Thursday, April 17, 2014
For all its geographic beauty, San Francisco is a tough little city, as exemplified by Ocean Beach with its rundown infrastructure, dangerous rip tides, and lack of lifeguards, restrooms or bathing facilities. Unwary tourists and ocean-newbie locals have been swept out to sea and drowned in a murderous succession for years, but the best the city can do is post the signs below in a parking area which does not seem to do much good.
Last week, 14-year-old Marco Conejo was the latest casualty along with his father who tried to save him but who became trapped in the rip tide himself. A 17-year-old surfer, Tony Barbero (below), managed to paddle in a younger cousin of Marco to the beach and dived back into the ocean to save the father, who was still in a coma a week later. Marco's body hasn't been found.
Last Tuesday at the weekly Board of Supervisors meeting, there was a Special Commendation ceremony scheduled for 3:30 where Tony Berbero was honored for his rescue effort. Reading the young man's body language on the SF Government TV broadcast, it seemed obvious that he was still in a state of emotional shock over watching people die in front of him. This commendable sensitivity mixed with personal bravery was rudely hijacked by the San Francisco Fire Department Chief, Joanne Hayes-White (above right), who is a classic example of arrogance-fueled incompetence.
Tony Berbero's father is a Captain in the Fire Department and after Joanne acknowledged how everyone was all part of the Fire Department family, she offered Tony an SFFD T-shirt, telling him he was already a made man. "You'll be a professional firefighter in our department."
From 1988 to 1997, the San Francisco Fire Department was placed under federal monitoring in an attempt to "eliminate patterns of racial and sexual discrimination in the department," so it was odd hearing such publicly stated nepotism by its current fire chief. She may be female but it's still essentially the same old family mafia that has always staffed the department, federal injunction or not.
An hour after Chief Hayes-Whites' grandstanding moment, a fire broke out on the top floor of a six-story apartment building at 14th and Dolores above, across the street from the new Whole Foods housing complex on Market. Except for the poor tenants on the top floor who have lost their housing, the firefight was a success, with no loss of building, people or their kitties.
The next morning, Wednesday, a mother and child were not so lucky, and died in a fire at their top floor, two-story Sunnydale housing project apartment in Visitacion Valley.
Rest in peace, your poor people, and let me send out a prayer for a new, competent Fire Chief before San Francisco becomes even more dense and dangerous.