At least we knew where Gavin stood 

Now that Mayor Gavin Newsom is gazing into his crystal ball — aloha-style — to find out about his political future, his abrupt pullout from the governor’s race does raise some interesting questions.

Like, for example, where do all the candidates running for higher office stand on the issues?

Newsom may not have gained much footing during his yearlong campaign, but there was little doubt about where our wonkish, statistic-crazed mayor stood on everything from taxes to health care reform. Likewise, erstwhile GOP candidate Tom Campbell has clearly staked his position on the issues and, in a mirror image of Newsom’s campaign, finds himself flatlining in the polls and barely breathing on the fundraising front.

Former eBay chief Meg Whitman, the presumed Republican front-runner, has spent more than $6 million on ads in which she — stop the presses — talks about shrinking government and creating new jobs. And how she’s going to do that will be one for future debates, perhaps with magic pixie dust or by injecting her own sizable fortune into the private sector.

As for California Attorney General Jerry Brown, now the only alleged Democratic candidate left standing, he’s not saying anything about any issue because, as he repeated to reporters this week, he’s “not a candidate.” And besides, Brown said, people get tired of politicians talking all the time. After 40 years of campaigning, he should know.

If only he weren’t secretly running to be California’s Zen master instead of governor. Perhaps then he could ask us for our good vibes instead of our votes.

Now we have former Hewlett-Packard Co. CEO Carly Fiorina jumping into the U.S. Senate race to try to unseat longtime Democratic fixture Barbara Boxer. When asked what she planned to do issuewise, a spokesperson for Fiorina said she was doing “due diligence,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

In the past, Fiorina has gone on record as saying executives of companies that received federal stimulus money should resign. Yet at the same time, she objected to the Obama administration’s machinations that bounced former GM Chairman Rick Wagoner.

But she’s also against any government attempts to limit executive compensation. And that’s understandable since, as part of her highly controversial departure from HP, Fiorina took home more than $40 million.

It would appear Newsom was just too smart for himself, yammering away on issues big and small when no one was listening. We’ll call it a rookie mistake.

Gay-rights proponents may need new strategy

When advocates of same-sex marriage in California were told by some supporters that it would be too early to go back to the ballot to overturn a ban on the official nuptials next year, they insisted that they didn’t care.

Perhaps it’s time they started letting the facts get in the way of their arguments.

Voters in Maine dealt a body blow to gay rights this week when they repealed a new state law that allowed same-sex couples to wed — a setback that has national implications.

Maine seemed to be the state with the best chance of winning marriage rights for gays and lesbians at the ballot box, with polls showing that the measure was running even heading into Election Day. Backers of same-sex marriage had a great deal more money and political backing than their opponents in the Maine election, yet they still lost and now gay-rights advocates are beginning to question whether a “state by state” strategy to overturn bans should be abandoned.

Certainly it’s a question facing groups trying to organize for another vote in California, where polls also show sentiment changing on same-sex marriage. The only problem — as was revealed in Maine — is that polls don’t vote.

Few showing concern for proposed toll hikes

Thanks to Caltrans, I spent part of last week enjoying our many fine bridges and highways in the Bay Area, and from the looks of many fellow drivers, they did as well.

As state transportation crews worked on the nuts and bolts of the Bay Bridge, I had the pleasure of crossing three other state bridges and set a personal record of driving on 12 highways in six hours as I explored the wonders of the subprime mecca known as Oakley. Soccer will do that to a parent.

I tell you this not because you may enjoy driving as much as I do, but because the tolls on those bridges are about to go up and there’s not much being said about it.

Only a handful of people have showed up to air their thoughts about the proposed fare hikes being considered by the Bay Area Toll Authority, which held one of its hearings this week.

But just so you’re not surprised, the board is contemplating increasing tolls by $1 on seven state bridges (that doesn’t include the Golden Gate Bridge) and also charging carpools $3 during peak travel times on weekdays.

The Bay Bridge, which we know to be special, would have its own separate fare hikes, including a $6 toll during peak commute hours on weekdays.

In case you’re interested in telling the board what you think of its grand toll plan, there’s another hearing at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 17 at San Mateo City Hall. Consider carpooling.

SF voters, were you all bored to death by ballot?

If anyone wonders how things in San Francisco happen — or don’t — you need not look further than this week’s election, when our alleged hotbed of civic activism decided to take a collective snooze.

Groups such as San Francisco Beautiful are patting themselves on the back for blocking two measures that would have allowed new billboards to pop up (and the revenue that would have accompanied them), but the truth is that boredom, not advocacy, determined the outcome of the propositions.

Less than 16 percent of registered voters in The City turned out. And if you needed anecdotal evidence, I popped into my neighborhood precinct around 12:30 p.m. and I was lucky voter No. 18.

A sanctuary city is not supposed to be a place where people take haven elsewhere at election time, but apparently this was a very good week for San Francisco residents to go wave riding in Hawaii.

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Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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