Zoo zealots are running amok

Narrator: Supervisor Chris Daly’s effort to turn San Francisco’s zoo into an animal-rescue sanctuary was stumbling due to the threats by the American Zoological Association to remove the zoo’s certification and by The City’s recent collective allergy to the word “sanctuary.” Last week, the proposed ordinance was granted a one-week stay of execution. This Tuesday, it was up again …

[Daly sits center stage. Alone. Despondent. His zoo proposal is sure to fail.]

DALY: This document was always a vision statement. And maybe people aren’t ready to implement that vision. But it is a vision that is “righteous.”

[Alas, our supervisorial Don Quixote must trade what is righteous for the well-worn answer that is close enough. Through a forced smile he offers to remove the rescue mandate and form a committee.]

DALY: So, I’m proposing an amendment of the whole to create a Zoo Animal Welfare Oversight Committee who will report to the board and assist us when the board renegotiates The City’s contract with the zoo in 2013.

[Sancho enters from the far left and sweetly assures our hero that the committee is a fine idea.]

ROSS MIRKARIMI: I’ll be supporting Daly’s amended proposal.

[Having run to board chambers from Mistermayor’s office, Bevan Dufty enters, panting and clutching a counterproposal which would add members to the existing Joint Zoo Committee.]

DUFTY: Right now the joint committee consists of three members of the Recreation and Park Commission, and three members of the board of the San Francisco Zoological Society. We’ll allow the Animal Welfare Commission to appoint one more and the Board of Supervisors to appoint one more — a veterinarian!

[From the audience, an aspiring judge needs clarification.]

GERARDO SANDOVAL: The way I read it, Daly’s ordinance just makes a committee. Everyone loves a new committee! Someone explain to me the big deal.

[Sean Elsbernd answers. Like a genie of details, he’s been waiting for someone to rub the lamp and summon his expertise.]

ELSBERND: We already have the Recreation and Park Commission, the Joint Zoo Committee, the Animal Welfare Commission, the American Zoological Society, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, state agencies, community groups … all giving us information. I just don’t think we need another committee to weigh in on the work at the zoo.

DALY: Well, the Animal Welfare Commission is the only group that reports to the board and they asked for this new committee because they don’t have resources to dedicate to the zoo. And the Joint Zoo Committee is a governing body and I want a policymaking body.

Narrator: The politburo is unmoved by Daly’s final plea. His impossible zoological dream is over by a vote of 7-4. In addition to Daly and Mirkarimi, only Tom Ammiano and Sandoval voted “yes.”

But, lest you think the board is anti-animal, later in the meeting they unanimously voted to declare Sept. 21-27 Sea Otter Awareness Week.

The Voting Booth: Another resolution opposing the war?

Proposition U on November’s ballot would make it official San Francisco policy that our “elected representatives … should vote against any further funding for the deployment of United States armed forces in Iraq with the exception of funds specifically earmarked to provide for their safe and orderly withdrawal.” It was put on the ballot by the signatures of Supervisors Tom Ammiano, Chris Daly, Aaron Peskin, Ross Mirkarimi and Jake McGoldrick.

But I have to wonder: Do our elected representatives really need another reminder that we are against the Iraq war? Does anyone not know where San Francisco stands on this issue?

Since 2002, the Board of Supervisors has passed at least 13 resolutions on the subject of Iraq — including one opposing the invasion of Iraq before the war started. They’ve declared it “End the War in Iraq” day, recognized the “National Day of Action to Support GI Resisters” and told our representatives to endorse two antiwar resolutions. (Our representatives refused both times.)

They’ve supported American citizenship for all U.S. troops, called for the flag to fly at half-mast and expressed solidarity with Iraqi labor leaders.

In November 2004, 63 percent of San Francisco voters supported Prop. N, which made it official San Francisco policy that “the federal government should take immediate steps to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq and bring our troops home now.”

When the Rules Committee heard public comment on Prop. U, folks argued that we need this proposition in order keep the pressure on the federal government. In light of previous official statements, I doubt the passage of Prop. U would be “news” much less additional “pressure” on Capitol Hill. But maybe the frustration is so great that folks just need to let it out. Even if it is unlikely to cause our representatives to lift one finger.

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