Miraloma Life Online – October 2008

  • MPIC Fall Social/Political Event
  • Recognition
  • San Francisco Geology—A Walking Tour and Slide Presentation
  • Design Matters
  • NERT News
  • Miraloma Clubhouse Improvements
  • Prepare for Winter Rains
  • November Ballot Measures (Part II)
  • Legal Ease
  • Safety in Numbers
  • Give Coyotes the Franchise!
  • Got Those Ballpark Blues

MPIC Fall Social/Political Event

by Jim O’Donnell

Your Miraloma Park Improvement Club is putting on another Fall event, only this time it will feature the most volatile ballot issues for the November election! We were going to have a candidate’s forum for District 7 supervisorial candidates, but it looks as though there is not much competition for incumbent Sean Elsbernd. He will be on hand to answer questions and explain his position on several ballot issues. We will have other representatives of the ballot issues to shed light on these sometimes difficult to discern measures. There will be light refreshments (including cheese and wine) for the usual greet-and-meet. If you are new to the neighborhood, this is your opportunity to see what your  neighborhood association is up to, in a  friendly and relaxed atmosphere as well as meet your representative in City Hall, Supervisor Sean Elsbernd .

If you are not familiar with the location of the MPIC club, you  see the Clubhouse every time you drive along ’Shaughnessy. It is the quaint green building at Del Vale with the parking lot. The MPIC offers the clubhouse for rental, and any of you have had events here in the past. Hundreds of local residents are members of the Miraloma Park Improvement Club, and of course, you are all invited to come to this Fall social tradition of the neighborhood. The ballot issues with substantial support and opposition — center on a predictable list of issues: the affordable housing set-aside (Proposition B), the periphrastically-entitled energy initiative (Proposition H), and decriminalization of prostitution (Proposition K).

So join us Sunday, October 19, 3-5PM in the afternoon at the Clubhouse, and bring your questions for your supervisor or the ballot issues.

 

Recognition

On Wednesday, August 20, Emma Korntheuer, Maia Jones and Kira Luscher did some
community service by cleaning the stairs
between Myra and Bella Vista. The Miraloma
Park Improvement Club thanks and salutes
them for their outstanding service to our community

 

San Francisco Geology—A Walking Tour and Slide Presentation

by Dan Liberthson

Geologist Neil Fahy will conduct two introductions to San Francisco geology on Sunday, October 12: first, a geology walking tour of Glen Park starting behind the Glen Park Clubhouse near the tennis courts at 2 pm, and then a slide/lecture presentation at the MPIC Clubhouse at 350 O’Shaughnessy at Del Vale starting at 3:30 pm. During the hour-long walk, we will take a look at chert, the rock that forms Twin Peaks, Mount Davidson, Strawberry Hill, and Corona Heights, and also the erosion processes that have formed Glen Park. Those who want to go on the hike can meet at the Miraloma Park Improvement Club at O’Shaughnessy and Del Vale, parking in our lot, at 1:45 PM, and we will then carpool to the meeting site at 2 pm. Optionally, if you want to drive directly to the walking tour site, we will be meeting Neil behind the Glen Park clubhouse near the tennis courts (park on Elk or side streets and walk into Glen Park along the tennis courts).

After the hike, we will return to the Clubhouse for light refreshments and conversation, and then at 3:30 pm Neil will start an hour-long PowerPoint overview of San Francisco and SF Peninsula geology, entitled A Geologic Detective Looks at San Francisco.  A third generation Californian, Neil Fahy (pronounced “fay”) was born and raised in San Francisco, and completed his formal education in geology at the University of California at Berkeley. During World War II, he took his first cruise, which was to join the 15th Weather Squadron in the Philippines.  Neil had a huge impact on world history twice: first, when news of his birth reached the East Coast, Charles Lindbergh thought it best to immediately fly to the other side of the Atlantic; and second, when, during World War II, the Japanese received word that Neil was joining the Army Air Force, they surrendered unconditionally.

During 32 years at Chevron, Neil was part of the Geologic Staff and Computer Applications Department. With over forty publications to his credit, he is a Research Associate at the California Academy of Sciences  and was a member of their month-long 1998 expedition to Madagascar. Neil also has worked part-time as a naturalist in the Yosemite region (Camp Mather) and as a Ranger-Naturalist at Sequoia National Park. He has taught geology at the University of California Extension and geology and natural history in adult education classes.

 

Design Matters

Peter A. Zepponi, AIA – Architect

This is a monthly column addressing basic residential design and home improvement topics of interest to Miraloma Park residents. If you have a question or topic you’d like considered for a future article please send an email to: pazdesignmatters@aol.com or call 415.334.2868. www.zepponi-architects.com

Q: How do we find more space in our existing residence?
A:  Look at what you have and maximize its efficiency.

Even though most houses in San Francisco are relatively tight there is usually space to be found in the garage or basement. The first step in understanding your options is to understand a few (CBC 2007) Code basics. Here is an initial checklist of requirements that you’ll need to consider when planning habitable space.   The two main issues are windows and ceiling height. However if you do not meet one of the basic requirements, there is often a way to achieve it.

1) Natural Ventilation:  The minimum net openable area (i.e. window) to the outdoors needs to be 4% of the floor area being served.   Bathrooms require a mechanical exhaust fan. (sect. 1203.4)

2) Natural Light:  The minimum net glazed area (window glass excluding the frame) needs to be not less than 8% of the floor area being served.   Bathrooms do not require a window.   Notice that it is twice the ventilation requirement.  (sect. 1205.2)

3) Emergency Egress: Bedrooms require a minimum window opening size of 5.7 square feet (5.0 sq .ft for grade level rooms) with a clear width of not less than 20″ and a clear height not less than 24″. The finished sill height cannot be morethan 44″ above the floor.  (sect. 1026.2)

4) Room Width: Minimum width of a habitable room other than a kitchen is 7’-0″ in any plan direction. Bathrooms are not considered ‘habitable’ spaces.  (sect. 1208.1)

5) Ceiling Height: Occupiable spaces, habitable spaces, and corridors require a minimum clearance of 7’-6″.  Standard ceiling height is 8’-0’. Bathrooms, kitchens, storage rooms and laundry rooms can be 7’-0″minimum clearance. (sect. 1208.2)  There are exceptions for beams and sloped ceilings.

6) Parking: The City of San Francisco requires 1:1 parking. Every dwelling unit (residence) must have at least one completely screened off (garage) parking space 20 feet long by 8 feet wide.  The remaining garage space may be potentially infilled with habitable space.

7) Laundry:  Dryer exhaust vent ducts can be a maximum of 14 feet including 2 elbows (90 degree turns). Keep this in mind when considering adding or relocating your laundry room. If it is farther a booster fan needs to be installed.

8) Sewer lines: Is the proposed location above the existing sewer line? (large black iron pipe sloping toward the street) Toilets work on gravity drainage so you may need to install a sewage ejector pump if you install a toilet below your existing system.

9) Bathroom Minimums: 
Toilets: typically need a space 30″ wide x 54″ deep. (CPC 407.6)
Sinks: should have a space 30″ wide x 48″ deep although not specifically required for residences.

Showers: regardless of shape, must have a minimum finished interior floor area of 1,024 square inches and also be capable of encompassing a 30″ diameter circle. The minimum area and dimensions must be maintained to a point seventy (70″) inches above the floor drain. Therefore, the standard minimum shower is 32″x32″ or 30″x34-1/8″=1,024 square inches. Many closets are 30″ deep (CPC 411.7)

Habitable Space:  A space in building for living, sleeping, eating or cooking. Bathrooms, toilet rooms, closets, halls, storage or utility spaces and similar areas are not considered habitable space. (i.e. residences)

Occupiable Space:  A room or enclosed space designed for human occupancy in which individuals congregate for amusement, educational or similar purposes or in which occupants are engaged at labor and which is equipped with a means of egress, light and ventilation.   (i.e. commercial space)

Egress: An opening for going out. aka Exit.

* This column and its content are intended to be a source of general information. Applicability to your specific project should be verified.

 

NERT News

by Jed Lane, Miraloma Park / Mt Davison NERT Coordinator

October is the anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake. Neighborhood Emergency Response Teams across the city will gather at various locations to practice the skills they learn in the training. The Miraloma / Mt. Davidson team is going to work with others in our fire district at Aptos Playground, October 18 from 9am till 12:30.

This is the second year that we’ve done this format and it’s as if the event actually happened. The early arrivers set up the area, just as we will after a real event in Miraloma Playground’s ball field. The ICS system is followed and it has been quite a steep learning curve for many of us to understand the various levels and interactions. Earlier this year I took the time to get training from the Department of Homeland Security held at UCSF. I recognized the ICS as really management 101, but with a bureaucratic overlay and jargon. It is not as complicated as it seemed. Any way come and join the fun. We always have food, coffee and a good time. Not like the real thing in that respect.

There is a wonderful program going on as a combined effort of San Francisco SAFE and NERT. First SF SAFE is the police department’s community outreach organization. They do safety work in many areas but are most widely known for the Neighborhood Watch groups they facilitate. So we have SFPD and SFFD working together on a project to assure your safety after disaster strikes.

The program is called the Block Captain Program. The goal is to have at least one person on each block take on the task of mapping the block to know which house has elders, special need, family size etc. When the earth shakes the captain will be able to survey and know who is possibly missing or in need of help from NERT’s or first responders. One aspect that I think is brilliant is a set of four colored strips of plastic that are given to every house. After the earth stops shaking the people in the house can place one of the strips on the front window to signal that help is needed right away or later or that everything is OK.
NERTs are trained to first be safe during an earthquake and then be sure your family is safe. Only then do we go to the designated gathering place. The first task we do is check-in and report what we’ve seen as we came through the neighborhood. If there was a visual aid to know how people are inside the home without having to knock on every door it would speed up our response. Remember our response is focused on doing the greatest good for the most people.

Be safe – Be prepared – Get Trained

 

Miraloma Clubhouse Improvements

Having a community-owned center for meetings and social events makes Miraloma Park the envy of other community groups. Constructed in 1939, the building, like any 70 year old structure, needs continual care and attention. Now, you may have heard the rumor that repairs and improvements are expensive nowadays. Well, we can confirm it: the Club pays the upkeep and improvements to the Clubhouse primarily through your voluntary membership dues in the MPIC, along with advertising revenues from Miraloma Life and rentals of the Clubhouse for private functions.

In the past year we have replaced an old water heater with a more efficient one and installed a modern electrical service panel in place of the original fuse boxes. Thanks to the generosity of one of our Miraloma Park neighbors, the old “honky-tonk” piano was replaced by a compact but bright console. A major improvement facing us for some time has been the old pine floor in the foyer and main hall. After reviewing multiple options, the Board voted to install a hardwood floor as most compatible with the lodge-style architecture of the Clubhouse. For over a week a contractor installed new floor boards, sanded and finished them, while Board members removed the doors, trimmed sizes, adjusted hardware, and sanded away years of finger prints and stains. After removing a layer of dust over everything in the Clubhouse, the final result was outstanding. Please come to an event soon and see for yourself. Or better, rent the Clubhouse for your group or organization. Weekday workshops or retreats are some of our most popular events. A link to the Clubhouse Rental page is posted at www.miralomapark.org.

But there is more, much more, to be done. Our kitchen and bathrooms need to be modernized along with the old furnace and gas-log fireplace. The parking lot is asking to be repaved. High energy prices are almost demanding that the walls and ceiling be insulated. The Clubhouse, like the community itself, needs our attention and our affection to thrive. Right now we don’t have the funds for these, but with time and a few generous patrons, we hope to soon.

 

Prepare for Winter Rains

 
Many Miraloma Park homes have light wells, center patios and gutters that can become clogged by wind driven leaf/needle debris, bird’s nests, and even by roofing materials from adjacent recently roofed homes.  Fall is a good time to check and clear these rarely viewed areas of accumulated debris.
    
Failure to do so can result in water damage to your home, and the possibility of dry rot and mold (both expensive items to eradicate). A mesh type cover for the drain is a good idea to prevent plant and other material from getting into the drain, and to allow for easier cleaning.
     
Also check for rusted gutters and downspouts, particularly in light wells where an exceptionally heavy rain can cause your light well to fill with water, even with a clear drain (spoken from experience).  Take a look around the perimeter of your foundation, and exterior drains, to ensure that they are clear and adequate for heavy rain runoff.
     
Do you have any other tips to share with our Miraloma Park neighbors?  If so, please send them to jowhit @pacbell.net.

 

November Ballot Measures (Part II)

by Phil Laird

Last month’s summary of local ballot initiatives significant to Miraloma Park residents dealt with those that are potentially the most costly. This month we consider others, less costly but with implications for the future of the city.

Measure D: Pier 70 Waterfront Development Plan. The Pier 70 redevelopment question is as complex as any issue in this City, and explaining all the angles would take more space than this entire newsletter. Briefly, Pier 70 is a 65-acre site south of Mission Bay and east of Potrero Hill. Owned by the Port of San Francisco, the area has an active ship-repair industry, a vibrant arts community, great historical and architectural significance, even greater potential for commercial development, and major financial challenges for addressing the environmental, seismic, and infrastructure problems. For years the City has been struggling with how to redevelop this area. Recent plans to close the dirty Mirant power plant raised hopes that property values would increase and thereby make the area attractive to private developers. But plans have changed, and the Mirant plant is now expected to be partially closed and partially refurbished. 

This measure facilitates funding for cleanup and infrastructure upgrades through bonds, taxes, and general-fund revenues, but it gambles that increased property values will ultimately cover the costs. The Board of Supervisors (BOS) would be allowed to approve plans and financing even if projected twenty-year revenues cannot be shown to cover the costs. Politically the Mayor and the City Administration would be effectively removed from the decision process.

Measure F: All Scheduled City Elections in Even Numbered Years. Currently the mayor, sheriff, district attorney, city attorney, and treasurer are elected in odd-year cycles and the other city offices in even-year cycles. This measure puts everyone on an even-year cycle, and awards a five-year term to the next mayor in order to align the terms. Advantage: increased participation in local contests because of higher turn-out for state and national elections. Disadvantage: local office elections tend to be drowned out by other contests.

Measure I:  Independent Ratepayer Advocate. This measure establishes a new office, the Office of Independent Ratepayer Advocate, to issue advice, opinions, and recommendations on PUC rate requests from the perspective of the ratepayer. The City Administrator (currently Ed Lee) is charged with appointing and staffing the office.  The office is purely advisory, but the measure is written so that it will be difficult to withhold information or to minimize and ignore its recommendations. Note that many municipalities and states (including California) have such a position in place to counter the lobbying power of the for-profit utilities on behalf of the rate payers. Also, this new office would cost money that will have to come from utility rates.

Measure K: Enforcement of Prostitution and Sex Worker Laws. This all but legalizes prostitution in SF by prohibiting authorities from spending money to investigate or prosecute prostitutes for engaging in prostitution. It also directs that federal and state funds for prostitution abatement be spent protecting sex workers from racial profiling, institutional violence, and discrimination.

Measure L: Funding the Community Justice Center. One of the Mayor’s pet projects, this establishes a special court to deal with quality-of-life offenses in the Tenderloin and SoMA areas, offering the option of compulsory treatment rather than jail for addiction-related offenses. The BOS initially opposed it on budgetary grounds but ultimately funded it as part of the budget compromise. So why is it on the ballot? Because at least one supervisor (Daly) has promised to eliminate it when the new Board convenes in January.

Measure P: Changing the Composition of the County Transportation Authority. The SFCTA (not the MTA, which is Muni) is the authority that administers tax revenues for transportation improvements established in 2003 under Proposition K. Among its responsibilities are ensuring traffic flow, air quality management, and on-time performance. It is studying “congestion pricing” as a means of reducing congestion and gridlock in the downtown area. This proposition changes the makeup of the SFCTA, replacing the Supervisors by a five-person committee consisting of the Mayor, the president of the BOS, and three other officials. Supervisor McGoldrick is livid that the Mayor reneged on their deal to remove each other’s propositions, his changing the makeup of the MTA and Newsom’s changing the makeup of the SFCTA. Ultimately this is about power to appoint members to this board.

Measure S: Identifying Funds for Budget Set-Asides. This is an ordinance submitted by the Mayor stipulating that voter-approved set-asides and other mandated spending must identify a new funding source for the program, and that the growth and duration of the program be limited. The measure notes that, of $6B in voter set-asides for FY 2007-08, only about $2.8M of general fund money was allocated to pay for them. This measure specifies that “voters will not approve” set-asides, cost-of-living adjustments or other changes to existing set-asides by more than 2% or any that does not expire within 10 years. What “voters will not approve” means and how it will be enforced is not clear. This measure is an effort to reduce the annual multi-million-dollar gap that plagues the budget every year.

Measure T: Free and Low-Cost Substance Abuse Treatment. Requires the Department of Public Health (DPH) to provide a level of free and low-cost medical substance abuse treatment to serve everyone demanding it. DPH must report to the BOS each year documenting the need and that it is fulfilling that need. No provision is given for funding this requirement.
The list of all local measures and their texts is online at http://www.sfgov.org/site/elections_page.asp. Finally, here’s a snapshot of where this bloated ballot comes from. Voters will weigh in on twenty-two San Francisco measures (along with twelve state measures and elections for national, state, and local candidates). Of these, the Mayor sponsored three, the Supervisors 14, private interests 3, and the Mayor and Supervisors conjointly 2. Of the Supervisor-sponsored measures, Chris Daly is the principal sponsor of 4 and Jake McGoldrick the principal sponsor of  3.
                        
Nine measures would change the charter (the City’s constitution), ten would become ordinances, one is a bond measure, and two are policy declarations. Is this a sound process for managing a large city: asking the voters to make twenty-two decisions about millions of dollars, complex planning decisions, and San Francisco’s foreign policy? It appears that our Mayor and Supervisors see their job descriptions as primarily writing ballot propositions.

 

Legal Ease

by Mary Catherine Wiederhold, Esq.

This column will discuss the actual small claims court process, and the final column in this series will discuss appealing a small claims court decision.
 
After filling out the forms for small claims court, if you are suing, you must pay the fee and file them at the San Francisco Superior Court.  Then you, the plaintiff, must deliver a copy of your completed forms to the person being sued, the defendant.  The delivery must be done by someone other than yourself and it must be done at least fifteen days before your case is heard if the defendant lives in San Francisco.  If the defendant lives outside of San Francisco, then they must be served at least twenty days before the hearing date.  The proof of service, a signed statement the defendant was served, must then be filed at the Superior Court at least five days before the hearing.  The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department will serve court papers for a fee.  If you win the case, you are entitled to recoup the cost.

Prepare for the hearing by gathering any evidence you need that will help the judge understand your case.  This evidence may include any written contracts, receipts, letters, or other documents.  If possible, bring originals rather than copies of documents.  Before you go to court, write out a statement of the facts and know which documents you will be presenting to the judge and why.  Ask yourself, “What is the most important point of my case?”  The purpose of your statement is to give the judge a clear picture of why you are in small claims court and what you want from the defendant.  Do not read from the statement, but present your case in a clear and effective manner.
 
Arrive at the courtroom at least fifteen minutes before your scheduled hearing and check in with the clerk when you arrive.  Before the hearing, the clerk will explain the rules and procedures.  Everyone who participates in the hearing will be asked to take an oath promising to tell the truth.  When the judge is ready to hear your case, the clerk will call the names of all parties in the case.  You, the other party and any witnesses will then go forward to the table in front of the judge.  The judge will usually ask the plaintiff to tell her side first.  Usually you will have only a few minutes to explain your side of the dispute and answer any of the judges questions, so be certain to present your most important points first.  Tell the judge you want to show her your documents, and the bailiff will give them to the judge for her review.  Answer the judge’s questions if she asks you any.  If you do not understand the question, say so.  Remember that the judge needs to apply the law to your set of facts, and she may be thinking about laws that you do not know about.  If the judge asks the defendant questions to explain his side of the dispute, do not interrupt, even if you disagree with what is being said.  Make a note to yourself and raise that point when the judge gives you an opportunity to respond. 

After hearing from the parties, the judge will usually think about the case, and you will be notified of the decision by mail. 
 

Safety in Numbers

by Jed Lane

There have been two incidents lately that caused me to think about community and the benefits of being in this community.  A few months ago the MPIC Safety Committee organized a Community Safety event. At the gathering one of our neighbors told a story about how he’d lived next to a rental property and had suffered for ten years with a string of bad tenants. TEN years is too long to suffer. Finally he contacted a member of the Board of Directors because he believed that there was illegal activity going on at the property. The board advised and helped him and within months the tenant was gone and the owner sold the property. I hope the owner has reinvested his capital gains and is getting more income than the rental was generating but that isn’t the point of this article.

More recently I was notified, as a MPIC Board member of a recommended route change of the 36 Teresita being put forward by the Transit Effectiveness Program (TEP). The recommendation contained one part that was going to have a huge impact on the quality of life for my neighbors along the Bella Vista corridor. The Bella Vista corridor consists of Bella Vista and the blocks that run off it ( Arroyo, Gaviota, Sequoia, Dorcas, Molimo and Cresta Vista).  Bella Vista is a feeder street to Teresita and it also is used by many along the south side of Mt. Davidson because of the connection  that will get you to Yerba Buena. 

When the MUNI route change became known a few of us mobilized and let everyone along the route know what was being planned. In making the initial calls to the TEP I was asked who I represented. I responded the Bella Vista Neighbors in Action (BVNIA), one of the names being discussed. It seems that an individual opinion is more important when it’s part of something larger.  As it turned out the TEP had closed off public comment and the only opportunity the public would have to stop a bus line being put onto a street that already had too much traffic was to speak before the Board of the MTA at a public comment session. We would be given either one minute or two to express all the reasons why the recommendation was a bad idea. Only one or two minutes to speak and try to be heard amongst the multitude of other comments being give on other line changes. The few came up with a plan and we carried the message to our neighbors and the few grew. We’ve made an impression on the SFMTA Board and through continued community effort we hope to prevail. We have made our own recommendation and believe that the Board will ask our recommendation be studied along with the TEP recommendation. One thing we know is we will have a seat at the table during discussions on the findings and not be blindsided again.

When we started organizing opposition to the route change we scheduled a meeting to discuss the issue.  Twenty-five people came to the meeting.  I was most moved that these people had lived within two blocks of each other and didn’t know each other. When people are brought together for common cause they find benefit from the association. I know this from my work with Neighborhood Watch groups and NERT. I have seen it across the city in groups that have changed neighborhoods after just starting as watch groups. When I had a listing on Los Palmos at Forester I’d see neighbors standing and talking to each other. They had come together over a garden project that is still strong but the feeling on neighborliness was a benefit to the family that bought the home. They and their son’s were greeted and became part of a group. I’ve been welcomed into their group, I’ve worked on the garden and shared meals and made some good friends.

In Miraloma Park we’ve benefited from the work of the Improvement Club since its inception in the 1930’s. It was instrumental in getting the bus, building the school and providing opportunity to gather. They’ve worked  to maintain the character of this neighborhood which was designed along the guidelines of the City Beautiful model of Daniel Burnham. City neighborhoods before were crowded and noisy. These 2,200 homes have the benefit of an overall design meant to foster quiet and peaceful residence. We can maintain the design by working together.  We cannot suffer from fear or isolation. We have a neighborhood and we can have a community if we get to know each other.

Not all of the property owners, rental property owners or tenants cause problems. If you live next to a problem resident contact the MPIC and let us know. Don’t feel isolated and alone, you are not alone. If you have an issue with City Hall or any other bureaucracy where they ask you who you represent, one voice counts for more if it speaks for many, contact the board. If we can help we will.

 

Give Coyotes the Franchise!

Dear readers, our estimable canid has been as good as his word—his latest missive—this time making its appearance as the crumpled plaything of two kittens lately come into my household—makes only one negative reference to owls and none about editors, and his great pique seems, thankfully, abated. But apparently he has been energized by a new mission and an original message, as you will gather from the following clawed and mangled screed,offered to me by one very indignant kitten who had just wrested it from another, and looked quite shocked at the content. I think it nothing less than revolutionary, apt to bring about the profoundest change in our political system, which, given past performance, could only be for the better. -Ed

My fellow Miralomans, I must regretfully inform you of a grave injustice to your animal brethren. My request to have my name entered in the rolls as a presidential candidate has been denied. Not on the basis of any lack of ability or qualification, nor because of any personal lapse or moral turpitude on my part, nor on account of a violation of electoral regulations, intended or unintended. My dear neighbors, I have been denied the opportunity to compete fairly in our electoral process for one reason only, because I have four feet and because my language and culture are different. That I prefer a melodious and expressive howl or eloquent yipping to the yackyackyack of most politicians, that I can proceed faster and with more grace on all fours than any human can on foot, and most emphatically, that I am not human—will these accidents of birth disquality me from leading this great nation? This is a travesty of our democratic traditions—should not the right to pursue happiness and serve the common weal be available to four-legged creatures as well as bipeds? Indeed, if a qualified 3-legged or 99-legged individual should come forth, should not that being, as sacred as any of us, have the opportunity both to lead and to vote for our leaders?

 I come from a distinguished family of trackers and predators with an honorable history of public service. My ancestors dwelt in this land long before the Mayflower ever landed, and we know its ways and its requirements far better than any blue-blood. Just look at the record, neighbors, and then answer me truthfully, who has screwed up your life more in the last 10, 20, or even 50 years, coyotekind or humankind—i.e., politicians? If you are not a professional self-deceiver, you must acknowledge that coyotes, in fact all quadrupeds, have done far less harm to you than your elected officials. And furthermore, I, W. Coyote, Esq., have on many occasions saved the neighborhood from imminent threats: don’t forget the rampage of the goats that I narrowly diverted from your streets, the sordid plot of the raccoons to subvert the social structure and eat everyone out of house and home that I stopped by eating same on your behalf, the menace of the squirrels, who planned to hypnotize your dogs and turn them against you (why else do your dogs bark whenever a squirrel appears?), the owls who lulled you into false security with their deceptive promises of vigilance, and then flew the coop and left you unguarded—from all these hazards and more I have saved you.

My motto has always been “First, do no harm, and then do a bunch of good.” And my reward for so virtuous a life is—an application stamped “denied. Should I not be allowed to stand for office? Should not my kind be empowered to vote for their leader? The answer is indisputable: YES! Vote the Coyote ticket, and, finally, happy days will come again.

Your most humble servant,
 M. Coyote, Esq.

 

Got Those Ballpark Blues

Hitters get scythed by their own bats,
runners stumble as in gopher holes,
our line-drives slam into their mitts
like berry-drunk birds into window panes,
our clean-up man’s entranced (streeek three!)
paralyzed like a bronze statue
by lust for a break-out slam,
and when we finally work a walk—
double-play, the purest cruelty, kills
hope just as it starts to grow, whacks
the sprouting dream before it fruits.

Our guy’s two-strike pitches, low and
curved like beauty smiling open-lipped
are brutally murdered back up the middle.
Their foul tips skitter free,
ours buzz and die in the web.
Their pop-ups navigate beyond reach,
ours sail into gaping mitts.

The sun eats high flies and spews down
flaming meteorites to blind our fielders
who flail as if fending off vultures.
Umpires with the vision of rhinoceri
and every bit as ignorant and stubborn
charge around the field blowing calls
their way.

One of us must surely be a Jonah,
running from some sacred calling:
why else such misery? Find him,
throw him over! Trade the bum
and let him wreck some other team
or send him down until he lands
in a one-horse town
and never sees Double-A again.

Did someone hang his cap up backward,
open a gum pack from the wrong end,
lose the wad he chewed hitting that homerun
when his kid picked it off the headboard
and fed it to the schnauzer on the bed,
let his wife wash his lucky underwear,
forget to sign the cross before batting,
tie his shoes in the wrong sequence,
lose the only glove he’s ever loved,
sit on the wrong side of the plane,
shave or not shave (either way we’re screwed)?

Because dammit all there’s got to be some reason
we’ve been stuck in this slump the whole season.
©2008, Dan Liberthson, from “The Pitch is on the Way: Poems About Baseball and Life” (for more, visit “Liberthson.com”)