Friday, December 31, 2010

District 5 Diary Year End Awards for 2010

Bikes Uber Alles Award: Bike Lane on the Bay Bridge
The Bicycle Coalition supports adding a bike lane to the West span of the Bay Bridge regardless of the cost. Do I hear $390 million?

Suspicions Confirmed Award: MTA admits it has parking ticket quotas
The MTA doesn't use the word "quota," because that would be acknowledging reality. Instead it uses flab-gab and euphemisms: issuing more parking tickets is "catching up," a "recovery plan," or "meeting projections." Motorists in SF, however, are justified in calling it nothing but "a quota."

Rats Abandon Sinking Ship Award: Ross Mirkarimi, Jane Kim, John Rizzo, and Christine Olague
After left-wing Democrats took over the Democratic County Central Committee in 2008 and Barak Obama was elected president, these leftist politicians scrambled off the sinking Green Party ship and onto the Democratic Party bandwagon.

Chutzpah of the Year: Gavin Newsom lectures President Obama on political timing
In Feb. 2004 newly-elected Mayor Newsom allowed City Hall to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, handing Republicans an issue that helped them defeat John Kerry in November. Why he didn't wait until after the election in November is a question never answered. He gets this award for lecturing President Obama about timing on the same issue.

You're-Not-in-Arizona-Anymore Award: Police Chief Gascon
Early in 2010 our new Police Chief told the Examiner what everyone knows---that Critical Mass is unpopular in San Francisco, which is why progressives will do what they can to keep it off the ballot:
“I am not satisfied with Critical Mass,” said Gascón, who said he has been fielding complaints from drivers and bicyclists since becoming chief in August. “I get pounded regularly on both sides.” But apparently he gets pounded more often by motorists. Gascón said he thinks a ballot measure banning Critical Mass would pass with flying colors.

Gold Plated Bike Award: Channel 5's Joe Vazquez
Vazquez learned that the police escort for the monthly Critical Mass demonstration costs city taxpayers $10,000 every month. (Funny but the video and text of his story can no longer be found on Channel 5's website, which is why I linked Critical Mass supporter Chris Carlsson's story on Streetsblog.)

Best Thing Muni has done since 1960: the Next Bus system
The MTA didn't install this system in 2010, but they should be recognized for doing something to reassure would-be Muni passengers that eventually a bus will come. Next Bus is the most important Muni improvement since I first rode Muni in 1960.

Head in the Sand Award: Tim Redmond on Care Not Cash
Redmond upholds the official progressive line on Care Not Cash: it's nothing but a war on the poor. Honorable mention to Jennifer Friedenbach of the Coalition on Homelessness for also maintaining that fiction.

Hysteria About Imaginary Emergency Award: city's bike people on the Fell and Masonic intersection
In spite of all the demagoguery by the Bicycle Coalition, when you look at
the city's numbers, there aren't very many injuries to cyclists at that intersection. The City of San Francisco 2008 Bicycle Collision Report of February, 2010, tells us that there were a grand total of six "bicycle injury collisions" there in 2008, the last year for which the report had numbers.

The Mumia Abu Jamal Award: Asian Law Caucus, Bay Guardian, and Fog City for their defense of criminals who are Moslem
A mosque in Detroit was busted as a front for a theft and fencing operation. According to the Bay Guardian and the Asian Law Caucus, this was a great injustice, because these men are black and Moslem, which means they must have been innocent.

The Worst New Social Phenomenon in SF: the Cute Movement
The mission of the Cute Movement is to exhibit the cleverness of its participants. The annual pillow fight on the Embarcadero, which costs the city $35,000 to clean up, is an example. There's a lot of overlap with the anti-car bike movement, which means the Cute Movement includes Critical Mass, the bike people's traffic-snarling demo that costs the city $10,000 a month for a SFPD escort. And the annual PARK(ing) Day demonstration is part of this movement, which is nicely illustrated in a video the Cute People made of themselves a few years ago.

Another Political Failure for City Progs: the Community Justice Center
Another progressive failure on a quality-of-life issue, a subset of their failure on homelessness: If the homeless are just poor people who can't pay rent, and misbehavior on city streets is just an part of True City Living, then there's no need for the Community Justice Center. Everyone else thinks it's already been a success.

Another Warning on Highrise Development on Geary Blvd.
Think the Geary BRT idea is about transportation? Yes, but it's also about development, as a developer reminded us in a story in the Chronicle:
As for increasing the number of affordable units in San Francisco, there are many areas of San Francisco that could easily accommodate extra height. If, for example, on wide boulevards like Geary, you increased the height from 40 feet to 60 feet but required that 25 percent of the units built in the extra 20 feet be affordable, developers would voluntarily build those extra units.

Hands Across the Bottom Line: Bay Guardian and the SF Weekly
The two weeklies actually have a lot in common politically. (Matt Smith and Tim Redmond may be the same person. Has anyone ever seen them together?) The only significant difference between the two publications is their struggle for market share in San Francisco. But they managed to agree this year on running a tobacco ad.

Islamists Successfully Bully Comedy Central---and the media---again
Maybe those worried about Creeping Sharia in the US sometimes exaggerate the threat, but incidents like this---and earlier media spinelessness on the Danish cartoons---aren't reassuring.

The Democratic County Central Committee for Discovering a New Category of the Oppressed: Street Punks

Sense of Proportion Award: Steve Jones
I made this comment on the Bay Guardian's political blog in a thread about Afghanistan:
I understand that progressives agree with Osama Bin Laden that their country is the Great Satan, but I'd still like them to explain how allowing Afghanistan to be retaken by the Taliban won't threaten our national security, since the 9/11 attacks were planned there and the attackers were trained there.

Steve Jones responded:
You want a death toll in the millions to avenge an attack that killed 3,000 or because you're scared that someone might try to blow up an airplane or subway train every few years? You're insane! Have you no sense of proportion? Do you really think we'll just kill them all and live happily ever after? That's a children's fairy tale.

Right. All President Obama has to do is tell the American people that they/we just have to live with an occasional airliner or subway train being blown up, along with an occasional bomb on Times Square, etc. No doubt the public will appreciate his "sense of proportion." We should also abandon Afghanistan to the Taliban, so they can welcome al Qaeda back to plan more attacks on the US and Europe and train more fanatics to carry them out.

Profile in Lameness Award: Randy Shaw and Beyond Chron
For some reason Beyond Chron editor Randy Shaw thinks he has to filter out letters to Beyond Chron that contain political opinions he disagrees with. He evidently thinks his readers are so PC and sensitive they need to be protected from potentially unprogressive ideas. What's pathetic is that he may be right.

Bike Commuter of the Year: John Murphy
The Bicycle Coalition was right to choose Murphy as their Bike Commuter of the Year, since he often rides his bike 45 miles to his job on the peninsula, though his example is unlikely to be emulated by many people. Murph is also a Big Thinker who used to comment on this blog, but he's apparently given up trying to convert me to BikeThink, cruelly depriving me and my readers of his moral and intellectual guidance.

Buyer's Remorse Redemption of the Year: Sean Elsbernd
In 2008 Supervisor Elsbernd supported Prop. A, which put Muni salaries in the city charter. He redeemed himself this year by getting Prop. G on the ballot and passed by city voters.

Peace "activists" of the Year: the Turkish thugs who attacked Israeli commandos
Videos clearly show the vicious, unprovoked attack with iron bars and broken bottles on Israeli commandos by the so-called peace activists on the Mavi Marmara. But that couldn't convince anti-Israel "progressives" in SF. What are you going to believe, your lying eyes or your ideology? Choosing the latter was an easy call for local progressives.

Quality of Life Award: C.W. Nevius
For his fine ongoing work writing about homelessness, graffiti, and other quality-of-life issues in San Francisco.

Good Riddance Award: weekly demonstrations at the Arco station ended
The anti-car activists who tried to shut down entrances to the gas station at Fell and Divisadero finally gave up their weekly demonstrations. They wanted to eliminate the curb cuts on Fell Street, which would have forced all the station's customers to enter on Divisadero Street, causing gridlock on that already busy street. Even pro-bike City Hall refused to do that.

Demagogue of the Year: Ross Mirkarimi
Supervisor Mirkarimi was in full windbag mode when he encouraged civil disobedience at the Arco station, endorsing the idea of eliminating the Fell Street entrances and diverting traffic to Divisadero. He also opined that the German visitor who was killed by a drunk driver on Masonic was "murdered" by that driver. Mirkarimi would have won this award for the Arco bullshit alone, but he cemented his victory when, at a meeting on screwing up Masonic, he compared how the city is planning to screw up traffic on Masonic Ave. with the cosmetic makeover of Divisadero.
Martin Luther King Award: David Baker
Baker, on the Bicycle Coalition's board of directors, encouraged civil disobedience at the Arco gas station at Divisadero and Fell with this comment to Streetsblog:
The police seem to ignore the common sidewalk blocking by cars here, so it seems like a discriminatory action to arrest people but take no action to others violating the same law. Treatment of the protestors, handcuffed for hours, held in jail overnight, etc, seems out of proportion to the “crime”. Pretty much groundless harassment. Be interesting to see if the DA proceeds with prosecutions here if the arrested don’t accept plea bargains or fines. Might be a good lawsuit against the City in this. FYI, I just learned that in 1977 the ADA (American Disabilities Act) was signed into law after a 29 day sit in by disabled advocates at the Federal HEW offices in SF. Hard to equate these two issues, but civil disobedience has had it’s successes.

Jane Jacobs Award: Jack Fleck
As he was retiring, Fleck provided Streetsblog with an anti-car interpretation of the 1960s urban riots in American cities:
African Americans were pretty much confined to the inner city, at the same time the freeways were crisscrossing the cities and making them much less livable, destroying neighborhoods and creating noise and pollution and all of that, and they became like pressure cookers and they exploded, and so the inner city blight and the white flight were something I paid a lot of attention to in the '60s.

Dave Snyder Award to Cheryl Brinkman
After years as bicycle and anti-car advocate, Cheryl Brinkman has been anointed a transportation expert with her appointment to the MTA board.

Nikita Award: the author of questions in an SFCTA poll
This award is given in honor of its originator, Herb Caen, for an English sentence that could have been translated from the Ukrainian. This year's winner: a yes-or-no question from a poll commissioned last year by the SFCTA:
To provide loans to pay for seismic retrofits of certain multi-story wood structures at significant risk of substantial damage and collapse during a major earthquake and funded by a qualified governmental housing finance agency for permanent or long-term affordability, or single room occupancy buildings owned by private parties, and pay related costs, shall the City and County of San Francisco issue up to thirty nine million one hundred forty thousand dollars of general obligation bonded indebtedness, subject to citizen oversight and regular audits?

Best Safety Advice of the Year: Berkeley Wellness Letter
From the September, 2010 edition:
Always wear a helmet when you ride[a bike]. More than 67,000 cyclists seek emergency care for head injuries each year in the U.S., according to the American College of Emergency Physicians, and head trauma accounts for 75% of cycling fatalities. When used properly, bike helmets are nearly 90% effective in preventing brain injuries. ("22 tips for better cycling")

Worst Safety Advice of the Year: Chris Carlsson
Carlsson on not wearing a helmet when he rides:
It’s not a moral imperative to buy a commodity that offers meager protection in order to be critical of a ridiculously hostile road structure. You don’t deserve to die, or even suffer injury, just because you refuse the "common-sense Consumer Duty" to buy and wear a helmet.

By the way, Nils Linke, the German visitor killed by a drunk driver on Masonic Ave. in 2010, wasn't wearing a helmet. And no, that doesn't mean he deserved to die.

Wishful Thinking Award: Chris Carlsson
In the Bay Guardian: "There's no doubt we're going to have way fewer privately owned cars in our culture." In fact even in San Francisco there are now more cars registered than there were in the year 2000.
Worst New Idea for a City Department: Pavement to Parks
The idea behind this city department is that city streets are better used for something---almost anything---other than the city's traffic.

Density Exposed as Development Scam: Joel Kotkin
Kotkin explains why the assumptions underlying the city's planning policies are essentially about serving developers and the well-off.

Biggest Ass-kissing of the year: Phil Bronstein on Aaron Peskin
Bronstein did a replay of Chris Smith's 2007 smooch job on Peskin in San Francisco magazine, which I wrote about the year Chris Smith earned this award.

Billionaire as Sensitive Guy Award: Warren Hellman
Like a lot of people, all Hellman wants out of life is love and money. He's got the money, but he doesn't get the love when he tries to do something good for San Francisco.

Pork of the Year Award: High Speed Rail
California's high-speed rail boondoggle received $3.1 billion in federal money in 2010.

History Rewrite of the Year: Jason Henderson
Bike guy Henderson wrote a distorted, soft-focus history of UC's hijacking of the old extension site on lower Haight Street, absolving UC for its greed and lies about why it stopped providing courses for working people.

Carpetbagger of the Year: Jane Kim
Like other progressives in recent city history, Kim undermined the idea behind district elections by moving into District 6 and defeating candidates who had lived there for years.

Can't Flank Them on the Left: Local progressives on our allegedly spineless, sell-out, Republican president
When Obama made the tax cut deal with Republicans, local progs freaked out. My favorite headline was by Paul Hogarth in Beyond Chron: "The Day Obama Became a Republican."

Anti-Car Wet Dream Award: Congestion Pricing
A prediction: City Hall will never convince the people of San Francisco to pay a fee to drive downtown in their own city. A public opinion poll from a few years ago shows that the anti-car folks will have a hard time selling this dumb idea to city voters.

Most Fatuous Statement About Hayes Valley by a City Official: Rich Hillis
"At one time the freeway bisected the area and developing the parcels is helping to heal the neighborhood," said Rich Hillis, deputy director in the Mayor's Office of Economic and Workforce Development. "A lot of the changes in Hayes Valley were sparked by the removal of the freeway and we think the developments near Octavia Boulevard will close out a project that has been successful." (Hayes Valley land sales hint at real estate upturn, Robert Selna, San Francisco Chronicle, November 5, 2010).

See this also.

Most Fatuous Statement About Hayes Valley and Masonic Ave. by a State Official: Tom Ammiano
"Option C offers the type of sweeping changes needed to make Masonic a safer, calmer, and more livable street, one that would better serve pedestrians, cyclists, MUNI, drivers and the surrounding neighborhoods. In doing so, the plan would enhance th entire Masonic Avenue corridor in much the same way that the redesign of Octavia Boulevard did for the Hayes Valley area." (

Ammiano may be one of the few people in SF still willing to say that the awful Octavia Blvd. is something to be emulated. Option C for Masonic creates bike lanes by taking away all the street parking on Masonic Ave. between Geary Blvd. and Fell Street, doing away with the city's ability to create an extra lane on Masonic during commute hours, slowing traffic on this major North/South traffic artery (32,000 cars a day), including the popular #43 bus (12,000 passengers a day). Ammiano refers to Muni drivers but not Muni passengers, probably because he wants union support in future elections. He evidently assumes that Muni passengers won't learn about his betrayal of their interests, and he's probably right.

First---and Only---Publication of the Mohammed Cartoons in SF: District 5 Diary
None of the local newspapers and/or blogs and websites in the city have published even one of the cartoons, which you can see here. (The Philadelphia Inquirer congratulated itself for publishing only one of the drawings, but in the land of the blind the one-eyed is king.) The Guardian, Beyond Chron, and Fog City have apparently been too busy speaking truth to power---that is, to American power---to exercise their First Amendment rights or to defend those rights when they are threatened.