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Dog Bites 

The Ken Garcia Golden Handshake Countdown!

Wednesday, Sep 22 1999

Now that the merger of the Examiner and the Chronicle seems inevitable -- barring, of course, the wrath of God as invoked by Bruce Brugmann (who looks a lot like God), the Independent-owning Fangs, and a few others intent on preserving a San Francisco that only ever existed in their own minds -- we must admit to feeling a certain amount of suspense: Which of the two papers' columnists will survive the merger? After all, between them, the Chron and the Ex employ, what, about 38 of them (depending, of course, on whether you count Matier and Ross as one or two people).

Dog Bites is betting that in the next while we'll see a number of these scribes throwing all they have into proving to Phil Bronstein, editor-elect of the new combined paper, that they should be among those chosen to stay. Of course, the Hearst Corp. won't exactly be canning the rest of them without generous buyouts, or possibly offers of reassignment to the North Marin and Sonoma County bureau. But those who've grown fond of seeing their bylines and head shots in the morning or afternoon papers may, nevertheless, be reluctant to cede the near-fame, the vast influence over public opinion, the exhilarating sense of power that, heaven knows, goes with being a columnist.

So we weren't surprised when, in a column examining mayoral candidate Frank Jordan's odd statement that the Mission resembles "a bombed-out Beirut," weirdly desiccated attack leprechaun Ken Garcia went on a ride-along -- just like a real reporter! -- with police Capt. Greg Suhr, head of the Mission District station. But Garcia seemed truly struck by the results of his explorations, which revealed to him a neighborhood "bustling with produce markets, discount stores, and street vendors."

Say! That sounds kind of nice, in a Third World sort of way! Maybe we'll have to go down there ourselves, one of these days. Perhaps we could sample some ethnic food! It could be fun! After all, as Jordan himself so eloquently pointed out at the mayoral debate, "San Francisco is one of the few cities you don't need a passport to visit."

Garcia smiled upon evidence that others of his ilk were colonizing the once-Circadia-less neighborhood. "I think it's safe to say the Mission is better off today than even a few years back, when one of the lobotomized weekly newspapers [our italics] couldn't even have envisioned starting a yuppie eradication campaign there, since there were no yuppies around to be eradicated," he wrote.

Now, Ken. The name of our paper is SF Weekly. And just because you're a columnist -- well, for now, anyway -- you can't be quite that fast and loose with the facts. Though Dog Bites would, of course, love to take credit for "starting" the Mission Yuppie Eradication Project, we must admit we didn't actually do any car keying, spray painting, or postering, mostly because, what with work, the gym, laundry, and so on -- who knew being an adult would be so time-consuming? -- we were a little too busy to be skulking around the Mission with a backpack full of xeroxed agitprop. However, we did report on the postering campaign, and interview Kevin Keating, the man police say was responsible for it; maybe that's what has you confused. Please, feel free to visit our Web site to read our old columns online; you'll get the gist of things.

Anyway, we do feel genuinely concerned for Garcia's career. Sure, he seems to dislike us a little, but we are able to rise above petty grudges and reach out to a professional colleague to ask: After Bronstein becomes your editor, Ken, how long will it be before you get the ax?

In fact, we're so worried about Ken and a whole slew of other ChronEx columnists that we're asking -- no, begging! -- our readers to vote online in the Dog Bites Golden Handshake Reader Poll, which will track the employment fates you predict for them. Please, show you care.

Pick the columnist you think will be the first to receive the Golden Handshake:
He or she will get canned on:

My e-mail address is:

Endorsements If Necessary, But Not Necessarily Endorsements
Apparently, in these cynical times, nobody likes any of the mayoral candidates much. But Dog Bites, turning onto Fifth Street the other day on our way to the San Francisco Shopping Center to make another fruitless attempt at resolving our many, many fall wardrobe problems, which have become so dire that not only the salesladies in Macy's and Saks, but also those in Ann Taylor, J. Crew, Bebe, Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom, and The Limited -- The Limited! -- refuse to acknowledge our sneaker-clad presence at all -- where were we?

Oh, yes: Waiting for the light to change, we looked up and had the sudden revelation that, at least in his billboard photo, Cesar Ascarrunz looks startlingly mayoral. Of course, popular wisdom has it that personal appearance is no reason to elect someone to public office -- though it may frequently affect the level of service one receives in a store, especially when one has had a long day at work and is wearing a prematurely pilly cotton cardigan that one heartily wishes one hadn't wasted one's money on -- but still, given that whoever is elected will, just like Miss America, travel all over the world representing us, isn't it just as valid a criterion as, say, the amount of money a candidate's wealthy cronies are willing to cough up to buy the candidate television spots, thereby lending that candidate instant legitimacy? Dog Bites feels the question needs to be asked, and there was a question in there somewhere.

We're not especially worried about the candidates' ability to, say, encourage Mission District tourism -- besides, the Antibiotic Meat Brigade's Lt. Bill Trask has already called to assure us that he's addressing that particular niche market by offering a Smack and Tapas Walking Tour of the area around the 16th Street BART station -- but we feel it couldn't hurt to have a mayor who is easier on the eyes than, say, Clint Reilly. Now, we're not yet prepared to endorse anyone in the mayoral race, but we're considering it. Meanwhile, we are so flattered to have been asked for our endorsement that we reproduce below the text of a letter we received from Carlos Petroni, hard-working SF Frontlines editor-slash-Lucrecia Bermudez campaign manager:

Dear friends:

We are writting to all of you to request an endorsement for Lucrecia for Mayor of SF. She is the ONLY progressive and left candidate on the ballot.

So far, the SF Tenants Union, SF Frontlines newspaper, Green Alternatives, Peace & Freedom party, the Vietnamese Residents' Association, the Immigrant Rights Movement (MDI) and a number of individuals and other organizations endorsed her.

We need you individual/organizational endorsement. We are about to publish a brochure and we would like to include your endorsement.

Please, e-mail me your individual endorsement and indicate your organizational affiliation and please let me know whether is "for identification purposes only". If your organization is willing to endorse Lucrecia, please indicate so in your e-mail.



Lucrecia for Mayor Campaign

Tip Dog Bites -- especially if you're disgruntled. Phone 415-536-8139; fax 415-777-1839; e-mail

About The Author

Laurel Wellman


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