Three dozen members of OMI (Ocean View-Merced Heights-Ingleside) Neighbors in Action gathered last Thursday at Temple United Methodist Church to hear the predictable campaign pitches from candidates in the Nov. 6 election. The meeting kicked off, however, with a frightening talk by San Francisco Police Department Capt. Michael Yalon of the Taraval Station, who spoke on how to survive the next round of terrorist attacks.
"City department heads have been meeting daily," said the thick-set, white-haired captain. "Taraval Station is going to 12-hour shifts. When the United States retaliates, we will be prepared.
"We are the capital of anti-war demonstrations in the country. We expect big protests. The vast majority of demonstrators are dedicated to peace. We are prepared to protect businesses if the demonstrations go sideways like they did during the Persian Gulf War."
That was the good news.
"There could be sabotage of the transportation system. Freeways and bridges could be attacked. Gridlock would result. There could be attacks on the electrical, telephone, and water systems. We advise you to get bottled water in case the supply is tainted. Stock cupboards with food. Get extra medication. Talk to your families about an emergency plan: where to meet, how to contact each other with the telephones down.
"Don't worry: This is not 1940. No group of people is going to a confinement camp like back in those days.
"Basically," Yalon concluded, "if you were prepared for Y2K, you are ready for this."
-- Peter Byrne
Many people say the campaign season traditionally begins after Labor Day, but in San Francisco the election year doesn't really kick off until we see the first petty squabbling by candidates over campaign signs. Last week a certain Arthur Dobbs (who did not return follow-up messages) sent e-mails and an accompanying photo to various media outlets decrying the fact that city attorney candidate Steve Williams had hung campaign ads on Market Street's historic -- and legally protected -- lampposts.
But hold that outrage. Williams says the posters are an election-time dirty trick and were not placed by his volunteers. For one thing, they were hung at eye level, rather than the minimum eight feet above ground, and were decorated with red ribbons, which his campaign doesn't do. "There is a long history in our city of Tom-foolery with campaign signs," Williams wrote in a rebuttal e-mail to the San Francisco Sentinel. "We expect to be attacked on all levels by the "business as usual' crowd. Signs will no doubt be the least of it."
As if that weren't insult enough, Williams' phone number on San Francisco's official Cityspan Web site, which lists qualified candidates for the election, has been wrong for two months, despite his several requests in person and by fax to fix it. Says Williams, "I don't want to say there's a conspiracy or anything, but ...."
For the record, an employee at the Department of Elections, who didn't want his name used, says Williams' request fell through the cracks because the woman in charge of that sort of thing is on maternity leave. He insists that the number will be fixed shortly, though it was still wrong at press time.
-- Matthew Smith
A new world record for hyperbole and self-absorption may have been set this month by a resident of Twin Peaks, according to a neighbor and SF Weekly reader who asked that we not use his name. On the day of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, an SUV owner put up the following sign in front of his home on Corbett Avenue, where it remained, in various forms, for more than two weeks, despite being repeatedly knocked down and defaced by incensed passers-by:
"To the person who keyed my car, I feel sorry for you. You are a coward. It is a cowardly [sic] to destroy property. You are in a form a terrorist. There is little difference between you and those who killed all those people in the World Trade Center. Same kind of thinking. Your mother would be ashamed. You are an evil person."
-- Matthew Smith