Believe It or Not!

Let's get beyond the balderdash and take a closer look at the motivations behind some political campaigns

However, even if the school were found to have expelled Krause to censor him, the punishment to the school would be insignificant. If state investigators found such a violation, it would merely go on the school's "permanent record," which prospective students' parents can call state regulators and request if they choose.

The lack of health and safety regulation of private preschools is the least of the deficiencies of the state's system, however. Preschool teachers have little job protection and have been underpaid with typical teachers earning less than $30,000 per year.

And it's prohibitively expensive, with a typical private San Francisco preschool charging in the neighborhood of $14,000 per year, condemning most parents with children to poverty, which in turn drives families from San Francisco. An example: My wife recently quit her job when we realized the necessary preschool and child care costs consumed $500 more per month than she earned.

This preschool market is serving California parents and children well? On the subject of permanent records, Don Fisher and his Montessori friends should have the word "dissembler" put in their files.

The story line of the District 12 Assembly race has been simple and clear to anyone who closely follows San Francisco politics. Clint Reilly was once the most prominent political consultant in California. He hit gold in 1988 when the insurance industry paid him $6 million to pass anti-consumer ballot initiatives. He became more fabulously wealthy when he backed anti-Downtown growth initiatives that shored up rents for office kingpin Walter Shorenstein, who later sold him a building for $18 million that swiftly tripled in price. Next, Reilly had hoped to go into politics himself. But he was discouraged by an expensive failed mayoral candidacy, followed by a 2001 SF Weeklystory that quoted his own mother saying "people do not really like him. He's not lovable."

So Reilly's now running his PR flack wife for Assembly instead, positioning her as a health care candidate, after polling numbers showed this was the issue Californians most cared about.

John Burton, former big daddy of California politics as ex-president pro tempore of the California Senate, meanwhile backed his ex-aide and protege Fiona Ma, who, like Janet Reilly, is thin, attractive, relatively young, and short on bragging rights in the area of political experience. Consultants for both candidates have spent the campaign denouncing as sexist any journalism that described this situation for what it was.

I watched Janet Reilly a month or so ago at a small meeting organized by supporters of a bill backed by Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) that would create a statewide, single-payer health care system. Reilly told the group that she had based her whole campaign on their issue, and she would therefore be a tireless advocate in Sacramento.

Kuehl wasn't impressed, telling reporters soon after that Reilly had "plagiarized" her legislation in campaign materials. Undeterred, Reilly continued sending out campaign flyers claiming to have crafted a health care plan herself.

In an even more astonishing bit of disingenuousness, Reilly denounced Ma for benefiting from campaign contributions given by the insurance industry — the very insurance industry that launched the Clint Reilly fortune that funded the Janet Reilly campaign.

Q: Do politicians think voters are morons?

A: True.

Perhaps most egregious in this spring's festival of hooey has been the campaign against the ballot initiative that would make it difficult for city health system bureaucrats to route violent or mentally ill patients into our city-owned old-folks hospital.

Last month I sat down for a couple of hours with the Laguna Honda doctors and nurses behind the bill, and they described to me a situation where underlings to Gavin Newsom had used the facility as a dumping ground for disturbed or violent patients, many of them homeless, who had been discharged after receiving treatment at General Hospital.

Discharging General Hospital patients onto the street makes for bad headlines. Shifting the potentially homeless patients into an old-folks facility was apparently seen as less risky, publicity-wise. But the Laguna Honda staffers I spoke to said it was dangerous and stressful for patients.

These angered doctors and nurses found an important ally in Residential Builders Association President Joe O'Donoghue, who has in the past contributed to elder-care causes. The mayor's allies seized upon the O'Donoghue connection. They also highlighted a city attorney's interpretation of the measure's language, which said the doctor-sponsored bill made it theoretically possible to build senior citizen homes on public land. Rather than argue it's a good thing to mix dangerous, young patients in with elder invalids — an uphill task if there were one — opponents speciously claimed the measure was a development scam.

It's indeed highly unlikely the opponents' scenario could have ever come to pass. In order for old-folks homes to be built on public land, such a proposal would have to undergo myriad public hearings. And the idea that a meritless proposal for a new elder-care facility, to be built on public land, would surpass such a gauntlet is mere fantasy. It's insulting, truthy fantasy dreamed up to beguile the public.

It's my hope that voters rejected the most outlandish of the hokum propagated in advance of June 6. That might include the preposterous claim the state's awful system of private preschool worked just fine. Or the Assembly race where a pair of policy Barbie dolls fronted a bizarre grudge match between political has-been men. Or the mayor and his cronies speciously advocated housing violent homeless people with disabled elderly shut-ins, all while seeming to leave their own reputations intact.

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