Saturday, March 17, 2007

Healthy Saturdays already rejected---twice

The thing the supporters of Healthy Saturdays---the proposal to close part of Golden Gate Park to autos on Saturdays just like Sundays---hate to discuss is the fact that city voters already rejected the idea twice in November, 2000. The votes weren't even close on either Proposition F---the "progressive," close-it-sooner proposition---or Proposition G, the let's-wait-until-the-garage-is-built proposition. 

Voters evidently didn't care about such refinements as six-month trials or whether the new garage was open or not: They rejected both propositions decisively. The only reasonable interpretation of the votes: city voters don't want to close Golden Gate Park to motorists on Saturdays.

The numbers for Proposition F: 162,895 voted "no" and 133,808 voted "yes." The numbers for Proposition G: 177,667 voted "no" and 109,486 voted "yes."

Note too the numbers on another election result the Healthy Saturdays folks hate: Proposition J in June, 1998, authorizing the construction of the underground garage in Golden Gate Park. It wasn't close, either: 104,069 voted for the garage, and 74,985 voted against it. 

The thing often overlooked in the usually uninformed discussions of Prop. J is that access to the park for everyone was an important element of that proposition.

The new study that looks at only two weekends last August doesn't help much in deciding the issue, though it does show that parking and traffic impacts on the surrounding neighborhoods---one of Mayor Newsom's concerns in his veto message last year---are apparently minimal. 

But the important access issue remains, regardless of whether the city institutes a shuttle for the handicapped or not. Driving into that part of the park will always be the best way to access the park for the handicapped, the elderly, and people with small children.

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At 11:54 PM, Anonymous margie said...

Rob, I don't know how to blog been trying for 3 hours. trying again

The recent so-call compromise was a sham. It was a rout by 7 members of the board of supervisors and the Bicycle Coalition. The coalition already had the supervisors locked in to the closure so that the side representing the voters decision was forced into an unequal treaty. Some of us are fighting back and trying to reclaim democracy by recalling a "rogue" supervisor in district 1

At 6:55 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Message received. I'm not surprised to hear your comments on the "sham" negotiations. The Bicycle Coalition has had a lock on city government for some time now, and Supervisor McGoldrick has been their most zealous advocate on the board. As you know, if we could get this issue on the ballot, the bike crackpots and their enablers in city government would be rejected---again. Good luck in recalling him. If there's anything I can do to help, let me know.

At 8:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob, hope you get this followup long-winded discourse. I wrote it following the sham compromise to vent my feelings, but didn't know what to do with it Hope you can find an audience in the blog. Thank you for having the courage to speak out against the excesses of the SFBC. I joined the group to recall McGoldrick who turned out to be a bigger liar than I could ever imagine.

04/15/07 Golden Gate Park Road Closing – Board of Supervisors disregards voters

To the People of San Francisco and Interested Parties in Upholding Democracy

There are two kinds of people in San Francisco, those that subscribe to “people count” and those that practice “ME first.”

People count: “ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” President John F. Kennedy 1961. Age 43

ME first: “we want John F. Kennedy Drive for ourselves—we care nothing for the elderly, disabled, children and low income families, and everyone else.”
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition 2007. Ages 25-45 (aided and abetted by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Age 5 and below)

I am a product of “people first.” I am bewildered by the ME first people; how can the current Board of Supervisor stray so far from JFK’s legacy.

In one generation that a torch has been passed to a new generation, President Kennedy’s call which inspired a whole generation of caring and selflessness has been supplanted by the “ME first” San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. The legacy of JFK spawned a myriad of social programs: the Peace Corps, Medicare, Social Security expansion, Older Americans Act, American with Disabilities Act, SSI and Civil Rights. This spirit of caring has been replaced by a few who preach “Healthy Saturday” as a way to grab the park for themselves and exclude everyone else, especially the most vulnerable in the City.

Yesterday, Mayor Newsome announced a compromise on the Golden Gate Park Road Closure after fifteen hours of negotiations. I was shocked. Why a compromise when the voters have twice rejected closure by a large 2/3 majority. Did anyone consult the People who have already said “NO” loud and clear? It was not a compromise; it was a rout by the Bicycle coalition and its leader Supervisor McGoldrick. The voters’ trust in elected officials was met with betrayal; democracy is a sham in “liberal” San Francisco.

Seven supervisors, under pressure from a small group in the Bicycle Coalition, had already decided to thumb down on the electorate, so that the April 9th hearing on this issue was also a sham. There were only three heroic supervisors who stood tall and firm in support of our precious rights. The negotiations, mediated by Mayor Newsome’s staff, was a contest between everyday working people representing the voters and the powerful dictators representing the Bicycle Coalition. It was might that prevailed, not right. Try to rationalize that to immigrants who might have come here in search of freedom and been told they have a voice in this country. Through the tactics of the Bicycle Coalition, we’re being governed by a few dictators in San Francisco.

There was absolutely no reason to question or amend the voters’ decision; no impact on the environment, the number of cars on the road is not reduced, and many people are hurt by the closure. But none of these powerful and valid arguments make any difference to the dictators who continue to hammer away at individual members of the Board until they wore them down. The SFBC has our Board of Supervisors lock, stock and barrel; the people did not matter. When I asked one supervisor why the people’s vote does not count, his answer was “Healthy Saturday”, which translates into “the SF Bicycle Coalition’s got me.” Or they’ll say “we’re still evaluating the proposal” meaning, I’m afraid to say anything because the Bike people have their spies all over and some live in City Hall. Other times there was dead silence. I finally got the meaning of our deaf and dumb supervisors; for some their career was at stake and it was easier to sacrifice the people and appease the bullies. These are our elected officials sworn to uphold the law?

I conducted by own informal survey just to get a feel for the People of both the “for the people” group and the “ME first” group.
• I question a young “Healthy Saturday” person about the effect on the disabled. Her answer was: “let them walk; they need the exercise anyway, it’s healthier for them to walk.” Comment: “let them eat cake.”
• Another “Healthy Saturday” person said a woman told him he was selfish because he supported closure. He did not have a clue as to why the woman felt that way. Comment: This lack of empathy in one so young does not bode well for our City.
• I mentioned to another “Healthy Saturday” girl that people from the Mission and Bayview have to drive to get to the Park because public transportation is so inconvenient, and many have families. Her answer: “those people” should take the bus and “those people” don’t go to the park anyway. Comment: When did our Civil Rights law which prohibits discrimination against targeted groups, and by extension to afford them equal treatment become so eroded?
• The “for the people” individuals all responded as expected with the message: We need to consider the needs of all people. Many felt that the Sunday and holiday closures are enough.

San Francisco has the most diverse population of any city in California with more than 50% minorities, the vast majority is in the low income bracket. Their primary participation in democracy is through the vote. The Bicycle Coalition membership is not representative of the population of San Francisco and yet seven members of the board of supervisors chose to violate the people’s trust in the system.

McGoldrick and his group never took the elderly, disabled, etc. into consideration last year when they introduced similar legislation to close the Park. His sudden discovery that an ADA law exists caused McGoldrick to scramble for City funds to comply with the law. The needs of the 2/3 majority who voted against closure, most of whom are wage earners and work long hours to make ends meet, were ignored and no accommodation was even considered. Instead of rejoicing in a dishonest “victory” and gloating, I believe the SFBC should examine what this country is all about. I’ll give you some food for thought in my Open Letter to the SFBC.

To the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC):

I believe you should share this message with your members so they are fully informed of the actions of the Executive Director and Officers who elevate their own interest at the expense of democracy. Their action in pushing the Park issue in defiance of the people of San Francisco is discriminatory in the fullest sense and Gestapo in execution.

The SFBC can claim victory in coercing the Board of Supervisors to accede to your demands and a willingness to sacrifice the voters. I hope you take satisfaction in obstructing freedom, thwarting the will of the people. The people did not ask for much; just leave a small part of the Park free so all of us can enjoy it just as you do. The park is large enough to give you full access to other equally desirable locations. So why do you need to push everyone else aside just to get the best part for yourself? We, who care about people want everyone to have unrestricted access. In addition, our primary duty should be to the voters, many unlike the SFBC people, have very little to celebrate or look forward to in their lives. Your insistence on this choice parcel of land when there are equally desirable alternatives is nothing more than a power grab by an insensitive organization who can and will bully the weak and helpless.

I care about people and will speak out in denouncing the SFBC as insensitive to the underprivileged and those who elderly and disabled. In fact, your insensitivity has racist undertones, given the ethnic makeup of San Franciscans. The groups you hurt are:

Seniors: Our seniors come from diverse backgrounds and each has contributed to this country and laid the foundation for the benefits we (you too) enjoy. We value them in all their wonderful cultures and the care they have shown toward others. You will one day be in this category and I hope that the next generation will treat you better than your treatment of our seniors. Their pleas to keep the park open have been met with stoic indifference by the SFBC. Keep in mind many seniors have lost spouses, children, relatives, friends in the service of our country while you enjoy your healthiness.

The Disabled: You should not require an ADA law to recognize the rights of this group. Since it is so relevant today, may I remind you that some the disabled are veterans, and I have viewed numerous medical files of young men who lost limbs and other organs in fighting for our country. Can’t you find it in your heart to just leave the Park open so that we need not make reasonable accommodations? Health Saturday is an insulting rallying cry for this group who are unable to bike or skate. Many go strictly to visit our institutions and need unrestricted access. Your “Healthy” propaganda is forcing the City to use funds to comply with minimum ADA requirements, just so you can indulge in your exclusive pleasures.

Minorities/immigrants: Your disregard of working immigrants who need to use their automobiles to carry their tools around to earn a living is callous and discriminatory. In fact some SFBC members who enjoy “Healthy” days are able to do so only because this group works on healthy days to do the chores you otherwise have to do yourself.

For the residents of Bayview and the Mission, many who live in crowded and substandard housing, the closure is akin to a Berlin wall. Such a barrier which restricts access to a large group protected under the Civil Rights Act, is discriminatory. The remark by one of your members (she was with your Executive Director when the remark was made) referring to the residents of these communities as “those people” is cruel and insensitive.

The “I” word: Most “for the people” individuals use the pronoun of “you” or “they” when discussing an issue that affects people. The only pronoun for SFBC people is “I,” as in I want a quiet park; I like healthy Saturday. Sandoval and McGoldrick are particularly prone to the “I” syndrome.

I have friends in the Bicycle Coalition and the Sierra Club; after all I have been a 40 year member of the Sierra Club and other environmental organization. Check your members and you may find there are many responsible and caring members who believe the overreaching of your leaders does not reflect their views.

Margie Hom (an advocate for the powerless in the City and a strong environmentalist)
For the People


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