Tuesday, January 04, 2005

The SF Observer: growing pains

I was surprised to read this on the front page of the SF Observer's Western Edition, after the Observer quoted my favorable, post-election opinion of Ross Mirkarimi: "...wrote former D5 supervisor candidate Robert Anderson in one of his many blast emails describing the newly elected D5 Supervisor Ross Mirkirami...it's nice to read that even Anderson, who took every opportunity to attack Ross, it's[sic] now realizing that [the] election is over."

Well! I not only didn't take "every opportunity to attack Ross," I only challenged him---since he was a leading SF progressive and the D5 front-runner---at the candidates' forums for his support of SF's monthly Critical Mass demo and the peculiar progressive political failure in the city on homelessness. I'm not sure what a "blast email" is, but my email messages during the campaign dealt only with issues---Critical Mass, graffiti/tagging, the proposed UC Extension development, homelessness, etc. I was, after all, one of Mirkarimi's opponents for District 5 Supervisor.

The folks at The Observer not only need to do a better job of proofing their copy---on the front page, no less---they struggle to make a meaningful assessment of life in District 5:

District 5 is a mess. Crime is high, with more than 80 homicides citywide this year. Graffiti is out of control. Homelessness is an eyesore. Local economy is in [a] shambles. Affordable housing is a crisis. Youth issues need to be addressed (Western Edition, Dec. 2004).

To the extent that this means anything, it's confused and inaccurate. Where and in what sense is District 5 "a mess"? Citing a citywide homicide number doesn't say anything about District 5. And is being "an eyesore" the most significant thing to be said about homelessness? The only true and meaningful statement about D5 in the paragraph is that "Graffiti is out of control."

The Haight-Ashbury edition of The Observer adds another out-of-focus evaluation of the election on its front page: "While progressives may have lost out on the national front, District 5 is safe for the immediate future" (Haight Ashbury Beat, Dec. 2004). "Safe" from what or whom? From Bob Haaland and/or Lisa Feldstein---who finished second and third respectively---both card-carrying progressives in good standing? The reality: there never was any danger of electing anything but a progressive in District 5, even allowing for the elasticity of that much-abused term.

Even though they misrepresent my political conduct vis a vis Ross during the campaign, the folks at The Observer earn points for making the effort in putting out their community paper/papers. It's hard work, and there's no money in it. But The Observer has yet to show it has anything serious or interesting to say about political life in District 5. But, hey, keep trying boys.

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