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Monday, June 15, 2009

Gavin's Dilemma: Dis Firefighters or Darling of LGBT Political Community?

Posted By on Mon, Jun 15, 2009 at 8:30 AM

click to enlarge Who should I snub? Ballard! My magic eight-ball!
  • Who should I snub? Ballard! My magic eight-ball!
If you were Gavin Newsom -- and, odds are, you weren't -- these were your choices: Head to last weekend's U.S. Conference of Mayor's in Providence, R.I. and talk about your treasurer's innovative economic plan and a former supervisor's innovative health care plan -- or skip the conference and keep your top adviser happy by giving the cold shoulder to America's only openly gay mayor of a state capital. Wow -- no one said being a politician is easy (and, it warrants mentioning, whichever decision Gavin made wouldn't do a thing to actually help anyone -- that's hard too!)

Anyhow, if you're reading a post in our "politics" section, odds are you know which decision Newsom made. Talking about Jose Cisneros' and Tom Ammiano's big plans at the conference would have been great political fodder. But crossing a picket line organized by Providence's firefighters, angered at Mayor David Cicilline's refusal to sign generous contracts in the face of a mounting human services crisis, would have been unthinkable -- especially when San Francisco's own firefighters are making similar demands and Newsom's longtime political svengali, Eric Jaye, is organizing the whole campaign (incidentally, some local observers are acting as if it's a revelation that Jaye manages Newsom's political fortunes and the firefighters' union -- when he's been putting fires out for the firefighters since 1996 and calling the shots for Newsom since Gavin was still known as "Anakin Skywalker").

What a predicament! Cross the firefighters (and a snub of the folks

in Providence would be taken as a hostile move by the locals -- they

don't call 'em unions for nothin') and cross your tip-top political

adviser, or turn your back on Cicilline, a darling of the LGBT

political set (folks Newsom stands to rely upon for goodwill and

dollars down the road).

To be fair, a number of folks, including Vice President Joe Biden and Obama administration officials, were spooked by the prospect of crossing a picket line and didn't show up. But they're not running for governor, and Newsom is. It'll be interesting to see how this move is handled by LGBT activists and potential donors.

Finally, congratulations to Providence, R.I. for staying true to character -- and electing a true character as mayor. Prior to Cicilline, the long-time bossman was Buddy Cianci, Jr. His character file: He quit the job back in the 1980s after supposedly assaulting a man -- with a burning log and burning cigars, among other weapons of choice -- for allegedly cuckolding him. After a cooling off period of seven years, Ciacnci ran for mayor and won again in 1991 -- until things went south in 2002, when he ws convicted of racketeering and sentenced to five years in prison. Naturally, he became a talk radio host upon release. Topping it all off, an off-broadway musical was made about Cianci's quasi-charmed life, and, during the 1990s, he hawked his "Mayor's Own"-brand of marinara sauce in stores throughout Providence (your humble narrator bought a bottle, found it a bit oily, and was spooked by Cianci's Hanna-Barbera-like visage on the label).

Cicilline, meanwhile, is a Jewish-Italian son of a prominent mob lawyer who became a rich, hotshot lawyer himself -- and, what's more, is a gay man who doesn't like firefighters.

Now those are some interesting mayors!

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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