Saturday, July 30, 2011

C.W. Nevius's quest for the "middle ground"

After his pathetic puff-job boosting Mayor Lee, I asked myself, What the hell has gone wrong with C.W. Nevius? I went back and reviewed my posts and realized that Nevius has never really been willing to challenge conventional wisdom in San Francisco. Even his columns on homelessness followed the lead already established by public opinion and Gavin Newsom. Those columns infuriated the city's left, but he was operating on politically safe terrain already well-plowed by Newsom and Care Not Cash.  

After the homeless columns, Nevius seemed to go downhill, with lame, fact-free columns on Parkmerced, the imaginary "development wars," and the bicycle issue. He dubbed Mayor Newsom "courageous" for his risk-free stand on gay marriage, and opined that we are all responsible for the Great Recession!

When he moved back to the city from the suburbs, I defended him from some nasty attacks:    

But the best thing about C.W. Nevius is that he's never seemed particularly interested in ingratiating himself with anyone, least of all the city's lefties. His offense in the eyes of his critics has been his relentless reporting on homelessness and quality-of-life issues in San Francisco that reveal city progressives as the clueless political tendency that they are.

That's completely wrong, except for the gibe at the city's left. The opposite is closer to the truth. Nevius is a consensus guy who likes to operate on safe, establishment-certified political territory. His take on the bike issue should have tipped me off. 

Nevius actually hates controversy and always looks for the middle ground, even when it doesn't exist---especially when it doesn't exist:

The bike-friendly city debate has fractured into lawsuits, name-calling and the inevitable rowdy meetings at City Hall---essentially losing sight of the middle ground that could lead to more reasonable and realistic bike policies. How did it get to this point? The same way as always: opposing groups of people who are absolutely, positively convinced they are right. Andy Thornley, the eminently reasonable San Francisco Bicycle Coalition program director, says the city has spent years making itself car friendly, and "now we should shape the city back to make it more convenient to walk or ride a bike."

Another common thread illustrated by the quote above: he never seems to read anything. He apparently just works the phones for his columns, schmoozing with a handful of people in his endless quest for the safe middle ground. That's why he's vulnerable to a bullshit artist like Thornley, who is more personable than Leah Shahum but still a relentless advocate for the coalition's anti-car, bicycle agenda.

Obviously Nevius is unfamiliar with any of the documents on the Bicycle Plan issue---the Plan itself, the EIR on the Plan, the litigation. And he apparently doesn't understand that there is no recourse under CEQA except litigation. If a citizen or a group thinks City Hall is breaking that law, he/they have to hire a lawyer and go to court.

His recent columns on bikes and The Wiggle and Mayor Lee were thus entirely predictable: now that the bike movement is clearly on the ascendancy and has the solid support of City Hall in its quest to screw up city traffic on behalf of that obnoxious minority, Nevius hops on the bandwagon. His earlier mildly critical column is no longer operative.

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At 1:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the ascendancy. I keep hearing from you "it's a fad" or "very few people can ride bikes" and now it's "ascendancy"

Keep circling your wagon (singular). It's not the streets that are going to be screwed...

At 7:17 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You put those statements in quotes, but they're not what I've actually written. The whole bike thing is in part a cultural/political fad, but, like tie-die shirts, it may be a permanent part of the culture as a transportation "mode" for those eager to be PC. But it's definitely a minority activity, which that minority is trying mightily to impose on the rest of us, one way or another.

It's only ascendant in SF in the sense that City Hall is determined to cater to that obnoxious minority at the expense and the convenience of the rest of us. That is, it's politically ascendant but not particularly popular with the majority.

Note too that the last bicycle count, according to the city report, tallied a miniscule gain in cyclists from the year before, which suggests that the fad may have already peaked here in Progressive Land.

You folks seem to think you're so adorable, but of course the Bicycle Plan---or even Critical Mass---will never be on the ballot for a citywide vote. Too risky, with a good chance of losing the vote. Where would the revolution be then?

Interesting to note too that a reporter for Bay Citizen is onto what the bike people are trying to do to Fell and Oak Streets. Seems like I'm not as alone as you had hoped.

At 10:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With Nevius until you are against him.

Nice to see you can admit you now disagree with your former self. Just waiting for you to come around on all the other issues as well.

At 10:31 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The only issues C.W. Nevius has been good on are the quality-of-life issues city progs are so bad on: homelessness, graffiti, and sit-lie.

"All the other issues"? You'll have a very long wait on that. Typical that your comment has no specifics, which is another thing you progs have trouble with.

At 11:54 AM, Anonymous bike-nut said...

Maybe if you got on a bike once, you'd come around as well.

The best part is, who gives a fuck if you support cycling, it is happening either way. The city supports it because it is smart fiscal policy. Stick-in-the-mud Rob on board or not, here it comes.

Side-note, Scott James is not a reporter, he is an editorial hack. He has about as much journalistic integrity as yourself, he just has a bigger platform (much to your chagrin).

At 1:13 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

We'll see how much "it is happening." Of course you have to denigrate Scott James, who, unlike Nevius and the rest of the city's mainstream media, questions the crackpot idea of jamming up traffic by the Panhandle. You question our "integrity," but of course you cite no specifics to justify the slur. It's so distressing to you and your comrades that not everyone thinks your transportation "mode" is the wave of the future.

I'm not at all "chagrined" that James has a bigger audience than I do. I wish him and Bay City well. It's good to have another voice to counter the Chronicle, the Examiner, the Guardian, and the SF Weekly, all of which give you goofies a free ride.

At 4:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder how long it'll be until Scott James gets on a bike and starts singing its praises as well.


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