If ever a city union set up a picket line outside a burning building and elected city officials came barreling toward the exit, we suspect they'd cross labor and remain alive. But, in a moment akin to Jack Benny's response to a mugger's demand of "Your money or your life" they'd take a moment to think things over.
To a lesser degree, this was the scenario that faced Supervisor Scott Wiener yesterday. As he trudged up Duboce toward a neighborhood meeting at CPMC Hospital, he greeted every last constituent. That included the troop of picketing stationary engineers from Local 39 -- and their little dog, too.
The engineers -- and their dog -- were picketing the hospital. And this posed a problem.
A politician hoping to attend a community meeting of his constituents and discovering they're gathering in a venue being picketed by labor is like finding oneself the intermediary in a dispute between mom and your spouse. You can never win. You can only lose by less.
In any event, Wiener expressed his regret he couldn't attend the meeting. It's not like he could have sneaked in -- when you're 6-foot-7, people tend to notice you. "Maybe we should start having our meetings at the Harvey Milk Rec Center," noted one of the event organizers. That would require paying for the room -- but, then, no one would set up a demonstration outside the building. And your local supervisor would attend.
Suddenly liberated for the evening at the ungodly early hour of 7:45 p.m., Wiener found himself in the unusual position of being off-schedule. "Maybe I'll try to get in a yoga class," he said before skulking off into the evening.
He waved good bye to the picketers. And their little dog, too.
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