It took nearly two years for authorities in Berkeley to extricate its fragrant tree-huggers from their lofty heights on the UC campus, pretty much cementing the city’s place as the wackiest in the West. But wait — don’t count San Francisco out — it’s about to give Berkeley another run for its (streetwalking) money.
Four years ago, Berkeley voters soundly rejected a measure to decriminalize prostitution, which would have directed cops and prosecutors to stop enforcing state laws on prostitution. Now, the same ballot plan goes before San Francisco voters in November under the guise of Proposition K, brought to us by the same sex-trade worker who saw another sales opportunity across the Bay.
That person, Mary Ellen (Maxine) Doogan, happens to be a convicted pimp who ran an escort prostitution agency in Seattle a little more than a decade ago. Doogan was in Superior Court in San Francisco this week with her attorney, Philip Horne, trying to get a judge to block voter information for the ballot pamphlet that would have let people know what Prop. K will do if passed.
The view from the experts: It would be very, very bad for prostitutes and very, very good for pimps and sex traffickers.
The information Doogan sought to remove from voters included statements that Prop. K would prevent the San Francisco Police Department from seeking or accepting federal or state funds to investigate organized-crime rings that exploit trafficking victims of an identifiable race or nationality. And that it would “hobble” the district attorney and the Police Department from investigating sex trafficking.
You know, the kind of news that might prove useful if you cared about the safety dangers to women and children created by the whole sex-trafficking trade. Fortunately, most people see through such ludicrous and outrageous legislation, but not, it turns out, the new leaders of the local Democratic Party, which endorsed Prop. K and may pay a pretty price for their ideological hubris.
Judge Patrick J. Mahoney took Doogan’s arguments and pretty much tossed them into the Bay, saying the ballot arguments against Prop. K “fall well within the realm of the First Amendment,” which he added, was a “pretty persuasive” argument.
Horne argued that the proposition said nothing about pimping or prostitution. He said it only applies to “erotic services.”
When prostitution is erotic, I’ll be mayor.
A lot of people were puzzled when Mayor Gavin Newsom canned San Francisco Public Utilities Commission General Manager Susan Leal this year, since no one would say exactly why that political partnership broke up. Word was the mayor was unhappy because Leal was privately slamming him among colleagues at City Hall, that her own commissioners wanted her gone and that she was getting too cozy with zealous public-power advocates.
Well, at least now we know that there was some truth in the rumors.
In an editorial in the Bay Guardian this week, Leal comes out front and center for Proposition H, the latest public-power grab by the one-trick purists who refuse to stop pushing the issue no matter how many times voters just say no to the idea.
Leal said Prop. H will “bring about more accountability and less waste of ratepayer dollars” if passed. She also writes that the current electricity provider in San Francisco, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., “is not responsive to San Franciscans” and The City has little influence over the utility giant.
All of which begs the question: Why wasn’t she saying this when she was in charge of the PUC?
It may be true that adding extra foot patrols and expanding mental-health programs won’t stop some people from trying to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge, but installing an extremely costly suicide barrier also is not going to stop anyone determined to end their life.
That concept may seem too simplistic to some, but there’s still no arguing that the vast majority of the public doesn’t want to put in any kind of barrier on one of the world’s most iconic structures — that is, if you believe the polls.
Still, there was no lack of criticism for the group of experts that reached a similar conclusion this week. A committee of architects and bridge engineers put together by Mayor Gavin Newsom suggested that bridge district officials seek a “nonphysical” alternative to a suicide barrier on the bridge and instead rely on volunteers trained in suicide-prevention techniques.
But if the vocal advocates for a barrier insist on one, the committee suggested a horizontal net system under the bridge would be the best and least-intrusivealternative.
There is an underlying reason why people in the Bay Area have been debating suicide prevention on the bridge for decades but haven’t been able to reach any conclusion — there’s no barrier for a troubled mind. I’ve known at least three people who’ve leapt to their deaths off the bridge, and I know in each instance they would have found another way — as sad as that reality is.
Should the owners of the 49ers complete their only long pass in memory and somehow escape with the team to Santa Clara, a potential new use for Candlestick Park has been unearthed — and it involves an opportunity to give the longtime Faithful a place to finally call home.
Like a cemetery.
Football clubs (the real kind, no pads, no hands) in Europe and South America have started a trend to open cemeteries near their exalted home fields so fans can stay true to their teams until they die — and then ever-after. Hamburg HSV in Germany is the latest club to join the march of destiny, and fans there can sign up for an HSV coffin for only $3,277. (Urns in the club’s colors will cost $491.)
Think of it as a chance to take those great Super Bowl memories straight to the grave.