The Horror

Darkness descends at City Hall as supervisors argue ceaselessly over dogs and apartment size

During coming years, our Board of Supervisors will spend hours and weeks and months defending the property rights of millionaire homeowners and the bloated privilege of vociferous dog owners. This will come at the expense of the rest of us, who entertain liberal-minded desires such as hoping to raise families in apartments with more than one bedroom, or wishing our children could play safely in the park.

In Joseph Conrad's Belgian Congo and Bruce Stanley's Angola, the lack of a coherent moral universe resulted in darkness. In San Francisco, district-based elections have created such a place. As I listened to Thursday's dog debate, and envisioned the hours of testimony, argument, and misspent energy that now dominates politics here, I closed my eyes and heard the words of Joseph Conrad's Marlow. I saw a river running into darkness: "The broadening waters flowed through a mob of wooded islands; you lost your way on that river as you would in a desert, and butted all day long against shoals, trying to find the channel, till you thought yourself bewitched and cut off forever from everything you had known once -- somewhere -- far away -- in another existence perhaps."

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