Friday, January 06, 2017

District 5 Diary's Year End Awards for 2016

Best San Francisco Nostalgia of the Year:

Cultural Vandal of the Year: Tech punk Chris Hughes

Hughes bought the New Republic, trashed it, and then tried to sell it.

Best Deconstruction of the Smart Growth Theory: Randal O'Toole
O'Toole is writing about Portland, but the same can be said about a lot of cities, including San Francisco, that embrace this trendy planning foolishness (See Smart Growth in San Francisco?).

Most Entertaining City Organization Crisis of the Year: The SF Bicycle Coalition
The coalition was soon back to business as usual: hiring a white guy to lead a bike movement of mostly white guys.

Worst City Reporter of the Year: Joe Rodriguez
Rodriguez can be counted on to give Examiner readers City Hall's party line on issues, like on the bicycle count story. He's particularly bad on the Masonic Avenue bike project: The Masonic Avenue Derangement Syndrome. Rodriguez also pushed a bogus scandal that supposedly implicated Mayor Lee: Broke-Ass Stuart and the dumb-ass Examiner.

As He Retires, he wins a Pangloss of the Year Award: C.W. Nevius

In an April Column, Nevius endorsed City Hall's anti-car policies:
Traffic is only going to get worse. And that is a good thing...But the point remains, as the southern neighborhoods develop, driving---and parking---will become increasingly difficult. It already is, and the Warriors' arena is years away. I'll say it again: That's a good thing...We are going to leave our cars when driving becomes such a pain that other forms of transportation are superior.

Nevius gave up riding his bike in the city several years ago because of safety concerns. Like both the bicycle and Vision Zero fantasies, anti-carism has failed in San Francisco, since there are now more cars in the city than ever. One effect it does have: As City Hall takes away traffic lanes and street parking to make bike lanes for a small minority, anti-carism makes city traffic a lot worse than it has to be.

Slogan Disguised as a Safety Policy: Vision Zero

Creating Future Traffic Gridlock: High-speed rail and the SMART project
The high-speed rail project will do it on the Peninsula, and the dumb SMART rail project will do it in Marin County.

San Francisco Slur of the Year: On Mayor Lee 
By Tim Redmond and the SF Examiner. Randy Shaw blew the whistle on this bogus charge but oddly didn't name those who were fabricating it.

San Francisco Slur of the Year, Runner-up: Tim Redmond on Gavin Newsom
Redmond on New Geography: "Gavin Newsom, who wants to be the next governor of California, got his start in local politics attacking homeless people."

His slur refers to then-Mayor Newsom's Care Not Cash policy that, as every other Bay Area jurisdiction had already done, stopped giving homeless people monthly cash payments that in effect helped them remain homeless. Before Mayor Newsom and Care Not Cash---and other sensible, humane programs, like Homeward Bound, Project Homeless Connect, and supportive housing---what was the Bay Guardian/Redmond left's approach to the city's homeless problem? Food Not Bombs and the Biotic Baking Brigade, the pie-throwers!

National Smear of the Year: On Hillary Clinton
By Republicans, of course; they've been smearing her for more than 30 years. But it was also joined by many "progressives" and a national media bias that ignored real issues and obsessed on the bogus email issue.

Shorenstein Center

Brain and Brand Damage of the Year
: The National Football League and
The NFL hated this NY Times story on the issue.

Brain and Brand Damage of the Year, Runner-up: Soccer

Unanswered Question of the Year: What about SF's synthetic turf?

Most Deceptive Hed of the Year: "High-speed rail on fast track to Bay Area"
On a Matier & Ross column, though they probably didn't write the hed. The high-speed rail project is not on a "fast track" to anywhere.

Keeping Hope Alive: SF Chronicle on high-speed rail
A Chronicle editorial on the the project's radical change of plans:
The California High-Speed Rail Authority recently announced that it will build the first 250-mile section from Kern County to San Jose instead of from Fresno to Burbank. The change is expected to save money and to expedite construction, both great aims given the pressure. Nothing persuades naysayers like smart action, so we urge the Rail Authority to get going.
"Naysayers" like me see this as an act of desperation by a floundering project. The smart thing for the state to do now is pull the plug on this poorly-conceived, ruinously expensive and underfunded boondoggle.

Homeless "Myth" of This and Every Year: That the homeless in SF are from the city
The latest iteration of this myth is based on a survey of a fraction of the homeless themselves, who, not surprisingly, claim they were San Francisco residents before becoming homeless, though the survey doesn't tell us how long they had supposedly been living here. Still the best homeless program: Homeward Bound, which gives the homeless a bus ticket back to where they actually came from: 9,286 since 2004.

Do Writers' Lives Matter?
Salman Rushdie has even a higher price put on his head by Muslim fanatics, and it's greeted with a yawn by the media.

Biggest Ass-Kissing of the Year: Randy Shaw on Ed Reiskin
"Current Municipal Transit Authority Director Ed likely the best MTA leader the city has had in decades and his leadership has made a difference for Muni. Improving a government agency’s performance starts at the top. San Francisco is like a small village when it comes to gossiping about leaders of city bureaucracies, yet one hears little negativity about Reiskin."
Shaw of course doesn't read this blog---probably because of stuff like this---but if he did he would get a lot of "negativity" about Reiskin, who has been methodically redesigning city streets on behalf of a small minority of cyclists ever since the city turned its transportation system over to this bike nut. See also this, this, and, typical of Reiskin's regime at the MTA, this lie.

Worst San Francisco Planning Idea of the Year: Demolishing I-280 overpass

If you like what the city has done to Octavia Boulevard, you'll like what they want to do to Mission Bay. See also Revisiting two planning failures: The de Young Museum and Octavia Blvd.

All the News That Fits Award: San Francisco Chronicle

Every year the Chronicle does a story on the Chamber of Commerce poll that ignores the poll's results on congestion parking that finds the people of San Francisco hate that idea. Why does the Chronicle hate the negative poll results? Because it has in effect become a publication that supports every important City Hall policy, including anti-carism and the bicycle fantasy. 

The Chronicle knows that City Hall wants to eventually impose congestion pricing on the city, probably after the foolish Treasure Island development plan starts allowing 19,000 residents on the island. 

Another story the Chronicle ignored: The annual Bicycle Count Report showed a 7% decrease in bicycle commuters. Like Streetsblog the Chronicle couldn't bring itself to even mention that unwelcome news: Where's the story? The Chronicle has also been awful on the Masonic Avenue bike project, with only two belated stories on Masonic Avenue last year: here and here.

Best Anti-Trump Speech of the Year: by Mitt Romney

Rhetorical Question of the Year: Are parking meters about "managing" parking or raising money for the city?
You know the answer: The MTA makes more than $150 million a year on its parking meters---twice as much on parking tickets as on the meters themselves. The MTA needs the money to maintain its bloated, growing payroll of 6,263 employees.

Worst Ex-Wife of the Year: Kimberly Guilfoyle
She supports torture and Donald Trump.

Leftist Stupidity of the Year: By Susan Sarandon
Sarandon: “Some people feel that Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately if he gets in, things will really explode.” Asked if she thinks that’s “dangerous,” she replied, “It’s dangerous to think that we can continue the way we are with the militarized police force, with privatized prisons, with the death penalty, with the low minimum wage, threats to women’s rights and think you can’t do something huge to turn that around.”

Michelle Goldberg points out to history illiterates like Sarandon the problem with that approach:
What Sarandon is voicing is the old Leninist idea of “heightening the contradictions,” which holds that social conditions need to get worse in order to inspire the revolution that will make them better. In this way of thinking, the real enemy of progress is incremental reform that would render the status quo tolerable. That was the position of the German Communists in the early 1930s, who refused to ally with the Social Democrats, proclaiming: “After Hitler, our turn!”

That meany Hitler never gave them their "turn."

Predatory Employer of the Year: The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition
The coalition has openings for 15 interns, who of course are unpaid. See also The Internment Camp.

This year Crap art and the Cute Movement got together in front of City Hall.

Homicidal Cowards of the Year: City cops that executed Luis Gongora

On April 7, 2016, in less than 30 seconds, Luis Góngora was killed by city cops Nate Steger and Michael Mellone, who shot him with four bean bag rounds and seven bullets.

Anniversary of the Year: First Acid Trip inadvertently taken by Albert Hoffman

Hoffman died at 102

“Last Friday, April 16, 1943, I was forced to interrupt my work in the laboratory in the middle of the afternoon and proceed home, being affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant, intoxicated-like condition characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After some two hours this condition faded away.”

After intentionally taking the drug again to confirm that it had caused this strange physical and mental state, Dr. Hoffman published a report announcing his discovery, and so LSD made its entry into the world as a hallucinogenic drug. Widespread use of the so-called “mind-expanding” drug did not begin until the 1960s, when counterculture figures such as Albert M. Hubbard, Timothy Leary, and Ken Kesey publicly expounded on the benefits of using LSD as a recreational drug...

Calling LSD a "recreational drug" doesn't quite cover it. Given Hoffman's longevity, LSD may be a life-extension drug. [Later: How LSD Saved One Woman's Marriage.]

Information Control: The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
This bloated city bureaucracy is systematically limiting the information it used to routinely provide the public in its Transportation Fact Sheet and Collisions Report. Both have been eliminated. Since it now has 6,263 employees, instead of pushing the hollow Vision Zero PR campaign, why not put some of those folks to work analyzing all injury accidents on city streets and figuring out how they might be prevented? And then publishing that information to inform the public about exactly where and how traffic accidents happen in the city. Under the Vision Zero policy/slogan, the city now simply declares every busy street in the city a "high-injury corridor" and provides numbers to house-broken city reporters without any analysis about how, why and exactly where those accidents happened.

Least Influential Endorsement of the Year: Matt Gonzalez of Dean Preston

Ride of the Year: President Obama and Jerry Seinfeld in a 1963 Corvette
Okay, they took the ride late in 2015, but I'm posting the video anyhow because I like it.

Single Word Cliches of the Year: Garner and Myriad

Chickenhawk of the Year: Donald Trump

The Rise of Donald Trump Explained: by Jonathan Chait

"Why did almost everybody fail to predict Donald Trump’s victory in the Republican primaries? Nate Silver blames the news media, disorganized Republican elites, and the surprising appeal of cultural grievance. Nate Cohn lists a number of factors, from the unusually large candidate field to the friendly calendar. Jim Rutenberg thinks journalism strayed too far from good old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting. Justin Wolfers zeroes in on Condorcet’s paradox.

Here’s the factor I think everybody missed: The Republican Party turns out to be filled with idiots. Far more of them than anybody expected..."

Transportation Insight of the Year: Randal O'Toole
"All you have to do is mention the words 'public transit,' and progressives will fall over themselves to support you no matter how expensive and ridiculous your plans."

When Smart People Are Dumb: Kevin Drum on CEQA

The Zombie Lies about CEQA Lived On in 2016

Worst Art News of the Year: George Lucas's Museum May be coming Back to SF

Our predatory city makes more than $200 million a year off motorists. The city Treasurer agrees with me: San Francisco has become a predatory government.

Semantic Bullshit of the Year: Vision Zero
Very few people deliberately cause traffic accidents, and the definition of accident includes lack of intent. That almost all fatal traffic accidents in San Francisco involve "really bad behavior" by motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians doesn't mean those accidents are preventable in any obvious way. Unless there's a dramatic change in human nature, these semantic games are transparently silly---and are just PR by the Vision Zero ninnies.

Visualizing that failure:

City performance scorecard

Least Likely to Happen: Streetsblog's idea that San Francisco Needs to Get Out of the Car Storage Business
In BikeSpeak "car storage" translates as "parking" to the rest of us. The city is unlikely to get out of the lucrative "car storage" business. Look at the numbers from the last---and final---Transportation Fact Sheet the MTA is going to issue:

Every year the city makes more than $85 million on its 22 "city-owned parking facilities," that is, parking lots and parking garages; more than $53 million on parking meters; more than $10 million on residential parking permits; and and more than $88 million on parking tickets.

Add it all up, and the city makes more than $236 million a year on parking for those wicked motor vehicles. Note that the biggest number is from parking tickets, which is why the MTA wants to put parking meters on every street in the city. They can't make enough money on meters alone; they need to be able to give parking tickets, too.

Graduation Day Under Islamic Fascism:

Flogging in Iran

Sister Cities in How to Fail in Counting Bike Accidents: Boston and San Francisco

Cartoonist as prophet: Gary Trudeau
He saw Donald Trump coming 30 years ago.

Another Unanswered Question, Asked of Bay Area BikeShare: How many trips at what cost?
I'm not saying that BikeShare shouldn't get a taxpayer subsidy, but we need to know what we're getting for our money.

Bay Area BikeShare

Question of the Year Not Asked: NOPNA in its District 5 survey
Since the North of Panhandle Neighborhood Association (NOPNA) has always supported the Masonic Avenue bike project, why leave it out of their survey we all received yesterday?Masonic Avenue is a major city/regional north/south street---carrying more than 32,000 vehicles a day---that goes through the middle of District 5. Surely District 5 voters would like to respond to a question about a project that will make traffic worse in this part of the city.

Worst Art as a political statement: the Trump statue


Old Fart Over the Handlebars of 2016: Richard Branson

Leftist Rant of the Year: John Whitehead in Counterpunch

"These past 15 years have indeed been an unbearable, choking hell. What began with the passage of the USA Patriot Act in October 2001 has snowballed into the eradication of every vital safeguard against government overreach, corruption and abuse. The citizenry’s unquestioning acquiescence to anything the government wants to do in exchange for the phantom promise of safety and security has resulted in a society where the nation is being locked down into a militarized, mechanized, hypersensitive, legalistic, self-righteous, goose-stepping antithesis of every principle upon which this nation was founded. This is not freedom. This is a jail cell."
Back off, give him some air! Someone call 911!

Worst Endorsement of the Year: The Chronicle of London Breed
"Breed has grown on the job in the past four years, as both a leader and a student of public policy. She deserves re-election."
Pure bullshit. A look at Breed's actual record.


Tunnel Vision Award: Scott Wiener, Joel Engardio, and the MTA
As the Central Subway project is demonstrating, subways in SF will cost $1 billion a mile, which means that their fantasies can never happen.

Wiener and Engardio propose this foolishness to show they are visionaries!


Flip-Flopper of the Year: Gavin Newsom on high-speed rail

Karl Mondon photo

Most Under-reported Danger to Cyclists: To their sex lives

New York Times

Worst Streets in the Country? We're Number One!


Sister Cities in Creating Traffic Congestion: New York and San Francisco

Biggest Drain on the State Budget: The high-speed rail project
As critics warned years ago, if not scrapped this poorly conceived project would become a serious long-term drain on the state budget. That's now happening



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