Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Fake WiFi Protest at City Hall

Just about all protests on the Polk Street side of San Francisco's City Hall are theatrically staged photo-ops to some extent or another...

...but the gathering on Monday at 1PM in support of Mayor Newsom's Google/Earthlink free wi-fi deal was stage managed to a degree of phoniness I've never quite witnessed before.

The lightly-attended affair seemed to be stage-managed entirely by the two young blonde women above...

...and when I asked the local ABC reporter who they might be, he replied, "They work for Singer Associates."

Singer Associates, Inc. is a high-powered local public relations firm out of Berkeley of all places and it does "communications strategies" for some of the most awful corporations operating in the Bay Area, including Chevron Texaco and the Lennar Corporation, which is currently redeveloping the Hunter's Point/Bayview neighborhood (click here to get to their slick, soothing website).

The firm is headed by Sam Singer, who on his website bio crows about the following accomplishment: "In 1997, he led the corporate reputation team handling Levi Strauss & Company’s largest layoffs and plant closures in its history. PR News, a trade industry weekly, praised the effort as the “best handled crisis of the year.” " Yes, I'm sure the laid-off Levi's employees were quite impressed with Mr. Singer's work.

I'm not sure exactly who is paying his firm for "community outreach" on the Google/Earthlink deal, but on Monday it involved bringing in a dozen black people from the Bayview/Hunter's Point/Sunnydale/Visitacion Valley neighborhoods to City Hall, led by a blustering minister, the Reverend Arnold Townsend.

They were carefully posed on the stairs next to and behind the various speakers, with phony handmade signage that had been handed to them, to show that poor people of color were fully behind Gavin Newsom's initiative and were decrying the resistance of the Board of Supervisors to various aspects of the deal.

This party line was dutifully reported by the grotesque Pat Murphy, above, who is the court stenographer for the Newsom regime at his San Francisco Sentinel website.

A small group of Chinese seniors had also been bused in from somewhere and given more professional signage to hold, but most of them looked seriously confused about the entire affair.

The "protest" featured one of the more bizarre racial stratifications I've witnessed, with young black people and old Chinese people standing on the City Hall stairs while white organizers and journalists (including myself) stood on the sidewalk looking at them.

The stench from the cynicism on display was overwhelming.


p said...

ah, the cute blonde bimbos,
it's all in the familly isn't it?

kimo said...

That's what they get for trying to pull the wool over sfmike's lens!

greg said...

here's a link to the Newsom campaign on Flickr with their version of events...


Anonymous said...

A FAKE protest?!

A friend told me about this and I thought she was joking. I’m in disbelief that any PR firm would think staging a protest would be a smart idea - it doesn’t make sense on so many levels. (And really, if you’re gonna do it, make it look good and not SO obviously FAKE! All the signs look the same!)

What a joke! Who ever is behind this should feel very embarrassed.

Ced said...


that's pretty creepy stuff you're unveiling here. Great post.

Miriam said...

The African American preacher and his flock feel a bit like a hokey version of Jim Jones' Rent-a-Crowd.

I hope they got paid well . . . and lunch!