Friday, January 02, 2009

Matt Smith on history and forgetting

Matt Smith urges San Francisco to "grow up" in the current SF Weekly. Always good, if futile, advice for the many Peter Pans here in Progressive Land. But Smith's idea of embracing maturity involves rewriting the city's recent history:

Gavin Newsom's Winter of Love, and the years of legal wrangling and civic celebrating that followed, offered the seductive equivalent of an escapist childhood fantasy. What's not to like about Rosie O'Donnell flying to San Francisco to get hitched? But this feel-good story had a dark side. The Winter of Love was the self-aggrandizing project of one man who seemed to have little strategic insight into advancing the cause of gay rights...By the fall of 2008, many had forgotten that the Winter of Love was not a carefully planned tactic for advancing gay rights. Rather, it was originally conceived as a political consultant's trick designed to rescue Newsom from a well-financed recall effort that was building force in spring 2004. By the end of 2008, San Franciscans were forced to realize that there was nothing to be gained by believing in gift-bearing fairy-tale princes, even one with a PR apparatus as aggressive as Gavin Newsom's.

I too had "forgotten" that "a well-financed recall effort" was building in the Spring, 2004, because it isn't true. Newsom was elected Mayor of San Francisco in November, 2003, and a recall movement was already underway early in 2004? I'd like to see some evidence for that. What I remember is that Mayor Newsom introduced his gay marriage initiative in February, 2004, a mere three months after his election and two months after taking office.

What Newsom's "PR apparatus" must be grateful for is that people have apparently forgotten how his gay marriage initiative helped re-elect President Bush, as Republicans promptly used the issue effectively against Democrats---there were anti-gay marriage initiatives in eleven states---to win another close presidential election.

Democrats, including Dianne Feinstein and Barney Frank, criticized Newsom after Kerry's loss to Bush.

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Cyclists trash city park

Cyclists behave badly on city streets and in city parks (see Examiner story below in italics), in the city and in the suburbs. A few years ago I wrote about how mountain bikers were misbehaving in Marin County's watershed, intimidating hikers and people on horseback as they pursue their speed and thrills hobby on hiking trails and fire roads.

Like their comrades here in SF, in Marin they also try to make their own trails on public property.

But at least mountain bikers, boorish as they can be, admit that their hobby is all about speed and thrills, unlike the cyclists in SF who get their kicks speeding down city hills, running stop signs, and scattering pedestrians in their wake.

Cyclists seek to lay claim to trails
By Beth Winegarner
Examiner Staff Writer 12/1/08

Some mountain-bike fans are pining for trails of their own in city parks, but others are taking matters into their own hands, cutting trails in remote areas that neighbors say cause erosion — and danger for the cyclists who use them.

San Francisco’s park system has multiuse trails for bicyclists, however, they’re shared with dog walkers and pedestrians — a setup that makes trails less fun for everyone, according to Dan Schneider, co-founder of SF Urban Riders.

Off-road cycling, including stunt cycling, has become more popular among residents, but San Francisco offers no dedicated space for them, he said.

“Multiuse trails can’t have any jumps or skills features, and you can’t go at the speed of your choosing,” Schneider said. “It’s just not fair or safe to anyone.”

The dearth of space for those pastimes have led some groups to build illegal trails, ramps and other features in treacherous parts of Mount Sutro and McLaren Park, according to Franco Mancini of Friends of McLaren Park.

Unknown cyclists dug trails in a remote area of McLaren and built ramps, chutes and other props for stunts, according to Mancini.

“Nobody objects to bicyclists in the park, but this can cause erosion,” Mancini said. “And if one were to get hurt, emergency personnel would take forever to find them and pull them out of there.”

The push for mountain-bike trails in San Francisco’s parks dates back 10 years or more, according to Andy Thornley, program manager for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. Mountain bikers worked with the Music Concourse Community Partnership to establish some trails within Golden Gate Park, but those plans have yet to move forward, Thornley said.

“There really aren’t many places in The City to legally ride off-road,” he said. “There’s a better job The City could be doing.”

Schneider has urged cyclists to approach Recreation and Park Department officials to ask for their own trails and features — and to work with The City’s nature stewards to make sure they don’t propose trails in environmentally sensitive areas, he said.

Those officials are hearing the call — and are willing to begin talks with bikers, according to Rec and Park General Manager JaredBlumenfeld.

“Mountain bikers want something in steep terrain, and BMXers want things that could be accommodated in neighborhood parks,” Blumenfeld said. “I think those activities will get integrated into our parks in some way.”

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