Thursday, May 25, 2006

Political convenience and Matt Gonzalez

That Matt Gonzalez is a lawyer can be seen from his article---a political brief, really---against the Mayor's veto of the Saturday park closure ordinance. On behalf of his clients, the bike people and park "activists," Gonzalez pretends that it's really all about the "wealthy" and attendance at the new de Young Museum:

But park closure opponents, including wealthy museum benefactors, refuse to acknowledge the changed circumstances. These individuals claim that Saturday closure would hurt attendance and thereby make it harder to attract major museum shows. Visitorship data that the DeYoung Museum initially refused to divulge, however, actually shows the opposite. Attendance on Sundays is highest, when JFK Drive is already closed, in effect torpedoing claims that closure would be detrimental in any way (BeyondChron, May 19).

Of course Gonzalez knows that the mayor cited other issues in his veto message: neighborhood concerns about parking and traffic, access for families and seniors, and the fact that two ballot measures to close the park to autos on Saturdays lost in 2000. "Nearly passed" is not nearly good enough! But, like many of his comrades on the left, Gonzalez likes to play the class card whenever possible, even if it sheds no light on the issue being discussed: It's supposedly all about the "wealthy" versus "environmentalists," even though the new de Young belongs to the city.

Ordinary San Franciscans have made their wishes known at the ballot box already. Mayor Newsom could have also cited 1998's Propostion J, which emphasized public access along with the underground garage, a fact that "bicycle activists and environmentalists" never mention. (Prop. J includes "making the Park accessible to all San Franciscans from all neighborhoods and by all forms of transportation, including, by way of example only, the Municipal Railway, bicycles and automobiles...so that residents and visitors alike are able to use and enjoy the institutions and natural settings of the Park...providing long-term assurance of safe, reliable and convenient access for visitors to the Park, including its cultural institutions." (Legal Text of Proposition J, Section 1)

The city's voters clearly want easy access to the park, which is why they passed both Prop. J in 1998 and rejected the Saturday closure measures in 2000.

Gonzalez does score some points on the "will of the voters" issue, especially on gay marriage, which California voters rejected in 2000. But Gonzalez actually approves of Newsom's rejection of this expression of the will of the voters, so what's the moral of the story? The will of the voters is to be honored except when you disagree with it?

In any event, a few years ago Gonzalez as much as accused the voters of District 5 of being racists for their rejection of his Proposition F, which would have given non-citizens the right to vote in city school board elections. ("Matt Gonzalez Steps Away on Jan. 8," Keith Gleason, Jan. 5, 2005, San Francisco Observer)

And Gonzalez's political allies---especially the "bicycle activists"---continued to oppose the will of the people after it was expressed in 1998 by trying to stop the construction of the underground garage at the Concourse. It seems that Mayor Newsom is not the only one to invoke the will of the voters only when it's politically convenient.

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