Caught on Tape: Golden Gate Park Gadfly Outfoxes Union Lawyer at Rec and Park HQ

(I think I’m satisfied with that headline.) All right there’s this guy, let’s call him Manatease, who functions as our Department of Recreation and Park‘s number one social gadfly – I bump into him from time to time. And there’s this other guy who now runs the RPD – I think I might have been at his law school* the same time he was, a year or two apart maybe. O.K. then.

Apparently, one of them was haranguing the other in or around RPD HQ last week and that somehow led to an incident betwixt Manatease and a lawyer for the gardener’s union. Now, that’s not on tape, but the rest of it, including a humiliating apology, was recorded by some kind of beltcam or something.

Here it is, in a punchy 4.5 minutes. Whoops, here it is.

I’ll tell you, I don’t share Manatease’s world-view, really. I mean I agree with some of his positions (like the advisability of charging foreigners $7 to get into Strybing Arboretum, coming soon) and disagree with others (like the idea of using park property to make a few bucks off of Peter Pan) [UPDATE: Well, I suppose I could have phrased this in a different way – I object neither to the general concept nor to this particular execution of using Sue Bierman Park, aka Ferry Park, aka Fairy Park, to put on Peter Pan].

But it’s Mantease’s right to “disrupt” the plans of RPD, correct?

A skinned knee perhaps but the  quick brown red fox lives to fight another day. This is what the foxes of the San Francisco Botanical Garden looked like back in the day, back before I decided to never again step foot in the joint. As seen in the New World Cloud Forest:

I think the YouTube clip speaks for itself, but stay tuned for all the deets (from Manatease’s point of view, anyway), after the jump.

*Back in the day when it was a dirt-cheap** top-20 law school. (It’s neither of those things now….) 

**For CA residents, that is – the price of tuition was less than ten percent of what USC’s was, back in the day. Those days are over, never to return. Oh well.

“Here’s a brief synopsis:

As you know our ruling elites have decided to charge admission to the Arboretum, free since its founding around 1940. SEIU and Local 261 (the gardener’s “union”) threw their elephantine weight behind the proposal, entering meetings wearing same-color tee shirts and apparently cowed “progressive” Supervisors Avalos, Campos and Daly (!) into voting for a privatization intended to exclude visitors that do not fall into a target demographic.

Tuesday afternoon I was near McLaren Lodge, named after the gardener who founded the Arboretum, and headed in to talk to Olive Gong regarding some not-yet-fulfilled Sunshine requests I had put in.

To summarize, I saw Commissioner Larry Martin in the hall at McLaren Lodge and expressed my disappointment with his vote to give the elitist San Francisco Botanical Garden Society $7 million dollars of State money. He told me he had not read the Sierra Club’s letter against the proposal and that another Commissioner “had pulled the wool over his eyes.” (Yes, and I have a bridge I can sell you!)

Escorted into see Olive by one Ana M. Alvarez, a new hire (!) for a newly created “Superintendant, Citywide Services.” I saw Philip A. Ginsberg, Newsom’s buddy who heads Rec and Park heading into his office. I told him that I thought it deplorable that San Francisco Botanical Garden Society members were to have free entry to the Arboretum, while everyone else would have to show ID or would be forced to pay $7.

Then I headed out of the building. I found some Local 261 members outside and talked to them (finding them feeling both apathetic and disenfranchised). As I re-approached, heading along the road in front of McClaren Lodge, a burly guy in a suit with no tie crossed the road to himself squarely in my face, yelling and threatening violence. He pushed me backwards, showing me hard. I fell to the ground spraining my hand (which still hurts nearly 48 hours later) and skinning my knee (underneath my long pants). Everyone on the steps told me that they would testify that I “fell.”

Park Patrol arrived and I told them I would not press charges if apologized. Union members swiftly got busy telling the cops some sort of concocted story. Vince came up and apologized, has since apologized by e-mail, but has never admitted that he shoved me.

He subsequently wrote to me that “In order to make sure that the worker’s recognition event (that they deserve) went as planned and without disruption, I would have been ok being arrested for that reason alone because you would have gone with me.  That is an example of what a good Union Rep would do.” He also Twittered to his flock: “Did not get arrested today. Yay! Congratulations Union members on another Kickass-successful event! Feel the Power Brothers & Sisters.”

I later learned that – and, as I always say, you can’t make this stuff up! – that the Parks Trust and the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society were presenting the second annual “William Howard Hammond” awards. The mind boggles!

That’s the “short” version…..”


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