Or does the Chron, once again, have the whole thing completely wrong?
By Tim Redmond
AUGUST 17, 2015 – Just got back from upstate New York, where all the pizza is good, most of the wings are exceptional, the rivers and lakes are all brimming with cold fresh water … and nobody is catching any bass (is it the explosion in the Comorant population or the fact that the St. Lawrence River froze 80 percent solid over the winter? The locals have plenty of theories).
I survived the trip back with two observations:
- The major US airlines no longer have any interest whatsoever in customer service. They schedule and sell flights that have such tight connections that the slightest glitch leaves everyone stranded (and you can’t take the next flight or the next one, since they were already overbooked). They are unwilling to hire enough staff to handle the crush of customers who can’t possibly rebook flights. They hit you with an extra fee to check baggage – then tell you there isn’t enough room for your carry-on. They charge $7 for a warm can of Bud Light. And we aren’t even getting bargain fares.
- The major airports of the United States haven’t figured out that the single most important thing travelers want these days in not an overpriced neck message or a $12 shot of bourbon or a golf shop (who buys golf balls at an airport?). What we want is … electricity. In Philly, in Phoenix, in LA (yeah, a saga getting home) we saw hordes of people fighting for a place to plug in their laptops, kindles, phones … you know, the stuff that distracts us and keeps us from going crazy while we wait for an hour on the runway with nothing to drink and the seat-belt sign on … and it’s like looking for a parking space in North Beach.
I literally had five people hovering around me as I prepared to unplug my phone from a rare floor outlet at Sky Harbor. I thought they might come to blows over who got a chance at the juice.
There are massive, serious, problems facing America that are really hard to solve. This one is easy. So easy. Just hire an electrical contractor to run wires to a string of outlets near each waiting area.
Every café in San Francisco has figured this out. You would think that the airports, which spend millions on marketing, could pay for an extension cord or two.
But no: The airports, and the airlines, treat us like cattle, ready to be packed into pens for shipping. And we all just take it.
You have to wonder: Given how crappy the service of the private carriers is, how come the United States is one of the few developed countries that lacks its own national airline?
City Hall, or at least the policy-making side, pretty much shuts down in August. The supes are in recess. The Planning Commission doesn’t meet. But the fall campaigns are in full swing, and so is the political analysis. Such as it is.
When I first started working at the Bay Guardian, back in 1981, Bruce Brugmann gave me some sage advice. “The Chronicle loves to run stories saying that the Left is in disarray,” he said. “If we paid any attention to that, we’d never get anywhere.”
So this weekend C.W Nevius says that the Left in San Francisco is out of touch with the city’s move to the center. Actually, the headline is sorta bizarre: “Political Left in SF is shifting toward the center.” Huh?
The point of his column, of course, is that the current Democratic County Central Committee “represents the new San Francisco more clearly than lefty theorists whose idea of a sensible solution to the housing shortage is to stop building housing.”
I have already spent way too much time explaining why the private market can’t possibly meet SF’s housing needs. Nevius would rather dismiss that all with one trite phrase. But the notion that the DCCC, as it is today, represents the city misses a couple of key points
Chuck’s colleague, Willie Brown (of all people) makes one of them very nicely:
My guess is that half of the people on the committee who voted for Christensen either work for the city or sit on city commissions.
Or work for the Board of Realtors, or work for Airbnb’s political operation, or have other conflicts that make this anything but a real grassroots party panel. The corporate interests have taken over the local Democratic Party.
But here’s what really annoying from Nevius:
So, you’d think a savvy progressive politician would put his finger in the air, sense that the political winds are changing and adjust the message accordingly.
In other words, the progressives are supposed to give up on what they believe and go along with the local oligarchy just to get elected. Funny: The politicians who do that are largely responsible for most of what is wrong with this country today.
And the guy we used to call What the Fuck Chuck wants more of that?
Meanwhile, Randy Shaw (full disclosure, Randy and I do not always agree on local politics) has a completely different take:
From battling Ellis evictions and promoting affordable housing to this week’s turnout of over 100 bike activists to an SFPD Park Station hearing on stop sign enforcement, San Francisco activism is on the rise.
How can activism be increasing if, as many claim, the city is now dominated by young techies whose lives are spent in front of computers? And if the Mission has been completely gentrified and “hollowed,” where did these tenant activists come from?
The answer, of course, is that the “death” of the economically diverse Mission and of San Francisco’s progressive policies has been greatly exaggerated.
There is no doubt that the massive displacement of working-class people has had an impact on local politics. Just ask Mike Casey, longtime head of Local 2, the hotel workers union, who points out that it’s almost impossible to get people who live in Antioch to come to a union rally after work.
But at the same time, we are seeing huge numbers of people who didn’t see themselves as activists a few years ago fighting for their homes, and even their lives, as they face a level of displacement at a level far beyond anything we’ve seen in modern San Francisco history (or probably in the recent history of any other American city).
I don’t think this diverse group of terrified tenants looks at Mayor Ed Lee and sees a savior. I think they see the need for dramatic change at City Hall.
I’ve already written about the remarkable performance piece Eliana Lopez, wife of Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, put on at that Marsh this summer. Now the show’s been picked up by the Victoria Theater for a run that begins Friday/21 and ends Sept. 6.
The theater’s at 2961 16th Street, and tickets are $35. If you haven’t seen it, check it out.
And while we’re talking about political theater, Amy Farah Weiss, who is running for mayor under the (unusual) banner of YIMBY (Yes in My Back Yard), is upset that the pundits have said Mayor Lee’s re-election will be a “cakewalk.” So she’s doing an actual cakewalk, with actual cake, Monday/17 at City Hall, 5:30pm. Details here.