Saturday, August 23, 2008

Outside Lands, Sunset's Latest Fiasco

Note: You can read more neighborhood complaints here:
Akit's Complaint Department: Outside Lands Festival - No Park Street Closure Information
This is a pretty brilliant (if obscenity laced) run-down of all the problems with this mess.
Kudos to Akit (whoever you are) for taking SO.MUCH. time to document all these complaints.

This is apparently the weekend when every wannabe rock groupie and hipster doofus in Northern California (and beyond) descends on a section of Golden Gate Park (the section right across the street from my house, unfortunately) for a three-day music fest.
I've always been a pretty big fan of people watching and as far as people-watching goes, this is prime real estate.
Unfortunately (for everyone else) this is also the weekend of the month where my hormones are contractually obligated to hate e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e. So, my patience is already stretch a bit thin. Not being able to set foot out my front door without getting run over by 20-something posers doesn't help. Consider me the grumpy old neighborhood granny shaking her cane at those darn youngsters.

As I survey the masses of people tromping down Martin Luther King Drive, I can't help but think "Crap! THESE are the people who are going to help determine the outcome of November's election."

Now, this concert featured performers like Radiohead, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Beck and Jack Johnson, not exactly bubble gum pop music. The crowds have been your typical alternative, hipster, pothead types. I would just like to state for the record, seeing so many guys in skinny jeans makes me LONG for the days when they thought it was fashionable to wear baggy pants. It was bad enough when they looked like some prison thug's you-know-what, now it appears they're starting to borrow their girlfriends' jeans. PSA to all guys EVERYWHERE: Skinny jeans are NOT A GOOD LOOK FOR YOU!

And while we're on the topic of 20-something fashion, let's talk about this whole alterna-rocker, counter-cultural, moody persona these kids like to play with - it doesn't take a genius to point out that they ALL LOOK THE SAME. They are all the same in their moody unique-ness. A herd of group thinking lookalikes who all think they're marching to the beat of their own drum. Here's to being a totally conformed non-conformist.

One commenter on SFgate put it this way: "Utter scuzzbuckets were everywhere...or were they? Actual genuine trash wouldn't have been able to afford these tickets, so it was probably just a bunch of rich Marin kids dressed like bums and acting like criminals."

I should note here that I took a break from acting like someone peed in my cornflakes to partake in my own group-think ritual: a decaf soy latte from Starbucks. But hey, I'm a conservative in SF so I'm automatically counter-cultural. :-)

It's infuriating to not be able to set foot outside my front door without being harrassed by promoters (Buy Dell Computers! Drink Honest Tea!) or people trying to buy tickets and the crowds! Swarms and swarms of concert-goers and the cloud of beer and marijuana stinkiness. And hey, let's talk about the noise levels. Radiohead is nice and progressive and they also "rocked" so loud the walls of my house shook until after 10PM. I'm pretty sure that local noise ordinances put the cut-off at 8PM. But this is a "green" event so they get a pass, right? And since when did the powers running SF really care about the taxpayers anyway? I'm told that not only were the concerts sub-par for $85+ per ticket (up to $695 for three-day VIP passes - VIP being shorter lines for booze and bathrooms), the garbage in the park is really, really bad. This was supposed to be a "Leave No Trace" event...meaning all the attendees are supposed to be good liberals who recycle and clean up their trash and that the park wouldn't know they were ever there. NOT.

Since we live a block away from the park, we've pretty much stayed indoors all weekend. My husband took one step outside, realized how massive the crowds and traffic were and circled the wagons for home. I'm glad we don't have a car because this weekend it would be impossible to find a place to park. We've had the *joy* of listening to the stampede of drunken youths past our front door as they stream out of the park well after midnight.

I'm not sure how this event managed to get permits to go so late with the loud noises but a glimpse at the comments on suggest there are plenty of old-school SF residents who are pretty steamed about the noise and the crowds; and plenty of youngsters telling us old codger-types to shove it and get with the times. I'm thinking they better not try to do this festival here next year. There are plenty of great free concerts in the park all year long that manage to not be a total nuisance for the residents of the area (Hardly Stricly Bluegrass comes to mind, but maybe that's because it traditionally attracts a more mature, responsible crowd). At the very least, it seems to me like there should be public hearings for an event like this, it's clear that the locals didn't get much of a fair shake this time around. And since our taxes pay for MUNI and Parks and Rec and all the clean-up that's going to be required to help GG Park recover from the event, we should be getting more of a say.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Other things in the news...

Related to the story I just posted, it's also been reported that 3 more illegal immigrant drug dealers have escaped from their group homes. No doubt, liberals may look at this as a bit of justification for the previous practice of shielding the felons, since, some of the escapees were apparently tipped off that they were now in danger of deportation.

"Newsom said city officials suspect that the latest two escapees left the Tulare County group home after being tipped that they could be deported, although the city had not reported them to federal immigration officials.

"In many respects, this is a consequence of the policy change," Newsom said. "It goes without saying, there is an arrest warrant out."

The fact that they've run away because they might face deportation just further reinforces an important part of the justice system: punishment for criminal behavior is supposed to be a deterrent for engaging in criminal behavior. While we need a long-term solution for the problem of illegal immigration in America, one can only hope that fear of deportation may at least give a few would-be criminals a bit of pause before they spiral into a life of crime.

In a different kind of Sanctuary City news, there's a measure on the November ballot to decriminalize prostitution. Who knew (maybe I'm the only one in dark here), there's an "Erotic Service Providers Union"! Sheesh, everyone has a union today. (Except mothers. You don't see Mom Unions sprouting up all over the place demanding that super markets provide free juice and crackers and refrain from putting balloons and toys in the check out lanes. But that's totally an aside.) Anyway, supporters say the main concern is protecting the safety of the prostitutes.

"Workers would like it if crimes like rape, robbery theft and coercion were vigorously investigated and prosecuted," Maxine Doogan, a founder of the Erotic Service Providers Union, wrote in an e-mail. "We want the right to make reports of crimes against us without being retaliated against by the Police Department."

Honestly, my somewhat sheltered little mind is a bit at a loss as to where to start with all the things wrong with this idea. Essentially they're asking SF to be a sanctuary city to another special group (homeless, illegal immigrants, now prostitutes). It's just a new example of how morally permissive our city is...or maybe an old example, apparently this debate has been raging on for years. Still, narrow-minded me cannot help but notice that this is not just a practical issue about the "safety" of prostitutes. Laws are always statements of morality, one way or another, and a law that decriminalizes the sale of sex states that our society doesn't care about the sanctity of sex. Of course, the lack of concern for that issue is a disease of epidemic proportions in this world. Nevertheless, I think our kids shouldn't be sent the message that selling sex (your body) to anyone willing to pay is a legitimate career choice.

Even Gavin Newsom and Kamala Harris oppose the measure (possibly the only bright spots on two very dismal careers), rightly pointing out that it will make investigating sex trafficking much more difficult (the measure has language that will ban investigations that are based on racial profiling, so, what, we can't investigate a massage parlor because it's owned by Asians?). There are so many things wrong with this whole thing...but I'm sure it will continue to bring out much hand-wringing about the second-class citizen prostitutes who are persecuted for their career choices. After all, in this world, how do we dare make judgments about any choices made by consenting adults (as long as they're not voting Republican)?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Hits Keep on Coming

Ever since this story broke, I've been wondering when we'd hear was only a matter of time before it came out and Jaxon Van Derbeken over at the Chronicle gets major props for his continued dedication to bringing these facts to the attention of San Franciscans.

Turns out, Edwin Ramos, who is being charged with the murder of a father and his two sons (almost a month ago today), is one of the juvenile illegal immigrants who was shielded from deportation by the San Francisco Juvenile Probation Department.

"Ramos, a native of El Salvador whom prosecutors say is a member of a violent street gang, was found guilty of two felonies as a juvenile - a gang-related assault on a Muni passenger and the attempted robbery of a pregnant woman - according to authorities familiar with his background.

In neither instance did officials with the city's Juvenile Probation Department alert federal immigration authorities, because it was the city agency's policy not to consider immigration status when deciding how to deal with an offender. Had city officials investigated, they would have found that Ramos lacked legal status to remain in the United States."

Attempted robbery of a pregnant woman! Nice. I wonder how the mother of his child feels about him assaulting pregnant women (Ramos has a baby girl with some bright spot in the female community). And he committed that crime literally within days of being released for his first offense (a gang-related assault on a MUNI bus).

Update - after a little research, it turns out he's married to a girl who is (how convenient!) a U.S. citizen and had a request to become a permanent resident pending when he shot Tony Bologna and his two sons.

I guess I should include that his prior juvenile convictions occurred before Gavin Newsom took office in 2004 and we already know that the policy of shielding illegal immigrant felons predates his administration (confirming another well-known fact: San Francisco has been run by misguided liberals and outright idiots for a very long time). Still, his administration should have stopped this policy immediately upon taking office instead of jumping right for issuing illegal marriage licenses to gays and lesbians. I mean, clearly, his priorities have been way off track from day one!

In the two weeks (it's about two weeks, maybe a little more) since Gavin Newsom terminated the idiotic policy of not referring these felons to ICE at least ten juvenile offenders have been referred to federal authorities. That's almost one per day! Can you imagine how many have slipped through the system in the years since this policy started? How many heinous crimes could have been prevented by simply abiding by federal law? I'd like to know what the repeat-offense rate for these criminals many of them go on to commit progressively more violent crimes as Mr. Ramos has?

Oh, and speaking of Gavin Newsom, he hasn't clarified whether or not he ended the policy in May as he claimed on CBS or in July when it was brought to the public attention.

All I can say is it's more than time for some serious accountability for the leaders of San Francisco. At every turn they have had ample opportunity to right the wrongs that have ruled this city for decades and at each turn they've chosen WRONG. As one SFGate commenter put it: "Grab your pitchforks and light your torches. Time to take back our city."

(Speaking of pitchforks and torches, go to and email them to show your support!)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

More on the JROTC Ban

C.W. Nevius at the Chronicle spoke out against ousting JROTC in SF public schools. I'm glad to see him pointing out that two of the school board members supporting the measure are running for supervisor seats in November and are therefore, trying hard to increase their liberal street cred.

Of course Gavin Newsom had to show up to the pro-JROTC rally (probably still nervous about his little "slip-up" with the illegal immigrant shield). No doubt he took a poll and found out that people from SF are supportive of the program.

Also in the article:

"It's also red meat for those conservative blogs and news outlets that want to paint San Francisco as a nutty outpost that tries to impose its views on everyone else."

Newsflash: San Francisco *is* a nutty outpost. Has this guy ever seen what goes on at the Folsom Street Fair or Pride Parade every year? That is not normal behavior to the rest of the country. In fact, probably a lot of it violates laws on the books in SF (see previous post about quality of life crimes being overlooked). Also, gay marriage anyone? And in the beginning of the article, Nevius lists "universal healthcare" as an issue that allows people to express themselves and control their own life. Clearly, he hasn't been to the DMV in awhile.

San Francisco: Best California City for Criminals

Go us!

This is a year old, but no doubt much of it still holds all too true.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, roughly 4 of every 100 arrests result in prison terms in San Francisco, compared with 12.8 out of 100 in Alameda County, 14.4 of 100 in Sacramento County, 21 of 100 in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, 26.6 of 100 in Fresno County, 38.7 of 100 in Los Angeles County and 41 of 100 in San Diego County."

And when it comes to murder, statistics show that San Francisco prosecutors have had ample opportunities to keep criminals off the streets. The Chronicle reports that fully "83 percent of people identified by police as suspects in San Francisco killings in 2004 and 2005 had criminal records. The identified suspects had an average of 11 arrests apiece."

I can personally vouch for the fact that this is definitely still true:

It is well known that drug dealers commute to San Francisco from Alameda county because they know there is a low likelihood of arrest in San Francisco, much less actual jail time for the crimes if they're caught. Consequently, there seems to be little enforcement of most quality of life crimes in the city. Visitors strolling around the city are more than likely to see open drug use and drug dealing and rampant graffiti vandalism.
Just off the top of my head I can think of about four incidents where the police where around people using drugs openly and did nothing to stop. Once, at Ocean Beach, Mr. Urb and I (and Baby Urblette, too!) noticed two young-looking kids lighting up a joint, totally polluting the air around (personally, I hate the smell of pot, but that's just me). Luckily (or so we thought) a cop was patrolling the walkway on his motorcycle. Guess what happened? Did he arrest them? No. Let them off with a warning? No. He mosied right on past them and the obvious stench of illegal substances and began flirting with a female jogger nearby.
Another time, I saw three of the local bums (one couple, they always panhandle together, and then another bum friend), sitting on a park bench, smoking (that's pot, not tobacco) away their hard-begged money. And the police officer, patrolling the park in close enough range to know what was going on, ignored it.

Here in SF, we're big fans of selective law enforcement. And usually, the people who feel the long arm of the law are the ones who can pay the most - parking tickets, people who leave their garbage containers out. You know, those evil people who dare to be wage-earners. Chances are, if you're homeless or part of a select group of special classes (gay, illegal immigrant, etc), the liberals in San Francisco will be more than happy to overlook your illegal activity.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Oh hey, speaking of bums...

As promised, a picture of a homeless guy on his Blackberry.

I know, it's a little fuzzy, but if you're ever in Golden Gate Park around 19th Avenue, you'll probably run into this guy. You might mistake him for a normal guy because he's (so far) maintained a clean shave by camping out by one of the public restrooms. His favorite spot is right near a children's park and I have (paranoid mother that I am) called the police on him before only to see him get the usual "You'll have to move somewhere else" speech and return again in a few hours.

He's also seen trolling around the local Starbucks and you will almost always see him with a Venti-something in hand. I'm sure it's a refilled black coffee, still, the idea of a bum talking on a Blackberry with his venti-coffee in hand is just too much.

Of course, equally annoying is the chance that the PDA was swiped from some unfortunate citizen (wouldn't be the first time a bum stole something - strollers seem to be a popular item. Guaranteed that one guy in the cowboy hat didn't *buy* that Phil & Ted jogger he's been pushing around lately)...
The papers mostly seem willing to put this whole immigrant shield business behind them and move on as Newsom's mostly-faithful lapdogs, but one there was one semi-enlightening blurb in the Chronicle today:

For the past two years, Gavin Newsom's advisers have been telling the politically ambitious mayor he has to make a choice: Stay "governor" of San Francisco, or start acting like the governor of California.

The importance of making a call became clear last week when Newsom found himself in the national spotlight for shielding juvenile crack dealers from immigration authorities as part of San Francisco's sanctuary-city policy.

As luck would have it, The Chronicle's Jaxon Van Derbeken broke the kid crack dealer story just as Newsom was announcing he was setting up an exploratory committee for a run for governor. Suddenly, the would-be statewide candidate ran the risk of being pilloried as being soft on not one but two hot-button issues: crime and illegal immigration.

But within his own administration, there was no clear consensus on what he should do.

At his regular weekly think tank gathering, the division became clear - with one side urging Newsom to hold true to the sanctuary city ideals and show "compassion" for the crack kids, and the other side telling him that shielding drug dealers, of any age or immigration status, was political suicide.

"Not only for someone running for governor," said one source who attended the meeting. "Even here in San Francisco, it was a 80-20 loser."

The next day, Newsom made the call to end the sanctuary shield and start cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

But, Newsom claimed last week in that Hank Plante interview that he ended the policy a month before it hit the Mayor Newsom, were you lying then or now?