Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Newsom should call the "Healthy Saturdays" bluff

The SF Bicycle Coalition and their allies in SF are poised to make another push to close part of Golden Gate Park to autos on Saturdays. In anticipation of Mayor Newsom's report on the study he promised when he vetoed the park closure ordinance several months ago, the SFBC make an empty threat to go to the ballot if Newsom doesn't toe the progressive line on the issue:

After Newsom killed the legislation, backers of the "Healthy Saturdays" plan contemplated putting the issue on the November ballot, but backed off at the last minute when Newsom said he would work on coming up with a negotiated compromise. And if that doesn't happen Shahum said, there is always next year's fall ballot---which just happens to be when the mayor's race will be decided. The Bicycle Coalition endorses candidates, and getting the group's nod of approval is coveted. "These politicians want to look green, and there are only so many things they can do at the local level," Shahum said.

Mayor Newsom should call their bluff, since city voters already rejected closing the park on Saturdays twice on a single ballot in 2000. (The numbers: Proposition F---which progressives supported---lost 55% to 45%, and Proposition G, which they opposed, lost 62% to 38%. And the anti-car folks have always opposed the underground garage, both before and after city voters passed Proposition J in 1998, 58% to 42%). The mayor needs to remember that these people didn't vote for him in the first place, and they never will. The SFBC and its allies all voted for Gonzalez. He'll be risking nothing by calling their bluff.

In his veto message, Newsom emphasized complaints about people parking in the contiguous neighborhoods when that part of the park is closed to autos on Sundays, which of course is an issue progressives never mention, along with access for families, the elderly, and the handicapped, who are not likely to cycle or rollerblade to the park.

BeyondChron, which rarely strays "beyond" the confines of the leftist ideological box, adds its amen to the current SFBC line:

Unfortunately, for now the Bike Coalition has been forced into a more passive stance due to circumstance. The coalition has had their hands full fighting an injunction against the city's bike plan. According to [Andy]Thornley, the ballot effort seemed like too much of a "stretch of energy and resources" given their current projects, but if some meaningful effort is not conveyed on behalf of the mayor's office by next summer the coalition is "very serious" about going to the ballot.

Woof, woof! Newsom should say, "Go ahead, punk: Make my day and take it to the People!"

Thornley is the same Bicycle Coalition guy the Bay Guardian quoted last year: "We need to take space away from cars." That's what this is really about, the continuing jihad against autos in San Francisco. These are the same people who opposed the new garage in the park, which was a $50 million gift to the city from the city's rich people. They hate anything that makes it convenient to drive in the city.

And there's this: The litigation is against the City of San Francisco, not the SF Bicycle Coalition, which is not a party to the suit, though the Bicycle Plan essentially represents the Coalition's wish-list.

See also this and this.

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"When Gangsta Rap Becomes Grim Reality"

The title of this post is taken from Chip Johnson's piece in yesterday's SF Chronicle. Johnson, who is black, describes one of the main causes of the Bay Area's chronic gun violence between young black men: the culture of thuggery and violence glorified in gangsta rap music and videos:

There isn't a city in the continental United States where teenagers have embraced the message of the gangster musician with more zeal than in Oakland, which has produced some of the most notable artists who make up the genre today. Unfortunately, the lifestyle glorified in the music videos is a dicey proposition in urban America, because some of our young people aren't just playing it---they're living it...But it's particularly galling to see corporate America cashing in on the carnage. I mean the record and fashion industries, and all the other companies promoting gangster-like behavior through the distribution of their products. It only makes matters worse. The kids on the streets of Oakland and other cities are just going along with what's hip and cool...

In an opinion piece in today's SF Examiner, Juan Williams, also black, is another soldier in the culture war that we all need to fight:

If systemic racism remains a reality, there is also a far more sinister obstacle facing African American young people today: a culture steeped in bitterness and nihilism, a culture that is a virtual blueprint for failure...The real question is how one does battle with the culture of failure that is poisoning young people -- and do so without incurring the wrath of critics who say we are closing our eyes to existing racial injustice and are "blaming the victim"...Incredibly, [Bill]Cosby's critics don't see the desperate need to pull a generational fire alarm to warn people about a culture of failure that is sabotaging any chance for black people in poverty to move up and help their children reach the security of economic and educational achievement. Not one mainstream civil rights group picked up on his call for marches and protests against bad parenting, drug dealers, hate-filled rap music and failing schools.

Why is it that we never hear city leaders or progressives even mention this aspect of the local gun violence problem? The SF Bay Guardian, the city's leftist weekly, even panders to the hip/hop, gangsta punks in its music section. White progressives wring their hands and shed crocodile tears every time another young black man is shot in SF, while refusing to acknowledge the cultural roots of gun violence, apparently because, as Williams points out, that would be "blaming the victim." But surely people in black neighborhoods dislike the gun play even more than the rest of us, since it's their communiy that's being held hostage by a small number of punks with guns.

There are no quick and easy solutions to the gun violence among young black men in SF, but the least we can do is recognize the important cultural dimensions of the problem. Like the struggle against the homicidal/suicidal Islamic crackpots, the cultural struggle against the violent, moronic gangsta/hip-hop garbage will be with us for a long time.

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