Red herring or not, park closure vote delayed while supes seek police input

Sups. Scott Wiener (left) and Eric Mar talk as the board considers the park closure bill.
Reed Nelson

There is only one police chief in this town, and no law regarding the usage of public parks shall pass without him. Or so they said yesterday when Sup. Scott Wiener continued for a week consideration by the Board of Supervisors of his controversial proposal to close the city’s parks and plazas at night.

Wiener – champion of the legislation that homeless advocates say specifically target the City's homeless population — motioned for continuance on the hotly contested agenda item after Police Chief Greg Suhr was unavailable to discuss how the measure might be enforced. The motion was seconded by Sup. Malia Cohen and passed without objection. 

But the continuance request means that Wiener will have to deal with what he calls an "epidemic of vandalism" for another week as well. The legislation would amend the “Park Code to establish hours of operation for City parks from 5am to midnight, with certain exceptions; and make environmental findings." 

"It's long been illegal to sleep or camp in parks," said Sup. Wiener. "[Police] don't need another law." 

"This. Is. About. Vandalism," Recreation and Parks Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg told the Guardian. "The homeless won't be thrown out. The laws are already on the books, man."

And while Wiener and those in the RPD have continued their insistence that that the legislation was written explicitly to target late-night vandalism, illegal dumping, and other nefarious activities not related to homelessness, opposition to the legislation say it's "red herring" legislation that, on its face, claims to combat vandalism, but underneath is actually a bill targeting the homeless.

Wiener disagrees with this stance, however, and actually called the argument made by the legislation's opposition — that the bill is a "red herring" ostensibly aimed at vandalism, but that really targets the homeless — a "red herring" as well. A red herring, historically, is a distraction. It's a Trojan Horse, a magician's assistant, a tool designed to confuse and obfuscate actual information or intent. 

It is a term that first found a foothold in the hunting world, but made it's transcendental leap into the world of politics. Politicians have employed the use of "red herrings" in the past. But why would a group called the Coalition on Homelessness actually support vandalism, as the supervisor's "red herring" comments would suggest?

When this fact was pointed out, Wiener told the Guardian that he "wasn't going to speculate." (And neither will we, at least as to why the supervisor chose to use the phrase "red herring" to describe the COH's argument in the first place.)

But regardless of rhetoric, next week's vote promises to be close. COH Executive Director Jennifer Friedenbach told the Guardian last week that she had the support of the four most progressive supervisors — John Avalos, Jane Kim, David Campos and Eric Mar — and needed just two of the three swing votes to shoot down the legislation. Those three undecided votes rest in the hands of Sups. London Breed, Katy Tang and Norman Yee.

"This is going to be a close vote," said Wiener.

But a vote that will have to wait a week.



They are in the best position to quantify the damage and criminal behavior done by the itinerants. The pot selling is obvious to anyone walking through GG Park. The question, however, is what other crimes are happening by the vagrants, both quality of life crimes and serious felonies.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 30, 2013 @ 12:08 pm

whether gypsies are good or bad for parks

Boyscout Pristine Park SkeeBall opens a second arcade!

Posted by ckjdhjd on Oct. 30, 2013 @ 12:46 pm

provided funding for the homeless to buy drugs in the park and consume them there.

Well, HANC closed and I guess the homeless just get their cash elsewhere. Mugging people in the park, perhaps? Especially after dark?

I look forward to the SFPD assessment, as well as the Parks Department giving more details about all the vandalism.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 30, 2013 @ 12:21 pm

let's let the mount doom orcish Gestapo tell us what the truth is

Posted by ckjdhj on Oct. 30, 2013 @ 12:49 pm

"It's long been illegal to sleep or camp in parks," said Sup. Wiener. "[Police] don't need another law."

That's the same thing that was said about sit-lie. During the sit-lie campaign, a major law firm in the Financial District did a legal study that showed that laws were already on the books for dealing with homeless people and that sit-lie was unnecessary, yet this Wiener guy and his conservative rabid supporters and their corporate media screamed "Vote for sit-lie."

"This. Is. About. Vandalism," Recreation and Parks Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg told the Guardian. "The homeless won't be thrown out. The laws are already on the books, man."

Propaganda newspeak. And vandalism WILL continue despite this purely symbolic law. This is just yet another bull shit feel-good measure like others that this supervisor has come up with. Even with this law, how do they plan to stop vandalism in the parks? It will be the same with or without this bull shit law. Why aren't there more police put in the parks to stop vandalism? You're going to have to put police in the parks anyway to kick the homeless out. Are you going to look under every tree in every park? Who has the re$ource$ for that? This is not about vandalism no matter how many times that lie is told. This is about the homeless. People are not as thick, dense and gullible as these parasites who work for these city agencies think.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 30, 2013 @ 5:39 pm

This is about am ambitious politician positioning by attacking unsympathetic actors.

The way to preempt this is to shift the conversation to sympathetic actors, not ratify Wiener's framing.

That would mean putting messaging that appeals outside the circle over the articles of faith of the tribe, so it ain't gonna happen and odds are Wiener will win and the poverty activists will lose. Again.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 30, 2013 @ 6:01 pm
Posted by lkdjfkli on Oct. 30, 2013 @ 7:19 pm

Shift the conversation from Wiener looking good by disciplining unruly unsympathetic actors to Wiener looking like a dorm RA enforcing a curfew on reasonable conduct such as a night time stroll in park, taking a break from a marathon coding session to get some fresh air, enjoying the full moon or the skyline in solitude.

Instead of this being about things that activists are concerned about, this should be made to be about things that appeal to a majority of the voters. Self interest is the one thing that can trump insecurity fueled neoliberal discipline.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 30, 2013 @ 7:53 pm

Except those who are up to no good.

We should do what every other major city does and close the parks at night.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 31, 2013 @ 5:51 am

people walk through and hang out in the parks at night all the time

Posted by lkhjsfdl on Nov. 01, 2013 @ 5:34 pm
Posted by Guest on Nov. 01, 2013 @ 5:49 pm
Posted by lkhjsf on Nov. 01, 2013 @ 6:05 pm

meanwhile Eric Mar proposes another copycat bill in a desperate attempt to seem relevant

Posted by Guest on Oct. 30, 2013 @ 6:36 pm

Perhaps Wiener should close the Tenderloin, North Mission, 6th Street and Bayview/Hunter's Point from 0000-0500 because the cops can't be bothered to do the police work of enforcing the law against miscreants?

Posted by marcos on Oct. 30, 2013 @ 6:44 pm
Posted by lillipublicans on Oct. 30, 2013 @ 8:33 pm

charge everyone $50 to come in (san francisco residents get a $5 discount if they show their ID)

plus no one gets to sleep at night

even in their own bed

'cause they might walk in their sleep and vandalize stuff

Posted by lkdjfkli on Oct. 30, 2013 @ 8:52 pm

I think that a pass should be required to leave the bantustan, I mean the homeland.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 30, 2013 @ 9:02 pm

The homeless are costing us residents money by damaging the parks. The parks are not hostels or toilets.

The homeless are very resourceful at finding places to sleep, I see them in doorways, stairways, alleys, dumpsters and so on.

And there are SRO's for them too, but clearly some prefer the parks because they can drink and do drugs.

Enough already.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 31, 2013 @ 5:54 am

let's ban those too!

in fact humans in general damage the parks

ban 'em all!

no people in the parks....

our experience of the planet would be so great for us if humans simply weren't allowed to live on it

Posted by lkhjsfdl on Nov. 01, 2013 @ 5:40 pm

How much do the homeless pay for the privilege of pissing and crapping in our recreation area?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 01, 2013 @ 5:50 pm
Posted by lkhjsf on Nov. 01, 2013 @ 6:06 pm

"... Supposedly used by fugitives to put bloodhounds off their scent (1680s), hence metaphoric sense (1864) of "something used to divert attention from the basic issue;" earlier simply "a false lead":

Though I have not the honour of being one of those sagacious country gentlemen, who have so long vociferated for the American war, who have so long run on the red-herring scent of American taxation before they found out there was no game on foot; (etc.) [Parliamentary speech dated March 20, 1782, reprinted in "Beauties of the British Senate," London, 1786]"

I'm not saying that it isn't related to hunting foxes, but my sense is that the class which includes fox hunters would be all too likely to take more credit for the idea than they deserve; maybe the fugitives thought of it first.

Posted by lillipublicans on Oct. 30, 2013 @ 7:35 pm

closes their parks at night
why this is a BFD is just simply beyond me
the outrage machine is in full effect, per usual, which just diminishes the outrage when something truly fucked up comes down the line

Posted by guest on Oct. 31, 2013 @ 10:28 am

like this become a big deal, to the far left anyway. If this went to the voters, it would pass with 90%.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 31, 2013 @ 10:40 am

You know what this article reminds me of? A room clearing, butthole stretching, early morning soft poo that slides right out of me at the sound of the cock's crow. literally the worst I've read all day!

Posted by Rachele Kanigel on Oct. 31, 2013 @ 2:05 pm

why don't you go back to examining your navel instead

Posted by plkdfjl on Oct. 31, 2013 @ 2:16 pm

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