Tuesday, November 10, 2009

If Gonzalez had been elected in 2003...

Photo by Molly Riley

Randy Shaw has an airy hypothetical in BeyondChron speculating about the 2003 mayoral election: what if Matt Gonzalez had been elected instead of Newsom?

We know that Gonzalez wouldn't have been interested in stopping graffiti vandalism. Before he left office as District 5 Supervisor, he even hired a so-called artist to deface his office walls with juvenile scrawls typical of the genre.

And he didn't seem particularly interested in doing anything about homelessness in San Francisco, which is the main reason he lost to Newsom, who used Care Not Cash and the promise of a more aggressive approach to homelessness to win the election. Under a Gonzalez administration, homelessness would have continued to fester until the public demanded action to deal with the growing squalor on our streets and in our parks. Instead of considering policy changes, Gonzalez preferred indulging in pseudo-Marxist twaddle about the "root causes" of homelessness.

Shaw suggests that Gonzalez would have been better for developers than Newsom, but the latter has been aggressively pro-development. Newsom supports the luxury highrise condos on Rincon Hill, as did uber-progs Chris Daly and Ross Mirkarimi. Newsom supports the awful Market/Octavia project, as does Mirkarimi and other city progs. Newsom supports UC's ripoff of the old extension property on lower Haight Street, as does Mirkarimi and other city progs. Is there a single progressive leader in SF that opposes these massively grotesque projects? I don't know of a single one. Like other city progs, Gonzalez would have probably bought into the half-baked Planning Dept. "transit corridors" theory that says we can overdevelop our neighborhoods---including residential highrises!---along our primary traffic arteries.

And of course the bicycle fantasy would have been a top priority for a Gonzalez administration just as it has been for the Newsom administration. Gonzalez, like Newsom, would have pushed the Bicycle Plan illegally through the process only to be rebuked by Judge Busch. Before Supervisor Mirkarimi became the errand boy for the Bicycle Coalition, Gonzalez performed that function.

Gonzalez probably would have made the gay marriage initiative, but he might have timed it better than Newsom, whose early 2004 move helped re-elect George W. Bush in November of that year.

The only important policy differences between Newsom and Gonzalez: homelessness and graffiti/tagging vandalism. The quality of life in SF would have continued to degenerate under Gonzalez, whereas Newsom has had some success in dealing with homelessness and is waging a serious fight against graffiti vandalism.

Shaw's current piece is fact-free, much like his empty riff on the marijuana clubs several years ago wherein, in support of Chris Daly, he relied on suspiciously anonymous "progressive" sources to oppose regulating the pot clubs.

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