With h. brown
h. "Court Jester" brown
Court Jester's Year in Review
December 29, 2007
Bulldog autopsies for 2007
(and, some accolades)
You should be so lucky. Either God loves me, or my enemies can't
Either way, I had a hell of a year.
I'm approaching my goal of a column every other day for the 5th
straight year and
that's a heap of bullshit for one cowboy to assemble.
I'm lots stronger, physically. I did 100 workouts of an average
of 3 hours each. I'm way better informed than I was this time
last year. I'm better connected to my news sources, my family
and my friends.
Father Brown, aged 30, with Mona and Alex Brown
Josh Wolf and I held together a motley crew of a dozen mayoral
candidates for 12 consecutive Friday evening debates beneath the
Mayor's balcony. We did our civic duty when others cringed. Anyway,
one of my life's goals is to run in every district and for mayor.
I can check off the mayor's race now. Just 8 more districts to
go and I can do D3 this year. If everything breaks my way, I'll
finish the collection of campaigns in my 78th year. Hey, it's
good for you too 'cause everything I learn and experience I report
back to you. Albeit, sometimes slightly air-brushed, or enhanced
for entertainment value.
On the down side, I didn't get laid or fall in love, but I also
didn't break up with, divorce, or get sued or shot at by someone
who once thought I was swell.
(Bulldog 'Man of the Year')
Billionaire Republican and child slave labor king, Donald Fisher
I measure what kind of year a person had by whether they were
able to advance either their own cause or that of their 'side'.
And, how far they were able to advance it.
By that criterion, big Don done good. He dodged a bullet when
my columns about the source of his wealth (Asian child slave labor)
was confirmed in headlines across the country. Hell, he had local
bloggers saying that in some cultures a 10-year old can be the
family's chief source of income and that we shouldn't interfere.
Bottom line is that the Gap's bottom line didn't suffer, and
so Fisher won.
The Chronicle, and even a few environmentalists, want to hand
him control of huge swaths of Northern California redwood forests
so that he and his sons can cut them down.
He's also logging Mendocino county and is on the verge of cutting
down half of the redwoods in the Bohemian Grove.
In the City he's tearing up sod soccer fields and playgrounds,
replacing them with rubber, plastic and concrete. Why would he
do this? Because, then, his sons get control of them. They determine
who uses the field once they've invested in it.
They've already informed one neighborhood market that they won't
be able to set up there anymore because they need to affix their
stalls to the earth -- and that could damage the Fishers carpets.
Read Matt Smith's SF Weekly piece
from 12-20-07 to see what Fisher is doing in the Presidio.
Fisher was the guy who flipped Newsom last year over restrictions
carried in the carefully crafted C3 parking legislation. The legislation
added at least 10,000 new parking spaces in an already crowded
downtown. Anyone who doesn't think he'll get more parking isn't
So, Donald Fisher is my man of the year because he got more done
and is positioned to catapult even further. Here's the rest of
Policy gurumeister Marc Salomon
Marc's the principle brain in the local lefty think tank called
the San Francisco Green Party. He's no longer the exclusive source
for Progressives seeking info. I'd argue he had more letters to
more editors published in more publications than any other contributor,
and most of these people don't agree with what he writes. He's
just so good at presenting a case concisely, an editor would be
foolish not to upgrade his letters spot by using them.
And, he does legislation. He has the ideas, then he pitches them
to fertile ground such as an appropriate CCSF supervisor and
lots and lots of the progressive legislation of the past 7 years
began between Salomon's ears. He'll be even stronger next year.
Police Officers Association honcho, Gary Delagnes
Gary was my man of the year last year and he had another great
year. He got a 25 percent raise for his guys and the promise of
the same in June 2011 -- and he gave up almost nothing for it.
No steroid testing for the cops. Foot patrols continue to be
at the discretion of precinct captains, and that means there will
be fewer of them and single officer beat patrols will be rarer
than Bengal tigers.
Delagnes got higher benefits for several demographics under his
purview. It was an impressive year.
Former mayoral candidate Dr. Ahimsa Porter-Sumchai
The long-time Bayview Hunters Point activist broke onto the City
stage and impressed all. Dr. Sumchai was my first choice for mayor,
after Quentin Mecke (who inherited the remains of the Gonzalez
machine and will fade back into the woodwork). After Mecke, Ahimsa
had the most supporters in the streets and at rallies. Her leadership
on environmental issues in the Bayview have long earned the slander
and hate of developers and I can only see that increasing. Way
to go, Dr. Ahimsa Porter-Sumchai.
I remember trying to get Dan Noyes to talk to Luke about this
time last year and Noyes was very hesitant: "He's got that
camera," said the City's best TV investigative reporter.
Then, I read a quote
from Steve Kawa in Luke's Fog City Journal saying: "He makes
me look ten years younger, twenty pounds thinner, and two feet
taller!" That's power, campers.
Mix that with a healthy dollop of British cynicism, more than
passing compositions for piano and guitar, a pilot's license (quick
getaway? Can't figure that one out) -- and exacting standards
for the writing in his FCJ, standards for himself as well as all
Fog City is Luke's baby and in just over a year, it has become
the best online political publication in San Francisco.
Sue Vaughan (right) with Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia
and Elaine Santore
Sue is the number one defender of the rights and power of women
in San Francisco. The Green Party think tank would stall without
Vaughan's energy and organizational abilities, and Susan King's
ceaseless vetting of issues. In an 'Old Boy' town and in an 'Old
Boy' world, these girls will not just pound on the door, they
will kick it down.
Last year the Susans (Vaughan and King) ran Krissy Keefer's campaign
When I drug my hung-over ass out of bed to go see the SF Mime
Company's new show in Delores Park this year, like always, a crew
headed by Vaughan already had the classy Green Party canopy perched
in the very best spot on the hill overlooking the show.
She had literature ready and voter registration and petitions
and water and juices and organic snacks. Just like I've seen her
do a couple of hundred times before. In the early morning light.
In a pouring noon rain. In front of a theatre on a dark and dangerous
Angela "Queen Bee" Alioto
Queen Bee is the most powerful woman in San Francisco. Has been
for years. Politics is just something she does. Her real strength
is in family and her family has grown tremendously in strength
and influence under her guidance.
Is that even possible? Oh yeah, gimme a woman in charge every
time. They normally are in most families, but you dont know
it. Angela runs a prestigious law firm, does hands-on shrine-building
for her Catholic church which is gonna become (talking about her
Shrine of St. Francis and attached Institute for Study of Peace)
will become a world class think tank concerning the worlds
most important mission (achieving peace as St. Francis would have
wanted us to do)
this project of Joes
girl will outlive and contribute all of us.
She's point liaison to the federal government for the Mayor's
chronic homeless program and has brought more money per capita
to San Francisco than any other city in the country.
And, she got in shape and she was always a fox anyway, and don't
tell me that doesn't impress you although we know that we shouldn't
judge people on looks. Right. Uh huh. Not part of the equation.
Not here, anyway. How about you? You use looks as part of how
you evaluate a person?
If this guy stays on the SF Public Utilities Commission, he could
very well save the taxpayers a couple of billion dollars over
the next few years. At a time when template contracts (some weird
hybrids only Sklar can fathom - it's him against some giant contractors
and all their political connections - Dick's got few of his own)
at a time when the groundwork is being laid for the expenditure
of at least 4 ½ billion dollars, Sklar's experience and
pure chutzpah are absolutely vital. I can only hope that he survives
Team Newsom's stream lining of Downtown's access to public money
I predicted they'd dump him a couple of years ago. How he hangs
on is beyond me but he rocks.
She's accomplished one hell of a lot and as far as I can see,
none of it has been good. Still, my criterion is how the actions
of my 'winners' affect the rest of the community and serve the
interests of their own group, be it for pure profit, power or
greed or for,
In only 3 years, Chief White has been able to roll back reforms
that took decades to accomplish. While cross-training and cross-servicing
for firefighters, paramedics, cops and EMT's is the gold standard
across the nation, White interrupted and reversed the trend in
When Hayes-White was appointed by Mayor Newsom there were ambulances
in 26 of the 42 fire houses in San Francisco. I was a firefighter
for 5 years and I'm here to tell you that ambulances work about
10 times as much as engine or ladder companies. Now there are
ambulances in only 8 fire houses.
Economic and Workforce Development Director Michael Cohen
Name any large or significant project or contract in the City
and if you look, you'll see that Michael Cohen is representing
the Office of the Mayor on the transactions.
Treasure Island Redevelopment? Cohen's in charge. Niners new
stadium? Cohen's in charge. Trans-Bay Terminal project? That's
another of Michael's babies. All the way down to small venues
where you want the 'right' people to be in charge -- like the
contract to run Bill Graham Auditorium. Again, Cohen is your go-to-guy
and he gets the job done.
Newsom administration Chief of Staff Phil Ginsburg
The same people who got Gavin elected mayor (one friend calls
them the '4 horsemen' - Hellman, Fisher, Blum and Shorenstein)
-- the same people are calling the shots in Room 200 just as they
have from the beginning. But, with the elevation of Ginsburg (after
he successfully destroyed the seniority system in Civil Service
- he came to us via a Hellman/Wells Fargo recommendation)
with the elevation of Ginsburg and Nathan Ballard, the robbery
of the bank of public money and resources is running much more
For those out of the loop, Ginsburg is ostensibly Gavin's Chief
of Staff but he is the de facto Mayor. And, it's wearing on the
Mayor. Wouldn't it be funny if the Newsom fired Ginsburg publicly
and hired Matt Gonzalez, or Marc Salomon as his new Chief?
Best street publication
Bay Guardian in another
stroll. SF Weekly
is definitely edgier but Bruce Brugmann's non-union, mostly interns-rag,
forces it in order to simply compete.
Tim Redmond has more institutional memory than anyone in town
with the possible exception of Art Bruzzone. Looking through 30
years of Guardian archives is like walking through a Hall of Fame
of great series on local politics and development and entertainment
and dreams and humor. The Weekly is funnier now though, Bruce.
Best online publication
That's easy. Luke Thomas' Fog City Journal. FCJ opened the year
breaking the Newsom/Tourk scandal and continued the scoops right
on through the year using Luke's close relationships with dozens
of power brokers and analytical types across the spectrum.
With the Chron's David Lazarus gone, the Weekly's Matt Smith
could run up a Lance Armstrong type of streak. He's fearless,
crafts coherent and incisive copy and has just enough of a mean
streak in him to make him dangerous. I'll excuse his superiority
complex because, hey, he is superior.
A tie between the Chronicle's Don Asmussen and Matt Smith! Smith's
single comic book style cartoon published somewhere around mid-year
was a pure work of genius.
He's also making some kind of movie or TV show kind of thing.
He probably also flies airplanes like Thomas and John Travolta,
sky dives and swims with whales. Kids today. Kids today.
Best at Public Comment
Another tie. This one is between relative newcomer, Walter Paulson
and wily and inscrutable veteran, Sylvia Johnson. Watching either
of them add their two cents on everything from complex financial
discussions to the proper configuration of PD foot patrols is
quite an experience.
Walter sings. Who can forget when he crooned 'Hey big spender,
spend a little dime on me' to the Budget and Finance Committee?
Or, his numerous serenades on behalf of Ed Jew? Priceless.
They say that if you play the comments of Sylvia Johnson backwards,
that, like some Beatles songs, they contain hidden messages that
are perfectly coherent and reveal the secrets of the Universe.
Could be. Could be.
Best Political Appointee
District 4 Supervisor Carmen Chu
Carmen Chu. Barely edged out Leah Shahum who questioned the Mayor's
devotion to the City's 'Transit-First' policy within a week of
being appointed by the Gavster. Nice kick in the cookies, Leah!
I like Gavin's appointment in D4 for two reasons. First of all,
she seems to be the first supervisor from there who really likes
the job or sees the job as anything but a stepping stone. Her
exuberance and good vibes in the job remind me of Ross Mirkarimi's
vibes. And second, she lives with a firefighter. That means she
has great taste. Both women were born to their jobs. I'm sure
I'll disagree with most of Supervisor Chu's votes but I wish her
luck. That district needed a hands-on supe. To Shahum, I'd say
that within a couple of years (given reality of peak oil) that
every day on Market Street is going to look like Critical Mass.
Best Gossip Columnist
Santore, you old silly. Like most pseudo-intellectuals, I
claim to hold gossip shows and columns in disdain. While reading
everyone of them in every medium I visit.
Searching in vain for my name, or someone's name, I can claim
to know which will increase my own image of my self-import. Even
idiotic attacks in chat rooms are welcomed. The sum total of public
reaction to one's existence for one year can be a useful baseline
for planning the next.
Say, huh? I once asked Elaine what she thought about people saying
that gossip/fashion columnists were shallow and, to my best recollection,
she replied: "Yeahhh. So, I'm shallow, so like, deal with
it. If I got a wrinkle, I'd kill myself." I feel the same
way but fortunately my vision is so bad that I can barely make
out a new liver spot that I've decided to call a freckle.
Politician of the Year
Supervisor Chirs "keeps on tickin'" Daly
Daly, hands down. Even if he hadn't resumed talking to me
(hey, I cut people off all the time to let tempers cool and reason
to return - doesn't work on me, but it does on some others) --
anyway, nice to be talking to you again, big boy and congrats
on the new daughter. Chris carried the Left and we're a heavy
and ungrateful load.
Someone once said that in the end we are not judged by the quality
of our friends but by the quality of our enemies. Given that criterion,
Daly is eligible for sainthood. Don Fisher has opened his vaults
a couple of times in efforts to unseat Daly and failed.
The kernel here is that unlike almost all of the 'Class of 2000',
Daly hasn't changed. He's grown lots. At this point he'd make
a great college professor and should consider lending his draw
to New College as a guest lecturer to start.
Daly didn't change. While other supes veered to and fro to back
chain stores, or monopolistic communications corporations, or
the murderous Chinese government -- Daly stays the course.
He doesn't fold to the military industrial complex in the matter
of the danger the Blue Angels represent flying through the canyons
between our proliferating skyscrapers. He supports the Falun Gong
and pushes every year to get them included in the Chinese New
Year Parade, while weasels like Peskin sit on the stage next to
Rose Pak and take her money.
The gloves are off for Downtown's gentrification solution. Some
early signs just since the November election provide a clear outline
of what's going to happen this year.
Development, relocation and privatization will increase at breakneck
speed. Here are some clues and places to look as controls are
Department of Building Inspection
Newsom himself showed up at the final 2007 meeting of the DBI
commission and asked them to rubber-stamp a hundreds of pages
long 'DPR ' which totally re-engineers the management at DBI.
First thing the new organization does is to make intermediate
managers and plan checkers 'at-will' employees who can be fired
for not approving one of Shorenstein's projects.
Second thing it does is to take those pesky fire inspectors out
of the planning process. Thataway, next time some thick-headed
builder wants to eliminate
you get the idea.
Anyway, the DBI Commission listened to a couple of dozen firefighters
and fire marshals and the like say that this was a bad idea, then
voted unanimously to approve it without reading it. As Kenny Cleveland,
who heads BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association) put
it: "Our members own 90% of the buildings affected by this
plan and we support it."
Cleveland is a PR guy for Walter Shorenstein and Walter wants
to grease the process, safety-be-damned. Shorenstein had more
people in the room than anyone, but the guy who chaired whomever
wrote the report (guy named John Schlesinger) Googles as a SPUR
contributor and employee of Wells Fargo.
SFPUC's crooked contracts
Watch for the Mayor to dump Dick Sklar from the SFPUC because
he's all that stands between some giant construction, design,
planning and oversight outfits
and, hundreds of millions
a year in sweetheart contracts.
Prop A will destroy hope for cab drivers
All of you people hammering Aaron Peskin on the back for passing
Prop A will realize that I was right when I said that it would
be used to destroy the Taxi Commission and the medallion system
San Francisco has the best medallion system in the country. They're
free. But you have to wait, sometimes 15 years or more to get
one. Peskin's legislation opened the door to sell the medallions
and none of the people on the waiting list could afford to buy
them. And, there's no On-TV commission/court for them to go to
air their complaints. That's 4,500 drivers and their families
whose future was destroyed by Aaron's back-room deal.
Fire Department will continue to regress
I watched a Fire Commission meeting where Chief Hayes-White strutted
and bragged about moving all but 8 of the department's ambulances
of the engine houses and onto the streets to roam like cabs. This
is a positive disaster. I know because I was a firefighter and
I was a cab driver too.
Oh yeah. If the ambulances were in the individual fire houses
as they should be, you'd know where they were at all times and
you'd know they were at least, in their own district. But, when
I walk the Marina, I often see a couple or more ambulances parked
at the water's edge while their crew chew the fat waiting for
a call. Like cabbies and cops, these crews tend to cluster. That
makes for a poorly distributed force and makes your life more
The rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer. The wealthy
think that money brings peace and happiness but it doesn't. When
being rich won't work, they'll try to get richer by buying more
politicians and preachers and media outlets. They still won't
be happy and so they'll push harder.
Once the poor are squeezed too tightly they will revolt in one
form or another. That's what history says these circumstances
will yield and I see only lip service and window dressing as superficial
shows of phony philanthropy and concern.
If the Giants can hold that young pitching staff together, they'll
win 80 games. The Niners will cement an agreement with Santa Clara
because they are a privately owned business and that is their
right. The fault for their move lies with Gavin Newsom's obsequious
bowing to the Lennar Corporation. He gave them the Niners parking
lot. It's that simple. He gave it to Lennar and refused to give
Luke's Fog City Journal is going to get interactive and will
quickly bury all other local online chats.
I want to move somewhere else in the City (preferably in D3)
and will search for some kind of part-time job to cover my liquor
bill. If I come out on the other side of these holiday parties
intact, I want to get back into my customized combination outdoor
training and sight-seeing like a tourist.
Happy birthday to Robert Manes
And, Sue Vaughan
And, Bob Brigham
And, Karen Babbit
And, don't forget tomorrow's party here for all of the birthday
boys and girls. 5-9pm
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 email@example.com.
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