Thursday, July 13, 2017

Upper Market Street and the Bicycle Derangement Syndrome

Hey! Get out of our way!
Jim Swanson

Randal O'Toole:  "All you have to do is mention the words 'public transit' and progressives will fall over themselves to support you no matter how expensive and ridiculous your plans."

That's surely true about San Francisco progressives, e.g., the Central Subway and our bloated Municipal Transportation Agency with its billion dollar budget.

But O'Toole's words of wisdom can be adapted to cover a favorite progressive transportation "mode": "All you have to do is mention the word 'bicycle,' and San Francisco progressives will fall over themselves to support you no matter how ridiculous your plans."

I call it the Bicycle Derangement Syndrome (BDS).

The latest manifestation of this public policy neurosis is the mild panic in City Hall and at the Bicycle Coalition caused by David Pilpel's appeal before the Board of Supervisors of the city's Upper Market Street bicycle lanes.

Even if Pilpel had significant support from a single city organization, his appeal would have been rejected, because appeals are always rejected in our one-party city-state. Especially if the appeal involves CEQA issues, which Pilpel's did, along with the safety concerns raised by the SF Fire Department.

Pilpel thought he had the support of Supervisor Sheehy for a continuance on the hearing so he could work on preparing his appeal and maybe even get some people to show up in support at the hearing.

Streetsblog was worried, and the Bicycle Coalition, the most influential special interest group in the city, swung into action to squash Pilpel's thought crime:

Behind the scenes, we’ve learned that Supervisor Jeff Sheehy is waffling on whether to further delay already-approved bike lanes on Upper Market Street. Yes, those are the same protected bike lanes that were approved by the SF Municipal Transportation Agency Board on May 2 and were ready to be striped this month. They’re the same lanes that Sup. Sheehy publicly supported after receiving hundreds of emails from you. And now, they’re being threatened by indefinite delays.

There was never any real chance of "indefinite delays," which even the crackpots at the coalition surely understood. Sheehy did in fact receive hundreds of emails in response to the Bicycle Coalition's call. He quickly rolled over and dumped the idea of a continuance to discuss the CEQA issues:

Pilpel also contended that the Planning Department may have exempted the project from environmental review incorrectly, since the SFMTA changed aspects of the project after it was exempted from review. Supervisor Aaron Peskin told SFMTA staff, “I’m a little sensitive to not blowing it,” adding, “next time, if you’d just do it right.”

Umentioned in the Examiner story---by the Bicycle Coalition's favorite reporter---before his rebuke of the city representatives for their sloppy CEQA work, Peskin explained why he was "sensitive" about CEQA issues. He recalled the dark days of 2005/2006 when yours truly and some other folks busted the city in court for its gross violation of the most important environmental law in the state by unanimously passing the Bicycle Plan and starting to implement it with no environmental review.

Peskin was president of the Board of Supervisors at the time, and he ran with the progressive lemmings in the unanimous vote to reject our appeal.

The other day, even though he understood that the city's CEQA paperwork was crap, he again voted with the lemmings in the unanimous vote to crush Pilpel's appeal. 

Why not send a message to the city by voting in favor of the appeal, even if it meant being the only one to do so? That would have at least put Planning and the MTA on notice that they weren't going to get a free pass in the future. The answer: because in reality Peskin is also a political lemming whose reputation as a maverick was always bogus (see thisthis, and this). 

The message Peskin sent: Planning and the MTA will continue to get away with violating CEQA, especially on bicycle projects.

You would think Peskin would have learned his lesson when he ran with the lemmings years ago on the Central Subway fiasco, which he felt obligated to renounce when he ran for mayor in 2012.[Later: Wrong! Peskin didn't run for mayor in 2012]

As District 8 Supervisor, Jeff Sheehy is following in the lame tradition of his predecessors, Bevan Dufty and Scott Wiener. This district is now presumed to be a gay seat on the board, since all three District 8 supervisors have been gay. They haven't exactly been a credit to their sexual orientation.

There are also now six women on the Board of Supervisors. We are in a new era of San Francisco political history: gays, straights, men, women, whites, and people of color can all unite in stupidity and political cowardice.

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Repugs "will beat up on Hillary until the day she dies"

Michael Tomasky in the Daily Beast:

...Donald Trump’s fortunes will wax and wane, Sean Hannity’s ratings will go up and down, and the Republican Party will see good days and bad. But one thing will never change: They’ll beat up on Hillary until the day she dies. After, actually. They’ll decide she didn’t leave enough to charity. Or left too much. Whatever. It will always be something.

And in the press at least, outside of a few columnists, Clinton won’t have many defenders, because the fashionable thing is always to bash her, too. And of course, she and Bill have made their mistakes. Both Clintons were way too insensitive to the appearances of their actions, like how much money they were making. 

And as I’ve written many times, I think she decided to use a private server because she put her distrust of those out to get her (like Judicial Watch) ahead of her obligation to public transparency. It doesn’t matter that Colin Powell used a private server, too. The press loved Colin Powell. They didn’t love her... 

She was the target of the biggest coordinated campaign attack, stretching from the Kremlin to Julian Assange’s sitting room, in the history of American politics. She got zonked by Jim Comey 11 days before the election in a move that was totally without precedent in the history of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

And both of these after a quarter-century smear campaign that alleged everything up to and including murder but that never actually proved---and I mean proved, not “proved”---to the satisfaction of millions of people who’d been worked into a state of rage against her over two decades---a single thing of importance that she did that was wrong or unethical. And still she got 3 million more votes.

Three emails marked classified on her server. Three. About things like talking points for a call with the president of Malawi. And two of those may have been marked in error. And that was her great crime? For that we have to live through this?

She’s the most royally screwed-over person in the history of American politics. She should be in the White House right now. And she’d have been good. Maybe not great. They wouldn’t allow that. We’d be having impeachment hearings underway already, I assure you, over far smaller matters than the things we know the Trump family has done. 

That would be rough, but I know this much: She wouldn’t be suddenly discovering that health care is complicated, she wouldn’t have her son-in-law on the White House staff and in charge of Middle East peace, and she wouldn’t be an international embarrassment. The free nations of the world wouldn’t be trying to find ways to work around the United States of America...


Matt Davies


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Golden Gate Bridge circa 1950

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