Sunday, January 08, 2012
A Tale of Two Inaugurations 1: Mayor Ed Lee
The public was invited to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee's inauguration party in City Hall on Sunday morning but what the organizers failed to announce was that there were two tiers of "public," those who held red invitation cards from the Ed Lee Inauguration Committee, and those who did not.
If you were part of the latter group, officious characters insisted that you leave the main floor and take the elevator somewhere, anywhere away upstairs. The elevator stopped at the second floor, but after the door opened a bossy young man yelled at us that nobody was allowed off the elevator. Supervisor John Avalos happened to be standing right next to him, and he gave me a rueful grin, followed by a wave.
On the third floor, besides velvet ropes denying entrances to stairways, there was yellow "Do Not Cross" tape in front of the lighting systems set up for the show below, which didn't allow for even halfway decent sightlines for the peasants.
In all the years I've been attending and covering events at City Hall, this wide-scale exclusion of the public at a public event was a first, and not a particularly good portent for the next four years of the Ed Lee administration.
What made the situation even more grotesque was that Lee's short inauguration speech was reportedly filled with repeated assertions that he was going to be "The Mayor of the 100%."
This buzz phrase is particularly absurd considering that Lee was selected for office by old power brokers such as US Senator Dianne Feinstein above, who swore him into office this morning.
According to a number of witnesses, the inauguration was very much the Willie Brown, Jr. show, with the openly corrupt, influence peddling ex-mayor as emcee, which is almost enough to make one feel sorry for Ed Lee.
I left after the San Francisco Symphony trumpet fanfare on the main staircase led by Mark Inouye above as they musically introduced Ed Lee and his family.
This was mainly because there was no way to see anything unless one held a precious red ticket, although I heard later that there were video feeds in the South and North Light Courts off the main floor rotunda, but none of the gatekeepers were bothering to share that information with the public.
It wasn't the San Francisco Police Department that was keeping the great unwashed off the main floor in City Hall. Instead, they were were walking in pairs on the sidewalk around City Hall, smiling, being friendly, and otherwise not acting like the usual SFPD at all. The Sheriffs Department was handling security inside City Hall, and they were also in a jolly mood, but they also had nothing to do with the main floor velvet ropes.
Instead, it was volunteers from the Ed Lee Inauguration Committee who were playing bouncers. The young man above wasn't as obnoxious as most of these characters, many of whom seemed to consist of middle-aged Chinese ladies who had taken charm school lessons from Rose Pak. The whole event was very weird.