Friday, October 31, 2014

Public Press: Develop the Sunset, Richmond districts

Much of this Public Press article (Increase Density in Western Neighborhoods and Fix Transit) reads like an extended City Hall press release written by the Planning Dept. It's offered as a "creative solution" to the city's housing crisis.

The writer lives in Chicago, which may be the problem. Along with some bobbleheads from academia, she talked to the usual "smart growth," anti-car, pro-development suspects familiar to readers of this blog: Josh Switzky, AnMarie Rodgers, SPUR, Tom Radulovich, and the pro-highrise, pro-CEQA "reform" Housing Action Coalition:

As rental prices skyrocket, the city could add thousands of new apartments without increasing parking problems by carefully tweaking housing regulations in the west---an area largely untouched by the recent construction boom. Joshua Switzky, the acting director of the citywide planning division of the San Francisco Planning Department, said that rezoning along a few key transit corridors in the Sunset and Richmond neighborhoods could add roughly 7,000 new apartment units. To do this, a few key commercial streets served by public transportation would need to be rezoned to increase the housing density by 25 to 30 percent...Even under existing building height and density limits, the west side could fit approximately 5,500 additional housing units near Muni lines and retail districts, Switzky said.

That's preposterous, as Hiroshi Fukuda and Mary Gallagher---quoted to provide a semblance of balance in the story---pointed out:

Western neighbors have valid reasons to oppose rezoning, said Mary Gallagher, San Francisco’s former assistant director of planning. Increasing housing in low-density areas leads to the nuisance of construction and demolition, residential and business displacement, traffic congestion, parking problems and a change in the character of the neighborhood. This would all come in exchange for a modest number of affordable housing units...Hiroshi Fukuda, land use and housing chair of the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods, said that if large-scale development produced mostly market-rate apartments, it could displace established residents paying lower rents...Affordability for middle-income residents, not “densification,” is their biggest concern. “They’re building the wrong type of housing for people who don’t even live here,” Fukuda said.

Developers would have to bulldoze a lot of buildings in an area that's already built out, as the story concedes. It's not as if there are a lot of empty lots in the Sunset waiting to be developed:

And the west’s geography is inherently unattractive to developers who would prefer to build on a large scale. Compared with the available land in the city’s southeast sectors, western parcels are tiny. A developer might want to buy one if it could be combined with an adjacent parcel, but that process is difficult, Switzky said.

The Public Press has this reference to the Parkmerced development, as if a much-needed housing project finally succeeded against neighborhood opposition:

One massive project has only just overcome years of neighorhood push-back. In 2011, the Board of Supervisors approved plans to build almost 5,700 new housing units in the Parkmerced neighborhood, but residents opposed it out of concern that it would displace existing tenants and sully the area’s historic character. This August, the First District Court of Appeals gave the 20-year project the green light, and construction could begin by next fall...

The Parkmerced project should send ripples of dread through that part of town, since residents of the Sunset understand better than City Hall that the traffic on 19th Avenue and Junipero Serra is already near gridlock.

The real issue about allowing 5,700 new housing units at Parkmerced---which will then have a total of 8,900 housing units!---is about that traffic. The Parkmerced project and other projects in the pipeline will add 7,375 housing units and 16,850 new residents to the 19th Avenue corridor area over the next 20 years! All the bureaucrats and politicians that okayed this dumb project will be long retired on the city's lavish pension plan when all those traffic chickens come home to roost.

The story acknowledges the Sunset's reliance on cars:

Because cars are so essential to western neighborhood residents, it would be politically unpopular to increase housing density by dropping parking requirements in new housing. That could explain why one modest zoning change, which Switzky described, has not happened yet: eliminating all parking requirements for new developments. That would force new residents with cars to find street parking, a precious commodity in the city, potentially threatening its availability. About 93 percent of the Outer Sunset’s parking spaces are unmetered street parking, a higher percentage than in any other neighborhood...

The story has a garbled, inaccurate account of the Housing Element issue:

Amit Ghosh, then the city’s chief planner, drafted a citywide plan for the 2004 Housing Element that would have increased density and removed parking along many major commercial strips well served by public transit. The backlash was overwhelming. Neighborhood groups threatened legal action, and then-mayoral candidate Gavin Newsom promised to replace the leadership at the Planning Department and rewrite the whole plan. Opponents said the city should have performed an environmental impact report and sought their participation.

"Neighborhood groups" in fact took legal action, and they got the Housing Element thrown out by the court of appeal, which also ordered the city to do an EIR. The Housing Element issue is still being litigated (I posted their press release at the time).

Residents of the Sunset district should know that their Supervisor, Katy Tang, is on board for all the trendy development and transportation policies that now dominate City Hall's thinking. See her bloated, all-things-to-all-people Sunset District Blueprint document; start on page 61 for land use; and her deference to Bicycle Coalition and the "getting people out of cars" doctrine on page 36, which is even less relevant to that part of town than it is to the rest of the city. Since they are so far from the rest of the city, people in the Sunset rely on either cars or Muni.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Examiner letters: No on A, Yes on L

These letters to the editor appeared in Tuesday's SF Examiner:

Prop. H is misrepresented
Columnist Joel Engardio is dead wrong in his depiction of who are the tyrants in the soccer field debate. Proposition H was put on the ballot by the grass-roots efforts of concerned citizens, as is their legal right.

The ballot book[page 137] shows Prop. H is opposed only by the wealthy Fisher family, the Chamber of Commerce and Susan Leal. Are we to believe that these opponents are the "less-powerful youths" Engardio refers to, or are they the real tyrants?

Nancy Wuerfel
San Francisco

Plans will hurt traffic flow
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's plans for the 9-San Bruno line constrict 11th Street to one lane in each direction. Stopping buses in the traffic lane means that all cars, in both directions are doomed to wait for Muni buses to load and unload passengers. This will lead to increased congestion, causing still more taxpayers to become angrier about Muni.

The same flawed design is also being foisted on other thoroughfares across The City. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition-controlled SFMTA is determined to screw up traffic all over San Francisco.

Vote yes on Proposition L and no on Proposition A.

Ted Loewenberg
San Francisco

Transit changes hurt S.F.
Bob Linscheid of the Chamber of Commerce and Tilly Chang of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority note the need of public transportation to adapt to the new growth areas of The City, which includes businesses and housing. This, in fact, is evident in the planning of the Transit Effectiveness Project, which has removed and altered bus routes from the neighborhoods to add buses in these growth areas.

Neighborhoods and public services are being depleted of vital transit resources in this process. For example, some direct bus lines will be eliminated to San Francisco General Hospital and the Hall of Justice. The 2-Clement line, already altered, will run only two blocks on Clement Street to the detriment of businesses and shoppers. Don't people working downtown and living in the neighborhoods deserve equal attention?

Public transportation should serve all the public, not a select few.

Herbert J. Weiner
San Francisco

Rob's comment: See last year's post on Tilly Chang.

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

490 MTA employees make more than $100,000

Groundbreaking for the Central Subway

The Vote No on A folks send this message:

Where the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s billions of dollars have gone: Big salaries, overhead, overtime, bad projects and cost overruns, while Muni service is cut in every neighborhood.

While SFMTA (San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency) pleads lack of funds, cuts Muni service and raises fares/fees/fines, 490 of its employees make over $100,000 per year---eight over $200,000, including its Director at $305,000. Twenty-five SFMTA managers earn more than the Governor of California. SFMTA overhead alone has doubled in five years, from $55 million to $110 million per year. Vote No on A!

The Federal Transit Administration abruptly changed its independent PMOC (Project Oversight Management Consultant). Unlike past weak reports, the new PMOC Report is forceful---projecting a large cost overrun. Any cost overrun means more state/local funds will be diverted from the Muni system. Vote No on A!

The PMOC Report:
“In the opinion of the PMOC, if the current trends continue, the actual cost of the completed [Central Subway]project would be 11% higher than the cost estimate without contingency. The project cost estimate without contingency is $1,499,086,167. If the project were to exceed this estimated cost by 11%, the total cost would be $1,663,985,645, or $85.7 million over the established budget.”

The Prop A General Obligation Bond was originally touted as a transportation bond. Now, TV/campaign literature’s new pitch is “Prop A will improve pedestrian safety,” even as the SFMTA Board unilaterally issues $89 million of new revenue bonds for pedestrian safety, street improvements and Muni capital projects without voter approval. SFMTA has issued revenue bonds of $170 million in 2011 and $150 million in 2013. Incurring debt without a plan, bonds alone will NOT create a citywide integrated Muni system. Vote No on Prop A!

SFMTA Board of Directors, Tuesday, October 21, 2014 Agenda: 
11. Approving the issuance of SFMTA Revenue Bonds in an amount not greater than $89,560,000 to make improvements to pedestrian safety and transit signals, Muni transit system safety, Complete Street capital improvements, facility and Transit Fixed Guideway improvements and procure Light Rail Vehicles; approving the Official Statement, Bond Purchase Contract form and the Continuing Disclosure Certificate and authorizing the expenditure of proceeds from the Bonds. REVENUE BOND REPORT

Requested by the Mayor, tech companies, developers and corporations have written checks of $200,000, $105,000, $50,000, $49,999, $49,500 for a total of $1,294,391 to the Prop A campaign. Those who got blank checks from the City likely need to return the favor. If bigwigs donated money to Muni every year, we wouldn’t need a bond measure and debt. Vote No on A!

Elimination of buses and bus stops hurts neighborhoods, pushing people into cars, and they are then penalized by rising fares/fees/fines/meters/parking elimination. With bad consensus-building, SFMTA has angered everyone---Muni riders, motorists, taxi drivers/operators, small businesses, seniors, disabled, youth, low-income families and outlying neighborhoods. Without compensation, Muni construction has hurt business in North Beach, Chinatown, Union Square, Downtown, SOMA. Let’s get SFMTA’s house in order, focusing on smarter funding allocation, better management, better projects and integrated neighborhood services. VOTE NO ON A!

SFWEEKLY: The Ides of “May”: The Language of the Mayor's Pet $500 Million Bond "May" Alarm You
In legal parlance, “shall” is “prescriptive” language and “may” is “permissive” language. The language in Prop. A is permissive. Everything listed within it is something that “may” be funded, “may” be done.

EXAMINER: “Don’t have faith in Prop A funding direction,” Denise D’Anne

EXAMINER: “Time to tie pay to Muni’s on-time performance,” Jon Golinger

ENDORSEMENTS: Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods (45 neighborhood organizations), San Francisco Tomorrow, Chinese American Democratic Club, Irish American Democratic Club, District 3 Democratic Club, District 11 Democratic Club, San Francisco Green Party, San Francisco Republican Party, Log Cabin Republicans of San Francisco, Libertarian Party of San Francisco, Black Leadership Forum, San Francisco Taxpayers Association, Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund (TRANSDEF), SaveMuniSF, Bay Area Transportation Working Group (BATWG), A Better Chinatown Tomorrow (ABCT), Save North Beach Village, North Beach Tenants Committee, SF Gray Panthers, San Francisco Apartment Association, D5 Action, Eastern Neighborhoods United Front (ENUF), Judge Quentin L. Kopp (Ret., Chairman, California Senate Transportation Committee), Bruce Oka (Former SFMTA Board of Directors), Bob Planthold (Disability Advocate)

Labels: , , , , , ,

An update on the Supreme Court's high-speed rail decision

A message from the Community Coalition on High-Speed Rail:

A statement from Mike Brady, a member of the Community Coalition on High-Speed Rail Board of Directors, and the lead attorney in the Tos v. Authority lawsuit that is challenging the state's ill-conceived and badly-managed high-speed rail project:

There is a major misperception out there that the recent Supreme Court decision, declining to review an appellate court decision in our high-speed rail litigation, "clears the decks," and that the Authority has no further legal obstacles to overcome and can commence construction whenever it chooses to do so. That is definitely the impression given by a number of recent news stories. However, this impression is absolutely wrong for the reasons set forth below.

The recent Supreme Court decision not to hear the case allows the appellate court decision to stand. All that the appellate court said was that the Preliminary Funding Plan, though the appellate court acknowledged it was inconsistent with Proposition 1A, was meant as a report for the Legislature only, and thus did not have to comply with Proposition 1A's restrictive provisions at that time. BUT, the appellate court also said that when the [High-Speed Rail]Authority seeks to sell the bonds and spend the bond money, the Authority must first go through the rigorous requirements of the Second Funding Plan contained in Proposition 1A and must comply with all the strict provisions of Proposition 1A at that time.

The Authority cannot start construction with Proposition 1A bond funds until it has enough money in the bank to COMPLETE the so-called Initial Operating Segment, a 300-mile segment of the proposed project costing $35 billion or more. What does the Authority actually have to spend? About $6 billion! That is not nearly enough to comply with what Proposition 1A requires.

In addition, the Authority cannot start construction or spend Proposition 1A money until it gets all environmental clearances for the entire 300-mile Initial Operating Segment. At the present time, the Authority lacks clearances for about 180 miles of that segment! Getting the required environmental clearances could take years!

Furthermore, since the appellate court decision, evidence has surfaced from the Authority itself that the entire Southern California route south of Bakersfield is not workable for high-speed rail and will have to be redone. This means that the project cannot be approved at all and must go back to the drawing board to see whether a viable route can be designated.

The opponents of the current project are about to go to trial on several issues that are totally unrelated to the appellate court decision and that are not affected by it. For instance, will the Authority be able to transport a passenger from LA to San Francisco in 2 hours and 40 minutes as specified in Proposition 1A? Will a subsidy be required for operating costs? Does the "blended system" itself violate the promise of Proposition 1A that we will get a genuine high-speed rail system?

If we win on any of these issues, and we think our arguments are good, this project will be stopped dead in its tracks! We are in this fight for the duration. HSR faces insurmountable obstacles if the courts, as we expect, uphold the strict restrictions of Proposition 1A, which the voters enacted to protect themselves against bad fiscal and project management.

See also the Peer Review Group's report and the Legislative Analyst's report.

Kathy Hamilton's story on the decision.

See also Why Cap & Trade Funds Cannot Be Used To Finance High-Speed Rail In California


Jim Carrey parodies Lincoln ads

Thanks to Little Green Footballs.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Move at UC Berkeley to dump Bill Maher as commencement speaker

Ironic that at UC Berkeley, where the campus Free Speech Movement was born in 1964, there's now a campaign to rescind Bill Maher's invitation to speak at UC's commencement.

Maher gets in trouble with the Islamists and their liberal enablers for riffs like the above video and for this. The online anti-Maher petition accuses him of being a racist for criticizing Islam, much like the dumb Board of Supervisors resolution on the anti-jihad ads on the side of Muni buses back in 2013. This bulletin just in: Islam is a religion, not a race.

See the stories---and the interesting comments---in the Daily Cal and in Berkeleyside.

Nothing yet in the progressive Berkeley Daily Planet, but commencement isn't until December.[Later: the Daily Planet's story. See also the column on the issue by Debra Saunders in Thursday's Chronicle.]

Brandeis rolled over and dumped Ayaan Hirsi Ali as a speaker earlier this year.

Islam fails Sam Harris's Book of Mormon test:

Let’s take a trip to the real world. Consider: Anyone who wants to draw a cartoon, write a novel, or stage a Broadway play that denigrates Mormonism is free to do it. In the United States, this freedom is ostensibly guaranteed by the First Amendment—but that is not, in fact, what guarantees it. The freedom to poke fun at Mormonism is guaranteed by the fact that Mormons do not dispatch assassins to silence their critics or summon murderous hordes in response to satire. 

As I have pointed out before, when The Book of Mormon became the most celebrated musical of the year, the LDS Church protested by placing ads for the faith in Playbill. A wasted effort, perhaps: but this was a genuinely charming sign of good humor, given the alternatives. What are the alternatives? Can any reader of this page imagine the staging of a similar play about Islam in the United States, or anywhere else? No you cannot—unless you also imagine the creators of this play being hunted for the rest of their lives by religious maniacs.

Thanks to Jihad Watch.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

"The battle will go on for the rest of our lives" 3

This is his jihad

As a great American once said, "War is the health of the state." But so are epidemics, natural disasters and terrorism, all of which will continue indefinitely into the future. We can only expect to live in a more or less constant state of emergency from now on, which is why liberals whining about NSA surveillance is futile. It's here to stay, and there will also be more cameras recording our public life. There's no longer any reason to think that you have any privacy, public or private, in a world that's in a constant state of emergency.

What should be evident to all by now: Our social arrangements are very fragile. One man with a gun can shut down the government of a major city in Canada.

It's pathetic to hear news readers on TV reciting the same old bullshit after another violent attack by an adherent of "the religion of peace," as if whether the lunatic had ties to jihadist groups here or overseas is at all relevant. Or whether such violence is really "Islamic"or not. The fact is that the terrorists themselves think it is, which is the reality we have to deal with, not sorting out quotations from the Koran or other Moslem holy books.

Alternet provides a good example of the latter foolishness: this article cites some ugly stuff from the Bible, the smug conclusion we're supposed to draw is that all religions have some violent passages in their holy books and Islam is no different than the others. That ignores the reality we are now seeing in the news almost every day: Only Moslems are acting on the violence in their scriptures, not adherents of other religions.

Nor is "lone jihad" like the incidents in Canada or the ax-wielding maniac in New York a new thing: see this, which was published just after the Boston bombing. And this and this.

A Chronicle editorial after the Boston bombing claimed that "It's very important for all of us to remember that incidents like this are incredibly rare." That was untrue then, and it's obviously even less true today.

Five years ago the late, great Christopher Hitchens told us what to expect:

What nobody in authority thinks us grown-up enough to be told is this: We had better get used to being the civilians who are under a relentless and planned assault from the pledged supporters of a wicked theocratic ideology. These people will kill themselves to attack hotels, weddings, buses, subways, cinemas, and trains. They consider Jews, Christians, Hindus, women, homosexuals, and dissident Muslims (to give only the main instances) to be divinely mandated slaughter victims.

The future murderers will generally not be from refugee camps or slums (though they are being indoctrinated every day in our prisons); they will frequently be from educated backgrounds, and they will often not be from overseas at all. They are already in our suburbs and even in our military. We can expect to take casualties. The battle will go on for the rest of our lives. Those who plan our destruction know what they want, and they are prepared to kill and die for it. Those who don't get the point prefer to whine about "endless war," accidentally speaking the truth about something of which the attempted Christmas bombing over Michigan was only a foretaste...(emphasis added)

Thousands of Deadly Islamic Terror Attacks Since 9/11

Labels: , ,

A critique of the city's Transportation Task Force Report

Meter Madness sends this from the Pacific Research Institute:

The Pacific Research Institute released a brief reviewing San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s Transportation Task Force Report: 2030. The brief is a supplement to PRI’s earlier study “Plan Bay Area Evaluation” (June 2013), which critiqued the plan developed by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). Both the brief and the study were authored by Wendell Cox, a PRI fellow and consultant on public policy, planning, and transportation issues...

Mr. Cox believes that the plan gives little or no attention to the potential for increasing truck and automobile congestion on the city’s streets: “Street improvement programs will give greater priority to transit, cycling, and walking, and will have a necessary effect of slowing general vehicle travel. Similarly, the implementation of additional exclusive bus lanes and taking of capacity from streets for cycle lanes would likely have the same effect. Traffic congestion retards the productivity of the city by increasing travel times, increasing business costs, higher air pollution, and greater greenhouse gas emissions as vehicles are less fuel efficient at slower speeds and in ‘stop’ and ‘go’ conditions.”

In addition, Mr. Cox believes that escalating costs will also present difficulties:

1) Most of the costs of the 2030 transportation plan are for capital improvements. In the public sector, capital improvements are inherently susceptible to substantial cost overruns.

2) The Task Force Report indicates little or no commitment to cost effectiveness. Muni’s costs over the last 15 years have risen far more than inflation. This occurs because there is no competitive influence to keep transit costs under control...

Labels: , , ,

Friday, October 24, 2014

Supervisor Breed: Wrong again 2

Supervisor Breed is wrong on every important issue facing San Francisco. She maintains that dismal record with the Examiner op-ed (Golden Gate Park fields for kids from all neighborhoods) she and Supervisor Cohen wrote in support of artificial turf in Golden Gate Park (She also supports allowing homeless people to live in the park).

Proposition H is supposedly all about providing the "kids" with fields to play on, but Breed and Cohen don't mention the growing realization that artificial turf is toxic to children, as this NBC report recently found:

After supporters of Prop. H gathered enough signatures to get it on the ballot, the Board of Supervisors and Mayor Lee put Proposition I on the ballot, a poison pill that will override Prop. H if it gets more votes.

According to Breed and Cohen, it's all about the kids---neither Breed nor Cohen have any children---but the city also wants to install lights on the Chalet soccer fields so that adults can play until 10:00 at night.

Both Breed and Cohen were elected under the city's baroque ranked choice voting system that dumbs down election campaigns and needlessly complicates voting, another "progressive" policy failure in San Francisco.

Labels: , ,

Malia Cohen’s $25 Million flip-flop

Tony Kelly sends this:

As you can clearly see in the video, Malia says one thing and then turns around and does the complete opposite.

First, Malia Cohen said “we should go after the back taxes” owed by Airbnb. However, it wasn’t long before she flip-flopped and voted a second time to give Airbnb a $25 million tax giveaway during the Oct. 21 meeting of the Board of Supervisors.

Malia had a chance to stand up and be a leader; however, this was the second time she voted against holding Airbnb accountable for the $25 million it owed in back taxes. If nothing else, this is a clear indication of whose side she’s really, and it’s certainly not ours. 

While I’m deeply disappointed in Supervisor Cohen’s decision to not stand by her own words, I can’t say I’m surprised. According to her own campaign contribution filings, she has accepted nearly $100,000 in contributions from corporate lobbyists, developers and real estate interests. Even worse, 80% of these contributions came from sources outside District 10.

Labels: ,

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Quentin Kopp: Vote No on Proposition A

Proposition A will allow City Hall and Muni to spend $525 million on whatever they want, including "improvements" to city streets, like bike lanes for the most obnoxious special interest group in the city. From SFGate:

By Quentin L. Kopp

Would you hand a signed $1.1 billion check to someone you don’t know for spending on unspecified items? Neither would I, but City Hall wants you to do so on Proposition A, a proposed general obligation bond that will cost property owners and tenants more than $500 million in interest alone.

It’s scandalous in its arrogant disregard of voters and taxpayers. It admits there is “no commitment to specific projects” in this borrowing, which with interest over 30 years of approximately $525 million will cost San Francisco taxpayers and tenants more than $1 billion to repay.

It identifies no dedicated projects for which bond proceeds will pay. It uses vague language: “a portion may be allocated to constructing improvements, such as those identified in the Transit Effectiveness Project.” What’s that?

“A portion...may be allocated to fund the city’s share of needed improvements to Caltrain’s infrastructure.” Caltrain chiefly serves Peninsula residents. It states: “A portion...may be allocated to deliver safety improvements at locations throughout the city.” What locations?

It generalizes that some bond proceeds “may be allocated to more effectively manage traffic congestion in the city.” How?

Prop. A could waste millions to cure the multimillion-dollar cost overrun on the Central Subway Project. San Franciscans battle inequality. Corporate executives and suburban techies won’t repay Prop. A debt. San Francisco residents will.

Make City Hall return with explicit projects and costs, so voters can intelligently decide, not just guess and spend.

Reject Prop. A.

Retired San Mateo Superior Court Judge Quentin L. Kopp is a former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and a former state senator.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"Managed" parking by Serco coming to your neighborhood

I see that the folks at the MTA and/or Serco have censored the use of that video. Gee, what do they have to hide? But we already know what they're doing for parking in San Francisco, with the help of former Bicycle Coalition dude, Andy Thornley.

Labels: , , , ,

The Bay Guardian and the failure of the left

In a postmortem on the Bay Guardian's death, the Chronicle quotes former supervisor Chris Daly:

In what Daly called “the biggest fumble in the history of progressive politics in San Francisco,” the board[of supervisors] elected Lee, the administrator who then proceeded to break his promise not to run for a four-year term. Lee’s focus has been on job creation and tech promotion and less on issues paramount to the progressives: homelessness, tenant protections and the environment.

Chris Daly is wrong. The biggest progressive political fumble---maybe the biggest political fumble in city history---happened more than ten years ago, and it was on homeless policy. Daly was complicit in that failure, since he was one of the loudest opponents of Gavin Newsom's Care Not Cash, passed by city voters in 2002. Daly and other city progressives compounded that failure by continuing that opposition long after Newsom's homeless policies were showing some success.

After getting Care Not Cash on the ballot and passed by city voters in 2002, Newsom ran a successful campaign for mayor that featured the homeless issue. His opponent in 2003, was Matt Gonzalez who blathered about the "root cause" of homelessness, which was apparently our wicked capitalist system. From a letter to the editor to the Chronicle I wrote after Newsom was elected mayor in November, 2003:

If, as Matt Gonzalez claims, the campaign for mayor is an “ideological battle,” he and progressives have already lost. A majority of city voters have made it clear they want something done about homelessness and the squalor on our streets. Progressive ideology, on the other hand, evidently involves the tacit assumption that homelessness is something we have to live with under our wicked capitalist system, which is apparently why Gonzalez has offered nothing substantive to counter Gavin Newsom’s proposals to deal with the problem.

Newsom understood that people in the city wanted something done to deal with a growing homeless problem on city streets. I was here and was dismayed at the squalor on city streets and in city parks when I returned to the city in 1995. As a lefty myself, I was shocked that the Bay Guardian left had no serious policy proposals to deal with the issue, which I wrote about in the Anderson Valley Advertiser and in letters to the editor here in the city.

It's apparently a myth deeply embedded in the Chronicle that homelessness has been and still is a serious concern of city progressives. C.W. Nevius repeated the myth several years ago:

San Francisco has a huge problem with getting people into housing. But not in the way you think. The homeless guy living under the freeway underpass? We know about him. The city, prompted by an outcry from the progressive community, has taken steps to get that person---the extremely poor, unemployed, impoverished homeless camper---into some kind of housing.

City progs were even seriously annoyed when Angela Alioto accepted Mayor Newsom's appointment to chair the Ten Year Council to come up with a new city policy on homelessness, which it duly did in its report. When Alioto and members of the council presented their final report to Mayor Newsom in June, 2004, not a single progressive city politician or leader was there.

After that, and when Newsom's policies began showing signs of progress in dealing with homelessness, the Guardian rarely wrote about the issue, except to snipe at the mayor.

Over the last ten years, I've written about all the other policy failures at the Bay Guardian. The notion that the Guardian has been fighting the good fight to make the city a better place is simply untrue. Instead its been wrong on so many issues it's been hard to keep track of them all, though I tried to do a scorecard a few years ago.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Monday, October 20, 2014

Women in Afghanistan under Islam

Thanks to the Center for Investigative Reporting.

Labels: ,

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Muni's fatuous "Peace Campaign"

Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing, which is what I thought City Hall would do now that Pamela Geller is running another anti-jihad ad on our Muni buses.

Alas, the Big Thinkers in the MTA couldn't leave well enough alone. But this time, instead of press conferences and dumb resolutions by the Board of Dhimmis, the MTA is bringing us a lame, juvenile "Peace Campaignfrom its "creative shop," which the agency was "excited" to announce on its blog (below in italics): "We feel the best response to offensive speech is more speech." Yes, but if "more speech" is dumb, it's not an effective response. If you can't do any better than this, it's best to say nothing.

The framed quotations---with the MTA's logo in the corner!---from Maya Angelou, Nelson Mandela, and Mark Twain are supposed to be high-minded thoughts expressing "San Francisco values."

While Maya Angelou talked about love, she supported cop-killer, Mumi Abu-Jamal.

Nelson Mandela talked about freedom, but he also praised Fidel Castro, not known for respecting human rights: "There’s one place where [Fidel Castro’s] Cuba stands out head and shoulders above the rest---that is in its love for human rights and liberty!”

When Mandela was criticized for saying stuff like that, he played the race card:

Mandela faced similar criticism from the West for his personal friendships with Fidel Castro and Muammar Gaddafi. Castro visited in 1998, to widespread popular acclaim, and Mandela met Gaddafi in Libya to award him the Order of Good Hope. When Western governments and media criticised these visits, Mandela lambasted such criticism as having racist undertones.

Mark Twain may have been treated well in San Francisco, but he had a low opinion of life in the Middle East:

How they hate a Christian in Damascus!---and pretty much all over Turkeydom as well....It hurts my vanity to see these pagans refuse to eat of food that has been cooked for us; or to eat from a dish we have eaten from; or to drink from a goatskin which we have polluted with our Christian lips, except by filtering the water through a rag which they put over the mouth of it or through a sponge!...Abdul Aziz, absolute lord of the Ottoman Empire...the representative of a people by nature and training filthy, brutish, ignorant, unprogressive, superstitious---and a government whose Three Graces are Tyranny, Rapacity, Blood (The Innocents Abroad, 1869).

We can only hope they don't cover bus windows with this drivel like they do with a lot of their ads. But, like the ads obstructing our views of the city, the Peace Campaign qualifies as another insult to the intelligence of the people of San Francisco.

Peace, Love, Acceptance & Respect—San Francisco Values

We are excited to be sharing with you one of the best campaigns to come out of our creative shop. These ads make up what we call our “Peace Campaign.”

They may look familiar to you. We created them last year in response to anti-Islam ads that have been making an appearance around the U.S. and in our fair city for the last several years. Our Peace Campaign ads highlight the San Francisco values that we appreciate most: peace, love, acceptance and respect; they also include several stirring quotes that illustrate these cherished values.

Starting tonight, a new ad that is likely to be objectionable to many will once again be making an appearance on Muni. And, the Peace Campaign will run again this year as our response.

Why run ads that are likely to be offensive in the first place? Most ads on Muni are innocuous or even informative. Advertising contracts on Muni vehicles and transit shelters provide an important funding source for the system—to the tune of more than $19 million this year alone. We have an advertising policy that preserves our transit vehicles as a limited public forum, and that governs what ads can be placed by the third parties that handle the advertising for Muni.

The SFMTA certainly doesn’t endorse the content of the anti-Islam ads, or any of our ads. The First Amendment limits the agency’s ability to run ads with messages that we approve, while excluding messages that we find offensive. We feel the best response to offensive speech is more speech. That was the genesis of the Peace Campaign and why we will run it again this year.

The Peace Campaign will be running on and in Muni buses through the end of the year. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Peace! Paix! शांति! Paz! سلام! 和平! שלום! Мир!

Labels: , ,

Friday, October 17, 2014

Pamela Geller is at it again!

Pamela Geller is at it again with ads on Muni buses, using that darn First Amendment loophole that allows people to say things that upset right-thinking liberals.

There's an op-ed in the Chronicle this morning on the subject: Decry Muni bus ads on Islam

Thursday, advertisements appeared on San Francisco Muni buses depicting Islam as evil and claiming that devout followers of the faith are bound to be violent. This proclamation is utterly false and an attempt to manipulate the public with Islamophobic vitriol to address the very serious threat posed by the Islamic State group.

Simply untrue, as you can see by the illustration above. It only depicts an increasingly common occurrence in the US and Europe: the radicalization of a moderate Muslim into a terrorist. There's nothing about Islam being evil and nothing about the Islamic State, aka "Krakpotistan."

Are City Hall and Muni going to play into Geller's hands by going into a full multicultural dither like they did two years ago? Okay with me, since it will just give me another chance to mock them. See also this and this. Or are they going to sensibly ignore the ads, which are really no more than an expression of the diversity that they usually like to blather and congratulate themselves about. 

Is there going to be another phony promise of a study of discrimination against Moslems in the Bay Area by the Human Rights Commission? Where's the study we were promised last time?

While we're on the subject of Islam and crackpots, this morning's Chronicle has another indication that the folks who put out the paper don't read it. On page A-3 of the hard copy, readers were no doubt relieved to see this head on a story: Pakistani Christian woman's death sentence is rejected. Maybe C.W. Nevius wrote the head, but the story actually said the opposite, that the appeal of her death sentence for blasphemy was rejected by the court. I guess moderate Islam hasn't arrived yet in Pakistan's legal system. The Chronicle fixed the head in the online version: Pakistani Christian woman’s appeal of death sentence is rejected.

The Chronicle also garbled the opening paragraph in Chip Johnson's column this morning:

The only visible opponents of the soda tax measures in BerkelSubscription scam hits Chronicle,other newspapers  ey and San Francisco are none other than the soda-pop makers themselves.

They fixed that too in the online edition.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Chronicle endorses Thea Selby

Unlike Rizzo, Thea Selby has never been elected to anything, though she ran an unsuccessful happy-talk campaign for the Board of Supervisors two years ago.

Earlier this year, Selby clambered aboard the Train to Nowhere when she was appointed to the board of directors of the High Speed Rail boondoggle.

Selby has now been endorsed by the Chronicle for a seat on the City College's board of trustees:

Selby, a small-business owner, has won backing from moderate groups that signal she will be an independent. She’s a quick study, expanding her expertise from transit issues and service on the state’s high-speed rail board.

Selby's only "expertise" is in self-promotion, though so far she's only been appointed to positions, including to the "executive board" of the San Francisco Transit Riders Union, an anti-car front group set up by Tom Radulovich. From SFTRU's website: "We are a fiscally-sponsored project of Livable City, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization."

Aside from endorsing whatever the Bicycle Coalition wants to do to our streets, there's no evidence that Selby has any expertise on transportation issues. She made this dumb proposal in her Bicycle Coalition questionnaire two years ago:

Recreational and commuter cyclists have different needs and pose different considerations on roads. I’d encourage mandatory education for tourists visiting the city and biking around.

The first sentence is simply untrue. Whether you're commuting on a bike or riding for fun, cyclists all have the same "needs" and face the same dangers on city streets. The idea of imposing some kind of bike "education" on tourists---and making them pay for it!---is just dumb, a complete non-starter on every level.

Selby provided this bit of wisdom among other truisms in a remarkably empty response to a Chronicle questionnaire two years ago: "The expansion of parking meters makes sense, as they provide much needed revenue for the City." This will qualify Selby for her next appointment---to the MTA's board of directors.

One way to promote yourself is to start an organization that you can use to that end:

As founder and President of the Lower Haight Merchant and Neighbor Association I worked hard to “activate” the previously abandoned UC Extension site at 55 Laguna St. This meant bringing together various members of the community, including Upper Playground and local artists. We transformed the blighted building into a spectacular canvas for public art. 55 Laguna is now under development and outside the official lines of District 5, but I’ll continue to grow the relationships that were built during the process of the mural in order to ensure that the needs of our neighborhood are met.

To hear Selby tell it, allowing UC to rip off the old extension property on lower Haight Street is all about the garish "art" that was on the property's wall at Laguna and Haight. Never mind that the property had been zoned for "public use" for 150 years before the city allowed UC to stop providing college courses for working people and instead turn the property into a housing development to fatten its bottom line. Still waiting for Selby to explain how allowing UC to cash in on property it had tax-free for fifty years and adding 1,000 new residents to an already densely-populated neighborhood "ensures the needs" of the neighborhood.

From Selby's website:

Last Friday, Superior Court Judge Karnow rejected ACCJC's request to reject City Attorney Dennis Herrera's lawsuit against ACCJC. The finding was not an easy one to follow, but it boils down to this: Judge Karnow is holding the door open to the possibility that the ACCJC acted in a biased, politically-motivated way to unfairly and without proper process shut down City College. He wants to review the evidence in a trial October 27th, and, if he finds merit, he could overrule the revocation of accreditation.

Well, did the commission act in a "biased, politically-motivated way"? Selby doesn't mention it, but there's plenty of evidence of mismanagement at City College. The Chronicle apparently wants to put another "clueless" trustee on the board.

Selby not only played a role in helping to install the garish "art" at Laguna and Haight, she led the effort to make the "silly bunny" eyesore permanent, raising money to make a ten-foot bronze version to be installed in District 5. Voters in the district should get a chance to vote on and reject the idea of this permanent public eyesore.

Before it went belly-up, the Bay Guardian showed why it won't be missed by echoing the Chronicle's endorsement of Selby:

Thea Selby is a neighborhood and small business advocate. While she's not as leftist as we'd like, she was a solid candidate when she ran for District 5 supervisor in 2012, and she's a solid candidate now. She chairs the San Francisco Transit Riders union, which has taken many progressive stances on transportation, and backed them up by going toe to toe with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's Board of Directors. With her business background comes endorsements from many moderates, including DCCC Chair Mary Jung, which worries us. But she has the experience necessary to navigate that difficult political landscape, earning our endorsement.

Selby wasn't "solid" in 2012, and nothing she has said or done since makes her a serious candidate for anything important.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,