Absence of M.Alice

By Gilbert Garcia

Considering that it was billed as a Mayoral and District 1 candidate forum, Tuesday night's North Shearer Hills Neighborhood Association gathering featured a rather skimpy collection of office seekers.

Only Diane Cibrian and Sheila McNeil showed up among the mayoral contenders, and even Cibrian had to leave after a few minutes because of another obligation. And District 1 insurgent Chris Forbrich was left to debate himself. In fairness, Julian Castro did send a surrogate who explained that the mayoral frontrunner was taking family time after the March 14 birth of his daughter, and planned to resume campaigning the next day.

The absence of District 1 Councilwoman Mary Alice Cisneros was harder to explain, and, apparently for many of the neighborhood activisits in the crowd, harder to accept.

Neighborhood Association President Mary Alice Ramsay announced that both candidates had been invited and both promised they would make it, "but Mary Alice Cisneros is not here." An elderly man in the audience shot back: "As usual."

it was a bad sign for Cisneros that the crowd laughed knowingly when Forbrich told them he wanted District 1 to have a Council rep who returns their phone calls.

Toward the end of the event, Choco Meza, Cisneros' longtime friend and supporter, emerged from the audience and asked to say a few words on the incumbent's behalf. "I can assure you that as long as I've known her, being irresponsible is not part of her trait," Meza said. Meza disputed the assertion of an audience member that Cisneros "spends her time with celebrities," crediting Cisneros with fighting to shut down topless bars Club Babylon and Extreme. "I can tell you unequivocally," she said, "that Mary Alice Cisneros does not sit on her laurels."

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