|Watching City Hall #220, SEPTEMBER 17, 2003
You should have heard em just around midnight.
(Jagger sings about the SF Board)
The Board of Supervisors first meeting coming off their vacation lasted until after 5am. They started at 2pm the previous day, so that makes the meeting the longest that the Board has spent in a session in which they were not being held hostage at the point of a gun. A tip of the hat to the boys and girls who hung around for all 15 hours. (Gavin Newsom was not one of them he left before 10pm & left the heavy lifting to the people whose pay raise he tried to kill he called em part-time help howd you like to work for this prick?)
I was certainly not one of them. Id started the day at 4am myself, getting up to toss more lifes possessions to get down to road weight. By noon I was at Gonzalezs Haight office with my buddy Phil who makes dead computers live. Six short hours later, I had my first column from the new location filed, just as my pal Jens Nielsen & his girlfriend, Leona Gonzales came through the door.
My friends have great views
I was headed for Phils place around the corner on Fillmore and up the street on Page. I brought Jens & Leona along & we were soon standing on Phils backporch with two of his roomies (Abby & Will) drinking homemade wine (excellent Merlot!) and, of course, smoking the best pot on Gods Earth. And, the view! My Lord, the view!!
Youre a San Franciscan, right? Or, youve hung out here enough to get the idea of what Im saying about views. Views views views there is no more controversial matter in this town of artists. People have literally killed to protect their views here. Normally, the matter ends up before the Board of Supervisors in one of these long, long sessions. But, on to Phils view.
Ya could see from the Marin Headlands all the way around to the Bay Bridge and on down the Peninsula. Viewed from this moderate hill in the Haight, I could see neighborhoods ranging from the wealthiest of the wealthies (old money Sea Cliff doesnt count) from the heights of Pacific Heights to the poorest neighborhoods in Hunters Point. Then, then, the lights came out on this clear evening and it all got better. Theres a point here.
The point is that all of us who live in San Francisco and get around at all are constantly experiencing reactions ranging from pleasant surprise to astounded delight when we visit some of our friends homes for the first time and see their views. How many times have you stood in wonderment at the unexpected visual treasure your friend has only hinted at? You know that!
The view from Phils back porch looked familiar and I realized Id seen it just a week or two previously from the top floor of Angela Aliotos place in Pacific Heights. Only, two miles or so closer to the scenes principle elements. Ah, Angela, Angela Matt is my candidate, but you are something. Still young, but nevertheless, the Matriarch of a powerful clan. Her home befits her a Queens castle, on its way to becoming the palace of an Empress. Simple boy that I am in my heart, I appreciate such things. But, imagine my feelings. Remember that
Remember that Id just tossed away the futon Id been sleeping on for the previous 7 years or so and was uncertain of where Id spend the night. I took the crumbled sheet of paper listing the friends who said theyd put me up for a day or a week and, often even longer. I took the list out of my back pocket and phoned to confirm my first choice again Betsey Culps guest fold-out couch with her dog, Sparky to give me the old sniff test to see if I was good people. She wasnt there. I left a message and looked to the next name on the list. An hour passed. I called again. The phone rang her view was better than Phils.
We get a ride from Eileen Left
Eileen likes Betsey. Betsey was stuck at the State Building at 455 Golden Gate where only Alioto (of the major candidates) had appeared for a forum held by someone with a specific interest in something I forget who and what on all accounts, but anyway, Betsey was trooping out and I was still welcome on her guest room couch and I immediately called Eileen Betsey was tired as hell its a bitch just to get past the guards at the State Building. The guards are confronted with 300 mothers with diaper bags and kids in strollers and kids with backpacks and, they check em out like theyre convicted Al Qaeda let me back off of that the guards are doing their job and I appreciate it. Thing is, though dozens of people left because they didnt feel like standing in line for over an hour to get scanned by the guards and have their kids dirty diapers probed. No more debates at such places. Soooo, Eileen arrived in a car almost as old as me.
What the hell happened to your Ferrari!? I exclaimed. Hey, I wanted to impress Betsy and here Eileen shows up in something red and old and smoking! (OK, lots of that could apply to me too.)
Eileen: (approaching her ride parked at the curb) You gotta push it to get it started. DONT ask! We get it out, you push I pop the clutch and we go pick up Betsey DONT ask!
Her view IS better
Unobstructed view thats what you look for. From her Bernal Heights hill, the effect was astounding. I kept wondering how far off sea level each of these places was. Hell, the Mission is flat and this place was just a gentle rise from the Zero sea level of our little barrio. Everything was closer Thing is, it is one of those places youd never realize had a great view when you drove up and parked in front. You know the kind of place. Looks perfectly normal from the street but is actually situated on a steep hill that you havent noticed in your approach. You walk through the front door & suddenly the little one story structure youve strolled into, turns out to actually be the third floor of a building dug into the hill and opening onto a view that stretches and stretches or envelopes and then leaps back at you in its clarity and leaves you gape jawed and, in need of a beer. The beer was a good wheat beer. I stood on the back deck with Betsey and Sparky the dog and looked at paradise and wondered if the cat would come home and what the poor people were doing that fine, clear San Francisco night.
How do I transition that?
My harder core readers expect something specific and I dont want to disappoint them. Its what I live for. Presently The race for da office of da Mayor of dis here town. Ive watched it closely and I want to run a list by you of what Ive found to be the best and the worst ideas that have been offered by the candidates.
Best Ideas of Campaign so far
#1: Tidal Energy by Matt Gonzalez Gonzo is the kind of driver who looks two blocks ahead when he drives to judge coming obstructions or other thingees The future San Francisco will need to have a secure, renewable energy source not tied to dams and electrical cables running 200 miles. Matt is the only candidate with a viable alternative to shipping in natural gas from Texas (remember Enron?) to run what PG&E considers to be clean burning generators. If terrorists blow up the transmission lines anywhere between here and Hetch-Hetchy if they blow up a natural gas line coming in from Texas (up to 2,000 miles) if they do that (think they wont?) the only candidate with a plan that will provide a viable alternative is Matt Gonzalez. Plus, it is worth billions to the tax payer over its life. Tidal power happens 300 feet below the surface of the Bay (wanna try to blow up some concrete blocks at that depth? the tidal power elements are non-moving parts, concrete blocks designed to generate power from the venturi effect of narrowing channels through which the Pacific Ocean flows
Other candidates: Newsom Keep PG&E forever.
Alioto Make a locally owned PG&E clone depending
upon the same same generation sources and mode as the
Ammiano Has changed colors more time than a
chameleon crawling across a Gay Pride flag.
#2: Shelter One by Jim Reid Biggest balls on the field on this one. Only candidate to actually offer a solution to house the homeless. These little 10x10 structures contain full mini-kitchens, bath with tub and shower At $12k a pop, they are just what the City needs NOW! Reed points out that San Francisco housed a hundred thousand homeless within days of the 06 quake. We can do it again.
Other candidates: Newsom Pick their pockets and then put em on more
lice-ridden, dirty mats in church basements.
Alioto/Ammiano/Gonzalez build a place (unspecified)
for the homeless before you pick their pockets. This
issue will define itself within the next few weeks.
Newsom makes Scrooge look like Santa Claus.
#3: Neighborhood Schools Candidate, Michael Denny Sometimes to think out of the box, you have to be really, really removed from the herd. I dont mean that as a criticism. Denny is a Libertarian and sometimes their good ideas (neighborhood ownership and governance of schools), get lost in
some truly crackpot notions (everyone who owns a car should be able to run it as a cab, charging whatever they want, with no license) Watch as SFUSD continues its downward slide under Superintendent Adolf Ackerman Michaels ideas look better and better.
Other candidates: All favor pumping more money into the SFUSD by various devices. They are all bad ideas. Power to the people!
#4: Community Land Trusts Candidate, Gonzalez The Chronicle ran a story today about a woman who bought her first house through a community land trust of the type that Gonzalez has championed. She bought the place for $142,000 with no money down. Thats what we need. The entire point of land trusts is to remove a small percentage of the local building stock from the reach of real estate speculators and offer it for ownership to lower income (Can you believe 60-70k a year is lower?) offer it to people who couldnt otherwise afford to purchase property here. Basically, providing housing for artists and poets and musicians and moms and the old and you get it. Tony Hall is ready to support some combination of Land Trusts with his Home Ownership for Tenants idea from the last election cycle. Anything Tony Hall and Matt Gonzalez agree upon is a sure winner at the polls and eventually, in your daily life.
Other candidates: All favor real estate speculation. Alioto commented at a forum at UCSF that she couldnt believe Gonzalez wasnt in favor of speculators determining the market in San Francisco. Angela should remember that only people of wealth and privilege such as herself, can afford to speculate on property. Some of us need a break.
#1: Hiring new Police Chief from within Department Tony Ribera, Angela Alioto outright Ribera puts a guy with a hundred brutality complaints at the top of his list (Greg Corrales of Mission station from which he runs a classic contel-interpro operation)
Other candidates: Nation-wide searches. All lame. Do an international search and bring in some hard-assed, club swinging OK, I dont want to go too far here. But, seriously just as we should have interviewed international fire chiefs for the job (who knows more about earthquakes than a Japanese fire chief?) we should check out police brass talent from Tokyo to Zurich for serious talent.
# 2 worst idea Im tired back to you later.
This series from here to election day is my own idea of being a kind of historian or cruise recorder or whatever on a cruise that takes us into strange and unusual and sometimes, violent and scary places San Francisco politics. Now, Im certain you may disagree with me from time to time regarding my take on what Im seeing. I just want to tell you now, in advance that I dont give a damn what you think. Not that I dont respect you. Hmmm.
Got a light?: