Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fang challenged by bike guy

An uninspiring race for the BART District 8 seat: Republican James Fang is being challenged by long-time San Francisco bike guy, Bert Hill, a member of the Bicycle Advisory Committee and favorite of the SF Bicycle Coalition. 

At least there's a real campaign going on in that district, whereas here in District 9 we're stuck with the anti-car Tom Radulovich.

From the Bay Citizen article this morning:

Fang’s opponent, [Bert]Hill, a former Bechtel engineer who runs a consulting firm called Bicycle Commuter Services, is mounting a direct challenge to Fang’s leadership. Hill, 62, said less money should be spent on big construction projects and more on maintenance, cleaning and connecting BART to buses and shuttles. “They’re too suburb, they’re too parking lot; they’re too focused on automobiles,” Hill said of the BART leadership. “They need to focus the money on catching up on deferred maintenance.”

I hate to say it, but I have to agree with Hill, in spite of his anti-car perspective. Rail projects are not only more expensive to build but more expensive to maintain (which is why the $2 billion subway to Chinatown is also a terrible way to spend our transportation money, since Muni struggles just to keep enough buses in service.)

But by playing the ethnic card gratuitously, the Republican Fang makes it harder for Democrats and independents to vote for him:

“Regardless of what people say about James Fang,” he said in an interview this week, “they do have to acknowledge that at least I know transit, and that’s good for San Francisco and quote-un-quote Asian-Americans.”

Does Fang really think he's representing "Asian-Americans" as a member of the BART board? Maybe Asian-Americans take some pride in the fact that he's an elected official, but it's his function on that board to represent everyone in his district and the people of San Francisco.

After his brother accused BART management of not properly featuring the Asian Heritage Street Celebration---which the general manager plausibly denied---Fang makes another ethnic reference that makes him sound like an even bigger jerk:

Fang said his actions at the meeting were not about his brother. “To ignore community events like this is not in the best interest of BART,” he said. “I will give them a little bit of a break because they’re white and they probably don’t understand how important it is for Americans of Asian ancestry to be valued.”

The political culture in San Francisco has enough problems without elected officials playing the ethnic card when it's not called for. Fang's boorishness is reminiscent of the Ed Jew scandal several years ago, when some members of the Asian-American community were hyperventilating and saying that Jew was a victim of racism, even that he was being "lynched."

Chinatown's Rose Pak had the last word on that argument: "I wish these people would stop talking so everybody doesn't think we're all morons."

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