October 30, 2002
Arts and Entertainment
Election coverage online at http://www.sfbg.com/election/live.html
Log on to the Bay Guardian's Web site on election night for colorful and informative live coverage of the races. We'll feature analysis and reporting from election campaign parties and provide up-to-the-minute results as ballots are being counted.
Shame in the Marina
On Oct. 25 the workweek came to a close in the Marina District. Joggers, shoppers, and homeward-bound professionals tangled on the sidewalks, and the bars started filling up with happy-hour crowds. In front of the Marina public library, however, a cardboard shantytown had appeared. About 150 people had gathered for activist group Gay Shame's "Prop. N Stands for Nightmare: A Pre-Halloween Festival of Resistance," an event protesting Sup. Gavin Newsom's Care Not Cash measure, which would reduce monthly General Assistance checks to $59, with promises but no guarantee of increased services. Carrying collapsible apartment buildings, houses, suitcases, and even a hospital, protesters had dressed, as requested, to "absolutely terrifying, devastating, ragged excess," and as they set off on a tour of Newsom's neighborhood, they waved signs with messages like "Oh Mary! Vote no on N" and "Vote on November 5th. Don't be Careless."
The reactions of locals faced with a march of zombies in ragged clothing spattered with fake blood and a sound system rocking hip-hop and haunted techno ranged from amused to bemused to downright irritated. Cops had begun issuing arrest threats outside the library, and when the group took over Fillmore Street in front of Prop. N's fundraising offices (above the bar Matrix Fillmore, another Newsom enterprise) rolling out a fake blood-spattered "Exploitation Runway" and setting up pink-striped roadblocks with "Gays Against Gavin" painted on them the paddy wagon started to circle. It was police against fashion police. Stars of the runway included stand-ins for Dianne Feinstein, Frank Jordan (MC Mattilda: "Maybe if Frank Jordan was still mayor, San Francisco would be as fashionable as New York!"), the Fishers ("Work that gentrification, honey! They make the runway phrase 'Own it' real!"), Willie Brown, the SFPD, the Giants, several Gavins (participants in a look-alike contest), and Kimberly Guilfoyle, decked out in a fabulous gown sewn together out of the latest in plastic Plump Jack doggie bags.
The protest ended in Pacific Heights, where the Festival of Resistance headed next to attend Congregation Sherith Israel's "Care Not Cash: A Conversation with Supervisor Gavin Newsom." As protesters approached the synagogue, rowdily beginning the dialogue by chanting Newsom's name, the paddy wagon returned, and a line of cops approached, batons out, to clear the area. The evening ended in a quiet face-off between protesters and officers of the peace, while glamorous Gavin stayed inside to make his case for robbing the poor. (Lynn Rapoport)
Public power shines in the Sunset
In the past month the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco Examiner, the San Francisco Independent, and the Bay Area Reporter have all published pieces breaking down the issues and candidates involved in the race to replace Sup. Leland Yee on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. But the papers have all noticeably left out a key component: even out in the deepest reaches of the Sunset District, traditionally one of the city's conservative areas, there are two credible candidates who are not only running as progressives but also actively and, they would argue, successfully pushing public power.
Joel Ventresca, an administrator at the San Francisco airport, and Barry Hermanson, owner of a Castro-based employment service company, are both veterans of the fight to fire Pacific Gas and Electric Co. from its long-held (and illegally held) job as provider of power to city residents and businesses. Ventresca has been involved since the early 1980s. Hermanson helped out on the two public power campaigns last year, and this year his mailers feature the issue prominently: "Barry Hermanson supports Prop. D, because he trusts you, the public, NOT PG&E or Enron," the mailer says in English and Cantonese.
Political observers say Ventresca and Hermanson are running uphill campaigns. Pollster David Binder tells us District Four isn't exactly a public power stronghold (which may explain why the other candidates aren't talking about the issue). But Hermanson told us he senses there is support for public power in the Sunset.
"The response on Prop. D has been very good," Hermanson said. "Some people are very unsure they're responding to the lies put out by PG&E. But a lot of people come by and say, 'Yes, it's time for public power.' I believe Prop. D will get a number of votes out here."
Hermanson said his campaign is really about "laying the groundwork for progressive values" in the Sunset. He said his status as a Green Party member is not a liability with voters in District Four.
"I'm finding folks who this is resonating with," Hermanson said. "They're out there, and they're coming out of the woodwork." (Savannah Blackwell)
City hall prepares for Nov. 5 without Haygood
So far this year the only election snafus the Bay Guardian has learned of are misprinted polling addresses throughout District Seven. That's not bad considering last November's election nightmare.
Indeed, San Francisco election officials say they're hoping Nov. 5 won't be a reprise of 2001, when ballots were left unsupervised and ballot-box tops were found floating in the bay not to mention the 264 ballots that turned up three weeks late.
According to Richard Shadoian, a member of the newly formed Elections Commission, interim Department of Elections chief John Arntz has, with the help of the Elections Commission, tightened up the vote counting process and put together backup plans, should anything like last year's anthrax scare surface.
Shadoian, a long-time critic of the Elections Department, remembers last year's embarrassment but feels confident this year will be different. "We've got consultants from the secretary of state's office, and John Arntz has everybody well prepared. This is a really big improvement over last year," Shadoian said.
Arnt's good favor with the commission is unfortunate for Tammy Haygood, the beleaguered former Elections Department chief fired by the Elections Commission in April. Whether she was fired because of last year's mistakes or for her $5.6 million in unauthorized spending isn't clear. What is clear is that Haygood wants her job back. When fired, Haygood appealed to the Civil Service Commission, which ordered the Elections Commission to let Haygood report to work. The commission disagreed and took the issue to court, where the case still sits in the First District Court of Appeal. Arguments will be heard Dec. 11, one day after the scheduled date for a possible election run-off vote.
Warning to District Seven voters: your polling location on your ballot book is wrong. Be on the lookout for an Election Department mailer with the correct information or call the department at (415) 554-4411. (Corbett Miller)
Latinos going Green
According to almost all of the polls, even ardent Democrats aren't exactly thrilled about the prospect of having to vote for Gov. Gray Davis. That could help the Green Party candidate, Peter Camejo, finish with an unusually high vote total for a third-party contender. And Camejo says he's making inroads in an area where the Green Party has traditionally been weak: with nonwhite voters.
Camejo told us Green registration is on the rise among Latinos, in large part due to anger with the incumbent governor. Davis waffled for weeks on a key farmworkers rights bill. He vetoed a law that would have given driver's licenses to many immigrants. And then he failed to show up for a debate hosted by New California Media, which represents hundreds of organizations devoted to issues affecting people of color.
"When I was on Radio Unica, nearly every caller said they were voting Green," Camejo noted. "That's the newest development. Latinos joining the Green Party."
Indeed, several Democratic members of the Latino Caucus of the state legislature have publicly rebuked Davis.
Assemblymember Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), author of the bill that would have made driver's licenses available for immigrants in the process of applying for legal residency, told us the caucus has decided not to support Davis's reelection efforts.
"From the Latino perspective, this is one of the most significant civil rights issues," Cedillo said. "The governor's veto is seen as a rejection of accepting diversity and embracing immigration."
Miguel Araujo, general coordinator for Centro Azteca which works to educate Mexican immigrants in state politics says more and more Latinos are disgusted with Davis and are registering to vote Green.
"We had a meeting last night in San Jose with 200 people, and a majority are asking for the number to call Camejo to help him and give him donations," Araujo said. "Lots and lots of Latinos are choosing to go with neither the Republican nor the Democrat. Camejo understands our necessities."
Davis appears to be feeling the pressure. He's scrambling to prop up support from Latinos. He issued a press release Oct. 17 announcing the publication of a Spanish-language ad in La opinion, the L.A.-based Spanish-language daily that features the endorsements of prominent Latinos and members of the Democratic Party, such as Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante and U.S. Congressmember Hilda Solis (D-Polanco).
Camejo said the Green Party is also adding new Arab American members (thanks in part to Camejo's criticism of U.S. policy in the Middle East). And the Fang family-owned Asian Week ran a story Oct. 17 about increases in Green party membership among Asian Pacific Islanders.
The growth of the party could have an impact far beyond the governor's race: in Mendocino, Humboldt, and northern Sonoma Counties, a poll by the Republican Party for the state assembly seat representing District One shows that the Green candidate, Doug Thron, is running 10 points ahead of the Democratic candidate, Patty Berg, and 11 points behind the front-runner, Republican candidate, Rob Brown.
"We have grown 27.7 percent in the last year," Camejo said. "No other political party is growing." (Blackwell)
Newsom's report card: F
Frontlines, the left-leaning publication that is now Web-only, released some data of particular interest to District Two residents Oct. 18.
It's a list of Newsom's votes since the beginning of October 2001. And it's largely anti-neighborhood and pro-developer, pro-corporate, and pro-downtown. That's not exactly shocking, given young Newsom's political connections. But it's sobering to see it run down in black and white. We did a little checking on Frontlines' reporting, and it mostly holds up.
Some of the breakdowns are on big issues. For example, Newsom joined Sups. Tony Hall, Sophie Maxwell, and Leland Yee in voting for every single one of the mayor's nominees to the San Francisco Planning Commission and the Board of Appeals. Others are not so major after real estate interests lobbied him in January 2002, he voted against the Bay Area Air Quality Management District's recommendation that any new fireplaces be certified "environmentally safe" prior to installation.
Meanwhile, it looks like Newsom can count PG&E among his political buddies. The corporation forked over $10,000 Oct. 19 for the District Two supervisor's Care Not Cash campaign. Guess PG&E is hoping the down-and-out take their sorry lot elsewhere as well. The corporation has also contributed to Proposition R, which would result in a frightening amount of housing units being take out from under rent control. (Blackwell)
More dough for Connolly
Looks like state senator John Burton is really serious about trying to get Sean Connolly elected Superior Court judge. In addition to the $2,500 he gave to Connolly's coffers for the March general election, his "Burton for Senate 2000" committee donated $5,000 Aug. 5.
Jo Cuney, who's handling the campaign for rival Gail Dekreon, worries that the Burtons (daughter Kimiko has endorsed Connolly) are trying to soothe the sting of Kimiko's March loss to Jeff Adachi in the public defender's race by getting Connolly, who once worked with Kimiko in the office, elected judge. "I think they're really desperate for a win," Cuney told us. (Blackwell)
A "dear friend" letter sent by Sen. Dianne Feinstein to San Francisco voters this month has infuriated public power advocates. The letter published on a mock-up of the senator's letterhead but printed by PG&E's San Franciscans Against the Blank Check urges voters to vote against public power measure Prop. D, noting that "San Francisco has enough trouble keeping the streets clean and safe without taking on this completely new and very complicated responsibility.... I frankly do not believe the city is up to this task."
Ross Mirkarimi, campaign manager for Yes on D, was livid when he read the letter. "Dianne Feinstien is a corporation dressed up as a senator," Mirkarimi said. "Whether it's her vote for war against Iraq or her silence on corporate corruption, Feinstein has proven time after time that she's no friend to consumer protection. Her letter was reprehensible."
It was also entirely typical: Feinstein has supported PG&E for years, on virtually every issue. (Rachel Brahinsky)
The Bay Guardian, Bay Guardian editor and publisher Bruce B. Brugmann, and associate publisher Jean Dibble are contributors to the Yes on D campaign. To help out during the last week of the campaign call (415) 820-1418.