41st Anniversary Special: The privatization of San Francisco - Page 3

The city should be a loud, visible, proud, and shining example of a different kind of America
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Photo illustration by John Ueland

That's what the whole wi-fi deal (now on the ballot as Proposition J) is about; the city could easily and affordably create its own system to deliver cheap Internet access to every resident and business. Instead, Newsom wants the private sector to do the job.

The Department of Public Health is running public money through a private foundation in a truly shady deal. The mayor's Connect programs operate as public-private partnerships. Newsom wants to privatize the city's golf courses, and maybe Camp Mather. He's prepared to give one of the worst corporations in the country — Clear Channel Communications — the right to build and sell ads on bus shelters (and nobody has ever explained to us why the city can't do that job and keep all the revenue). Housing policy? That depends entirely on what the private sector wants — and when we challenged Newsom on that in a recent interview, he snidely proclaimed that the city simply has to follow the lead of the developers because "we don't live in a socialist society."

This is not how the city of San Francisco ought to be behaving. Because when you give public land, public services, public institutions, and public planning initiatives to the private sector, you get high prices, backroom deals, secrecy, corruption — and a community that's given up on the notion of government as part of the solution, not just part of the problem.

You start acting like the people who have been running Washington DC since 1980 — instead of promoting a city policy and culture that ought to be a loud, visible, proud, and shining example of a different kind of America.