Supes blocking Wi-Fi connection 

So Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Tuesday announced an ambitious Wi-Fi plan, to be completed by 2009, that would grant every Angeleno and every visitor to the sprawling Southern California metropolis free access to the wireless Internet.

On the same day, San Francisco Supervisor Jake McGoldrick withdrew, perhaps temporarily, his proposed nonbinding resolution to study the feasibility of a city-owned Wi-Fi system.

What goes on here? Without stretching the political analysis too far, both men are in their own ways rivals of Mayor Gavin Newsom, who wants to build a Wi-Fi system in partnership with EarthLink and Google. The L.A. mayor is seen as a contender for the 2010 Democratic nomination for governor, as is Newsom. McGoldrick seems to act as an ideological gadfly, though he’s evidently earnest about preferring a socialistic Wi-Fi system to a public-private partnership.

The Newsom plan may not be perfect, but McGoldrick’s idea of perfection would be the enemy of the good. In fact, the alternative plan of placing Wi-Fi access into the hands of the sort of bureaucrats who run Muni would be costly, inefficient and, not mincing words, atrocious. Under Newsom’s plan, the two Internet giants would pay for the system’s installation, making money from subscriptions and advertising.

It’s the better deal for San Francisco, and Villaraigosa tacitly pays Newsom a compliment by going the public-private partnership route. Only the L.A. mayor, overseeing a much larger city with more vexing logistical issues, could complete his project first, reaping statewide political dividends. San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors could help him — by continuing to dither. The ultimate losers: San Franciscans.

Political calculations aside, and we’re not imputing any political motives to McGoldrick and likeminded supervisors, but we hope they will bow to economic reality and quash that resolution permanently. The ultimate winners: San Franciscans.

Turning the page at the Department of Building Inspection

There’s always the temptation, when greeted with this kind of news, to break into a few lyrics from The Who: "Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss." Except that when you compare Isam Hasenin, the newly appointed director of the Department of Building Inspection, to Amy Lee, the office’s most recent occupant, there’s no implied condemnation.

The City owes much gratitude to Lee, a gifted civil servant, who worked tirelessly through an interim period to clean out the corruption that had plagued the DBI for years. Hasenin, who brings an impressive résumé from San Diego, will be handed a far fresher and manageable job because of Lee’s efforts.

The "old boss" whose reincarnated traits we should be wary of would be the pre-Lee DBI leadership, which countenanced so many greased palms that the FBI repeatedly stepped in, finally prompting the mayor and the supervisors to search for ethical leadership. There’s been significant progress, but old cultures die hard. We wish Hasenin well.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

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