MisterSF.com Archive: Ask Mister SF Answers


Luke Thomas Photo

Above: San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom innocently pursues his pleasure-filled life.

03/14/07; 1:02 PM

Deidre asks, Any comment on disparaging remarks made by Newsom's girlfriend Jennifer Siebel against Ruby Tourk on SFist?

Only this; just when I was beginning to think my husband is right - that it's impossible to comment on someone else's dirt without getting dirty - Siebel came out and proved the point.

03/06/07; 2:42 PM

Loosey2 asks, Don't you think Newsom is contrite?

No. He was on KTVU on Friday, March 2, campaigning that no one cares. I'm sure most folks agree with the mayor, and for them the story is over. No matter what people think about San Francisco being an island nation, it's just not true. We are as much a part of America as baseball and Britney Spears. Newsom's foibles are only stories for the moment in this era of "it's no problem."

Ming asks, You guys are very cute. Are you going to start a Carville-Matalin thing on the site?

Thank you. Jeff would never do that in a million years. By the way, Jeff would vote for Newsom for any office at any time. I am more of an Ammiano man with an activist streak. I always need proof.

03/01/07; 8:39 PM

Jeff asks, Don't you think you were a little hard on Newsom? Seems moralistic for Mister SF.

Perhaps, but aren't you tired of excuses for bad behavior in Rehab Nation? If I'm cutting it's because Newsom emulated the wrong characteristics in his idols Kennedy and Clinton at the expense of the City. So give him a pass on the moral stuff but not the murder rate. The fact that you, Jeff, are my husband shows that we can have healthy discussions in all corners. Dinner will be ready at nine.

03/01/07; 2:27 PM

JulieJ asks, Why no comment on Newsom's scandals?

You're referring first to the fact that Mayor Gavin Newsom slept with his best friend [Alex Tourk]'s wife - a City employee [Ruby Rippey-Tourk] - and all the ensuing gore that followed in the wake of this recent revelation. In light of the City being reduced to a beautyshop level of discourse by this story, I thank you for inviting me to dish under the dryer with you.

I believe steadfastly that of course his choices reflect negatively on the mayor's fitness for office as it relates directly to character and judgment. With enough people focused on character; (Standing outside City Hall... a pal said, "I'm not saying I swing, and I'm not saying I don't swing, but I never cuckolded my best friend."); I'm more concerned about Newsom's judgment, and about our City. The mayor cannot escape the election cycle without atoning somehow for having had his head so far away from the job that the 49ers, the Olympics, headway on the murder rate, and several thousand blacks in the Fillmore all tip-toed out of town behind his peripheral vision as in a Spy vs. Spy cartoon. Problem is, many people in the know know that several credible individuals and organizations have approached the mayor over the past few years with ideas for turning Candlestick into a profit center. They also know that the administration had no interest. Affairs are not necessarily serious; leadership failure is. As someone who is in a gay marriage thanks in part to Newsom, I speak only for myself when I say it is a disappointment that Newsom showed such contempt for the Rippey-Tourk marriage and for the toddler child in that family. I don't blame the larger marriage movement - the Equality USA folks - for standing by their man, Newsom, but it helps to remember that we are on a national political stage whether we like it or not. (A second pal at the Hall said to the first, "Oh really? I swing. That's why I'm not mayor." The third guy brought Willie Brown into it just as I was distracted by the passing sight of City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who would later announce that he was looking into possible irregularities in Mrs. Tourk's approved paid leave from her job as Newsom's appointments secretary in 2006.)

Julie, you may also be referring to the fact that Newsom's Press Secretary Peter Ragone was caught forging posts on a political board. I actually thought that was a more serious scandal than [initial reports of] Newsom's affair. In this case the outcome was appropriate; Ragone was replaced. Here's an exclusive note of interest: There is a recent precedent for Ragone's brand of lapse in judgment that was widely reported in 1991. During that year's mayoral election campaign, Mayor Art Agnos' Press Secretary, Larry Bush, got caught attempting to co-opt a minority press for the purpose of manipulating public opinion. Working in cahoots with gay Sentinel newspaper publisher Ray Chalker, Bush authored a hit-piece on candidate Angela Alioto. Daniel Willson, then an editor at the paper, exposed Bush as the author by changing the byline to that of Chalker and Mayor Art Agnos moments before the manual layouts left the for the printer. Willson was sacked; there were no real repercussions for Bush except the fact that Frank Jordan ultimately got elected; and the planted Alioto story is only a footnote in SF political theatre.

A final word on the issue of poor judgment. You may have been referring also to recent news about Newsom having a stalker, 42 year-old Han Sup Shin. [At a town hall meeting in the Bayview, Shin took pictures of Newsom's crotch, stroked the mayor's jacket, and impeded Newsom's movement following the meeting. Two days later, Shin attended a gay marriage anniversary event at City Hall, where he wore purple latex gloves in posed pictures with Newsom. Later still, Shin tried to talk his way into Newsom's Russian Hill apartment. The matter is now in the hands of the police and courts.] Is Mister SF going to be the only one who asks why Newsom posed for pictures with this man after the Bayview incident?

I think then as now, from Agnos to Newsom, we get what we deserve. In other words, the polling questions are all wrong. They ask, is Newsom trustworthy? No, he's not. His best friend can't trust him. The question, will you trust him anyway? is what San Franciscans will answer in the affirmative if they re-elect him. That's our prerogative. There is more than enough precedent for a philandering politician to leave Newsom electable to higher office - even the highest. He'll just have to work for it now. In the (paraphrased) words of Lina Wertmuller, "Now that Rafaella has come down in the world she must learn to wash pants."

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