Thursday, May 05, 2005

Miscellany: Daly, Newsom, John King

Chris Daly's assessment of Care Not Cash: "They declared war on people I care about...When that happens you fight back." (City Hall Watch, Savannah Blackwell, SF Observer, April 21, 2005) According to Daly, Mayor Newsom doesn't really care about the homeless. To hear him tell it, progressives are the only ones who really care, though, oddly, they somehow never got around to mounting a significant political initiative to deal with the squalor on city streets, even during the late 1990's, when the city had $100 million budget surpluses. And then along came Gavin Newsom with Care Not Cash, which is in fact beginning to make some progress in dealing with homelessness. The city's left will never forgive him for that.

It was disappointing to see Mayor Newsom using "vibrant" in his April column ("From the Mayor's Desk," SF Observer, April 7, 2005): "...I have launched a new anti-litter campaign to keep our city clean, vibrant and healthy." A city can be dirty and vibrant, though perhaps not dirty and healthy. Maybe we need a city ordinance banning the use of the ubiquitous, virtually meaningless word. Or a moratorium on its use, like the moratorium on opening new marijuana clubs. I've written the founding document for the anti-vibrancy movement, which you can read here.

Mayor Newsom in the March 24 SF Chronicle:

Newsom said the neighborhood plans are intended to help reduce risk for developers. "We hear from the private sector that they're ready to move, but then all of a sudden, the rug is pulled out from under them," he said (Mayor Pushes Downtown Plans, Dan Levy).

Young Mayor Newsom needs to understand that the "private sector" always says this kind of thing about government regulation. Grass is going to grow in the streets if you don't let them do what they want and let them do it quickly.

In its Dining In section on April 27, the New York Times had an article (Tourists at Market to Look Crowd Those Who Cook, Kim Severson) on the Ferry Building and the almost too-successful farmers market that happens there four days a week. The article features complaints from farmers and foodies about the tourists who overrun the operation, especially on Saturdays. Farmers market or no farmers market, the remodeled Ferry Building is a stunning success in every way: It's beautiful, it's functional, and people love it. Let's not forget some other recent rehabilitation success stories in SF: City Hall and Union Square. All three of these projects are huge successes and worthy of a great city.

John King in a recent Chronicle article on his visit to Minneapolis: "Change is good. Not all change, mind you...But there's a bustle here because of the fresh uses in the mix, and that's better than the moribund self-righteousness that sets in when every new idea gets shot down." (Great Architecture, Clean Streets, Culture---it must be Minneapolis, April 28) 

Now, where exactly is there a city where "every new idea gets shot down"? Surely he can't be referring to San Francisco, where not enough pseudo-new ideas---the Rincon Towers and the appalling but "vibrant" Octavia Blvd. spring to mind---get shot down.

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