Friday, August 19, 2011

Michael Bernick and the left

Once again Michael Bernick provides the city with a sensible perspective on a local issue. Back in 2004 he questioned San Francisco's interpretation of his "transit corridors" idea. A few years later the courts agreed, ordering the city to do an EIR on the aggressively pro-development Housing Element.

Next he supported the JROTC program in city schools. City voters agreed, passing Proposition V in 2008.

With an op-ed in the Chronicle this week, Bernick, a former BART director, provides some context for the disruptive BART demonstrations:

On Aug. 11, BART broke from past practices of Bay Area public agencies in responding to a threatened protest and system shutdown. Over the past decade, the local governments of San Francisco and Oakland, in particular, have responded to protesters shutting down public transit (and roadways) with a what-can-we-do? attitude. Protesters are allowed not only to peacefully protest, but also to conduct disruptions. Commuters, both on public transit and in cars, are considered secondarily, or not at all. Thursday, BART said, "Enough." It deployed a strong police presence at Civic Center Station to protect commuters. It also turned off cell phone access at the station to stop the increasing practice by protest groups of using Twitter and other social media to coordinate disruptions.

An apparent reference to the city's tolerance for Critical Mass, among other disruptive demos.

The ACLU and the Bay Guardian of course see BART's cut-off of cell phone access as a free speech issue. Apparently the imaginary rights of the demonstrators are more important than the interests of the thousands of working people who rely on BART every day.

Bernick's political education began in Michael Harrington's Democratic Socialist movement in the 1970s, a tendency that defined itself in opposition to the undemocratic Marxist left in the United States, whose banner is now carried by a small part of the country's left that's more anarchist than Marxist.

The interests of working people are apparently of no importance to these "activists."

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At 12:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good thing you aren't a "working person" anymore.

At 5:21 PM, Anonymous Reynaldo Perez said...

Generally speaking, I agree with this guy, but I think this article is still the best on the topic:

I can't stand the histrionic protesting, but the shutting off of cell service plays right into the wrong book.

At 12:32 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I disagree with the article you linked. Cutting off cell phone access is hardly "draconian." Nor were the demonstrators merely engaging in a "protest." They were using their cell phones to disrupt a system that carries more than 300,000 people a day.

It's bullshit to compare this small group of anarchists to people in Arab countries who face jail and even death when they demonstrate against undemocratic regimes.

The idea that passengers on BART have a Constitutional right to cell phone service is also ludicrous.


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