Monday, October 10, 2005

Surprise! Warren Hellman is a Republican

From a letter Marc Salomon published in BeyondChron:

Republican Hellman has donated more than $500,000 to conservative candidates and ballot measures in San Francisco over the past 5 years. Such luminaries as Linda Richardson, Amos Brown, Michael Yaki, Ed Jew, Burke Strunsky, Mabel Teng, Juanita Owens, Tom Hseih, Alicia Becerril, Jill Wynns, Kimiko Burton, Louise Renne, Andrew Lee, Fiona Ma, Proposition J, Care Not Cash, $5,000 against police reform, $175,000 to the Committee on Jobs, $75,000 to SFSOS and Heather Hiles have been the beneficiaries of his largess. 

Hellman was also the driving force behind an 800 car garage at the Music Concourse, demonstrating his commitment to "Transit First." In making these donations, Hellman has actively encouraged the clearcutting of San Francisco's poor and environment, and challenged most every forward thinking progressive initiative and candidate. For him to offer an annual $1.5m Bluegrass festival that drew perhaps the most Caucasian crowd of any mass event in San Francisco is little more than a cheap bribe (Letters, Oct. 5,

Now it can be revealed---stop the presses!---Warren Hellman is a conservative and a Republican! So what? you may rightly ask. From the list of the beneficiaries of his political "largess," it actually looks like he gives mostly to Democrats in SF. But it's the way Salomon sets up the moral equation that is ridiculous: Republicans/conservatives are Bad, and "forward-thinking" progressives and Greens---Salomon, naturally, is a Green---are Good. Well, bullshit. (What about us Democrats? We apparently exist in a kind of moral limbo, depending on whether we agree with Salomon on a particular issue.) As a Democrat, I find this self-righteous attitude offensive. Greens have no automatic right to the moral high ground in politics.

As per the SF progressive party line, Salomon opposes the underground garage in Golden Gate Park, because it's supposedly contrary to the city's "transit first" policy. Well, bullshit again. Like the great gift of the bluegrass festival, Hellman has helped the city get a garage that is not going to cost city taxpayers a dime. What's wrong with that? Like a lot of his comrades, Salomon thinks "transit first" means making it as difficult and expensive as possible for drivers in the city, even though, according to the DMV, there are more than 464,000 cars, trucks, and motorcycles registered in the city. 

He and other elitist lefties hate the idea that drivers---the overwhelming majority of the city's population---will soon be able to drive into the Concourse area of Golden Gate Park and easily find a place to park. Why is forcing people to waste time and fuel looking for parking on the surface roads of the park good for the environment? And why is the underground garage in the park---which the city voted for in 1998---a bad thing? The answer: The Greens are not just pro-public transit and pro-bike, they are also aggressively anti-car, which is another reason they will always be on the political fringe.

Salomon is the kind of lefty who plays the class and race cards whenever possible, even if it hurts his argument and makes him look like a demagogue. The $1.5 million bluegrass festival Hellman gives to the city every year is somehow morally tainted, because, Salomon notes, it is "the most Caucasian crowd of any mass event in San Francisco." Again, so what? Is he saying that Hellman and the white people who attended the festival are racists? No, he's probably just so far inside his ideological box he can't distinguish between a real political argument and a slur.

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Bicycle Coalition: "Si Se Puede"

Marc J. Zilversmit wrote:

The Bicycle Coalition is still trying to close traffic lanes on Cesar Chavez. They are having another meeting Tuesday night. If you can make it and let them know that we are not in favor of increased gridlock, then show up and be heard: Tuesday, 6:30 pm, Bernal Gateway Apartments, 3101 Mission Street (at Cesar Chavez).
I went to the last meeting. The neighbors seem fairly united against the bike lanes if it means closing traffic lanes. Cesar Chavez is already gridlocked with 3 lanes in each direction. It is a major artery to the freeway that gets people off of the streets. If a lane is closed, traffic is likely to spill into the neighboring streets in Bernal Heights and back up into Noe Valley.

I have proposed putting the bike lane on 26th St., which is residential and much calmer, seemingly an ideal place for bikes. But the Bicycle Coalition thinks it is slightly less convenient for them, so they keep pushing for the bike lane on Cesar Chavez. Also, Cesar Chavez has a lot of day laborers who get picked up on the street. Bike lanes would interfere with the day laborers. It is a completely bone-headed idea.

If you can't make it, please email Dept of Parking and Traffic and Tom Ammiano;;;

Here is a sample email that you can cut and paste:

I read the recent Chronicle piece about the Cesar Chavez "traffic calming project." This project is being forced on the neighborhood by the Bicycle Coalition against the wishes of the neighbors. The neighbors are all against this proposal to cut down the street from 3 to 2 lanes in each direction and to add a bike lane. The neighbors and drivers have all been advocating a bike lane on 26th street, a perfect compromise. Cesar Chavez is already backed up with an excess of traffic. Pedestrians and bikers can easily cross the street at all but one or two intersections, because there are traffic lights at nearly every intersection, every 50 to 100 feet. While the street could use some beautification, there is no need for "calming" or further congestion. The closing of traffic lanes at San Jose/Guerrero has already cut off a major access to the freeway. Closing down a lane on Cesar Chavez would further cut off access to the freeway and keep more traffic on the streets instead of on the freeways. Closing Cesar Chavez will further back up onto San Jose/Guerrero, clogging a street even more that is already clogged due to added bike lanes. It threatens the residential streets of Precita and 26th Street with increased freeway traffic. It also threatens to back up into other areas of Bernal Heights and Noe Valley. Finally, Cesar Chavez Street has traditionally been a street for day laborers. Placing a bike lane at the curb would make it difficult if not impossible for trucks to pick up day laborers, or endanger the day laborers by requiring them to run out into the bike lanes. It would be ironic if a street named for a champion of day laborers was made unavailable to them for the convenience of a few bikers, who, for some reason, find the perfectly reasonable alternative of a 26th Street bike lane to be less convenient. The Bicycle Coalition's adoption of Chavez's motto "si se puede" for this traffic-clogging project is a particularly painful irony.