Thursday, October 15, 2009

Obama to avoid the rabble on S.F. visit

Obama to avoid the rabble on S.F. visit

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

President Obama to lie low.

The White House's fear of protests from Code Pink and other left-wingers has put the brakes on President Obama making any public appearances during his visit to San Francisco this week.

Obama is scheduled to parachute into Liberalville on Thursday afternoon and pick up a cool $2 million for the Democratic Party at a fundraiser at the St. Francis Hotel - then spend the night, before checking out early the next morning and heading to Houston for a community service forum hosted by former President George H.W. Bush.

The St. Francis event is about all the public will see of him here. Concerns about big and loud protests over the war in Afghanistan, the prohibition on open gays and lesbians in the military and other issues have squelched any thought of a trip to a local school or high-tech manufacturing plant that often accompanies such visits, said a source involved in the planning.

"You're always sensitive about having your San Francisco moment here," said former White House spinmeister Chris Lehane.

He still recalls a news conference he organized here in 2000 for then-presidential candidate Al Gore. It turned into a near-disaster when a "transvestite kept asking if he would support public funding for sex changes."

"No matter how you answered, you get in trouble," Lehane said.

As for Obama's visit, Code Pink co-founder and political rabble-rouser Medea Benjamin said the Pinks are still planning "something big and visual" at Union Square, across from the St. Francis fundraiser.

We're also told a Code Pinker has already bought a ticket to the Obama event and will try to hand the president a petition demanding a U.S. exit strategy from Afghanistan.

And - no doubt - the protester will be exiting just as quickly.

Sparks to fly: Theresa Sparks made news as San Francisco's first transsexual president of the Police Commission before quitting for the $167,500-a-year job as head of Mayor Gavin Newsom's Human Rights Commission.

Now she may have a new job in mind - the Board of Supervisors.

"I'm leaning toward it ... but I'm not there yet," Sparks said.

The seat she's eyeing is the one representing the Sixth District. It's being vacated after next year's elections by the ever-outspoken Chris Daly.

Sparks said she hopes to make a final decision by the end of the month.

If she does run, Sparks said she would hold on to her new job at City Hall.

After all, says the former CEO of the Good Vibrations sex-store chain, "I was unemployed one week short of a year, and I'm not a professional politician."

Jerry-atrics: When San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom first got into the governor's race against Jerry Brown, his handlers were predicting a Generation Gel vs. Generation Geritol showdown.

Well, they got it, but one look at the polling shows Generation Geritol is kicking their butts.

Much of Brown's 20-point margin over Newsom in the Democratic polls is attributable to the 30-point spread in Jerry's favor among voters over 50.

That's the group that shows up at the polls most reliably.

Newsom's troubles with older voters appear to be over the two things his campaign counted as strengths: his age and his very vocal support for same-sex marriage.

Budapest-bound: President Obama has nominated Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis - daughter of Sacramento mega-developer and Democratic donor Angelo Tsakopoulos - to be ambassador to Hungary.

Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis, a major philanthropist, was a big-time backer of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential bid.

For a while, word was that Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis would be headed for Singapore - but now we know better.

In the bag: Just days after it was snatched near San Francisco's Union Square, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson's garment bag has been recovered.

A pair of Good Samaritans phoned Johnson's office Tuesday to say they had found the bag, which Johnson reported had been lifted Saturday when he turned to help an elderly gentlemen into a cab. Mayor Gavin Newsom's office dispatched a couple of staffers to pick up the recovered goods near Mason and Eddy streets.

"Everything was there - from the pinstripe suit to the pair of shoes, a shirt and a necktie," Newsom spokesman Nathan Ballard said.

"In San Francisco, Good Samaritans are everywhere - so I hope Kevin Johnson doesn't hold it against us," Ballard said.

Feelin' the love: The last we heard of San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, he was stomping out of a Democratic function at the Fairmont after telling Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to "kiss my gay ass."

So, does he have any regrets, in light of the governor signing legislation designating a state day of recognition for Harvey Milk?

"No," Ammiano said. "Kissing is safe sex. It was all said in the spirit of love."

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Chronicle columnists Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross appear Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays. Phil can be seen on the KPIX morning and evening news. He can also be heard on KCBS radio Monday through Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 5:50 p.m. Got a tip? Call (415) 777-8815 or e-mail

This article appeared on page D - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

© 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.


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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


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