Can Newsom save SF parties?

Newsom, who made a living throwing parties, should defend his former community against police harassment.
Luke Thomas/Fog City Journal

Why won’t Mayor Gavin Newsom save San Francisco’s nightlife and culture? That question was raised toward the end of this week’s cover story on party-crashing cops, but it’s worth highlighting here because Newsom seem uniquely suited to the task of mediating this damaging dispute.

Newsom owned a restaurant and bar before being elected mayor with the strong support of the San Francisco Police Officers Association. The business community is one of his key constituencies, and he constantly talking about the need to promote tourism, which relies on our cultural vitality. He’s the most natural, logical bridge for this divide.

That’s why attorney Mark Webb, who represents several clubs and individuals who have been harassed by SFPD Officer Larry Bertrand, has explicitly been calling for Newsom to get involved.

“I really believe his involvement could help us get to a place of calm,” Webb said. “We have to stop this petty infighting and we have to embrace the cause, which is to make San Francisco’s nightlife an inviting environment.”

DNA Lounge, which is not part of Webb’s lawsuit but has been fighting against harassment by Bertrand and the ABC, also wants to see Newsom broker some peace talks. 

“Absolutely, Gavin certainly has the juice to deal with this problem and we would welcome his involvement,” DNA general manager Barry Synoground told us. “We don’t know why there is such vehemence against nightlife and entertainment…What kills me is we have a large group of responsible purveyors, but we’re not being treated as such. We’re being treated like criminals.”

But Newsom has resisted the call, with his press secretary Tony Winnicker telling us, “I wouldn’t rule it out, but the mayor has department heads for that reason,” saying he preferred for Police Chief George Gascon to tell with it. But the problem is this isn’t a police issue, it’s a political one.

DNA Lounge (which has reguarly blogged the crackdown) has highlighted how SFPD Commander James Dudley sees nightlife in the city: as a nuisance to be abated, rather than an important culture to be embraced and celebrated. Winnicker claims that Newsom understands this: “The mayor understands the importance of a vibrant nightlife.”

But that understanding hasn’t translated into official city policy. Attorney Mark Rennie, who handles permitting and compliance issues for about 40 nightlife and culture clients, said that San Francisco has become notorious for making life difficult for club owners and other purveyors of fun. 

“The city has always had this love-hate relationship with nightclubs. But it’s really bad now,” Rennie said, noting how welcoming other local cities are toward nightclubs, which are important economic drivers. “Berkeley gets it. Oakland gets it. I don’t know why San Francisco doesn’t get it.”

Which is strange because, of all people, Newsom should get it. He should understand the natural tension between certain elements of both the police and nightlife communities and, valuing them both, try to find a way to solve this problem. So whatdaya say, Gavin? After you’re done try to clean up the mess you created with the labor unions, how about stepping in to address a problem that is closer to your sweet spot?


Image by Luke Thomas/Fog City Journal



Not word on the SFPS drug lab, it must a be a tough call;

On one side you could rip the shit out of SFPD.

But on the other side all your drug dealing buddies are getting off scott free, very tough call

Posted by Voice of d ppl on Mar. 24, 2010 @ 8:46 pm

It's sad to watch San Francisco eat it's young. Disfunctional police force; cops hustling overtime by making art gallery parties, music venues and afterhours parties the Bogey Man, and a mayor out to lunch.

Should Gavin fix this? Hell yes. Will he? I'm not holding my breath-- he's absolutely the worst mayor I've experienced since I moved here 40 years ago. What does this guy do? Now he want to be Lt. Governor? He miscalculated the whole Prop 8/ gay marriage thing and now he wants the California voters to believe he is Tough on Crime. It is much easier to demonize the clubs and declare nightlife to "be totally out of control" as decried by that [ex-manager of a right-wing Republican web site] Supervisor David Chiu. Hey Gavin, Hey Chief! Send your officers down to Third and Williams or Turk and Jones and fight some real crime. Better yet, search Youtube for "Larry Bertrand" and watch him beat up a bartender for not carrying his drivers license, and then pour $1000 worth of booze down the drain for kicks. Wow! You are really TOUGH ON CRIME, Gavin.

Nighttime entertainment is an important asset to the economy of our City and the vitality of downtown. Wake up, Gavin, before a federal judge slaps the City with a multi-million dollar judgment for Dudley's stupid little war.

Posted by Tommy Gunn on Mar. 25, 2010 @ 7:03 am

How can this waste of human life mayor focus on night life when he is busy half-assed ruining this city by laying off thousands of city employees, turning their lives upside down and destroying the security of being a 9 to 5 city employee? He screws his friend's whore wives, he screws this city....sure hope I am alive to see that idiot's karma set in!

Posted by Guest on Mar. 25, 2010 @ 8:43 am

How can this waste of human life mayor focus on night life when he is busy half-assed ruining this city by laying off thousands of city employees, turning their lives upside down and destroying the security of being a 9 to 5 city employee? He screws his friend's whore wives, he screws this city....sure hope I am alive to see that idiot's karma set in!

Posted by Carmen on Mar. 25, 2010 @ 8:45 am

As people are getting laid off nationwide SF progressives for some reason view that once getting a job with the city, which often requires just being alive, entitles a person to lifetime employment.

Also, what Newsom's private life has to do with anything, especially after the goofy rights obsession with Bill Clinton's penis, is odd.

Newsom is a blown dried empty suit like Merkirimi and the rest of the gang, he hardly lowers the bar for city governance in this town.

Posted by glen matlock on Mar. 25, 2010 @ 10:29 am

Give it a rest, Steven. As always and without exception, Newsom won't do shit.

Posted by Matt Stewart on Mar. 25, 2010 @ 10:57 am

Give it a rest, Steven. As always and without exception, Newsom won't do shit. And I'm sorry to burst your bubble but Newsom doesn't even read the Guardian.

Posted by Matt Stewart on Mar. 25, 2010 @ 10:58 am

I don't get the impression that Mr Opportunist cares about The City, not that he ever did. Especially as of late, he's been trying to act more regressive, which makes me think he's not likely to do anything about this party/night club issue. I guess he thinks that will be to his advantage running for his next elected position. To me, he comes across as shallow and superficial.

Upon reflection, I think he used the same-gender marriage issue as bait to assure his support and re-election to guarantee his stay in City Hill. The last interview I saw with him he came off as a smug, arrogant and chip-on-both-shoulders piece of work. I was glad I never voted for him. I voted for progressive Matt Gonzalez the first time and I don't think I voted for anybody when Newsom ran for re-election.

Posted by Sam on Mar. 25, 2010 @ 1:38 pm



MIKE QUAN, as an individual, and also as proprietor of PLAYBAR, INC., dba THE ROOM, and JAVIER MAGALLON,



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Posted by Guest HA HA HA HA on Mar. 30, 2010 @ 11:22 am

As defined by the City Charter, the Mayor’s first role is to enforce all municipal codes, which typically align with state, federal, and Common law. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with the Newsom administration, either in action or legislative influence.

Mayor Gav went so far as to sponsor and push through legislation that expanded nightclub operations, virtually stripping residents of any say in where, how, and when clubs operate, including 2-6:00 a.m. He marketed it as remedy to a crisis of violence.

Chiu signed on:

"Supervisor David Chiu stressed repeatedly that the wording would enable to commission to 'cite, regulate and shut down these [problem] clubs"' (

Our noise laws now protect nightclubs from resident complaints.

Newsom is Mr. Nightlife. Want to save "nightlife" from itself? In this case, the answer is probably, “No.”

Posted by Save Gav from Himself on Apr. 09, 2010 @ 5:48 pm

Once they have the legal grounds to crush those parties then I don't see what can stop them. On the other and I don't think this is the best way to fight binge drinking, or underage drinking, drunk driving or drug use. The local authorities will have to be a bit more creative on this one.

Posted by Narconon on Feb. 04, 2011 @ 7:06 am