Thursday, April 10, 2008

A reminder about political leaders

Yesterday morning brought a brilliant blue sky, perfect spring conditions in San Francisco. Gorgeous. I crossed the Golden Gate early, to miss the impact of the Burmese monks who'd be massing and walking around 9. There was something in the air: today was the day, the big day that San Francisco would be center stage, hosting the biggest protest for Tibetan freedom.

I'd awakened still unsure of where the right place to be was for me -- should I go to work and do the all-day meeting with my boss on how to augment the benefit package for the staff; or should I add my body to the non-violent masses along the waterfront. Ultimately, I decided that I would work to create some good in a more immediate way yesterday, so I went to the office. Wearing white, in support of the Tibetan people, as we'd been ask to do for the protest. And wearing my prayer scarf and really holding them in my thoughts.

As staff arrived, there was something in the air for them, too. The television was rolled out, and people kept an eye on what was happening. One of us was getting fairly constant texts and had friends along the waterfront, who were relaying information. I went into my meeting and worked, tv in the background, muted. Between conversations about how we could provide better benefits, I'd look over and react to the heavy police presence, the changed route, the total suppression of free speech.

There was a burst of activity when Adrienne and Shannon realized that the relay was on Van Ness and Bush and they ran down to see it. Shannon ran alongside chanting "Free Tibet" until Broadway, and then walked back.

All evening long I couldn't shake, still can't, a deep feeling of disappointment and one of shame: here was a golden opportunity, side-stepped, for political goals out of step with the 10,000 people in the street.

Thank you to Supervisor Peskin for summing it up:

Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, a vocal critic of Newsom's administration, was equally unhappy, as was the local ACLU chapter.

"Gavin Newsom runs San Francisco the way the premier of China runs his country - secrecy, lies, misinformation, lack of transparency and manipulating the populace," Peskin said. "He did it so China can report they had a great torch run."

What a shame!

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