Where’s Gavin? Likely Campaigning in an Armored SUV

hybrid_suv.jpgMayor Newsom’s ride of choice, via josmith94701 on Flickr

Apparently I’m not the only one who got the sneaky suspicion Green Gav
doesn’t really take transit or ride a bike unless it makes for good
publicity. Yet-to-be identified satirists decided to call Mayor Gavin Newsom’s bluff on the nonsense assertion he (or his handlers) made to the Chronicle that he occasionally rides Muni incognito when he’s not being chauffeured around in a hybrid SUV or driving his ridiculously expensive electric sports car.

A website called Where’s Gavin?, borrowing from the Where’s Waldo? motif, is offering a free Muni FastPass and a round of drinks to the first person who snaps a photo of Newsom on Muni, though with a caveat that it has to be on a bus, light rail vehicle, or historic streetcar, not a cable car.

We’re looking for Mayor Gavin Newsom.  Have you seen him?  We know he talks a good game on Muni and transit in our fair city, the City and County of San Francisco. But why doesn’t he also walk the walk? His advocacy and leadership for Muni has been noticeably absent even though, deep in his heart, he must know that the truly green choice is non-car transportation.

Fun aside, I wanna know why a press savvy Mayor trying to cast himself as environmentally conscious
would make incognito excursions on transit? That doesn’t get you any press.
New York City Mayor Bloomberg makes a habit of riding the subway and welcomes
the press to follow him to get some "everyman billionaire straphanger"
shots. Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates got some great coverage when he sold his car.

The obvious answer is that Mayor Newsom doesn’t ride public transit.  Slumming it on overcrowded buses?  Ew.

As we reported last month, Newsom was chauffeured in his SUV to City Hall on Earth Day, for his own Earth Day Breakfast. As if that symbolism weren’t callous enough, the Chronicle reported yesterday that he ditched Bike to Work Day to drive out to Tracy for a
campaign stop.  When the Mayor was asked why he didn’t ride a bike to
work, he said he actually had ridden a bike yesterday, at the gym. And it didn’t actually go anywhere.

"It was stationary," he said. "It’s a technical point."

tried to excuse himself from the ride by swearing that he rode in 10 of
the last 12 Bike to Work Day events and he said something about how he
should be "compensated" for that (the Chronicle subsequently removed
that quote from the blog post). 

Good luck out there snapping that incognito pic, Streetsbloggers. I wonder if he rocks a stache and trench coat? A bowler and a cane?

Once you’ve had that first round on the Where’s Gavin? folks, second round is on me.

  • How about cash or a MUNI pass for someone who can get a picture of the big guy on a stationary bike or sweating it out in a spin class somewhere?

    Have to admit I like me some spin class sometimes, but I mind the huge difference between it and bike commuting–Gav doesn’t really get even that apparently!

  • Thank you, Streetsblog, for spreading the word about Where’s Gavin! No doubt many of your readers here are loyal Muni riders, so perhaps someone on this forum will be the lucky one to snap a photo of Gav on Muni.

    So far, the only submission we have received is from last year’s Chronicle article in which Gavin momentarily boarded a bus. But we’re looking for current, authentic photos. Keep your eyes peeled, San Franciscans! We at Where’s Gavin are eager to give out the prizes.

  • I don’t really expect him to ride the bus. Why would he? I assume he likes to be to work on time (a major reason I don’t take Muni and bike instead : ) All that aside, I think it is time that we started demanding more public face time with our publicly elected officials. I have always wondered why the Mayor, supervisors, MTA directors, DPT people… don’t have neighborhood meetings on a monthly basis to hear from the people of the city. We elect them and then we don’t hold their feet to the fire enough by demanding that they talk to us on our turf.

    Gavin would find out pretty fast that most San Franciscan’s are not impressed with armored vehicles. I bet it would disappear pretty quick if he thought it would cost him his own city in gubernatorial votes!

  • marcos

    @Adrienne, First off, Newsom does not like to come to work and uses the SUV to be sure he can get away from City Hall quickly.

    the San Francisco elites have crafted a set of structures, media-based and governmental, which will guarantee that there will never be a politically significant confrontation against Newsom’s dissonances.

    The Chronicle, may it demise rapidly, stands as the Newspaper of Record and as an unpaid adjunct of Newsom’s political operation and San Francisco’s elites–and by elites I mean those who make the rest of us all low income–and to the large extent that their agenda and Newsom’s coincide, the Chronicle is there to plaster those press releases as the truth.

    Any public event held by Newsom will be scripted such that it is tightly controlled or that makes Newsom look reasonable in the face of the unwashed wild eyed rabble. There is no honest discussion possible with someone who feels he’s too powerful to have to stoop to that level.

    San Franciscans are the marks which have been had by Newsom, all they’re doing now is ensuring that they have succession and access to those fat contracts when Feinstein retires.



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