Giuliani’s Brain Spanks San Francisco

  |   Politics   |   8 Comments

Giuliani's Brain Attacks San Francisco

The visionaries who saved Times Square have decided to lend their beneficence to our fair city, and show us once and for all how only “the will to enforce common norms of public behavior” can clean up areas like the Haight-Ashbury, ridding it of the gutter-punks and pit bulls.

But in the process, our Doms have to deliver some tough love, especially to those employed by “Homelessness, Inc.” here in the city. Yes, Daddy, we’ve been very bad. Hurt us! Give us what we deserve! We don’t want to hear that the solution to every civic problem is incarceration, but my, we do NEED to hear it.

One of the more precious quotes in the article suggests our reward if we obey:

Police officials and local entrepreneurs speak wistfully of the transformation of New York’s Times Square, and they still hope that it could happen here [in the Tenderloin].

They do prescribe one non-police action to achieve this shopper’s utopia:

Perhaps, too, such public passivity in the face of crime owes to the city’s lack of a tabloid newspaper; in New York, such grisly events, which were common in the early 1990s, sparked widespread outrage in no small part because papers like the New York Post made them front-page news.

  • Eric Rodenbeck | Oct 12, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    My cousin’s rector from Minden, Germany, was the woman killed in the shooting described in the article.

    In the absence of taking steps that are described in the article, what do you suggest be done about the Tenderloin? I don’t mean this rhetorically—what, specifically, do you recommend?

    I lived there for 10 years and can tell you first hand that it is a deeply broken neighborhood, and affordable housing is not the answer. I lived in Times Square in the late eighties and watched that neighborhood transform from a blighted and dangerous killing zone into one of the busiest and most dynamic labs for positive urban development anywhere. They’re closing down whole sections of 7th Avenue to vehicular traffic, fer cryin’ out loud. I’m no fan of Guliani’s racist fear-mongering, and sure there are lots of tourists, but I for one would sure prefer a couple tourists in the Loin to the constant shootings and anarchy that the mostly lower-income residents of that neighborhood have to deal with on a constant basis.

  • Jeff Diehl | Oct 12, 2010 at 5:19 pm


    i myself lived in the TL for a year, and no, it was not pleasant leaving my apartment or going to it. very depressing. (though i never felt in danger.) and i don’t know what to do about it. i’m not sure anything can be done by force without incurring a significant, if unseen (by most) cost. not to be hyperbolic, but i’ve heard Singapore is a beautiful and safe place, even more so than Times Square. graffiti a wall and you get caned. it “works.”

  • Tenderblog » Is SF “indifferent to violent crime and public disorder”? | Oct 12, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    […] a very interesting comment on the issue by Eric Rodenbeck, who lived in the TL for 10 years: My cousin’s rector from Minden, […]

  • Al | Oct 13, 2010 at 1:09 am

    Well, New York never instituted caning, to my knowledge.

    I do think that US policy regarding the insane and addicted is pretty awful. But dealing with it on a local level like San Francisco does doesn’t seem very productive– after all, with $25,000 spent annually per homeless person and people still on the streets, the main lesson for the rest of the country is “don’t do what San Francisco does”. Which leaves us no better off.

  • Eric Rodenbeck | Oct 13, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Surely we can consider a meaningful distinction between the rampant murder and public disorder of the Tenderloin, where people are passed out on the sidewalk, fire engines constantly hurtle through residential streets taking people to emergency rooms, and illegal narcotics are on sale 24×7 (—and an autocracy like Singapore, where you can be caned for graffiti?

    I think there’s a sane approach that keeps the neighborhood infrastructure intact (rent control isn’t going anywhere) but enforces a basic sense of decency and safety. There’s *got* to be something in between Bedlam and Singapore that makes sense.

    The “costs” of cleaning up the Tenderloin, as far as I can tell, would be that it’d be harder to sell prescription medication that people are getting for free, firefighters would no longer have to send 3 fire engines to 6 story buildings every time someone gets a chest pain, and the kids in that neighborhood (there are more kids in the TL than in Noe Valley) could play in the parks.

  • humin | Oct 15, 2010 at 10:01 am

    The sane approach is 1) To actually help the local businesses that have opened in the Tenderloin over the last year 2) Stop opening up new social service and non-profits related to homelessness in the Tenderloin. Yes, it’s a big problem in the area, but concentrating all outreach there is doing nothing to stop the problem.

    This last year has been something of a watershed as for the first time in eight years of living here, I find myself staying in the neighborhood much more than leaving it as more cafes and restaurants have opened. Oh and anyone who tosses out “that’s just gentrification” needs to shut up and live in the Tenderloin as most of the homeless advocates do not (lookin’ at you Randy Shaw). The “stale-ification” that most in the government and non-profit industry seem content to carry out in the neighborhood has done absolutely nothing for the are or those they are claiming to help.

    The solution is simple, but the homeless industry is vast and well-funded.

  • TEJ | Oct 20, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    Work in the ‘Loin, used to visit Singapore regularly for work. Have an uncle there and met a few US expats. First year they are all indignant about ‘the police state’. Second year they are enjoying the safety and realize that there is little trouble if you follow a few simple rules. Third year they are married to a local and planning to stay. First year in the TL I am sick of the human wastage and afraid to work nights or weekends when security is not present. Second year I am sick of the human wastage and afraid to work nights or weekends when security is not present. Third year I am sick . . . .

  • John G | Oct 29, 2010 at 12:29 am

    I’ve lived in the Tenderloin for several years and feel no fear here whatsoever. Maybe that’s because I keep my wits about me and don’t jump at every dark shadow (or cower at the sight of every dark person, since it’s obvious that xenophobia and latent racism are rampant in so many of the Little Nevius clones running around the internet comment boards). Of course there are multifarious, well-entrenched social problems in the TL — but as with most situations where fear-mongers demand more police and more imprisonment, the actual number of violent crimes committed against strangers here is very low. I’d be more worried about drunken frat boys in the Marina than drunken winos or crackheads in the Tenderloin any day.

    As for the “vast and well-funded homeless industry,” give me a break. The financial supporters of Prop L (and other poor-bashing laws designed to crank up the power of the police and benefit the real estate developers) are billions of dollars richer than the homeless industry, not to mention they have much more influence in City Hall. If you want to talk about wasteful spending, let’s talk about the $40 million the city spent last year in police overtime — not regular pay, but overtime alone — and then calculate how much more we’ll have to spend on policing when we criminalize poverty. Would you rather spend the money to house poor people — or to incarcerate them in a violent jail system that will only make them more vicious and less employable when they get out? Rather than fixing homelessness, these sorts of programs only make them worse.