Friday, February 04, 2005

Ross Mirkarimi: blurring the Big Picture

Ross Mirkarimi, the new D5 Supervisor told Casey Mills of BeyondChron that the most imporant problem facing the city is "obviously the budget." According to Christopher Caen, he told him something different: "First on his agenda was planning and land use, which have scared away many legislators before him." ("Ross Paints the Big Picture," The Independent, Jan. 29, 2005) Will the real number one priority in Ross's mind please stand up?

The SF Bay Guardian, in its confused agenda piece a few weeks ago, also mentioned the budget process as a priority for progressives. But the question is, To what end? What would progressives do if they had control over the city's budget? What is the progressive agenda? The problem progressives have is that Mayor Newsom already has a firm grip on the most important and visible problem in the city---homelessness---while progressives diddle around out on the fringes with the wrong-headed protest over the widening of MLK Blvd. in the park and the equally wrong-headed attempt to save the insignificant Harding Theater on Divisadero.

It would be nice if progressives would actually try to help Mayor Newsom---and the city---as it continues to grapple with the homeless problem, instead of sniping from the sidelines and questioning his motives. Funding is now the biggest hurdle in making significant progress on homelessness, since it's clear we can't rely on the feds or the state to give us enough money to deal significantly with the problem.

Neither Caen nor Mirkarimi explain what is meant by "land use." In truth, Caen's column is the journalistic equivalent to a big smooch on Ross's posterior. No hard questions are asked or answered. In fact, no easy questions are asked or answered. The column is just one big bouquet to Ross: "Ross has the spirit of a policy wonk but the soul of a street fighter." Even Ross must be embarrassed by this kind of crap.

One would like to think that Mirkarimi, after he wipes Caen's saliva off his ass, will be taking a close look at, say, the alarming We Need Housing movement, which consists of developers, the Planning Dept., and delusional progressives who actually think the emerging Octavia Blvd. fiasco and the Rincon Towers are urban design triumphs. Alas, there's no indication that this is so. Ross needs to understand that both his predecessor and other progressives on the board are not only bad on the homeless issue, they have also set in motion a Frankenstein-like housing alliance that now threatens the city's neighborhoods. The UC Extension proposal, the Market/Octavia Plan, and the appalling Rincon Towers are the wave of the future if Planning, developers, and some progressives have their way in San Francisco.

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