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Gadfly Gallery 

Wednesday, Nov 15 2006
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The Census Bureau doesn't compile stats on this sort of stuff, but we think this town must rank near the top when it comes to the number of gadflies per capita. Maybe it's because San Franciscans tend to be deeply skeptical of authority and adept at maneuvering around bureaucratic obstacles (ever tried to get a kid into a preschool?), or maybe it's because we're just a wee bit kooky. In recent years some of the more aggressive hangers-on have seized on our potent open government law, the Sunshine Ordinance, which allows the citizenry to request copies of just about any report, contract, study, letter, or e-mail generated by a city employee. While the law has allowed reporters and activists to keep an eye on City Hall, it has also allowed certain obsessive-compulsive types to bombard civil servants with demands for arcane government documents — servants whose time is paid for with your tax dollars. Here's a handy guide to some of the more notable characters and their causes.

Name: Kimo Crossman
Goals: Making the process of creating a municipal Wi-Fi system transparent and improving the Sunshine Ordinance.

Tactics: Deluging city workers with e-mails, asking for the same documents over and over. In September alone he hit them with 203 pages (56,000 words — a small novel's worth) of correspondence.

Taxpayer cost: The city attorney's office says dealing with Crossman has cost at least $200,000.

Quote: "They say I've paralyzed [city] departments. There's no evidence of that."

Name: Martin MacIntyre
Goal: Reforming the Recreation and Park Department

Tactics: MacIntyre is sick of loud, rawk 'n' rollÐtype events in Golden Gate Park, and has bugged the department about this burning issue for the past nine years.

Taxpayer cost: Minimal

Quote: MacIntyre accuses the dastardly characters at Rec and Park of doing "special illegal favors" for concert promoters.

Name: Peter Warfield
Goal: Reforming the public library

Tactics: Has filed "hundreds" of records requests over the past nine years, according to a library insider. Once insisted on inspecting every single business deal library officials had made over the past 125 years, our source says. (Warfield denies this).

Taxpayer cost: At one point, a veteran library employee spent about 40 percent of his time dealing with Warfield's demands.

Quote: "Let me quote for you from section 67.31" of the Sunshine Ordinance.

Names: Patrick Monette-Shaw and Michael Petrelis
Goal: Reforming the Department of Public Health

Tactics: Monette-Shaw is big on the Sunshine Ordinance, making about 50 document requests annually over the past five years, according to a health department source. Petrelis was convicted of making threatening phone calls to health department staffers and now blogs about his beefs with the department.

Taxpayer cost: "Thousands yearly," our department source says.

Quote: "Call me crazy. Everyone else has," writes Petrelis.

About The Author

A.C. THOMPSON

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