Today was Call The Mayor Day, in which concerned San Franciscans joined together to call Mayor Newsom en masse (for more on the impetus behind the event, see here), after installing a working phone booth in front of City Hall. Mike Farrah, Mayor Newsom’s Senior Advisor, came outside to speak with the group directly.

I also asked Farrah for more details from reports of property seizures from venues as well as shakedowns and threats. He reminded me that the California ABC is a state institution, and ultimately the instructions are handed out at a state level. “Unfortunately when you have things like what happened (Sunday) night, shootings, it makes things harder.”

Ok, but I’m talking about music venues. What about our city’s cultural institutions of musical art, is it necessary to fine the Great American Music Hall and threaten to take their property simply because they are selling french fries instead of tacos? Can’t we protect our music venues from unreasonable expectations from venues that are clearly not in existence to sell food but instead to show art?

Farrah nodded his head. He says been dealing with this for many years, and came outside to speak publicly with anyone from the SF Entertainment Commission who might come down to City Hall. Before returning inside, Mike Farrah answered our long winded question about the music venues specifically.

“I agree that these are different institutions and a crucial part of our rich entertainment culture in San Francisco, but unfortunately this is politics, and so all the clubs and the music venues are treated as one and the same. It’s definitely a problem. I came out here to talk, because it’s extremely complicated.”

He’s right. This is politics, but it’s not clear whether the Entertainment Commission knows how to participate, as nobody from their organization showed up – at least not while we were there. And Farrah is busy, so he went back inside.

Thankfully, without people there are no politics, and all politics is local. Ani Niow, registered voter from SF District 6, built a working phone booth from scratch, using office supplies, an old phone, VOIP and EVDO. Making a call to Mayor Gavin Newsom from across city hall has never been so easy. Until 8pm, anyone can walk up and call Mayor Newsom all day today, across from his office.

In addition, more than 300 participants on facebook involved themselves with the Call The Mayor event page, exchanging links, posting on the wall, and sharing the phone number.

“We hope to do this every month, for this and other artist issues” says Ani, “it’s really simple.”

Mayor Gavin Newsom: 415-554-7111

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