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Wednesday, Aug 6 1997
Absences Without Malice
That was some bold, decisive move by Board of Supervisors President Barbara Kaufman when she stripped Supervisor Leland Yee of his committee assignments last week. Her reasoning was impeccable. Yee had racked up an unacceptable number of absences, declared the suddenly stringent Babs. Pay no attention to Yee's pathetic, grasping spin on the matter, that Kaufman was really punishing him for being independently minded and opposing some of her pet projects. It just doesn't ring true.

We know the supes' prez and have long admired her high level of integrity -- and consistency. And, knowing her as we do, we are sure that this is just the start of a boardwide sweep of slacking supes. There's no doubt that Babs is carrying out at this very minute a diligent survey of absences on the part of all supervisors -- and it's just as certain any guilty parties will be duly punished, just as Yee was.

To wit: We look forward to seeing Supervisor Leslie Katz stripped of her assignments. She has, after all, recorded 13 absences, two more than Yee. Soon after, we expect to see Madame President bravely risk certain political outcry from the black community by dumping Amos Brown (nine absences) from committee after committee. And proving herself to be even more fair-minded and fearless, Kaufman will also buck an equally sizable wave of outrage from the Latino community by ripping the epaulets from Jose Medina's shoulders (nine absences).

Finally, as close students of Babs, we predict she will also employ a healthy dose of leadership by example combined with positive reinforcement. Here's how:

Kaufman herself has recorded two absences; that's two more than Supervisor Tom Ammiano, her ideological enemy whom she gracelessly screwed by putting him on powerless committees after her inauguration as board president. Since Ammiano's record is spotless, she'll have no choice but to act against her own best interests and step down as board president in favor of Ammiano, evidently the hardest-working supe on the board. Of this we are sure.

-- George Cothran
The World Wide Web has surpassed stroke rags and porn loops as the country's most reviled purveyor of obscene material -- as well it should. The Web's pictures of hyperpierced genitalia, feces-eating fetishists, and other such awful-looking things are what the Tipper Gores of the world were created to abate. Appropriately, the White House and members of Congress continue plotting to circumvent the Web's First Amendment protections, following an initial retreat last month, when the president abandoned a plan to censor Web porn.

If only they knew the worst of it, the forces of cleanliness would dispense with such trifling impediments as the First Amendment and turn their attention to a far more insidious threat.

The very machines that drive vast portions of the Web -- the Unix-based servers that run services such as Yahoo! -- are programmed to respond to commands that can only be described as prurient, licentious, and vile.

The following is an actual sequence of Unix commands (although this script may need to be modified depending on personal preferences) according to a posting that has been floating around network-programmer bulletin boards.


An enticing prospect, perhaps. But not the kind of language we need driving the very programs our children use to do their schoolwork.

SF Weekly readers are urged to write their congressional representatives, whose addresses can be found at ...

Er, better yet, ask your local librarian. That Yahoo! search engine is based on filth.

-- Matt Smith

A PR Gap You Could Drive a Car Through
There's no better place than the field offices of the California Department of Motor Vehicles for an ugly little peek into humanity's dark side.

And a recent scene in the San Francisco office on Fell Street proffered an exceptionally sordid glimpse of mass resentment -- and an almost giddy mob psychosis.

The place is swarming with would-be drivers, vehicle owners, and unsuspecting new California residents. It's 3:30 p.m. and the line -- 60 people, easy -- runs all the way to the door. A generous four stations are open. For the best-equipped -- that elite group of veteran registrants who instinctively know which line to join -- the wait is about 90 minutes.

Suddenly, the voice from a window ahead rises above the chatter of the crowd.

"I ain't got no goddamn address," a man says angrily.
This is a patron who obviously has some issues; the crowd's focus shifts immediately to him. They know him. They saw him over in the registration line. For some in the room, that was hours ago. But he hasn't snapped until now. Giggles and snickers come from the line.

"I already waited in that line for three hours," he shouts in response to an inaudible suggestion from the clerk. "I'm not going back over there. Don't jerk me around."

Now the onlookers are laughing unabashedly, cheering on the tortured soul at the window, who is rapidly losing any grip on reality. A sick sort of Roman-gladiators scene comes over the public stuffed into this office.

"Don't give me that smirk," he rails.
So much for the civil service training that suggests a friendly smile is appropriate at this point. This patron is beyond the training manual's scope.

"I'm going to go home, come back, and fix you."
The crowd roars with laughter, devoid of any realization that this could easily be the start of an incident that might end up as tomorrow's front-page news story. They don't care. They've been in line for at least an hour and a half, and they're on this guy's side. This is what the DMV does to people.

At least one line-stander is formulating a plan. If Angry Man comes back with a gun, this guy's spotted a desk in a corner to dive under.

"People get killed that way, being at DMV without an escape plan," he says later.

In fact, according to DMV spokesman William Madison, "With as many people as we deal with on a regular basis, we don't have a lot of big problems."

And the little problems? Well, a month ago a patron at the very same Fell field office ripped a pen off a desk and threw it, chain and all, with such force, if not accuracy, that it stuck in a manger's leg.

For the first six months of this year, the DMV recorded 479 incidents statewide, 38 of them assault and battery.

"We have had people who have gotten angry with us," Madison concedes, "[but] out of a potential 30 million customers, that's not unusual.


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