SFBG Blogs

Commissioner Haaland


By Tim Redmond

Not much daily press on this, but Robert Haaland, longtime LGBT and labor activist, is headed for a seat on the Board of Appeals. The San Francisco Sentinel story focuses on the triumph for the TG community and notes that this was the seat that Harvey Milk once held. But this is also excellent news for the overall progressive community, particularly for land-use activists: The Board of Appeals is a powerful body that deals with demolition permits, building permits, event permits, club permits and more. Robert will be a good vote.

The Mexican election


By Tim Redmond

Not a huge amount of furor (yet) in San Francisco over the apparent theft of the Mexican elections. John Ross has all the background here. Randy Shaw has some thoughts on the Mexican left in BeyondChron, but he doesn’t talk to much about the local scene either. There’s an awful lot of Mexican nationals in San Francisco, and Ross says they were badly disenfranchised. If the theft is certified, perhaps some street protests in major SF cities would be in order.

Welcome to the politics blog


This is the new SFBG politics blog. Check in daily for all the fun.

NOISE: Where our beloved, late show reviews go to live, live, LIVE, MOO-HOO-HA-HA!!!


Er, yes, well, we do have quite a bit of catching up to do since the Big Blog Crash of ’06.

Magik Markers get sketchy at ArthurFest, LA, in 2005. Credit: Kimberly Chun


First off, wow, Magik Markers certainly drank dat kosmic Kool-Aid last night, July 6, at the Hemlock Tavern, didn’t they? I went with my pal who’s been psychic since birth, reads animals’ pea-brains, and is currently taking a trance-medium class — and she swears that the MM’s magnetic cutie-pie vocalist Elisa Ambrogio is working with three beings — WITHOUT EYES, mind you (Did we need that detail? TMI!) — when she performs. Hey, different strokes, y’all — some kick back with a six-pack; others go for the eyeless, fleshless variations on the out-of-bod theme. OK, can I consider my music journalist license revoked now? Am I free to go?

Liars, Liars, pants on fire at Bottom of the Hill. Credit: Kimberly Chun


In other live show notes, here’s a much-belated review of the mega June 5 Liars show at Bottom of the Hill, courtesy of Guardian freelance writer Chris Sabbath:

I had seen the Liars open for the YYY’s four years ago back in Cleveland, Ohio, when they were still a quartet, and I was blown away. However, the band has undergone a lot of changes in terms of lineup and sound, so I was anticipating tonight’s performance to be different.

Several thoughts raced through my mind as I waited in line for the band’s sold-out show at the Bottom of the Hill. Would they play songs off of They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top? I guessed no, but pondered anyway. Could the band’s live sound top their new album’s slick production work? Would any faux-Simon instruments be involved like last time? How tall is Angus? I hope I have enough money for at least three beers. Will the girl standing behind me please shut the fuck up? Anyhow, I had missed the Liars last tour and was eager to see if they could best the one I had seen in Cleveland.

As I stood in the back patio chain-smoking cigarettes and chatting it up with friends, the muffled yet catastrophic din of Portland, Ore.’s Rabbits lured me back into the club. I was met with a wall of deafening feedback, layered fuzz, and a drummer way too happy to slam his sticks against his cymbals. The trio ripped through a tight sounding set of chaotic sludginess and doom metal (or for lack of an annoying classification — tom rock, which is usually committed by drummers that beat their rack toms into the ground) that brought to mind several bands (Venom, Amphetamine Records-era Helmet, the Melvins 20 years back, High on Fire right now). The sound of two guitars locking horns and spiraling downward into one giant puddle of gritty tumult surpassed my expectations. I spilled more beer on myself, then in my mouth at the end of the band’s performance. My only disappointment was the fact that the band didn’t have any CDs for sale — just LPs and T-shirts.

I saw the Apes open for the Gogogo Airheart three years ago in San Diego, and can vividly remember the performance being really intense and fun to watch. Yet I wasn’t too enthused with tonight’s set, mainly due to the fact that they had a new lead singer (which I had found out much to my dismay a few weeks back). As the Washington, DC, quartet was setting up, a short costumed character (somewhat resembling a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger) came onto the stage and began talking to the crowd. I really couldn’t make out what he was saying, partly because I was trying to get the bartender’s attention, and mainly because I really didn’t care, but as the rest of the band took the stage, the costumed figure took off the mask and revealed that herself to be the Apes’ organ player. Somebody in the group began to roll call each band member’s name off (Jackie Magik, Majestic Ape — obviously not their real names) and then introduced the new vocalist before exploding into the first song.

I’m not sure if the songs they were playing were new or not, but I can assure you that it definitely sounded like classic Apes: proggy eruptions that seem to bounce up and down somewhere along the lines of King Crimson spitting out energetic, dancey chops. The costumes were pretty humorous — the bass player looked like a war vet wearing disco tights, and the drummer resembled a track star. The vocalist stood out amongst the rest, a tall, lanky fellow wearing normal street clothes, shimmying back and forth and lunging at the crowd. His vocals were too watered down and didn’t seem to mesh well with the rest of the band. Maybe I am too attached to their old singer. Perhaps if I heard a recorded song with the new vocalist on it, I would feel differently, but I prefer the old singer’s nasally growl. In any case, the Apes’ musicianship did stand out — though, sad to say, their show made me picture Morris Day fronting a dynamite-sounding rock band. The crowd was definitely digging it, and the club was twice as crammed as it was for the Rabbits’ set.

I secured a corner of Bottom of the Hill just as the Liars were about to come on. As guitarist-percussionist Aaron tweaked some gadgets on stage, Julian jumped up and sat behind the drum set, dressed in what looked like an old boxing robe. The two started playing drums simultaneously and were joined shortly thereafter by singer-guitarist Angus (dressed to kill in a one-piece garage jumpsuit). The crowd yelled gleefully upon his arrival, and the band went into its first song, an ear-scathing mixture of guitar, drum banging, and effects pedals whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Most of the songs were from the band’s new album, Drums not Dead, but the Liars did dip into the breadbasket of old tunes from its last album. The trio strayed away from the dance-punk numbers from their first album, but at this point, I don’t think anybody really cared. The Liars’ new songs are just as fun, and geared to make hips swivel and legs rattle up and down.

The band sounded much more balanced and explosive with three members as opposed to four. Julian’s drumming really helped thicken the sound and branched off past the simple disco beat that made the band earlier albums digestable. Aaron’s and Angus’s cohesiveness as a duo was topnotch and more well-rounded than the last time I had seem them. I can only hope that they continue to explore different sound textures and not stick with the particular model that they have going on right now.

During the show, I noticed a few crowd surfers, men with shirts off beating their bare chests in approval, the occasional hipster covering his or her ears, and more beer — spilled on me.

By the middle of the set, Angus had stripped off his uniform, to reveal a black and white checkered secretary dress. The crowd really didn’t react to the costume change.

…Therefore skirts for everyone. Credit: Kimberly Chun

I was very excited to hear “Be Quiet Mt. Heart Attack!”, the first song off the new album, followed by an equally impressive “Let’s Not Wrestle Mt. Heart Attack.” Other good numbers were the tom-happy “A Visit from Drum,” as well as a resounding version of “Broken Witch.” I didn’t recognize some of the songs but found them just as mesmerizing — thanks in part to Angus’s hollow delivery on vocals and the band’s knack for improvisation. Needless to say, the set was very comforting, with few pauses in between songs and lots of pleasing noise. No encore, but I felt the Liars had already proved their point in the hour that had passed, so I went home with head and body buzzing.

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BOB Readers Poll is back!


We’re still trying to repair whatever damage was done to our site by an apparent attack, but in the meantime, the Best of the Bay Readers Poll is ready to use. You can get to it here

SFBG.COM still having problems


As you’ve probably noticed, our site is still down. We’re working on it right now and trying to get it back up and running today. Bear with us; we’ll be back soon.

Swanson beats Russo


By G.W. Schulz
With all districts reporting, Sandré Swanson has overcome Oakland city attorney John Russo by 7 percentage points in his primary bid for the 16th Assembly District, which Wilma Chan has held since 2000 and is out due to term limits. District 16 otherwise looks to be uncontested in the general election.
Russo served on the Oakland City Council during the 90s before becoming that Oakland’s first elected city attorney after Jerry Brown’s strong-mayor initiative put the office out for a vote. He made a name for himself in part by filing a nuisance action against Caltrans to force the transportation agency to clean up trash and debris along its properties and by taking on “problem liquor stores.”

Wow! Unity!


By Tim Redmond

Amazing, but not unexpected: Steve Westly joined with Phil Angelides today in L.A. to announce a unified campaign for the fall. Westly, who had blasted Angelides for allegedly dumping waste into Lake Tahoe, called him ” a brilliant man” who is “comitted to environmental values.”
It was a good move for Westly to be gracious, but it’s a little late for that sort of thing: Schwarzenegger is already gathering up all the negative stuff Westly threw at Angelides, and we’ll see it all again in the fall.
The good news is that the voters will have already been exposed to this stuff once (and while it may have supressed turnout a bit, it clearly didn’t damage Angelides fatally). So when the Guv tries to bring it all up again — “Angelides wants to raise your taxes, Angelides got money from developers, Angelides is a dork,” whatever — the public will be sick of it.
Schwarzenegger is still very, very vulnerable, and will be counting on his big bond measure this fall to carry him. Already, he’s talking about how he wants to rebuild California for the future. The advantage Angelides has is that unlike Westly, he can point to some very clear and different policy positions. He’s not Arnold — and right now, that’s a big thing.

Binder’s analysis


By Steven T. Jones
Pollster David Binder’s day-after election luncheon at SPUR is a tradition of the season and a must-attend for the wonkiest of political wonks. Among his insights:
* In an otherwise lackluster election, the Ma-Reilly Assembly race increased turnout on the more-conservative westside of San Francisco, thus hurting progressive measures like Measures A (which barely lost…probably) and B (which won, but not by as much as Binder and others predicted)
* There are still 40,000-60,000 absentee and provisional ballots to be counted in San Francisco, meaning Measure A (which was losing by a little over 1,000 words) could still flip, although Binder considers it unlikely given that absentee ballots in this race favored the “no” position.
* For its liberal reputation, San Franciscans are still fairly fiscally conservative and resist spending money. But we still support markedly more liberal candidates than the rest of the state.
* It was a good night for Asians and a bad night for wives seeking to replace their politician husbands.
* Democrats might have a hard time this fall keeping control of the statewide offices.

Progressive power in Oakland


By G.W. Schulz

All of Alameda County’s precincts have now reported, but absentee and provisional ballots are still not counted. The Alameda County Registrar of Voters couldn’t confirm for us how many such ballots remained.

So we won’t know for a week or two whether or not there will be a runoff between former congressman Ron Dellums and Oakland city council president Ignacio De la Fuente for the mayor’s office. But the race hardly feels tight at this point. Nancy Nadel’s 13 percentage points would likely go to Dellums in the event of a runoff, and Dellums remains 17 points beyond De La Fuente with all precincts reporting.

Mayor Jerry Brown, who’s now on his way to a November election battle with unrivaled Republican primary winner Chuck Poochigian for the state attorney general’s office, rarely shied away from corporate developers in Oakland. Entire neighborhoods have been transformed in just a few years with swanky artist loft spaces and corporate box stores sprouting up everywhere.

De La Fuente was viewed as the candidate who would continue that trend. Dellums offers a very different vision.

Partying for Laguna Honda


By G.W. Schulz
Perhaps the most obscure and complex of the four local measures that appeared on Tuesday’s ballot was Proposition D, a land-use initiative designed to prevent San Francisco County health officials from allowing the spill-over of patients diagnosed with psychiatric or behavior problems from Potrero Hill’s San Francisco General Hospital to Laguna Honda Hospital in the western section of the city. Prop. D’s opponents defeated the measure by around 45,000 votes. Curiously, however, of all Tuesday’s races, the No on Prop. D election party seemed to be the most star-studded.

A take on A


By Steven T. Jones
The biggest heartbreak on election day — Measure A being defeated by just over 1,000 votes — should become the biggest opportunity for progressives now that this election is done. This measure was an effort to get needed funds into social programs that would deter street violence and, equally important, to get the communities of color and street-level activists most affected by this problem involved in finding solutions. Blame for this measure’s defeat falls squarely on Mayor Gavin Newsom, his four supporters on the Board of Supervisors (plus Sup. Jake McGoldrick, who was on the wrong side of this one), and the Police Officers Association (and to an unknown degree, whoever attacked and crashed the Guardian site yesterday and kept our endorsements unavailable for much of the day). It’s understandable why the POA wants to pursue only a top-down, more-cops approach to the high murder rate. But what’s unfathomable to me is why Newsom and his political allies continue to do nothing to reform a Police Department that is dysfunctional, arrogant, and understandably doesn’t have the confidence the parts of the community with which it should be working most closely.

Dellums’s outlook


By Sarah Phelan
At Ron Dellums Party, Kimball’s Carnival

Leaving San Francisco, we could feel the temperature rise as we crossed the Bay Bridge. By the time we got to Kimball’s, the party for Ron Dellums was absolutely raging.

Dellums is beating Ignacio De La Fuente 44 to 36 percent in the race for mayor of Oakland, but with only 1 percent of precincts reporting, the outcome is far from clear. Nevertheless, Dellums was looking relaxed and stately.

Endorsements for Nevin


By G.W. Schulz
At Mike Nevin’s Election Party

At District 8 State Senate candidate Mike Nevin’s election party, the mood is subdued. At the front of the wood-paneled meeting hall of the Steam Fitters, Plumbers, and Refrigerator Fitters Local 467 in Burlingame, an eraser board shows opponent Leland Yee ahead by 11 percentage points, with 50 percent of precincts reporting.

Nevin supporters chant, “I like Mike,” but the outcome seems inevitable to everyone, including Nevin.

After a series of supporters and campaign volunteers make short speeches, Nevin appears before the crowd with his family and declares, “Only 50 percent of the votes are in, but I’ve always been a pretty good counter all of my life, and I’m pretty aware of what’s going on tonight.”

He goes on to thank his campaign staff; his wife jokes that her husband has been endorsed by God, the Pope, and even, somehow, Yee.

“One thing people have always said about me is that I have political purpose,” he says, adding that that’s why he pursued the now more than two-years-long campaign.

Reilly leaves the stage


By Steven T. Jones
Janet Reilly finally came to the stage just before 10:30 to concede a race that wasn’t as close as many expected. “I am so proud of our efforts today and what we did over the course of this campaign,” she said through a newscaster’s smile that masked her obvious disappointment. “We were bold and courageous, we were innovative, and we did take chances.”

In the end, though, the Ma machine was just too much, something she didn’t say, not mentioning her opponent. Instead she ran through a long list of “thank yous,” starting with her tireless campaign manager Alex Laskey and ending with her husband, controversial political consultant Clint Reilly, whom her opponents and most journalists tried to put the focus on throughout the campaign. “Thank you for believing in me,” she said to him. And then she addressed the whole group: “Thank you for standing up for change. You will forever be in my heart.”

Bad news for Prop. A


By Tim Redmond
City Hall

Prop. A seems to be falling behind, although an hour ago it looked like a winner. A very sound measure addressing a real civic crisis — and it goes down because the cops try to make it about Chris Daly (who had a bad night, too).


Hope and resolve


By Steven T. Jones
Sharen Hewitt — the SF activist perhaps most associated with finding solutions to street violence — was being honored with a rose when I walked into the Prop. A party at Powell’s Place in the Fillmore. The barbecue smelled great, and when Sharen came toward the back of a room filled with multihued activists and community leaders, she encouraged me to dig in. It was delicious, and the program that followed was inspirational — and marked by a poignant reminder of what this campaign was about. For less than an hour later, Hewitt left the table with her three grandchildren and the room filled with her kindred spirits to attend to business: Another 16-year-old kid had been shot on Sunnydale Avenue and was on his way to the hospital.

What it all means


By Tim Redmond
At City Hall

This was an excellent night for labor and tenants, and to a certain extent, for Gavin Newsom. It was a lousy night for Carole Migden, Tony Hall, Joe O’Donoghue, and Clint Reilly.

Canvas with the Reilly people


By Steven T. Jones
The mood at Canvas Cafe is a little glum and doesn’t seem to fit the artsy, airy interior. They all know that it’s over, and they can’t stand to have lost to someone like Fiona Ma and the dirty campaign people fought on her behalf. Janet and Clint Reilly aren’t here yet, so I’ll keep this brief, with just one quote that seems to sum up the feelings of many of these volunteers, who fought hard to overcome Ma’s early lead and establishment support. “When you work hard for the right reasons, it really sucks to lose the good ones, like tonight,” said Alex Morrison, whom the campaign knows as Mo.

More after I write up the inspirational scene at the Prop. A party I just came from.

“Fabulous Fiona”


By Tina Rodia
At Fiona Ma party, Irish Cultural Center

At 9:09 p.m., with 17 percent of the precincts reporting, Fiona Ma already had 59 percent of the votes. Supporters at the party, which is about 300 people large, include the Arab Antidiscrimination Association, the organizers for the North Beach Festival, and members of the Outer Sunset community, where Ma is the district supervisor.

The organizers of the North Beach Festival refer to the State Assembly District 12 candidate as “Fabulous Fiona.” With drinks in hand, they are celebrating an early victory.

Approached by members of the media as she entered the room, Ma made statements regurgitating the standard “home ownership and business revenue are what’s good for San Francisco” talking points from her campaign Web site, her political mentor, former state senator John Burton, at her side.

more fun at City Hall


By Tim Redmond
Well, we keep crunching numbers here, and they keep looking grim for Janet Reilly. The latest, with more than half the votes in, shows Ma getting almost 60 percent of the election-day vote. Combined with her strong absentees, I think Ma is the clear winner here.

Fun facts: In San Francisco, Angelides is at 51 percent, and Westly is at 43 percent, so Carole Migden’s guy is getting trounced on her home turf.

more results — DCCC


By Tim Redmond
At City Hall

More than half the precincts are in, and we know what the 13th AD Democratic County Central Committee will look like, more or less.

The top 12 right now:

Bierman, Campos, Katz, Wiener, Thier, Spanjian, Goldstein, Haaland, Barnes, Crowley, Mandleman, Julian.

On the cusp: Cassiol, Paulson, Martinez, and Galbreath.

Pretty close to the Guardian slate.

The winners are


By Tim Redmond
At City Hall

OK, we can now fairly safely project most of the local races. Leland Yee is way ahead in SF, and trailing only slightly in San Mateo, so Yee will be our next state senator. Janet Reilly isn’t looking good at all, so we may be facing Assemblymember Fiona Ma (ick, I’m voting for the Green Party candidate, Barry Hermanson).

On the props:

Prop. A, the violence-prevention measure, is coming up fast, winning the election-day vote by 51 percent, and will almost certainly prevail.

Prop. B, the eviction-disclosure measure, is a winner.

Prop. C, the Transbay Terminal governance plan, is toast.

Prop. D, the Laguna Honda measure, is burnt toast.

We will be back shortly with the county central committee.