November's Leo Girls:
THOCBDC supports Proposition K.
San Francisco's Prostitutes Support a Proposition
By JESSE McKINLEY
SAN FRANCISCO – When Proposition K was added to Tuesday's ballot, many people likely snickered at the possibility that San Francisco might take its place alongside such prostitute-friendly havens as Amsterdam and a few rural counties in nearby Nevada.
But this week, it became readily apparent that city officials are not laughing anymore about the measure, which would effectively decriminalize the world's oldest profession in San Francisco.
"This is not cute. This is not fanciful," Mr. Newsom said, standing in front of the pink-on-pink facade of a closed massage parlor in the Tenderloin district. "This is a big mistake."
Supporters of the measure say it is a long-overdue correction of a criminal approach toward prostitutes, which neither rehabilitates nor helps them, and often ignores their complaints of abuse.
"Basically, if you feel that you're a criminal, it can be used against you," said Carol Leigh, who says she has worked as a prostitute for 35 years and now works as an advocate for those who trade sex for money. "It's a really serious situation, and ending this criminalization is the only solution I see to protect these other women working now."
The language in Proposition K is far-reaching. It would forbid the city police from using any resources to investigate or prosecute people who engage in prostitution. It would also bar financing for a "first offender" program for prostitutes and their clients or for mandatory "re-education programs."
One of the measure's broadest prohibitions would prevent the city from applying for federal or state grants that use "racial profiling" in anti-prostitution efforts, an apparent reference to raids seeking illegal immigrants.
The fight over the ballot initiative has become an awkward test of San Francisco's dual attitudes of live-and-let-live and save-the-world. In the campaign's closing days, the rhetoric on both sides has heated up.
Proposition K, they say, will increase safety for women, save taxpayer money, and cut down on the number of murders of prostitutes at the hands of serial killers.
But opponents dismiss the notion of legions of prostitutes happily romping through the city's neighborhoods. "This isn't 'Pretty Woman,' " was how one put it.
Anti-Proposition K forces paint grim pictures of girls and women from across the country held against their will in dark and dangerous brothels here, forced into unsafe sexual behavior, and often beaten, intimidated and raped.
"You're going to have young girls recruited and brought to San Francisco, and they are going to be standing on these corners," said Norma Hotaling, the founder and director of Standing Against Global Exploitation, an outreach project here. "And there's not going to be any services for them to go to, and the police are not going to have any means of investigating the cases."
The measure seems particularly abhorrent to San Francisco's district attorney, Kamala D. Harris, who has made fighting human trafficking a priority.
"I think it's completely ridiculous, just in case there's any ambiguity about my position," Ms. Harris said. "It would put a welcome mat out for pimps and prostitutes to come on into San Francisco."
Central to Ms. Harris's objections is the theory that prostitution is a victimless crime. Instead, she said, it exposes prostitutes to drug, gun and sexual crimes, and "compromises the quality of life in a community."
She also dismisses the argument that prostitutes would be more likely to come forward if their business were not illegal.
"We're in the practice and habit of protecting victims, not criminalizing victims," Ms. Harris said, adding that she often reminds juries that the law protects people even if they are prostitutes or drug users. "Our penal code was not created just to protect Snow White," she said, noting that 65 percent of cases handled by her department's sexual assault unit involved sex workers as victims.
Officials with the State Attorney General's Office would not comment on the measure.
The city's Board of Supervisors, several of whom have expressed support for the measure in the past, would have the power to amend Proposition K if it passed. San Francisco, which has an exotic dancers' union and a well-established history of sexual freedom, is not the first liberal outpost to mull legalizing prostitution. A decriminalization bill was defeated by voters in Berkeley, Calif., in 2004.
Heidi Machen, a spokeswoman for the opposition, said her side was hoping for a solid defeat. "We want this to fail by a landslide," she said. "So it doesn't come back."
A local CBS poll released Thursday found that 35 percent of likely voters supported the measure, while 39 percent were opposed. But 26 percent were still undecided.
On Thursday night, about 50 supporters of the measure gathered at a church to press their case. One of them, Patricia West, 22, said she has been working for about a year as an "independent, in-call escort."
Ms. West said that she enjoyed her work and believed that Proposition K would allow prostitutes to organize into collectives and negotiate for safer working conditions and better wages.
Ms. West concedes that what she does for a living "can be dangerous." But she hoped Proposition K would make her occupation safer and more legitimate. "Working in a coal mine can be really dangerous, too," she said "but it pays a lot of money so you're compensated for your risk."
PS: The Athenee Residence opened a new exit. Also, there is a newly opened entrance but I didn't have my camera ready when I went in.
"The Three Faces of Eve" ... I mean "Bee". And what is she up to with the fourth face? Where can this woman be going? Some of you already know.
If there is another life I want to come back as a cartoonist.
I am such a pack rat; also a terrible procrastinator.
In the nearly nine years that I have lived in Bangkok the only things that I think that I have actually thrown away are things that have begun to rot. Old dead computers? No, they don't smell, just stick them in a drawer or pile them on top of one another. How about old useless mouse controls (mice?). Keep 'em; who knows when they might come in handy.
But, since we'll be moving very soon I have been forced to turn my old office into an enemy battleground. I am now taking 'lives' right and left and coffining them in boxes. Of course this means that my very alive MacBook has taken over our dining room table ... requiring that we have to repair each night to the Shangri-La's Next2 for dinner. Sigh ... life in the trenches!
While I was having a Spanish Omelet at a little restaurant by the Chao Praya River this afternoon a sea monster swam past. He (she) ignored my omelet as it had its eyes fixed on the employees of the nearby Sheraton Riverside Hotel. This prompted an immediate evacuation from the hotel of all of its staff.
PS: Of course, now the biggest question for Americans today is: "Will Levi now back out of his promise to make Bristol an honest woman?".
This is amazing! In 2000 and in 2004 none of my Thai friends said anything positive about the election of W to the presidency. But, yesterday and today almost every Thai that I have spoken with has congratulated the US for electing Obama as the 44th president. It is a really good feeling. I genuinely feel proud.
Right now I wish we had the British 'movers' system: in the UK when a new PM is elected the moving vans pull up to #10 Downing Street and all the stuff of the defeated PM is packed up and dispatched to wherever. In the US the old president gets to linger around the White House for an additional 11 weeks before he has to empty his drawers and closets. Wouldn't it be wonderful if right now W and his lousy stuff was on the dusty road back to Crawford?
The Princess today opened the Food Carnival at River City. I like her cars....and her parking place. I parked at the adjacent hotel.
The girls treated themselves to an Issan buffet followed by pedicures.
Which is more boring ... curtains or a laundry room?
A few weeks ago Watcharee asked a monk as to when would be an auspicious day to 'open' our new condo: he replied "at 9:09 AM on November 10". So, this morning Watcharee, Rung and I visited Athenee Residence and at exactly 9:09 AM Watcharee began praying before the Buddha (*) located in Watcharee's new office. Rice and water were offered to him and large unopened containers of water and rice were left in the room to ensure prosperity for the property. At 9:39 AM a plate of 9 fruits, 9 flowers, 9 candies and 9 eggs was laid on our porch and more prayers were offered.
(*) Before the prayers began, gold leaf was applied to the Buddha.
Next: Part II