Mayor Lee: Welcome Fleet Week, prepare for disaster UPDATED

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s daily announcement of public events today included a strange pairing for tomorrow [Wed/10]: the Blue Angels will return to perform dangerous maneuvers over this densely populated city…and we need to prepare for a disaster.  

More specifically, his Press Office wrote: 

11:00 AM

Mayor Lee to kick off return of Fleet Week to San Francisco Bay Area & announce events, activities & disaster preparedness exercises.

Marines Memorial Club Library, 11th Floor

609 Sutter Street

Well, as the editor of a newspaper that has long raised concerns about Fleet Week, we’re happy to see Mayor Lee raising the issue and we’ll be there tomorrow to see what he says. Check back. 

UPDATE: So now that I attended the press conference, I’ve learned that Fleet Week isn’t just about displaying this country’s military might, celebrating soldiers as defenders of our “freedom,” or having the Blue Angels do dangerous stunts over a densely populated city — it’s really about disaster preparedness.

Or as Mayor Lee said, “Fleet Week is not only a time when we pay tribute to our women and men in uniform, but it is also an opportunity to improve the way we provide humanitarian assistance and educate ourselves about disaster preparedness.”

Lee told the Guardian that “the show” is less important than all the multi-agency training exercises that happen in the run-up to Fleet Week (which is Oct. 6-13), and he dismissed any danger that the Blue Angels pose by telling us “everyone practices very carefully” and that our safety concerns are “like saying that Muni presents a disaster.”

Police Chief Greg Suhr told us the emphasis on disaster preparedness has “always been so,” and that celebrating the military is important because “they are owed our appreciation.”

Marine Brigadier General Joaquin F. Malavet also reassured us that the maneuvers were safe, that “we’re very sensitive to the type of training events that we practice,” and that Fleet Week is important to San Franciscans: “We want them to be exposed to who we are, what we do, and the capabilities that we have.”

So if one of these babies crashes, as they sometimes do, we can all rest assured that the resources are here to deal with that or other disasters. Don’t you feel better?