With h brown
Court Jester analyzes Peskin and Pier port pork push
November 30, 2006
Why SF needs new Board prez
It's very possible that the acre and a third presently occupied
by the St. Francis Yacht Club is the most valuable piece of land
in the world. However, you'd never know it from watching the description
of the parcel before, first, the Board's Land Use Committee, then
in front of the full Board this past tuesday before Thanksgiving.
The committee hearing raised alarms right away. A City appraiser
stood to explain how the parcel (priced at roughly a third the
value of normal SF commercial property) had gained no value since
1998. Harvey Rose of all people then explained that renting the
land to the St. Francis for the next 47 years at that price made
sense to him. Chris Daly, normally a watchdog on such items, was
distracted during the debate and away from his desk for much of
the time it took to rush the item to the full Board and actually
voted for it. Daly was on vacation this past week when Peskin
and Pier again rammed the odious contract past the full Board
on a 6-4 vote.
Worst part of the deal
There's no guaranteed public access to this land. Oh, they tossed
in some kind of bogus 'youth training' or whatever provision in
the document, but the club can simply pay an extra 50k yearly
into a Park & Rec account (run personally by Director Yomi
Agunbiade) and simply not let anyone who isn't a member inside
any of the club's facilities. Just as is now the case.
There was a big uproar around 5 years back when then supervisor
Gavin Newsom guaranteed club members that there wouldn't be any
little ghetto kids wandering around those piers even if Gerardo
Sandoval and Sophie Maxwell were planning excursions from their
individual district housing projects. The thing just kind of went
away quietly as Park & Rec instead picked up the kids in their
vans and took them out of town instead. The St. Francis and its
piers remained the sacrosanct domain of the wealthy.
Peskin is a tool of Donald Fisher
And, the rest of the moguls. Earlier this year, Aaron pushed
through a measure that can eventually mean that the Fisher family
will control all of the 'public' recreation fields in the City.
A slick little piece of legislation, that one. The Fisher family
puts up a few million to install astro-turf fields over public
playgrounds that presently feed our ever-shrinking aquifer. In
exchange, daddy Fisher has handed control of scheduling for use
of these fields over to his progeny. Much as he created a lumber
company up north to cut redwoods from Mendocino County south.
One of his son's runs it and they're even moving to log the Bohemian
Grove, for God's sake.
Other 'gift' fields (outside the City) covered with synthetic
playing surfaces have been charging youth soccer teams that previously
used the dirt fields for free, are now charging them $160 an hour
to use the suffocated fields. Watch and see if that doesn't happen
Peskin not only shepherded that little piece of legislation through
for the Fisher family, he also made certain that future privatization
of every single field in the City could proceed without ever going
back to the Board of Supervisors. Who gives approval? Why, it's
Director Abugiande! This is the same guy who was Willie's Capital
Projects director for Park & Rec who had no trouble moving
10's of millions from services for parks in poor neighborhoods,
to the disastrous Harding Golf Course rebuild.
Get used to the Pier/Peskin team
Only McGoldrick smelled a rat. He and Sandoval tried to send
the measure back to committee for a proper hearing, but Pier and
Peskin would have none of it. Pier kept ranting that the measure
had been studied thoroughly (bullshit) and Peskin kept looking
at his watch and saying that they had a full agenda (more bullshit)
and by a 6-4 vote, they managed to get it passed on first reading.
Amazingly, Sophie Maxwell voted to allow the Swells to buy their
way out integrating their digs on City property. It is a travesty
and should be reversed. Hell, they only ran this crap now because
Peskin figured he had the votes. The lease on the property actually
has another 7 years to run. What's the rush? The rush is that
the club's stars were aligned. They had the support of the Mayor,
the Board President, the district 2 supe, the Budget Analyst,
and the City appraiser. Plus, a Board anxious to get to their
They get this 'finally passed' and save the club at least 50
million (even with the 50k a year conscience money) over the life
of the lease and they get to refuse service to Sandoval and his
kids as an added bonus. There's time to right the wrong.
Ed Jew to the rescue
This lease needs another look. For that to happen, it needs
to go back to the Land Use committee. For that to happen, Chris
Daly has to vote to send it there and either Sophie Maxwell has
to change her vote (she owes it to the black children Newsom shut
out from the piers) or, ... and this is definitely the most intriguing
... Ed Jew can hit the ground running next Tuesday (and, make
headlines) by calling for another look-see at the lease and it's
Since you can pretty much bet that most of the wealthy yachtsman
donated to Jew's opponents in his just passed D-4 supe race, it
would be an announcement of his independence from them and a promise
to study their future proposals with an eye toward economy and
the public interest.
Odds and ends and odd ends - Anybody but Peskin for Board
If Aaron Peskin is re-elected as President of the Board of Supes,
the next 2 years will see a rush toward more and more privatization
of the most precious gems amongst the City's crown jewels. His
sell-out to the St. Francis Yacht Club and to the Fisher's is
only the beginning. He'll bring in an outside firm to handle the
City's golf courses. Rebuilt public stables will be placed under
the control of a company of Marin polo players. Clear Channel
will take control of the Bill Graham auditorium. The opera crowd
will finally chase the remaining veterans from their building
across from City Hall.
I'm not making any of this up. Every bit of it has been proposed
either before the Board (golf courses and stables) or directly
to the voters (Veterans building) and rejected. They remain goals
for the most wealthy who feel they must control absolutely everything
and have the public pay for it. And, Peskin now represents them.
Like the deal he and the mayor made with Comcast on your behalf?
How about the Wi-Fi deal? Just thrilled about non-union and much
litigated, category killing (they kill neighborhood businesses)
Home Depot moving into town?
You gotta hold Aaron to 5 votes on the first round. Those will
be the furthest right. Sean Elsbernd is sounding like a cross
between Peskin's campaign manager and 'M' half of an 'S and M'
duo ("He's able to control me when I get out of line.").
So, you have Peskin, Elsbernd, Pier, Dufty and Mirkarimi locked
into Peskin (see if Sean doesn't end up head of Budget Committee
next year). Oppose that with candidacies for McGoldrick and Maxwell.
I see it all ending with Ross Mirkarimi as Board President after
a half dozen or so rounds of voting. Hey, I can hope, huh?
Welcome to Ed, Hazel and Barbara
Word is that Rookie, D-4 supe Ed Jew will be bringing in neighborhood
organizers and activists, Hazel Lee and Barbara Meskunas as legislative
assistants. I don't know Lee, but Meskunas is one of the better
political minds in the City and is connected to every major power
player in town either as friend or foe through her years of fighting
for the neighborhoods. Good luck to you all.
h. brown is a 62 year-old keeper of sfbulldog.com,
an eclectic site featuring a half dozen City Hall denizens. h
is a former sailor, firefighter, teacher, nightclub owner, and
a hard-living satirical muckraker. Email
h at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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