John Dennis, Nancy Pelosi's Republican congressional opponent, informs us that his campaign platform does not include the privatization of America's sidewalks. We don't usually need to point this out about candidates for office in San Francisco. But he took issue with the headline of a recent piece headlined "Nancy Pelosi's Libertarian Opponent, John Dennis, Imagines Privatized Sidewalks."
The headline, however, is accurate. During a recent discussion over coffee, Dennis told us he supported Proposition L, the sit-lie ordinance. Dennis enjoys a reputation as a Libertarian, so we thought it funny he'd back a sidewalk-sitting ban. So we asked him where prohibitions against sitting on the sidewalk fit in with a doctrine promoting personal liberty. We quoted him thusly:
"In a strictly Libertarian world, the roads and sidewalks would beHowever, when we ran into Dennis at a campaign stop at City Hall earlier this week, he said he was misunderstood.
private property," Dennis explained. "If you're obstructing private
property, you should be able to get people out of the way."
"My first thought was, 'Why not accuse me of wanting to privatize air?'" Dennis said when we called later on to follow up.
When he said Libertarians would support privatized sidewalks, Dennis wasn't referring to his own brand of Libertarianism, the candidate explained.
"You asked me in terms of, 'How would Liberarians be for Prop. L.' And and I said, 'because those would be the kinds of Libertarians who would be for privatizing the roads.'
My view at the time was, if we needed a law for the police to have the legal wherewithal to move people who are obstructing property, they should have an opportunity to do that," he said.