Dog Bites

Runoff election; Fangxaminer Watch monitors amusing errors

Ammiano's idea is that voters would rank their three favorite candidates in order of preference, so that even if no candidate won an initial majority, after a complex series of recounting exercises someone would emerge as the winner of the overall popularity contest. This, of course, would save voters having to pay for a whole new election, complete with voters' handbooks and absentee ballots and vote counters and so on -- and having to drag themselves back to the polls two weeks before the Christmas holiday. Santa Clara County approved a similar system last year, and there probably weren't even 87 candidates running for 11 seats on the San Jose City Council, although we'd have to check on that and quite frankly we don't care enough about Santa Clara County to bother, so just consider the point made and let's move along.

But Supervisor Michael Yaki, who also supports the instant runoff scheme, notes San Francisco voters don't understand the proposed system well enough to support it -- yet. "If we try to put it on the ballot now it wouldn't win," he says. "We can't force it on people. We might need to have a series of workshops."

Ooh, workshops -- we can't wait.

An alternative was proposed during last year's mayoral campaign, when Willie Brown suggested the elections be moved up to September or October, so as to hold the runoff on the first Tuesday in November; Yaki thinks this would confuse voters even more. "What other counties do is they have the election at the time of the primary, and the runoff in November. There's a huge time period between March and November, but it gives you the certainty of a good voter turnout."

One of the worst problems with the current runoff system is that the huge drop-off in voter turnout means the city spends what Yaki says is "an inordinate amount to get those few thousand people to the polls."

Still, apparent need for reform notwithstanding, the apathetic masses probably need to get off their ... oh, internal rhyme just never works. But as District 3 candidate Aaron Peskin notes, "If there's one lesson we should have learned from the national election, it's that your vote really does count."

Stepping Into the Twilight Zone

And speaking of the national election, will we ever find out who our next president is going to be? It's like we're trapped in some unpleasant time warp -- and correspondent Mark Rosenmoss may know why.

I can harbor this evil secret no longer, writes Rosenmoss. The cursed genesis of our bizarre election quagmire lies not in Palm Beach or Miami, but in Glen Park at the corner of Diamond and Chenery, in front of the Higher Grounds Coffee House. The heart of the vortex is a damagedNew York Times kiosk. Evidently struck by a vehicle and jammed shut, it perpetually displays a front page frozen on Monday, Nov. 6. Atop the beaming faces of two hapless candidates poised eternally on the brink of decision day, the headline blares: "Focus is on Crucial States in Campaign's Final Hours." The subheads: "Gore Rallies Base" and "Bush Hits Florida."

Forget the Supreme Court. This is a case for Rod Serling and Fox Mulder.

Dawn of a New Error

Finally, allow us to introduce an all-new Dog Bites feature: Fangxaminer Watch, in which we monitor the new paper's more egregious and amusing mistakes. We'll continue until the F-Ex burns through its $66 million -- some of that wire copy is expensive! -- or we get bored, whichever comes first. And no, before you ask, we won't be able to feature every error in the Fangxaminer; we'd have to start a whole new column for that.

On the other hand ... no. No! Bad Dog Bites.

Wednesday, November 29

Paper misspells Associate Editor Warren Hinckle's name as "Warren Hinkle."

Paper misspells Managing Editor Robert M. Porterfield's name as "Robert M. Porterfiled."

Paper misspells Wednesday as "Wenesday" on front page.

Thursday, November 30

Spellcheck bonanza as many new and surprising words appear in subheads throughout paper, including "utlitydistrict," "reccomendations," "resumbit," and the front-page "common deminator."

Mysterious series of dots replaces names of comic strips.

Thought-provoking headline in arts section: "Harris finds own words in new"

Friday, December 1

Several of our more juvenile readers e-mail to point out front-page head "State's Butt Battle Pays Off." Yeah, all that time on the cross-trainer was worth it.

Cliffhanger headline: "Lack of Flu Shots Reaches Critical Stage for Neediest in City's"

Chopped-off story in sports section: "Miami (2-3) opened its home"

Second chopped-off story in sports section: "The International Olympic Committee selects the"

Sunday, December 3

Less scope for amusement today, though scrambled headline "Armstrong, U.S. Team Postal Face Drug Scrutiny" and accompanying punctuation-free story have a certain word-puzzle appeal.

Monday, December 4

Sports section head: "Jockey Dead of Apparent Homicide." Hmm.

Arts section head: "Unfortunate Events Is Unfolding." Hmm again.

And, sure, rely on wire copy for civic coverage, but maybe somebody should have read that Associated Press report on Page 3 about San Francisco's elections before running it: "Ten of the city's 11 districts will see a runoff. Only incumbent Tom Ammiano gained more than 50 percent of the vote."

Note to Fangxaminerstaff: Better make that nine districts -- Gavin Newsom ran unopposed.

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