At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, the supes considered whether to approve Mistermayor’s nominations of Barbara Sklar and Astrid Haryati to the Arts Commission. Neither nominee could attend Tuesday’s meeting. Haryati is The City’s greening director and was undergoing some sort of “personal medical procedure,” and Sklar is a working artist whose granddaughter was having surgery. Here is my dramatic interpretation of the debate over the appointments. These are not quotes.
David Campos: I have some concerns about appointing Haryati to the commission when her job requires her to report to the mayor. When Theresa Sparks became the executive director of the Human Rights Commission, she resigned from the Police Commission, and I think that was the right thing to do.
Ross Mirkarimi: Why does the mayor need to nominate someone from his office? This city is chock full of “artists” who need something to do with their time. Where is their representation? Let’s get some street freaks in here!
Sean Elsbernd: In November 2008, voters rejected a ballot measure that would have prevented city employees from serving on commissions, so it’s pretty clear our constituents don’t think this is a big deal.
Campos: In this case, we’re talking about a department head, not just a regular old employee. Would you let the mayor’s chief of staff serve on the Planning Commission? I don’t think so. At the very least, we need to be able to question the candidate about this apparent conflict of interest.
Chris Daly: Seriously, people! This makes four Arts Commission nominees in a row who have failed to show up at the board for questioning. First it was Maya Draisin, then Jeannene Przyblyski, and now Sklar and Haryati.
Elsbernd: The reason candidates for commissions don’t show up for questioning is because Daly is mean.
Daly: Candidates should not be afraid to answer some tough questions. And anyway, I am equally mean to everyone. Which makes me fair.
Elsbernd: I rest my case. And you don’t just ask questions — you’re rude and you use profanity.
Daly: Oh, sure. You get to be nice because the mayor does all the dirty deeds for you. The mayor purposefully submitted the names of nominees right before we went on recess because he knows we only have 30 days to hold a hearing and vote on his candidates. That time limit means today is our only chance to question them and they are not here. We cannot keep letting commission nominees skip out on questioning by the board. Nothing less than democracy itself is at stake! If you confirm these people, you make this board powerless!
Michela Alioto-Pier: Whatever, dude. No one has raised a valid reason to reject Sklar, so let’s go ahead with that.
The board confirmed Sklar by a vote of seven to four, with supervisors John Avalos, Daly, Eric Mar and Mirkarimi voting no. Only Alioto-Pier, Carmen Chu, Bevan Dufty and Elsbernd voted to confirm Haryati so her nomination was tabled.
Real letters to The City’s new police chief
At least one Arizona resident is happy new police Chief George Gascón has left Mesa, Ariz., for San Francisco. In a letter to the Board of Supervisors and the mayor, a Mesa resident thanks The City “for relieving us of our former police chief.” The author writes that Gascón fell out of favor when he went to Washington, D.C., to testify against “our beloved, five-times elected Sheriff Joe Arpaio.”
In April of this year, Gascón went to Capitol Hill to testify against Sheriff Arpaio’s unique arrangement with the federal government in which the Sheriff’s Office basically acts as a federal proxy, taking on the responsibility of enforcing immigration laws in addition to regular Sheriff’s Office duties.
“Increased political pressure on local law enforcement to reduce undocumented immigration coupled with the federal deputation of local police to enforce federal immigration statutes is jeopardizing sound and well-established policing practices,” Gascón testified before the House Judiciary Committee. Then, in a swipe at Arpaio: “Often poorly conceived and politically motivated enforcement efforts are placing officers in harm’s way.”
Sheriff Arpaio is famous for housing prisoners in outdoor “tent cities,” making them wear pink underwear and banning jailhouse possession of any item that depicts frontal nudity.
“Welcome to San Francisco and the issues of Public Nudity and the Civil Rights of public nudists to expand the Free Body Culture movement in America,” reads an e-mail sent recently to Gascón from local nudist George Davis. The e-mail explains that being bare is not illegal and asks Gascón to train his officers accordingly. “Oh. I see a naked person. I’ve got to get to Walgreens,” is how Davis describes the nonchalant reaction of most San Franciscans. (Actually, for me, it’s “I’ve got to get to the gym.”)
I’m guessing Mr. Davis’ letter went into Gascón’s “N” file for “Nudity” and “Noticeably Not in Mesa, Ariz., Anymore.”