Date: Thu, 3 Jul 1997 10:18:05 -0800
From: (Paul Dorn)
Subject: Mayoral Mass Mess
Precedence: bulk
Status: U

Hi all,

I'd hoped that the whole business about da Mayor and Critical Mass would
have died down after a day. Sadly, I was wrong. For all his many flaws, Da
mayor is a shrewd politician and isn't shy about being a calculating SOB.

From what I can tell, this whole situation resulted from a talk radio
station's efforts to stir up controversy and build its drive time audience.
A reporter from KGO asked a question at a press conference and da mayor
spouted his response. I think it was as innocent as that. However, Brown
has gotten a lot of positive reaction and has recognized the political
advantage of bashing cyclists.

The SFBC is one of the leading proponents of a Downtown CalTrain station,
plus we oppose the rebuilding of the Central Freeway. All this nonsense
about Critical Mass has really put cyclists and the SFBC on the defensive.
Instead of getting reporters calling to ask why we support taking CalTrain
downtown, we're getting calls about CM.

Anyway, how do we respond? First, we don't panic. Critical Mass and the
SFBC were around long before Willie Brown was mayor and will be around when
he's no longer mayor. Second, enjoy the coverage. How often does Critical
Mass make it onto the front page of both dailies? Hasn't the shoddy
journalism been fun? Especially the part about CM being an international
organization with branches in Australia, Europe and Asia, and how secretive
we are about our "leaders."

Third, we need to do what we do well, which is make a lot of noise. Write
letters, make phone calls, send faxs. Expose da Mayor's rhetoric for the
scapegoating bunk it is. Willie has finally stopped sipping champagne with
wealthy sports franchise owners long enough to discuss traffic issues.
Great,  Willie, let's talk traffic. Motorists are stuck in traffic every
day of the week, not just the last Friday of the month. What does your
Williness plan to do to fix that? Let's not be shy to remind everyone that
Willie rides around in a chauffeur driven limo; what does he know about the
difficulty commuters face? This is a great opportunity. The spotlight's on
us. Let's shine baby.

Finally, we need to think about July's CM. If the mayor goes through with
his putative plans to "put the brakes on" or "curb" CM, what might that
mean? Will he have the police announce an illegal assembly and attempt to
disperse it? I've been at demonstrations like that, in which they allow
people to leave in small groups. Let's say the cops don't allow CM to leave
en masse from Justin Herman. Then we should designate an area, say South
Park, to regroup and proceed as usual.

Anyway, a few cents. Hasn't this been fun? We're finally "above the radar."

Safe riding,


P.S. I was surprised to read da Mayor say he hasn't heard from any Critical
Mass supporters. Of course he doesn't read his e-mail. So contact his
aides, especially P.J. Johnston (554-6131, fax 554-4058); Stuart Sunshine
(554-6181, fax 554-6160); and, if you have the stomach for it, Bill Maher
(554-9811, fax 554-9834).