Saturday, January 31, 2009

District 5 Diary Year End Awards for 2008

Why Mayor Newsom appointed the SF Bicycle Coalition's Shahum to the MTA board in the first place is a bit of a mystery. For years the mayor has tried to placate the city's bike people, even though they surely all voted for Matt Gonzalez in 2003. The appointment of Shahum was presumably part of his 2007 re-election campaign, but the mayor must have realized his mistake soon after the appointment, when Shahum hammered him in the media.

Worst Personnel Move: Mayor hires Wade Crowfoot
Just what the city's bloated payroll didn't need, another overpaid featherbedder talking a lot of windy green crap. Crowfoot is now the city's "director of climate protection initiatives" at $160,720 a year. As an anti-car bike guy, Crowfoot quickly moved to ingratiate himself with the bike people with an interview with bike guy and SF Weekly columnist Matt Smith.

Most Shameful Celebration: Newsom and Mirkarimi after surrendering to UC
The six-acre property on lower Haight Street that used to provide university courses to working people has been zoned for "public use" for 150 years, it's a state and national landmark, and UC lied about why it wants to turn it into a massive housing development. Nevertheless, the city---led by Supervisor Mirkarimi and Mayor Newsom---is allowing a predatory UC to trash the landmark for a development that is much too large for a neighborhood already threatened by the destructive Market/Octavia Plan. The roll-over by Mayor Newsom and Supervisor Mirkarimi combined political spinelessness with poor planning that will only aggravate that area's traffic gridlock caused by the awful new Octavia Blvd. and the ban on right-turns onto the freeway from Market Street.

Dumbest Idea of the Year: Ross Mirkarimi
A year ago the SF Examiner accurately tagged Mirkarimi's idea of eliminating the traffic underpass at Geary and Fillmore as "the worst idea of the year." It's also the dumbest.

A proposal to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission last year to recommend state legislation to allow cyclists to treat stop signs as if they are yield signs.

Pangloss Award: John King
King won the first Pangloss award from District 5 Diary way back in 2005 for his fatuous column on the de Young Museum. This year he earns the award, first of all, for praising the ridiculous new Congregation Beth Shalom synagogue at Clement and Park Presidio. King rightly criticized the hideous Intercontinental Hotel on Fifth Street but added a prize-winning Panglossism: "It could be worse."

Alix Rosenthal, Amy Moy, and Micha Liberty cried sexism in the Bay Guardian ("Newsom's Woman Problem") when Mayor Newsom dumped four women from his administration, even though there's no evidence that gender bias had anything to do with his dismissals of Susan Leal, Leah Shahum, Roma Guy, and Debra Walker.

Crybaby Feminist, runner-up: Thea Selby
Selby wrote an op-ed for the SF Examiner complaining that women are under-represented in city politics:
Once you run, you need support. Even when we fielded candidates, our rate of victors was not as high as the number of candidates fielded. We should have won two or even three seats for supervisor. But we won one. This is evidence that women are not receiving the backing of the powers within San Francisco that have a great deal to do with winning elections. The Democratic National County Committee, made up of eight women and 15 men, for example, endorsed all men for the Board of Supervisors. What’s that about?...When the next round of elections comes, let’s have 50 percent of the candidates be women. That is the new world that I want to be a part of, one where all sorts of people are at the political table.
Like the women above, Selby apparently thinks women, just because they are women, should be holding office in San Francisco. Sorry, girls, but you have to earn it like everyone else.

Anti-Jihad video of the year: Fitna

Accessory of the Year for negligent, bike-riding parents: trailers for kids
As a father, it mystifies me why a parent of a small child would put the kid in one of those little canvas trailers and haul him/her around in city traffic. I even saw a moron hauling his child that way run a stop sign in front of my apartment. If putting your child in the passenger seat of a car is against the law, why is this legal?

Chumps and Cash Cows of this and every year: drivers in SF
Even city officials admit that it's city policy to make it as expensive and difficult as possible to drive in the city for car owners, truck drivers, bus drivers, and drivers of emergency vehicles. Which makes drivers primarily cash cows for the city, as the city brings in millions with traffic and parking tickets, even though there are 460,150 registered vehicles in SF, millions of tourists drive to the city every year, and all of our goods are delivered by truck. Even as it makes life difficult for city drivers, the city collects more than $150 million a year from parking tickets, parking lots, residential parking permits, and parking meters.

Ongoing Shell Game: affordable housing
Next time you hear one of our "progressive" leaders boast about a so-called affordable housing project, check the fine print. A developer can easily avoid building any on-site affordable housing simply by donating money to the Mayor's Office of Housing or promising to build it somewhere else.

Biggest Threat to the City’s Children: Safe[sic] Routes to school
It's one thing for adults---chronological adults, that is---to ride bikes in the city, running stop signs, scattering pedestrians in crosswalks, and risking life and limb to get wherever they're in such a hurry to get. But it's irresponsible to indoctrinate the city's children in this dangerous, PC hobby that they are trying to sell as a serious transportation "mode." Even the SF Bicycle Coalition complains about the lack of safety for cyclists in the city, so why do they want to expose children to those dangers? The answer: they are fanatics in the throes of a goofball ideology, as are the city officials who are collaborating on this bad idea.

The Market/Octavia Plan: the project no one wants to talk about
This city proposal to rezone thousands of properties in the middle of the city to encourage population density---based on a misinterpretation of the "transit corridors" theory---is rarely mentioned in either the mainstream media or the so-called alternative media, though I notice Matt Smith finally mentioned the project by name for the first time a few weeks ago. This awful project---pushed by the city's Planning Dept.---includes at least four 40-story highrises at Market and Van Ness. If you like Fox Plaza and 100 Van Ness, you're going to love the Market/Octavia Plan, which Supervisor Mirkarimi took the lead on pushing through the process.

Homelessness: Runner-up issue no one wants to talk about
No one but me and C.W. Nevius, that is. Nevius continues to perform a great public service on the homeless issue with his columns in the Chronicle, for which he receives a lot of abuse from city progressives, the same people who botched the issue and still resent Mayor Newsom's obvious successes in dealing with homelessness.

Worst Boss of the Year: Ross Mirkarimi
The stories about Supervisor Mirkarimi bullying his office staff are too persistent to ignore.

Worst Preservation "victory": the Harding Theater
Unfortunately, the derelict, undistinguished Harding Theater property on Divisadero has been "saved" again. Even Supervisor Mirkarimi---who backed the original preservation effort four years ago---supported the last attempt by the developer to make the property something other than an eyesore in the middle of the Divisadero corridor. Thanks a lot, Dave Tornheim.

It's not enough that they're screwing up the homeless issue, the housing issue, and traffic in the city. Our supervisors also feel compelled to tell us what to eat, what to smoke, where to smoke it, and where to buy it, etc.

Best Proposed Project: Whole Foods market on Haight Street
The old Cala Market property at Haight and Stanyan has been empty for several years now, and the Haight needs a full-service supermarket. We can only hope that HANC's opposition to the project will be rejected by the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors.

Panderer of the Year: Gerardo Sandoval
Sandoval, a dim bulb "progressive" supervisor for eight years, has been elected to a seat on the Superior Court, which, if nothing else, confirms the Peter Principle. He only won because a big chunk of city voters are the kind of progressives who go to the polls with the Bay Guardian's recommendations in hand. Sandoval ran a frenetic race, showing up at every political meeting in the city before the election. He won this award for shamelessly pandering to black voters: "We had a 14-year-old kid stabbed to death and it got a paragraph in The Chronicle," Sandoval said. "I think the community feels like these things are going unnoticed. I've been trying to get the mayor's office to react, but basically there's nobody home." Of course Sandoval had no particular policy proposals to deal with what I call the Punks with Guns problem. He just wanted black people in SF to know that he feels their pain, which, not coincidentally, happened to be just before the election.

Conservationists of the Year: the Fisher family
Since Don Fisher is a major bogeyman for the city's left, you won't hear much about how Fisher family money is playing a major role in bringing sustainable logging to Northern California.

Both the SF Bicycle Coalition's website ( and Peter Smith's Bike Blog ( feature a graphic that counts the days since SF has created a new bike lane: "956 days with no new bike lanes. What's taking so long?" Hard to say what these fanatics actually understand, but even they must know that the EIR on the Bicycle Plan ordered by the court will be completed later this year. It's a huge document as befits a huge, ambitious Bicycle Plan, which makes the graphic misleading and demagogic, encouraging the city's bike people to see themselves as victims of a city government that doesn't care, even though the city---the Planning Dept., the Planning Commission, the Mayor, and the Board of Supervisors---has given the bike people everything they've asked for.

Anti-climax of the Year: changes at the Fell/Masonic intersection
As I predicted, the new configuration of the intersection at Fell and Masonic has made little difference, since cyclists are still being injured there, as both cyclists and motorists continue to try to beat the traffic lights.

Hollow Boast: Ross Mirkarimi on the Market/Octavia Plan
That this awful project has a lot of affordable housing is what justifies it in the Murk's mind, but I can't find anything in the implementing legislation that guarantees a significant quantity of affordable housing in the project.

Flip-flop of the Year: Julian Davis
During the 2004 campaign for District 5 Supervisor, of the 22 candidates only Julian Davis and I opposed UC's land-grabbing development plan for the old extension property on lower Haight Street. Apparently Davis has had a change of heart and now supports the trashing of a state and federal landmark for a massive housing development on property that has been zoned for "public use" for 150 years. That's the conclusion I reached after learning that Davis was supporting Mirkarimi's re-election last year. I sent Davis this message but still haven't received a reply: "What about UC's impending ripoff of the old extension property? Note that Ross has rolled over on the issue after talking tough in the beginning, betraying the neighborhood and the people of San Francisco."

Silver Lining Award: the canceled highrise on Rincon Hill
Not much good ever comes out of a recession, but the cancellation of one of the highrises planned for Rincon Hill is one of them. Recall that three years ago Chris Daly declared the highrises on Rincon Hill a great housing victory for city progressives after he extracted higher fees from developers.

Electorate of the Year: San Francisco voters
City voters in November showed surprisingly good sense as they rejected---again---public power, legalizing prostitution, and the juvenile idea of naming a sewage plant after President Bush. They also voted for retaining JROTC in the city's schools.

Bike Nut of the Year: Peter Smith
Blogger Peter Smith is such a zealous bike guy he makes the SFBC look like a bunch of pro-car wimps. From his new blog:
You should stand up and take what is rightfully yours---a share of the road. You, biker person, deserve more of the road than any other type of user besides pedestrians. Period...If cars are in a hurry to get where they need to go, then...they can take the long route because they deserve to have a lower priority on the streets than we bikers do...[cyclists] deserve to be on that road more than any other road user, except pedestrians...The major roads of the city may currently be dominated by cars and buses and other assorted people-killers, but that can change...Cars and trucks are killers. Every time one is started, it poses a serious threat to the safety of human beings---pedestrians, bicyclists, and even other car and truck drivers and passengers. In a city, they should be used rarely or never at all.

Nikita Award: Sarah Palin
The Nikita idea is stolen from the late, great Herb Caen, who awarded it to those who wrote/spoke English sentences that seem to be translated from the Ukrainian. Supervisor Mirkarimi is always the favorite to win this one, but late entry Sarah Palin swept in during last year's presidential campaign and took the prize when she told Wolf Blitzer this:
"Sitting here in these chairs that I’m going to be proposing but in working with these governors who again on the front lines are forced to and it’s our privileged obligation to find solutions to the challenges facing our own states every day being held accountable, not being just one of many just casting votes or voting present every once in a while, we don’t get away with that."

Better Late than Never: Jake McGoldrick
The ads that cover the windows of Muni buses have long been a pet peeve of mine. After almost eight years in office, Supervisor McGoldrick spoke out on the issue, the only supervisor to ever do so, which only goes to show how insulated our policy-makers are from the public:
Supervisor Jake McGoldrick introduced a resolution asking Muni to refrain from wrapping buses in advertising that covers windows. McGoldrick said the advertising gives the feeling to riders that they are completely boxed in. "People who suffer claustrophobia or nausea cannot see out the windows," McGoldrick said, adding that it blocked the view of people in general who like to enjoy the beauty of the city.

Retrospective Planning Success: the Concourse garage
The 800-space garage under the Concourse in Golden Gate Park is clearly a great success now that the Academy of Sciences has reopened and, with the new de Young Museum, attracted huge crowds to the park.

Most Welcome Endgame: the Concourse garage litigation
The courts sensibly rejected the attempt by anti-garage lawyers to collect fees from the city, since they lost on every issue. The fee filing was the last of the litigation that tried unsuccessfully to stop construction of the garage.

Punk with a Computer of the Year: San Francisco Citizen
Jim Herd, behind the SFCitizen blog, is defiantly anonymous, which is fine as long as you post pretty pictures of birds and innocuous items about this and that around town. But when you go out of your way to insult someone, it's tough to justify anonymity. Nevertheless SFCitizen insisted on justifying calling me "Crazy" Rob Anderson in several items. Based on his intense interest in all things bike-related, SFCitizen is apparently a bike guy, and, like a lot of the city's bike people who comment on this blog, he's too chickenshit to put his name on his insults. He can't even bring himself to put his name on his lame posts to SFCitizen!