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It's in the timing to lobby Newsom

Want something from this man? Scan the skies for midday sun.
Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

By Pat Murphy

Copyright fogcityjournal.com 2006

January 11, 2006

Timing is everything for those who want a special something from the 42nd Mayor of San Francisco.

Wait, if you really want it, until the midday sun.

This mayor, Gavin Christopher Newsom, in his early prime at thirty-eight years of compressed living, doesn't do mornings to glad satisfaction.


Merely a man, even a hyper man, Newsom reluctantly concludes he is often wiped out in the mornings.

Routinely attending various 7:00 a.m. breakfast meetings, continuing with long workdays, and then too wired to fall asleep quickly, Newsom has learned that matters of weight are best juggled after high sun.

"We do afternoon (staff) meetings now," communications director Peter Ragone half-chortles.

The revelation came during a Sentinel interview, one of several 30-minute back-to-back media interviews granted yesterday as Newsom moves into the second half of his first term as mayor.


"Yeah, that's the problem," Newsom waxed.

"I used to be a morning person. In fact when we started - the first three months - I think I was a morning person.

"All these guys, they don't want to talk to me before eight o'clock.

"It's funny. All these years I've been a morning guy, and all of a sudden this last year and a half I can't do it any more.

"It takes me hours to wake up.

"The problem is you get wound up and at night you can't get to sleep. Last night at one-twenty or something I remember turning off the TV and looking at the clock, and remembering 'Migawd, I've got to be up, I've got to do this breakfast this morning at seven-thirty.' "

Still, Newsom observers do not expect the mayor to pare his calendar.

He judges intensity as a benchmark for success. He cannot be okay with himself if he is not passionate, Newsom reflected.

"That's why if you ask me whether I'm going to run for office again, let me tell you an absolutely honest answer.

"If today the election were coming up in the next six months, absolutely.

"But if I don't have the kind of intensity, if I don't feel like we can move the city forward, or people don't like the direction we're going, it's not worth it.

"It's just not worth it in any aspect.

"I mean to be called mayor - big deal. Guys like me come and go.

"I mean I watch some former mayors come and people walking right by them.

Former Mayor Frank Jordan revisits City Hall yesterday accompanied
by Relocation Appeals Board Commissioner Harry Kim.

"To me, big deal. You realize the futility of it.

"Ex-politicians - it's really a hard thing for a lot of people. They don't have another life. So I really have to be cautious of that and not give up the belief that there's something beyond politics.

"If I don't feel the enthusiasm, if I don't feel like we're moving the city in the right direction I'm not going to fake it.

"You've got to have something more intense - something that transcends those motions. You've got to feel an intensity. You've got to feel an excitement. You've got to feel this has meaning.

"It's an aggregation of my life. But also an aggregation of others' lives.

"When you look at my heroes: the Ghandis, the Dr. Kings, the Vaclav Havels, the Mandelas, you know they all, besides having one thing in common - jail time - they all had moral authority.

"And all of them were at the peak of their influence not when they were in elective office but before.

"So I don't think you also have to be in elective office to change the world, to make a difference.

"And I see that when I listen to Larry Page do the thing on Google - just extraordinary work they are doing to give away hundreds of thousands of computers in Africa to give access to computers to the world…to the continent of Africa.

Larry Page, Google Co-Founder & President, Products

"That's what WiFi is about. It's about giving people the tools of collaboration, the tools of technology, the tools of discovery.

"I really hope this year we can move aside our ideological differences because inevitably there's going to be a debate about is it municipally owned or is it privately owned.

"Get it done. Let's just get this thing done. Because the opportunities…are endless.

"We spent nine months to do it right with an RFI and now we have an RFP - open, transparent, but boy let's get it done.

"That's why it's a very intense thing for me. Why WiFi? That's what it's about - it's about something much bigger than the technology."

The incessant call for change throughout history mirrors the best of human development, Newsom proposed.

"I think that everyone wants to feel that we can all evolve and that evolution is by definition 'change.'

(We want to feel) "that there's something more, that there is something greater and I think if you feel that way you open yourself up to limitless possibilities.

"The minute you don't I think you are shutting down and you are not growing.

"My obsessed hero, Bobby Kennedy,…he talked about what the world needs are the qualities of youth - not a state of time but a state of mind, a quality of the imagination.

"It doesn't matter if you are 75-years-old just as long as you have that quality of imagination.

"You talk about Ray Kroc buying the McDonald brothers' stands in his mid50s. He hardly said he's too old, it's the next generation's. Kentucky Fried Chicken was started by Colonel Sanders. He was in his mid-60s. I mean, they rejected all of his recipes over and over again and he finally hit it and he made the deal but he didn't sell his soul by selling his recipe.

"So it's not a time of life. It's a willing to take risks. A willingness to fail because failure is by definition an opportunity to think anew.

The pursuit of happiness is the happiness, suggested Newsom.

"I always say success is not a place or a definition.

"It's a direction. It's a journey.

"It's not achieved to be happy - it's happily achieved."




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