Friday, December 27, 2013

District 5 Diary's Year End Awards for 2013

SFBC photo

Supervisor Breed: Windbag of the Year
As she was taking office after her election last November, London Breed gave a long, content-lite interview to Haighteration and a week later another empty interview to the North of Panhandle News. Though this made her front-runner for Windbag of the Year, I wasn't ready to give up on her: "London Breed is beginning to seem like a windbag. Maybe now that she's actually on the job, she'll cut down on the blather as she deals with the specifics of issues."

Wrong! Maybe the blather quotient is down, but in her first year Supervisor Breed has fumbled important issues facing District 5 and San Francisco:

On the Masonic Avenue bike project: She's so wrong on this bad project I still think it's fair to call her---and Supervisors Farrell and Mar---liars for ignoring information on the safety of the street in the only serious study the city has done on the project. Breed supporter Ted Lowenberg recently told a meeting of project opponents that Breed was now going around to local businesses trying to replace the 167 parking spaces the project will eliminate. Too late! Instead of pandering for the bike vote, she should have opposed the project that will eliminate all that parking and jam up traffic on a major north/south city street.

Filling in the underpass at Fillmore and Geary: The Examiner called this "the worst idea of 2008" when Breed's predecessor first proposed it. Supervisor Breed, who politically is turning out to be Mirkarimi in drag, now makes it the Worst Idea of 2013 as reported in the Examiner last July.

Like her predecessor, Supervisor Breed wants to "save" Japantown where few ethnic Japanese actually live. See the map accompanying the latest attempt to maintain what's essentially a marketing strategy that shows Japantown expanding two blocks on the other side of Geary. Breed is endorsing some kind of Planning Department development scam here.

Wrong on the homeless issue: Though she supported the sit-lie ordinance, Breed is now befuddled about homelessness and vandalism in Golden Gate Park. 

After only a year in office my early prediction about Breed is coming true: "She's going to be still another well-intentioned district supervisor who's going to be dominated/manipulated by city departments, particularly the MTA and Planning."

Worst Idea of the Year, Runner-up: Mayor Lee on tearing down a 280 ramp because, you understand, that's worked so well in Hayes Valley after the Central Freeway ramp was torn down, bringing more than 60,000 cars a day through the middle of that neighborhood.

Ugliest Parklet Design: The parklet on Fillmore Street on the Marina.

Best Rethinking of the Year: Quentin Kopp and Gavin Newsom both came out in opposition to California's high-speed rail project.

Most Predatory City Department: the Municipal Transportation Agency
See this, this, this, this, this, and this.

Biggest Transportation Lie of the Year: about the nonexistent "surge" in cycling in the city.

Reality Check of the Year: The Transportation Fact Sheet
This annual MTA document provides a realistic sense of city traffic, including putting bicycles in context as the insignificant transportation "mode" they really are.

Worst Interview of the Year: Scott Shafer lobbed softballs to the Bicycle Coalition's Leah Shahum.

Best Personal Safety Decision by a Local Journalist: C.W. Nevius gave up riding his bike.

Most Consistent Public Opinion Poll Result: People in San Francisco still reject Congestion Pricing, 69% to 26%. Note that the Chronicle's story on this Chamber of Commerce poll didn't mention that result.

Which leads to the Worst Promotion of the Year: Tilly Chang, long-time promoter of Congestion Pricing, will now lead the San Francisco Transportation Authority. Just because an overwhelming majority in San Francisco opposes Congestion Pricing doesn't mean it's not going to happen, since it will achieve two important City Hall goals: create a great new source of income to support the city's bureaucracy and punish motorists.

That makes Congestion Pricing the Zombie Idea of the Year: See this and this.

Bogus "reform" of the Year: Supervisor Wiener on CEQA.

Biggest Ass-Kissing of the Year: Melissa Griffin on Supervisor Wiener in San Francisco magazine here and here.

Photo from the Bicycle Coalition

Biggest Ongoing Lie by a City Politician: Supervisor Wiener on CEQA and the Bicycle Plan litigation.

Cat Food Commission Award: the San Francisco Chronicle for scolding President Obama for not rolling over for the Republicans during the phony budget crisis created entirely by the Republicans.

Worst CEQA Editorials of the Year: San Francisco Chronicle here and here. The Chronicle editorial writers and columnists function as cheerleaders for City Hall policies, especially the trendy anti-car, pro-bicycle policy that's redesigning city streets on behalf of a small minority of cyclists. That's why the Chronicle hasn't published anything about that UC study on cycling accidents in the city that found that City Hall has been radically underestimating such accidents, especially "cyclist-only" accidents that don't involve other vehicles. (The NY Times wrote about the study back in October, and the study itself was published way back in December, 2012.) 

If riding a bike in the city is actually a lot more dangerous than the public has been told, it undermines City Hall's policy, which insists that riding a bike in the city is a green, win-win deal for everyone. That means that this important public safety information must be ignored by City Hall and its public relations arm, the SF Chronicle. People---including children---will continue to be encouraged to engage in what is essentially an unsafe transportation "mode."

Worst CEQA Editorial, Runner-up: Randy Shaw at Beyond Chron.

Dhimmis of the Year: The Board of Supervisors and the District Attorney for their remarkably dumb reaction to the anti-Jihad ads on Muni buses. See this, this and Supervisor Chiu's resolution---co-sponsored of course by Supervisor Breed---condemning the ads that were only allowed because of that darn First Amendment loophole that lets people say things that upset city progressives and their goofball version of multiculturalism. Maybe Supervisor Wiener can come up with a reform for that inconvenient law.

The ad on Muni buses

Dhimmis of the Year, Runner-up: The San Francisco Chronicle

Free Speech Award to Haighteration ("the lower Haight blog") and Uppercasing ("the upper Haight blog") for dumping District 5 Diary off their blogrolls. Something I wrote? No explanation was provided. But Hayeswire ("the Hayes Valley blog") still has District 5 Diary on its blogroll.

Creeping Sharia Award: The San Francisco Airport for constructing a special "cleansing" room for Moslem taxi drivers.

Duet of the Year: Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga

Best Neighborhood Meeting of the Year: in Polk Gulch when residents hooted and booed MTA head Ed Reiskin as he tried to sell "improvements" to Polk Street that included taking away 200 street parking spaces to make bike lanes.

Most Spineless City Politicians of the Year: Except for Supervisor Chiu, Supervisor Avalos and other progressive supervisors were silent during both the hearing on the Fell/Oak bike project and the Polk Street project, even though when running for office they all told the Bicycle Coalition they supported these projects and whatever else that special interest group wants to do to our streets.

Worst Editorial on the Polk Street Bike Project: The SF Examiner for its fact-free editorial on a project that City Hall is trying to sell to that neighborhood based on lies about safety on Polk Street.

Negligent Polk Street Parents of the Year, Tim Hickey and Scott Bravmann:

C.W. Nevius talked to Hickey earlier this year:

Tim Hickey has been using his bike as his primary transportation for four years, sometimes taking his 20-month-old son, Liam, with him. He's been hit by cars three times and believes protected bike lanes are the only reasonable solution. "My wife would not let me take Liam on Polk," he said. "It's too dangerous."

The Bicycle Coalition talked to Bravmann:

My daughter attends the Tenderloin Early Education School and will continue at the adjoining elementary school when she starts kindergarten next fall. In the mornings, she rides on my bike, and in the afternoons on her bike.

Scott Bravmann and his daughter

Negligent Parent of the Year, Citywide: Ed Reiskin, head of the MTA, who thinks getting more children riding bikes in the city is a good idea, even though riding bikes is particularly dangerous for children:

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), each year more than 700 people are killed and over 500,000 are treated in emergency rooms as a result of bicycling injuries in the U.S. Children between the ages of 5 and 14 are particularly prone to bicycle-related injuries and account for the majority of those treated for cycling injuries in hospital emergency rooms.

The guy in charge of the city's Muni system is a bike guy. What could go wrong with that?

City Feather-Bedders of This and Every Year: the San Francisco fire department. See this and this.

Worst Business of the Year: 1:00 AM First Amendment, 1000 Howard Street. These folks sell graffiti/tagging supplies and even provide courses in this form of vandalism.

A "can control" class

Worst Public Art of the Year: On Crissy Field by Mark di Suvero, thanks to SFMOMA and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Photo by Russell Yip

Worst Future Public Art: a ten-foot tall bronze version of the Silly Bunny (below), thanks to Thea Selby and the 53 philistines who donated $53,000 to make this a permanent eyesore in the lower Haight.

Dumbest Professor of the Year: Anthony Ryan at SF State
C.W. Nevius talked to Ryan earlier this year:

With so many sad stories, you'd think the [bicycle]riders would begin to wonder about urban cycling. But art professor Anthony Ryan, who was hit by a car on the way to work at San Francisco State, says that isn't going to happen. "All implants," he said, tapping his upper row of front teeth. "I landed face first, and my teeth were all over the street. But I haven't quit. I sold my car three years ago. I guess I'm either committed or I should be committed."[Later: Mr. Ryan tells me that he's not a professor, only a lecturer.]

Gravy Train Award: Neal Patel and Rachel Kraai promoted from the Bicycle Coalition to the MTA's gravy train, following the hiring of the Coalition's Andy Thornley last year.

Most Unpopular Neighborhood Bike Route: The Wiggle

Flat Tire Award: for another dumb, spineless Grand Jury Report on bicycles in the city, a sequel to its lame 2010 report on the same topic.

Worst Project of the Year Approved by the City: the Van Ness BRT

City that Knows How doesn't know how to maintain its streets: city residents weren't surprised to learn that San Francisco has the second worst maintained streets in the country.

Best Legal Decisions of the Year: Judge Kenny on high-speed rail. If state taxpayers are lucky, his decisions in November will be the beginning of the end for this potentially ruinous boondoggle.

Judge Michael Kenny

Windsock of the Year Award: the Bay Guardian, which, after Tim Redmond was forced out as editor, held a couple of public meetings to find out what their readers wanted (see this and this). Judging by what the Guardian has done since, they supposedly wanted more of the same.

Most Successful Long-Term Fraud: It took years of lies, but this year the Bicycle Coalition consummated its campaign to "fix" Masonic Avenue when the city okayed the Masonic Avenue bicycle project that was based on lies about the alleged safety problems on that important city and regional north/south traffic artery.

Small "d" Democrat of the Year: Ed Reiskin, who, in response to a request to allow the neighborhood to vote on the Masonic Avenue bike project, opined that such a vote would only "confuse" the people of the neighborhood. What he really feared: people in the neighborhood would reject this stupid project that will benefit only cyclists at the expense of the more than 44,000 people every day who now travel by car and bus on Masonic Avenue.

A special Kim Jong Un Award: the local media, where, unless you read the New York Times, you will never learn about either the UC Study on the radical under-count of cycling injuries in San Francisco or the story about head injuries and cycling. You could have learned about the latter in District 5 Diary way back in 2008.