Arts and CultureSan Francisco

Election 2011: César Ascarrunz On Nightlife’s Downfall, 50 Years in the Mission and Otis Redding

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Well, it’s that time again. Another election year is already underway here in SF, and it already looks like it’s shaping up to be a corker. With everyone and that’s gonna be on the ballot, we thought it might help to help you get to know the contenders a little better. So, here’s the BAS 20 Questions With the Candidates 2011!

Next up,….

Name: César Asscarrunz

Age: 76

Occupation: Entrepreneur

Hometown: Potosí, Bolivia

Running for: Mayor of San Francisco

Where you’re at right now: (via e-mail) Working very hard to become the next Mayor.

Stephen Torres: Hey César Ascarrunz! Welcome to BAS Meet the Candidates! So, how long you lived in the city and where’s your hood?

César Ascarrunz: I have been living in San Francisco for over 50 years now, and I have lived mostly in and around the Mission District.

ST: What are the best/ worst aspects about living there?

CA: San Francisco is a beautiful place to live. The nightlife was spectacular. That is why I opened Cesar’s Palace (now Roccapulco). The city was a great place to work and have fun. But now, city politics and government corruption have made it impossible to enjoy the city.

ST: How do you get to work- Foot, bike, public transit or car?

CA: I drive and walk to most of my meetings.  I am lucky to live on the top of a hill overlooking our beautiful city, so if I am not driving, I am hiking up the hill getting my exercise!

ST: Muni. Is. Awful. Garage or salvage yard?

CA: Muni is broken and it affects San Francisco residents who need public transportation to be reliable for work and life. It needs to be changed and start working effectively for San Francisco again.

ST: If we elect you is there anything you can really do to help get a more dependable overnight transit, BART or otherwise?

CA: As a past Traffic Commissionaire [sic] I have experience and knowledge that will enable me to positively enhance public transportation.

ST: It’s pretty hard to make it as a “broke-ass” in this town, let alone find a place to live.  Do you think insane rents, requirements like making several times your rent or having a certain credit score to qualify for an apartment make living here feasible?

CA: I believe that rent is ridiculous in this city. It is becoming very hard to afford to live here as a student or single working person, that is why so many people and families are leaving the city.  One thing that we can do to change this is to better our economy and promote fiscal responsibility in government.  Doing this will create jobs and help to reduce the number of “broke-ass” individuals.  As Mayor I want to change this.

ST: Let’s say the house part doesn’t quite work.  When you’re homeless in this town, do you think you really ever can bounce back?

CA: San Francisco has many resources for the homeless population but it is not enough. I have always tried to help with fund raising through my business and personal endeavors to help our homeless population. More needs to be done so they can get back to living with respect and dignity.

ST: A lot of the homeless are queer kids that come here with pretty much nothing.  There isn’t even a hostel in the Castro. Groups like Dimensions, Lyric, etc. do what they can, but they are working on shoestrings. Is Castro Street or even the city itself capable of being not only a beacon, but also a sanctuary?

CA: Homeless and queer youth need a safe space. Many young people do not feel welcomed or have the resources to become productive citizens. More priority should be given to organizations dedicated to helping our youth, LGBT youth community and all young people.

ST: One group that hasn’t had any housing problems would be bedbugs.  Does the city have a contingency plan on this one?

CA: I am not sure, if there is not one already then I believe there should be one.

ST: Like a lot of people in town, I have Healthy SF.  Mostly okay, but some people are waiting up to a year to get really important screenings, tests, etc.  One nurse told me you can try to speed things up by going to the emergency room.  Universal health care is a critical asset in this town, no doubt, but should we be worried?

CA: Healthy San Franciscans is helpful for many but so that we do not lose this program [sic]. With all the deficit we need to change city government so that we are able to keep programs like these.

ST: Speaking of healing-  How long do you think before it’s possible to smoke a joint without having some kind of illness?

CA: I believe that marijuana should be decriminalized and then legalized. I will support measures that change the current laws.

ST: These 7×7 miles, seem to be getting a lot more square with every year that passes.

Other cities seem to have more of a handle on things like street fairs and nightlife.   Is the fun in the city destined to go the way of, say, the Eagle?

CA: Events have been getting cut because of the budget, deficit, and politics; there should be a change and fast. The city nightlife has always been near to my heart. I would like to see it be more vibrant like it once was.

ST: Diversity seems important to San Franciscans, but is it also endangered? Folks seem both pissed and scared.  Has this “Girl of the Golden West” forgotten who her people are?

CA: Yes. Diversity is dwindling because so many families have to flee the city because there are no jobs for them and affordable housing.

ST: Who’s your local hero?

CA: I can’t really say I have one.

ST: Every American city has deep-seeded, local subjects of debate, where one has to take a side.  What is your stance on the following: What is the best a) coffee; b) ice cream; c) cioppino; d) burrito; e) dim sum?

CA: Many places have very good variety, and that is what is great about San Francisco. So many places have so many good things. I can’t choose just one.

ST: What’s your favorite cheap bar? Your poison?

CA: Same as question 15. My favorite beer is Heineken.

ST: What’s your favorite cheap grub spot?

CA: I go La Paisa, a very good restaurant on Mission St. They are always very friendly to me and always serve great food for a good price.

ST: What’s important in San Francisco right now?

CA: I will take San Francisco to better days by cutting bloated city payroll, red tape, tax burden on hard-working individuals and businesses, and root out corruption

ST: Why  is San Francisco important right now?

CA: San Francisco is a very special city and it can be prosperous once again.

ST: People like to sing about this place a lot. Perfect San Francisco song:

CA: Otis ReddingSitting on the Dock of the Bay

Thanks for answering our twenty questions, César! Good luck in November!

 

 

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Stephen Torres - Threadbare-Fact Finder (Editor, San Francisco)

Stephen Torres - Threadbare-Fact Finder (Editor, San Francisco)

Stephen's early years were spent in a boxcar overlooking downtown Los Angeles. From there he moved around the state with his family before settling under the warm blanket of smog that covers suburban Southern California. Moving around led to his inability to stay in one place for very long, but San Francisco has been reeling him back in with its siren song since 1999.
By trade he pours booze, but likes to think he can write and does so occasionally for the SF Bay Guardian, Bold Italic and 7x7. He also likes to enjoy time spent in old eateries, bars and businesses that, by most standards, would have been condemned a long time ago.