Dog Bites

In Like Clint
Political consultant and real estate baron Clint Reilly dropped by our swank new offices the other day, dragging behind him several suits.

Seems Reilly, who was looking fit and happy, was on a shopping spree. The item he desired: the China Basin Landing building that is the site of our previously referred to swank digs. The reason for his sudden interest in our home away from home, Reilly informed us, is that the previous owner died recently. And the place is up for sale.

This is both funny and scary.
First off, China Basin Landing, a six-story, city-block-long complex bounded by the China Basin channel, Berry Street, and Third and Fourth streets, is right smack dab in the middle of what will soon be the Mission Bay megadevelopment. Meaning this building's value will soon skyrocket.

Which brings us to the funny part: In 1990, Reilly ran the winning No on Proposition I campaign, which defeated Catellus Development Corp.'s request for a growth limit waiver, which Catellus said was needed if Mission Bay was ever to be built. Consequently, the project was put on indefinite hold -- until now.

Funny part Part 2: Reilly also ran the 1995 re-election campaign for Mayor Frank Jordan, the man who could not get Catellus' Mission Bay plan jump-started to save his (political) life. Now it seems, contrary to all his best efforts as a political fixer, Reilly could profit nicely from Mission Bay, which was finally made possible by his archnemesis, Mayor Willie Brown. And in the process Reilly would become our new landlord.

And now for the scary part: Imagine how tedious our jobs would become, printing as we would, blow-job profile after blow-job profile on Clint Reilly. Really, the man is just not that interesting.

-- George Cothran

SFPD Goes Critical
For a reporter, Friday's Critical Mass ruckus was about as close as one gets to newsgathering heaven: Scraggly haired cycle-hordes bringing commuters to tears, packed paddy wagons screaming through the Financial District, a fatherly mayor vowing revenge.

Justly, San Francisco's newshounds took to it with zeal. "They seemed drunk with power, controlling the streets," effused the tag team of reporters the Chron threw at the melee. Television anchors were similarly emphatic, evoking images of Watts, Altamont, Rodney King.

But the dailies, the television stations, and other media seemed to miss a facet of the story at least as interesting as hyperbolic descriptions of stopped-up traffic: Friday, July 25, 1997, was the day San Francisco's finest appeared to run amok.

Long after the Battle of the Bay Bridge On-Ramp and the Traffic Jam to End All Traffic Jams, police officers continued using Starsky and Hutch tactics to put down a disturbance that had already subsided.

On at least three occasions, idle groups of police cars lurched into action as if responding to a hostage crisis. Curious onlookers, thinking they might catch a glimpse of a crazed kidnapper, drive-by shooter, or some other front-page miscreant, instead found -- traffic violators.

In once such instance, a police officer peeled his patrol car out on a sidewalk and raced past a traffic-light pole before slamming his brakes behind a cyclist who had just rolled through a red light. This, in an area of town where it's sometimes hard to get cops to a knife fight.

At least one foreign tourist, who had watched the beginning, middle, and end of one such police action, turned to a recently arrived stander-by to ask: "Do you know what is happening?"

Many of those arrested in this later sweep had been trundling peacefully along Market Street in groups of five or 10, when they suddenly found themselves San Francisco Public Enemy No. 1.

The next day's press, which portrayed mobs of rioting cyclists overtaking the city, eerily evoked the sort of police-crackdown, press-cheerleading news cycle more typical of Latin American authoritarian governments than U.S. cities.

Heavy-handed or no, there was a certain euphoria associated with the hubbub. One breathless Tenderloin resident rushed out of his home and pleaded with two passing cyclists to tell him what the fuss was about.

"I was watching Jeopardy and they started showing all this stuff on the news," he gasped. After explaining to him that it was the monthly Critical Mass ride, one of the two 20-ish cyclists turned to her partner and said: "Did you hear that? They interrupted Jeopardy for us."

-- Matt Smith

 
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