Evil, Minus 2 Percent, for Governor
This year's California gubernatorial race has offered such substandard candidates and so much foul behavior as to defy metaphorical description. National pundits have called it the virtual election, because it has been run almost entirely via television advertising, but that nomenclature unfairly dumps on the concept of virtual reality. VR may not be real life -- but it's not a pack of lies, ugly innuendo, and insulting stupidity framed by cloying panders and political incompetence, either.
There are four major candidates in the primary, the first in California to allow cross-party voting. Each makes Pete Wilson look professional and inspiring. Together, they constitute a national embarrassment.
Even so, you should resist the urge to jump to a minor-party candidate, for a simple reason: None of them can win, and none is any more up to the job than the quartet of offensive major-party gubernatorial wannabes.
No, this year voting for governor requires a firm belief in lesser-of-evils calculation. So as a public service, the Grid gives you a precise ranking of the evil we face:
Pure Evil: Al "I made half a billion throwing thousands out of work and almost crashing a successful airline -- think what I'll do for your state" Checchi.
Pure Evil, minus 1.03 percent, but he'll be the Republican nominee, no matter how you vote: Dan "Immigration = Sin" Lungren.
Pure Evil, minus 2.08463 percent, with a heavy tilt toward the military-industrial complex: Jane "I'm as invisible as Dan Quayle" Harman.
Pure Evil, minus 2.08464 percent, keeping in mind that he's a wholly owned subsidiary of so many different groups that conflict of interest would occur at least once every day of an entire gubernatorial term: Gray "Gray" Davis.
Vote Davis, unless he makes you throw up through your nose. In that case, hold your nose and vote Harman. If this causes diarrhea, write in Jerry Brown for governor. Just because it's funny.
What's been going on at the San Francisco Assessor's Office since 1992 is not funny at all; it's the largest and most obvious scandal in the city. The assessor, Doris Ward, has been running an operation that is either amazingly incompetent, or astonishingly corrupt, or both. Ward's policies -- policies that favor major downtown muckety-mucks -- cost the city at least $100 million in lost tax revenue this year alone.
We don't need to re-elect Doris Ward; we need District Attorney Terence Hallinan to get off his pathetic, see-no-corruption, knee-jerk-left ass and open a grand jury investigation into the Assessor's Office. Vote for Ward's opponent, Fred Perez.
Nix on the Guppel -- Keep the Swerp!
Five local judicial seats are up for grabs next week. Four, all in the Municipal Court, are occupied by competent judges who would continue to do a good job if re-elected.
The challengers, then, must provide persuasive rationales for their candidacies. Two of them, Steve Collier and Marla Zamora, have decided that race, gender, sexual orientation, and, in Collier's case, ideology are the relevant and proper qualifications for a Muni judicial seat.
Zamora is running against David Ballati, a straight white Republican (SWR, or swer), and Collier faces Kevin Ryan, another swer who is (Collier points out as if it were a ding) a former prosecutor. So we'll call Ryan an SWRP, or swerp.
Being a swerp, Collier says, makes you unfit for judicial office in San Francisco. Collier, on the other hand, is a gay progressive poverty lawyer, or GPPL, or guppel. He believes his guppelness makes him more qualified for the bench in San Francisco than Ryan. Identity politics doesn't belong in the judiciary. Re-elect Judge Ryan; even liberal public defenders celebrate him as a smart and fair judge.
The Zamora/Ballati race also has its multiculti elements. "I am diverse," Zamora says at campaign stops. Well, that may be, but when you have little else to say for yourself and the Bar Association finds you "not recommended for election at this time," which is only a notch above an unqualified rating, we say you have failed some key tests.
In a third Municipal Court race, the challenger, Nancy Davis, a public interest lawyer from Equal Rights Advocates, wants to replace Judge Dorothy Von Beroldingen, (aka Von B), who is doing a great job. Davis has played an intellectually dishonest age game during the campaign, calling attention to Von B's 83 years. Von B is indeed an octogenarian; she's also sharp as a whip and a damn good judge. Von B in a walk.
The race between Judge Wallace Douglass and his challenger, defense attorney V. Roy Lefcourt, is tougher to pick. Lefcourt is one hell of a lawyer, and Douglass has some chinks in his judicial armor. (He once discharged a jury too early in a wife-beating case and then had to dismiss the charges. Also, the judge gave a less-than-stellar performance while presiding over drug court.) In a strange twist, the incumbent is resorting to ideology to fight for his office, whacking Lefcourt in campaign mail as a "left-wing" activist. Douglass' performance troubles us just enough to tip the scales toward Lefcourt.
Two eminently qualified lawyers, Ron Albers and Carol Yaggy, are running for an open seat on the Superior Court bench. But for the last 11 years, Yaggy has been acting (as a court commissioner) in a judge's role, overseeing cases in family law, juvenile court, and probate matters. She has earned her judicial stripes just that little bit more than Albers.
De Young and the Less Mess
Is it a social good to have a first-rate cultural institution in Golden Gate Park? The answer, we think, is overwhelmingly yes. Don't listen to loony enviros lost in a utopian fog, dreaming of a land where bicycles reign supreme and cars are unlawful -- if the museum stays in the park, it makes sense to build underground parking for patrons. For every underground parking space built, a surface space will be removed, taking a whole mess of four-wheeled vehicles out of sight and immensely improving the park's atmosphere. Do you know how to say win-win? Then say yes-yes to Propositions A and J.
How Much Would You Pay to Get That Hair Off Cable TV?
When supervisors are paid poorly, you tend to get supervisors who don't really need the salary -- that is, rich supervisors. Some rich supervisors -- Gavin Newsom, for example -- are conscientious and reasonable. Too often, though, low salaries mean the city must suffer wealthy lightweights like Barbara Kaufman. Give Babs the Nasty some competition: Raise supervisor salaries; vote for Proposition B.
Most competent economists will tell you that rent control (as a form of price control) distorts the market, inevitably causing supply shortages and high prices. So there is, in fact, a reasonable argument for a thorough reform of San Francisco's rental laws that would include the abolition of all rent control. But Proposition E is a quarter-baked, poorly considered measure that would eliminate rent control only on properties of four or fewer units. If this proposition passes, the complicated macro problems with San Francisco's housing market will not be cured. There will, however, be one unambiguous result: Middle- and low-income people will be evicted and replaced with folks who can afford $3,000 a month for a one-bedroom apartment. Vote for Prop. E only if you want to help the city become absolutely, entirely a place for the rich.
Vote No Because He's Kopp and Because He's Wrong
State Sen. Quentin Kopp is sponsoring three propositions, each of which contains some good ideas. But the ever-self-righteous Kopp can't help but load his policy proposals with unworkable provisions. Proposition F, for example, contains a great idea: cutting off the $1.5 million annual city subsidy to Charlotte Swig Shultz's Party Service Inc. (i.e., the City Protocol Office). Not only should that funding be eliminated; large and extremely strange protocol expenditures are another facet of city government that -- as shown in a wonderful series of investigative pieces in the Examiner -- begs for grand jury inquiry.
Excuse us for a moment. We'll be right back.
Hey, Terry Hallinan: Wake the fuck up!
We're better now.
So back to Proposition F, which includes the one good idea -- and all sorts of inappropriate mandates that amount to electoral micromanagement of the allocation of office space in City Hall. If this measure passed, six months later we'd be reading news stories about all the crazy and expensive unintended consequences it had created.
Similarly, Proposition G does one good thing, directing much-needed sunshine toward the now-hermetical decision-making process for the development of Treasure Island. But the proposition also would place absurd and unworkable restrictions on development at the former naval base.
And with Proposition K, Kopp suggests that we keep the Board of Supervisors understaffed, so supervisors will continue to be overwhelmed by the legislative research capabilities of the Mayor's Office and well-funded private interests.
No, no, no on F, G, K.
And Finally, an Easy Choice
Listen up. This one really is simple. California has never done bilingual education correctly, but education in languages other than English is not just proper, but absolutely necessary in a state full of recent immigrants. Ron Unz, the hateful creep who supports the elimination of all bilingual education in the state, knows nothing about education policy. He just wants an issue that will help him make a run, eventually, at the governor's mansion. Proposing to harm children for political reasons is a special type of sin that should earn Mr. Unz a special place in hell. Before he gets there, give him his earthly reward. Vote to defeat ugly, racist Proposition 227.
George Cothran (gcothran@SFWEEKLY.COM) AND JOHN MECKLIN (JMECKLIN@SFWEEKLY.COM) WELCOME TIPS, SUGGESTIONS, INNUENDO, AND COMPLAINTS. THEY CAN BE REACHED AT SF WEEKLY, ATTNo The Grid, 185 Berry, Suite 3800, San Francisco,