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With h brown

Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

Court Jester reviews Board of Supervisors
swearing in ceremony


By h. brown


January 9, 2007

"You're the last one."

(Sheriff Hennessey states the obvious)

I was a bit late to the swearing in of the City and County of San Francisco's 63rd edition of its Board of Supervisors. I actually didn't expect to even get into the chambers and if I hadn't run into our illustrious Sheriff, I wouldn't have. His deputies didn't want to recognize my Bulldog press pass but the City's all-time top vote getter has a broader perspective.

I'm always amazed at this guy. I've been trying to get him to run for mayor this year but he says it ain't gonna happen this time. He shrugged when queried about 2011 and that's a good sign. It was the first time that I realized that cycling the mayor's and sheriff's office in the same election year was a bad idea. Sooner or later, this guy should run for mayor. The people could use the option of a stable candidate who doesn't carouse around, drinking and chasing women like some kind of fool journalist. C'mon, 8 years of Willie, the con man, and 4 more years of a cardboard cutout?

After the meeting (which Peskin brought in at just over an hour - way to go Mr. President) … after the meeting Jeff Adachi came by (it's gonna sound silly, but it impressed me that he was the only elected official who stood for the entire meeting - guy's a gentleman) anyway, I stood just outside the middle doors of the chambers and wondered who'd be brave enough to get into my column and Jeff stopped by as I was trading fibs with Fog City's multi-tasking publisher, Luke Thomas. We greeted one another and I hit him with 2 tough questions in a row.

First, I asked our Public Defender if he favored random drug tests for the SFPD. He surprised me by being the first elected official to go on record as being in favor of the same kind of testing that every other emergency department in the City undergoes.

Second, I asked him if he'd consider being a candidate for mayor this year. He didn't say 'no' which, again, is a great sign. He noted that he was up for re-election next year and I told him it was no problem because he wouldn't be elected mayor anyway. I was joking (mostly) but he considered it and didn't close the door. I noted that he and Hennessey and "even this guy" (Mirkarimi had joined the circle) would make a Progressive slate that could combine bases to beat Newsom this year.

I asked Mirkarimi if he favored random drug tests for cops and he spoke at length about how he thought that there were indeed cops being tested for drugs at other places on the planet, then bloviated a bit until he levitated. All without answering the question. Anyway, Ross will probably end up getting one of my 3 votes for mayor this November.

The Flavor of Peskin Board II's Christening

The change starts at the front door. There were extra deputies for the event and they looked sharp as a Marine drill crew. Even 2 years ago, my vial of pot with pipe and lighter included, would have caused a delay at the metal detector. Now, the rookie doing the search of my pack and coat simply asked to see my pot card (which was around my neck) … quick glance at my card and I was through and into the rotunda of my favorite place on earth.

There were lots of extra red felt ropes with brass hooks cordoning off the Board chambers for the event. The extra deputies handled everything smooth as silk. I got shuffled (thank God, they let Pat Murphy in that space) from the press box, which was full on to the last seat in the chamber, which, not so oddly, is my favorite seat in the place. It's the highest and furthest from the abandoned Board President podium and has your back to the wall. It's a seat Wild Bill Hickock would have loved.

The chambers probably seat around 190-200 in the audience comfortably. There's room for a dozen at most in the Press box behind audience-left side of the supes' seating (5 on each side - they choose by seniority and there're stories there I could tell) … Press box had at least 15 hanging onto each other's out hangings. The staff seating audience right was likewise max'd out for the occasion.

The open primary City mosh pit open and plushy carpeted floor, usually empty but for an occasional photographer … bounded by the audience rail in front, Prez's podium in back and supes' seats on either side. This space was provided with 100 chairs for this event and there were kids everywhere.

Oh yeah, the mayor was there

But, the kids stole the entire show. Kids and flowers and good will. No sand and blood on the floor like usual. There were these huge white petal sunflower looking plants on each of the supes' desks and the effect was, as they say, calming. A half dozen crying babies were being walked by supe daddies and moms and aunts and a close-to formally dressed audience. Deputies dressed to the hilt with the Sheriff working the main chamber door like one of the crew. Around 350 people who meant no ill will toward one another. It was a rare moment for the chambers and we all enjoyed it immensely. I even passed a compliment to BOMA's Kenny Cleaveland about how the drummer for the Allman Brothers is a dead ringer for him.

Alioto-Pier clan.

Supervisor Bevan Dufty gets a congratulatory pat on the back from San Francisco Historical Society head, Jim Lazarus, while San Francisco Chamber of Commerce head, Steven Falk, shakes hands with Building Owners and Managers Asscociation Director Ken Cleveland.

The mayor spoke and then became even more invisible than he used to be when he was a supervisor. That's the truth too. I'd forgotten how uncomfortable the guy always was around the Board. He was never in his office and his staff did absolutely everything. I guess he hasn't gotten over how detested he was by supes like Tony Hall and Amos Brown or his tussles with Gerardo Sandoval.

Anyway, guy speaks (I took notes) and someone in the audience hisses and everyone glares them down so's they don't fuck up our rare feng shui. He spoke for around 5 minutes and I couldn't tell you a word he said because Dufty and Pier's babies cried the whole time he spoke. Hell, maybe he resigned and made Peskin mayor, I don't know. Could be but I doubt it cause I'd have heard about it later in the hall.

Peskin's Board II

I know I'm being ridiculous (what's new?) but I kept thinking of Pelosi's elevation to House Speaker as I watched Peskin's election. I hate to say it, but I think SF's Board chambers look better than the U.S. House forum. I'm serious. The woodwork in those chambers rivals any in the world and there isn't a bad seat. I know that most of you have been there a thousand times and are jaded by now, but try and turn on a relative or guest who hasn't experienced a Board meeting to drop in. Trust me, they'll thank you.

Aaron had the good political sense to work at healing a rift between Daly and McGoldrick by having Daly nominate the good D-3 supe for his second turn in the City's #2 position, and for McGoldrick to second the nomination.

They both said a lot of nice things about Aaron which you'd expect given the circumstances. Some of them were true and some of them weren't but it was a ceremonial thing, so the standards are much lower. This was the 4th consecutive time I've been at these combination, swearing-in supes and electing Board President and this was the second time there wasn't a fight. Ammiano's last term as Board President (he should be allowed to retire the gavel) was unanimous but the place was charged with the atmosphere of a bull-fighting ring due to the ascendance of the Class of 2000. I think Gonzo's election took 8 or so passes and Peskin's first majority took a few rounds.

This one was the most mellow I've seen. Peskin was unanimous, of course. Then, he introduced the newly re/elected Board members who spoke for around 10 minutes each.


Has 8,000 relatives and she mentioned everyone of them except for Aunt Angela and cousin, Joe Alioto-Veronese. Most interesting thing she did was bid adieu to Gloria Young (Board Clerk, par excellence) when no one knew she was leaving.

Supervisor Alioto-Pier

Chris Daly

Guy keeps getting better. He did the touch-feely thing, introduced the right people and causes, smiled as his spirited spouse, Sarah, chased their spunky spawn, Jack, around the spherical space as the spectators smiled. Like Peskin before and after, Daly invited the mayor to meet with them without bringing up the 'Question Time' controversy although many of the things he said concerning crime and the like could be expected at a Board/Gav monthly face-off.

Supervisor Chris Daly

He described the situation in the Bay View and elsewhere in the City as 'Apartheid' like. He noted that San Francisco was now 51% people of color but that 71% of our SFUSD students are non-white and that a staggering 91% of the inmates in County jail are of color. I kind of shut him off cause it was a downer and I didn't like it that Newsom couldn't reply.

Bevan Dufty

Bevan has arrived. I know, cause he said so twice during his talk. He said: "Time to be myself!" with a glance at the uneasy Newsom, then rephrased it: "Time to be my own person!". Believe that when I see it. Let's see him change his vote on Healthy Saturdays as a starter.

Supervisor Bevan Dufty (left) greets Valentina Alioto-Pier and father, Thomas Pier.

Nevertheless, the guy is about twice as limber as when he came to the Board some (can it be?) 4 years ago. Parenthood not only agrees with him, it's taken him to a new level.

Ed Jew

Like Peskin, he started by introducing his mom and dad. I have my soft side and that touched me. His old man is a cabbie and here's this ambitious kid who's been telling him for years that he's going to get elected to the Board of Supervisors and, damned if the kid doesn't do it! It was totally cool.

Supervisor Ed Jew

Jew is honored to be on the Board. That means lots to me. While he pushed his fiscal conservative credentials ("No bonds without … ") … while the guy is a true conservative, he'll listen to his fellow supes.

Sophie Maxwell

Supervisor Sophie Maxwell

I didn't know she had a "life partner"? I loved hearing that just as I loved hearing Dufty talk about the difference between his lover and his roommate and his co-parent or something like that. Anyway, Sophie was relaxed and kept her comments short as she thanked all who put her there, including those candidates who ran against her because: "We live in a democracy and sometimes it gets ugly."

Supervisor Dufty's housemate, Mike Clune.

Rebecca Goldfader, mother of Sydney Dufty. Dufty's lifetime friend, John Alter, (right).

Who got past the velvet rope

I sat just behind David Chin who had Evelyn Nieves sitting in front of him showing just how dangerous a little black dress can look. Entertainment Commissioner, Terrance Allen, sat a little down from Chin. He was dressed for Public Comment and went up and made some. Trust me, that was his opening salvo for running for supe in D-6 in 4 years (make that 3). This guy knows that this tape will be in all the important archives and he got his best foot out there. This is a man who has won a case on the afternoon court series 'Texas Justice'.

I ran across Wayne Justmann (he's big, I didn't hurt him) who co-wrote Prop 215 (legal pot anyone?). Peter Warfield snagged a ticket and stopped by to chat. James Smith, who was Willie's Homeless Rep (he's a good one) was there sitting a couple of seats from Doug Comstock who kept going to take pics (post em, Doug!). James Keyes, who was a key in Daly's recent victory, sat in that area too.

Richard Marquez beat the gate about 20 minutes into the proceedings. Gus Murad made his way in at 48 minutes. Nate Nayman showed his face at 42 minutes after opening.

The Bulldog, Fog City, the Sentinel, KGO , the Ex and the Chron were represented. Others too, but they don't know the Board. I'd say that the only person in town who knows the Board better than I do is Rachel Gordon and I didn't see her there. The Chron had Charlie Goodyear who makes up more things than I do. KGO had Carolyn Tyler who knows the scene. Luke Thomas has the best political web site in his Fog City Journal. The Ex had a lady but I forget her name. All in all, I had a hell of a time and I've missed most of the 1st quarter of the BCS championship game and I'm outta here.

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 h@ludd.net.


Editor's Note: Views expressed by columnists published on FogCityJournal.com are not necessarily the views or beliefs of Fog City Journal. Fog City Journal supports free speech in all its varied forms and provides a forum for a complete spectrum of viewpoints.



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