Monday, October 10, 2005

Surprise! Warren Hellman is a Republican


From a letter Marc Salomon published in BeyondChron:

Republican Hellman has donated more than $500,000 to conservative candidates and ballot measures in San Francisco over the past 5 years. Such luminaries as Linda Richardson, Amos Brown, Michael Yaki, Ed Jew, Burke Strunsky, Mabel Teng, Juanita Owens, Tom Hseih, Alicia Becerril, Jill Wynns, Kimiko Burton, Louise Renne, Andrew Lee, Fiona Ma, Proposition J, Care Not Cash, $5,000 against police reform, $175,000 to the Committee on Jobs, $75,000 to SFSOS and Heather Hiles have been the beneficiaries of his largess. Hellman was also the driving force behind an 800 car garage at the Music Concourse, demonstrating his commitment to "Transit First." In making these donations, Hellman has actively encouraged the clearcutting of San Francisco's poor and environment, and challenged most every forward thinking progressive initiative and candidate. For him to offer an annual $1.5m Bluegrass festival that drew perhaps the most Caucasian crowd of any mass event in San Francisco is little more than a cheap bribe (Letters, Oct. 5, www.beyondchron.com)

Now it can be revealed---stop the presses!---Warren Hellman is a conservative and a Republican! So what? you may rightly ask. From the list of the beneficiaries of his political "largess," it actually looks like he gives mostly to Democrats in SF. But it's the way Salomon sets up the moral equation that is ridiculous: Republicans/conservatives are Bad, and "forward-thinking" progressives and Greens---Salomon, naturally, is a Green---are Good. Well, bullshit. (What about us Democrats? We apparently exist in a kind of moral limbo, depending on whether we agree with Salomon on a particular issue.) As a Democrat, I find this self-righteous attitude offensive. Greens have no automatic right to the moral high ground in politics.

As per the SF progressive party line, Salomon opposes the underground garage in Golden Gate Park, because it's supposedly contrary to the city's "transit first" policy. Well, bullshit again. Like the great gift of the bluegrass festival, Hellman has helped the city get a garage that is not going to cost city taxpayers a dime. What's wrong with that? Like a lot of his comrades, Salomon thinks "transit first" means making it as difficult and expensive as possible for drivers in the city, even though, according to the DMV, there are more than 464,000 cars, trucks, and motorcycles registered in the city. He and other elitist lefties hate the idea that drivers---the overwhelming majority of the city's population---will soon be able to drive into the Concourse area of Golden Gate Park and easily find a place to park. Why is forcing people to waste time and fuel looking for parking on the surface roads of the park good for the environment? And why is the underground garage in the park---which the city voted for in 1998---a bad thing? The answer: The Greens are not just pro-public transit and pro-bike, they are also aggressively anti-car, which is another reason they will always be on the political fringe.

Salomon is the kind of lefty who plays the class and race cards whenever possible, even if it hurts his argument and makes him look like a demagogue. The $1.5 million bluegrass festival Hellman gives to the city every year is somehow morally tainted, because, Salomon notes, it is "the most Caucasian crowd of any mass event in San Francisco." Again, so what? Is he saying that Hellman and the white people who attended the festival are racists? No, he's probably just so far inside his ideological box he can't distinguish between a real political argument and a slur.

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