Wednesday, July 29, 2009


YES! First, Don Fisher recognized that no way in hell was he going to be able to build his art museum as he wanted, where he wanted, on the heart of the historic Presidio. He packed up his marbles to play elsewhere. Thanks to the public for that - those hundreds who wrote letters and attended endless meetings.

Then, The National Park Service named Jon Jarvis to be the new head of the National Park Service in Washington. Jon has been a professional with great integrity to protect Park Service values. As the recent Superintendent of the Pacific West Region of the NPS, he was the head Smokey the Bear fighting against Trust projects that would impair the Presidio National Historic Landmark. It is wonderful to have him as the top man in Washington.

Today, July 29, the Secretary of the Interior named his designee to the Presidio Trust Board of Directors to replace Dave Grubb, the construction executive who now holds the key position as President of the Presidio Trust Board. The new Secretary of Interior appointee is John J. Jarvis, a very experienced high level retired Park Service professional who is deeply familiar with the Presidio situation. John Reynolds was at the Presidio when it was transferred from the Army to the Park Service. He rose to be the number two man in the Park Service. He has great judgment and skills working with the pubic - qualities that will help the Trust Board.

What does all this mean? To me, it means that the Park Service will no longer look the other way when the Trust wants to ruin the Presidio as a national park. There is a new sheriff in town. I also believe that these great developments could signal a new era of cooperation of the Presidio Trust, the National Park Service and the public to bring to reality the great promise that the Presidio has a wonderful national historic park.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Yes, Donald Fisher has finally realized that his vision is not going to happen to convert the Presidio's Main Post, which is the center of a National Historic Landmark, into a grand mall for his contemporary art museum . He is packing up his marbles to play his game somewhere else. Let's hope that he finds the right spot in San Francisco.

I believe that three things happened.

First over 3,000 official comments from the public were overwhelmingly opposed to the art museum as the wrong idea at the wrong place. The public respected the Presidio as a special place with a remarkable history.

Second, public voice gave political backup to the National Park Service, those people who wear funny Smokey the Bear hats. The Park Service devastated the Trust for its plans. The Park Service has a proud tradition carrying out its legal role to protect the nation's historic landmarks from well intentioned bad ideas. I'll thank every Smokey the bear I see for their courageous stand. After all, they had to oppose the Speaker of the House, who can cut their budget or blackball their promotions. Bravo, Park Service! Gutsy bureaucrats standing up for what they believe !

Third, comments submitted June 1 from historical organizations and neighborhood groups were very well prepared. In contrast to previous environmental reviews by the Trust, this time the public organizations understood the legal framework and played hardball instead of rolling over to be "partners" with the Trust. The Trust finally recognized that if this mess were presented in court, the courts would throw out the environmental review. It has been badly mismanaged. The Trust Board members did not want that kind of embarrassment.

The terms of fours of those people appointed by the White House to the Trust Board have expired. They serve only until replaced. They are the ones who wasted about five million dollars of your money on this fiasco. They forced about 12,000 hours of the public's time to be spent opposing their plans. They are the ones who have been tone deaf to public outrage. They are the ones who should be replaced if the Trust is to regain public confidence. Will Nancy Pelosi name people who are sensitive to public concerns and who value historical parks, or will she ask the President to appoint more of her real estate mogul Pacific Heights cronies who again will try to make the Presidio their private playground? How about an educator and a historian instead? Let Pelosi know who you want on the Presidio Trust Board: write her, call her office or e-mail.

The Big Bad CAMP is gone. Let's celebrate today and get back to work on the next steps at the Presidio tomorrow! No new hotel building. No movie theater. But, yes a real honest to God way to teach the public about America's history found at the Presidio.

What are your comments?