Chris Daly: Punk progressive
In a letter to the SF Examiner in 2003, I tried to define Supervisor Chris Daly politically:
Chris Daly is what I call a “punk progressive.” Being a Punk Progressive means never having to say you are sorry or wrong---about breaking windows during “peace” demonstrations, creating a monthly traffic jam downtown (Critical Mass), or throwing pies at public figures you don’t like.
Not bad for a first try. For all-around obnoxious political behavior, Daly is in a class by himself. At the Board of Supervisors' meeting Tuesday, after pandering to 25 "activists" and disrupting a board meeting, Daly explained his behavior: "I was losing a vote and I did what I needed to win the vote." ("Supervisors Vote to Keep Muni Fare Hike," SF Examiner, May 25, Justin Jouvenal) As it turned out, Daly lost the vote anyhow: "When it appeared the[Daly] motion was going to be defeated, Daly began cursing to an aide, 'F--k that! F--k that!'..."
Daly has always had a sense of righteousness that pushes him to extreme behavior and to berate those who disagree with him. Like Joe O'Donoghue, he practices a win-at-any-cost, scorched-earth brand of politics. And if you disagree with Daly, you are a simply stupid or immoral. It's all or nothing. Seven of the eleven supervisors voted against Daly's position on the Muni issue Tuesday; the other three should have voted against him, too, just to send him a message that his juvenile antics are not acceptable. Daly refuses to accept that his colleagues on the board are people of good will who can have differing views on issues. Or that they represent different parts of the city with different political demographics.
Daly has a serious problem with the means-and-ends issue: At what point do the means become self-defeating and do more damage than good? His appointment several years ago of Adam Werbach to the PUC when he sat in the Mayor's chair while Mayor Brown was out of the country showed the same confusion: He violated the process and the Mayor's trust for a small political advantage for his version of progressivism, with the means contaminating whatever good he thought he was achieving. (It didn't help any that fellow progressive Matt Gonzalez made a flabby statement at the time essentially endorsing Daly's action.)
And his behavior is especially goofy given the rather minor issue involved---raising the bus fare 25 cents and not raising parking fines and fees for motorists---not exactly a life-and-death issue.
Daly brings out the worst in other "activists," too: The Examiner's Marisa Lagos quotes a hyperbolic Richard Marquez: "They abandoned the progressive ideals that brought a majority of this board to office in 2000. It's a complete reversal of the gains poor and working people made in San Francisco in the last five years." Baloney! Parking tickets and fees were just raised last year, and even with the 25 cent fare increase---which will make the Muni fare $1.50---other cities still charge more to ride the bus. As Marisa Lagos told us in a story in February, Chicago bus riders pay $1.75; in New York they pay $2.00; and in Portland, Oregon, they pay $1.65.