Friday, January 27, 2006

Bay Guardian: old wine in a drab new bottle

Hard to see the point of the SF Bay Guardian's recent makeover, changing the look of the paper and moving Tim Redmond's column to the front page, as if the old look was a problem and Redmond's weekly ruminations merit more exposure. Wrong on both counts! The new Guardian looks washed-out and bland alongside the old. (In fact, the Guardian now looks a lot like the East Bay Express, which is odd, since that publication is owned by New Times, the same corporation that owns the SF Weekly, the Guardian's competitor in SF.) Do we really need Redmond's thoughts on the fantasy of impeaching President Bush on the front page of the city's leading progressive paper? Talk of impeachment is all the rage on the left now, but it's nothing but wishful thinking. Progressives seem to be hoping for an historical deux ex machina to rescue us from the Bush Administration, but we won't be rid of it that easily. We need to hunker down for three more years of a national Repug administration.

Redmond drags out Richard Nixon's corpse for ritual abuse before he tells us what we could already predict: he and the Guardian support the impeachment of President Bush. Oh, the glory days of 1974! The resignation of President Nixon, while a source of fond memories for old progressives, has nothing to teach us about this historical situation. And Redmond doesn't bother to make much of an argument for impeachment, except of course that Bush lied during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. But this won't do the job, since it's not at all clear that he did, keeping in mind that a lie is a deliberate untruth. Bush seemed sincere to me, maybe because I agreed with him, more or less. Yes, he and his administration clearly exaggerated the available evidence on Iraq's WMD programs. Even so, the WMD issue was not as clear-cut at the time as the president's political opponents now claim. The truth is that no one knew exactly what Iraq was up to before the invasion in 2003, since the UN weapons inspectors were expelled by Saddam Hussein way back in 1998. Wiretapping without warrants won't do it, either, since here too the president can make a plausible, if unconvincing, argument that such surveillance is necessary for national security during wartime. That argument is legally suspect but not criminal. Besides, Congress is controlled by Republicans. Who's going to bring impeachment charges, assuming some can be found that have any merit?

Instead of left-wing hysteria on national and international issues, what SF really needs from the Guardian is intelligent, in-depth coverage of local issues. When we want anti-war polemics, we can always turn to the Guardian's intellectual superiors at The Nation or the New York Review.

The Jan. 4 Guardian advertises "a political agenda for S.F." on the front page; inside, in an unsigned editorial, we get a mish-mash of questionable local political analysis and, yes, public power: "It's also time to put public power back on the top of the agenda." Public power is always on top of the Guardian's agenda, but it would be helpful if they took a similarly obsessive interest in other important city issues---like housing, for example.

Back in October, Tim Redmond and Matthew Hirsh wrote with justifiable alarm about the city's boom in luxury condos and market-rate housing, especially on the east side of the city. Redmond sounded the alarm: "This is the next battle for San Francisco. And there's no time to lose." Redmond hasn't mentioned the subject since.

In the Guardian's agenda editorial: "Newsom brags about housing the homeless, but as far as we can tell, his overall housing policy is driven entirely by the needs of private developers who want to build pricey condos." This is half-right. Can Mayor Newsom in fact claim some success in dealing with homelessness? Of course he can, but you will never read that in the Guardian. The Guardian also hammers the mayor for being ineffectual in stemming the city's homicide rate, as if the "community policing" approach advocated by progressives was anything but more wishful thinking. The Guardian calls Aaron Peskin's vote for Home Depot a "disaster," but that parcel was previously the site of a large furniture store, one of the few good locations in the city for a box store. Besides, Home Depot promised 100 jobs to Sophie Maxwell's constituents in District 10, where they are desperately needed. People of good will can disagree on the Home Depot issue, but calling it a disaster isn't analysis; it's hyperbole. Rincon Hill is a disaster; Home Depot is an innocuous blip on the city's planning screen.

The Guardian's real weakness is editorial and intellectual. We already know what they think on national and international issues, and we don't care. What we need is steady, reliable coverage of local issues week after week---coverage, by the way, relatively untainted by leftist ideology. It can be done. Under its current management, the Guardian apparently is incapable of providing that, and the city's political dialogue is the poorer for it.

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Joe Blue: Crime Czar

Joe:

One of your suggested solutions was that you be appointed Crime Czar of San Francisco, not a very helpful suggestion and not a likely outcome. Your other suggestions are equally unhelpful---investigate the D.A.'s office, bring in some of your friends as consultants, and get the business community to throw in some money for unspecified projects. The urgent tone of your communications is not matched by the quality of your ideas. I know you're not interested in this, but forming a commission to examine the effects of the rap/hip-hop culture on the city's young African-American men would be a good place to start if we really want to deal with the city's crime problem, especially gun crime.

Regards,
Rob Anderson

From: Joseph Blue josephearly@gmail.com
Subject: Neighborhood Residents Need To Know- New Year -Same Old Story- Murders In Our Neighborhoods.
Date: Mon, 23 Jan 2006

Will this administration under this Mayor listen to the concerns of the residents of the neighborhoods regarding crime in our city. I am starting to wonder. We have just experienced, in 2005 one of the most violent years of crime and Murder - that San Francisco has seen in a decade- with a record breaking 96 Murders. Coupled with a record breaking 88 Murders in 2204. UTILIZING A CLASSIC WORD - OUTRAGEOUS INTOLERABLE - TO SAY THE LEAST. WE AS CITIZENS DEMAND ACTIONS, SOLUTIONS - FROM OUR ELECTED LEADERS, NOT PROMISES, NOT VIDEO CAMEO APPEARANCES, NOT POLLS ON POPULARITY, NOT SPECIAL COMMISSIONS- NOT SO CALLED COMMUNITY LEADERS THAT ONLY REPRESENT CITY HALL - BUT CONCERTED AND CONCRETE SOLUTIONS TO OUR OUT OF CONTROL CRIME SITUATION. COME UP WITH SOMETHING - PLEASE One wonders - whether this administration is really listening to our concerns, about safety and quality of life issues. Well citizens of this beautiful city- get ready - unfortunately we are off to the same start as last year. FATHER OF 2 YOUNG GIRLS KILLED EARLY SATURDAY IN CARJACKING- AS QUOTED IN THE PAPERS TODAY. THIS IS A CITIZENS OF OUR NEIGHBORHOODS - WHO WAS A HARDWORKING 34 YEAR OLD FATHER WITH 4 YEAR OLD AND 5 MONTH OLD DAUGHTERS - WHO HAD JUST BOUGHT A HOUSE WITH HIS WIFE IN SAN FRANCISCO. NOT A GANG MEMBER - BUT A TYPICAL CITIZEN COMING HOME FROM WORK. THIS COULD HAVE BEEN ANYONE - FROM ANY NEIGHBORHOOD IN THIS CITY. YOU, ME - YOUR FRIENDS, RELATIVES - WHATEVER . THE QUESTION I HAVE CONSISTENTLY POINTED OUT TO THIS ADMINISTRATION AND THIS MAYOR - IS OUR LACK OF SAFETY- REGARDLESS OF WHAT NEIGHBORHOODS WE LIVE IN. I HAVE POINTED OUT SOLUTIONS - TO BRING THIS CYCLE OF INCREASE MURDERS IN SAN FRANCISCO UNDER CONTROL, ALONG WITH OTHERS. TOO NO AVAIL. WELL - IF THIS ADMINISTRATION THINK I AM GOING TO GO AWAY - FORGET ABOUT IT. I WILL CONTINUE TO LET THE NEIGHBORHOOD RESIDENTS KNOW THAT CRIME IS ONE OF OUR MAYOR CONCERNS- AND IF THIS ADMINISTRATION AND THIS MAYOR IS UNWILLING OR UNABLE TO SOLVE IT. THEN CITIZENS - MAYBE WE SHOULD REPLACE THEM.

Joseph Blue 415-440-1866 joseph@joebue.us

From: Joseph Blue
josephearly@gmail.com
Subject: 2005 A YEAR IN OUR NEIGHBORHOODS WE WOULD LIKE TO FORGET- A RECORD BREAKING 96 MURDERS
Date: Mon, 2 Jan 2006

we residents of the various neighborhoods in san francisco, have experienced one of the worst out of control crime rate of murders in the last 10 years- which was an increase over the record breaking years of 88 last year. we have had to deal with an incompetency and inaction on the part of this city hall administration - that even surpass the incompetency of dealing with crime and murder last year we need answers - not the past inaction of the last two years. i do not intend to be politically correct - when our residents of san francisco are being murdered. we are taking about friends, neighbors, children, relatives, youth and etc. some people would like to know what i would do- since there has been no comprehensive plan coming out of city hall. first i would create 1. a position of a crime czar - on the level of what we have with angela alioto with the homeless issue. this position would be responsible for working on solutions and problems that generate this run a way crime in our city. i will be glad to accept this position. next 2. i would bring in residents of this city that know the problems and live in the areas where the crime is being created throughout the city, not relying on political so called community leaders that populate city hall- these cronies and hacks you can see everywhere - even on television. who really do not represent the grass root people of the neighborhoods and this city as a whole. i would encourage 2. the mayor - with his influence in the business community - to use his influence and the office of mayor to generate business involvement and contributions to job creation programs and investment in our neighborhoods - since they make money in our city - they should be willing to do their part. if they can donate millions of dollars to political campaigns - they can with the mayors urging do the same for our poorer neighborhoods. stimulating vocational job programs for youth and adults, investing in education after school programs for youth that are functioning as basic illiterate, giving young people options out of violence and crime. i then would 2. investigate our district attorneys office - to see why san francisco has one of the lowest apprehension rates and conviction rates of most major cities in the country. a panel needs to be established to look into this problem. this panel needs to be divorced from political consideration and influence of city hall. there are a lot of outstanding independent residents of this city that could serve on this investigating panel.

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Neighborhood votes against UC

At last night's Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association meeting, the vote was 22-2 (with 5 abstentions) for Warren Dewar's resolution against UC's proposal to change the zoning of the extension property to make way for a massive housing development.

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