Former Bay Guardian publisher Bruce Bruggmann speaks at a rally last year after the newspaper was shut down by The San Francisco Media Company. Since then, former Guardian staff writer Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez has been "raising hell" in his "On Guard" column in the S.F. Examiner. (Rob Nagle/S.F. Examiner)

Thankful to call it as I see it

http://www.sfexaminer.com/category/the-city/sf-news-columns/on-guard/

Well ladies, gents and those of other miscellaneous gender identities, it’s been a year. No, not just since last Thanksgiving (though that too), but a full year since I’ve started this crazy column, On Guard.

So please, indulge me for just one column as I thank you folks who read On Guard for supporting this muckraking venture in my beloved home — this beauteous, foggy small town, which people still call The City.

One year ago, the San Francisco Bay Guardian suffered an unceremonious demise (and since has risen, quite ceremoniously). I was her last staff reporter, as my colleagues around me were all editors. From the not-quite-death of my alma-mater newspaper, I launched this column, carrying on the name of Bay Guardian founder Bruce Brugmann’s column, with his blessing.

Though some along the way may have accused him of being a pompous ass (as they have also, I assure you, accused me), you can’t say he didn’t grab the body politic and shake it for all its worth.

That’s what On Guard aims to do now.

I won’t spend too long detailing how, because hopefully you are in the trenches with me. But here are the highlights: The inaugural On Guard column on Nov. 18, 2014, dealt with the loss of tenants-rights hero Ted Gullicksen, who aided my own family and thousands more to stay housed in San Francisco. On Guard has fact-checked Mayor Ed Lee’s buffed-up unemployment numbers (sure an unemployment rate is low when the poor can’t afford to live in The City, right?), chronicled the oft-unseen machinations of the occasionally shady Democratic County Central Committee (a sometimes-extension of the politically mighty Realtors Association), and revealed the S.F. Pride board’s motivations for ducking the “My Name Is” campaign — monied-influence from Facebook, it turns out.

Mayor Lee’s potential move to veto Tenant Protections 2.0 was also revealed in On Guard, as were the machinations behind voter fraud accusations this election in Chinatown.

So suffice to say this column has angered many folks (Reddit/R/SanFrancisco, I’m looking at you!) — and garnered much ire. But as it’s soon to be Thanksgiving, I wanted to turn this around, and offer some thanks.

This being a political column, I’m thankful for politicians who engage their detractors with reasoned arguments — supervisors Jane Kim and Scott Wiener especially embody this (though let’s see if it holds up during the Senate race). Some supervisors have on occasion frozen this reporter out, not answering phone calls and emails and altogether ducking and dodging when critiqued. The Mayor’s Office answers my emails so rarely I do a spit-take when they do.

Conversely, even former Mayor Willie Brown broke bread with me at John’s Grill (twice!), and I’ve written some angry screeds about Da Mayor’s Chronicle column (then again, who hasn’t?).

I’m also thankful for the progressives who haven’t given up hope. Let’s admit it: There has never been such a flood of money in San Francisco politics, and it sure as hell doesn’t benefit those who don’t have much. And as more low- and middle-income San Franciscans are priced out, those more likely to vote progressive are moving to the East Bay, some analysts say.

It’s tougher than ever to push policies that may benefit San Franciscans, but not monied interests. And despite Supervisor-elect Aaron Peskin’s recent win energizing some progressives, the loss of Propositions F and I (Airbnb and the Mission Moratorium) were a blow. Still, some fight on. To you, I say, “Hell yeah.”

Lastly, I’d like to thank my fellow San Franciscans — the natives, the long-timers and the engaged newcomers. It’s not easy, financially, to stay in this town. But if you’re reading this column — whether you’re a moderate who reads because it gets your blood pressure up, or a progressive who reads to pump your fist, or a politically agnostic person coming to learn — it’s something rare to be engaged. It’s rare to care about the fate of your city in a way that compels you to be engaged.

For those who are engaged, who vote, who read news, who actually give a damn, I am especially thankful for you.

No matter what political affiliation you side with.

Happy Thanksgiving and, as always, remain “On Guard.”

On Guard prints the news and raises hell each week. Email him at joe@sfexaminer.com.

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