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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Supervisor Candidates Spill Love for Music Scene at Forum

Posted By on Tue, Sep 28, 2010 at 8:20 AM

District 8 Candidate Rafael Mandelman speaks on nightlife issues at Yoshi's
  • District 8 Candidate Rafael Mandelman speaks on nightlife issues at Yoshi's
Last night, 10 would-be S.F. supervisors gathered at Yoshi's on Fillmore to discuss how to keep this city's music scene thriving.

Step back and think about that for a second. While the road to becoming a San Francisco City Supervisor pretty much requires one to hold forth on a bewildering array of issues -- Muni, violent crime, and pension form, just to name a few -- last night the focus was on local music and nightlife.

And given that most music and nightlife in this city likely occurs past their bedtimes, there was a bit of novelty in just seeing these 10 candidates in a room discussing it.

The occasion was brought about by the local chapter of the Recording Academy and CMAC, a local group of club owners and music industry pros, who decided that years of battling the city and the police over nightlife issues, it was time for them to have an organized voice in city politics.

But last night, as pictures of local music figureheads like the Grateful Dead and Bill Graham flashed on a large screen, the discussion went beyond the relative arcanities of permitting and law enforcement.

For example, supervisorial candidates were asked (by Magik*Magik Orchestra figurehead Minna Choi) how to ensure that musicians, venues, and artists don't leave S.F. and move across the Bay, where rents are cheaper and space is more plentiful.

District Six Candidates Theresa Sparks and Debra Walker both had similar answers: find a way to turn unused spaces like vacant storefronts and buildings into housing and performance spaces for musicians and artists. The audience liked that idea.

Other subjects covered included the city's now-vetoed alcohol fee (which -- shock! -- a room full of club owners did not love), cutting taxes on venues and clubs to promote growth, adding a city department head who would focus on nightlife issues, and ensuring that fun can continue while clubgoers stay safe.

All of the candidates were cautious not to say anything the crowd wouldn't want to hear, and to trump whatever connection to music and nightlife they had. It came out that District 10 Candidate Dewitt Lacey played in local venues, including Bottom of the Hill, while a college student in S.F. And the group of 10 dog-piled on the issue of music education in schools, racing each other for the most sincere-seeming testament to its importance.

As usual with politicians, the test of their support for these issues will be their actions if elected. But it was still heartening to see that S.F. music and nightlife are important enough to get three hours of attention from those seeking to run the city.

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Ian S. Port


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