Heart of the City Archives

Illustration: Paul Madonna.

For Brown and Daly, Politics Bites
by Hank Donat

San Francisco's cabaret star Paula West is currently appearing at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City, where she is undoubtedly winning over audiences with her juicy signature tune "The Snake." The song is jazzman Oscar Brown Jr.'s funk fairytale about a woman who rescues a sickly snake, nurses him back to health, and is soon horribly bitten. The reptile mocks, "You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in."

I'm sending a copy of West's CD to both Mayor Willie Brown and Supervisor Chris Daly. For now, Daly may have won a battle, but he has forever lost the element of surprise.

At the mayoral candidates' debate at the Commonwealth Club last Wednesday, only Supervisor Matt Gonzalez said he would not vote to overturn the appointments to the Public Utilities Commission that Daly sneakily made as acting mayor while Brown was away on a trip to Asia.

Supervisor Gavin Newsom suggested that new commissioners Robin Chiang and Adam Werbach should resign.

Like Daly, who is not running, each of the candidates for mayor has shown his or her stripes. In spite of the focus this summer on the gubernatorial recall, San Franciscans were given ample opportunity to meet the candidates in the local race and to see and hear them at more than 40 debates and scores of rallies and smaller events in every neighborhood.

The final weeks of the months-long general election campaign saw a plethora of candidate profiles in several local publications. Heart of the City's own earlier series of profiles took each candidate out of their office and put them in the context of the city they share with every San Franciscan.

When I met with Newsom shortly before he formally launched his campaign in February, Newsom said, "Everything about all the candidates gets exaggerated in the press and you end up with what you knew about someone at the beginning and you make a choice."

I agree with Newsom. The candidates with whom I drove, batted balls, analyzed abstract art, babysat, and climbed towers at the outset are the same men and women I saw and heard in the debates in the final days. At press time no one had imploded. There were no skeletons falling through closet doors.

Former police chief Tony Ribera has shown you his sensible approach to life and politics. "You know, Hank," Ribera told me, "I'm not a slim man, but since I retired from the force in '96 I've kept my weight steady."

"What's your secret?" I asked.

"No matter what else you do, eat less," he said. And that's the chief.

The practicality, follow-through, and effectiveness that Susan Leal has displayed throughout her career are also authentic. I asked Leal to give me a driving lesson to test her mettle and now I'm afraid that a Mayor Leal would revoke my Fast Pass privileges until I'm able to pull up under the balcony at Room 200 and honk my horn. I don't have a horn.

Supervisor Tom Ammiano has also made a career of showing his true colors. They are rainbow colors representing Ammiano's many constituencies and communities. When he was written off by some and abandoned by others, Ammiano persevered, unflinchingly. He is deeply driven to serve the city.

Gonzalez may indeed be rumpled, but he is also both a great thinker and an excellent negotiator.

No matter which of the top two candidates is elected in next month's expected run-off, you can be sure that what you saw is what you got. They've shown you who they are - now vote responsibly.

PS: Do you think I would ever forget Angela Alioto? If Alioto makes it into the run-off today, local clothing manufacturer Marguerite Rubel is a step closer to becoming the Oleg Cassini of San Francisco. Alioto says she'd wear Rubel's coats exclusively while serving as mayor.

I visited the would-be mayoral couturiere at her office at Pier 27. Rubel - "like Russian money" - is a 50-year veteran of the city's garment industry and a staunch supporter of George W. Bush. President Bush 41 appeared in newspapers all over the world wearing a Marguerite Rubel jacket on a trip to Moscow. She considers Ronald Reagan the best politician the country has seen.

So why is Rubel supporting liberal Alioto? "Because she truly cares about people," Rubel says, "and that's what's most important."

The septuagenarian isn't quite ready to abandon the GOP, however. Rubel, who is one of San Francisco's living treasures, says she wouldn't give Hillary Clinton "the sleeves off last year's vest."

All Over Coffee: During the summer, when I discovered that MisterSF.com would soon reach 20 million hits, I decided to celebrate by creating a publishing opportunity for an emerging cartoonist in San Francisco.

After a long search I came across the cartoon art of Western Addition resident Paul Madonna. Earlier this year, Madonna won two awards at the Marin County Fair in cartoon contests that were judged by the likes of the Charles M. Schultz Museum director Ruth Gardner Begell of Santa Rosa and Chronicle editorial cartoonist Tom Meyer.

Madonna's work appears in a forthcoming book from San Francisco's Cartoon Art Museum. He interned at Mad magazine.

In "All Over Coffee," a six-week cartoon strip appearing every Tuesday on MisterSF.com, Madonna captures some of the common emotions of this uncommon city. It was clear that Madonna's drawings would be an elegant addition to the site when he sent me a dramatic test panel featuring a swaying poplar in a city park with the caption, "Above the fog it's a sunny day."

Paul knows we're a city where a person doesn't have to have his head in the clouds - the clouds will come to him!

Welcome to MisterSF.com. Please visit the site often to keep in touch with San Francisco, for your own amusement, and to use the Local Joints section as a portal for independent businesses. Keep your money in the neighborhoods... Watch this space for observations, interviews and more from around town. All other sections of MisterSF.com are also updated continually, so come back and watch us grow!

Contact MisterSF.com

Copyright 2003 Hank Donat
mistersf.com home