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Three mayoral candidates
the Chronicle wants voters to dismiss as serious

By Luke Thomas

August 13, 2007

Incumbent Mayor Gavin Newsom was all smiles Friday when mayoral candidate Chicken John Rinaldi arrived at City Hall for a photo op before filing the required papers before the 5p.m. deadline. The Chronicle ran a photo of Rinaldi and Newsom with the headline, "Newsom lacks serious challengers, but lineup is full of characters."

By his own admission Rinaldi is not running for mayor to win, or to challenge Newsom on any serious issues outside of his single-issue agenda. But, he is the perfect candidate for Newsom and the Chronicle who are portraying Rinaldi as the reason why you, the voter, should not take any of the other mayoral challengers seriously.

Showman Chicken John Rinaldi is running a mayoral campaign
on a single issue platform consisting of "art and innovation."
Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

The Chronicle, in essence, is using Rinaldi as the embodiment of Newsom's opposition, belittling all challengers by undermining and dismissing their platforms as the "bad joke" Rinaldi's candidacy represents.

Meanwhile San Francisco's homicide rate continues to climb; families are leaving the city in droves for lack of affordable housing, Muni continues to under perform, homelessness continues unimpacted by Care Not Cash, the Tenderloin remains a street drug colony considered acceptable as long as tourists aren't getting sprayed by stray bullets from drug deals gone bad, environmental injustice has become an acceptable casualty of shady redevelopment deals, and our public assets are being sold off to billionaires who want to show off their kitsch art collections and build high-rise parking structures in a public transit-first city.

All of these problems can be squarely attributed to a mayor who has ruled largely by press release, a mayor who refuses to abide by the will of his constituents, a mayor who takes credit for the innovations of others, and a compliant press all too willing to look the other way.

Add to this a complacent populace that largely depends on sound bites for news and you have a recipe for 'It's no wonder voters haven't got a clue about what's really going on.'

Missing from the body of the Chronicle story is any mention of mayoral candidate Ahimsa Porter Sumchai. Sumchai, a licensed medical doctor with a Phd. from Stanford University, is running a serious campaign on a platform of issues she says have been ignored by the Newsom administration.

"The principle driving issue that motivated me to jump into the race was the environmental health and injustice that is going on in the Southeast sector of San Francisco, specifically the toxic dust exposures that many people are now aware of; the unethical conduct on the part of city officials, the Director of the Department of Health around minimizing, concealing and denying the extent of that exposure," Sumchai told Fog City on Friday.

"I think the health department at this point is protecting itself from liability. The situation has become so big and so embarassing that, at this point, they are trying to do damage control to minimize their risk of liability.

"Additionally, the health department benefits from the oversight of the construction activities on parcel A. Paradoxically, the health department captures more in its consulting fees when there are problems.

"I am unhappy with Dr. Mitch Katz for the very unethical stance the health department has taken in the face of flagrant evidence of an exposed and symptomatic population.

"If I am elected, the direction and the leadership of the health department has to change," Sumchai stated.

Doctor Ahimsa Porter Sumchai.

Former Supervisor and Treasure Island Executive Director Tony Hall, a father of seven, portrayed by the Chronicle as a "wedding singer," is also running on a platform comprised of serious issues.

"I'm running for mayor to uphold the interests of the people of the city and county of San Francisco against the political insiders. That's what this campaigns all about. This is the people of San Francisco versus this administration," Hall told reporters outside the Department of Elections.

"The City is currently being run by a very effective public relations media machine, and the people of San Francisco are frustrated.

"The problems of this city have gotten worse and worse; homelessness has gotten worse, violent crime has gotten worse, the streets are dirtier, the potholes aren't fixed, yet this city government, representing a budget that is probably three times larger than it was twelve years ago - $6.1 billion - is not addressing the problems, but rather out there pursuing a political career and agenda at the expense of the people who live here.

"The people of San Francisco - hundreds of them, if not thousands - have encouraged me to jump in this race to represent them. They feel the City is being sold piece by piece to the mayor's highest political donors.

"What I'm doing is coming out of retirement to restore honesty, integrity, loyalty and pride, to one of the greatest cities in the United States, and what will be the greatest city in the United States four years from now.

"Polls are what polls are. It just depends who's paying for them. The fellow that's doing the polling for Mr. Newsom has been on his payroll for years, we all know that. I don't recall Mother Theresa, Ronald Reagan or George Washington running at the numbers this fellow says he's running at.

"This isn't about Gavin Newsom versus Tony Hall or Tony Hall versus Gavin Newsom. Quite frankly, my lifestyle is way beyond wasting my time taking on Mr. Newsom. This is about San Franciscans reclaiming this city from a politcal machine that is selling this city off, piece by piece," Hall said.

Tony Hall with son, David Hall, and campaign manager Mark O'Hara

Director of Safety Network Quintin Mecke, who is well known around City Hall, hopes to ramp up his campaign by garnering the support of progressives who would have otherwise supported the candidacies of Chris Daly, Ross Mirkarimi or Matt Gonzalez had they run.

"I am running for mayor because I actually don't think things are being run very well," Mecke told Fog City.

"I think there's a public safety crisis here in the city and I think that it's time to get some of substance versus PR, and so less press releases and more active leadership. I am hoping to bring a progressive dialogue about public safety, homelessness, homicdes and Muni reform.

"The contamination of the parcels from the asbestos, the idea that the Department of Public Health is just going to sit there and say 'asbestos blowing in the community, oh, don't worry about it, it's going to be fine,' I think we need to take a stand and say what's not acceptable.

"We need leadership, not press releases and public relations.

"Without Matt Gonzalez, Chris Daly or Ross Mirkarimi in the race, I think it's left folks wondering where they can put their energies. I'm hoping that with some of the young folks who I've been in discussion with and some folks I've worked on campaigns before with - we can congeal around some these issues and run a pretty principled campaign on the issues.

"It's really about having a conversation and I don't think the Chronicle has been doing a particulary good job," Mecke said.

Quintin Mecke




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