For a while it looked like District 9 Supervisor David Campos would sail through re-election without any serious competition, but now a Mission blogger has made the race a bit more interesting.
Kevin Montgomery, the editor of Uptown Almanac, which was voted Best Hipster Blog by SF Weekly in 2010, posted a Herman Cain-like video challenging Campos.
In the two-minute video spoof, posted on Uptown Almanac at 11 p.m. on April 1, Montgomery goes after Campos’ track record on the installation of cellphone antennas.
“The cell and wireless coverage in District 9 is a joke,” Montgomery said in an email. “As cities such as San Jose and Ponca City, Oklahoma, are building public wifi networks, parts of San Francisco continue to be stuck in the proverbial Dark Ages. And this isn’t just Dolores Park I’m talking about — this is 16th Street, most of 24th, the back of Taqueria Cancun. Walk into any old building in San Francisco, and it’s a dice roll if your phone will still have service.”
Are you serious?
“The only joke about this campaign is my opponent’s record. I really care about this neighborhood, and I really want to make a difference. We have to do better than Campos,” Montgomery said.
Montgomery, who lives in the Mission and works at a startup, told Mission Loc@l that he wants to make sure he is not redistricted out of District 9 before he officially files the necessary paperwork with the city. The only official challenger so far is Campos’ former intern, Benjamin Castaneda, 23, who lives on 24th Street.
Specifically, Montgomery takes issue with a 2010 decision by the Board of Supervisors to deny American Tower in Bernal Heights permission to install five Internet switch antennas.
The proposed dish antennas would have provided better coverage to the laptops and phones of Clearwire customers (Sprint has a 54 percent ownership stake) in five neighborhoods, including the Mission, Mission Dolores, the Excelsior and Silver Terrace.
“Some crazies thought we were going to get zapped with cancer rays and blocked a plan that could have made our phones faster,” Montgomery says in the video as he takes a bite out of a Taqueria Cancun burrito. “Neighbors, this is indicative of the politics of supervisor David Campos. We live in one of the most tech-forward districts in the most tech-powered economy in the country, yet we have a supervisor completely clueless on how we interact and do businesses.”
Neighbors in Bernal Heights were mainly concerned about the potential health risks associated with the antennas. However, because the FCC sets the standards by which antennas are approved, the Board of Supervisors cannot take health risks into consideration.
Instead, the Board took issue with American Tower’s failure to meet the maintenance requirements laid out in the 2009 T-Mobile conditional use permit. Those included landscaping, keeping the tower graffiti-free and adding proper fencing.
“So what bothered me so much about the Clearwire situation is we had a company who wanted to invest in improving the wireless infrastructure in the Mission and Bernal Heights and David Campos said no,” Montgomery wrote. “Then, to make matters worse, months later Supervisor Campos supported and helped pass a bill that makes it even harder for companies to improve our coverage in the future. To me, this is indicative of the backward thinking that pollutes our city’s government.”
For his part, Campos told the Bernalwood blog in 2010 that he knows poor reception is a problem, but “a better approach is to take a comprehensive look at this, as a way to improve service. I hope that happens down the road.”
Jokes aside, this is one issue some folks in the tech community take very seriously.
The editor of the Bernalwood blog, Todd Lappin, has said that one of the main reasons he launched Bernalwood in 2010 was to combat misinformation associated with the installation of cellphone antennas.
“All it takes to kill an effort to provide Bernal Heights and our surrounding neighborhoods with some 21st-century wireless technology is a group of addled NIMBYs and a thin veneer of recently applied graffiti. But, improving service requires a master plan. Which may get written. After some research. Someday. Perhaps,” Lappin wrote in a post.
Monkey Brains, a Mission-based Internet service provider, lobbied mayoral candidates last year to allow the company to micro-trench and install fiber throughout the neighborhood.
It remains to be seen if Montgomery will go through with this campaign, but a group of Twitter personalities are already loudly backing him.
Stranger things have happened. Chicken John Rinaldi, an absurdist local personality, ran for mayor unsuccessfully in 2007. And who could forget Dead Kennedy’s front man Jello Biafra’s unsuccessful run in 1979?