Monday, May 28, 2007


A major shame of the so called progressives or Greens in San Francisco is their failure to advocate for public transit.

The recent meltdown of Muni Metro barely raised an eyebrow on our so called progressive Board of Supervisors. It is amazing to me how no elected official in this town takes any responsibility of any kind for the functioning of our transportation system.

Now Board President Aaron “flight-risk monitor” Peskin has concocted a voter referendum to solve Muni’s problems.

This legislation will be voted on in the November election, five months from now. After that, implementation may take, what?, years. So Muni riders have to endure the same shitty service.

It’s hard to find a copy of the proposal but it reportedly has four main sections:

1. Rearranges funding for Muni, supposedly to fill the gap between what they need and what they currently receive.

2. Changes of work/compensation rules for drivers and supervisors.

3. Upgrade entire diesel fleet to biodiesel.

4. Something about bicycling.

Of these only the first two have anything to do with possible improvements in on-time performance.

Biodiesel/green issues may be a good thing, but it has nothing to do with on-time performance.

And why there would be anything in this legislation about bicycling baffles me.

So once again, Muni riders are getting the shaft.

When the referendum passes, the environmentalists and bicyclists will rush to get what the legislation promises to them.

Muni drivers have already expressed vehement opposition to the work rules and compensation components. So those things will take forever to implement, it at all.

Why is the Muni problem so intractable?

Peskin’s plan has some association with SPUR, San Francisco Planning and Urban Renewal something-or-other, a true wolf in sheep’s clothing, that has been steadfastly blocking Muni reform for many years.

I hope Aaron Peskin’s political career ends with his term-limited Supervisorial stint. If he runs for Mayor, I’ll vote for Newsom.

BTW: Peskin as snitch.
When he found out that his colleague, Ed Jew, who is under federal investigation for corruption, was taking a trip to China, Peskin notified the FBI that Jew was a “flight risk.”

What a fucking fool! Aaron’s been watching too much Law and Order.

Word to the wise: Peskin is an FBI snitch.

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Monday, May 21, 2007


Local politics has me down. I’ve been paying more attention than usual and nothing is very uplifting.

The global ecology situation seems to be heading toward major dieback, just based on world population.

The Ameican culture of production and consumption is unsustainable. Americans seems willing to go to war to keep gas prices low.

The sense of camaraderie and generosity felt by the American survivors of World War II and their offspring seems to have dissipated.

The nation votes against the war and we’re still at war.

Locally we vote for auto access to Golden Gate Park on Saturdays, now we have a compromise with the Bicycle lobby.

Republicans cheer for torture.

[For the record: I was taught that even if the human race should perish, we are never permitted to torture.]

Our most important civic asset is the Municipal Railway System. We have a transit first policy. Yet no politicians or pundits, including blogs-progs, care about Muni’s miserable performance.

“Progressives” recommend private bicycles as the alternative to Muni. But we’re getting green grocery bags, and they’re going to run Muni (late) on reprocessed restaurant griddle grease (only $1.45 more per gallon than regular diesel).

Word is that Jared Blumenthal’s burgeoning Department of the Environment will soon announce a major new initiative to turn shit into Shinola.

My District 4 Supervisor Ed Jew gets caught with $20,000 of FBI sting money in his flower-shop safe. Examiner story here.

The cash, $40k total, came from “businessmen” seeking “help” with the difficult process of getting permit and licenses for some stores they wanted to open. At one point Ed said he couldn’t even remember the names of the men who gave him $40,000 in hundred-dollar bills.

Early on Ed said the $20k remaining in his safe was to be donated to help fix up a playground in his district. (The cash was to be delivered to Rec & Park via flying pig.)

Now I’m not so depressed. This is kind of exciting.

Public corruption is under-reported and under-prosecuted in this town.

The odors emerging from Ed flower shop smell like felonies. It would be a lot of fun if Ed started blabbing. Maybe the FBI will follow the other $20k.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007


A couple days ago Mayor Newsom and D.A Kamala Harris held a press conference in the Bay View to announce four new gun laws they are introducing. Chron story here.
Supervisor Chris Daly, who spearheaded Prop. H and regularly opposes Newsom, said he was glad to see the mayor focusing on gun control.
Frequently the Mayor’s announcements of new initiatives includes phrases like “first in the nation,” “first in the world,” “groundbreaking,” “a model for the rest of the country.”

Not this time. And I rejoice. San Francisco does enough service as a social-engineering laboratory, its residents as lab rats. At least this time we’re piggy-backing on the efforts of other jurisdictions.

When asked about legal, constitutional challenges to the new laws, Harris said the laws had been modeled on laws implemented and tested in other California cities.

I salute such cost-effective efforts.

In a sort-of related theme, one commenter at this week’s WiFi hearing explained the need for WiFi thusly:

Where she lives, in Bay View Hunter’s Point, they have computers in the libraries, but it’s not safe to walk to the libraries. Solution—provide wifi access to those imprisoned in their own homes.

I guess “free” wifi for the entire city is cheaper than providing effective law enforcement for the “underserved” neighborhoods.

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Monday, May 14, 2007


Mayor Newsom is eager to provide free wireless internet access to the people of San Francisco. To this end he is promoting an exclusive franchise agreement with Earthlink/Google to offer 300K wireless (as opposed to 56K dialup) for free and and 1,000K for something like $21.00 per month.

Earthlink/Google receives the right to put up poles and exclusive access to a presumably large advertising audience.

In the couple of months that I’ve been paying attention, the franchise deal is being advocated as a way of delivering internet service (of any kind) to poor people, especially poor school kids, many of whom are black or Hispanic.

So the franchise agreement is presented a matter of social justice.

To its supporters, the question is, Should poor kids have access to the internet?

To critics, the question is, How good a deal is this for San Francisco?

Today there was a hearing before the Board of Supervisors’ Budget Committee about whether to move the proposal forward to the full board.

To Mayor Newsom the deal would be a feather in his cap, an important resume item in his search for higher office. The Board, generally at odds with the mayor is exploring an alternative plan.

The clip below shows the testimony of Kimo Crossman, one of sfmike’s heroes, and a star of his Civic Center Blog.

According to sfmike, Kimo was instrumental in creating public skepticism about the proposed deal.

Kimo points out, among other things, that despite the sales pitch, there is nothing in the proposed contract that guarantees coverage to all San Franciscans.

Check out Civic Center Blog for coverage of the rally on City Hall steps of proposal supporters, prior to going inside for the hearing.

The rally was organized by the Mayor’s reelection campaign.

[I love my cable internet (6000-8000K) service and I don’t have a laptop or blackberry or anything like that, so the presence of WiFi service won’t mean much to me unless it brings down the price of my cable. I had a bad experience with Earthlink and I wouldn’t to do business with them again.]

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007


According to this morning’s story Nathaniel Ford will do what it takes to fix the current Muni crisis caused by the introduction of sevice on the new T-Third streetcar line.

Ford, however, has ensured that all options are being explored with a focus on quality customer service.

He can begin by returning to pre-T-Third scheduling: shut down the T-Third, bring back the 15, and run the same schedules as before the bomb hit.

Since no one has benefited from the introduction of T-Third service, the elimination (temporary) of the T-Third would hurt no one. Returning to normal service on the 15 and other lines eliminated or changed by the T-Third would bring immediate relief to many riders.

This would give Muni management breathing room to figure out how to introduce service on the T-Third in a way that actually improves the public transit experience and doesn’t mess everything up.

Don’t they do computer modeling and stuff?

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007


After watching yesterday as a Supervisors' Committee furthered the giveaway of public land to Lennar Corporation, I awakened this morning to this bullshit Examiner story.

The gist: There are a number of street paving projects scheduled to be done in District 4. Our District 4 Supervisor, Ed Jew, looked at the District 4 projects in the queue and suggested a change, based on perceived need, in the order in which the District 4 projects by done. This doesn't affect the schedule for projects in other districts in any way.

But in the Examiner story, Board president Aaron Peskin attacks Ed Jew for using "politics" to influence how a city department does its job. Maybe I'm dense, but isn't that what an elected official is supposed to do?

So I sent this email to Aaron Peskin. I'll post his response if any.

Dear Supervisor Peskin:

According to this morning’s Examiner story you are attacking my supervisor, Ed Jew, for practicing “politics.”

As a native resident of District 4, I must take exception to your attack.

The readers of my blog would like to know:

1) Is the Examiner story accurate? Anything you would like to add?

2) Who exactly was harmed by the scheduling change?

3) Since all the work is within District 4, what business is it of yours?

4) If our district supervisor can’t help City departments fine-tune their services to meet his district’s needs, who will?

5) Don’t you do the same thing in your district?

6) Aren’t you just punishing Ed Jew for his insistence (so far) on furthering his constituents’ interests instead of going along with the Board’s majority?

Thank you for your attention.


Willie Morrissey

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Monday, May 07, 2007


The Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee unanimously voted to approve and send to the full Board a resolution endorsing a controversial development plan.

The “Conceptual Framework,” adds Candlestick Point land to an existing project at Hunters Point being conducted by mega-developer Lennar Corporation.

Some critics refer to this as a “gift” of public land to a private, for-profit corporation, Lennar.

You can view the resolution here, along with the Conceptual Framework.

There are two elements to the resolution:

1) Expanding and moving forward on the “plan.”

2) Lennar Corporation will be the sole developer.

The affected residents of Bay View/Hunters Point fear that their homes and neighborhood will be stolen from them for the benefit of private corporations and upwardly mobile new arrivals to the City.

And rightly so. My impression of the history of redevelopment in San Francisco is one of shame. Basically it’s: Promise the colored folks and poor folks anything in order to get them out of their homes, then, don’t return their calls.

The residents of BVHP will have their homes and neighborhood taken from them, the only question is what, besides promises, they can get in return.

At the meeting today, public comment divided between “let’s move the project forward,” and, “Lennar Corp is a bad actor and should be dumped from the plan.”

As proof of their contention that Lennar Corp is a bad actor, BVHP speakers hammered on an incident in which Lennar Corporation, already grading at the Hunter’s Point facility, failed to monitor the disbursal of asbestos into the surrounding neighborhood.

Other instances of Lennar’s failure to obey environmental regulations, with possible health effects on the neighbors, were cited as examples of why the community doesn’t trust, and why the City government shouldn’t do business with, Lennar.

Here’s my favorite speaker:

All three supervisors, Maxwell, Sandoval, and Dufty, after public comment ended, expressed concern and outrage about the possible environmental threat, and chided Lennar.

They treated the critics as being concerned about discreet health issues, which they wholeheartedly agreed with. The Supervisors completely ignored the commenters’ assertion that Lennar should be dumped from the project, or at least should be investigated.

Basically, the residents were pleading for a developer that might be less rapacious. The supervisors did not even recognize this plea as having been made.

So the message is clear: Lennar is more powerful than the Board of Supervisors, the Mayor, or the voters of SF. BVHP constituents are on their own to negotiate a fair price for their homes.

Good luck.

Lennar Corp has been in the news recently for failing to repair timely gross defects in a new “luxury condo” building in San Francisco. Here’s a recent Chronicle story lead:

When Michael Cullen used the stove at his new $1.5 million penthouse in San Francisco's trendy South Beach, the ventilation failed and his condo filled with smoke. When he filled his spacious new bathtub, it leaked, soaking subflooring beneath bathroom tile and damaging wood paneling.

The entire complex has defects, according to Cullen. The garage walls leak, the water pressure is weak and inconsistent, and the entire west wing of the building experiences temperature swings due to ventilation problems, he said.

The article goes on to explain the difficulty of getting Lennar Corp., the builder, to correct the problems

"It's really disheartening to pay this much for a brand-new home and to have all this stuff happening," said Cullen. "It's been three years of absolute hell fighting ... and I don't see any end in sight."

If a white guy who just paid $1.5 million for a condo finds Lennar unresponsive, imagine what will happen to the mostly black, mostly poor residents of Bay View/Hunters Point.

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Sunday, May 06, 2007


I’m sort of a trained poet.

In 1967 (or so) my teacher, Dan Langton, who always took an anti-heroic attitude about the poetry profession, used to say that he was a poet because, when he graduated from college, he realized it was the only thing he knew how to do.

There’s not much of a career path for poets, at least in the USA.

Dan’s pitch was:

“How much does it take to sustain life these days? Twenty-five dollars a week?” [This was forty years ago.]

“So how many poets in the world make $25/week in royalties for their poetry?


Working poets require “real” jobs or independent means.

The standard career path is to get an advanced degree, kiss the proper asses to get published in sufficiently stuffy poetry magazines, win some awards, then get a university teaching position. That’s a “successful” poet.

A failed poet was someone who followed this same path but wound up with a high school teaching position.

Then why train poets?

Two reasons:

1) Poetry creation is a major part of some occupations; and

2) Poetizing skills enrich the language and make life more fun.

One of my favorite definitions of “poetry” is “utterances repeated verbatim for pleasure.”

One of the most satisfying events in my life is when someone quotes me. Even better is when I can’t remember having said it, and it sounds really good. Like, did I say that? Good for me!

I woke up smiling this morning thinking about a cheer I created one afternoon years ago. I sat for a few innings with some fans of a softball team I didn’t like very much and they didn’t much like me.

Rolo, a Castro District fashion empire, was kind of snooty, tending toward A-gay. They did, however, have a couple of players that were way cute.

Poor Rolo was getting beaten and they were hanging there heads. They needed some perking.

Their beautiful uniforms (the team was more about fashion than athletics) were white with purple trim, so I made up this cheer:

Purple, purple, white white white,
Rolo, Rolo, fight fight fight!
So simple! I shared it with four or five folks near me, and after just one sotovoce rehearsal, we yelled it clean, first time through.

I can’t remember if Rolo’s play perked, but their ears pricked.

Poetry is an essential ingredient of stand-up comedy, advertising, and speechwriting. Also title and headline writing. I guess we should include song lyrics and rap.

Dan Langton used to say that, if you include song lyrics and advertising jingles, the average American knows thousands of lines of poetry by heart.

This is a utilitarian view. Some poets pursue purely personal goals, such as, “To be lucid at the moment of ecstasy.”

I say, “Where’s the beef?”

Yesterday with my old friend Paul, when I expressed pessimism about the future of the human race and the decline of my own culture, he quoted one of my familiar lines: “I’m glad I’m old and I’m going to die soon.”


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Wednesday, May 02, 2007


According to this Reuters story an illegal immigrant from El Salvador was deported two days ago to his native country.

Liberal outrage? Protests in the streets?

Not exactly.

He wasn’t hurting anyone. He was a humble janitor at a motel, but Gonzalo Guevara-Cerritos, 43, had been a Salvadoran army officer who was convicted of participating in the military's 1989 massacre of six Jesuit priests.

Reuters provides this background:

Los Angeles is home to some 250,000 Salvadorans, many of whom fled to the United States during the Central American country's 12-year civil war in which the U.S. government supported the right-wing Salvadoran government and its army.

More than 75,000 people died in the 1980-92 conflict, including 17 priests, most murdered for their leftist political views.

Guevara had served his sentence in El Salvador but he must have wanted to ditch his reputation and start a new life in the U.S.

Guevara, who had been maintaining a low profile for fear of being identified by pissed off Salvadorans, was turned in to ICE by a member of the public, quite possibly a fellow illegal immigrant.

According to the story, former death-squader Guevara was not identified by any public agency. In California, inquiries by public employees about the immigration status of individuals is mostly forbidden.

My city, San Francisco, is a “sanctuary” for people like Guevara, so too, Los Angeles where Guevara was arrested.

Apparently Guevara had broken no U.S. laws except those involving his undocumented status. The only legal reason ICE had to arrest and deport the man was his illegal status.

Yet, who will protest his deportation? Who will tell me that I, acting in concert with my fellow U.S. citizens, do not have the right to kick this mass murderer out of my country?

Viva la Migra!

Click here to go to a School of the Americas Watch pdf showing SOA grads in the news.

My alma mater, St Ignatius High School, sends a contingent to the yearly protests at the now (more ominously) renamed School of the Americas (wikilink). Not only did Guevara and his fellow right wing death-squaders kill the six Jesuits, they killed the housekeeper and the housekeeper’s daughter. This really irked the Jesuits. If a Jebbie dropped the dime on Guevara, good for him!

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