Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Update on Promoter Permit Legislation: Rejected Unanimously at Entertainment Commission Meeting

At Tuesday's meeting of the Entertainment Commission over fifty members of the public, including a wedding planner, representatives of non-profit and fundraising agencies, two members of the Board of Supervisors, venue operators, and promoters all stood up at the podium to voice their opposition to the new promoter permit legislation. At the end of the meeting, all five attending commissioners also opposed it, and the President of the Commission, Audrey Joseph, said that when the review of the legislation was moved from discussion this week to an action item at the next meeting of EC, they would tell the Board of Supervisors they did not support it. Since no one spoke up in support of the new legislation, including anyone from Sophie Maxwell's office, which introduced it, this appears to be dead in the water. To drive the final nails in the coffin, everyone opposing this should still write to their supervisors and let them know how you feel, since, with this much opposition, few Supervisors would be willing to buck against their constituents to support it.

I went into the Commission meeting with a real sense of anxiety over how this could turn out, though I knew that at least Commissioners Alan and Joseph were sympathetic to the opposition. There were only a few people in the room when I showed up at 4.45, including several people I had contacted personally, so I was afraid we would be a minority voice, but then the room began to fill up and soon reached overflow capacity. I had planned to speak, but it really wasn't necessary, as every point I would have made was brought up by someone else. It was very gratifying to see how the whole entertainment community, with clubs and promoters and non-profits from across the musical and sexual spectrum, could come together like that. When I was talking with David Peterson of Fag Fridays and Temple later, he said it reminded him of 2000, when the SFLNC came together to deal with the club crackdown from Captain Martell of the Mission District. It made me think that we need to have a greater sense of solidarity among the nightlife community, because we really are all in it together, and we need to come together more often, and more effectively, to restore San Francisco to its rightful place as a center of world-class nightlife.

I was also thrilled to see Supervisor Bevan Dufty come in and state, in unequivocal terms, his opposition to the legislation, including the possibility of amending it. Dufty has taken a lot of heat over the Halloween debacle for the past couple years, and has been pilloried as a representative of the bourgeouis gay class that has "ruined" the Castro, but I've seen Dufty out clubbing, and in our discussions with him a few weeks ago, I was impressed that he clearly understood the implications of this legislation and would have nothing to do with it. He might be guilty of being more of a pragmatist than the ideologue that many people seem to want in their Supervisors, but I can't really fault him for doing what a politician is supposed to do, which is to seek out compromises that can work for everyone, and come down hard on those things that make no sense for anyone. I was happy to join in the very enthusiastic applause he received after making his comment.

Gerardo Sandoval sent his legislative aide, Luke Klipp, to represent him. Sandoval seems more equivocal, according to Klipp's statement, since he recognizes the problems with this legislation but is "willing to work" with Supervisor Maxwell on it. If you happen to live in Sandoval's district, you might want to shoot him an email and let him know that there's no way that this legislation can be made to work.

By my count, there are at least four Supervisors who will oppose this legislation, either wholly or in party, leaving only two more to find to get it killed. My feeling is that, if Sophie Maxwell is smart, she will withdraw it, rather than face political embarrassment over having it defeated in a Board vote, and come back to work directly with the entertainment community to deal with the issues that brought this about in the first place. And shame on the Mayor's office for setting her up with this ill-conceived bit of political theater.

Minutes of the meeting, including video, will eventually be up on the Entertainment Commission Meeting Information webpage.

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