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Letters to the Editor 

Week of October 22, 2003

Gonzo Politics

This guy's not ready to run the city: I really wanted Matt Gonzalez to be the candidate for mayor that progressive San Francisco has been waiting for ["The Great Left Hope," by Lessley Anderson and Jack Cheevers, Oct. 8]. Unfortunately, I've been disappointed.

There's a difference between being firm in your beliefs and being so caught up in your own agenda that you've lost sight of everything else. From engaging in childish battles with the hotel industry to getting into arguments with police officers over jaywalking (how junior high was that?) ["Using Arnold to Get Gavin," Matt Smith, Oct. 8], it's clear that Gonzalez isn't ready to be mayor.

It really is too bad. Progressive San Francisco deserves better.

Sam Byrnes

Screw pretty boys and celebrities; give me a pol with experience!: It's time to reject the argument that Matt Gonzalez (or Gavin Newsom) could end up being the next mayor of San Francisco because of his good looks and fawning female groupies. I don't care if the rest of California thinks that the appropriate résumé for government work begins with celebrity status and ends with a good-looking wife. We deserve better in San Francisco.

Terri Witherspoon
Via Internet

You vapid little fools!: I hoped for more. I'm a genuinely undecided voter who's trying, so far unsuccessfully, to learn enough about the mayoral candidates to make an informed decision. The Chronicle has barely deigned to notice that a mayoral race is even going on, the Bay Guardian's ideological ax-grinding makes its coverage suspect, and the mayoral debates that I've attended have consisted largely of empty posturing.

I hoped that SF Weekly's articles on Matt Gonzalez would help me evaluate at least one candidate, but no such luck. Instead you dished up vapid profiles that were entirely devoid of any substantive discussion of the problems the next mayor will face. I don't blame Gonzalez for his evident irritation with your reporters' laserlike focus on irrelevant trivia.

Next time SF Weekly reporters are tempted to vent about the vacuity of local politics, they should first look in the mirror to remind themselves who's at fault.

Christopher Pederson
Hayes Valley

You insightful little scamps!: The cover article on Matt Gonzalez met my three-prong test for good political reporting: It was interesting, informative, and balanced. And although I support Angela Alioto's candidacy, I am glad that Gonzalez is in the race because he brings additional progressive interests into the campaign. And I hope whichever progressive candidate emerges from the general election to face Newsom in the runoff, all progressive candidates and voters will merge to support that person.

Based on the article, I do have two questions for Gonzalez: First, do you really think that your debating skills are so prodigious as to scare away an experienced and successful trial lawyer like Angela Alioto? And second, if your debating skills are so prodigious, why did the very flawed Proposition N, which you opposed in citywide debates with Newsom, win so big?

John M. Kelly

All Keyed Up

How does this stuff just disappear?: I enjoyed the Dan Siegler piece on the key to the city ["Raiders of the Lost Key," Dog Bites, Sept. 24]. It brought other "missing" things to mind, such as the giant, topographically correct model of San Francisco that once sat outside the Stockton side fare gates at Powell station. Some joker had extricated the mini-Candlestick stadium from it, but it was otherwise intact and quite amazing, actually. Then one day it was gone. I swear it was 10 feet by 10 feet and had a Plexiglas top to prevent further pilfering of stadia or maybe to keep the dust off. Where would such a huge thing go?

There also was a bust of some library-related dude in the entrance to the old Main Library. I was reminded of its absence when I saw it in the 50-years-ago-this-week thing in the Friday section of the Chronicle.

Eric Carlson

Hugs and kisses: I love it when Dan Siegler writes the Dog Bites column. Not since the days of Laurel Wellman have I smiled so much at something in the Weekly.

Nathan Gunn

Silver Lining

The Muscle Beach crowd is baaack: If anything good has come from Arnold being elected, it was the opportunity to see Pumping Iron on the big screen and the resulting exposure that the sport of bodybuilding has received from it.

After reading the Matt Gonzalez interview and hearing his perspectives on it, his response to seeing the movie and learning about the sport was quite representative of many who have not had exposure to it ["Using Arnold to Get Gavin," Matt Smith, Oct. 8].

Then in Dog Bites as well, the attention the sport is receiving is positive ["Bulging Muscles, Bulging Eyes," Oct. 8]. As a supporter of the sport, this was about the only good news I felt after hearing that Governor-elect Schwarzenegger was taking over.

So I encourage those who have no idea about the sport to check out a competition or even check out some of the work I've done. I have been covering women's bodybuilding since 1996, and it's a fascinating sport from many perspectives.

It's not just about the muscle and iron in the gym, but more about the mental determination it takes to push yourself to that level -- something that obviously Arnold has mastered, and probably not a bad thing for others to learn from.

Gene X. Hwang

Gimme Da Cash

Does Kamala = Willie?: In my recent letter to the editor regarding DA candidate Kamala Harris, I raised the question as to whether we could trust her to weed out corruption given her prior close association with Willie Brown [Letters, Oct. 8]. My question was of a hypothetical nature, but we now have some real-world evidence as to what to expect.

Harris first pledged to abide by campaign spending limits and then proceeded to break those limits without informing the Elections Commission within the required time period. The Harris campaign was fined $34,000, the largest such fine to date, and was required to communicate to the voters that she exceeded the voluntary spending limits, which her campaign contends was "inadvertent."

While we will never really know whether it was "inadvertent," it is interesting to note Harris' "intentional" corrective action. In a campaign flier that measures 28 inches by 4 inches, the notice regarding her violation of campaign spending limits takes up 0.7 percent of the flier, and is in 1/8-inch type and on the end of the flier least likely to be read. The red warning is against a purple background, and is easy to miss.

In contrast, Harris' picture takes up 12.5 percent of the flier, and her name, clearly contrasted against a yellow background, takes up 50 percent of the flier's width. If Harris were truly interested in informing the voting public of her error in exceeding campaign spending limits, she would have given the issue prominent attention on her flier, rather than relegating it to an obscure, hard-to-read footnote -- so much for trust and honesty.

The Harris campaign has smashed through the spending limits and upped the ante, at a time when the voting public has expressed its contempt for money in politics. Since many voters believe that political corruption is directly proportional to campaign money raised, what conclusions are voters to draw regarding the one candidate who has chosen to become a money-raising machine -- akin to her mentor, Willie Brown?

Richard Beleson
Russian Hill


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