Friday, September 24, 2010

San Francisco's Tea Party, Part 2

It's ironic that I begin this post the day after Iran's president addressed the United Nations accusing the United States of engineering the 9/11 attacks, since I was about to link one of the city's primary leftist websites, Fog City Journal, that evidently agrees with the claim. Earlier this year Fog City ran a press release from the Asian Law Caucus protesting how the FBI infiltrated a criminal enterprise disguised as a mosque. 

To our local Tea Party---they call themselves "progressives"---the US government is the enemy, which is why no progressive media outlet even mentioned the intimidation of the world's media by Islamic fanatics several years ago.

On the local level, the progressive Tea Party supports legalizing prostitution, wants to throw JROTC out of our schools---our young people must be discouraged from serving in their country's military---calls graffiti/tagging art, and thinks convicted cop-killer, Mumia Abu Jamal, should have a new trial because, well, he's black and a Muslim and shot a white cop and therefore presumably innocent.

And Josh Wolf, who refused to give the federal Grand Jury a copy of a video he made of an anarchist demonstration, during which a city cop's skull was fractured, is a First Amendment hero. Peter Shields, the cop who was injured, is never mentioned by our Tea Party. 

District Attorney Kamala Harris even wrote an editorial in the Bay Guardian supporting Josh Wolf that didn't mention Shields. The issue was supposedly only about Wolfe's imaginary right, as a member of the media, to withhold possible evidence of a crime from the Grand Jury.

And then there are the city's bike people, who are now the activist wing of our Tea Party movement. They are saving the planet! They are fighting big oil! They are trying to get cars---aka, "death monsters"---off our streets! Critical Mass is of course an important part---and monthly rallying point---of our Tea Party movement.

SF Streetsblog is the best source for monitoring the bike wing of our Tea Party, since this is where the bike people talk to each other, struggle against the dominance of wicked motor vehicles, and make a note of every cyclist injured in a collision with a motor vehicle, much like the Newshour on PBS notes every American casualty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Peter Smith is my favorite bike nut. He used to do a bike blog, and I was sorry to see him stop, because he provided me with so much material. Smith is a ranter and a foamer-at-the-mouth, whose extremism goes unrebuked on Streetsblog. The city's recent approval of a shopping complex on the most derelict block on Market Street inspired Smith to rant about how evil it is to allow any more parking spaces in San Francisco:

adding any parking in the area is really an absurdity---it’s not even worth talking about. that we’re getting so much new parking added is really a crime against the City and its residents. it’s not yet actual assaults being carried out against residents right now/today, but as soon as the garage is operational we will be assaulted with/by cars/trucks/SUVs physically and psychologically.

Never mind that, as I say, the location of the project is on one of the worst blocks on Market Street, that the city is fortunate that anybody, in the deepest recession since the Great Depression, is willing to do something---anything---with that property. Allowing the developers a 188-space garage---accessible only from Stevenson Alley behind, not from Market Street---seemed like a small price to pay to the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors, but not to Smith:

these are real assaults that will be carried out, probably with impunity, by real people driving real, big motorized vehicles. and these assaults have now been granted legal status/sanctioning. That, to me, has to be a crime against humanity, by definition. even if Cheney didn’t order the smashing of some kid’s testicles, he created the conditions that made it possible, and so he should be held responsible. 

Our Supervisors just created the conditions that made it possible for us to be assaulted/humiliated/terrorized/killed/murdered. I’m fine if our Supervisors and The Developer get lawyers, but they should all be arrested and tried in a court of law. Someone has to be held responsible.

Allowing this major development parking for its customers is like Vice President Cheney's creating conditions that allow the smashing of testicles! Iraq? Afghanistan? The Patriot Act? Doesn't matter, the folks on Streetsblog know exactly what he means, because the bike people are victims of an oppressive traffic system that assaults, humiliates, terrorizes, kills, and murders them every goddamn day! 

Our leftist supervisors---who, by the way, have given the bike people everything they've asked for---should be arrested and put on trial! But Smith, struggling to simulate evenhandedness, will let them have lawyers, the bastards.

Smith will continue the struggle for justice for cyclists on city streets:

and we shouldn’t give up the fight. we should block development/use of the garage just like protesters are blocking the entrance to the Fell Street Arco Gas Station. we have to resist as much as we can, however we can. it’d be best to file a lawsuit now, in the early stages, before the assaults can even begin. 

I’d be interested in hearing more about any potential lawsuit. I got $50 for that effort. At a minimum, we have to increase the cost of harming the city. The lesson will be learned by developers quickly — cross us, and we’re going to Lawsuit City, regardless of whether or not the entire political establishment signed on or not.

Peter Smith throws down! Woof, woof! Here's his $50, dammit! The rest of you wimps, pay up! Of course that kind of litigation would cost tens of thousands of dollars, and Smith's anti-car comrades are unlikely to litigate over CityPlace, which has already done an EIR, been approved by the Planning Commission, and the Board of Supervisors just rejected an appeal. 

Arthur Levy might do a quick, pro bono appearance for Tom Radulovich and the anti-car folks at a hearing, but even he, the savior of the Harding Theater, wouldn't take the case without a lot of money out front.

But Smith tells us where the city's progressive Tea Party movement is going---toward more anti-car activism, with the Arco station at Fell and Divisadero as the current focal point for the city's Tea Party movement.

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On Chris Daly's resume: Front man for developers

Chris Daly talks to the NY Times about his chances of getting a job:

"There really is no job for me," he said. "What do you do when you are the most controversial figure in the city? I looked on Craigslist for jobs during Board of Supervisor meetings," he said. "There was nothing---absolutely nothing. Nowhere that would hire me." Daly's tenure on the board has been marked by his pursuit of various controversial initiatives. His robust support of tenant-friendly housing policies and his opposition to the sit/lie law, for example, have generally vexed the city's bourgeois and business classes.

But five years ago Daly helped developers push the luxury highrise condos on Rincon Hill through the process in a city that has a chronic shortage of affordable housing. The 40-story highrises the city is encouraging at Market and Van Ness might need a front man to smooth the way through the process, though so far the Planning Department is doing a pretty good job of that with the Market/Octavia Plan, a developer-friendly project full of incentives that are going to turn the middle of the city into a free-fire zone for developers.

Daly and other city progressives have been silent on this destructive plan, which leaves him an opening. He could use the formula he used with the Rincon Hill highrises: charge the developers higher fees, make a lot of windy statements about affordable housing and community benefits [Later: the Rincon Hill owners actually have paid for some of the promised beneifts, though it's not clear if any affordable housing was actually created], trot out the bogus "transit corridors" theory the Planning Dept. likes so much, and city progs will roll over again.

After all, uber-prog Supervisor Mirkarimi has been the point man for the pro-development Market/Octavia Plan, which already gives it a green patina Daly will find useful.

Aaron Peskin
will lend a hand, since his support was crucial to the Rincon Hill development.

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Hardly good for Golden Gate Park

Ken Garcia throws a bouquet this morning to Warren Hellman's annual free music festival, and it's not undeserved. 

But isn't it time to start considering the impact 700,000 people have on the park? Check out this website for some photos of what this and other events do to the park:

Hardly Strictly a musical gift to The City
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years since philanthropist-banjo player Warren Hellman came up with “this little idea’’ about throwing a free concert in Golden Gate Park featuring his favorite music.

“We had no idea what it was going to be,’’ he told me. “I thought nobody might show up.’’

Yet about 10,000 did, and then things started getting big. And when blues artists, rock and roll stars, soul singers and folk bands started asking to play, he had to come up with a new name. And that’s how the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival was born.

Hellman’s multimillion-dollar gift to San Francisco is now a tradition, a worldwide attraction and one of the biggest concerts in the United States. It arrives next weekend (Oct. 1-3) with more than 60 acts, including the legendary Doc Watson, Nick Lowe, Justin Townes Earle and Sharon Jones; the Dap Kings.

For a man who has made his fortune investing in companies, the festival is a testament to real growth. More than 700,000 people turned out one year and Hardly Strictly is now on the wish list for just about every musician in the country.

“The question always is should we have more days or more stages?’’ Hellman said. “But I think we’re probably topped out. The enormity of it now is just kind of amazing.’’

It’s also created a new social element for Hellman, who said he received the biggest compliment of his life recently after a performance by his band.

“Someone came up to me and said ‘Hey, aren’t you in The Wronglers?,’” he said. “In 40 years of investment banking, no one has ever recognized me.’’

He calls the music festival the “world’s most selfish gift.’’ Thanks to Hellman, it’s one that keeps on giving.

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