These are dark days at City Hall. For one thing, the City Council has the week off, or in its vernacular, a "legislative recess" in which its members presumably meet with constituents to discuss important issues of the day. For some, however, it will no doubt be parties, parties and yet more parties as Super Bowl fever takes hold.
With budget woes lurking, it should come as no surprise that our elected leaders are spending this week schmoozing and boozing (save for the teetotalers) with some major business and political heavyweights who annually are drawn to the 800-pound gorilla of sporting events.
Mayor Dick "10Goals" Murphy authorized the release of his calendar for the week, and it reads like the itinerary of a Hollywood mogul. It also exceeds his favorite number (10) by 4, suggesting that he may be amenable to tending to more than 10 things at once. Of the 14 items on his To Do list this week, a whopping two are press conferences-one for a youth-education center and the other for a low-income neighborhood revitalization group. Parties and galas take up another six of the mayor's Super-Bowl-week calendar slots, including two with the visiting media-although at press time Murphy was uncertain about attending Tuesday night's international media party. Apparently, running for world leader is not in the immediate cards.
As gleaned from reports this week, the Super Bowl can turn political leaders into glassy-eyed children. When it comes to politicians, tickets to the Big Game are traditionally handed out like Chiclets. Bowl sponsors, too, reap those benefits, although as local Common Cause co-chairman Stanley Imber told CityBeat, that is not as distasteful as local leaders and their staff ponying up to pay face value for $400 and $500 tickets.
"I hadn't thought of the question until you raised it, but I've come down to this: I really do think that that's a bit different. I really think that there is a tradition of newspapers getting tickets or passes," Imber said. "I don't really think it affects the coverage of news and how it's presented."
Fair enough, although it's unlikely that those covering the game-the sportswriters-will be the recipients of the tickets. No, those will likely be going to various executives and management types who do have an influence on news coverage, particularly what type of light is shed on a host of issues, including the Chargers' new-stadium proposal.
Onto a more salient topic: In honor of the eminent Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a reprise of some of his poignant thoughts 35 years ago in his "Beyond Vietnam" speech in New York-as relevant today as then:
"These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression, and out of the wounds of a frail world new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. We in the West must support these revolutions.
"It is a sad fact that because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries.... Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes-hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores, and thereby speed the day when every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.
"A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies....
"We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood-it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, "Too late.' There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. Omar Khayyam is right: "The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on.'
"We still ha ve a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality and strength without sight."