Monday, January 07, 2013

District 5 Diary's Year End Awards for 2012

Dog Ate My Homework Award: SF Chronicle editorial writers
Even after four years of bumbling, wasteful spending, and outright lies by the California High-Speed Rail Authority, the Chronicle's editorial writers started 2012 off by supporting that boondoggle. That the authority still doesn't know where it's going to get the money to build the system didn't deter the Chron from packing a lot of ignorance into these three sentences in a January editorial:
There are compelling reasons to build this system, despite its considerable price tag. California is likely to continue to grow, and the pressures on its environment and transportation systems are only going to intensify. High-speed rail is not without risk, but even riskier would be a future without a fast, green mode of transit between population centers.

These falsehoods have been repeatedly refuted by critics of the project here, here and here. But progressives and liberals in San Francisco continue to support this project, along with the unions, since even dumb, wasteful projects create jobs for their members---and, importantly, political support for Democratic Party candidates during elections.
Most Encouraging Sign of the Year from City Neighborhoods: Growing opposition to parking meters

Gold Shovel Award to city leaders who kept digging a money pit known as the Central Subway.

A Piling On Award to the Huffington Post's Carly Schwartz for her piece on Mirkarimi. Schwartz had nothing new or interesting to say on the subject. She just wanted us to know that she too was "sadly" joining the anti-Mirkarimi media mob:
And now, sadly, I count myself among the ranks of San Franciscans who believe the time has come for our sheriff to step aside. At least until this whole mess resolves itself...Local and national commentators weren't shy with their opinions, and the chorus of cries for Mirkarimi's resignation grew louder and louder until it completely drowned out his steadfast claims of innocence.

Forest and Trees Award to the New York Times for its obsessive-compulsive attention to trivia while being dumb on important issues, like high-speed rail. The Times is careful to include the middle initials of people it writes about even as it gets the larger issues wrong.

Abu Graib Award to Madonna
Her appalling performance at the Super Bowl was so bad it damaged the country's image more than anything since Abu Graib.

A Daly Award to Christina Olague and London Breed for their use of "fuck." The new equality: women can now be as vulgar as the guys.

If the folks in Portrero Hill and Dogpatch achieved nothing else last year, they annoyed anti-car MTA board member Joel Ramos, which was good to see. Ramos was provoked into making a dumb threat: If you don't allow parking meters in your hood, the poor will suffer! Ramos and the MTA board are presiding over a bloated city agency that has more than 5,000 employees:
I thought that a lot of the tenor that was coming from the community was rude, to put it nicely. I certainly hope that we can move forward in this conversation with a little more respect with one another...From the way that I see it, we are looking at a budget deficit, and if we don’t get this hole addressed it’s going to translate to service cuts and that translates into attacks on our most vulnerable population.
Another Dog Ate My Homework Award to the local media for failing to do any analysis of the inflated claims by the Bicycle Coalition and City Hall about a nonexistent huge gain in cycling in the city.

Deja Vu Award: Congestion Pricing is still unpopular
Chamber of Commerce poll finds that 75% of city residents still oppose paying a fee to drive downtown in their own city. 
Another reason women don't ride bikes in SF:
It's bad for their sex lives just like it is for men. 

Spock Mind-Meld Award to the SF Examiner
Since the Examiner and the Bay Guardian are now in business together, the Examiner has adjusted its politics accordingly here and here

Nice Try Award
Years ago Supervisor Mirkarimi and then-planning commissioner Christina Olague "saved" the Harding Theater from being turned into housing and retail space so that it could continue to blight the middle of Divisadero. Some people in the neighborhood tried to do something about that last year, but their effort, alas, came up short.

Divisadero Lie Lives On
Gussying up Divisadero Street a few years ago was good, since the street badly needed repaving. The other changes that came with that project are dubious, including the bulb-outs at bus stops that often trap unway motorists behind the #24 when it stops to pick up passengers. But it's a lie---one made earlier by Mirkarimi and Michael Helquist---that Divisadero was put on a "road diet," since no street parking or traffic lanes were removed by the project. The falsehood was repeated by the Examiner last year.

Gold Time Clock Award: City Attorney's Office
Those trying to prevent Ross Mirkarimi from being railroaded by Mayor Lee and City Hall learned that the lawyers in the City Attorney's office are always on the clock, win or lose. They racked up a lot of hours at taxpayers' expense during the grotesquely prolonged and unsuccessful attempt to destroy Mirkarimi. We learned the same lesson during the Bicycle Plan litigation, as the city spent years fighting what they knew was a losing battle because  they get paid even when, for political reasons, they litigate dumb and losing cases.

GroupThink Award: Candidates for District 5 Supervisor
All the candidates groveled before the Bicycle Coalition. Only Hope Johnson ventured a few timid dissents from the coalition's anti-car agenda.

Nose Ring Award: The Board of Supervisors
The supervisors allowed themselves to be muzzled and led around by the nose by lawyers during the prolonged attempt at destroying Ross Mirkarimi. They subscribed to the legal fiction that they couldn't comment on the issue while the attack was in progress. They even hired an outside attorney to muzzle themselves.

Golden Bike Lane Award: The Bicycle Coalition
Apparently no price is too high for attaching a bike path to the west end of the Bay Bridge. The estimate for that project has now reached $1 billion, but I bet the Bicycle Coalition still thinks it's a good idea.

Bullies of This and Every Year: Critical Mass
In 2012 the Critical Mass folks celebrated 20 years of successfully bullying the people of San Francisco.

Best Bike Report of the Year: "State of Cycling Report"
The MTA may be a bloated, ineffectual bureaucracy, but it has some people writing useful but widely ignored reports, like the Transportation Fact Sheet and The State of Cycling Report of 2012. The latter completely refuted the myth that cycling in San Francisco has grown greatly since 2000. The report actually walked back the city's earlier inflated claims of 6% of all trips in the city by bike back to 3.5%, which of course was ignored by the local media.

Biggest Continuous Flop: Question Time
Question time was born years ago in Chris Daly's fevered imagination as an opportunity to get Mayor Newsom to submit to a regular pummeling by progressive supervisors. What city voters finally approved has turned out to be a boring and useless waste of time for everyone. The main reason that's true: there are actually very few significant political and policy differences between the Board of Supervisors and the mayor.

When Smart People are Dumb Award: NY Times on bikes
As good party line liberals, the folks at the NY Times want to support the trendy bike movement, but their actual reporting on the issue gets in the way.

Purple Prose Award to John King
For his column on a proposed highrise at Market and Van Ness, which he described as "a lithe figure in a slit gown of sheer glass," and "a tall tapered cone wrapped in what now is mullion-free glass, broken only by two slits from base to sky that would emphasize the sleek height," and "the sinuous tower has the weightlessness of an apparition." What should we call this? "Archiporn"?

Another Golden Shovel Award to unions for their support for both the Central Subway and high-speed rail projects here and here. Their support for these boondoggles illustrates this eternal truth: even dumb projects create jobs. Wasting taxpayers' money is of course not a serious concern to the unions.

Stupid Slogan Morphing into Bad Public Policy:
City Hall's "20% by 2020" slogan is red meat to the city's bike zealots, but anyone who looks at the numbers understands that it's impossible to achieve. Even the Bay Guardian questioned the policy.
Worst Idea of the Year: Rich Hillis and "upgrading" Fort Mason
Hillis takes over as administrator at Fort Mason and immediately begins promoting the idea---and, in the process, himself---of a design competition to change the already-wonderful Fort Mason. Terrible idea and, almost as bad, self-promoter Hillis is now on the Planning Commission.

History Rewrite Award: Beyond Chron's Randy Shaw
In a piece throwing Ross Mirkarimi under the bus, Shaw's silly interpretation of Mirkarimi's career as supervisor, which was supposedly all about plastic bags.

Biggest Ass-kissing of the Year, SF Weekly on Enrique Pearce
The Weekly noted that Pearce helped elect Ed Lee mayor, Jane Kim supervisor, and managed Olague's campaign. Idiotic last sentence in the story: "Some may complain about the methods, but it's hard to argue with the results." Managing Olague's losing campaign didn't do any damage to the city, but electing Lee and Kim were results that surely did.

Most Unpopular Neighborhood Bike "Improvement": The Wiggle
The city designed the Wiggle to make it easier for cyclists to speed through the lower Haight neighborhood on the way to Market Street. In 2012, consulting only the Bicycle Coalition, the city put garish green signs on the streets of the Wiggle, which annoyed even cyclists who live in the neighborhood.

2012 a Bad Year for the Gang of Four
Recall that three years ago the Gang of Four---Mirkarimi, Jane Kim, Christina Olague, and John Rizzo---all abandoned the Green Party when being a Democrat became fasionable again in San Francisco after Obama was elected president. Olague and Rizzo lost elections last year, and the City College meltdown didn't help Rizzo's image. Kim continued providing evidence for the suspicion that she's in over her head as a supervisor. She voted to allow Mirkarimi to keep his job as sheriff, while supporting a recall election. If his offense wasn't enough to throw him out of office, how can a recall be justified?

Most Successful Predator: the City of San Francisco
According to the Transportation Fact Sheet, San Francisco brought in more than $174 million from its parking lots, parking meters, parking tickets, and residential parking permits. It takes in twice as much from parking tickets as it does from parking meters. The Fact Sheet doesn't tell us what the city makes from the cameras at intersections, like the speed trap at Fell and Masonic.

Pseudo-intellectual of the Year: Ivory Madison
Madison lived out her feminist fantasies by reporting Mirkarimi to the cops. We later learned about her intellectual ambitions and achievements, including writing comic books.

Sore Loser of the Year: Tony Winnicker
Winnicker after Supervisor Olague voted to allow Mirkarimi to keep his job: "As your constituent you disgust me and I will work night and day to defeat you. You are the most ungrateful and dishonorable person ever to serve on the board. You should resign in disgrace." Still unexplained: why Olague's vote can possibly be seen as either "ungrateful" or "dishonorable."

Worst Political Interpretation of Year, Olague's Mirkarimi vote:
Tony Winnicker (see above) C.W. Nevius, and Randy Shaw, among others in the local media.

Worst Political Decisions: Mayor Lee on Mirkarimi and stop-and-frisk
Mayor Lee's attempt to remove Mirkarimi from office was the worst political decision of the year and the easiest one to avoid, since all he had to do was nothing. The second worst decision: after talking to New York's Mayor Bloomberg, Lee was convinced that the stop-and-frisk policy was a great idea for the city, even though it had already been completely discredited in New York city as flagrant racial profiling.

Least Credible Public Relations Campaign: Bicycle Coalition on scofflaws
The SFBC's PR campaign against cyclists who behave badly came after cyclists killed two pedestrians on city streets.

Creeping Sharia Award: SF Weekly's Erin Sherbert, Muni, the Bay Guardian, and KQED
For their mindless dither about the anti-Jihad ad on Muni buses. Apparently our official multiculturism requires tolerating terrorism and ignoring the First Amendment when someone says something local progs don't like.
Unreported Story of the Year: City's increasingly safe streets
To hear the special interest group lobbyists from Walk SF and the Bicycle Coalition tell it, there's a bloodbath happening on city streets because of those devilish motor vehicles. According to the city's latest collision report---and reports from previous years---our streets have actually been getting safer over the years.
Dumbest Comment on Sit-Lie: Jeff Adachi
The usually intelligent Adachi made this surprisingly dumb comment: "The sit/lie law was from the very beginning promised as a panacea for the city's homeless problem, and it really isn't." I don't know of anyone who made that claim. The sit-lie problem has always been about street punks who sleep in Golden Gate Park and then camp out on Haight Street during the day to panhandle for money for drugs and alcohol. 

Slow-mo Ripoff of the Year: UC of the Extension property on lower Haight Street
The Planning Commission okayed UC's ripoff of the extension property for a large housing development on the six-acre property that was zoned for "public use" for the previous 150 years. UC couldn't have gotten away with it if City Hall had refused to give it the required zoning change. Housing developments are so much more profitable than providing college courses for working people. This shameful loss of public space was brought to you by Supervisor Mirkarimi and city progressives, including the city's gay leaders, Bevan Dufty, Tom Ammiano, and Mark Leno. Some housing for gay seniors gave our spineless progressive leadership a PC fig leaf to hide behind as they betrayed the interests of the people of San Francisco
Speaking Truth to Power: The Chronicle's Debra Saunders
The conservative Saunders spoke the truth on the Mirkarimi case in 2012. Before 2012 she did the same on high-speed rail, which she aptly compared to the Bridge to Nowhere as "a train to nowhere." Even earlier she wrote about the strange progressive affection for cop-killer Mumia Abu Jamal.
Year End Awards for 2011
Year End Awards for 2010
Year End Awards for 2009
Year End Awards for 2008
Year End Awards for 2007
Year End Awards for 2006
Year End Awards for 2005