Friday, May 26, 2006

Bike people Insult the mayor

The Bike People in SF are so charming. This is how the SF Bay Guardian's Steven Jones talks to the Mayor of San Francisco who dared to disagree with the Guardian about parking for the 10,000 new housing units planned for downtown: "You were just trying to fuckin' kiss up to Don Fisher and the downtown developers."

He erupted with indignant anger, told me to watch my language, and that I was not to speak to him with disrespect. It wasn't going very well. I pulled back and let things cool down a little, knowing that I'd have to be more diplomatic if we were going to discuss Healthy Saturdays.

The mayor's reaction was entirely appropriate, but I like Steve's attempt at self-criticism: "It wasn't going very well." No shit! Could be something about your interviewing technique, Steve. Cursing at the mayor and calling him an ass-kisser may not be the best opening gambit.

And then there's Leah Shahum, who insulted the mayor after he vetoed the Bicycle Coalition's phony Healthy Saturdays power grab: "I think what you ultimately saw is a choice between free parking and the interests of the park...And unfortunately the mayor chose free parking. I think his talk about being a green mayor is starting to ring hollow with the major environmental groups in the city." (Becky Bowman, SF Chronicle, May 16, 2006) This from someone he just appointed to the MTA board! Newsom would have been justified in firing her immediately.

And note Shahum's sophisticated analysis of the issue: It's all about free parking. Mayor Newsom only mentioned parking in his veto message in connection with complaints about people parking in the contiguous neighborhoods on Sundays, when that part of the park is already closed to motorized traffic.

Mayor Newsom may be beginning to realize that these folks are not his natural political allies; they are arrogant elitists and don't care about the neighborhoods or if public access to the park is reduced when it's closed to traffic. It's not about parking; it's about ensuring access to Golden Gate Park on the weekend to everyone, even the much-despised drivers of automobiles.

Interestingly, in talking to Jones, Newsom made the connection between the veto of the Saturday closure ordinance and the earlier progressive reaction to Care Not Cash:

For what it's worth, what really sells it for me on this issue of the will of the voters was the shit I went through after Care Not Cash, when the voters supported it, and they[his critics] did everything to put up roadblocks. And I was making a lot of these same arguments, you know, so this hits close to home...What really convinced me was the people in the neighborhoods, who just came out in force in ways that, frankly, I didn't expect. And whether they're right or wrong is exactly what needs to be determined...So why not, as we're doing, analyze Sundays for the first time? And we're going to have a report back on June 28, and then start making judgments as to how we can start closing other parts.

Yes, indeed, many progressives will never forgive the mayor for Care Not Cash, which demonstrated that he cared more for the homeless than they did: He actually thought/thinks we should do something about homelessness, instead of blathering about "root causes" and doing nothing, which was the progressive approach before Care Not Cash.

The truth of the matter is that the bike nuts didn't vote for Newsom for mayor; they voted for Gonzalez. They are not his natural political allies. And they---especially the SF Bicycle Coalition---opposed the garage in the park from the start, because they are against anything that makes it convenient for people to drive in the city. They already showed that they don't care about the neighborhood on the north side of the park, since they wanted all the traffic into the new garage to use the Fulton St. entrance, opposing the commonsense, inside-the-park garage entrance we now have on Academy Drive.

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