Do you know your city measures?

You may remember that Tuesday is Election Day. With City Attorney Dennis Herrera and City Treasurer Jose Cisneros both running unopposed, all that’s left to decide are some ballot propositions — many of which I have written about previously. My mother collects my pages, but I don’t expect y’all to do the same. Here are the summaries:

Proposition A — budget reform: Instead of a giant leap to change San Francisco’s budget process, we got this collection of small steps. It’s better than nothing, so go ahead and vote in favor.

Proposition B — legislative aides: Lifting the two-person mandate on the number of staff members each city supervisor can employ may be worth supporting, if a new cap is put in its place. However, the measure removes all limitations. Vote for this if you trust supervisors to make fair and prudent decisions about how many aides they each get, based on budgetary constraints.

Proposition C — Candlestick Park naming rights: Vote for this if you want to send a gesture to the Niners that we will help them make money if they stay in San Francisco. Vote against this if you believe we should only sell the name of The ’Stick if it would fetch a lot more than the anticipated $700,000, or if you believe a different kind of gesture toward the Niners is in order.

Proposition D — mid-Market Street sign district: Vote for this if you believe that lighting up problem areas will make criminals, drug users and homeless people scatter like cockroaches. Vote against this if you agree that something must be done in the mid-Market Street corridor, but think this poorly written cash cow for sign companies and building owners is not the answer.

Proposition E — limiting advertising on city-owned property: Vote for this if you don’t want public buildings and street furniture to be so covered in ads that they resemble NASCAR vehicles. Vote against this if you figure no unsentimental city property should be off limits as a moneymaker.


Bored of Supervisors: Quotes of the Meeting

“There are so many people who are urging the world for peace that I think it is important that we stand with [them].”

— Supervisor John Avalos, trying to explain the need for the Board of Supervisors to pass a resolution urging the U.S. to pull troops out of Afghanistan. The resolution passed, despite “no” votes by supervisors Michela Alioto-Pier, Carmen Chu and Sean Elsbernd.

Also on Tuesday, the board passed a resolution “Supporting Irish Unification” and gave final approval for a law sending a total of $150,000 in aid to Indonesia, Samoa and the Philippines.


Even this ‘feminisnob’ found something at conference

Entering the sprawling main hall of Women’s Conference 2009 on Monday, what was first noticeable were the humongous, cultish banners that adorned all the upper walls. At about 15-by-30, each featured an Andy Warhol-like portrait of a speaker with a singular name underneath. Madeleine Albright was simply “Madeleine” and — hopefully for the first and last time — was stuck between “Ashton” (Kutcher) and “Katie” (Couric).

Lowering my eyes to scan the floor of the room, I witnessed a jumbled mess of exhibits hawking purses, jewelry, clothes and makeup, including genie serum that promised to erase “10 years in two minutes.” Sure, there were booths geared toward charity and economic empowerment, but none were as popular as the Lean Cuisine tasting center or the charm-bracelet display.

To top it all off, the loudspeakers were blasting a speech by Jillian Michaels seemingly titled “Listen to Your Feelings.” Within an hour, the sheer propensity and enormity of my eye-rolls had nearly resulted in a sprained optical nerve.

Maybe it was just me. Maybe my years at a women’s college made me some sort of “feminisnob” because I was surprised that a women’s conference seemed to relegate substantive information to the outer crust of the event, while the center was filled with pink goo in the form of a large Barbie display and manicure station.

I left Monday night and ranted to my best friend from college about having to attend The Emotional Nerf Conference. 

All that changed Tuesday when David Gregory from “Meet the Press” moderated a panel that included Madeleine Albright.

The discussion began with a “Meet the Press” clip from some 20 years ago. In it, the host basically said that women are the master manipulators of men and asked Gloria Steinem why we don’t bend the minds of husbands and sons to get the freedom we want. (Even in that ostensible Den of Objectivity — the press room — groans and laughter rang out.)

Gregory turned to Albright, who said such a question would not even be asked today and if it did, “The answer might begin with an ‘F.’” Finally! Someone was speaking in sentences that couldn’t be embroidered on a pillow. Although a later statement —  “I think there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other” — would look lovely in cross stitch. 

The day just got more interesting from there. Who better than the unapologetically brilliant (and bankrupt) Annie Leibovitz to discuss the importance of controlling one’s own finances? And how about a session on grief that included Patrick Swayze’s widow? Or hearing Somaly Mam, child prostitute-turned-activist, discuss the ways in which people can make their voices heard? Tuesday was truly fascinating.

Taken as a whole, the conference organizers (headed up by California first lady Maria Shriver) threw so many options into the mix — dolls and congresswomen, beauty creams and media moguls, diet foods and activists — that there was something for everyone.

Even this feminisnob.

Vive la différence!

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