Dog Bites

Board of Supervisors; Population Growth; Dot-com Layoffs

The Changing of the Guard

Goodness, but City Hall was festive Monday. Dog Bites, who'd arrived a couple of hours early in hopes of securing a seat for the inaugural meeting of the new Board of Supervisors, strolled the halls, watching a maintenance worker take a screwdriver to the lock on Tony Hall's door; a few yards away, you could tell which was Aaron Peskin's office by the crowd of excited people bearing covered dishes. We made a mental note to drop by later; Peskin always has the best food.

A bouquet of congratulatory flowers sat outside Jake McGoldrick's office, while around the corner Matt Gonzalez and Gerardo Sandoval were chatting. "I lucked out," said Sandoval, who'd drawn one of the best of the supervisors' offices.

"I was really shocked to see my own name on a door, but just to see Chris Daly's name on a door -- wow, that's really fucking cool," said Gonzalez a little later, as everyone waited for the swearing-in ceremony to begin.

The overflow crowd in the chambers -- which had been decorated for the occasion with large arrangements of calla lilies and pink hydrangea and pots of cyclamen on the supervisors' desks -- seemed to think it was really fucking cool too, cheering and whistling as the new supervisors' names were read aloud by Board Clerk Gloria Young. District 3's Peskin and District 11's Sandoval got the loudest applause, and a sustained standing ovation followed the completion of the list.

Not everyone present was quite so thrilled. Mayor Willie Brown sat behind the rostrum, his legs crossed, a finger resting against his cheek, unsmiling -- in fact, his expression distinctly reminiscent of the one worn by our cat when things haven't gone his way.

Further business completed, it was time to elect the president of the board. Daly rose to nominate -- surprise! -- Tom Ammiano, and was quickly followed by McGoldrick, who seconded the nomination.

"Seconds aren't necessary for nomination," explained Young.

McGoldrick rose again. "I'd like to third that nomination," he said, to general laughter.

Acclaimed as board president, Ammiano ascended to the rostrum and introduced Brown, who kept his remarks brief, emphasizing that the city welcomes "newcomers" and "new businesses." There were a few hisses from the public gallery when he asserted he was looking forward to a cooperative relationship with the board. "The door of the mayor's office remains open," said Brown.

Then the love-in continued as the new board members introduced themselves, their families (in Tony Hall's case this took quite some time -- "I mean, did he bring the entire Sunset, or what?" a friend asked us), their supporters, and, as Ammiano later observed, their rhetorical styles.

"I'm the only woman, so I'm going to pump up," said Sophie Maxwell, to laughter and applause. "I'm going to look big. I'm going to look strong."

Peskin described his district as the "living room of the city"; Sandoval, already making an impassioned case for district-specific budgets, said, "Aaron, your district may be the living room of the city, but we're the factory of the city."

Several of the new supervisors, along with Ammiano, said the city must end the displacement of longtime residents by wealthy newcomers; Dog Bites wondered whether the wealthy newcomers are themselves soon to be displaced -- not, of course, by further gentrification, but by the NASDAQ. But the board has its mandate.

"We're going to have a great year," said Ammiano. "And guess what we're going to do? We're going to legislate, because that's our duty."

Damned Lies and Statistics

So the news situation is picking up, but we're still a little off-balance: We don't have a new calendar yet.

Now, doubtless there are many well-adjusted people for whom the purchase of a wall calendar is not a decision fraught with terrifying potential for aesthetic missteps. But Dog Bites feels a calendar must be completely enjoyable for a full 12 months: An April of Big Sur does not compensate for an October spent in the company of Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade. And there is no excuse for Anne Geddes -- now, ever, or next December.

Meanwhile, we struggle along, uncertain whether next Thursday is the 21st -- wait, that doesn't seem right -- and doubtless making all sorts of promises we'll find ourselves unable to keep. But at least we're not alone in being, um, out of date. One reader, who probably should remain anonymous but whose name is Paul, called to complain about the "Welcome to San Francisco" signs at major entrances to the city. Paul is disgruntled because the city hasn't updated the official population total given on those signs; in fact, he's so disgruntled that he's threatening to do a little updating on his own, maybe at 3 a.m., maybe with some Wite-Out.

When Dog Bites expressed concern that Wite-Out might not be rainproof, Paul said he could always try white paint, but that the main point is the official total (719,000-some-odd) is obviously wrong, given the fact the city is patently more crowded now than it was in 1990, when the numbers were last updated. "I'm thinking I'll make it either 819,000 or 919,000," he confided. "Nine hundred nineteen thousand would probably be an exaggeration, but that would actually help me make my point. Besides, it's probably easier to turn the seven into a nine than an eight."

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