Friday, December 01, 2006

The party line from Party Party

Ted Strawser's SF Party Party parrots the SF progressive party line in the SF Bay Guardian this week (text below). Strawser and progressives are crowing about the mayor's "stunning defeat" at the ballot box last month, but that's mostly spin. Here's another way to interpret the election: Two of the mayor's political allies---Alioto-Pier and Bevan Dufty---on the Board of Supervisors were easily re-elected, and another potential ally, Ed Jew, was elected to the seat being vacated by Fiona Ma. One of Newsom's allies was elected to the school board, and Measure E, the parking tax hike he opposed, was defeated decisively by city voters. Some defeat for the mayor!

City progressivism of late is all about trying to find sticks with which to beat Mayor Newsom. Strawser's grasp falls mostly on straws, not sticks. Strawser wants Newsom to comply with Prop. I, which city voters passed last month, asking the mayor to appear once a month before the Board of Supervisors "to engage in formal policy discussions with members of the Board," much like how British Prime Ministers appear before the House of Commons. The measure is strictly advisory, and the mayor is free to ignore it if he chooses.
 
Strawser asks, "Will Newsom respect the mandate and comply with Prop. I?" Since the measure is advisory, city voters did not in fact "mandate" that the mayor comply. If the measure had been mandatory, voters probably wouldn't have approved it. In any event, progressives need to be careful how they treat the mayor if he does agree to participate in their dog and pony show. If Chris Daly, Tom Ammiano, and Ross Mirkarimi just use the occasion to play gotcha with the mayor, they will discredit city progressivism even more than it is already.
 
Strawser's other arguments:
 
"Newsom claims to care about the will of the voters. He cited the 'will of the voters' for vetoing a six-month trial of car-free space in Golden Gate Park---even though a trial has never been voted on."

This is phrased deceptively. Strawser knows that city voters voted down two ballot propositions in 2000 that would have closed the park to autos on Saturdays. That's what the mayor was referring to when he vetoed the Healthy Saturdays ordinance.
 
"The status quo is not working. The homicide rate, traffic deaths, and Muni service have gotten worse every year under the Newsom administration. Commissioners aren't being appointed on time, police reform is off track, promised low-income housing is delayed, all bicycle improvements are on hold, and our roads are falling apart. Popular public events such as the North Beach Jazz Fest are under attack by a city government that can't keep Halloween revelers safe. Meanwhile, the mayor focuses on political damage control related to his apparent loss of the 49ers in 2012 and the Olympics in 2016."
 
No one really knows what to do to stop gun homicides, which is a nationwide problem. The latest prog answer to gun violence is foot patrols by the SFPD, but that seems more like wishful thinking than a real solution. Bicycle improvements "on hold"? The mayor had little to do with that, since the Bicycle Plan was rushed through the process without environmental review by DPT, Planning, and the BOS, with a big boost by the SF Bicycle Coalition. He did sign off on it, so he bears some responsibility for the subsequent legal fiasco, but the primary blame rests elsewhere. The North Beach Jazz Fest was getting seriously out of control in large part because of liquor sales at the event. Again, the mayor is not responsible for the festival's problems. Nor is he or the SFPD culpable for the shootings at the Castro St. Halloween party. Short of patting down all 100,000 people who attended that function, how could it have been averted? Ditto on the 49ers decision to leave SF. They evidently blindsided the mayor with the decision, and the city's Olympics bid had to be cancelled, since it hinged on having a new stadium to stage the ceremonies and track and field events.
 
"Fare hikes and service cuts haven't solved Muni's problems, but Newsom sided with the local Republican Party in opposing Proposition E, which would have provided much-needed funding for Muni through an incremental increase in the car parking tax."
 
Republicans? City voters turned down Prop. E by more than a 2-1 margin; a lot of Democrats evidently agreed with the Republican Party. A possible interpretation of this vote: City voters are tired of all the anti-car policies coming out of a City Hall dominated by the SF Bicycle Coalition and their enablers in city government. Yes, Muni needs more money, but city voters evidently think it shouldn't come at the expense of drivers.
 
After lashing Mayor Newsom ineffectually with his fistful of straws, Strawser has some Polonius-like advice (below) for a victorious Bevan Dufty, who won by more than a 2-1 margin over Strawser's candidate, progressive Alix Rosenthal:

We hope you noticed, however, that you won without a single environmental endorsement and with opposition of key Women’s Rights Organizations and Tenants Organizations. The SF Sierra Club, SF Tomorrow, SF League of Conservation Voters, SF Bicycle Coalition, SF Green Party, SF NOW, SF Women’s Political Caucus, SF Bay Guardian, SF Tenants Union and Matt Gonzalez all opposed your re-election. You won with more than a third of your district telling you that you don’t share their vision. You won without the support of the Harvey Milk Club.
 
Dufty is probably thinking, "Who needs those assholes? I won easily without their endorsements!" Nor is it exactly an impressive demonstration of the influence of these groups on city politics.
 
Strawser ends with a hollow threat: "We are going to take a break and see if your promises were all talk or if you are emerging as a potential partner to the progressives."

Woof, woof! If Dufty doesn't play ball with the city's fringe left, what are Strawser and his comrades at the Guardian going to do? He won easily without you. You and the fringe left have no political leverage over Bevan Dufty!

Newsom should comply with Prop. I
(SF Bay Guardian, Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2006)
By Ted Strawser

Much has been said about Mayor Gavin Newsom's stunning defeat at the ballot Nov. 7. Newsom's slate of endorsements went down in flames — from supervisorial candidates Rob Black and Doug Chan to the contenders he hoped would take control of the school board to a host of progressive ballot propositions, including worker sick leave and relocation assistance for evicted tenants. Every incumbent supervisor was also reelected, indicating an overall approval level of the Board of Supervisor's performance. And the voters took a further unprecedented step with the passage of Proposition I, which asked the mayor to appear before the board in person once a month to discuss city policy. The voters sent a clear message that they want the mayor to work with the supervisors rather than against them.

Will Newsom respect the mandate and comply with Prop. I? It's anyone's guess right now. The measure is not legally binding, and he vehemently opposed it. Here are five reasons why Newsom should comply with Prop. I:

1. The voters asked him to. Newsom claims to care about the will of the voters. He cited the "will of the voters" as his basis for vetoing a six-month trial of car-free space in Golden Gate Park — even though a trial has never been voted on. Will he respect the voters this time?

2. The status quo is not working. The homicide rate, traffic deaths, and Muni service have gotten worse every year under the Newsom administration. Commissioners aren't being appointed on time, police reform is off track, promised low-income housing is delayed, all bicycle improvements are on hold, and our roads are falling apart. Popular public events such as the North Beach Jazz Fest are under attack by a city government that can't keep Halloween revelers safe. Meanwhile, the mayor focuses on political damage control related to his apparent loss of the 49ers in 2012 and the Olympics in 2016.

3. Newsom consistently opposes ideas coming from the Board of Supervisors but doesn't seem to have any of his own. The homicide rate is at an all-time high and keeps getting worse. But Newsom has opposed every significant measure proposed by the supervisors, including funding for homicide prevention and assistance for victims’ families via Proposition A, as well as police foot patrols. Fare hikes and service cuts haven't solved Muni's problems, but Newsom sided with the local Republican Party in opposing Proposition E, which would have provided much-needed funding for Muni through an incremental increase in the car parking tax.

4. Newsom has been missing in action too long. The mayor spent almost the full first three years of his four-year term fundraising around the country to pay off his 2003 campaign debts. This busy fundraising schedule, combined with the demands of his relentless PR machine, has sent the mayor chasing photo ops in China; Italy; Washington, DC; Los Angeles; Chicago; New York; and a host of other places. The majority of the voters are now siding with progressives, the Guardian, and even the San Francisco Chronicle in asking "Where is the mayor?"

5. The voters asked him to. Really, that should be enough. No?

Ted Strawser is the founder of the SF Party Party.


October 17th, 2006


Well, we should probably begin with “Congrats Bevan”. You never went negative and you never called in downtown money and you won relection by a healthy margin. So congrats, Bevan.

We hope you noticed, however, that you won without a single environmental endorsement and with opposition of key Women’s Rights Organizations and Tenants Organizations. The SF Sierra Club, SF Tomorrow, SF League of Conservation Voters, SF Bicycle Coalition, SF Green Party, SF NOW, SF Women’s Political Caucus, SF Bay Guardian, SF Tenants Union and Matt Gonzalez all opposed your re-election. You won with more than a third of your district telling you that you don’t share their vision. You won without the support of the Harvey Milk Club.

We hope you know that we noticed a change in your message throughout this campaign. You voted with your district and against the Mayor on the Foot Patrol Legislation (that Newsom later vetoed). You stated publicly that you believe a solution can be crafted for a trial of car-free space in Golden Gate Park. You talked about pursuing free MUNI service. You began this campaign focused on the Bureaucratic part of your job…the part that you are really good at. But you ended the election promising to focus on the legislative part of your job, the part you have historically ignored. MUNI service and Homicides and Traffic Deaths are spiraling out of control and we need a Board of Supervisors willing to focus on the future of San Francisco.

So…. what’s next for DumpDufty? That depends on whats next for Bevan Dufty. We are going to take a break and see if your promises were all talk or if you are emerging as a potential partner to the progressives. We would love to work with you, rather than against you. You are a nice guy and you care about District 8….we have said that all along. But we need a little more help from you on San Francisco issues…the future of this City is a big part of your job. The footpatrols and promises for Golden Gate Park and MUNI were a good start.

Stay tuned. We will. Our new site: www.DuftyWatch.com will not roll out for 4 months as we want to give the Supervisor an honest shot at living up to his campaign promises.

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John Rizzo: Progressive attack dog


Here's an example of the kind of thing progressive John Rizzo, just elected to the Ciy College board, pushed while on the Concourse Authority board. Below is a verbatim copy of the crucial agenda item for the Nov. 16, 2004 meeting of the Concourse Authority's board:

4. GOLDEN GATE PARK MUSIC CONCOURSE UNDERGROUND PARKING FACILITY. Discussion and possible action to approve a dedicated access route to the Music Concourse Underground Parking Facility from options including, but not limited to, those identified as Options #1 (inbound and outbound from 9th & Lincoln), #4 (inbound from MLK & Crossover, outbound to 9th & Lincoln) and #10 (all traffic enters at 10th & Fulton, no second entrance/exit); to make various findings related to the selection of an option; and to authorize the executive director to amend any Parking Facility documents and approve any changes to the Parking Facility construction documents as necessary to reflect the actions contemplated herein. (DISCUSSION and POSSIBLE ACTION ITEM)

The agenda item---posted on the PROSF bulletin board five days before the meeting---describes what the board was going to consider in response to Judge Warren's order to come up with a plan that conforms to the text in Prop. J about a "dedicated" route to the southern garage entrance inside Golden Gate Park. 

As you can see, there were several options for the board to consider. The board approved Option #1, the infamous "widening" of MLK plan, since that was the most sensible option of three bad options. Rizzo pushed the notion that this agenda description was so inadequate that it violated the Sunshine Ordinance. He even pushed it to the "progressive" Sunshine Ordinance Task Force, which duly found the Authority in violation of the ordinance, because it only mentioned "findings" and not an EIR addendum from the Planning Dept. that was among those findings.

The Executive Director of the Concourse Authority even conferred with the City Attorney's office in drafting the description to make sure it was adequate. Rizzo was the only member of the board that thought this should be brought to the Task Force as a violation. In short, it was a purely political move by Rizzo as a stick to use on the Authority. It was not just technical; it was bullshit.

That's how far Rizzo went to further his "progressive" agenda while on the board of the Concourse Authority. Compared to most agenda items, this is the War and Peace of agenda item description. The notion that it was somehow inadequate is laughable.

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