Friday, April 29, 2005

From hysteria to outright dishonesty

At first I just thought the people who opposed the Concourse Authority's plan to widen MLK were sincere but a bit overwrought. Chris Duderstadt claimed last year that anyone who favored the plan is an "enemy of the Park"; Katherine Roberts, in public comment before the Authority last November, warned of "homicidal" drivers imperiling pedestrians and cyclists if the plan was implemented; others called the plan---which would only affect 500 feet of MLK---a "highway through the park."

Now they have segued from hysteria to outright dishonesty. At last Tuesday's Concourse Authority meeting, Susan King did the Chronicle's crossword puzzle as she waited to make a public comment, ignoring the discussion of traffic cirulation in the remodeled Concourse area. When she made her comment, it was entirely redundant in light of Executive Director Ellzey's presentation. In short, King didn't hear a thing Ellzey said; her remarks were evidently prepared ahead of time and would have been the same regardless of what was said at the meeting. And I didn't see her pick up any of the hard copy material that contained the actual proposals about what to do about traffic patterns through the remodeled Concourse.

That's one form of dishonesty---not making even a minimal effort to take in relevant information. And then you have Chris Duderstadt and Stephen Willis.

Last week Chris Duderstadt circulated a photo via the PROSF bulletin board of one of the pedestrian tunnels being demolished. He attached no comment or analysis to the picture, but the implication is that it was gratuitous, an atrocity committed by a malevolent Concourse Authority that is destroying the park. Since Mike Ellzey made a detailed explanation of why the tunnels had to be destroyed---they were made of stone and unreinforced concrete and were a safety hazard---in my April 8 interview, Duderstadt knows there is a rational explanation as to why the old tunnels had to go.

Duderstadt also must know that two of the tunnels are going to be reconstructed entirely, while a replica of the third tunnel's facade will be used as part of a pedestrian portal to the Shakespeare garden. Hence, circulating the photo with no accompanying analysis or explanation is simply an inflammatory lie.

Last Friday Stephen Willis, of Save Golden Gate Park, circulated via PROSF a list of statements opposing the MLK plan and the second entrance to the garage as if the last six months of debate hadn't happened at all:

A private corporation---the Music Concourse Community Partnership---has taken control of Golden Gate Park, abandoned their deal with the voters, and recklessly destroyed all three 108 year-old tunnels. They also added an illegal second garage entrance INSIDE the Music Concourse, and have ignored a Court order since last August to correct their illegal garage design. Save Golden Gate Park! Happy Earth Day, 2005.

There are at least five lies in this short paragraph: MCCP has not "taken control" of the park; the Concourse Authority oversees construction of the garage and the remodeling of the Concourse, and Rec. and Park still oversees the Authority. The Authority has not "recklessly destroyed" the pedestrian tunnels; it was only done reluctantly, and two of the tunnels will be faithfully reconstructed entirely. The second entrance to the garage was not ruled "illegal"; rather, Judge Warren only ordered the Authority to design a "dedicated" roadway to that entrance that begins outside the park as per Prop. J. The Concourse Authority is operating in accordance with that court order---that's what the redesign of MLK is all about---which will be discussed again in his court on May 13. Far from abandoning "their deal with the voters," the Concourse Authority can honestly say it has followed both the letter and the spirit of Proposition J, which critics also apparently haven't read.

Admittedly, it's not always easy to distinguish lies from stupidity when one evaluates the statements of the garage/MLK opponents. But there's no excuse for these falsehoods months after they have been soundly refuted. They clearly either haven't read Judge Warren's Statement of Decision, which was issued in August of last year, or insist on distorting what it actually says. These folks also pretend that they haven't read my Ellzey interview---if they haven't, that's a form of dishonesty in itself---and they assume no one else has read it, either. In short, they evidently think people are stupid and that they can just keep repeating the same old baloney without anyone noticing.

The PROSF bulletin board helps them circulate their misinformation by not allowing any rebuttal. The issue bores Christian Holmer, who nevertheless refuses to post my responses to the systematic campaign of deception by the alleged saviors of Golden Gate Park.

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