Editor's Notes

Dumb stuff never goes away
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tredmond@sfbg.com

Gavin Newsom will never live down his drunken affair with a close friend's wife. It's not a factor in this year's mayoral race (which shows that San Francisco still has some class), but it'll come back to haunt him someday, when he runs for governor or senator or wherever he goes next. Bill Clinton's got the same curse — for all the good and bad things he did as president and everything he's done since and will do, when he dies the world's most famous blow job will be in the first paragraph of his obituary. Dumb stuff never goes away.

On the other hand, Clear Channel Communications is one of the most evil corporations in the United States, a sleazy outfit that is trying to destroy radio here and has gone a long way toward monopolizing the industry. Clear Channel treats its workers badly and is notoriously antiunion. It's the worst sort of unaccountable conglomerate — many of its radio stations operate on remote control, with virtually no local staff, and it's almost impossible to get through to anyone at corporate headquarters in San Antonio. Lowry Mays, its chairperson, is a big contributor to the Republican Party and to right-wing causes.

And yet none of that stopped the Board of Supervisors from giving Clear Channel tentative approval for a lucrative contract to build and sell ads on bus shelters in San Francisco. The whole thing annoyed me. If there's so much money in bus shelters, why can't the city build them and sell the ads and make some cash for the General Fund? But that aside, I have to ask: Why are we doing business with these people? Shouldn't corporations, which want to be treated legally the same as individuals, be held accountable for their actions and their history?

At least Sup. Tom Ammiano brought up some of Clear Channel's record. Some labor leaders tried to scuttle the deal. But the bus drivers' union really wanted the contract approved, because Clear Channel will dump a bunch of money into Muni, so it went through, 9–1, with only Sup. Ross Mirkarimi opposed (and Sup. Chris Daly absent).

Then there's Sutter Health.

On Saturday, Oct. 20, when nobody read the newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Sutter is going to effectively shut down St. Luke's Hospital in the Mission by turning it into an ambulatory clinic with an emergency room. No hospital beds, no place to put very sick people, nothing resembling the sort of service the district has counted on for decades. Instead, Sutter — which is allegedly a nonprofit but acts like a rapacious and greedy corporation — is going to stick San Francisco General with all of the uninsured sick people in the southeast neighborhoods while it gussies up its properties in the wealthier northern part of town.

The nurses have had to go on strike to demand better care for patients at Sutter. Even Mitch Katz, the city's public health director, who is not known for blasting the private sector, has complained loudly that Sutter is doing a disservice to San Francisco.

And while all of this is going on, this allegedly nonprofit behemoth wants to build a $1.7 billion, 425-bed hospital at the old Cathedral Hill Hotel site at Van Ness and Geary.

Sutter only likes sick people who have good health insurance or are rich enough to pay cash. Perhaps the supervisors can remember that and hold these assholes accountable when they come to City Hall for a building permit.