Thursday, November 5, 2009

San Francisco Diary--Journal Of An Exile

Our summer is nearly over (even San Francisco seasons don't match up too well with those of the rest of the country). The cleansing fog is back, the weather is turning cooler, and the rains are coming back this weekend. But one thing remains constant. San Francisco behavior ranges from bizarre to very bizarre. This week, it's at the less bizarre end of the spectrum.

Note: The main artery between San Francisco and the East Bay, the Bay Bridge, has just reopened after six days of repairs to correct the repairs that closed the bridge for two days back during the Labor Day weekend. A week ago, the repair to one of the spans performed over the Labor Day weekend resulted in a 3000 pound chunk of metal with flailing three to four inch thick lengths of steel cable breaking loose and embedding itself in the roadway. One car was destroyed, but nobody was seriously injured. One second later, and the driver and his passengers would have been crushed. Instead, it was merely the entire front of the car and the windshield that ceased to exist.

The repairs were made to a section of the bridge which was declared unsafe after new earthquake standards were imposed following the collapse of the roadway during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. It's all a stopgap while the all-new span is being built parallel to the old span. The authorities and experts all guarantee us that the new repairs are perfectly safe. Of course they said that last month when they reopened the bridge the first time.

My ongoing worry is that the same people who are repairing the old span are also the ones building the new replacement spans. The cause of the big metal failure after the first repair was high winds which caused vibrations in the cables attached to the anchor that had been repaired. If they can't fix a span to resist 40 mile an hour winds, am I really supposed to believe that they're also building a new span which will withstand a major earthquake? The last time I looked, earthquakes cause a lot of vibration.

But CalTrans, the experts, and the public authorities are so sure that this repair will work perfectly that they have already scheduled another shutdown of the bridge in six months. Not exactly confidence-inspiring.

Note: The mayor of San Francisco has gone missing! Gavin Newsom took a powder on Tuesday morning without informing most of the staff or anybody else for that matter. The first most of them knew of it was when they got a notice from the city attorney that Supervisor Carmen Chu is the acting mayor of The City.

If you think presidential press secretary Gibbs looks confused on regular occasion, imagine how the mayor's official spokesman Nathan Ballard felt. When asked by reporters about Newsom's absence from former Mayor Willie Brown's regular election morning breakfast, his response was basically "huh?" Poor Ballard was left to stutter out "well, the mayor has been feeling under the weather," or so he had been told over the weekend. Well, at least we've now found out that he isn't supposedly hiking somewhere in Muir Woods while actually taking a quick trip to Brazil.

Newsom's surprise disappearance follow closely behind his abrupt withdrawal from the California gubernatorial campaign. He had been variously described as distracted or morose in the days following the announcement. He had been secretly huddling in his City Hall office conferring with someone alternatively described as a "life coach" and "corporate facilitator." It's unclear if the mystery man left town with the mayor.

Well, we can all relax. It turns out that Newsom had simply jetted off to Hawaii to join his wife and baby daughter who were already vacationing there. For some reason, he made the reservations himself without involving his appointments secretary. For a man who could ferret out a camera anywhere within a mile of him, he has suddenly become demure about his privacy.

Note: Another Bay Area mayor, Ron Dellums of Oakland, has a problem of a different kind. The former anti-war radical and registered Socialist who was later elected to Congress and ultimately became the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee (talk about putting the fox in charge of the henhouse) has been told by the IRS that he owes $239,000 in back taxes. Which explains why he's a Democrat today. Although he was in contention and his staff encouraged him, Dellums refused to press for becoming the ambassador to South Africa. And here's the fun irony: The Oakland IRS offices are located in downtown Oakland in, wait for it, the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building.

Note: San Francisco's elected representatives and local officials are patting themselves on the back for pushing the legislature into passing a sweeping, multibillion-dollar overhaul of California's water system, most particularly the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Nobody knows where the money will come from, but since it will supposedly be financed by bonds, it will have to go before the voters for final approval.

All of this leaves one huge question unanswered: Old system or new, how will this water ever get to the Central Valley for which it is intended when even the current system can't deliver the water because of the prohibitions on pumping which have turned the verdant Valley into a desert? Not exactly a small question, because both the current system and the proposed new system cannot deliver water until something is done about the complete stoppage of water delivery in order to protect the Delta Smelt. Maybe they could set aside a billion or two of the funds to relocate the damned fish and get California back to its preeminent position as provider of food to the world and provider of jobs to hundreds of thousands of California citizens.

Final Note for Regulars: Mark Morford's article was unusually rantish this week, but I got tired of it about halfway through, and it had nothing to do with what we normally talk about on this blog, so if you need your Morford fix, here it is: Kiss My Druid, Death Metal Viking.


StanH said...

If at first you don’t succeed…they’ll fix it this time, no worries Lawhawk.

Taxes are for the other people. Democrat politicians are exempt. Ron Dellums always the sleaze ball.

Gavin Newsome is a member of the sainted class, where rejection is an experience only for the citizenry. Poor Gavin, he may have to get a job yet.

Save a farmer, kill the smelt!

Tennessee Jed said...

Anytime I have ever driven over the bay bridge, I wonder if something bad might happen. Mayor Newsom, last seen by me being an ass at the President's Cup goes missing? I thought you were going to say he had gone hiking on the Appalachian Trail, for Pete's sake.

Democrats as tax cheats? What a surprise, did he forget it is patriotic to pay taxes? Issuing a bond proposal for a water bill? Hawk, don't you see a potential screenplay here. We could get Nicholson, Dunaway, and convicted child molester Roman Polanski to star in it.

Writer X said...

Just read Morford's column. Is it his weekly goal to use as many adjectives and as few periods as possible? I got a headache after the first paragrah.

The Gavin Newsom story sounds suspicious, at best. No doubt pictures will surface from somewhere, probably YouTube. My guess is he took a side trip to Brazil on his way to Hawaii. Once a scumbag, always a scumbag.

Joel Farnham said...


Morford attempts to out-Miller Dennis Miller. C for the attempt and D- for the execution. His thoughts are chaotic at best. What does he do? Sit at his computer and play with a cat, edit it a bit, then push it out for the public to see?

You know I would care more about the fate of the Delta Smelt if it could be made into a sandwish. Call it smeltifish. Not to be confused with the crude joke concerning the smeltafish.

I wonder, have too many common-sense voters left California? Is that it? Or does the strangle hold the left has on California too strong?

I don't envy you.

Unknown said...

StanH: I think I'll just take BART for a year or so after they open the new span. LOL

Unknown said...

Tennessee: The west span (from Yerba Buena Island to San Francisco) has consistently been found safe. It's basically the same construction as the Golden Gate. The east span, however, always looked to me as if it has been designed and put together by a kid with a Gilbert Erector Set. You don't like suspension construction, add a cantilever section. You don't like cantilever, add a straight causeway section. The new span will be "cable-stayed suspension." Very sexy and modern, but will it stand up to an earthquake?

Unknown said...

WriterX: I do the Morford link occasionally instead of a commentary because they're long and rambling and don't always lend themselves well to a short critique. But I know that writers like you would get a kick out them. Glad you enjoy them. Unbelievable, huh?

Unknown said...

Joel: I think he has a completely different concept of the meaning of "word processor." His is a Cuisinart.

The old explanation for California's craziness was that God tipped the United States on its side, and all the nuts rolled into California. It's as good an explanation as any.

BevfromNYC said...

Law and Joel: Scientific studies* prove that there is less oxygen in California**, so there is a significantly higher rate of brain damage.

*This is from a Commentarama-led scientific study not yet funded or published.
**Excluding certain areas in San Francisco.

Joel Farnham said...


I guess with all those fruits, nuts and flakes squished together in one place for so long, undoubtedly it has fermented into a psychedelic witches brew. The hangover looming ahead will be historic. I just wish that it will be limited to California, unfortunately I think a few illicit barrels have been transported around the nation. Most of them being left in Washington DC.

Unknown said...

Bev: We were keeping the study hush-hush.

Unknown said...

Joel: Californiaitis is more contagious than swine flu. And as far as we know, there's no vaccine.

BevfromNYC said...

(Oops, sorry, LawHawk, I forgot)

Important Press Release: To All Commentarama readers

Please disregard any mention of any scientific studies about oxygen, or lack thereof, in California as relating to brain damage. We at Commentarama wish to apologize for any embarassment this may have caused especially to Jeannine Garafalo because we know how sensitive she is.

Thank you.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Doesn't oxygen cause cancer? Maybe we should ban it. . .

BevfromNYC said...

Andrew, personally, I am oppose to any ban on oxygen as I have grown quite fond of the stuff and frankly can't live without it. Sadly, oxygen is as addictive as heroin or chocolate.

But as our studies this a trick to get me to talk about our ongoing secret scientific studies at Commentarama...umm...that we don't do??

AndrewPrice said...

LOL!! I can neither confirm nor deny any study by Commentarama, nor any intent to trick you into revealing any such study. . . if it did exist.

You're right, oxygen is a hard habit to break!

Unknown said...

Bev: Thank you for the retraction. Thank goodness conservatives follow instructions or we'd soon have a panic. But since they will dutifully concede to the retraction, we're home free. LOL

I have to go take a drag from my oxygen bottle now.

Unknown said...

Andrew: Oxygen causes clear thinking, so we've banned it in San Francisco. My stash is black market. Now you all know why I've been able to remain a conservative. Don't tell anyone. The oxygen police are everywhere.

HamiltonsGhost said...

Lawhawk--Can the Delta Smelt be ground up and made into fish oil? At least then it would serve a purpose other than destroying California's agriculture.

Unknown said...

HamiltonsGhost: That seems like a logical use. I had been thinking that fish scales can be used in expensive automobile paint jobs, and also in "glow" makeup. Why not use them for that? I would particularly love to see the Botox Babes of California (Boxer, Pelosi, and Feinstein) wearing the makeup over their permanently mystified smile faces. At least they'd look alive instead of like escapees from Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum. We could call the makeup "Smelt Melt, for that shiny glow."

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