The Eye's baby blues are spinning. What goes
round comes round. There's nothing new under the sun. I mean, chees! How
often do you have to hear something before you get the message?
for instance, the fine documentary hosted by the Department of the
Environment on Monday in Koret Auditorium.
"Blue Vinyl." Shades of
Elvis? No. This particular vinyl encases a little old house on Long Island
in a light blue siding that will never need painting, never need repairs.
like hell on wheels. Turns out Old Scratch himself is in that siding. The
film follows the Michael Moore-like peregrinations of one Judith Helfand,
whose Jewish mother -- & father -- signed the fiendish pact. Helfand
travels from Lake Charles, Louisiana to Venice, Italy to the San Francisco
Bay Area with an 18-inch slab of vinyl siding under her arm, seeking to
unravel the mysteries of the miraculous substance known as PVC that her
parents have purchased. She discovers that the "miracle" is often
accompanied not by fire & brimstone but plain old deadly dioxin. Bad
stuff. To convince her parents to undo their mistake is both daunting, and
hilarious. "They may do things like that in California... " protests her
In California, indeed they do. Despite the blandishments of the
Institute and mainstays like
the SF Department of the Environment was warning about the
hazards of dioxin nearly five years ago. And it’s
compiled a list of
PVC-Free Alternative Building Materials to help people like
Helfand’s parents out of their jam. Crikey! Even the SF Call warned you
about PVC more than
three years ago. Guess you weren’t paying attention.
OK, so you were asleep at the wheel when PVC rolled by. What about the
water you drink? Did you catch Pat Martel’s Hetch Hetchy flimflam in
Chron? “Life is better for Patricia Martel now that she can
keep a plastic bottle of Hetch Hetchy Mountain Water at her workstation.
That means she doesn't have to go to the office faucet.” Ignore the
“plastic bottle” part. Does Martel know something the rest of us have
missed? The Eye has yet to taste Hetch Hetchy bottled water, but it sounds
sweet and refreshing, like good mountain water should be. Ilene Lelchuk
says in the
Chron that “it's similar to the city's tap water, except
that for $1.25 you get a half-liter bottle that is micron filtered,
treated with ozone.”
Jeez Louise! Does The Boss have to trot out her
fish story again?
“Treated with ozone” is what doesn’t happen to the water that flows
through the pipes of your house. At present, it’s laced with chlorine
instead, to kill any nasties that might be swimming around in it. Chlorine
imparts a taste and -- whoops!!! -- creates new nasties in the form of
trihalomethanes. So the SFPUC, in all its wisdom, plans to get rid of the
bad egg this fall and switch to chloramine as its disinfectant of choice.
Here’s a sample of the announcement that The Eye found in its water
* Some people will need to remove or neutralize chloramines from
water before using:
-- Fish, amphibian and reptile owners
-- Kidney dialysis patients and providers
-- Business using highly processed water
* Chloramine cannot be removed from water by boiling or
letting an open container of water stand to dissipate chlorine gas.
* Chloramine may degrade rubber plumbing components more quickly than
For more info, check out
better.sfwater.org. Or stock up on the bottled variety. But
jumpin’ jehosaphat! Don’t say The Eye didn’t tell you.
there’s our Unplaza, right down the street from City Hall. Despite the
persistent efforts of civic minds, an equally persistent passel of scruffy
low-lifers insist on congregating there. Consternation all ’round. What to
do? What to do? Over the squawks of creator Lawrence Halperin, the city
proposes to do away with the fountain where, once upon a time, “jets of
water shot into the air, alerting passersby that the fountain was about to
fill - and then drain - in a re-creation of the ocean’s tidal movement.”
The city proposes to move Simon Bolivar, complaining he’s out of scale,
meaning he’s big enough to let the scruffers congregate at his feet. The
city has moved out the benches and declared the lawns off-limits. The city
has introduced wholesome farmers’ and flea markets to attract substitutes
for the undesirables (who simply move west on market days, to the next
hospitable-looking statuary installation).
Does The Eye have to remind you this is all
old news? Does anybody really look at our Unplaza these
days? Jim Reid
does. As he sits in his newly opened campaign cubbyhole at 1155 Market,
directly across the street from the plaza, every day is a reality check.
Let’s talk about those scruffies, since they’re on everybody’s mind --
those homeless people who clog our streets and drive away the tourists. Or
Superior Court Judge Ronald Quidachay realize what kind of hounds he was
unleasing when he tossed part of Prop. N into the kitchen midden? Every
pol in the city has sprouted a “Care” armband -- “We Care!” “Real Housing
& Real Care!” “Cash for Care!” “San Francisco Cares!” -- and leaped to
defend TWOP (the will of the people).
the supes meeting on Tuesday, Care Not Cash sponsor
Gavin Newsom held a
pep rally on the steps of City Hall, where his mantra, “Change is coming!
Change is good!” clashed with the same-old, same-old faces amassed behind
him. Once inside, he quite naturally supported the TWOP that he
orchestrated last November by introducing the absolutely identical
self-same measure the voters supported then.
6-D supe Chris Daly also spoke TWOP-ly -- “This, I believe, was the
will of the voters last November.“ Nevertheless, he tweaked Prop N a
little, proposing to create more transitional housing: “A home, not a
shelter bed,” would alleviate voters’ “frustration with the city’s
homeless crisis” and save the city some money at the same time.
Jake McGoldrick TWOP-ed eloquently, co-sponsoring Newsom’s resolution.
But it looked like a case of “With friends like these…” The media were so
busy giggling at the Richmond supe’s long-windedness that they missed the
content of his remarks. The Eye took notes. Here’s what he said:
Last year at every opportunity, Supervisor Newsom told the voters
that Prop N would replace cash welfare payments with decent housing,
addiction treatment, medical care, and job training for the homeless.
This is what voters were promised in official campaign literature on
expensive billboards, in expensive television ads, and in newspaper
stories and editorials. These services were what were promised and these
services are what the city is now ethically, legally, morally obligated
to provide in implementing Prop N. We must keep faith with the will of
the voters. I look forward to Super Newsom providing a detailed plan.
The 1-D supe offered a plan of his own for putting money where TWOP’s
mouth is: establish a city fund to match, dollar for dollar contributions
from business and other interested parties for homeless programs. SFSOS,
where are you? Then -- horror of horrors! -- he offered to carry TWOP a
step further, to set up a committee composed of homeless advocates,
business leaders, nonprofit representatives, neighborhood associations,
and city officials to recommend the best ways to disburse the money.
the media didn’t catch the radical implications of McG’s remarks, how
could they be expected to understand the strategic leap that
took on Thursday when she unveiled her own homeless plan? Does The Eye
have to explain everything to you? Alioto, an outsider to the supes’
debates, raised the stakes for everyone else involved. Armed with charts
and courting TV cameras, she argued that if homelessness is indeed San
Franciscans primary concern, then it’s TWOP to tackle the whole problem
and not just the small slice of the pie that Prop N represents.
Her proposal: “A Comprehensive Solution to San Francisco’s Homeless
Crisis.” It may not work. But it’s brave and honest. And it echoes what
The Boss said
four years ago:
Now is the time, I say, to stop all the palaver and recognize that
homelessness is not another word for lawlessness. It's a symptom of a
life-threatening social illness that demands immediate treatment. Would
it be so difficult to declare a state of emergency and begin to
institute some desperately needed changes? The quality of thousands of
lives is at stake.
If it works, you can say The Eye told you so!
Send sightings to The Eye@sfcall.com