Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tim Redmond's priorities

The Guardian's Tim Redmond has some wishes for the new year (below in italics):

"I would like to see the new progressives on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors make open government a real priority; I would like to stop having to fight to get even routine information out of City Hall."

If this is so important, why haven't the old progressives on the BOS---Redmond's long-time political allies---made this a priority? Exactly what information, routine or otherwise, does Redmond really need from City Hall? This is an issue that city progs waste a lot of time and energy on---see also Kimo Crossman's piece in this week's Guardian---the notion that city government is systematically hiding crucial information or that meetings and hearings are going unobserved and/or unrecorded, with dire consequences for democracy here in Progressive Land.

City agencies can be bad about providing information, but with all important city meetings now broadcast on SFGTV, is a lack of information really a significant obstacle to intelligent politics or commentary? I don't believe it, since information on the important issues I've been writing about for four years on this blog is readily available online. Has a lack of information prevented Redmond and the Guardian from writing intelligently about the destructive, aggressively pro-development policies endorsed by city progressives? (Rincon Hill, the Market/Octavia Plan, UC's ripoff of the old extension property, etc.) Nope, since the Guardian had only the feeblest objection to Rincon Hill and, in their scant coverage of the M/O Plan and UC's massive housing project on lower Haight Street, they've concluded, contrary to available information, that those two destructive projects get a pass because they are about affordable housing.

Only the recession is slowing down the Planning Department's determination to overdevelop city neighborhoods, which is being pushed through the process by Mayor Newsom with crucial help from progs on the Board of Supervisors, while the political editor of the Guardian worries about a non-issue like open government. 

And the preposterous obsession city progs have with screwing up city traffic on behalf of a small minority of cyclists has nothing to do with a lack of information, since all the information detailing exactly what they plan to do----in the recently issued draft environmental impact report on the Bicycle Plan---is available online. Funny but bike guy Redmond and Guardian reporter Steve Jones, also a bike guy, haven't written anything about the DEIR yet. True, neither have I, but I'm working my way through that bloated, poorly-written document and will report on it here soon.

"I would like to see the California Legislature and US Congress raise the gas tax enough to bring the price to about $3 a gallon, making sure SUVs remain unattractive forever."

Right. Even though we don't know where the bottom of the current recession/depression is yet and low gas prices are the only positive thing happening in the economy, let's double the price of gas and punish the few people left that have jobs and cars.

"I would like Anchor Steam to start making a light beer."

If he means "lite" beer, this would qualify as the worst idea of the year if back in January Supervisor Mirkarimi hadn't already proposed doing away with the traffic underpass at Fillmore and Geary. But it's not clear whether Redmond means "lite" or simply a lager. Odd that he thought it important enough to include in his wish list but didn't bother to make that clear.

"I would like the San Francisco police to stop turning immigrants over to the feds."

But isn't SF still a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants? Note that Redmond doesn't say "illegal" immigrants, as if city cops were randomly stopping suspected immigrants on the street and turning them over to immigration. What about illegal immigrants convicted of crimes, like the recently deported crack dealers? Okay with Redmond that they be given a pass, presumably, though some clarification on this issue too is in order.

"I would like some really rich person to die and leave $20 million for a public power campaign so that for once we could match Pacific Gas and Electric Co.'s money and have a fair fight."

That is, the only reason city voters have rejected public power eleven (11) times is because that wicked PG and E has outspent the Good Guys every time it was on the ballot, the implication being that city voters are stupid and easily manipulated on the issue. An alternative explanation: city voters don't want to turn over the city's power system to an already bloated city government so that it can create another bureaucracy full of feather-bedding city workers.

Editor's Notes
In the hope of a 2009 we can all be proud of, here are some things I would like to see other people do
By Tim Redmond

I was going to do New Year's resolutions this week. I got started: turn the cell phone volume down when the kids are in the car and Aaron Peskin is on the line. ("That man sure does like to use the f-word when he talks about PG&E," my nine-year old noted this fall.) Stop shouting "Yo, asshole!" when cars come too close to my bicycle. (I know I can be way more creative and foul-mouthed than that.) Return Gavin Newsom's phone calls. (Hey, the poor guy must be lonely.)

But really, it's not all about me.

So instead, in honor of the end of the Bush Years and in the hope of a 2009 we can all be proud of, here are some things I would like to see other people do:
I would like to see the California Legislature and US Congress raise the gas tax enough to bring the price to about $3 a gallon, making sure SUVs remain unattractive forever.

I would like to see the new progressives on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors make open government a real priority; I would like to stop having to fight to get even routine information out of City Hall. I would like everyone in public office to read Bob Herbert's column in Dec. 27's The New York Times and understand that one reason FDR was successful with the New Deal was that he understood the importance of restoring faith in government; transparency, accountability, and oversight were a central part of the package.

I would like Anchor Steam to start making a light beer.
I would like someone to get Wi-fi installed at City Hall.
I would like Gavin Newsom to stop hiding behind Nathan Ballard.
I would like the right lane of the stretch of I-80 near Lake Tahoe repaved so those of us with small cars don't get bounced up and down like ping pong balls.
I would like the federal drinking age lowered to 18.
I would like everyone to stop talking about the death of newspapers and stop pretending that blogs and citizen journalism can ever replace full-time trained reporters.
I would like the San Francisco police to stop turning immigrants over to the feds.
I would like the executive editor of Village Voice Media to shave his head, move to Tibet, become a monk, and accept the karmic implications of the way he's lived his life.
I would like the state to tax the millionaires instead of the college students.
I would like some really rich person to die and leave $20 million for a public power campaign so that for once we could match Pacific Gas and Electric Co.'s money and have a fair fight.
I would like Barack Obama to appoint Arnold Schwarzenegger ambassador to some meaningless country so we can have a new governor.
I would like Newsom to liquidate his personal fortune and use the money to pay rent and grocery bills for the front-line city workers he's laying off.
I would like the Catholic archbishop of San Francisco to quit the gay-hating.
I would like all my fellow dog owners to clean up the poo on the sidewalk.
I would like to be able to ride high-speed rail to Los Angeles before I start collecting Social Security.
Happy New Year.
Wednesday December 31, 2008


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18 Comments:

At 11:15 PM, Blogger Susan said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 11:24 PM, Blogger magdelyn said...

At least he wasn't arguing that we should give the homeless housing and enough money to buy beer, as he did here: http://www.sfbayguardian.com/entry.php?entry_id=6793&catid=4&volume_id=317&issue_id=388&volume_num=42&issue_num=43
__________________________
http://fauxwhore.blogspot.com

 
At 12:19 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"At least he wasn't arguing that we should give the homeless housing and enough money to buy beer, as he did here..."

And he's argued on behalf of graffiti/tagging as "urban art"!

 
At 1:13 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Rob.... "Susan" is an autogenerated message... not a real commenter. And you insult our intelligence :)

 
At 1:21 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

How do I insult your intelligence?

 
At 2:13 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

That didn't work. Let me try again.

Rob - Susan is not a real person. Why are you responding to an autogenerated message?

 
At 11:54 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, Murph, I got it. No comment on the substance of the post? It provides you still another opportunity to demonstrate your superior intelligence and qualifications.

 
At 4:20 PM, Anonymous Goodplanner said...

I have been reviewing the Bicycle Plan EIR. It's so bad technically that someone needs to throw this thing back to complete rewrite it, provide mitigations and more accurately analyze impacts. It whitewashes the impacts to slowing both traffic and transit vehicles down. The calculations are marksed and not consistent with the City's on adopted Impact Study Guidelines:

http://www.sfgov.org/site/uploadedfiles/planning/projects_reports/SF%20Transportation%20Impact%20Analysis%20Guidelines%20Oct%202002.pdf

I am further outraged that they "modify" the original bicycle plan to add projects without so much as a community meeting on them. These projects should be removed from the plan.

The transit impacts are simply calculated wrong, and are substantially understated. The impacts will be quite significant and will cost the taxpayers millions of dollars every single year only because of much slower buses. That does not include the significant traffic impacts which are not reported according to City guidelines (LOS E and F are ALWAYS supposed to have an actual number describing the impact, for example).

Let's not even begin to discuss of the new "big elephant" in the room. Namely, the additional greenhouse gas emissions created from more idling cars increases the carbon footprint much greater than getting twice as many people on their bicycles would.

I would love to "coach" you guys more on the appropriate response of this document. Just let me know on here.

 
At 2:46 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

I am further outraged that they "modify" the original bicycle plan to add projects without so much as a community meeting on them. These projects should be removed from the plan.


My understanding that after the EIR process is done, there will be a period of comment and review on the plan itself. Rob can correct me if I am wrong - this is just my understanding. I have already seen an email regarding community discussion on the plan for Phelan.

Among other things, some of the parts of the plans are stated with multiple options - at some point someone would have to decide which option to pick, and I would assume that would be based on input from the community.

 
At 4:16 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

No, the public comment period will be over on Jan. 13. You need to get your comment in before that. You can email it to the Planning Dept., and the Draft EIR itself is available online.

It is indeed a poorly written piece of work, mostly stilted, boilerplate, bureaucratese, with the punctuation marks sprinkled in seemingly at random. It features a cross-referencing system that is truly baroque and not particularly helpful to the reader.

Yes, they have arbitrarily completely redefined the Bicycle Plan that Judge Busch ordered them to review. They haven't included the traffic studies that they presumably based their conclusions on, which makes it impossible to really evaluate.

But, interestingly enough, the DEIR admits that some of the options will certainly have negative impacts on traffic that can't be mitigated. Yes, the study gives the city a couple of different options for many of its projects. The city---the Board of Supervisors, ultimately---will have to decide who they want to please, the SF Bicycle Coalition or the 90% of city residents who don't ride bikes and ride Muni regularly.

But you have to get your comment in by Jan. 13, unless the city extends the comment period, which is what it should do, since they released the DEIR just before the holidays. And, as I pointed out, it did not include the studies it based its conclusions on.

 
At 2:04 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

My understanding that the comment period is for the EIR - not for the bike plan itself. So now is the time to say "I think this EIR is bullshit, bikes are much worse for the environment than is specified here - for example they leave minute quantities of rubber on the road and cyclists fart a lot, due to their propensity of eating many burritos, contributing Methane to the imaginary Global Warming problem".

The time to say "I think putting a bike lane on Phelan is bad because then a bunch of cyclists will ride by my house and I am blinded by spandex - that comes later".

I will gladly apologize if I am wrong. Except about the farting part - I do like burritos and they do cause flatulence.

 
At 3:02 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, Murph, the comment deadline is for the EIR on the Bicycle Plan, though the city has completely redefined what the Bicycle Plan is, which may or may not past muster with Judge Busch, who ordered them to review a different document. Once again your attempt at wit has failed. And you are too busy to even look at the DEIR, which is available online on the Planning Department's website.

 
At 4:54 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Because I have a job Rob, a job. You know, I work, produce useful things, get paid money for it. Wonderful concept.

The city got slapped for producing a plan with no EIR. Now they have a plan with an EIR. If Busch says "You didn't produce an EIR for the old plan", then what should he do? Tell them to produce one for their old plan? If I were the city, I'd say "Rob wins, we give up on the old plan. OK, everybody, here is a bike plan, and it comes with a snifty EIR!"

 
At 5:03 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Having a job is no excuse for being stupid, Murph. So you're too busy to read the EIR? Fair enough, but then what compels you to have so many opinions on these issues? I have no idea what Judge Busch will think about any of this, but I do know he was quite critical of how the city proceeded with the first Bicycle Plan.

 
At 10:14 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Society is so complex today that nobody - not even Rob Anderson - can be an expert on everything. I trust the people who have drawn up the bike plan have done a good enough job that implementing it will make riding a bike to get around in this city safer.

That is good for me personally, without question. I believe that it is good for the city, generally. You disagree. In a democracy you fight for your own beliefs and let the dominos fall where they may.

 
At 9:05 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

That goes to show that BikeThink is a faith-based political movement.

 
At 1:36 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Very little in this world does not revolve around trust - which you call faith. There is a difference between faith - and blind faith.

I bike. I have met Leah and Andy personally. I know the streets of San Francisco. Cursory analysis and knowledge of their skillsets makes it reasonably for my bike-think to be faith worth having.

Car-think, on the other hand? When presented with the fact that oil depletion is real, you posit that we will still have cars, but they will run on some magical energy - ethanol, electric, whatever. You don't drive a car. You aren't an engineer. You simply read something that sounded good to you from some "so-called expert" (a term I know you love) so you accepted on faith that some smart guys at some place like Tesla will rescue the automotive culture. Looking at the record, Tesla was very late with a roadster that is beyond the price range of 99% of the population, and has postponed their plans for the sedan, and is begging for 100's of millions of dollars of additional funding - good luck to them. I work in the Valley - "Postponed" is Valley-speak for "Cancelled". Chevy has rolled out various versions of electric cars for decades with no results. Yet you - a man with no formal training in this area and little of any kind - believe that this cadre will save the day. Now that is what I call "faith-based thinking"

 
At 9:27 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Leah Shahum has a "skill-set" that makes you confident? Yet she has consistently misrepresented CEQA and the litigation against the city. She's arrogant, as shown by incidents like her lecture to the merchants on upper Market Street a few years ago as she and the city took away their street parking to make bike lanes. She and the SFBC are anti-car in a city where cars and trucks are relied on by most city residents, tourists, commuters and businesses. She and the SFBC are in reality completely indifferent to Muni in our supposedly transit first city. Thornley, by the way, has been dishonest in his public pronouncements on the litigation and the goofball ban on the right turn onto the freeway from Market Street.

So you brandish your unimpressive credentials and expertise as opposed to my lack of same? What crap! The implication is that regular people without degrees in whatever can't understand the city's traffic system. That's why all those birdbrains in Planning and the MTA like to talk about traffic "modes" and "signage"---because they have all that training.

How about all that engineering and legal expertise that was put to work advising the Board of Supervisors in 2005 that, yes, of course they could go ahead and implement the Bicycle Plan without doing any environmental review? I've read all the documents in our litigation, and I can confidently say that Planning's MEA Department and the City Attorney's office are staffed by stupid, nasty people.

I don't know what our transportation future holds, but I suspect that there is in fact enough petroleum left in the world to power our motor vehicles as we make the transition to something else. What I seriously doubt is the crackpot idea that we should redesign city streets to make driving more difficult based on the idea that bicycles are going to soon be a serious alternative here or anywhere else in the US.

 

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