Rise & Fall of Progressive Dissent; Mark Leno’s Bill; Why are SF Progressives Losing Support; More on SEIU vs. NUHW; The SF Chronicle’s Insight Section …

by on March 23, 2011

To the Editor:

Re. “The Rise and Fall of Progressive Dissent” (BeyondChron, March 22, 2011), the U.S. government’s military onslaught on Lybia only escalates a bad situation and is misguided and tragic.

Who are the Coalition nations who are our allies in this military venture? U.K., France, Italy, former brutal and inhumane colonial powers in Africa and Lybia, who forget that the era of colonialism has long passed. Are these defeated colonialists thirsting for the oil?

Sen. Richard Lugar, an elder statesman and Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has questioned the U.S. government’s plan to attack Lybia.

The U.S.’ attack of Lybia constitutes actions of war, and yet was commenced without any declaration of war or approval by Congress and during a time when Congress was not in session. Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Rep. Barbara Lee are among many who question the constitutionality of the U.S.’ military action.

President Barack Obama stated that the U.S.’ military involvement in Lybia was going to “end in a matter of days.” We are reminded that soon after the early days of the “Shock and Awe” round‑the‑clock bombardment of Bagdad, George Bush landed on an aircraft carrier, and declared “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq.

Teach war no more.

Anh Le
San Francisco

To the Editor:

Whether a trained mixologist or just a cook at home, Californians love enhancing flavor palates with infusions: olive oil with tarragon and garlic, to lemon cellos and sangria. Thanks to state Senator Mark Leno’s Senate Bill 32 (SB 32), the legality of infusions will be irrefutable if passed. Leno’s legislation is a toast to the entrepreneurial and culinary spirits that define California’s hospitality sector. Following inconsistent and confusing regulation of an antiquated infusions law – language dating back to the pre-Prohibition days, Senator Leno’s bill clarifies the legality of infusing alcoholic beverages with fruit, bitters, vegetables, and comparable food stuffs.

Tourists visit California to experience our state’s renowned restaurants, wineries, breweries, bars, lounges, and other culinary ventures. Our industry is known for its creativity and innovation. Mixologists are featured in magazines because of their unusual flavor combinations – frequently through infusions. Plus, under the law’s existing language, traditional beverages, such as sangria, could be enforced as illegal.

California’s nightlife and entertainment industry are large drivers of economic development: providing jobs, generating tax revenue, and boosting tourism in cities throughout the state. The restaurant industry alone in 2005 was projected to employ 1.3 million people at 86,310 locations with collective annual sales of $51.5 billion. Every $1 spent at California restaurants and bars generates $1.22 of additional sales in California in other California industries. And each additional $1 million spent at California eating and drinking places generates an additional 31.2 jobs in the State.

The California Music and Culture Association applaud Senator Leno for his leadership in modernizing the existing code to reflect the culinary creativity and innovation of the times. We strongly support SB 32 and encourage the Government Organizational Committee to approve this legislation out of committee.

Demetrius Chapin-Rienzo
Vice President, California Music and Culture Association (CMAC)

To the Editor:

I have a couple of corrections for Randy Shaw’s latest post, “Why San Francisco Progressives are Losing Public Support.” Shaw refers to Newsom as “young” in 2003. He was 36. Gonzalez was 38. So, what is Shaw saying Gonzalez was, then – old? Bizarre random adjective. Shaw also refers to Newsom as “charismatic.” How was he charismatic? Newsom failed to distinguish himself during his 8 years on the board. He certainly didn’t charm his colleagues. He never even got elected board president. He stalled out at 38 percent in a poll conducted in 2003, the year he ran for mayor. Arguably, the petulant privileged restaurateur was not widely liked by anyone outside of the business world and maybe the Marina. What charisma?

Without wealthy godfathers and political godmothers and sugar-daddies to pay his way all his life, from the Gettys to Willie Brown – who first appointed him to public office and handpicked him as his successor – Newsom would be nowhere. He is an empty hairdo.

Arguably, Gonzalez was the one with the charisma. His volunteers were passionate about him. He was the clear underdog in the race and he damn near won. A “supposedly unpopular Brown.” Are you kidding? He was widely unpopular by that point. The mere fact that Ammiano, with only about $15,000, a write-in campaign and ragtag (but committed!) team of volunteers, got million-dollar Willie into a runoff was testament to that. And honestly, poor Tom was so outspent and outgunned by Brown and Co. it didn’t matter what Tom’s policies were. It’s disingenuous of you to implicitly attribute Tom’s loss—and it was not a trouncing, by the way, all things considered—to Brown having better policies.

I think progressives have good reason to raise an eyebrow at the politics of David Chiu and Jane Kim. The proposed Twitter freebie, the Ed Lee mayoral coup and Kim and Chiu’s parts in these episodes are justifiable flashpoints for progressives. So any effort by you to spin these actions as some kind of reality that progressives have to grow up to accept doesn’t really wash. Maybe no candidate or politician will ever pass a purity test, but corporate handouts under extortion and orchestrated mayoral takeovers are pretty basic no-nos in the philosophies of progressive and fair politics. Lastly, is Randy Shaw then saying someone like Matt G. would be a good candidate now? Or is he laying some kind of framework to support Chiu? Or Adachi?

Nanook of the North (aka Sue p.)

To the Editor:

Some of you may remember my name as one of the “Sunshine Posse” and contributor to the ProSF list server. Recently I moved to Walnut Creek, but I spent 35‑years in San Francisco and still keep up. Shortly after Matt Gonzalez won his first 5th‑District Supervisor race, a group of us who had supported him met with him in my living room. We all had serious concerns about the neighborhood and wanted his opinion on a number of local initiatives. He began the discussion by smugly stating: “I regard my true constituents as those who do not vote!” We were both stunned and offended.

That began a bitter relationship with 5th‑District activists and cured most of us from identifying with “Progressives.” To a person, we all opposed him in his run for Mayor, even though many of us came to view Newsom as a weak reed [I supported Alioto]. In those days, the 5th‑District, like much of San Francisco, was divided between home owners and renters. Renters came and went, seldom voted, almost never became involved in local issues like parks, litter, transportation, and crime. Renters could be counted on for one issue: Rent Control.

Unlike eastern cities, no party is truly organized in San Francisco. Any political position was dependent upon its “flavor” among voters. Now things have changed. Walk the Haight, if you do not understand this: Since 2000, increasing numbers of young families with children have been moving into San Francisco and very many of them are home owners. Their home is their major investment and the environment their children are growing up in is their major issue. For example, in 2000 the 200‑block of Ashbury, between Fell and Hayes, had no children in residence and renters occupied most apartments. Today, young families occupy almost half the units and most of them are either TIC owners, house owners, or condominium owners.

By personal count, there are at least 20 children between infant and 12‑years of age on that block. Some parents are renters, but most are owners. Although most of these young families are “liberal” in politics, very few are “progressive.” Their issues are schools, crime, liter, parks, transportation, and ownership issues. They vote. They are active in the local matters. They are changing the character of the neighborhood. For them, the Matt Gonzalez “Progressives” are dinosaurs; rigid, bigoted, and doctrinaire. If this trend continues throughout the City, and I believe it will, these young families will change San Francisco politics.

Dr. Wayne Lanier
Walnut Creek, CA

To the Editor:

The SEIU has gotten to it’s current national and political status mainly by colluding with employers like Kaiser Permanente and Sutter hospitals. Since Andy Stern took control of the union, I don’t believe it has won a single election without creating fear and intimidation and lies. As a matter of fact, it is my opinion that Stern’s vision for the labor movement is being played out in Wisconsin and elsewhere. It was Stern who propsed to working families that we should make outrageous concessions and takeaways. In other words, Stern was proposing to workers that we should be content with paying more out‑of‑pocket for thier pensions and benefits. It was also Stern who implemented the idea of bargaining for the bosses instead of for the workers. Interestingly, there are hundreds of grievances that have been lost because SEIU can’t be bothered, and they certainly wouldn’t want to create waves. What the employers want, SEIU delivers.

Francisco Martinez
Oakland, CA

To the Editor:

I recommend this week’s Sunday Insight section to how-the-Chronicle-has-fallen observers: All of the articles except the lead editorial by John Diaz (which was good, about how difficult it is to claim fair-use rights for documentaries) were by “guest” authors — because, undoubtedly, there was no staff to write them.

The weekly theme, which the three centerfold articles purported to cover, was a review of the Democratic healthcare package one year in. Unfortunately, the first two articles were on the same obscure subject, Accountable Care Organizations. Which was hardly surprising, considering the three authors (two of them co-authored one of the pieces) were the respective CEOs of the partner insurers co-running the same two ACOs both the articles were devoted to, a Sacramento group for CalPERS members and a just-started group aimed at SF employees and retirees.

Each article was intensely boring in its own right, but side-by-side they generated an overpowering synergism: I had to force my eye through them word-by-word to verify that they unvaryingly dealt with identical subject matter. The third article was an entertaining dissertation by a UV doctoral candidate on Tea Party schizophrenia about Medicare vs. evil Obamacare , but had nothing to do with how the Demo healthcare package is playing out thus far.

They also managed to muff the measly five-question weekly Chron News Quiz, making the absurd assertion that America has passed France in per-capita wine consumption. Nope, I checked, My fellow Americans, at just under 10 liters apiece (would the 6 other Americans I’m also drinking for please contact me? I’m slowing down as I get older, you may have to start pitching in), have ensconced us just after Macedonia in 57th place, while France, which fell precipitously from 2004-8 from 54 liters to 53, is only outpaced by the Vatican (932 resident priests, tens of thousands of visiting Communion takers) and Norfolk Island (between New Zealand and Australia, 1800 inhabitants with an admirable common purpose). We edged by France only in GROSS wine consumption (gross consumption includes 2-buck Chuck).

I hope the last full-time Chron reporter remembers to turn out the lights.

Dave Blake
Berkeley, CA

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Filed under: Letters to the Editor