Saturday, November 19, 2011

Guardian declares victory after progs lose another election

Reading the Bay Guardian's post-election story, one would think that city progressives had won. For one thing, the writers---Steve Jones, Tim Redmond, and Rebecca Bowe---redefine what losing means:
The Avalos campaign did, to a significant extent, what the mayoral campaigns for Tom Ammiano in 1999 and Matt Gonzalez in 2003 did---it got the progressives excited and brought a new generation of activists into the world of local electoral politics. As Avalos called up his key supporters to the stage at Roccapulco on election night, it was clear that a broader progressive coalition was forming, with new faces, young organizers, and people of color. The left in this town has a long history of winning by losing: The Ammiano campaign created the movement that took back the Board of Supervisors a year later, and the Gonzalez campaign drew more activists into the movement (emphasis added).

Exactly what are the issues around which this "progressive coalition" is allegedly forming? Except for fleeting references to Propositions E and G, there are no issues discussed in the 2,500-word article. Prop. G is described as "the sales tax measure that Lee was hoping would fill part of the revenue gap, went down in flames." Even though the Guardian also endorsed Prop. G, its loss was only a defeat for Mayor Lee!

This progressive celebration of yet another defeat is reminiscent of how Jones and Redmond celebrated something they called the "transit-justice" coaltion after the 2007 election that Mayor Newsom won in a landslide.

The celebratory Guardian article features losing candidate John Avalos, who is also weak and/or fuzzy on the issues. His campaign website is a lot like that of Jane Kim in her carpetbagging victory a few years ago, though, unlike Kim, Avalos at least has an "issues" link, where we learn that Avalos is for Muni, creating jobs, and of course bicycles. Avalos's comments on homelessness show that he doesn't really understand what city policies are now, let alone how to make them more effective.

Avalos aggressively supports Ranked Choice Voting, though his only chance of beating Mayor Lee would have been in a runoff. Recall that the last time city progs even came close to winning the mayor's race was the 2003 runoff between Gavin Newsom and Matt Gonzalez. But it was just as well that Avalos didn't have to face Lee in a runoff, since it would have only revealed how much he and the mayor agree on important issues. Revenue for Muni? Both Lee and Avalos support the Central Subway, which is draining $200 million of scarce city transit money.

His website is oddly spineless politically, since Avalos doesn't take a stand on any of the propositions on the ballot, not even the popular street bond that the Bicycle Coalition---which endorsed Avalos, of course---likes so much, even though city taxpayers will end up paying $437 million for the $248 million bond when all the interest is paid on that borrowed money.

The Avalos website links the recent San Francisco magazine article on bikes in the city, probably because the writer went on a bike ride with Avalos, a serious bike guy. Wonder what Avalos thought about how the author accuses David Chiu and Leah Shahum of hypocrisy when they soft-pedal, so to speak, their anti-car views when talking to the media?

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