Monday, September 12, 2011

City's on cruise control heading for the rocks

Photo by Luke Thomas

For every election campaign, the most robotically ideological candidate is dubbed "RoboProg." Quentin Mecke earned the first tag back in 2007, and Rafael Mandelman in 2010. (John Avalos is the front-runner this year.)

Mayor Ed Lee can be described as a "progressive" everywhere else in the country, but not in San Francisco, so the RoboProg tag doesn't fit. But he's on automatic on every single issue that our ruling "Family" sees as official city policy: the Central Subway, the Bicycle Plan and anti-carism in general, the pension "compromise," Parkmerced, Treasure Island, the Market and Octavia Plan, allowing UC to rip-off the old extension property on lower Haight Street for a housing development, the $248 million street bond, the bogus "preservation" of Japantown, and, as a good Democrat, of course he supports high-speed rail. Even Burning Man is now endorsed by Mayor Lee. It's all good!

Mayor Lee is already good at talking while saying little, with a degree of garbled syntax and grammar only matched in City Hall by Supervisor Mirkarimi. But he's a Walter Mitty-like figure, who, when he talks shows why he should have remained a bureaucrat. He's piloting the city onto the rocks, but he's doing it with civility! One wishes Chris Daly was still around to tell him to go fuck himself.  

The Murk and Mayor Lee teamed up in Japantown for some vintage flab-gab early in the year, and when what they were saying was intelligible it was nutty. We must "preserve" Japantown, even though only 10% of its residents are of Japanese ancestry!

Lee displayed his talent for garbled hot air in the Bicycle Coalition's questionnaire, even though candidates have time to go over their answers before they submit them to Big Nurse Shahum:

Since the lifting of the injunction against the bike program[sic], implantation[sic] of the program has received priority at the SFMTA. I am committed to identifying ways to ensure that we can continue to provide quality bikeways throughout our city in addition to identify[sic] additional funding for our current maintenance backlog with existing programs.

Thanks for clearing that up, Ed.

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At 11:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Central Subway is about as pro-car as you can get. They are spending $1.6B+ to continue to allow cars to use the Stockton Tunnel.

At 12:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You only think that is [sic]. The Borg will assimilate you...

At 5:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where in the article about Japantown does it talk about "preservation"?

At 9:35 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The Examiner story I link in the original blog post had this quote from Mayor Lee:

"Lee said...San Francisco’s Japantown is the oldest of only a few such communities left in the United States...'I want to keep Japantown alive, keep it vibrant, just like I want to do in Chinatown,' Lee said."

It's not hard to find other accounts of the misguided attempt to "save" Japantown. See also this and this.

Saving/preserving small buinessnes and historic buildings in neighborhoods is a Good Thing, but it's misguided---and contrary to the national need to assimilate all groups into the common culture of the United States. Fortunately, as it turns out, only 10% of the residents of Japantown are of Japanese descent.

Hence, beyond helping small business and preserving some buildings, what City Hall is really doing is giving a boost to a marketing strategy for Japantown as a destination. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose, but the ethnic component is simply false---and ultimately misguided, given the American ethos of assimilation.

At 9:38 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I forgot to link the Japantown Task Force's pie chart on the ethnic makeup of Japantown.

At 11:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the American ethos of assimilation


At 12:47 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You've never heard of the "melting pot"?

At 1:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No comment on the CS being pro-car?

If Ed Lee really was "anti-car" or even "pro-transit", he would force all cars off Stockton.

At 1:42 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Only in your bike nut dreams will that happen. The more important point is that the Central Subway is bad for Muni given the scale of the investment. Most of the money to build the system will supposedly come from the Feds, but the city is going to pay between $123 and $200 million out of our limited transit money for the project. And the city will be responsible for the inevitable cost overruns during construction, not to mention the cost of operating the system after it's built.

For a system that's chronically underfunded and has serious deficits in its capital and maintenance budgets (see the Grand Jury report), the Central Subway project is indefensible.

At 2:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the Central Subway project is indefensible.

Yes, but clearly not anti-car.


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