The Grid

They Endorse; We Demand
Stare at the watch. The watch is swinging. Back and forth. Forth and back. The Grid commands. You must obey. Repeat: The Grid commands. You must ...

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.

Negative Assessment
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.

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