Friday, November 29, 2013

The Chronicle rewrites recent city history

Supervisor Wiener, SFBC photo

This is what last Sunday's Chronicle (Big ideas out at City Hall, nuts-and-bolts issues in) calls "ground-breaking legislation":

Not long ago, the domed building[City Hall] was a veritable factory of love-it-or-hate-it policies that were the first of their kind in the nation: the thousands of illegal same-sex weddings in 2004, mandatory sick leave in 2006, universal health care and a ban on plastic bags in 2007, a ban on cigarette sales in drugstores in 2008, mandatory composting in 2009, the ban on free toys in Happy Meals in 2010.

Gay marriage and health care are big issues, but the rest are more or less trivial. Odd that the long article doesn't mention homelessness or Care Not Cash, which was put on the ballot in 2002 by then-Supervisor Newsom, who then rode the issue into the mayor's office in 2003. Especially odd since the Chronicle that year ran Kevin Fagan's fine Shame of the City series on homelessness.

Odd too that the Chronicle quotes former supervisor Angela Alioto without referring to her important role as a Newsom appointee in reforming the city's policies on homelessness.

"The supervisors had the guts to do them[big issues] even though they weren't pothole, local issues," she said, saying she doesn't see that same kind of bravery now. "There's not a lot of passion going on."

Alioto is being kind. The present supervisors are dim bulbs too timid politically to tackle anything that strays from the City Hall "family" party line. They are all keeping their heads down and waiting for a chance at higher office.

The Chronicle throws another bouquet to Newsom for his gay marriage initiative in February, 2004, even though that provided Republicans with a national issue that helped re-elect President Bush in November. The callow, newly-elected mayor---who soon showed other serious impulse-control issues---was so eager to make headlines he couldn't wait until after the November election.

Asked to name their signature pieces of legislation, the current supervisors came up with a list that'll never earn them a guest appearance on "Nightline"---or "The Daily Show." Many of them hemmed and hawed, and then finally came up with legislation including changing the way the city funds retiree health care and reforming the California Environmental Quality Act appeals process, the way in which citizens can seek supervisors' help in blocking construction projects over environmental concerns...

Supervisor Wiener's bogus CEQA reform actually makes it harder for "citizens" to oppose bad City Hall-approved projects. Still waiting for Wiener to provide some actual examples of abuse of the CEQA process, since the examples he provided---the North Beach library and the Bicycle Plan---are obviously false.

Wiener, who is proud of his CEQA efforts, said, "It's not about whether something is the first of its kind. It's about whether we're being productive making public policy." He added that he and his colleagues may not be full of pizzazz, but they're focusing on important measures---like the 2011 voter-approved streets bond to pay for filling potholes---that previous boards neglected. "Some of them are just things that are decades overdue that this board and this mayor have been able to get done that past boards and mayors have not been able to get done," he said.

Supervisor Wiener is more of a media slut than a serious reformer. Like Newsom's poorly-timed gay marriage initiative, a number of his initiatives were poorly-considered. And the street bond pushed by Wiener was a dubious achievement: the $248 million bond will end up costing city taxpayers $437,249,617 when the interest is added.

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8 Comments:

At 4:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How is the bike plan example false?

 
At 4:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"media slut"

Keep staying classy, Rob, and maybe one day you'll get elected.

 
At 7:49 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"How is the bike plan example false?"

It's false because there were no deadline or delay issues between the initial hearing on the Bicycle Plan before the Planning Commission and our final appeal before the Board of Supervisors.

After the BOS rejected our final appeal on the Bicycle Plan, we had to either give up or litigate. There was no abuse of the process, except by the city, which broke the law by not doing the required environmental review.

The delay that still annoys the bike lobby was caused entirely by the city, which thought it could get away with not doing any environmental review of that ambitious, detailed, 500-page plan. See my analysis of those events.

If the city had simply done the right---and the legal---thing in the first place, there would have been no delays. The goofball plan would have been implemented by now.

That Wiener uses the CEQA litigation on the Bicycle Plan shows that he doesn't know what he's talking about.

 
At 12:02 PM, Anonymous sfthen said...

Wiener's underlying concerns seem to be in advancing his personal political career. To that end he is showing the Movers and Shakers in the Democratic Party that he can play in the Big Sandbox, play where the Big Money is: Transportation.

He moved one of his aides (who knows nothing about transportation and even less about the unique aspects of San Francisco transportation) up next to Ed Lee, but lack of knowledge doesn't matter, these kind ride bicycles so must know what they're doing.

As Scottie said, ``High speed rail is key to the future of California's transportation system and economy.''

 
At 1:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If the city had simply done the right---and the legal---thing in the first place, there would have been no delays. The goofball plan would have been implemented by now."

Instead, you wasted everyone's time and money to simply delay something that you now admit was going to happen anyway! Nice going, Rob!

 
At 8:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gay marriage and health care are big issues, but the rest are more or less trivial.

Plastic bags are not trivial. They contribute billions of dollars in waste nationwide in terms of problems they cause with waste treatment systems and sewer systems. It's amazing this isn't seen as an obvious problem - we need to just ban production of these things and move on. We can bring out own bags and fill them will more actual products with the tax dollars we save.

 
At 10:05 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Instead, you wasted everyone's time and money to simply delay something that you now admit was going to happen anyway! Nice going, Rob!"

If the city had done the right and legal thing in the first place, that "time and money" wouldn't have been wasted. In reality, however, what the city calls the Bicycle Plan has changed over the years, and, as we hoped, neighborhood opposition to what City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition want to do to city streets has grown (see neighborhood opposition on Polk Street, the opposition to the Fell/Oak bike project, and opposition to the Masonic Avenue bike project.

 
At 10:05 AM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

Hey, sfthen, how was your Thanksgiving?

http://district5diary.blogspot.com/2013/05/stop-listening-only-to-bike-people-and.html?showComment=1369438773124&m=1#c3428477112229689717

 

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