Mulch

If Only They Wore Cement Shoes
The Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corp.'s annual Celebrity Pool Toss used to be a sleepy fund-raiser, where political insiders would pay to see their co-religionists dumped in the Phoenix Hotel's pool in order to fund after-school activities for TL youth. The average annual take hovered around $20,000.

Then came Stanlee Gatti, Mayor Willie Brown's Arts Commission president and party architect, who turned this year's Oct. 16 event into The Event of the season, garnishing the pool toss with his telltale Beach Blanket Babylon sensibilities. (Thankfully, Margo St. James was also on hand; see "Slap Shots," p. 8.) S.F. Protocol Chief Charlotte Mailliard Swig wore an Oscar de la Renta dress -- "Dahling!" -- and took a dive. After which her hairdresser, Mr. Lee, jumped in and started furiously teasing her fallen mane. (Can't you just hear the opera applause?)

True, the penthouse set more than quintupled the take this year with $120,000 in gross proceeds. But let's be Waterford crystal clear: This has become the most nauseating bit of do-goodery since Brown started giving his old suits to thrift shops.

-- George Cothran

Media and Politics 101...
Mission High School students turned up the heat on campus recently with a political endorsement in the school newspaper. The Oct. 15 issue of West Wing backs incumbent school board candidate Jill Wynns, a favorite of the teachers union. More important to Mission, however, Wynns fought Superintendent Waldemar Rojas' decision earlier this year to demote Mission Principal Lupe Arabalos and Vice Principals Jan Hudson and Peter Long (see "Cleaning Slates," July 31).

A politically active crew, Mission's students in June marched to City Hall. Mayor Willie Brown responded in classic style by appearing at a school board meeting the same night, urging board members to listen to the students. It didn't help the administrators, however. Rojas ousted them, declaring he did not have confidence in their ability to lead the school in the future.

The Tech, the student newspaper at John O'Connell Technical High School, will endorse candidates Juanita Owens, Jason Wong, and Mauricio Vela in an upcoming issue, according to newspaper adviser Sharon Treeze. The three won over student editors on the subject of vocational education, which is a focus at O'Connell.

-- L.D.

Off the Shelves
"Triage" is the operative word at the New Main Library these days. That's what library officials are calling the New Main's push to reshelve 50,000 books, CDs, videos, and other materials by Nov. 1.

Thanks to newfound popularity, the New Main's shelving is badly backlogged. Books listed as "available" in the library's database are often nowhere to be found. They're sitting on book carts in the shelving room.

The New Main has more square footage, fewer employees, and draws 6,500 daily visitors compared to its predecessor's 2,500. Spokeswoman Marcia Schneider says the library is attempting a "more creative deployment" of resources to remedy the problem, especially in light of its $1.9 million budget deficit. The library has already closed its fourth-floor listening and viewing stations. Another possibility -- scheduling shifts to just shelve books before the library opens -- would cut service during open hours. "In order to get the books back on the shelves, there's no question there will be service impacts in other areas," Schneider says.

New Main bashers are doubtless anxious for the return from abroad of activist-author Nicholson Baker.

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