District 5 Diary
Rob Anderson's commentary on San Francisco politics from District 5
Saturday, November 22, 2014
Friday, November 21, 2014
Anniversary of the People'sTemple massacre
|Willie Brown and Jim Jones in 1976|
four years after the Kinsolving articles in the Examiner
Tom Kinsolving on his father's expose of Jim Jones:
After running only four articles in September 17-20, 1972, and getting picketed by Temple cultists, the Examiner went into a fetal position and surrendered for almost the next five years...
He had eight exposes set to run in the Examiner of the fraudulent, menacing cult. Four, however, never saw the light of day, thanks to Jones enforcer Tim Stoen (who later apologized for his actions...)
The first expose, "The Prophet Who Raises The Dead," ran on the front page of The Examiner, Sunday, Sept. 17, 1972. Those that have wanted it, or the other three, never published again, for their own self-serving, immoral reasons, will now no longer have their way. These, and the other four exposes that were originally censored under the threat of Jones and Stoen's law suits, will be published in their chilling entirety right here.
Then you'll understand that one of the greatest crimes was simply that the Jonestown Massacre never needed to happen, only for the fact that the Examiner and the rest of the California media lost their backbone in 1972...
When New West magazine published "Inside People's Temple" in 1977, it triggered the cult's exodus from San Francisco to Guyana. From that article:
The source of Jones’s political clout is not very difficult to divine. As one politically astute executive puts it: “He controls votes.” And voters. During San Francisco’s run-off election for mayor in December of 1975, some 150 temple members walked precincts to get out the vote for George Moscone, who won by a slim 4,000 votes. “They’re well-dressed, polite and they’re all registered to vote,” said one Moscone campaign official. Can you win office in San Francisco without Jones? “In a tight race like the ones that George or Freitas or Hongisto had, forget it without Jones,” said State Assemblyman Willie Brown, who describes himself as an admirer of Jones’s.
Supervisor Harvey Milk was still trying to help Jim Jones months before the massacre:
The custody case in which Milk was encouraging President Carter's intervention was successful. Jones was allowed to keep the child, who was murdered in the massacre later that year.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
Alamo Square by Robert Frank
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
The San Francisco Modal Equity Study
|Where are the bikes?|
Any doubts that most of San Francisco’s public space is consumed by private automobiles, whether moving or stored, could probably be put to rest with a quick glance at the city’s car-dominated streets. But a new study pulls together some eye-opening numbers about just how unbalanced SF’s priorities have been in allocating street space, prioritizing cars over people, and in charging drivers little relative to the costs they incur.
Of course Bialick likes the study, which is essentially an anti-car polemic written in academese. Bialick's prose, on the other hand, is clotted with BikeThink jargon. "Private automobiles"? Are there public automobiles? (He's not referring to cars issued by public agencies to their employees.) The implication is that public space---parking, you understand, is "storage" for cars---is being "consumed" by dubious private interests, as if, whether you drive or not, designing city streets and regulating traffic doesn't benefit the public in general.
And "prioritizing cars over people" is a standard trope of the anti-car movement, as if people don't drive all those cars. The implication: those who rely on motor vehicles won't be fully human until they start riding bikes. (When I see this cars-over-people usage, I think of that Dennis Weaver movie wherein he's terrorized by a malevolent, seemingly driverless truck, which seems to be how Bialick and his bike-obsessed comrades view motor vehicles.)
The city is supposedly "charging drivers little relative to the costs they incur"? The opposite is the reality. The numbers from the city itself show that City Hall is already bringing in $247,349,190 a year from parking tickets, traffic tickets, red light cameras, gas taxes, vehicle license fees, parking meters, and 20 city-owned parking lots. And there's the $84 million a year in sales taxes that the SFCTA rakes in to maintain city streets. It will never be enough for City Hall, since it has a growing bureaucracy to maintain, including more than 5,000 people working at the MTA.
The study figures that it takes San Francisco $50 million a year (page 15) to maintain city streets, an amount that's covered many times over from what City Hall extracts every year from motorists.
But the study provides this insight about which transportation "modes" cause the most damage to city streets: "A search of the comprehensive TRID[Transport Research International Documentation] database revealed no credible research indicating that bicycles or pedestrians make a significant contribution to pavement deterioration." No shit! They had to consult a "database" to figure that out? But almost all of those pedestrians and cyclists also drive, ride public transportation and taxis. All city goods are delivered by trucks, and of course ambulances and fire trucks use city streets to serve them too.
"Parking lanes in San Francisco constitute 15 percent of the paved roadway area, equal to real estate valued between $8 and $35 billion."
Okay, but what about Golden Gate Park? Imagine the value of that one-and-a-half square miles if it wasn't being wasted on people using it for their private recreation pleasure!
"Street parking in San Francisco totals 902 miles in length, six times longer than the 143 miles of bike lanes."
According to the city's Mode Share Survey this study is in part based on, only 3.4% of all trips made in the city are by bicycle, which suggests that cyclists are already taking up too much room on city streets.
"Bicycling constitutes four percent of trips, but only 1.4 percent of roadway space is dedicated to bicycle lanes."
This is deceptive, since that's not how street space can possibly be allocated. All traffic "modes"---bikes, buses, cars, trucks, etc.---must now share the same limited space on city streets. Since bike lanes have to be four or five feet wide, when bike lanes separated from traffic are made, either a traffic lane or street parking has to be eliminated. (To make the separated bike lanes on Masonic Avenue, the city will remove 167 scarce parking spaces on Masonic.)
The study pretends to be "an objective look at the allocation of one of the City's most important and scarce resources---public roadway space." But it tips its hand in the first paragraph of the introduction, claiming that the study "presents a literature review of work by others that documents the external costs that dependence on the automobile causes to society."
On the "external costs of vehicle collisions," the study (24, 25) cites a 2005 SPUR study on insurance premiums---of course these folks have a SPUR connection---and a Cambridge Systematics study on the cost of traffic accidents in the San Francisco metropolitan area. But, unsurprisingly, the study doesn't cite that UC study on cycling accidents that was published way back in December, 2012, which even has a discussion of what it costs the city to treat cycling accidents.
The Modal Equity study is published by Transportation Choices for Sustainable Communities Research and Policy Institute. By exploring their website, you discover some of their deep thoughts like this, comparing cars to junk food:
"Leveling the Playing Field for Sustainable Transportation" began by framing bad transportation choices to those of unhealthy food choices. If your refrigerator and cupboards are only full of junk food, your family does not have any healthy food options and has no choice but to eat junk food. Similarly if the major streets in a community only accommodate automobiles, then citizens have no healthy transportation choices and are forced to drive (or in the case of children and the elderly, be driven).
From the institute's Mission Statement:
Transportation Choices also partners and collaborates with academics and advocates as well as city planners, engineers, architects, public health planners, and allied professions to illuminate the central role that sustainable transportation plays in the vibrancy of communities.
Last year Jack Bog warned us about the use of "vibrant" in this context:
Whenever you read "vibrant," you know the writer is either a smug urban "planning" overlord or a reporter who doesn't know that he or she is being taken in by one.
Or a smug, anti-car academic. (More on "vibrancy" here and here.)
Of course these folks were at that anti-car Pittsburgh convention I blogged about earlier here and here:
Michelle DeRobertis’ proposal for a session at the ProWalk/ProBike/ProPlace conference in Pittsburgh PA in September has been accepted. The session is entitled: “Transportation Studies in the 21st Century” and continues on the theme of her recently published article in the ITE Journal “Changing The Paradigm Of Traffic Impact Studies: How Typical Traffic Studies Inhibit Sustainable Transportation.” Michelle is very pleased to have three excellent speakers from three progressive cities on the panel to describe their city’s traffic study methodologies as well as the challenges these cities faced in incorporating the needs of sustainable modes into the Traffic Impact Studies and land development process: Peter Albert with the City of San Francisco CA, David Thompson with the City of Boulder CO and Patrick Lynch of Transpo group, describing Bellingham WA’s innovative person-trip methodology. Michelle’s talk will address the best practices she has uncovered through research with the ITE Transit and Traffic Impact Studies committee that she is chairing.
Palestinians celebrate Jerusalem synagogue massacre
What a successful presidency looks like
|President Obama Took Office|
|7,949||The Dow Jones Index||17,573|
|9.8%||Deficit GDP %||2.8%|
Paul Krugman defends Obama in the Rolling Stone, and Frank Rich defends Obama's foreign policy.
The Rolling Stone provides more numbers on the Obama Administration to supplement those above.
|Stand with Obama|
Labels: President Obama
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Billion dollar bike path for the Bay Bridge?
A reader writes:
In 2009 the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) approved $1.3 million for a study to explore a pedestrian/bike path on the western span of the Bay Bridge.
In Dec. 2009 the study said it would cost $500 million.
In Nov. 2014 MTC is dishing out another $10 million for a new study for a pedestrian/bike path.
Who knows how much the new proposal will cost?
The last study put the price tag as high as $1 billion (Bay Bridge 'bike path to nowhere'). The sky's the limit! I've been tracking this idea for years. No price is too high for taxpayers to pay for projects that benefit the bike zealots.
Willie Brown likes the idea:
Hey, the Willie L. Brown Bridge might get its own bike lane and walkway, just like that span on the other side of Yerba Buena Island. What a great idea. I’m looking forward to leading the first walk.
Willie Brown is what I call a Development Democrat, indifferent to how much projects cost or if they make any sense as long as they create union jobs: Dig a hole and fill it with money.
So is Jerry Brown. When asked about the cost overruns on the Bay Bridge, Governor Brown said "Shit happens."
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Friday, November 14, 2014
Michael Moore's half-hearted defence of Bill Maher
Moore on Maher's recent history:
Bill Maher is a friend of mine. He stood up for me when I was attacked after my Oscar speech (given on the fourth night of the Iraq War, a war Bill publicly opposed while 70% of the country, including the majority of Democrats in the U.S. Senate, supported it), and I stood up for him when ABC fired him and cancelled his show when he attempted to stop the hysteria and fear-mongering after 9-11---resulting in the Bush White House publicly ordering him to watch what he says---or else. When Bill got his HBO show, he went on a 7-year tear against the Bush administration and became one of our most unapologetic and unrelenting voices against the insanity being shoved down our throats.
On further examination, the infamous White House threat to Maher apparently never happened, but for progressives it is now an urban legend.
Sounds like Maher convinced Moore that Islam poses a special problem:
...Bill asks, "If I draw a cartoon of Jesus in a dress, will Christian leaders issue a call to assassinate me?" I can't speak to Bill's drawing skills, but it's safe to say that in the USA he can draw whatever he wants. In fact, other than those murdered abortion doctors, a hundred bombed or ransacked Planned Parenthood clinics and a few people like me, there are not many activists or artists who have to worry about Baptists blowing up their homes. Sinead O'Connor was not beheaded for beheading a photo of the Pope on NBC. Your middle name can be 'Hussein' and you can still win the state of Virginia if you're running for President...But if you're a Dutch filmmaker who makes a movie about violence against women in some Islamic countries, or if you're a Danish cartoonist who draws an image making fun of the Prophet---well, you are then either shot to death or you are now in hiding.
So if Bill is taking the same exact position liberals usually take whenever we see free speech being threatened, or women being abused or people forced to submit to fundamentalist dictates, why then is he facing any criticism for speaking out against these wrongs? When Christians do these things we speak up---loudly. So why not speak out when Muslims do it?
Okay so far, but when Moore tries to explain why liberals are uncomfortable about criticizing and mocking Islam, he gets tangled up in liberal misconceptions and misinformation:
We have witnessed, since 9/11, Arabs and Muslims in this country undergoing huge amounts of prejudice, bigotry and sometimes outright violence. This sickens us (as I know it does Bill). So we are extra sensitive to what sounds like, as it goes through the liberal filter in our ears, any "anti-Arab" comments. We don't want to hear anything even remotely anti-Muslim. But we have to be careful that this doesn't stop us from listening to legitimate criticisms about things that go on in the Muslim world.
In fact, according to FBI statistics, there haven't been a lot of anti-Muslim crimes in the US since 9/11 (see this). There are always a lot more hate crimes against black people, Jews and gays in the US than any other groups (see this).
Liberals are intensely fed up with these two wars against mostly Muslim populations (not to mention the indiscriminate drone strikes on at least four other nations). And now the party that won the elections last Tuesday would like a war with Iran. An ignorant American public was manipulated with fear and lies to start and maintain the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars---and that manipulation continues today in order to justify things like the mass spying by the NSA on our entire citizenry. When the Cold War ended (25 years ago today in Berlin), the defense industry went berserk with worry that their salad days were over. A new enemy was needed. Arab terrorists fit the bill perfectly! Not only has the defense industry since thrived, a whole new fake industry has arisen---the Homeland Security behemoth. As our infrastructure, our freedoms and our middle class vaporize, billions are spent as a grossly out-of-proportion response to a few shitty disasters.
On the one hand, Moore agrees with Maher that Islam poses a special problem, while on the other he denies that there is an international dimension to the problem. The 9/11 attackers were trained in Afghanistan, and that's where Osama Bin Laden, who organized the attacks, was based at the time. Are those "lies"? Can anyone really think that the US shouldn't have gone after the Taliban and Bin Laden in Afghanistan? The riff about the "defense industry" is fact-free, ultra-left piffle.
So we liberals don't want to hear another word about an "Islamic threat" or some non-existent Iranian nukes or...or whatever! We know we're being set up to get behind another war effort, another arms race, another diversion intended to make the point-one-percenters even filthier rich---and the rest of us distracted with false fears and hatreds.
Iran isn't trying to make nuclear weapons? The Israelis will be glad to learn that! One still wonders what all those centrifuges in Iran are for.
Moore thinks that the whole Islam issue is nothing but a set-up to make rich people richer!
I have fond memories of Moore's old TV show, but after "Farenheit 9/11"---a shoddy, stupid piece of work---I haven't been able to take him seriously. This only confirms that opinion.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
The imaginary "balance" on the board of supervisors
|Let the healing begin!|
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
The Tyranny of Twee
Labels: Cute Movement
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Jim Costa: "Godfather" of high-speed rail losing re-election
Labels: High-Speed Rail
Monday, November 10, 2014
President Obama: Keep the internet open and free
Labels: President Obama
BART strike elects Republican in East Bay
Assembly victory in East Bay a gift to the GOP
Saturday, November 08, 2014
Public "art" as eyesore
If we didn't already know better, you might think that all this junk "art" debasing public space in the city is an elaborate put-on by conceptual artists: "Let's see how much crap the public will tolerate in the name of Art," like an updated version of The Magic Christian in the Terry Southern novel. Apparently people will tolerate large amounts of this pretentious stuff, not that the public has any say in the matter.
We learn from this morning's Chronicle that the Mark di Suvero junk---an Eyesore of the Week last year---that littered Crissy Field until earlier this year will be relocated to UCSF at Mission Bay---where it will be permanently installed!
The sculpture stands 50 feet and will be even taller on a rise of the grass quad outside the campus community center...The artist will oversee installation outside William J. Rutter Center in December, and it will be dedicated at a public ceremony during the first week of January. “Art and science are both very creative, and I have witnessed how the scientists respond to art,” said Jeanne Robertson, a director of the UCSF Foundation, who has been active along with her husband in development of the Mission Bay campus. Sanford Robertson, who goes by the nickname Sandy, was a founder of Robertson Stephens, the investment banking firm, and now works in private equity.
Surely Sandy and his philistine wife can find better things to do with all that money. Mark di Suvero must be disappointed that his won't be the biggest piece of crap in the neighborhood. Richard Serra's (below) is bigger!
“Dreamcatcher” took seven years to build and weighs 15 tons total. But it will not be the largest outdoor artwork at UCSF Mission Bay. That honor goes to Richard Serra’s “Ballast,” formed of two 70-ton steel plates that rise as tall as the buildings along Third Street and are angled just enough to skew the viewer’s outlook...The Serra piece was a commission from UCSF, as part of the construction budget. One percent of the overall construction cost has gone to public art...That program has now expired, and the di Suvero is the first major gift to the art collection at UCSF. “I’m hoping to inspire others to donate art,” Jeanne Robertson says. “I’m a great believer of art in public places."
Another Bicycle Coalition employee boards MTA gravy train
None of that is true. The Van Ness BRT project instead will screw up traffic on that major north/south city street---and the streets in the surrounding neighborhoods---with most of the money coming from the state and the federal government.
I suppose anyone would be "excited" after being welcomed aboard City Hall's gravy train with a sinecure. McCarthy was previously awarded the anti-car movement's Susie Stephens Joyful Enthusiasm Award. Heigh ho!
McCarthy used to work for the SF Bicycle Coalition and is on the board of directors of the California Bicycle Coalition and Walk San Francisco, another anti-car group.
Muni boss and bike guy Ed Reiskin thinks working for the anti-car SF Bicycle Coalition qualifies people to work on the city's transportation system. Given her resume, McCarthy may be over-qualified to work at screwing up city traffic.
Other recent MTA hires from the Bicycle Coalition: here and here.
Friday, November 07, 2014
Jon Carroll: A "nice liberal" and Islam
Istanbul is a tolerant place. Women in burqas walk down the sidewalk next to women in short skirts. The conversations in the cafes are free-wheeling. It’s a place of great intellectual ferment, and great creature comforts too. It stands as an answer to Bill Maher and those other bigots who think that a Muslim state is by definition cruel, capricious and violent.
But Maher is talking about Islam, not Muslim states, though he could---probably already has---talk about Saudi Arabia or Iran as examples of repressive Muslim states.
The point he and others are making: to many Muslims, Islam is a weaponized version of the religion that is responsible for almost all the religious violence now happening in the world (The campaign by Buddhist Burma against Muslims is the only significant exception that comes to mind).
Carroll was bothered by the media attention to that Malaysian airliner that disappeared earlier this year because...?
Richard Dawkins worries that the good people, the nice liberals are betraying liberal values with their failure to understand radical Islam. These fanatics want to kill us because of who we are, not because of US foreign policy:
You have turned your attention to Islam recently. Why is that?
Richard Dawkins: I think my love of truth and honesty forces me to notice that the liberal intelligentsia of Western countries is betraying itself where Islam is concerned. It's stymied by the conflict between being against misogyny and discrimination against women on the one hand, and on the other by the terror of being thought racist—driven by misunderstanding Islam as though it were a race. So people who would normally speak out against the maltreatment of women don't do it. I do fret about what I see as a betrayal by my own people, the nice liberals.