size of Burning Man, with celebrities and air conditioning (but with folks in costume, like BM), it should be fun.

However, taking a look at what's up this week, I'm kinda glad I'll be out of town. True, I'll miss this cool Obama Art Show on Thursday, but here's what else I'll get to avoid:

-Everyone's Favorite Bully, Chris Daly, and his many fatwas issued to anyone who dares oppose him as the "de facto" leader of so-called "progressives" on the DCCC (that's the Democratic County Central Committee for those of you who don't follow such minutiae).

Since the takeover of the DCCC by elected officials, the same politics of pettiness, bitterness and attack of City Hall has now infected the DCCC. They're having some big meeting this week to decide this non-matter. Somehow, all this bullsnot is supposed to be an improvement over regular citizens running the DCCC. What-ever

Funny how the people who claim to be "progressive" and open are the ones making threats, taking power away from us citizens, spamming my inbox (that's you, Mr. Daly!), and issuing fatwas, and not The People They Oppose. Kinda makes you wonder, doesn't it?

-The Mayor's wedding. Hey, lucky guy, marrying an attractive actress (if you haven't seen her in Life, you're really missing something), whatever, but I ain't going and I'll read about it in People Magazine, or even better, at Beth's awesome blog.

Besides, the Mayor's a cool guy and all, but he's no Christian Bale aka Batman. Or is it the other way around? I dunno. Anyway, best wishes, Mr. Mayor, but I shall be hanging with the Cool Kids from Battlestar Galactica and the Fox Network.

-MUNI failwhales to come. The reason a MUNI blog writes itself most days, and I'm sure Something Big will happen when I'm away (it usualy does). Instead I'll be enjoying the convenience of San Diego's trolley line to take me to the convention every week.

Anyway, that is all. Have a fun week, keep enjoying our uniquely SF summer weather, and stay tuned for updates from the Convention floor at Galactica Sitrep, and will be posting pictures on Flickr here!

June 25, 2008

Matt Gonzalez's Running Mate a Racially Insenstive Boor? Or Just a Garden Variety Jerk?

Once again, the primal scream lefties show just how ridiculous, and how full of white self-entitlement they are....it seems Matt Gonzalez's running mate, Ralph Nader, offered some of his oh-so-brilliant insight into the Obama candidiacy:

"He wants to show that he is not a threatening . . . another politically threatening African-American politician. He wants to appeal to white guilt. You appeal to white guilt not by coming on as black is beautiful, black is powerful. Basically he's coming on as someone who is not going to threaten the white power structure, whether it's corporate or whether it's simply oligarchic. And they love it. Whites just eat it up."

(Obama's folks served him a dose of STFU good and hard within hours, to their credit.)

Wow. Class act, that Ralphie. Now, if a conservative person said this I'm sure we'd hear all sorts of outrage from the so-called "progressives," but I guess if a washed-out white liberal guy who isn't even on the ballot in most (or any) states, I guess it's ok.

No word on if Magical Matt endorses this Ferraro-like outburst. Funny how local progressives, and local Green elected officials (what few are left) who know Matt and Nader the best are supporting Obama this time around.

June 24, 2008

I Nominate Christian Bale to Play Gavin Newsom in "Gavin Newsom: The Movie!"

While watching Yet Another Viral Marketing Piece for The Dark Knight, I became firmly convinced that when they make "Gavin Newsom, the Movie" they should get Christian Bale to play Our Mayor.

Now that that's settled, it's time to cast the rest of our Cast O' Characters! Who would you have play Supervisor Aaron Peskin? Or Supervisor Chris Daly? Or Any of the Supervisors? Or City Attorney Dennis Herrerra? Kamala Harris? Our many talented and funny bloggers about town? Or the cast of 100s in supporting roles in City Hall?

San Francisco is full of smart, creative people. So post your suggestions in the comments and have fun!

June 12, 2008

Disinfo Rehab Emergency Edition: Newsom and The Chron and "Free" Wifi

Give the Mayor's team some credit - at least they know how to use a compliant press to their advantage. This morning, readers were treated to an interesting article about free wifi in San Francisco by private company Meraki - and Mayor Newsom was there, taking all the credit for it.

Even though, of course, Meraki is a private company, and unless the Mayor moonlights as a salesman for Meraki's repeaters, no one at City Hall did a thing to build Meraki's wifi networks in the Mission, Noe Valley and Bernal Heights for a couple of years now. (Note to the Chronicle - use The Google to find out these things!)

Instead, this was a chance for the Mayor to Look and Sound Good for the run for Governor, hang out at an SRO, and use the event for what it was really for - repeating loud and clear that "the board of supervisors sucks" and the failed wifi deal as another example of it.

There's just one problem with this hit - if we had gone along with the Earthlink deal the Mayor was pimping, we'd be totally hosed right now. Earthlink decided some time ago that "Muni WiFI" was not a good business to be in, and has left cities around the country (such as New Orleans and Milpitas, to name a few) high and dry. So in this case, some scrutiny from the Board, instead of a Napoleonic Council rubberstamping Mr. Gavin's edicts, was a good thing.

The funniest part of the story is of course the rogues' gallery known as the Chronicle "Comments" section, where the politically correct thugs get together to troll the story to death with their wit and brilliance. The funniest was how angry some people got at the thought of an SRO having an antenna on top - and how misniformed most of these people were in general!

All in all a good day for the Mayor's team, though, as "facts" didn't get in the way of a hit on the Board. It is going to be a long summer for Campaign 2008 - and just wait for the avalanche of crappy mail to hit your mailbox this fall. Hopefully they'll avoid the graphic design tragedy that was the Yes on J sign....

June 4, 2008

The Only Post Mortem I'll Do on the Leno/Nation/Migden Bitchfest...

Plenty of geniuses can do all the political post mortems on how Carole Migden and her Sacramento crew invented a new way to lose a sure-win re-elect. For me, I have but one question: will the people who stole my photos of frakking Flickr at least have the courage to reveal themselves, and buy me a case of Schlitz Beer for stealing my photos?

Come on. You stole an image from me, and didn't have the courage to post an email address or any contact info on your website. The election is over, Leno won, now come clean. It's good for your karma, and I'll happily forgive as a good Christian, but I can't do so unless you 'fess up.

May 31, 2008

Disinfo Rehab Weekend Edition: Daly Det Cord, Dead Tree Mail, and More! (UPDATED)

Living in the Inner Sunset, and for some reason not on any mailing lists, I've missed out on most of the "fun" that is Political Dead Tree Mail this season. In particular, I'm missing out on the flurry of eastside mailers for the Democratic Central Committee, which include many current Supervisors as candidates.

The Bay Guardian's blog reports that apparently the so-called "Change" Slate of candidates is sending out a slate card mailer with the Bay Guardian's logo on it, implying an endorsement of Sen. Carole Migden (the SFBG in fact, endorsed Mark Leno.) There is a more detailed photo of the mailer in question over at the Wall discussion board as well.

I took a look at the pictures myself, and the "too-clever-by-half" design makes it rather easy for voters to be misled that it's a Guardian slate card. Yes, it does say "all change initiatives and DCCC candidates endorsed by" above a logo that looks almost exactly like the Bay Guardian's. At the same time, however, they use the logo as the return address as well.

Yes, there is a disclaimer, but to the casual eye scanning a pile of crappy junk mail, it seems to give the Guardian stamp of approval to all candidates. The fact that people are complaining about it to the Guardian indicates that whatever the alleged "intent," if the end result is the voter is feeling misled or confused, the piece fails. Not being a mind reader, I don't know if this was intentional or just plain dumb, but I wonder what progressives would say if the roles and candidates were reversed. I seriously doubt they'd be giving the Other Side the wink and a nod.

More interesting, though is how Supervisor Daly has taken a "do it my way or go F**K yourself" attitude, saving his best vitriol for people who've been on his side in the past. He has issued two heavy handed progressive fatwas on SF Labor Council director Tim Paulson - someone whom I've worked with in the past and always found to be an honorable, decent guy - and who, with the SFLC, did a lot to support Supervisor Daly in the past.

Continue reading "Disinfo Rehab Weekend Edition: Daly Det Cord, Dead Tree Mail, and More! (UPDATED)" »

May 22, 2008

Why I'm Voting Yes on A and B, and NO on Everything Else....

I've never been a big fan of ballot measures. Once the last resort for a distressed citizen to get a social ill addressed by government, they've now become the first weapon for special interests with money to jam all sorts of bizarro spending and borrowing into government, often with paved Road-To-Hell like results.

Living in San Francisco affords one the benefit (!) of voting on even more of these things, which more often than not are simply "advisory" measures with absolutely no power - a sort of civic primal scream against whatever a few thousand signatures wanna scream against.

In a way, it makes voting that much easier since I pretty much vote "no" on all ballot measures, especially bonds, the leading cause of budget woes, and yet, the most popular of measures. Every year there are pleas to vote for "more money" for worthy causes and the like, and yet no one ever stops and wonders where this "free money" comes from. It ain't free - it's borrowed money at high interest rates. If you want to know part of the reason civic budgets are always out of whack - it's because they have tons of bond debt service to pay.

For June, I'm keeping it easy and simple. I'm voting "Yes" on A and B here in San Francisco, only because they're trying to fix something. "A" tries to address the problem of paying teachers in one of the most expensive parts of the country in as best a way as possible under current rules, and "B" is a housekeeping measure to fix some problem with pensions and the like. Fine, I'll vote for 'em.

As for the rest, I'm voting a nice big "NO" on all of 'em. Most of these things are either political grudges gone wild and a waste of the paper they're printed on, or they're things that just aren't that trustworthy. Since I was not part of the dream team that got paid by Lennar to pass Proposition "G" (and because I'm worried a company with so many financial problems would be given a piece of Our City), I'm voting NO.

I'm also voting NO on F, because while the intentions may be honorable, the stream of "Frak You's" I get from its supporters have convinced me they already have enough votes to win, and don't need mine. (Odd way to win an election, kids!).

As for the infamous Props. 98/99 - a big NO on both of them too. Classic special interest big bucks buying a way onto the ballot. Unless a state ballot measure really does what it says or revolutionizes our arcane budget process in ways we honestly need, I always vote NO on all state ballot measures.

I don't care if it's some Worthy Cause with ads that make you cry like you're watching a Hallmark ad or a Lifetime TV Movie, I say no! We pay a Legislature and a Governor a lot of money to pass laws - they should be doing that, instead of running around paying for lavish trips with special interest campaign dollars.

Remember, your ballot is taxpayer financed fun. If you find yourself bored with some of the more arcane races, feel free to write in names as you feel appropriate...or for more fun, bullet-vote for your favorite candidates for Democratic Central Committee! Enjoy!

May 15, 2008

Today in Election WTF: Whiny Flyers In the News Racks

For a while now I've been seeing these ink-jetted flyers inserted in newsracks, mostly in Guardian racks, around town.

What's not immediately obvious is whether these anonymous little missives are pro Pelosi/Sandoval/Migden, or anti Pelosi/Sandoval/Migden? They really could go either way - yet another example of how the Entitled Left in town loves to make noise, but hasn't quite figured out how to do so in a way that makes sense to Regular Folks.

I'm guessing it's the latter, but I could be wrong.

April 30, 2008

Disinfo Rehab With the Chronicle, City Hall, And Hollywood

Here we go again.

On the heels of some parliamentary wizardry that killed the latest tax credit package for "film production," the Chronicle, right on cue, had had a front page article bemoaning the "loss" of film productions in town. Predictably, it talked solely about "tax credits" being offered by various local and national governments, and how SF is "missing the boat" because we're just not offering up enough gimmies to Hollywood.

The problem with the article is that it narrowly defines the "whys" of the lack of film production in San Francisco without considering some very important facts that are important to any film producer, large or small, who wishes to film anywhere on location ( like the fact that previous San Francisco tax credits haven't worked out at all like promised.) Yet nowhere in the Chronicle story is this noted, despite the fact this isn't a state secret.

I've written about this issue before because like many of us, enjoy seeing Our Fair City in TV and movies. Bullitt and the first Dirty Harry movies remain some of my all time favorites, along with Vertigo, to name a few.

Having worked on a documentary about the Screen Actor's Guild, I've had a lot of time to study the issue of film production here and abroad, and have had a chance to talk to a lot of people in the industry and in the unions who have studied this issue for literally decades.

So let's do a little disinfo rehab on the subject and see what we get:

First, it's important to remember that a tremendous amount of film credits in Canada cited in the Chronicle are given to film productions that are primarily created by Canadians to defend and enhance Canadian culture and "Canadiana" (yes that's a word). Thus, to compare any incentive program offered up by a budget-challenged small city to that of the Mighty Canadian Govenrment Protecting Canada's Culture is comparing apple and oranges.

It's also important, up until the dollar's recent decline, the weak Canadian Dollar made filming very cheap, which was the initial appeal for filming in the Great White North. (Ever wonder why so many Sci-Fi channel movies and TV shows look the same? Vancouver!) Don't discount the additional appeal of doing your work in a nation whose cities look like America, but aren't beset by violent crime and filth, either.

Also, as I've tried to tell the chess club brains at City Hall, filming in San Francisco is expensive for reasons you can't give a tax break for. Crews are going to cost more, because rent and taxes here are extremely high. Neighborhood folks, well established in the siren whine of Today's City, will complain about the inconvenience of a long film production, "jobs" be damned. Crime is out of control in San Francisco - we don't even prosecute murderers here, much less property theft. Anyone wanna risk having their brand new movie camera stolen in SF? I doubt it.

And most importantly, we simply do not have the sound stages and related facilities that Los Angeles and its environs enjoy. That alone is going to make it much more feasible to come in to town for a week of exterior shots, then shuffle off to Vancouver or LA to finish the job.

All important topics worthy of coverage by policy folk and media folk. There's plenty of more creative solutions to enhance our economy with jobs and investment from the film industry others have proposed.

The problem is, no one at City Hall or at the Chronicle gives a damn about any of that.

Continue reading "Disinfo Rehab With the Chronicle, City Hall, And Hollywood" »

April 10, 2008

This Is Why We Elected Jackie Speier: Taking on the GOP On Her First Day In Office!

This is why we elected Rep. Jackie Speier to Congress this week.

Within moments of being sworn in, Rep. Speier was not afraid to start telling the folks in DC what most Americans believe - it's time to leave Iraq. For her efforts she got booed by the GOP do-nothings, who want endless war, but of course, don't believe in actually fighting the wars themselves.

Notably, Rep. Darrel Issa (R- Syria) stormed out of the chamber. You may not remember this sorry excuse for a Congressman - but he's the guy who openly attacks those who worked rescue on 9/11 in NYC, over and over and over again.

But it's easy to see why Rep. Issa is confused. He loves cozying up to murderous dictators like Assad of Syria, but he doesn't seem to like Americans who defended this country against Al-Qaeda. Maybe he should move to Syria if he likes it so much over there.

If Rep. Speier's truth-telling can drum a nimrod like him out of the House, well then that's a 2-fer as far as I'm concerned. Go Jackie!

Calitics beat me to the punch by mere minutes, but it's a fine post, go check it out!

April 6, 2008

Yes, San Franciscans, There IS an Election on April 8th! Vote for Jackie!

Many people don't realize that there's an honest to goodness Special Election on April 8th. There's been some campaign activity, to be sure, but even with all the nice pieces of mail from the Elections Department, et al, it's easy to forget. Heck, I forgot to apply for an absentee ballot this time around, and now have to go vote in person!

As I noted on my way more popular blog on all things MUNI, right now we don't have anyone in Congress representing the 12th CD (which includes part of San Francisco and San Mateo County) due to the death of longtime Rep. Tom Lantos. Now, if 50%+1 of the good people of the 12th CD vote for Jackie Speier, we can send her to Congress immediately (she doesn't have to pass "GO" and doesn't need to collect $200), and we can have one of the most effective members of the Legislature (yes, we've had a few and she was one of them) be representing us on some pretty important issues right now.

If, however, we don't vote, and she doesn't make the threshold, there'll be a "Special General" election, that will coincide with the June Primary. However, she'll win that one for sure, but we will not have anyone in Congress representing us. Besides, put it to you another way - how many of the current crop of candidates kicked ass on privacy issues and have a train named after them? Hint: Just one, and isn't some hippie-dippie Green candidate.

Today (Sunday, April 6th) there's an event for Jackie at the Machinists Hall down in Burlingame. For a mere $10 donation, you can enjoy a fine spaghetti dinner and meet the candidate and her many supporters. It's an easy commute for those of you in San Francisco - you can take BART or Caltrain to Millbrae, and walk a few blocks to the union hall.

Whatever you do today, be sure to vote on April 8th! We can all talk big in San Francisco, but now it's time to do something about all that big talk, and send an effective legislator to Congress who can shake things up. Go Jackie!

March 28, 2008

Blogger Coverage of the California Democratic Convention This Weekend

Normally, I'd be headed to a state Democratic Convention in Northern California, because just as artistic folks go to Burning Man, and my comics/anime/film friends go to Comic-Con, folks like me go to these things because you can get your political geek on, in the company of friends and strangers and not feel weird.

In fact, when I re-launched my blog in 2006 I did so armed with a press pass at the CDP convention, which was rather fun (and cheap - Sacramento affords many hotel deals, it seems) and went to the 2003 and 2004 conventions as well

This time around, I didn't think I was going to be in town this weekend so I didn't make any plans, but had a trip pushed back at the last minute. By then, any decent rates on hotels were not to be found, and I couldn't get a press pass in time. Ah well. Probably for the best, as I have tons of other work to do, both for work and for my 15 minutes of Internet fame thanks to the awesome folks at io9.com. (Note to self: never allow yourself to be filmed unless you're dressed to impress, you never know where that video might end up, along with your improv skillz).

However, if you're looking for blogger coverage, fret not, for many of San Francisco's "A-List" Bloggers&trade will be on the case. The gang from Calitics.com will be there, as will Sweet Melissa and Beth Spotswood, and plenty of others (whom I'll add to the list as I discover 'em online). The party itself will stream live video at their site, but as we all know the real fun and drama goes on in the many caucuses, after hours parties, and whatnot at these things.

The funniest thing about this convention is the lack of drama in the Presidential race since we had this stupid idea that moving our primary "ahead" would make us more "relevant" and whatnot. Oddly enough, if California had simply kept all its primaries in June as God and Man Intended, California would literally be the king-maker in the race as one of the last primaries with a sizeable cache of delegates, super or not.

As it stands, most of the drama will be in races for state Assembly and Senate where term limits have created open seats, and of course there's the Migden/Leno/Nation drama-fest as well. Not nearly as much fun as having a host of presidential show up at your convention, but for us Political Nerds it'll be fun.

Or something.

March 5, 2008

Some Suggestions For the Guardian Now That They "Won" $15 Million....

Wow. That was fast. The jury in the ongoing litigation between the Bay Guardian and Village Voice Media came to a rather sudden end as a jury awarded the Guardian $15 million and sided with its claim that its competitor, SF Weekly, was selling ads below cost in an attempt to put the paper out of business.

There has been an endless amount of spin from each side at their respective "blogs," and the personalized vitriol between the Guardian's management and the VVM management has been a bit over the top. More importantly, I, as the reader of local media, have not had an objective voice report on this trial, so it's really hard to know who was telling the truth, and who was lying.

Re-reading some of the "blog" postings by Tim Redmond and Andy Van De Voorde, it was hard to believe each "reporter" was even talking about the same trial - it was spin spin spin. This is the mainstream journalism I'm supposed to fear the demise of, thanks to Evil Blogs and The Internet? Hmm.

Now, while they're popping champagne corks over on Portero Hill, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that VVM will appeal said verdict. But let's pretend for a moment that said appeal fails and VVM writes the BG that oversized Publisher's Clearing House check. Here are some (real) suggestions on what to do with the money:

Continue reading "Some Suggestions For the Guardian Now That They "Won" $15 Million...." »

March 3, 2008

Real Life Outdoes Parody: Board Votes For WHAT THE F**K??!??

Ya know, it's tough telling people from the Rest of the World you live in San Francisco sometimes. Folks Out There think we live in some hippy Disneyland, complete with hemp-fueled roller coasters to our mandatory crack pipes and abortions, and whatnot, and you wanna say "No, but some of us are cool!"

Then you read about this, and you do the Jon Stewart shaking-of-head thing

Reactions have been swift. As always, Melissa manages to say all that needs to be said in as few words as possible, SFist has a lively discussion, and Curbed offers a rational take on said issue.

Now, while such a "memorial" is likely to go nowhere due to um, er, that whole budget thing that created such a dustup, and all, it does make us come up with a few ideas for more plaques. Heck we can beat LA at that whole "Walk of Stars" stuff, being the City That Knows How (to Bitch):

Continue reading "Real Life Outdoes Parody: Board Votes For WHAT THE F**K??!??" »

February 28, 2008

You Have To be Freakin' Kidding Me: Gonzalez for VP? WTF?

mn_green_party_gonzalez.jpg

So I'm at lunch and reading email when I notice someone sends me the news that in fact, Matt Gonzalez is running as Ralph Nader's veep candidate.

Wait, WHAT? This is a joke, right?

See this is what happens when you skip your morning paper and blogs. Beth Spotswood, of course had the funniest and most concise take on the news, and I'm sure others did too (I'll post links as I find 'em).

To me, however, this news encapsulates just how f*cking stupid Magical Matt really is, and how the local conservatives and whatnots need to give him a medal for helping bring down progressive politickers in 2008.

When people to the left of Attilla the Hun needed someone to run against a damaged Mayor Newsom, Gonzalez pissed away whatever political capital he had left, and made sure that other people's efforts were stalled. Then, at the last possible moment, he announces he's not running, but not before wasting a lot of important people's time, money and hard work.

Let's not forget the years of gaming the system for Magical Matt. When it was time for someone to make a stand and perhaps have an impact locally, Magical Matt decided to walk away, and stick it to everyone else in the process since he wasn't the progressive prom queen last year.

The result was an epic FAIL for progressives in 2007, and now, in 2008, when seats on the Board of Supervisors and the School Board are up for grabs, the Mayor and his crew are administering political beat-downs, old school style against anyone who stands in their way.

Unlike, say, in 2004, when, after a close race, Gavin was giving out marriage licenses to our gay and lesbian neighbors, and talking about health care for all. Funny how that worked out.

Whatever. Local progressives and Greens are with Obama this time around and to me that says it all. If the people who know Matt Gonzalez the best aren't supporting his candyland bullsh*t, why should anyone else?

UPDATE: It's so funny to see all the status updates on Facebook concerning Magical Matt...Chris Nolan at Spot-On.com dusts off some interesting info about Matt's past that apparently Ralphie Boy didn't know about. Calitics also has their take on Gonzalez, too. And a diary at Daily Kos that would appear to be from Our Mayor rings the alarm bells (really Mr. Mayor you should give Gonzalez a foil star for helping ruin local progressives' chances in 2008). Oh and KPIX's blog (which I had just discovered a week ago and really dig) was kind enough to link to the blog I write that no one reads

It should be noted that the day before he announced, Gonzalez posted a long, boring piece on why he hates Obama. Funny, he doesn't ask any questions about his new buddy. I guess leftist hypocrisy is just a natural reflex for Magical Matt.

February 24, 2008

Epic FAIL: Nader's Running (again) But Local Greens Are With...Barack Obama!

So it looks like Ralph Nader's running for President again, and we're supposed to be worried or something, but I'm not.

True, I'm no fan of this charlatan. On my old blog, I wrote about his extreme dishonesty, and overall lack of ethics, and for a while got a bump on Google Searches. This time around, however, I think it's pretty obvious his time has passed, and he's so out of touch, his reasons for running just don't add up.

My favorite line today was the one about "people being disenchanted with Democrats and Republicans." Eeeyeahh. Funny thing though: Barack Obama is about to hit the one million donor mark (something Nader's greedy hands would love to have but won't because he sucks), and turnout in Democratic primaries have set new records, and blown doors off the turnout in the GOP primaries.

But the most telling sign of the total epic FAIL of Nader has been the response of local Green Party elected members to Nader the Liar. Green Party Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, Green Party College Board Member John Rizzo, and Green Party School Board Member Jane Kim have all come out in force for Barack Obama. Non-Greeen "Progressives" like Supervisors Daly and Peskin also support Obama. Hell, the Bay Guardian, usually the only refuge for disaster candidacies like Kucinich or Nader, endorsed Obama.

It says a lot when the folks who should be on board a supposedly great cause like Nader's bullsh*t are instead working for a candidate who's succeeding in ways Nader could never imagine. (Then again it shouldn't be a total surprise - Nader refused to campaign for Green poster-boy Matt Gonzalez in 2003, because, well, because Nader sucks.)

So let the fool run his little show. Every time he does this, he seems to invent new ways to screw up and fail, and every time he becomes less and less relevant to the national discourse. I can't wait for him to throw a tantrum about some f*cking debate, and get arrested for trespassing. If good people like those in Our Fair City have decided to tear up their tickets and say "no" to the Nader circus, I think most folks in America will be doing the same.

Trivia Time: Here's a piece of trivia that most of you might not be aware of (as you're probably concerned with things that matter, and I mean that in a good way): when Nader's spokesman ran for Senate, he got very little support for his bid, marred by problems and the fact that as Nader's spokesman he elevated lying to an art form. He did however get loud and enthusiastic support from someone new to our city: Cindy Sheehan! Apparently she didn't mind the lying and whatnot and threw her lot with Zeese. Very interesting!

February 19, 2008

Mayor Newsom in Zero G!

Google Alerts provide links to all sorts of news I might have missed, such as this one about the debut of a Zero Gravity flight service out of Moffett Air Station. Check out the story, and the picture of Hizzonner and the future Mrs. Hizzonner in Zero G.

Heck if I was mayor and had to deal with all the stuff that goes on in town, I certainly wouldn't mind a trip into zero gravity with my gorgeous fiancee. Lucky him!

February 11, 2008

There's No "Safe Word" In San Francisco Politics And Mayor Newsom's Team Knows It...

You really have to hand it to Mayor Newsom and his team. They can pretty much get away with anything, short of murder for hire, and no one seems to really mind. Even more amazing, even when "progressives" are right on the issues, they can't seem to get their message out.

This latest brouhaha, between Supervisor Peskin, the Mayor, the infamous MTA, et al gets the usual "political gossip" treatment, as always. But also, as always, we tend to forget a few salient points as to how we got here.

We're in a situation where the city has a big budget deficit and Mayor Newsom has ordered awesome-sounding "across the board cuts," sounding all fiscally responsible. Which is funny, because as Supervisor Daly tried to point out, this is the same Mayor who blew out the budget with big expensive pay raises and increases in the City payroll.

What's even funnier is that as Daly was trying to point this out, his infamous "cocaine" line blew up into this Big Problem, and Supervisor Peskin was gamed into removing Daly from the Budget Committee. So even though in this case Daly was right, it was he who paid the price - and the Chronicle waited 6 months to note Newsom's key role in blowing out the budget.

Now, to be fair, it was not that hard to push Daly aside - his acrimonious style, and his spending of political capital on symbolic measures made it easy for the Mayor's people, and their friends in the press, to make it all about something Daly really didn't say. Chalk one up for repeating the "mean Chris" meme, and one down for any serious budget reporting.

Likewise, as the Mayor is demanding we cut funds from things we need, he's spending a lot of money on plasma TVs and fancy new offices. And to pay all these people watching ProRun on those plasma tvs, he's swiping money from MUNI and other agencies so he can fill the chairs.

But once again, it really doesn't matter if the Mayor's people are doing anything wrong - they're recasting this as a "personal attack" and upping the ante with all kinds of personal and legal attacks, so no one stops and thinks about the actual issues at hand. And once again, as in the case with Daly, Peskin's temperament and style are being used against him. Suddenly we're talking about he-said-he-said, instead of talking about whether the Mayor is breaking the law, or mismanaging the taxpayers' money.

Brilliant. One thing progressives and their allies don't seem to understand is that in these fights being "right" with the facts isn't enough - you have to have the political capital to be able to fight back.

Blowing it all on symbolic measures and feel-good stuff means you don't have it when you really need it. Now, the Mayor's holding all the cards, and although his opponents may have caught his hand in the till, they're losing the battle.

As this latest political battle escalates, it's clear the Mayor's people don't mind playing rough with their opponents. There's no "safe word" in San Francisco politics, and those who would oppose the Mayor would be wise to remember that.

Note: I wish I was clever enough to come up with that last bit, but it's actually a paraphrasing of a comment I heard from a friend, so I wanted to be sure I mentioned that.

February 10, 2008

Record Voter Turnout in Presidential Primaries Has Some Lessons for Local Politickers

The LA Times has an interesting report on the record voter turnout we're seeing in primaries, and in particular the lopsided increase in turnout on the Democratic side.

The article has some interesting facts and figures, but it pretty much bears out what I said last week - that if you have good candidates who aggressively campaign on issues and ideals that people actually care about, people vote. Who told?

(Oh, and I find it equally amazing that Sen. Obama has been able to run an incredibly close race fueled mostly by small to mid-sized donations...while lefty champions are once again left in the dust.)

It's a stark contrast to the mind numbingly stupid elections we had in Supposedly Liberal Brainiac San Francisco, where "progressives" had a FAIL so complete and total, turnout was in the toilet. And now, of course, the progressives are crying about the Mayor's shenanigans, not realizing that if they'd just bothered to run a real candidate, the election might have had a different outcome. Boo hoo for them.

Most importantly, these record turnouts of voters are coming out without any of the lefty electoral gimmicks out-of-state reformers are trying to peddle across the country as ways to "increase turnout."

It's really simple, people. If you run a good campaign, you win the election. If you inspire people to action, they act. If you listen to people and talk about the issues they actually care about, they get excited and feel like politics is an opportunity for change - not just a tired exercise that people don't feel matters to them.

There's a chance that local "progressives" might take a lesson from all of this in the upcoming elections in November, and perhaps try strategies that don't involved running around in circles, gossiping like junior high girls in gym class, and whining.

News flash, progressives: THIS DOESN'T F*CKING WORK. Stop trying to game the electorate with phony reform bullsh*t. Run on a vision and an agenda that works for the citizens who actually vote in elections, and you might win. If nothing else, it would be an improvement over last year's "act like gossiping dorks" strategy.

The real winner will be the voters of San Francisco, if they're given an honest race between various factions who all strive to offer a cohesive vision of policy and politics for the next four years. We'll see what happens.

January 23, 2008

Crap-tastic Crack Shack Sells for 935,000? Put This On A Billboard And Send It To the Hippies Of The World, Please!

This just in: yet another crap-tastic crack shack has sold in San Francisco for $935,000. SocketSite has been following this one for a while so go there and see pics of this decrepit piece of real estate.

I seriously wonder if we should put this on a billboard, with a pricetag, on billboards that say "Memo to Hippies: The SF of the 60s is dead. Do not come here and expect to rent a room in a big nice house for cheap and live off of handouts. Unless you're rich enough to buy this crapshack and renovate it to livable standards, please, stay away. Thank You."

Or something. I mean, at this point, all the housing measures in the world (along with all the ones we've passed) don't seem to mean much if even a craphouse like this is selling for almost a million dollars.

Put another way - how do you build lots of "cheap affordable" housing on super expensive dirt? More importantly, is it really feasible for anyone to build anything that's not super expensive condos for wealthy childless couples anymore when you have garbage selling for almost a million bucks?

January 17, 2008

Obama Speaks At The Women's Building in SF - Quick Quick Quick Hit

Since I don't have my trusty Mac with me, and am using the infamous San Francisco Public Library's free computers, I can only do a quick post, sans photos. It was an interesting press event, with Sen. Obama talking to women about the challenges of making a living in the Bay Area, and some proposals he's come out with to try and mitigate the cost of living for people who work.

This was probably the only time I've ever heard a politician call BS on "tax breaks" as a primary means of providing relief to those who work, since many times they can't use the deductions on their taxes due to their income, while high income people can take the break. Sen. Obama suggested a break on payroll taxes for those who work (but don't make a zillion dollars) as a start. Not bad.

It was kind of interesting to see the media swarm (pics to be posted) which packed the crowded room at the Women's Building in the Mission. It was crowded, hot and yet there we all were, waiting for the Senator and taking pictures and notes at a furious pace. With only 19 days until the Mega Super Duper Big Primary to End All Primaries in A Whopping 20 states, it's difficult for any campaign, big or small, to reach all voters in all places, so it was kinda nice to see at Presidential candidate speaking in San Francisco, in the Mission, no less.

Luke Thomas took some excellent photos (as always because he's so talented) and they're so much better than mine, you should just go to his site and check 'em out.

More later...the clock is ticking on my time here at the SFPL, and I have to update my other blog, as we have Yet Another Tragedy on the N-Judah line.

This, the day after we read that more MUNI money is being siphoned off to pay more salaries in the Mayor's office, and a month after we heard that they gave the boss at MUNI a big pay raise. And all of this after we voted for a measure that was supposed to start MUNI reform - and immediately after the vote we get a string of accidents and deaths.

All I can say is...WTF?

PS: I had no idea that the "blogger lounge" at Macworld sponsored by Microsoft had free actual computers one could use (when I was here the other day I gave the lounge a quick scan and it looked like you had to bring a computer). Needless to say I wish I'd discovered this a few hours ago, and avoided the glares of the angry pervs who had to wait for their porn whilst I blogged about Sen. Obama.....

January 15, 2008

State Sen. Jackie Speier for Congress! Hell Yeah! Read All About It at Melissa's Blog!

I have been a big fan of Jackie Speier since I can remember, and have campaign buttons, mementos, and more from her many runs for office throughout the years. I have a campaign button collection that spans decades, but mostly includes rockin' politicians such as Jackie. Heck, when I worked at the Big Company one of the jobs I got to work on was a cool mail piece for Jackie in her last run for State Senate - ironically enough against a world-class douchebag I had the displeasure of attending junior high with.

Oh but enough nostalgia. Go check out Melissa's awesome writeup of the kickoff I missed because despite my Speier-supporting, I suck.

Anyway.

Check it out , and be sure to vote for Jackie Speier in the primary if you're in Our Fair District!

January 9, 2008

Obama's Supporters Rally in San Francisco 1/9: A Quick Review

As luck would have it, I was in the Civic Center around the time they were having a rally for Sen. Obama's supporters in Northern California, so I gave up my lunch break to go take some photos and videos. I think the close results in New Hampshire (that tiny state way out there) mean that we'll at least have some semblance of a "real" campaign by Democratic candidates, instead of a boring coronation for any one "inevitable" candidate.

On hand were a lot of local politicos, including DA Kamala Harris (who co-chairs the Obama Campaign in California), Supervisors Peskin, Daly, Dufty, and Maxwell, Public Defender Jeff Adachi, School Board reps Jane Kim and Eric Mar, and well, a whole lotta people, too many to fit in one quickie post (but I'll append it later when I have more time).

Former California Controller Steve Westly was the "MC" for the rally, and I've given him a hard time in the past for some of his policies and rather boring speaking style, but I have to say he did a great job and his speech was really good. You can view videos from the rally here on YouTube, and a few photos on Flickr.

Personally, I like Sen. Obama for the simple reason that he attracts a lot of enthusiastic people, and gets people involved in politics who may not have done so before. I really do not want to do a retread of the disastrous, establishment campaigns of the Kerry 2004 or Gore 2000 campaigns (Gore is awesome but his campaign in 2000 was a stinker), and I like the fact that so many local "progressives" have chosen Obama over some jackass the Greens or the Freak Show Party might have put up.

Most importantly, having him, Sen. Clinton, and Sen. Edwards battle it out and actually ask people for votes will make whoever wins the nomination a better candidate in the long run. Again, look back at how Kerry steamrolled the front-loaded primaries only to prove to be a joke candidate who managed to pull off a FAIL despite all of GW's problems. And, don't forget to buy your Adama for President shirts at my store, in the hopes that Admiral Adama might still get in the race!

December 30, 2007

San Francisco Politics, Perfectly Summed Up By a 5 Year Old Cartoon.

Given the level of stupidity political discourse has taken in San Francisco, on all sides, I found this 5 year old cartoon by some cartoonist named "Mark Stivers" to be unusually insightful into the kinds of choices we have....exhibit "A" being that joke of a Mayoral election we just had. Enjoy!

Stivers 8-19-02 Democracy is about choice.gif

November 28, 2007

When "Progressive" Political Analysis Becomes "Junkie Logic" AKA Disinfo Rehab Time!

The election is barely past us, and already everyone's trying to spin the results to suit Their Side. It's been particularly amusing to watch the "progressives" try and spin this latest election as anything but a disaster. It's a form of "junkie logic," the same kind a drug addict uses to try and con you into loaning money, only this time the con is on the voter and anyone with common sense.

The usual people are spinning their best (instead of reporting, oddly enough) and predictably, some elected officials are upset too and are trying to contort what happened in November into some sort of a victory.

Heck you can hear it straight from the professional blog-commenters and Greens (yes, sigh, a few of them are still around..) at some event, but frankly, why bother? Junkie Logic is never much fun to listen to, neither is parroting or rubber-stamping the latest from the Politburo.

Ok, enough picking on the "progressive" kids. Let's just look at some facts, and since I'm not in the business of defending one side or another, try and see if we can cut the nonsense one by one :

"Ranked Choice Voting will increase turnout, and be more inclusive than runoffs. It will save money and more people will participate."

Oh really. Now let's take a look at the numbers from our last big runoff, in 2003, supposedly evil because "less people" vote in runoffs (and yet in a twist of Junkie Logic, are the numbers now used by those who promoted RCV/IRV/WTF to say that Mayor Newsom "didn't win"):

PRECINCTS COUNTED (OF 562). . . . . 562 (100%)
REGISTERED VOTERS - TOTAL . . . . . 466,127
BALLOTS CAST - TOTAL. . . . . . . 253,872
VOTER TURNOUT - TOTAL . . . . . . 54.46

Wow, 54%! Now lets look at how we did under the Magical Perfect RCV/IRV/WTF system the "progressives" prommised us would increase voter turnout (and cut costs!)


PRECINCTS COUNTED (OF 580). . . . . 580 (100%)
REGISTERED VOTERS - TOTAL . . . . . 419,598
BALLOTS CAST - TOTAL. . . . . . . . . 149,424
BALLOTS CAST - TOTAL CARD 1 . . . . 149,424
BALLOTS CAST - TOTAL CARD 2 . . . . 150,098
VOTER TURNOUT - TOTAL . . . . . . 35.61
VOTER TURNOUT - TOTAL CARD 1 . . . . 35.61
VOTER TURNOUT - TOTAL CARD 2 . . . . 35.77

That sound you here is the Junkie Intervention phone ringing, but no one is answering because they don't want to hear the news - under the Magical RCV/IRV/WTF system, turnout was dismal, a mere 35% of voters turning out (100,000 fewer than in evil 2003!). But we were promised by radical advocates for the system that if we adopted it, more people would vote and the final vote would be a "true reflection of the people's will." (And whatever you do, do not note that there are actually about 40-50,000 fewer registered voters in San Francisco than there were in 2003! That'll throw the junkie logic off even more!)

Suddnely, now that the vote result is not what some people wanted, that's not the case, at least according to the Bay Guardian and assorted so-called "progressives." Junkie Logic to the extreme.

Oh and that claim that this system would "save money" has been pretty much put to rest since we had to hand count, hand rewrite and handle ballots by hand because the voting machines weren't, um, legal. The spectacle of radical so-called "elections reform" folks like Steven Hill actaully advocating for illegal machines just beacuse it made their phony RCV/IRV/WTF "reform" look bad was, well, crazy, to say the least.

Now, if that Junkie Logic were not enough, let's take a look at the second big "Progressive" talking point, that of Mayor Newsom's vote total:

Continue reading "When "Progressive" Political Analysis Becomes "Junkie Logic" AKA Disinfo Rehab Time!" »

November 12, 2007

Why Write An Entry When You Can Link To A Good One: A Great Take on Our Non Election from "Down the Avenue"

Why write an entry of the recent non-election snoozefest, when you can link to a nice concise post like this one from a blog I found on Technorati, Down The Avenue. I especially liked this part:

Is this the legendary California "whatever" attitude? Is he in the waxing phase of our media-culture cycle of building up and tearing down our heroes? Is it the Clinton apologia, a cute boy running the show who just refuses to grow up, but what are you gonna do? And, he has so much charisma?

Or maybe all of us just complain, but are in truth perfectly happy here because it's warm enough for palm trees, it is breathtaking when you drive up and over one of the hills and see the water and the bridges and Marin. Oh, and the restaurants are great even though the price to pay for all that is a real estate market that is above most people's probable reach.

Couldn't have said it better myself.

November 6, 2007

Yeah, I Voted for Mayor Newsom. SFW?

So there's some election or something going on today. And I keep getting asked by folks "Whoyagonnavotefor?" and up until now I have kept silent on the matter, not wanting to legitimize a joke election cycle with more chatter. But since so many people asked, I voted weeks ago for Gavin Newsom and that's pretty much it. SFW?

In the end, I just couldn't bear to waste my time and that of taxpayer funded minions to hand count a bunch of stupid ranked-choice votes that don't mean squat. I think I voted for "H Brown" for my second choice because I know him and he's always nice to me, but really, who cares? The whole ranked choice process is an exercise in wasting taxpayer dollars and time (remember how the People Who Knew Best pushed this electoral turd as a way to "save money" and "get more people to vote?").

Sure the Mayor's done little to improve MUNI or make City Hall work more efficiently, and his obsession with aging technology is a distraction (as was, um, you know what) but when it was clear this election cycle was going to be the joke that it was, who was I suppose to vote for?

More importantly, it is time that rational, independent San Franciscans send a message to the disorganized band of vaguely articulate folks who call themselves "progressives" that running around in circles, posting comments on blogs and chat boards, calling each other at night and gossiping, and worshiping at the Altar of Magical Matt is no way to show you're serious about running this city.

The progressive era as defined by Those Who Opposed Willie Brown In 2000 is dead dead dead, and voting for a non serious candidate like "Quintin Mecke" is just trying to pump life into a corpse already buried. It's time to change tactics, kids, and if you keep doing what you're doing, by 2011 you'll be a vague memory totally irrelevant to those of us who work for a living.

It's unfortunate that the Mayor is winning by forfeit, but maybe that's a good thing. Maybe, after progressives finally lose their Board Majority, and Proposition A goes down to defeat and H wins, someone or a gathering of someones will pull it together and find a better way to get organized and make this city run properly.

I, for one, shall not be holding my breath. An opportunity was lost and the undertow of progressive failure is likely to pull down a lot of good people and ideas with it.

So, folks, sit down, and shut up. Mayor Newsom is your Mayor for 4 more years whether you whine about it or not. You had your chance to do something and failed. Now you will learn what it means when people say "elections have consequences." Just like when you folks supported Nader over Gore in 2000. And we know how well that worked for all of us.

October 17, 2007

O Hai! Leno Attackers Love My Photos - But Don't Feel a Need to Pay Me For Them! WTF?

So you may have heard there's this whole State Senate primary in full swing, and the vote's not even until June 2008, and yet the candidates, Assemblyman Mark Leno, incumbent Sen. Carole Migden, and candidate Joe Alioto Veronese are all running pretty intense campaigns. Whee.

Anyway, while reading Beth Spotswood's groovy blog, however, I saw a link to an anti-Leno site, called Leno the Lapdog that attacks the Assemblyman's record and discusses what they view to be as deficiencies in his voting record, etc. Fine. Whatever.

Imagine my surprise when I saw that they decided to use this photo I took and posted on Flickrfor their homepage.

Now, I'm flattered that some well paid political expenditure committee just loved my cell phone camera skillz so much they felt that said image merited use on a professional piece of political communication, there's just one little problem - they swiped it off of my Flickr account and didn't bother to ask, much less pay me for my efforts. That's taking money out of my pocket in my line of work, and it's not very nice. Kids - just because it's on Flickr doesn't mean you can just swipe it for your own purposes!

Doing a WHOIS lookup on the domain finds that they use a domain proxy service to hide who paid for the domain. They don't have an email address to contact them, either. Now, come on, kids. You clearly have the money to spend on a site, and you have the money to pay someone to do this for you. But you don't have the $$$$ to pay me for the use of my work? Come on.

Now, I don't really have a dog in this fight since none of the candidates has hired me to work for them, and they probably weren't planning to anyway. Whatever. But it is more than a little irritating to see my work being considered good enough for their needs, but not getting paid - when clearly they have the means. If they'd asked, I might have said yes for a small fee or something.

Since they didn't ask in advance, I'm now asking for more money - let's make it a nice round number of around $15,000 - to pay me as a "consultant" for the website's images and whatnots. I'm willing to negotiate in good faith, and I'm sure you folks are, too!

You can email me here and let me know if it's going to be a certified check OR paid via PayPal. Either way is fine. KTHNXBAI!

October 11, 2007

A Question For Mayor Newsom At Tonight's Debate: Which Campaign Finance "Reform" Do You Support?

As most people don't know, there's the one and only "debate" between the Mayor and his Baker's Dozen of no-names. No one is really covering it, and the TV cameras won't be there, so you probably won't see much of it. But, if you have nothing better to do and get a chance to ask Mr. Mayor just what is his position these days on "public financing" of campaigns.

Now don't get me wrong - there's no question that the term "campaign finance reform" is a loaded term designed to help one side over the other. Fine. But here's where I get confused when it comes to Mr. Mayor's position on the allegedly important issue of taxpayer financed elections (which have done so well here in San Francisco).

I got some plea for money from the from the so-called "Californians for Clean Money" campaign, and as you can see in the accompanying image, I was asked to "join Mayor Newsom" who apparently endorsed the effort at some meeting at some new office in Our City.

Now, let's put aside the many failed predictions made when the proponents got this thing passed, since that's obvious. Instead, let's look at the record of Our Mayor on this supposedly important issue, and wonder if perhaps the folks at the "California Clean Money" campaign might need to do a little more homework before putting press releases out for their cure-all.

Even a cursory glance at the archives of the Voice of the West, little blogs and the Bay Guardian reveal the fact that the mayor has proposed cutting matching funds for the next election cycle, all under the guise of "thinking about the children."

Continue reading "A Question For Mayor Newsom At Tonight's Debate: Which Campaign Finance "Reform" Do You Support?" »

September 11, 2007

Reading CW Nevius is Like Deja Vu All Over Again...

Funny thing happened the other day. Whilst perusing the latest in news and political analysis from the esteemed San Francisco Chronicle, aka "The Voice of the West," I caught this article, by CW Nevius about the state of the Election-That-Cannot-Be-Named-On-This-Blog.

What was funny about it was how much it had many points made in this piece which I hosted for my friend (and which appeared at the awesome Fog City Journal as well.

Now, some might take the Chronicle to task as it a) has a reputation for bashing "the Internet" and b) stealing ideas from said hated blogs with no credit. I guess I should just be thankful such a smart, intelligent, well-reasoned, and original columnist such as Good Old CW Nevius reads what's groovy on The Internets!

Thanks for reading, CW, and please, don't forget to check out my way more interesting, fun, and exciting blog if you're stuck for ideas! People love to talk about MUNI and stuff.

August 11, 2007

What I'm Reading in Who Cares? Magazine: The SF "Mayor's Race"

Well, the drama, and the faux drama about Who Will Run Against Gavin is over, and frankly, I'm glad. 7 months of rumor mongering, backroom posturing, puttering, talking, and whatnot is done, and we know what will happen. The Mayor will be re-elected. Big surprise. Despite the "showmanship" of certain candidates, or Internet notoriety of others, there is really nothing to see here any longer.

Oh, sure we'll be treated to the outbursts of people upset that the mainstream media doesn't treat them as seriously as The Mayor. Guess what? They're not serious candidates, they don't care if they win or not, most of these people are just using the elections process to have a laugh and promote themselves for other things they do. Meanwhile, any serious debate or policy changes to address the rising violent crime rate, problems at MUNI, or the sense this city is sliding into Third World like conditions, will fall by the wayside.

As such, I'm making a conscious decision to not write any more blog posts or read any "news" about the Mayor's race because it isn't a "race." I'm even going to end my silly prank trying to get some MUNI fixes via the Mayor's own website, which of course was ignored, despite all those Google ads to "get a blog and make policy."

The Mayor will get re-elected, no matter how many Burning Man people run around town posting silly signs, or how many videos Josh Wolf makes, or whatever the other baker's dozen of candidates does. I don't know that I even need to vote in this race, since it is not like the Mayor will lose if I don't vote for him , and all the expensively hand counted "ranked choice voting" ballots in the world won't change the results through some hippie dust magic.

In other words, a perfect article for Who Cares? magazine. As for me, I'll be reading something else.

PS: I think this moment is the sign that the Progressive Era of 2000-2008 is coming to a definite end. The assorted folks who made up a so-called "progressive" majority (which really was not a monolithic block the way the mainstream press and the prog haters like to suggest) managed to pass all sorts of legislation and the like, and that's groovy.

The fact remains, though, that even after Magical Matt's 2003 phenomenon, there has been a distinct inability to build a permanent political infrastructure, and no mentoring of new people to take the place of those who will leave due to term limits. And the fact that after all the gimmicks of ranked choice voting, public financing, and more, they still can't come up with a real candidate says a lot.

I don't know that this is an opportunity for the so-called "moderates" since their machine tends to mint dull, uncaring candidates that don't fare well in local races. But the age of puttering around, trying to herd a random pack of personalities, politicos, and what not for "last minute surges" is over, especially as the real estate market and city policy continue to make San Francisco a land for the well off, the extremely poor, and push out everyone in between.

August 8, 2007

Why Chris Daly Should Run and How We Got Here - Campaign Analysis By Savannah Blackwell

This week, I'm giving a guest spot to reporter and Boalt Hall law student Savannah Blackwell, formerly of the Bay Guardian, who has written an excellent piece that analyzes both the prospects of a Chris Daly for Mayor Campaign, and how we got here in the first place. It's an excellent read, with news and views you won't find elsewhere. I've added links when necessary. Enjoy!-GSD

By Savannah Blackwell

Twenty minutes into “Big Love” on the last Monday in July, the call came in.

Normally, nothing can tear me away from HBO’s polygamist drama, but having heard late that afternoon from a well-placed source that word was former supervisor Matt Gonzalez would not make a second run against Mayor Gavin Newsom, I was on red alert. I had prepared a story looking toward a Gonzalez v. Newsom race, and I was waiting only for an update from the Green Party activist.

But as the city’s progressives and so many other voters hoping to see Newsom face a serious challenge now all know, Gonzalez, the source told me, decided not to go for it -- after more than seven months of flirting with the idea. And I, like many, was deeply disappointed.

Fast forward to Monday, August 6 when Supervisor Chris Daly told the Fog City Journal that he was considering seriously taking on the task, and my outlook changed considerably.

Sure, the frequently embattled Daly has the slimmest chance of the city’s top progressive leaders to actually beat Newsom – or even come very close. But seven years after a slate of neighborhood activists and hard-core progressives swept the city’s freshly implemented district elections, and at a time when the murder rate is soaring, MUNI is a mess, the homeless problem clearly is not solved and Newsom’s personal problems nearly have cost him the support of some very key and high-ranked leaders in the Democratic Party as well as leaving many in his own administration wondering if he really can handle the job, it just seemed unbelievable – ridiculous even, that there would be no serious challenge from the left.

That’s not good for “the movement,” and it’s not good for the city. As SF Bay Guardian Editor Tim Redmond pointed out back in February, “for a long list of reasons, there has to be a real mayor’s race this fall..We need to keep Newsom on the defensive, to hold him accountable not just to his donors but to the rest of the city.”

Given that recollection of nearly losing to Gonzalez in 2003 likely influenced Newsom’s decision to make important progressive moves such as implementing gay marriage and supporting Hotel workers as well as Supervisor Tom Ammiano’s health care package, a lack of a serious progressive challenge might make Newsom listen only to the Don Fishers of the city. And that would be disastrous.

Although longtime Daly confidante and supporter Richard Marquez cautioned his friend against a run --“because the opposition and the press likely will threateningly depict Chris to voters as Charles Manson out on bail if he enters the race,” Marquez also feels strongly that “Daly’s entrance, however, would speak to the realities of what the other San Francisco – and especially the powerless, the vulnerable, the scorned and despised -- struggles with every day.”

For his part and with less than 48 hours remaining before the deadline to file, Daly says he will sign on only if he feels that doing so will unify the city’s fractious progressive community. He hopes to make the decision by tonight – after meeting with key organizers.

“That’s really what it comes down to,” he said.

Let us pause and reflect on how we got to this point.

(Click below to read the rest of the story)

Continue reading "Why Chris Daly Should Run and How We Got Here - Campaign Analysis By Savannah Blackwell" »

July 31, 2007

Time for A Laugh, at the Progressives' Expense - Gonzalez Really Ain't Running!

So, finally, the Messiah has spoken, and it turns out Golden Boy Matt Gonzalez really isn't running for mayor. All the pitiful jabbering and gossiping and puttering on the left about What Will Matt Do was for naught. Now, I predicted this some time ago, but you know what?

Who cares?

And that goes for any more chatter about this joke of a Mayor's race we have now. Seriously.

Right now I'm just thinking of Eric Cartman and Nelson Muntz getting together, pointing fingers at San Francisco (especially the left) and laughing in their trademarked ways.

What's funnier is that Mayor Newsom (who throughout his term could not pass a ballot measure or elect a new ally to the board that wasn't appointed) is Mr. Invicible, and can literally do anything he wants, without any consequences. And yet, he's still so scared of wealthy interests, he's going to try and torpedo a MUNI reform measure.

Now who's laughing?

July 30, 2007

Jury Duty and Ed Jew!

This week I'm stuck in the labyrinth known as the Hall of Justice in jury duty, so I can't write much. There's been a lot to observe in my first voir dire in literally 18 years, but I can't talk about it.

But, it seems the cavalcade of whimsy created by Ed Jew, Kamala Harris, and the gang is just down the hall, so I snapped a few pics while we had a break.

Later, during lunch, I ran into Luke Thomas of Fog City Journal and Josh Sabbatini of The Examiner at the awesome Caffe Roma located right across the street!

I won't be able to post too much for this week, so enjoy some pics and be sure to check out the fireworks at tomorrow's board meeting!

July 27, 2007

Friday Fun: Sup. Braithwaite Burke Doesn't Live in HER District EITHER!

Although I do not live in Los Angeles any longer, I still read the LA Times, partially out of interest for some subjects they still cover, and partially because watching a once-great paper get torn apart by corporate bean counters and morons is kind of like watching a train wreck in slow motion.

This week, the LA Times did some investigative reporting* on one of the all-powerful LA County Supervisors, investigating if she lives in her district, or in the tony Brentwood area. Needless to say, she doesn't, and she had a command of "junkie logic" as she changed her story more than once.

It's interesting to compare the reporting methodology of the Times, which sent people day in and day out to find out the facts, whereas the Chronicle's style seems to be a bit more laid back, waiting for a phone call from a PR person or an expert from City Hall.

Perhaps I am wrong. But it is also interesting to note that the LA County Prosecutor has successfully nailed folks playing games like this, whereas we still seem to have a bit of fumble and tumble around here.

Score another victory for Los Angeles, who, despite the State Assembly's budget cuts (shame on you Fiona Ma and Mark Leno) to mass transit, is making improvements in that area. Meanwhile, our Mayor sides with the "cars-only-screw-everyone-else" crowd, and MUNI has meltdowns weekly.

Sad. Just sad.

* San Franciscans on a diet of local media might be confused as to what the term "Investigative Reporting" means, esp. in print...you may need to seek out a news source out of the area to find an example...but hurry! Every day another reporting staff gets fired so some trailer park owner or real estate developer or hedge fund can save a few pennies...then groan about how no one reads their thin, boring, crappy dino-papers anymore....

July 26, 2007

Mayor Newsom Between A Rock and a Hard Place, Thanks to Sup. Peskin's Legislative Skillz

Over at my more popular, likeable, and well-read blog on MUNI and urban life there's the usual grumbling about MUNI follies, as well as discussion on how to make the system work better. Obviously the charter amendment to reform MUNI has been a topic of discussion as it has weaved its way through the corridors of power.

Today's snark, however, is not as much about MUNI, or about the usual topics of discussion at the popular blog, but instead a look at how the Mayor has been put between a rock and a hard place, due in large part to the mad legislative skillz of Board President Aaron Peskin, and the lack thereof of some of his colleagues.

First, as originally written, one of the many details the provision contained included serious attempts to change middle-management jobs from cushy jobs-for-life into "at will" positions to give MUNI management some more control over who serves the public.

That went over like a lead balloon with labor unions in the city. But, as we read on Monday, Peskin managed a compromise that kept the essence of the labor reform rules alive but not to the degree the original measure had proposed. As of Tuesday, the Mayor, labor, MUNI, and Everyone Else was holding hands and singing Kumbaya together.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the singalong when a little noticed paragraph popped up that would negate the ">developer-backed parking initiative that made its way onto the ballot. Because the MUNI reform measure is a charter amendment, it trumps any initiative on the ballot, as per the rules. D'oh!

Now, what started with hugs and pats on the back is ending in tears as people who have talked big about MUNI reform and green-city this and green-city that are in the position of having to decide which is more important - comprehensive reform of MUNI, the MTA, and a cohesive transit plan, or more parking for more cars.

Continue reading "Mayor Newsom Between A Rock and a Hard Place, Thanks to Sup. Peskin's Legislative Skillz" »

July 13, 2007

Serendipitous Speaking Engagement With the Alice B. Toklas Democrats

Earlier this week I had an unexpected chance to play "pundit" when Paul Hogarth of Beyond Chron urgently emailed me Monday morning. It seems he'd been invited to talk about local political gossip with the good people at the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club meeting Monday night, and was slightly concerned about being the only person speaking for 2 hours.

So, at the lastest of the last minutes, and with the approval of the club's organizers, I showed up at the LGBT Center on Market, and the two of us talked about a range of topics, from the drama of District 4, the junior high theater shenanigans at City Hall, and more, although once the topic of MUNI came up that seemed to provide some of the liveliest discussion of all.

Overall, it was a lot of fun and I owe a big thanks to the Toklas Club leaders and members. I used to do this sort of thing more often, but have slacked off in recent years as I decided to take a lower profile in the political world, but I had such a great time I would like to do this again.

So if you have a neighborhood or political group and would like a lively speaker on SF politics, political reform or frankly, my favorite topic (and that of most people it seems), MUNI's follies and foilbles, feel free to email me and if I can make it, I'll provide some free entertainment and info for you and your colleagues.

July 5, 2007

Does Peter Ragone Have A Little Rain Cloud Over His Head?

One has to wonder if Peter Ragone, he formerly of the Mayor's official press office who was known for posting under assumed names on SFist.com, now working for the Mayor's re-election campaign, has a little rain cloud over his head wherever he goes, like a cartoon character or something.

After getting a little free press for going to Rio with Al Gore, the news came out that the concert in Rio was canceled at the orders of a judge. Just now on CNN, they report the concert is back underway, but this is all under a cloud as we also heard the news about Al Gore III's unfortunate run in with John Law.

Someone, please burn some sage or call the Karma Kops on this guy and help him out. This madness has to stop! The trail of tears left by his clients is too long!

June 23, 2007

A "Hey, Wait a Minute!" from BlogSF and the ABC News I Team On the Latest Non Issue?

While reading the blog feed at BlogSF.com I saw this interesting piece from the ABC news I-Team about a rather provocative video attacking the Mayor, SF POA Chief Gary Delagnes, and SFPD Chief Fong.

It concerns that "scandal"you may recall a while back concerning some officers in the SFPD's Bayview District who made a retirement video for a departing colleague which ended up on the Internet.

All of this made me have a "Hey! Wait A Minute!" moment. Right now I'm told Chris Daly is indeed the anti-Christ for saying that the Mayor was evasive when asked about a possible problem with cocaine in the past.

However, when the police officers who were disciplined by the SFPD sued recently, they indicated they'd demand a deposition under oath from the Mayor about....well, you know.

So the question today about the non-issue issue, since Mayor G.C. gave said allegations a no-holds barred F.U. in no uncertain terms, is this: Why hasn't anyone called the suing SFPD cops "evil" for doing something that would seem to be in the same vein as Mr. Daly's loud rhetoric?

And, when do I get to read that detailed analysis of the Mayor's budget and the like, instead of more "everything is the Internet's fault" foolishness from The Chronicle?

June 21, 2007

What Is In The Water These Days That Makes SF Politicians Such Whiners?

Someone managed to put something in Hetch Hetchy that turned the "City That Knows How" into the "City That Knows How to Whine". Its effects are already being seen in our alleged political leaders, and their allied interests.

Seriously. No side is looking particularly statesman-like (statespersonlike?) these days, and it's mostly because folks are happy with firing off the missives, big or small, but cry like schoolchildren (schoolpersons?) when someone fires back.

How else, then, to explain the "mean people are picking on the Sensitive Mayor" meme anytime anyone dares to suggest Our Mayor is less than perfect? Mild critiques of his sometime galpal, a mere molehill in blogville, got blown up into a mountain - again because someone made a slight comment that perhaps she and Mr. Mayor were not 100% perfect. (What is this, Soviet Russia or something?)

Meanwhile, the Mayor and his allies have no problem dishing it out - remember all the nastiness spewed during the District 6 Supervisor's race? How many times have the Mayor and his staff resorted to name-calling when they don't get their way? Folks, you can't throw rocks and not expect rocks to get thrown back at ya. Deal, or get out of politics and something less acrimonious.

Don't for a minute think I excuse "progressives" from their share of the blame. Supervisor Daly's "outrageous" comments aren't as common as the mainstream media and gossipers would have you believe, but the meme wouldn't exist if it weren't at least somewhat true. Worse than that, however, is the cacophony of whining from the left about how "bad" the Mayor and his allies are - and yet after all the whining and gimmicks, folks are content to whine and complain, rather than have the nerve to stand up and do something.

Continue reading "What Is In The Water These Days That Makes SF Politicians Such Whiners?" »

June 19, 2007

Who's Paying For Matt Gonzalez's Non-Campaign Campaign Ads?

While most have been watching the daily soap opera As The Supervisor Turns, detritus and miscellany from progressive theater production continues to find its way on stage. Although right now things have ended in tears for more than one aspiring politico, and the Mayor is using the disarray on the other side to his advantage, there's a hint of Act III, right here in my Google Mail.

If you look closely at those "targeted" Google ads that popped while reading all about Our Mayor in the news, you'll see an ad for Matt Gonzalez for Mayor. Clicking it takes you to the site he's had since 2003, but the ad copy itself clearly was written recently.

It's especially interesting as it comes as Beyond Chron ran an article suggesting that Matt could be the Great Healer for the Progressives.

I'm just wondering who paid for this ad, and how they did it. Google isn't in the business of giving away ads for free. Does this mean Matt is finally going to bless us with a run for office? Anyone? Anyone?

More to the point, is it too late? Even after all those laws that were passed? Anyone? Anyone?

Don't ask me, I have no idea. Let's see what happens...

June 13, 2007

The International Blogger's Union, Local 20-Deep, Thanks Ed Jew , The Ol' Gil of SF Politics!

On behalf, once again, of the International Blogger's Union, Local 20-Deep, I want to take a moment to thank Supervisor Ed Jew, and his house in my home town of Burlingame for the work they've done to ensure that hard working local bloggers have the material they need to keep on writing.

All it took was being the ol' Gil of SF politics, coming up with a weird little plan that made little political or common sense. Add to that the whole residency thing, and a continuing chain of odd comments to the press and bingo! Blogger heaven.

Thanks, Ed, and we appreciate your hard work making sure that tapioca chains pay money to your playgrounds in the Sunset. Without you, we'd have nothing to write about since the "progressives" wussed out of the Mayor's race and all the fun we had with Bumblebee Girl and Mayor McDreamy seems to have died down.

June 12, 2007

I Can't Believe I Missed Ed Jew's Surrender In Burlingame...

I can't believe I actually missed Ed Jew's surrender in Burlingame, to John Law the week I'm in Burlingame visiting family.

My mom's place is not too far from Casa De Tapioca, and I'd actually walked by the place earlier today. Just goes to show what you miss when you take a week off and go out of town.

June 2, 2007

A Few Notes and Links From The "Progressive Convention"

There was a certain irony to holding the "Progressive Convention" at a kids' school, with all these Deep Thoughts posted around the school. Given all the constant talking and bemoaning and whatnot, seeing this little missive about excuses seemed rather appropriate.

I stopped by to check it out, but since there was no candidate announcing or whatever, the "news" value of it was a bit low. However, it was clear there were a lot of people willing to do something, anything, if only there was a candidate to run for Mayor or D.A.

I stuck around long enough to see Public Defender Jeff Adachi give a short speech, which was well received. Otherwise, after hanging out a little, I took off, since at these things people love to putter around the room, and progressive hospitality inevitably means brown rice is involved somehow.

Bob over at Calitics compiled a link list of bloggers talkin' about the convention, and this wrap up, that describes the letdown at the end. Check it out!

June 1, 2007

Progressive "Convention", Newsom "Rally" and More This Weekend!

What a wild weekend this promises to be for politickers, politicos, pundits and the like. As I mentioned before, the Progressive Convention starts Saturday at 10am at 627 Turk Street. I continue to be amazed at the myriad of rumors, opinions and the like about this "convention" (including my own opinions based solely on whats out there now) that are all over the internet.

Fortunately, later tonight I'll be publishing a feature article by journalist Savannah Blackwell, with insider information (as opposed to more "opinions") on What's Really Going On. So be sure to check back, or sign up for updates via RSS, etc. and check it out. Should be interesting.

If you're not a fan of progressives, the Mayor's re-election campaign will be hosting their own rally at 12:30 at their campaign headquarters on Sutter at Van Ness. Interestingly, it's not that far from the "progressive" confab. If we're lucky, perhaps folks from one side or the other will drive by and moon the opposing camp for some good old fashioned political theater.

If you take any pictures, post them to Flickr and let me know and I'll happily link to your work. I'll be taking a few photos and notes myself at the many circuses this weekend and will report back if anything entertaining happens. Remember, in San Francisco, politicians have a right, nay a duty, to act as entertaining as possible for the Blogger's Union, Local 20-Deep and assorted hangers on!

L.A. Is In Like With SF On TV! Well, Sort Of!

While reading about all those new shows on TV everyone's talking about, I could not help but notice how many are set in San Francisco. I find this entertaining for two reasons. One is that I'm always happy to see a film set in my hometown and am a walking encyclopedia of film locations (Heck, I could offer tours for Bullitt, Vertigo, and Tales of the City, to name a few). The other is that it once again reinforces what I've learned about the infamous San Francisco/Los Angeles "feud" - while people in San Francisco are quick to rip into L.A., folks down south really like Our Fair City, unaware of said emotion-filled feud.

Now, it seems, L.A.'s being in like with us has filtered into Hollywood decisionmaking. So far, in addition to the return of Monk(which pretends to be in SF but is filmed down south), there are at least three fall series coming up set in San Francisco. They are:

Continue reading "L.A. Is In Like With SF On TV! Well, Sort Of!" »

May 30, 2007

Jr. High Political Theater, "Progressive" Style: Comedy, Drama, and Political Trauma June 2nd...

Earlier this year, we had political theater, junior high style courtesy of our Mayor and the gang. Oh what fun times those were for "bloggers" and the like, what with silly sideshow acts and more, all to brighten up a dreary winter's day. Then things got boring, and observers, hangers-on, and the like were wondering who would fill the void.

Now, "progressives" (the definition of whom changes depending on who you talk to) are hastily staging their own paper-crown-and-homemade-costume drama this Saturday, June 2nd. Mere mention of said convention sets off bloggers on the left, the the other left, and even the SF Weekly takes a break fromnot covering city politics to post reliably cynical and inaccurate ramblings on said proceedings. If that's not enough, do a Google search and you'll have plenty to read.

Continue reading "Jr. High Political Theater, "Progressive" Style: Comedy, Drama, and Political Trauma June 2nd..." »

May 25, 2007

Friday Fun With Mayoral Candidate Tony Hall!

To lighten the mood as we go into a busy day of pillow fights, zombies, Critical Mass, and and all sorts of fun and weird stuff going on, I thought I'd post this picture of former Supervisor, Treasure Island Guy, and now Mayoral Candidate, Tony Hall, I took this afternoon.

Mr. Hall rode his motorcycle to local satirist h. brown's weekly "Salon" of local writers and political types. I happened to be stopping by so I snapped this photo.

Enjoy your weekend!

May 23, 2007

The Day The Bay Guardian Died - Catering To Power With Warren Hellman And Steve Jones

Reading last week's cover story at Bay Guardian, I realized that I wasn't just reading an over-the-top PR piece for a wealthy downtown powerbroker -- I was also reading the epitaph for the once-proud Bay Guardian tradition of investigative reporting - and the whitewashing of local history in the process.

Seriously. Now, I am happy to see any semi-public feature get fair treatment, but reading this puff piece I was being asked to ignore years of Guardian investigative reporting that indicated Mr. Hellman (he of the Wells Fargo Fortune) was anything but a "friend to progressives". And yet, there it was, in all its multi-paged glory.

Apparently all it takes to change writer Steve Jones' mind about a wealthy conservative power player in San Francisco is a few friendly chats, a trip to freakin' Burning Man, a big payoff to the Bicycle Coalition (which paved the way, literally, for a big new garage in Golden Gate Park) and a general chumminess of his subject with his friends (Leah Shahum of the Bicycle Coalition and the SFMTA and her beau, Ted Strawser of the SF PartyParty and GavinWatch). Hmm.

Read any article about Hellman's actions in Golden Gate Park, any one of an assortment of articles the Guardian has published about Warren Hellman on campaign finance, local politics, Mayor Newsom, or even Jones' own pieces about the guy, and you'll see a different picture being painted.

Continue reading "The Day The Bay Guardian Died - Catering To Power With Warren Hellman And Steve Jones" »

May 1, 2007

Case Study: How The Gaming of the Electoral Process Doesn't Work AKA Why Gavin's Smiling Despite, Well, You Know...

It's May 1st, also known as May Day. For some this means a celebration of spring - to some self-styled urban revolutionaires it means a Day To Pretend We're In Solidarity With The Workers Who Make Our T Shirts. I thought it a perfect day to mark something else - the total failure of a small group of people to "game" the electoral system to change the results in San Francisco.

We've had to endure endless caterwauling about all sorts of gimmicks that were promised to "change" the results and thus make them more "fair." Let's go down the list, shall we?

Continue reading "Case Study: How The Gaming of the Electoral Process Doesn't Work AKA Why Gavin's Smiling Despite, Well, You Know..." »

April 20, 2007

Friday Fun: Won't Someone Please Think About the Children and Make the Next Mayoral "Town Hall" Fun?

This is an open plea to both the Mayor of San Francisco, his army of staff and supporters and the people of San Francisco. Specifically I'm talking today about the "Mayoral Town Hall Meeting" scheduled for tomorrow at 2pm.

Every single one of these things has featured a) bad weather, usually rain or cold, b) an endless conga line of city-paid bureaucrats who stand around in the back, and c) a program so scripted and so boring it makes watching paint dry look like the playoffs.

I would think that with the combined brainpower of the good citizens working in City Hall, and the endless amount of excess creative energy that seems to spill out all over the place in this lovely burg, somehow, these things could be made a bit more entertaining. Helen Lovejoy put it best - won't someone please think about the children??.

Seriously. My tax dollars are paying for this circus, so let's have the Mayor fly in on a jetpack into the Excelsior, with Stan Lee, and perhaps have a tiger jump through fire, or a team of city department heads do acrobatics (or would that be bureau-acro-batics?).

Now that's what I call a Town Hall Meeting! See you there!

Bored at work? Looking for something fun? Why not check out the Tshirt shop, and buy yourself an Adama in 2008 shirt, or celebrate the return of Heroes on April 23rd with a special Save the Bumblebee, Save the World shirt! Excelsior!

April 11, 2007

"Street Fight" vs. "Dork Fight" : A Look At A Truly Tough, "Mean" Campaign

This weekend I got a copy of Street Fight. Although the title suggests it's a Hong Kong action flick, in fact it is a great documentary about the 2002 Newark Mayor's race. It has as much drama and tension as any Scorsese film, and it has more eye-opening and jaw-dropping moments than I can remember.

Why all the drama? In this case, the battle was between Councilman Cory Booker, a young African American attorney (and Stanford grad!) who was serving his first term on the Newark City Council, and incumbent Mayor Sharpe James, who'd been in office for decades.

Watching the film, and the amazing abuses of police power, democracy, and how easily an American city can toss the freedoms we take for granted into the dumpster, was really something to watch. In the face of such adversity, most people would give up, or lose it as the endless BS piled up against them, and who would blame them?

Instead, it was both the personal integrity Booker had, along with his strong sense of self and true belief in what he was doing, that kept him going through these really tough times. The film does an excellent job of showing behind the scenes moments in a campaign few people get to see, and by the end you're really rooting for the guy.

Continue reading ""Street Fight" vs. "Dork Fight" : A Look At A Truly Tough, "Mean" Campaign" »

Guinness at 6:30 or Migden/Leno Brawl at 7?

A few weeks ago, I got an email from Merchant's Exchange Building and signed up. Who can pass up discounted Guinness, right?

Then I realized that it's the same night of the more recently announced debate/knife fight between Sen. Carole Migden and Assemblyman Mark Leno, which I figured might be worth some blogging goodness.

Guinness at 6:30 or Brawl at 7? Which should I choose?

April 4, 2007

Crime and Punishment (and Spin) by the Bay, Part II : Critical Masshole Edition!

People wondering if their concerns about public safety were just an eerie paranoid feeling had their worst fears confirmed with a string of revelations in the local press recently. First, we hear that auto break-ins are on the rise, while the D.A.'s office does nothing. So the next time your car is broken into, remember to the D.A. and the City, it's the criminal who has the rights, not you!

Then we read about a particularly dangerous day in San Francisco where repeat offenders are allowed to go free, and the only response from City leaders are shrug, spin and talk - while all along the fact remains murders and crime are on the rise, unpunished.

If any of this sounds familiar, that's because this has been par for the course for quite some time, and while San Franciscans are much less safe from violent crime, theft, and the like, the spin seems to work because neither the Mayor nor the District Attorney face serious threats to their re-election. The politickers engage in their chatter, the media refuses to take the long view, and all the while we're subjected to more chatter.

Meanwhile, you, I, and your friends and neighbors are far less safe. It seems spin and disinfo aren't a great foil for criminals with guns who shoot people, or thieves eyeing your hard-earned money as an entitlement they're owed by you. (Don't tell the spinners - it'll make them feel bad!)

Continue reading "Crime and Punishment (and Spin) by the Bay, Part II : Critical Masshole Edition!" »

March 16, 2007

Friday Road to Hades: T-Shirts for Sale!

Whilst trying to think of a way to uplift the political dialogue in Our Fair City, I came up with....nothing. Especially after this week's shenanigans, and some of the nonsense over at the Mayor's re-election site. (SFist? "Mean but Funny?" WTF?)

Instead, I came up with the first of (potentially many) snarky T-shirts for sale here at my new storefront, Pantograph Productions, provided by the good citizens of GoodStorm.

The first round of shirts include a spoof of NBC's breakout hit Heroes, in light of recent events at SFist.com, and a few others, as well as a prototype design for my other blog, the N Judah Chronicles.

Now, before you fire off your angry emails and comments, be aware of the fact that yes, I know I'm going to Hell for this. Then again, I was most likely headed there anyways, so I figured if this was a way to help pay off my webhosting bill, it was worth it.

Enjoy your Friday, and be sure to enjoy the warm weather and a Saturday St. Patrick's Day this weekend!

March 13, 2007

Case Study: How to Light A Mayoral Campaign On Fire, AGAIN, Via Blog!

WTF?

Seriously. That's all I could think of when I watched the latest iteration of Mayor Newsom's mayoral meltdown, courtesy of his latest "girlfriend", Jennifer Siebel. The interview itself was little more than self-serving gossip from a woman who clearly sees herself as the future Mrs. Newsom, and was eager to play the role of "First Lady of SF" in her first big interview.

Reading it, you got the sense that it was all scripted, designed to put out fires caused by the Mayor's past behavior, and perhaps rewrite history, Communist Russia style, to reinforce the meme that The Mayor Has A Stable, Monogamous, Heterosexual Relationship, and that Everything Is OK. Oh, and he's Kind of A Victim, Too.

Fine. But then my good friends at SFist.com posted some minor commentary on the piece. That's when Jenny Siebel decided to take a can of gas, dump it on herself and the Mayor, and light her lighter, thinking she rocks - and ended up burning herself and the Mayor in the processs.

Continue reading "Case Study: How to Light A Mayoral Campaign On Fire, AGAIN, Via Blog!" »

March 8, 2007

The Definition of Insanity Strikes Again in San Francisco

It's been said that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again, and expect different results. One could easily apply this to those who insist all we need is Yet Another 60's Style Protest to "end" the Iraq War. Once again, these flyers are sprouting like mushrooms all over the city.

Fine. Here's the problem. Not only is it questionable if old-fashioned, 60's-style, "march in the streets and be loud" protests are really effective anymore, it's also time for someone (or many someones) to clean house with regards to who runs these things.

We're at a point now where an overwhelming number of Americans nationwide are giving the President a big thumbs down for job performance. That's everywhere not just in hippie SF. More importantly, a clear majority now state they believe the war in Iraq was a mistake.

With all that, plus the unexpected win of opposition Democrats, you'd think by now these "protests" would be run by a broad range of mainstream political and social groups, and not be run primarily by authoritarian extremists.

Bzzt. Think again.

Continue reading "The Definition of Insanity Strikes Again in San Francisco" »

February 10, 2007

New Photos on Flickr - Mayor Newsom's Less-Scripted Town Hall

I attended Mayor Newsom's "Town Hall Meeting" today in the Bayview. I'll post a little something later on, but for now, check out my photos on Flickr here, or click on any of the pics in the Flickr Box on the right. For now, all I'll say is anyone who thinks they can pre-script a meeting in a community with Real Problems Needing Solutions needs to think twice. Suffice to say, there were plenty of questions even Our Supervisors probably wouldn't have thought to ask.

SFist Rita beat me to the punch with her posting this afternoon, so go ahead and read it, since it's pretty good. I am sure my good pals at SFGate.com and other good folks will follow suit. Cheers!

February 1, 2007

A Footnote to City Hall's Scandal Du Jour

On behalf of the Bloggers Union, Local 20-Deep, I want to thank San Francisco City Hall for continuing to invent more fodder for blogs that would normally be dry of new material.

I mean, really. I thought I'd seen it all when we had the Jr. High Drama Production last month, or perhaps when a supposedly smart PR flack for the Mayor spent all his time flinging rude insults on blogs (and lied about it - good job!), but then you get a call late last night and read all about this little news tidbit.

Which, on the face of it is a piece of news, but not necessarily earth-shattering news item. When you consider, however, that we seem to live in a city where you can shoot people and murder people (and get away with it), a MUNI system in crisis, and you're wondering if the San Francisco of the 2000s is becoming the New York City of the 1970s, then you get worried.

One starts to wonder if our Mayor (whom we are told is supposed to be this moderate, wise counterpart to those Supervisors we're told are so evil) has his full attention to his job. And given all the problems we've got in San Francisco, another bloggable, avoidable distraction is not what Our City needs.That is unfortunate, because overall he seems like he's a nice guy and means well - but he's in a lotta trouble.

And now for today's footnote of footnotes: Early last year (March 1st, I think), I remember getting a call from my friend, Savannah Blackwell (formerly of the Bay Guardian, now a law student at Boalt Hall) who'd called me up and asked me to join her at Finnegan's Wake in Cole Valley. It being Laundry Day, I was wearing my oldest shirt, jeans, and socks whilst I had the clothes in the washer.

When I walked in, it turned out that she had failed to mention that she was with a number of her pals from her City Hall days who were out celebrating a birthday for some guy named Alex Tourk. And she happily introduced me to Mr. Mayor himself, who was in attendance, as well as her friend Emily Morse and assorted Important People in the administration.

Needless to say, I was a bit surprised (and embarassed, being clad in Laundry Day attire). We hung out for a bit, then I went home to finish laundry. I'm sure no one in attendance would recall my presence (and this being in the Era Before I Got My Camera Phone I couldn't take any pics) but I remember thinking it was kinda fun to see the Mayor and his crew, 20 deep at Finnegan's.

Who knew that 13 months later we'd be watching a scandal unfold with all these folks. Weird.

PS: I don't know why this picture of a Mooninite giving the finger makes me laugh so much - it's a combination of its absurdity, along with the completely idiotic response by the idiots that run Boston. News flash - it's not Turner Broadcasting's fault you're too stupid to figure out what's a terror threat and what is not - it's the fault of idiots like Mayor Thomas Menino and Gov. Deval Patrick.

Our Mayor may have made mistakes, but at least he didn't make one as big (and loud) as this one, kids.

story.cartoon.adultswim.jpg

January 31, 2007

Who Really "Hates" San Francisco? AKA Deconstructing the Guardian Rant-A-Torial of the Week

Usually, when I'm reading my stack of local newsweeklies, I can blast through the Bay Guardian in 15 minutes or less since I either a) know what they're going to say in advance or b) already read the news they're reporting elsewhere, earlier, sometimes you see something so ridiculous, you have to call BS on it.

Such was the case in this week's rant-a-torial on the front page (supplemented with a repetitive blog posting) that starts out as a "hey I complain too much, I love owls, life in SF is lovely" piece, and concludes with a scathing "frak you" barb aimed at the SF Weekly, accusing the paper of "hating" San Francisco, because one piece by columnist Matt Smith a few weeks ago.

Oh, wait, let me correct that. In the print edition they wonder "do the folks at the SF Weekly even like San Francisco" whereas online they say that he hates San Francisco. All because some of his views are not completely 100% in lock step with the Guardian.

Ok, I get it. If you're not with us, you're against us. Kinda sounds like the line of logic pumped out by Mayor Newsom's PR flacks at anyone that is not in 100% lock step with the Mayor. Which, I think is something they've been criticizing lately, no?

Blah, blah, blah. There's just one hitch - many times it's the Bay Guardian that has pumped out insult after poser hipster insult at parts of the city that are declared "not cool" by the BG staff. Westsiders apparently don't vote the correct way so it's ok to trash them. Sounds really pro-San Francisco to me.

That's why you can read a long, sonorous pieces about some Burning Man thing affecting .02% of the population (almost 4000 words worth!) but you'd be hard pressed to see similar coverage on a consistent basis of an issue, such as the myriad of problems facing MUNI - something every San Franciscan is affected by.

Hell, even when a progressive Supervisor holds a really good, uncensored meeting of MUNI management with the public (a contrast with Jr. high school theater productions of late), there's nothing in the paper about it. Who's the SF hater now?

I complain a lot, I understand: I shouldn't let the Guardian piss me off, I should relax and go chill out with the N-Owls. I guess I'm just sick of people on the left and the right in this town picking on various parts of Our Fair City. San Francisco, for all its flaws, is a nice place to live, and it's big and strong enough to take more than one POV. At least, those of us from here know that.

January 15, 2007

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.

January 9, 2007

Bay Area Whaa?

Happy 2007, everyone!

I thought I'd kick off the new year with a rather amusing email I received recently. Although I'd never heard of the "Bay Area Dems" (Dems as in Democrats) before, I got an email from the group's organizer, Mr. Randlett.

You might remember him from such groups as SFSOS (whose emails I get all the time - wait maybe that's how I'm on this other list!) and the many calm, polite and downright friendly emails his group sent out during the Daly/Black race.

Anyway, take a look at the graphic banner at the top of the email and see if you can't find the mistake:

It's one thing to make a typing mistake (I do it all the time!) but it is quite another to spend the time to make a graphical banner with such an obvious abuse of the pluralization rules regarding punctuation. Won't someone please think about the children?

December 19, 2006

A Gift Idea for All You Chris Daly Haters

I'm breaking radio silence as I make plans for both my sites for 2007 to let all of you who are really mad that Supervisor Chris Daly won that there's a present you can send each other - or to Supervisor Chris!

Bear in mind that in San Francisco all you have to do to rile people up is to use the words "Chris" and "Daly" in the same posting. As in "I went to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and had a steak, then went to Daly City to particpate in the cultural offerings thereof" to get yourself spammed and attacked by They Who Dare Not Say Their Name (AKA message board posters!)

Anyway, back to our story...

Whilst shopping around town for gifts for family and friends, I saw this display at Scandinavian Details in the Hayes Valley/Civic Center area of town.

pee_and_pooNo I am not making this up.

The Japanese have made plush toys out of Pee and Poo.

So there you have it. Why not send one to SF SOS, the nemesis of Mr. Daly? Or, buy a set for Mr. Daly himself? Or, if you're really that worked up, why not send a set to Ruth's Chris Steak House and Daly City just because, well, you're mad that nefarous Chris Daly won!

See? Life's good and just. And the Japanese have an easy, low cost way to make it all Good. Go for it!

November 17, 2006

When Reality and Rorschach Collide: Election Analysis Roundup

Every election season, once the ballots are counted, we the readers of the news, are treated to "election analysis." Read any major paper, alt-weekly, or "the Internets" and you have all sorts of Big Experts talking about What It All Means.

What strikes me, having worked on campaigns for years, is just how little one finds out about what actually happened during the election season that gave us the results - instead these "analyses" function more like a political Rorschach Test, telling us more about the prognosticator than about what really happened or more importantly, how.

Let's take a look at local election post-mortems. Most people locally tend to use pollster David Binder's premiere post-election analysis as a starting point, which is primarily concerned with statistical information about turnout, who voted, polling info and the like - in other words, facts that are agreed upon to be verifiable with some interpretation by the knowledgeable Mr. Binder to translate these raw numbers into conversational English.

Fog City Journal ran a short analysis (which I was asked to write literally minutes before I walked in the door at SPUR, hence its lack of polish) , BeyondChron, and even the "blog" at the Bay Guardian used some form of Mr. Binder's work to base conclusions and the like.

This is also where things get interesting. In the print edition of the Guardian, the results are trumpeted loudly as a rebirth of the local "progressive" movement, and at times one gets the impression that the authors are almost breathless in restating over and over "Things are OK. Don't worry. We're doing fine, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end."

Which is fine, I suppose for people who want to hear that. But what I missed in the article most was the "why" and "how" - how did Chris Daly managed to win after a bruising campaign? Why did candidates like Supervisors Dufty and Alioto-Pier crush their opposition, if they had any at all?

Continue reading "When Reality and Rorschach Collide: Election Analysis Roundup" »

October 23, 2006

Reading the Bay Guardian 40th Anniversary Edition So You Don't Have To

Editor's Note: Don't forget to check out additions to the 2006 Political Mail Archive this week!

This week I read the Bay Guardian's 40th Anniversary Edition. And, as a public service, I'm going to tell you all about it so you don't have to slog through it yourself.

"If it's so boring," you ask, "why did you read it?" Well, oddly enough the Guardian's 40th anniversary issue did more (albeit unintentionally) to reveal the paper's current shortcomings and problems the paper has brought upon itself than they realize.

First off, aside from two pieces penned by Bruce Brugmann and editor Tim Redmond, there was little to distinguish this significant anniversary issue from any other. No articles or comments from SFBG alumni, no archival photos, nothing. I find it odd that with so many alumni now doing great things, not one was invited to pen a short story talking about their time at the Guardian.

This is baffling to me - when I attended the Guardian holiday party in 2000 I remember being surrounded with former and current employees who had nothing but good things to say about their time at the BG. When I attended the Best of the Bay in 2005, none of those people were to be found - neither were any of the City's progressive politicians. WTF?

Even more revealing was the contrast between the Guardian's history, which retold tales of extensive investigative reporting and "you heard it here first" news, and today's paper, which does not feature much you can't hear or read somewhere else. In fact it was ironic that in the Guardian's Website of the Week feature, citizen journalist Daniela Kirshenbaum was featured for her contribution to Luke Thomas' Fog City Journal investigating downtown advocacy group SFSOS.

Now, I dig Luke's site, and Ms. Kirshenbaum's piece did do some nice work bringing up facts many people did not know about SF SOS. That said, shouldn't this have been something the Guardian broke first, it being the alleged local news powerhouse it was in the past? Come on, gang! I was told you're better than this!

Continue reading "Reading the Bay Guardian 40th Anniversary Edition So You Don't Have To" »

October 22, 2006

Disinfo Rehab Mail Archive - Fall 2006

Note: This entry will be updated as I get more mail. New mail is featured at the bottom of this entry! Today's additions: Jane Kim, Marin Healthcare Board, and more!

As promised, here is the first installment of the Fall 2006 Disinfo Rehab Mail Archive. Unlike television ads, which bloggers and media folks can easily dissect because they're on TV, YouTube, candidate websites, and the like, mail is a "below the radar" medium. You know it is out there, but unless you're on the targeted mailing list, you won't see it.

Which is why it makes for a great way to send distinct messages to distinct groups of people - and a great way to attack someone and get away with it. By the time anyone notices it, it's too late to do much about it, and the press usually isn't sent copies of hit pieces by candidates!

Since I personally do not live in a district with an angrily contested Supervisorial race, I'm interested in submissions from readers who might have something they've received in the mail in the Daly/Black/SF Republican Party brouhaha, and the mega-money festival that is the District 4 battle to replace Fiona Ma, now that she's been elected to a 6 year term in the Assembly. Oh and if anyone has any "freaky" mail from way out in Distrct 8, send it over!

As always, if you submit a big pile o' mail, I'll buy you a drink/coffee/whatever once this nutty election is over. Email me and tell me what you have and I'll make arrangements to pick it up, or you can simply scan them in yourself and send them in as JPEGs.

Please note that all pieces that appear on this page were sent to actual voters, who in turn gave the pieces to me for inclusion in this fall's archive. (To protect their privacy from identity thieves, their names and addresses have been Photoshopped out)

A mail piece's appearance here does not indicate I'm endorsing or not endorsing a particular candidate, and it does not indicate that campaign endorses this site, its views, or anything at all. Conspiracy theorists, please put down the crack pipe and find something else to worry about.

Update: A loyal reader tipped me off to a similar project being done by the East Bay Express, entitled Fun with Misleading Mailers. Short and to the point, the additional coverage of the myriad of pieces hitting the mailbox is great for voters

And now, for the fun, after the jump!

Continue reading "Disinfo Rehab Mail Archive - Fall 2006" »

October 18, 2006

Wasting Time With IRV on the San Francisco Ballot

I got my mail ballot last week and sat down to slog through pages and pages of voter guides, local ballot measures, state ballot measures, and candidates. Voting this season is less about voting for people you'd actually want to serve in office, and more about keeping really bad eggs off the shelf. Same goes for the initatives.

The funniest part of my ballot, however, was San Francisco's allegedly fair and democratic "Instant Runoff System" in action. Candidates for San Francisco College Board and School Board, all of whom run city-wide, are still elected under a "vote for 3 candidates out of a list" system that according to self-appointed reformers is the result of Satan's handiwork.

Do remember under the Satan system, if you really want someone to win, you can cast one vote for one candidate and leave off the other two choices - it has the effect of helping them out more. So if you really like someone such as Jane Kim, you could cast one vote for her, and forget the rest. It's weird how it works, but it does - hence the term "bullet voting."

"Bullet voting" aside, unless you're living somewhere with a competitive Supervisorial race, your only chance to use the magical unicorns and fairies super happy Instant Runoff Voting promises you is in the race for Assessor, or the race for Public Defender.

Here's where it gets fun. At significant expense, the city printed up special little ballots so you can mark your "first second and third choices" for these offices. Problem is, both candidates are running unopposed. And yet, there are three choices for me to fill out, and feel like the Magical Man from Happyland.

So, to make everyone feel good, I wrote in all sorts of great choices for my special one and only IRV election. Here's how it went:

For Assessor:

1. Gaius Baltar
2. Laura Roslin
3. Phil Ting

For Public Defender

1. Sharon Agathon
2. Kara Thrace
3. Jeff Adachi

I have no doubt the incumbents will win, despite my efforts. But, they seem like good guys, so I'm sure their political careers aren't ruined based on my use of magical IRV. I don't feel the good vibes or see the point in all of it, but I guess the secrets as to why some people push this thing are to be learned later, when an election of importance gets stolen with this system.

Yeah, those are pretty nerdy choices. So what? Isn't that the point of IRV? So that every crank can use the public's bucks to make their point?

September 20, 2006

Case Study: Campaign "Reform" and Unintended Consequences in San Francisco's District 6

For those of you just joining us, there's a rather contentious battle in San Francisco's Supervisorial District 6, where incumbent Supervisor Daly is running for re-election. The campaign is already getting quite heated, as some people in Our Fair City are not fans of Mr. Daly and his effectiveness as a legislator getting laws passed based on the platform he clearly enuniciated as a candidate (with 83% of the vote) in 2000. Ultimately, it will be the voters who will decide if Mr. Daly should continue to serve in office.

The race also offers a case study in the Law of Unintended Consequences with regards to "political reform" that is peddled by incumbents and assorted hangers-on who try to "game" the system to get the results they like - and how such "gaming" ends up causing more problems for candidates and the voters who are being asked to decide who should represent them in office.

It was laughable to see the Bay Guardian's complaint-atorial today, bemoaning the rise of independent expenditure committees which are being funded to oppose Mr. Daly's re-election, citing in particular the fact he is limited by law to spending only $83,000 on his own race, while a host of independent committees (all of whom have the same name but are numbered 1-6 to maximize their effect) can spend what they like.

Why the comedy? Because it was the Bay Guardian that unequivocally supported the limits and laws that are now limiting Mr. Daly's ability to respond to campaign attacks!

That's the funny part. The not-so-funny part is when the Guardian asks the Board of Supervisors to immediately amend the law so that this "can't happen." Now it's time to take a large Wait A Minute and Think pill, before more new laws (and more unintended consequences) result.

That's because the folks who are opposing Mr. Daly aren't really doing anything wrong per se. Super-nasty campaigns are never pleasant to watch, and to be sure, the folks who oppose Mr. Daly would seem to have a visceral hatred for the man, almost more than the leftiest lefty who hates Our President. That said, these folks took a look at the laws "as is" and have a smart attorney who found perfectly legal ways to operate within the system to do what it is they feel they need to do to get their message out.

Continue reading "Case Study: Campaign "Reform" and Unintended Consequences in San Francisco's District 6" »

September 7, 2006

Crime And Punishment (And Spin) in Baghdad-by-the-Bay

Yesterday it was announced that "Chemo", a little puppy adopted by a cancer patient at UCSF Children's Hospital was returned to its owner after being stolen by thugs last week. I was glad to hear the dog was returned - but the story served as Yet Another Reminder that San Francisco has become a more dangerous city to live in. If a kid with cancer can't be assured his dog is safe at the hospital, you begin to wonder - just who the Hell is safe?

Last week, San Francisco had a parade of high profile incidents, starting with a record number of murders in one day, followed by a nutcase who managed to hit and run 14 people on City streets.

Once this happened, the Disinfo Spin Machine kicked in. The Media covered the "news" in detail. The Mayor made a point of comforting the victims of the hit and run guy on site (and on TV). And predictably, the coverage and the chatter turned away from hard questions and to politicking, spinning, and making sure people "felt better" after the latest Big Crime Wave.

Continue reading "Crime And Punishment (And Spin) in Baghdad-by-the-Bay" »

August 14, 2006

The "Geraldo VS. The Nazis Effect" AKA When Weekly Papers Go Bad

Sometimes, a situation presents itself that forces you to make a bad choice. I call it the "Geraldo VS. Nazis Effect." It's named after that famous TV incident when Nazi skinheads on the now-cancelled Geraldo Rivera afternoon talk show got into a ruckus and chucked a chair at Geraldo, busting his nose. One was left with a bad choice - do you root for the skinhead Nazis for bashing Geraldo's nose, or do you root for Geraldo?

Either way, you're stuck. At the time, San Francisco comedian (and now the voice of Spongebob) Tom Kenny suggested "Why can't James Dean come back from the grave, kick Geraldo's ass, and go back from whence he came, so we don't have to root for Nazis?"

You get the idea.

This week, the Bay Guardian presented such a situation, with regards to fliers in the Mission, although as is the case with that publication, they didn't see it that way. It seems that there's a rumble between folks who want to keep the Mission District clean, and the infamous "International A.N.S.W.E.R" folks, who put up all those posters and fliers all the time.

Now, I say "infamous" because there are a lot of people who are very critical of A.N.S.W.E.R. and their tactics, as they don't just advocate an end to the war in Iraq, but for a lot of other stuff that many people who oppose the war in Iraq want no part of, and do not support.

That ranges from supporting the agenda of the Worker's World Party (Yeah, I was surprised such a thing still existed too) and some have made some serious charges regarding anti-Semitism and ANSWER. Plenty of folks on the left side of the political spectrum have been very vocal and detailed in their critiques as well.

Continue reading "The "Geraldo VS. The Nazis Effect" AKA When Weekly Papers Go Bad" »

August 7, 2006

Anatomy of an Earned Media Hit: The Phantom (Check) Menace in San Francisco

We're about 90 days out from Election Day, and elections in San Francisco are starting to catch some attention. Thanks to "Ranked Choice Voting" (or IRV, or whatever the cool kids are calling it these days), incumbents, such as Supervisors Chris Daly and Michela Alioto-Pier will not be in any serious danger of losing their jobs.

However, in the case of the Board of Supervisor's race in District 4, there is an open seat, as incumbent Fiona Ma won the Democratic Primary for Supervisor, so quite a few people are running for this seat. According to the SF Usual Suspects website there are at least 8 running so far, with two - current Ma aide Jaynry Mak and Douglas Chan considered front runners.

Here's where things get a bit strange. I knew of Jaynry Mak's campaign before anyone had said anything, simply because in my day to day travel in the Sunset, I've seen a LOT of Mak signs in Sunset businesses and homes that went up in what seemed like minutes after Fiona Ma's election was certified. All of them promiently displayed Ma's endorsement of Mak, so I figured that she had it cinched. Besides it is not cheap or easy to get that many signs up that fast for a first time candidate. So she must be doing something right, right?

Well, not according to the powers that be, including her boss, Supervisor Ma. If you opened up today's Chronicle, you were treated to this semi-insightful, semi-Incendiary tome on Mak's fundraising. Now, Mak has out-raised all of her opponents by a significant amount in a very short time - usually something that is seen as an advantage by campaign observers.

So, someone had to throw water on this party, and do so fast. The task of carrying out the hit came to Wade Randlett, of SFSOS, a group that bills itself as a voice of reason (but often sends out very angry emails to its subscribers). The hit was well played - suspicion (but of course no proof of wrongdoing) was laid heavily on the fact that some of her donors don't have white collar jobs, but gave money anyway. ""In my 20 years of raising money for elected officials, I've never seen anything so hard to believe," Randlett said." in the article.

Continue reading "Anatomy of an Earned Media Hit: The Phantom (Check) Menace in San Francisco" »

August 1, 2006

When a "War Room" Clever Idea Goes Bad: Case Study With Alix Rosenthal in SF

Political campaigns are always seeking out new and innovative ways to reach voters. While most are content to do things as they've always been done, others, such as Ned Lamont in Connecticut, have found new and innovative ways to try and make their case to the voters.

However, current and future manager of campaigns should take note that for every groovy great new idea that works, there are about a million more that sound great in the "war room" but in the real world, fall flat. That's because the good ideas tend to come from regular folks who are smart and savvy, and the bad ideas tend to come from people who spend too much time cooped up in a campaign "war room" , spending all their time with like-minded people and read like-minded blogs and news sources. It ensures that whatever that walled-off-from-reality group comes up with will be bad for the candidate.

That's how you get some of the venal, negative ads we saw this past June and why you get boneheaded moves such as Mayor Frank Jordan's shower with some LA DJs on the eve of the election, or Dukakis in a tank. That's why it's so important for campaigns to have people around who aren't totally plugged into one particular sub-group or so totally in to politics they lose touch with reality.

Not all bad moves are game killers such as these. Others can simply add to existing doubts about a candidate, and reinforce an overall sense that the candidate is not ready for prime time. While the "war room" folks are patting themselves on the back for being so clever, the average voter reacts with a "huh?" or (worse) a "wtf?" .

Campaign 2006 in San Francisco already has such an example. Take a look at the late-starting campaign of Alix Rosenthal, who is trying to unseat popular incumbent Bevan Dufty who represents the Castro and surrounding neighborhoods on the Board of Supervisors.

Recently, the campaign sent out what was meant to be a clever "e-vite" to a fundraising event with a "cute" headline that suggested people to get in bed with Alix at a self-styled "Burning Man meets Cirque de Soleil" event. (No, I am not making this up.)

That in and of itself may not be so bad, aside from some eye-rolling it's produced amongst the echo chamber of political insiders and denizens of City Hall. But in a campaign where the candidate has already had to deal with a less than flattering "Burning Man" picture in the San Francisco Chronicle , eye-rolling comments about how how she's a "freak" in "freaky SF" , and the fact she's a non-gay woman running against a popular gay incumbent in the district with the Castro in it, well, you see what I mean.

Plus, relying on the SF Party Party for significant help is probably not a great idea. (Don't get me wrong, I am as entertained by the SFPP as anyone, and appreciate their views, but this is not helping Alix in the Get Taken Seriously Department.)

You can almost see the independent expenditure hit piece with quotes and that Burning Man picture in thousands of mailboxes this fall.

Lesson for all you aspiring and practicing politickers: an idea might seem like a great idea to you and the kids in the war room, but may, in fact, sink your campaign. Stop. Take a deep breath. Go outside. Talk to humans who don't spend all day reading blogs and cable news, who are based in the real world. If after a breather that oh-so-clever idea makes you have doubts, DON'T DO IT. Find someone cooler than you and smarter than you to come up with something better that actually works.

Your campaign will appreciate it, even if they don't tell you. Trust me.

PS: Special thanks to SFist.com for the link! Thanks!

June 27, 2006

Politicks Isn't Pretty. And in SF It Can (Literally) Get Downright UGLY...

I will be posting an entry tomorrow morning about some ugly politcking at City Hall vis a vis the Taxi Commission. But right now I'm too irritated to write something I'd want to see in print, and I have a rule about never writing when I'm this pissed off.

Suffice it to say, if you ever want to see nasty, lying, scumbag politics, go local. And the smaller the issue, the nastier and uglier it gets. And when you are dealing with a couple of rogue taxicab companies and their minions, politics literally can get ugly. (Hint to rogue taxi-crabbies - try buying pants that hide your crack when you're in public. You'll seem that much more credible.)

Ok, enough for now. You can see me on SF Government TV when they replay tonight's taxicab commission meeting on cable TV. I had to rush my comments but I made a mark as Ambassador from my other blog, The N-Judah Chronicles.

Time for some meditation, some pushing out of negative energy, and a cracker-jack post tomorrow. Taxi-crabbies, you have been warned.

UPDATE: You can read a very thorough accounting of the corruption in City Hall here, which has some history of the issue as well. It makes an interesting point though - that Mayor Newsom, who has prided himself on wanting a City Hall that is about accountability and results has the power to fix the problem - but has been strangely silent. Odd.

June 2, 2006

Greg's All-Star Guide to the June Primary!

Don't forget to check out the Direct Mail Disinfo Rehab Archive before you vote!

If you are like many people in this state, you asked for a mail ballot this year. And, if you're like most people in this state, you still haven't returned it yet.

Don't feel bad - just about everyone else is in the same boat you are. Return rates in key counties in California are abysmally low, owing to the fact that there are so many candidates, most of whom no one has heard of, running for so many offices. Every campaign I've worked on this cycle is seeing record rates of non return of ballots statewide.

So, beat those election blues, and print out a copy of my patented All-Star Guide to the California Primary. You can easily fill out your ballot, and you get a dose of snark just for laughs!

The Big Races
Note: If people are running unopposed, I'm not including them here since there's nothing to choose!

U.S. Senate: Whatever you think of Dianne Feinstein (some folks love her, some folks hate her, some folks don't know) know this: Dianne Feinstein is going to win the Democratic Primary in a landslide Vin Diesel would envy, and is going to be re-elected. Oh yeah, there's some token resistance but you might as well cast at least one vote for a winning candidate.

Since the balloting is so easy for California, may I suggest you send a 20 or a 50 dollar bill to the campaign of Jon Tester for US Senate instead?. Jon is the kind of Democrat we need in Washington DC, who can win in a place like Montana. He's a no-BS guy who represents the best the West has to offer - and he's going to have a chance to knock out Sen. Conrad Burns, who is so deep in scandal it isn't funny. Besides if he wins he can help DiFi be a committee chair, so it's a twofer.

California Governor: It does not take a genius to figure out that I am not a fan of Governor Doofinator, and his constant lying, "reinventing" of himself, and the tomfoolery that was the Credit Card Bond. So, who then, can send this guy back to his magic ticket and his restaurant in Santa Monica?

I'm telling folks to vote for Phil Angelides. Yeah, I know, I know. But the usual math doesn't apply here. Angelides has been consistently opposing Gov. Doofinator from Day One, he didn't monkey around in the recall or support the Credit Card Bond, and he's straight with voters on what he'll do if elected. Republicans who chortle at the follies of the primary take note: Democrats chortled at your follies when they had Congress and the Presidency in 1994 - and look at what happened to them.

Lt. Governor:Tough one for me, as I met John Garamendi (albeit over the phone) while working for the Insurance Commissioner for the State of Washington. Nice guy. But I've always been a supporter of Sen. Jackie Speier throughout her career. What to do? Flip a coin? Waffle? I can't vote for both!

I'm gonna vote for Speier, since I think she would do more with the office. Garamendi is a great guy, but I wish he'd run for something else so I wouldn't have to make this kind of choice. Besides, she's the hometown hero!

Secretary of State:This one is easy - Easy choice : State Sen. Deborah Bowen. Not only was she one of the few candidates to get an endorsement at the Democratic Convention, she is also the only candidate who actually worked on any of the issues a Secretary of State faces (i.e. voting machines, political reform, etc.) and she was my State Senator when I lived in Venice.

Attorney General: Another difficult choice. I've been supporting Jerry Brown for years. Back in Santa Cruz I organized a rally with him during his Presidential bid that got on CNN and CSPAN, and later when I worked at a tech company, ended up explaining our RealAudio technology to him when he had the radio show. It's hard not to support him, but Rocky Delgadillo isn't such a bad guy either. So vote for Jerry Brown but let's hope we see Delgadillo run for something else someday.

State Controller: Don't you just love that title? Sounds like one is running for Cylon Overlord for California or something. Here's a chance for you to give someone a promotion who actually deserves it: vote for Sen. Joe Dunn. This guy really did stand up to Enron and their BS during the power crisis, and beyond, and he'll bring that integrity to the Controller's office. Unlike people like Sen. Sheila Kuehl, who voted for giving away the state to greedy speculators, Joe Dunn was the guy who remembered job 1 for him is serving the citizens. Go Joe!

State Senate, District 8: This is a tough one for me - Lou Papan was a real hero in supporting the special ed program at my old high school, where my mom works. But Mike Nevin's wife also worked at my old high school and knew my mom too. Oh yeah, there's current Assemblyman Leland Yee running a strong campaign too. So who do I vote for? Calgon, take me away!

In the end I voted for Lou Papan, but not as part of some plot to deny Nevin votes but more due to a coin toss between two guys from San Mateo County, and because he was such a good guy in the Assembly when it came to special education. But the battle seems to be between Yee and Nevin so if you want to vote for someone who's more likely to win, then go ahead and vote for Mike Nevin.

State Assembly, District 12 - SF: Ok, like you had to ask. I'm telling everyone to vote for Janet Reilly. and regular readers know I've written about when she kicked off her campaign, when she campaigned with John Kerry, and about the only debate she had with Ms. Ma..

People ask me why and the answer is simple. There are people in the local and state Democratic Party who view the Party and those in it as part of an exclusive club, and that club likes things predictable, safe, and for the benefit of their club membership, since after all, they have the best interests of The People at heart. Anyone questioning that is cast out as a pariah.

Janet's campaign has never been one on the "inside" and as such is a lot more welcoming to citizen input, and isn't as beholden to the club mentality that really disdains volunteers, Internet activists, and anyone not Already In The Club. They really don't like you, and don't like the fact they have to ask you to vote for them because They're Just That Good. Plus, when you see the nonsense being tossed at Janet, you figure she can't be that bad. Vote for Janet and piss off the Man.

Propositions

Proposition 81 - Library Bonds - vote NO: How can anyone be against library bonds? That means more money for libraries right? And I like libraries so I should support it, right? NO!

This is Yet Another Bond Issue that gets on the ballot because it "gives money" to good causes. But you see, it doesn't "give money" - it sells debt that we have to pay billions in interest on later. That blows out the budget in future years. So many bonds are passed by voters that it is killing our state's ability to make budget decisions. Vote no, and tell them to raise taxes or cut something first.

Proposition 82 - Preschool for All - Vote YES: This proposition isn't perfect, nor is it a cure all. But it doesn't use bonds, and it does take a step towards doing what we should be doing to at least not have as many screw ups in the public school system. Besides, Rob Reiner isn't that bad of a guy.

San Francisco Propositions A, B, C, D: Sometimes there's such a thing as too much democracy and voting, and the fact we're even voting on some of this stuff, which should either be passed by the Board of Supervisor and voted up or down by the Mayor, or perhaps addressed elsewhere, is a sign. But since we do have them, here's an easy way to vote:

If you like Mayor Gavin Newsom, and allied interests, and do not like the Board of Supervisors and their allied interests, go ahead and vote "no" on everything. Sure, there is that issue of violent homeless people being put in the old folks home at Laguna Honda, but so what? Gavin's got a tough re-election in 2007, possibly, and the last thing he needs some ballot measures to give him guff.

If you do not like Mayor Gavin Newsom and allied interest, and like the Board of SUpervisors, and their allied interests, go ahead and vote "yes" on everything. Sure, that whole Ellis Act notification thing probably won't stop a desperate home-buyer from running over Grandma to get that TIC, but so what? Gavin's got a tough re-election in 2007, possibly, and perhaps these ballot measures (some of which were put on the ballot by Supervisor Daly) might be able to give him some guff.

Other Offices:

San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee: Ok, pop quiz: what is the one job people run for, spend money to get elected to, that most people have not even heard of much less know what they do?

That would be the Democratic Party Central Committee. Ya see, each county has a "Central Commitee" for each party. These are partisan positions within the parties themselves - they are not funded by the state or anything like that. These might seem like ceremonial posts, but how the people on this committee vote determine all sorts of party business at the local and state level. So in a way it matters, but not always in an immediately understandable way.

The problem is you have to vote for so many people out of a pack of like, a zillion, and (thank GOD) "Ranked Choice Voting" has no place in these races. I'm going to recommend the two people I actually have met and known: Boe Hayward in the 12th Assembly District and Tim Paulson in the 13th.

Both are good guys - I helped out Boe with his postcards this year, and Tim Paulson is the director of the San Francisco Labor Council and all around good guy. There's two endorsements - figure out the rest of the slots on the ballot after casting your ballot for these guys.

That's it! Enjoy the fireworks on June 6th!

May 23, 2006

California Primary Political Mail Archive is Up at GregDewar.com!

The first step of our Disinfo Rehab project is up and online! Thanks to good friends on the Peninsula and in San Francisco, as well as some trusty campaign volunteers, I've posted the first of what will be many entries into a Political Direct Mail Web Archive that you, the citizen, can review in advance of California's Primary Election on June 6th. (Temporarily, PDF files submitted to the arcive are featured here while we get Flickr to cooperate!)

Currently the archive features entries from State Senate Candidate Mike Nevin , who has some of the most novel mail pieces, evoking an earlier era in campaign themes, as well as a piece I picked up at a street fair last weekend from the campaign of Fiona Ma, who is running in Assembly District 12.

More from our gubernatorial candidates, our friends in high and low places, and those running for other offices will be featured as the days go by. You may also make submissions by email by sending me an email with your reasonably sized JPEGs or PDFs of stuff you find.

Oddly enough, because I recently re-registered only a few months ago into the new house I moved into, I'm not getting the volume of doubleplusungoodmail I usually get. So, if you're looking at that steaming pile of dead trees, and thinking of junking it, think again!

I'm offering a drink bounty to voters for new and unusual pieces of mail, in particular those sent out by special interests influencing the outcome of many of the Legislative elections in California, where so many people are running for ever so many offices.

Enjoy the archive and keep coming back as more images (and more commentary) are added to the new disinfobabble and artistic licenses issued by today's politickers. Consultants are also welcome to submit pieces they are proud of, as well.

UPDATE: Big updates coming this weekend. Meanwhile, check this article out discussing the increasingly flat out false mail going out to the public.

UPDATE 2 - May 28th: More pieces have been added from the Reilly/Ma race and the Yee/Nevin/Papan race....anyone wishing to submit pieces they've received should email me with their entries...thanks!

Oh and some advice for the volunteers eager to tell us about their candidates - the moment you put a handout or a piece of unauthorized crap in a mailbox, not only do you earn bad karma, but you are also committing a federal crime. Just last night I found two piecesfor a candidate for DCCC shoved in my mailbox at home in the Inner Sunset. Not smart. Kids, learn the rules and play it safe, ok?

April 16, 2006

A Big Raspberry and A Rap on The Knuckles to the Bay Guardian

One final thought on the Ma/Reilly debate - and the issue of media coverage of campaigns in generals, as I issue a big raspberry and a rap on the knuckles to the Bay Guardian.

Why? Simple. This editorial, from Bay Guardian editor Tim Redmond loudly complained about the "lack of candidates" in the race in AD 12, and took a decidedly condescending tone towards Janet Reilly.

This, despite the fact she's running a great campaign, and is likely one of the very few people running in the state much less so-called Liberal San Francisco on the issues the BG and "progressives" claim to care about. I guess you're damned if you do and damned if you don't at the Guardian. At least self-styled "progressive" politicians are supporting Reilly!

As Mr. Redmond and co. point a finger at The Political Establishment, though, they're going to notice 4 fingers pointing right back at them. That's because both candidates have been running since last year, and this seat has been an "open" race for 2006 for a long time now. Everyone knew that.

Yet, the Guardian's news coverage of the race, starting last year, has been barely noticeable, and I have seen no proclamations about this race, or the "lack of candidates" a year ago, 9 months ago, 6 months ago, or even 3 months ago. Yet now, 2 months before the election, the Guardian takes a "pox on both of you" tone, and treats a fresh face in politics like dirt. For shame.

Memo to the Guardian crew: Perhaps if you spent a little less time with dry cover stories about "Burning Man," and other psuedo-edgy fare, and spent more time on, oh I don't know, covering the politics and issues affecting the lives of ordinary San Franciscans with the investigative flair the paper was once known for in the old days, perhaps not only we might have candidates that are "better" in your view, but you might also find it easier to fend of challenges from chain papers who have you in their cross hairs.

Just a thought.

April 11, 2006

A Debate With Janet Reilly, Fiona Ma, Women Politicos, and More in SF's AD 12

Running for a state Assembly seat in San Francisco isn't like running anywhere else in the state. Unless there's an open seat with no incumbent, they are rather placid affairs. When there's an open seat, however, things get more interesting.

That's because for all intents and purposes, the person who wins the AD seat in the June primary will likely serve in that seat for 6 years, barring a major catastrophe or an aspiration to even higher office. Thus, votes in San Francisco's AD 12 have an extra special responsibility to check out Democrats Janet Reilly and Fiona Ma before they vote in the primary.

However, that's easier said than done. It seems last week's debate, sponsored by the San Francisco Women's Political Committee is apparently the only chance voter's had to hear these candidates talk to each other and to voters about why they deserve what will most likely be a 6 year term in the Assembly.

To her credit, Janet Reilly had suggested more debates where voters could hear the candidates, ask questions, and get past prepaid media to make their decision, but unfortunately, it seems Fiona Ma's campaign, unwilling to "legitimize" their challenge, only agreed to this debate, which gave all the major questions of the debate in advance. Hmm.

I'm the first to suggest that the traditional debate format of 2minute1minutebackandforth doesn't do much to get past the 30 second sound-bites of TV ads and the 8-second rule of mail pieces. That said, since nothing better is on the horizon, this is all I, and my fellow voters in AD 12, have to go on that won't be an ad of some sort.

Since almost all the questions were given in advance, instead of really hearing much "debate" to compare, we had instead a chance to basically hear each candidate's stump speech, separated into pieces. Most of the coverage of the event tended to focus on "stylistic" differences between the candidates - i.e. Ma grabbing the microphone and strolling out on the stage channeling her best Bill Clinton, while Reilly maintained a professional demeanor behind the provided podiums, for example.

And to be sure on many issues they did agree - both supported gubernatorial candidate Steve Westly's idea to make community college free (like it was until about 20 years or so ago).

That said, the fact was there were some pretty big differences between the candidates on some pretty big issues. But you won't hear them talk about these issues with voters and between each other in any debates before the primary where the questions were given in advance. Getting nervous? I am!

Continue reading "A Debate With Janet Reilly, Fiona Ma, Women Politicos, and More in SF's AD 12" »

February 2, 2006

Democrat Janet Reilly Kicks Off Her Campaign In West Portal!

Last weekend I decided to check out Janet Reilly's 2006 kickoff for her campaign for the California Assembly. Loyal readers will recall that Janet had her campaign start in May of 2005, complete with an appearance by 2004 Presidential Candidate John Kerry.

While last year's event was held downtown and was a gathering of both political insiders and grassroots supporters, the event held last Saturday was one dominated by local district residents who were solidly behind Janet's campaign at West Portal Elementary, conveniently located just above the West Portal Muni tunnel.

Current Assemblyman Leland Yee (who is now running for the State Senate) introduced Janet and endorsed her to succeed him in the Legislature. Former Lt. Governor and Speaker Leo McCarthy also addressed the crowd. Here you can see a photo of Janet and Assemblyman Yee as Janet began to give her speech.

You can read her remarks here as well.

All in all she gave a good speech - clear, to the point, not too long, and not afraid to speak up on some issues that are sure to create some debate during this campaign.

What I liked best though was that it was clear to me that despite what some nadering nabobs of negativism might say in the press, she was running because she really wants to do the job of representing the district - which is rare these days when you see so many people run just to see their name in the paper and their picture on TV, or just find a gig to make plans for the next campaign - a nasty side effect of term limits. Besides, if she wasn't serious, there's no way she could have attracted a crowd like
this on a foggy Saturday morning.

It will be an interesting season for San Francisco/San Mateo County voters in both the 12th Assembly District and the 8th State Senate district, since they will have two very open races with many hard working candidates. But after seeing just how well organized Janet's campaign has been to date, and how tech-savvy and people-savvy it has operated so far, I'd have to give the edge to Janet in this race.

Special Note to Los Angeles Readers: During a recent trip to Los Angeles to enlist support for her campaign, both the LA Independent and Joe Scott's The Body Politic blog, among other places.

Part of being a legislator is of course to represent your home area, but part of it is also to be able to work with people around the state, and Janet's got the edge in this race on that issue for sure.

Pictures graciously provided by Carolyn Weiss.

September 15, 2005

Yet More Investigations Into The "Qualifications" of SF Emergency Services "Director" Annemarie Conroy- UPDATE!

You know it's getting bad for political appointee Annemarie Conroy when even the local TV news, not known for really going after news stories, starts an investigation into the qualifications of Ms. Conroy for one of the most critical jobs in a city that is certain to have a disaster.

KGO News, bucking the trend of faux journalism at the local level, took a hard look. And what they found wasn't too great. The second half was broadcast last night, and frankly NO ONE looks good in all of this.

Not only is Ms. Conroy's entire qualification that she's a politico related to an ex-mayor (who gave her a first job in politics, only to be tossed out by voters a couple o' years later!), and that now taxpayers are paying $40,000 a year to send her to Monterey to get a master's degree.


Yeah. $40,000 so she can learn something about her job. If the Big One hits, or terrorists attack, she'll be far, far away from San Francisco. Lucky her. Given how many classes one needs to take to get an M.S., one would imagine we won't be seeing her around her office much.

Don't you wish you could get paid $160,000 for a job you're not qualified for, then have taxpayers pay you to go to school AND pay your tuition, so you could sort of be qualified for the job you're being paid $160,000 for? I sure do! Beats working, that's for sure. And that whole "disaster" thing? Well we can just rely on the feds to take care of us! Wowee the crack they're serving these days is simply crack-a-rific!

Mayor Newsom is still defending the appointment, which seems odd. If we have learned nothing else from Katrina. we should all learn that putting unqualified political hacks into critical, technical jobs leads to disaster. Surely the Mayor who has often stood on principle, could realize that in this case, giving Ms. Conroy the boot to a job where she can be political and not harm anyone, in favor of someone certified to do the job, might be a good idea.

My previous posting on this subject saw a big spike in google searches. Clearly I'm not the only person worried about the issue. And, judging from some of the IP addresses that hit this site from those google searches, some are in City Hall.

UPDATE: Yet another salvo has been fired in the direction of Political Hack Annemarie Conroy, with two supervisors asking for her resignation. Only two now support her - including Assembly Candidate Fiona Ma. You can see the latest KGO TV report here.

Fiona Ma may want to reconsider her public remarks. If this is the kind of person she feels is qualified to take over 160,000 a year in salary, a free government SUV, free tuition for a Master's Degree (aka on the job training), and other goodies, for a job Ms. Conroy is NOT qualified for and regards the public with contempt when challenged, well then, I'd say voters in next year's primary may want to ask Ms. Ma some more in depth questions about the kinds of people she feels should be in jobs that literally can hold the power of life or death over them.


© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

September 2, 2005

San Franciscans: THIS is YOUR Commander of Emergency Sevices!

Don't think a disaster like New Orleans can happen to you?

Here's the full quote of qualifications for Annemarie Conroy, a good pal* of failed Mayor Frank Jordan and Token Republican in San Francisco Government:

Annemarie Conroy holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of California at Berkeley and a Juris Doctorate from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. She was admitted to the California State Bar in December 1989.

Doesn't that make you feel good? An ENGLISH MAJOR who has the good grace of being a Republican and a friend of a powerful past mayor is now in charge of recovery from one of the three top threats to the US (the others being a terrorist attack in NYC and a big ass storm in New Orleans. I think those happened already).

More importantly it shows how you as a San Franciscan are very vulernable to a political hack for your survival. This has been the problem in San Francisco for some time now - people never get hired or fired for work performance - it's all about appeasing people with big paying jobs, regardless of the impact. That's why we have Tony Hall, a former supervisor, "running" Treasure Island, and why Ms. Conroy, the former head of Treasure Island, is now running Emergency Services.

It's all well and good when the money's flowing and life is swell that we give these well-padded politcos more money to do nothing. The problem is we pay when a real disaster happens. Wouldn't it be nice if instead of hiring Ms. Conroy, we'd hired someone who's got experience running relief and diaster ops for a big city or small country? Maybe somoene who has a bit more in the smarts department than a Cal degree in English?

Perish the thought. But that's why it's time we push forward and get some solar rechargers and satphones for our police, fire, and Mayor, and for citizens. We can't rely on Ms. Conroy to be concerned with much else besides her pension and her paycheck, and she certainly doesn't have a background that warrants her appointment to this job. But I'm sure appeasing the former Supervisor helps so when we're all staring at the rubble, we can at least be confident Little Annemarie got her good paying job.


UPDATE: Some have suggested a solar powered or charged cell phone is "expensive" or "not feasible." To prove them wrong, I direct you all to this link at Apple's online store. It's for a pocket solar powered iPod charger, one of many types of solar chargers you can get for iPods and cell phones.

None of this has to be difficult, expensive , or line the pockets of some big stupid meathead-run company like Halliburton. It's called "getting things done" and it's a novel concept, I know, but we gotta try. Can't hurt, can it?

UPDATE II, ELECTRIC BOOGALOO: Apparently the anxiety I have over this political appintment is shared by others. Since the news of Hurricane Katrina, the number of people hitting this site + posting off of Google with search terms involving "Annemarie Conroy" and "patronage" and "disaster" (or variations therein) have caused a minispike in traffic.

For some historical background, take a look at an old article from 1999 that details her previous patronage appointment and give you an idea of so-called "liberal" San Francisco works.


Where's a paper ready to go on a crusade for All That Is Good and True when you need it the most? How about we put aside the tut-tuts being aimed at Bush and instead focus on making SF the best possible place for civil defense and relief at the local level? Too bad Willie Brown blew all the money during the boom on his buddies...but that's another column....

FINAL UPDATE (REALLY): Today, the SF Board of Supervisors announced a full on audit of the department, realizing that FEMA (AKA FEEBL) can't be relied on, and that we have got to have our act together as best we can.

*Actually she's a relative. This was meant to be a joke.

© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

August 10, 2005

Some Straight Talk from San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom You May Have Missed

"Re-thinking" and "strategizin' " are popular topics amongst political types to the left of G. W. Bush. This past week members of the Young Democrats of America held their national convention in San Francisco, and the talk was punctuated with some hard realizations doing "business as usual" wasn't going to cut it anymore. Good.

What struck me most, though was the coverage of the event in the local press barely made mention of their own mayor's remarks, and those that did gave it short shrift, presumably because he's not on the "politically orthodox" side of politics.

Which is unfortunate. That's because in a time when you have so many Democratic politicians in Washington DC running around thinking they're in charge of things, when they're not, and you have lifetime political hacks from D.C. running around, grabbing corporate cash and attacking party chairman Howard Dean for daring to act like, well, a Democrat, Mayor Gavin Newsom's remarks were a breath of fresh air.

Here's a quote, from the San Francisco Bay Guardian, that's worth a look:

"I am not popular in my party," he said. "What's the point of winning if you can't advance your principles? You can't talk in ideals unless you are willing to manifest them...We need more clarity in our party," Newsom said. "It's about integrity."

You'd think a statement like that, coming from the guy who's had to take crap from wealthy, psueudo-Democratic battle-axe Dianne Feinstein, and who decided to stand on principle on an issue that was not going to get him any points in a future political career would be applauded, if not by the supposedly progressive Bay Guardian, then at least by the allegedly powerful "liberal blogosphere."


While I can forgive the latter for not reporting and amplifying Newsom's remarks since there's no way for them to know what's up without being able to read it somewhere, I have to take issue with the Guardian, both for their burial of what would seem to be a bold, progressive statement, and for their coverage of the event in general.

It becomes obvious in a situation like this that no matter what Mayor Newsom says, because he was Not The Politically Correct Person saying said statement, they had to bury it in a half-assed piece about the YD's.

You almost get the sense that there's such a determination to slam Mayor Newsom as "Willie Brown, Part Deux" (even though he's not), they can't even concede one little piece of decent coverage.

News flash: Mayor Newsom is not perfect, lefty folks. We know that. But trying to demonize the guy and being unable to concede on principle when he's done some great things ultimately kills La Causa a hell of a lot better than the Ghost of Satan Willie Brown could or will. It shows an inability to grasp today's political terrain, and a desire to return to what I call the "Bad Good Old Days" - when it was easy to be on

But there's a bigger issue. You'd think that they'd send someone to, oh I don't know, try and cover the issues at hand at said convention, and perhaps engage in a little reporting, maybe even quoting some people and attaching names to quotes. Even better, send a young person who'se politically savvy to try and bring the perspective of the people these folks are tryin' to reach.

Instead the Guardian sent an old college professor whose experience with the Young Democrats dates back to the 1950s. That's great. But nowhere in this coverage does any real history of the group get told, to place anything that happened at the convention itself in context.


The author clearly went over there with a presupposed concept in mind: the tired old saw of "How the 1960s are Still The Best Years for Activism Ever" and the new hack, "Oh You Democrats Didn't Talk About The War As Much as I Deem You Should (Even Though I Didn't Bother to Cover Most of the Convention Anyway)."

Hmm. Sounds like a bad country song. Oh, but I digress.

But to wind it up: Not only did the Guardian make a mis-step in under-reporting their own elected officials' statements at a natinoal convention in their home town, they also blew a chance to do some real research and come up with a story that might have told the reader a little more about the proceedings and asked some hard questions.

Instead, we got yet another iteration of the old "60's Great/Today Bad" rhetoric that makes me literally ill every time I hear it. The 60s have been over for some time now, folks. Smokin' pot and marching a lot may have been the way to go back then. But to make a difference today, one has to get with the times, not try and re-enact the 60s the way those Civil War buffs do so on battlefields in the South.

UPDATE: It seems in my haste to post something, I made the mistake of not noting Pat Murphy's coverage of said convention at his local news website, SF Sentinel that included coverage of Mayor Newsom's remarks.

Many people have opinions of Pat Murphy's work - whatever they say, I still find it a good local resource for many events that don't always get covered by the Big Papers In Town, and Pat's never shy about his opinions, or labeling them as such. Kudos to Pat for covering more of the Mayor's speech.


© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

May 20, 2005

Quick Hit- What LA Could Learn from San Francisco OR "Wild Night At City Hall!"

Now that our semi-acrimonious campaigns in Los Angeles are over, and now that the sniping at St. Tony has begun (can you even count how many people at the LA Times Blog are proclaiming Tony a "hopeless liberal" or the "Brown Menace" and he hasn't even taken office yet???) it might be worth taking a look at what kinds of fun happen in a City Hall not dominated by "pay to play" or other nonsense.

This evening I was in San Francisco and stopped off at City Hall. Here's what I found:

- County Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, continuing a precdedent set by his predecessor, hosted an art show at his Supervisorial offices in City Hall.

This month, the art was the artwork of the militant 60's Black Panther Party, founded in Oakland, CA by Huey Newton. Regardless of your personal politics, the poster and newspaper art created by the party's "Ministry of Information" was rather unique, and, in light of what we know now about all involved, quite interesting to look at.

The showing itself was a lively affair, with Supervisor Mirkarimi's offices packed full of San Francisco's political elite, and average citizens. They had free drinks, free food, and it was a relaxed way for people to socialize and talk about whatever was on their mind. No speeches, no pompous BS, just a fun Friday for people in the District, and in the City.

Politicians could learn from Supervisor Mirkarimi (and his predecessor Matt Gonzalez) about the value of such an event. Rather than emphasize the holder of the office, it emphasized people in the district the office is supposed to represent. More importantly, no one was there lobbying or networking. People were just there talking to each other, which, in an acrimonious setting, can really help knock down some of the walls we like to build around each other with labels, name calling and p.r. innuendo.


I'm looking around and wondering what politicos in L.A. might emulate this and adapt it for the good of their district and their city...Councilmember-elect Bill Rosendahl? Maybe you'd be willing to give something like this a shot?

-Mayor Gavin Newsom was hosting some Big Press Deal at City Hall as well. Now, I have to admit I dropped the ball on finding out exactly what this was, because just as I was walking up to talk to the Mayor's staff, I got a call I had to take (darn work intruding on blogging! D'oh!) but the news cameras were there, and you could hear all the talking and laughing from Mirkarimi's event echoing through the marble-lined halls.

(In fact, my colleague on the phone assumed I was at a bar, not at City Hall, due to the noise).

Still, given how famous this guy has become, and due to the job he's doing as Mayor (a million times better that Jimi Hahn, that's for sure!) it was kinda fun to see the guy in action. All on a Friday Night.

-Finally, there was a DJ and a disco ball being set up in the City Hall Main Lobby. I had to ask WHAT was going on, and it turns out Burlinagme High School (just 20 minutes south on the Peninsula) was having their prom...at City Hall.

Now, most of you probably do not know I grew up in Burlingame, so I got a laugh out of this. However, I did not attend Burlingame High (which is where 1/2 of Burlingame and all of Hillsborough's kids went) - I went to Mills High School in Millbrae instead (and it was cooler anyway).


And, not to brag, but our Senior Prom was at the War Memorial Opera House (across from City Hall) in 1986, and even cooler, at Bimbo's 365 Club, one of SF's institutions, in 1985! In your FACE, BHS!

Ok, enough parochial vulgarities. Back to my point. Think about this, readers: Can you imagine an art show (with free drinks), a natiaonlly known Mayor doing Something Importnat, and a high school prom being held at LA City Hall?

More importantly, why aren't they?

Why can't we all lighten up a little and put aside the barbs and heavy handed BS once in a while and reminds ourselves...it's OK to like each other, and OK to just relax and enjoy a Friday, regardless of labels?

I leave this to the Powers That Be. Meanwhile, I plan on going back out in a bit to hang out with some friends, have a cocktail and enjoy what I like best about my home town. When I return to LA, I sure would like it if someone in civic life by then had figured out how to do this without a gun to their head. Bob Hertzberg hosts some fun parties, I bet.

Anyone listening?

UPDATE: Here's a link to a story that details how busy City Hall is getting these days.


© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

May 1, 2005

Crashing The Party With John Kerry and Janet Reilly in San Francisco!

NOTE: This entry originally appeared at my old blog, schadelmann.com, but has been archived here.

I'm at the Apple Store on Stockton St. in San Francisco, where they're releasing OS X Tiger for Macintosh. It's about 7:30pm and I just left an event at the historic Merchant's Exchange Building in downtown San Francisco where Sen. John Kerry came out in support for Janet Reilly's bid for State Assembly on San Francisco's west side.

Kerry's presence helped with the attendance rate, to be sure, but the clear star of the evening was Janet Reilly, who gave a great (and not too long) speech. A virtual who's who of past and present elected officials were on hand in support of her candidacy, including Supervsiors Jake Mc Goldrick and Gerardo Sandoval, and City Attorney Dennis Hererra. Former California Assembly Speaker Leo McCarthy was also in attendance (and serves as the campaign's chair) and various other past elected officials were there to show their support. It was quite an impressive crowd.

While Kerry' presence was certainly appreciated by those who attended, his remarks were short and the crowd's enthusiasm for McCarthy and Reilly was a lot stronger. You got the impression pretty quickly that despite the attacks of the partisan SF Weekly and SF Chronicle, Janet's campaign is a strong, credible campaign, with a great candidate and some solid ideas for California's future.

Los Angeles residents on the Westside might remember Janet from one of her previous jobs, as a press and community relations aide to former Mayor Richard Riordan. No doubt we'll see her in L.A. at some point to re-connect with friends in Southern California and enlist support for her campaign, which is focusing on the decrepit state of health care in this country.

I'm about to get kicked off the comptuers at the Apple store so I have to cut this short...and Journalspace will be going offline at 9pm for maintenance so I will post more.

Overall though, this event was one of the best organized events I've been to in a while. I could literally check off in my head my own "Steps to a Successful Large Fundraising Event" while observing the preparations and the crowd.

Watching the large number of volunteers, who were well trained and got people in the doors quickly, as well as the flow of the event (no speeches droned on and on, not even Kerry's as he's prone to do), made it clear that Janet's campaign is a force to be reckoned with in 2006, despite partisan sniping from our friends at the San Francisco Chronicle (who insisted the ticket price was $250 instead of the actual $25 price.)

March 29, 2005

Stem Cell Con Job or Why Are We Scrambling to Let A Deadbeat In Our Community?

I don't know what is more irritating to me, as a taxpayer, to observe and make me cringe when it comes to the so-called "Stem Cell Research Initiative" voters, in their inimitable wisdom, passed in 2004 here in California.

Part of it is the actual law itself - but also, the way both the press and so-called "leaders" of local governments have chosen to overlook serious problems with this law.

Instead, they've chosen instead to shower an institute funded with $3 billion dollars of credit card spending with yet more "free" (aka "taxpayer funded" goodies). All for a scientific institute that is to be headed up by...a real estate developer with no experience in science, let alone stem cells.

Let's start by taking a look at the law itself. Now, throughout the campaign, voters heard endless, heart-tugging emotional stories of those afflicted with terrible diseases. The initiative's backers skillfully manipulated people, who want to do things to help others, to vote for this new law. People against the law were dismissed as ultra-right religious extremists (even though opposition came from people of diverse political views).

Like so many other initiatives, any real examination of the ramifications of the law were never fully examined. Then the thing passed. And suddenly, after the dust settled, we started to see a wave of "mea culpas" from the press like this one in the December San Francisco Chronticle, and another in the Bay Guardian.

Among the little details: the initiative is using borrowed money, $3 billion worth, and part of that has to go to paying of the debt created by the borrowing right away. So first thing we're seeing these guys spend money on isn't life-saving research - it's bond debt. Out of $300 million in borrowed money in the first few years, as much as $200 million could go to...debt service. To paraphrase the Chronicle - this is like using part of a home loan to make the house payments. Now there's a responsible way to manage money!

If the institute wants to stop spending money on stem cell research, they can. And if they want to spend it on wild parties, they can. And if you want to call your elected officials to bitch and demand a stop to such shenanigans...you can't. They wrote the law so it's almost impossible to enforce the same kind of oversight we demand on every other state program.

Best of all, the guy who wrote this thing, with all its faults, and vague promises of how the taxpayers will make their money back, just happens to be the guy in charge of the institute now and responds to queries about how he'll run things with the words "trust me."

That inspires a lot of confidence. Especially since he's the one that wrote so many poison pills in the law that keep anyone from stopping him from using the state credit card any way he wants. No wonder he was the Governor's choice for the job - we all know how much Gov. Doofinator loves spending on the taxpayer's credit cards!

Now, I am sure the reporters here are congratulating themselves on a job well done for 'exposing' the innards of this law. But I have to wonder -where was all this investigative journalism before the people voted on it and why did so many people including celebrities, politicos, and pundits, sign on to this thing without reading the fine print?

It gives me little satisfaction to say "I told you so!" in this instance - I'd rather people have been a little more responsible, used their votes a bit more wisely, and demanded real answers to some questions before voting.

Now, it's bad enough that voters passed a law with more loopholes, giveaways, and outright deceit as this one - but it is worse to see what so-called "leaders" of California's cities are doing now to attract the Big, Taxpayer Funded Headquarters for this thing.

Reading the "bids" taxpayers' representatives in cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, and elsehwere are simply astonishing. We have a situation where cities, in a desperate bid to get the institute in their home towns are trying to out-do each other with offers of free office rent, free gym memberships, free this, and free whatever. Anything at all to get the $3 billion dollar credit card in their home town.

Now, what's really pathetic is that once again local elected officials are doing two dumb things local electeds do really well - make "investments" in vague promises, and never tell anyone where the money is coming from to pay for said "investments."

The first is one we hear a lot. Whenever some large, and usually dumb, idea is presented to the public, elected officials use their favorite word when they want to "invest" in a vague promise with your money. They use the word "encourage." Whenever you hear this word, you need to get out a guard dog and put it next to your wallet - because it usually means someone wants to take money away from you and piss it away on something really dumb or give it away to someone who already has billions of dollars.

In this case, cities are giving away all kinds of free things, including hundreds of thousands of square feet of real estate, money to pay for fancy offices, and money for things like gym memberships to get the Big Headquarters of the so-called "California Institute for Regenerative Medicine" aka "The $3 Billion Credit Card You Have to Pay For."

Every single time you read what elected officials have to say when asked why they're giving away money in a time of budget crisis to this thing, they all say something along the lines of how spending this money is an "investment" that will "encourage" businesses to open up shop near said institute, and thus, trickle down the effect of all that spending into local tax coffers, and of course, "create jobs." Now, there's nothing in any of these deals that guarantees any of that. But you never hear that part. No one asks, and no one tells.

If there is one thing I wish I could accomplish in politics, it would be to spend the next ten years on a long rage PR campaign to put a stake in the heart of political "junkie logic" like this in public discourse. Why? Because it is 100%, pure, unadulterated bullshit. Let's see why.

Now, let's use our friend "metaphor" to deconstruct the political junkie logic in an easy to understand way, and see why any local elected official that engages in said logic needs to be asked to leave town:

Suppose you were asked to take a good portion of your take home pay and put it in an investment your new friend wants you to make. No one can show you the potential rate of return. In fact, no one can show you that there's any return at all. Worse, when you ask how the investment will work, you're attacked as being a coward, a liar, or just plain crazy. "Can't you see how your 'investment' will 'encourage' people?" they say?

You keep asking "But if I give you my $40,000 of savings, how will I make the money back?" and your new friend keeps saying that your money won't directly benefit you back - but it will encourage others to give money to you since you're such a great person for making this investment, and you want to encourage others to do the same so you get your money back. You have no guarantees, and the person taking your money could disappear tomorrow -and you'd be left with nothing.

Now, if this sounds more like a "con" than a sound investment, you'd be right. If you did something like this, you'd go to jail. If you're an elected official, you're praised as someone who "creates opportunity" and is "pro-business."

Meanwhile the countryside is littered with abandoned office space and industiral plants businesses got at the taxpayers' expense, all in the name of "investing" in the community and the vague promise of "jobs" in the future. And guess what? Most of those elected officials got promotions from the voters anyway!

In the case of the Stem Cell Mafia Institute, the "winning" city may find itself in for a rude shock should they "win" the right to have this debt-creator in their backyard, paid for by more of their citizens' money. See, there's no rule in any of that well-written law that the money has to be spent locally. In fact, they're mandated to spend money where research is being done now - anywhere. Even out of state.

And no company has put up its stockholders' dividends or its own profits up and said "Hey, I'll move to the city where the Institute is!" - because most companies aren't so stupid as to invest in fairy tales. There's also no guarantee that in the future the Stem Cell Mafia won't come back and say "give us more or we'll leave" after the big investment.

So while we can't figure out how to pay for a few cops in L.A., we can find money to give away $177 million to a billionaire for speculative development, and we can find millions more to "give" to a taxpayer-financed credit card agency with no real fiscal oversight. We can't vote ourselves taxes to pay for roads, schools, and whatnot but we can vote to borrow money and entrust it to a guy with no scientific background and let him play with it as he sees fit.

It's time to end the madness. If there was even a small amount of common sense, civic leaders across California would not be letting themselves be played like this. They'd instead suggest that if the Stem Cell Mafia wants to pitch its circus tent in their neighborhood, they'd have to have written guarantees that they'd employ local people at decent wages.

They'd have to guarantee that the states taxpayers, who are paying for the credit card debt keeping the lights on, would share in the patents and royalties generated by any research. And they certainly wouldn't' compete against each other like hookers at a street corner - they'd work together, since all of California voted for the initiative, and all of California should benefit.

I realize what I just said was a fairy tale as well. But hey! A person has to dream, right?

(note: this article was originally published on March 29, 2005. However in the ensuing upgrade from one platform to another, it was lost. It is being republished as current events warrant a trip in the Political Wayback Machine.)

October 29, 2004

Remarkable Women Running in San Francisco

As we get to the end of this long and arduous election season I'm going to be posting as often as I can both short missives and links that seem relevant, as well as a few more articles about elections big and small in California. Today I'm focusing on two candidates in San Francisco who I think deserve a little bit of the spotlight in the crowded Supervisorial races this Tuesday.

Lately I've been traveling back and forth to San Francisco, helping out a candidate running under the City's new Ranked Choice Voting system. It's been an interesting experience, and I'll be posting a more detailed pre-election analysis and a election post-mortem later on.

For now I'd like to focus attention on two candidates who I'd like to spotlight for their efforts. Both are friends of mine whom I believe would make great additions to the city's Board of Supervisors (similar to a City Council in other major cities, but remember, San Francisco is a City and a county, hence the name difference) this year.

The other candidate who deserves some recognition in the blizzard of mailers, robo-calls, and election year hoopla is Christine Linnenbach who is running in San Francisco's more conservative District 7. (Yes, you read that right - don't believe FOX News' BS - there are conservative and traditional areas of San Francisco, and Republicans have played major roles in City politics for years!)


I met Christine several years ago during a campaign for City office and found her to be one of the smartest people I've met when it comes to open-meeting laws, campaign finance disclosure, and neighborhood rights. During some of San Francisco's most corrupt, special-interest policy-making years in the 1990s, Christine was a crusading attorney who successfully exposed sneaky deals surrounding the development of Sutro Tower.
Even though things got rather heated during that battle, she refused to give in to the pressures of powerful interests, and won significant battles on behalf of residents in the affected area. For her efforts, she was named a Local Hero by the Bay Guardian.

But it would be a mistake to try and pigeonhole Christine's political agenda with standard political labels. Instead, it'd be more accurate to say that her ultimate goal is to ensure that the public's interest comes first whenever legislation and regulations are considered at City Hall, instead of automatically defaulting to what well-paid lobbyists think should come first. That sounds simple, but any analysis of San Francisco decision-making in the last ten years indicates that it's really a rather radical (in a good way) position, and one the City desperately needs in an era of difficult decisions regarding public policy and fiscal responsibility.

That's why I'm urging people to send whatever support they can to Christine's campaign in these last few days, so that again, no matter what happens, we'll be sure to have her, like Susan, stay in the process and continue to move upward. That said, I think that there's a chance Christine may surprise a lot of the political know-it-alls out there with the strength of her campaign's message, and how it will play with District 7 voters.

Do your own reading on both candidates if you haven't voted yet and I think you'll find that both deserve your respect, if not your support. If you're not from San Francisco, consider sending something in anyway, since our country needs young people, especially young women, who can start now at the local level so that one day they may be ready to compete for higher office. Either way, have fun with the election and be sure to vote on November 2nd.

© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

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