Hometown hero Gavin Newsom officially announced his candidacy for Governor of California on April 21st, flaunting his technical savvy by simultaneously championing his cause on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. Not being as cybernetic as most of my peers I was forced to enjoy the video spectacle and was once again struck by how embarrassing it is when our supposed leaders pander to the people by utilizing shitty resolution for the sake of networking. Show a little class and stream your own videos.

There’s nothing particularly striking about his pep talk, aside from my being struck with uncontrollable laughter as soon as his well manicured mug appears. San Francisco is hailed as the nation’s leader in universal health care, ecological innovation and retaining teachers amidst grievous budget cuts. He repeatedly uses the term “we” instead of the political assertion of “I”, which has become something of a hallmark in all of his communiques. He is not running for governor so much as we are all being invited to run for governor. I guess this means I’ve been traveling the state with an SFPD escort all this time. The message is that San Francisco is doing better than California and the allusion is that it’s because we’ve had Gavin Newsom at the helm, single-handedly steering us into calmer waters as the rest of the world drowns in a fiscal tempest. The “green economy” is our guiding light, as evidenced by happy laborers installing solar paneling. Voters and the Board of Supervisors, advocates and PACs are not invited to share in the glory of our solar panels.

The elections won’t take place for another year but this never prevents pollsters from harassing the recluses and bored housewives who generate public opinion. If Jerry Brown and Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who are both assumed to be entering the race, run then Newsom places third. If Senator Dianne Feinstein throws her hat into the ring he drops to fourth, but he has commented that if she does he will bow out– as long as she announces her candidacy early enough. In an effort to court less slick Democrats Newsom has been spotted meeting with under-enlightened prospective voters in traditional hicktowns San Diego and Stockton where he plans to replace their images of gay marriage with his successful chain of yuppie eateries and wine bars.

So will the San Francisco model work the length and breadth of a state as large and diverse as California, and more importantly can Newsom convince skeptics he can handle the responsibilities given his track record? Are solar panels the key to economic solvency and can his experience managing lifestyle businesses trump the fact that China owns our collective asses? Perhaps we should examine a little bit of recent history wherein out intrepid leader laid down and allowed a foreign government full reign of policing the streets of San Francisco. (more…)


On March 5th the California Supreme Court met to hear arguments concerning the constitutionality of Proposition 8, a hateful ballot measure which was passed by a narrow majority of voters banning same-sex marriage. Opponents of the measure held a march and candlelight vigil the night before and I’m proud to say that I know the one person arrested during the speeches. The official version of the story has the detention as a drunk and disorderly but just because “we don’t march before cocktails”, doesn’t mean that storming the stage and screaming “bullshit” in a fit of rage is a drunken or disorderly act.

Many things have happened five years after San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom galvanized the bigots and last week’s court hearing is in many ways the rambling result of his unique sense of political activism. On February 12th, 2004, gay couples descended upon City Hall to take part in the National Freedom to Marry protest and were shocked to find city officials handing out legal certificates. The gears had been set in motion several days prior when Newsom announced he wanted the city to explore ways of allowing gay couples to be wed, possibly in response to Massachusetts overturning a state ban on gay marriage. Word spread that homophobic organizations were planning on appealing to the courts to block any attempts by the city to marry gays. The county clerk’s office prepared gender-neutral applications under the watchful gaze of attorneys while phone calls were made to a select few gay and lesbian rights groups. Just past eleven in the morning the city’s assessor-recorder Mabel Teng performed the first ceremony between Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon who had been together for fifty years.

Alleged Christians were sickened to see genuinely loving couples who had been long treated as second-class citizens exchanging vows but their crusading efforts to file an immediate injunction were blocked as the state courts were closed in observance of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. Eventually lawsuits were filed against San Francisco to halt proceedings and Lambda Legal, The National Center for Lesbian Rights and the ACLU stepped in to represent the couples who had been, or simply wanted to be, married; meanwhile two couples in Los Angeles sued the city demanding their basic human rights be recognized. By August of that same year the courts invalidated nearly four thousand marriages stating that Newson, acting as mayor, had overstepped the boundaries of authority as marriage was governed by the state. (more…)

In honor of Gavin Newsom’s exploratory campaign for governor I’ve decided to try and figure out what he’s been worth as mayor. Frankly I’ve no real clue what the guy does all day but he’s a few high-profile moments. The first time Gavin percolated into the public consciousness was as he was just starting out in politics.

Way back in 2004 Gavin Newsom was just another City Supervisor overseeing the rough and tumble Marina district, a neighborhood which he had invested heavily in as owner of some boutique wine shops. Having aspirations for the throne, warmed by Willie Brown’s sharply-dressed touche, he threw his hat in the ring by proposing drastic changes to the way that San Francisco provided services to the homeless. His proposal received the Hallmark moniker of Care Not Cash and the basic premise seemed painfully simple: instead of issuing cash grants to people on the city dole why not provide housing and various health services? On the surface it’s so common sense, tackling vagrancy by giving vagrants a place to live, but the mechanisms behind the ballot measure were not so simple.

Politics played a large role in the creation of Care Not Cash, both on the local and Federal levels. San Francisco has always had a large homeless population and various mayors had attempted to deal with this in various ways. Art Agnos decided to let the homeless camp unmolested on the lawn of City Hall and the adjacent park figuring that we shouldn’t hide a problem we couldn’t fix. Frank Jordan, a former lawman, sent squads of police out into the city to roust camps and move the undesirables along to less desirable districts. Neither predecessor to Willie Brown had any sort of measurable impact on the population; in fact the numbers continued to climb. As San Francisco, always a tourist destination, saw business shift further from light industrial to service and as an influx of proto-dotcom assholes began to migrate into town the eyesore of panhandlers and drug-addled lunatics began to be perceived as a political threat; after the internet bubble burst and the stock market took hit after hit, the pressure to stave off the less attractive city landmarks grew. Meanwhile President Bush’s homeless policy was threatening aid cuts to cities who were not changing policies to represent an emphasis on housing before all other services. (more…)

Gavin 4 Gov?

My power and prestige precede me, which allows access to inside information not intended for you plebes. Just the other day the mayor, Gavin Newsom, sent me a quick e-mail about what he’s been up to. I guess the cat’s been let out of the bag so it’s safe to say that he’s considering a run for governor when Arnold Schwarzenegger gets termed out. There’s an exploratory commission at work, feeling out the mood on the street, seeing what chances our native son has at ascending into the hallowed halls of Sacramento. Newsom himself has been on the move, spending less time at City Hall in lieu of places like Washington DC where he witnessed Barak Obama’s swearing-in (part one) and sat through a two-day Mayors conference. Now he’s in Switzerland and, after a quick four-day stay in Paris with his wife, Newsom has joined the global economic elite at the Davos forum.

Who’s footing the bill for this assessment of gubernatorial aspirations? That’s a good question and according to Chronicle muckrakers Matier & Ross the trip to DC, because of the Mayor’s summit, was a city expense that included whatever accommodations deigned appropriate for Newsom and two staff members, but the tally has yet to be made public. Private funds have sent Newsom and wife abroad, but what work isn’t being done while our mayor rubs elbows with the high profile talking heads of high finance? There’s no accounting for that sort of thing, but it is known that he has a member of SFPD keeping an eye on things overseas. In addition to world-class events Newsom has also be galavanting around the state to shake hands with commoners and possible squeeze dimes from their wallets. This is presumably handled by whatever campaign fund Newsom has already amassed but, as a sitting mayor, he is escorted to many places by our own cash-strapped police department.

But it takes money to make money, as evidenced by my very personal e-mail received from good old Gav. Using his life-altering experience of watching Obama being sworn in as a segue Newsom begins to rattle off his hopes and dreams of what can be done sitting in Sacramento; each bullet point is accompanied by a link asking if you’ll join us. Regardless of whether you’re into universal health care, climate change, schools or the economy the links all direct you to a sign up sheet so you can begin to receive personal pleas for contributions to purchase the sensation of participating in democratic change. That’s what this is all about, he summarized, we have made San Francisco a laboratory for change and he wants to take this experience state-wide. (more…)