From the SF Chronicle's recent story on District 5:
With only about two weeks to go until election day, the race for supervisor in San Francisco’s District Five is anything but settled. Candidates, public officials and organizations continue to react to two game-changers in the previous two weeks---groping allegations against leading candidate of the left Julian Davis, and appointed incumbent Supervisor Christina Olague’s surprising vote to oppose Mayor Ed Lee’s charge of official misconduct against Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi.
The charges against Davis, apparently from incidents that happened years ago, have come suspiciously late in the campaign.
And there's nothing at all surprising about Olague's vote on Mirkarimi. Already handicapped by being appointed by the "moderate" Mayor Lee as supervisor for a left-wing district, Olague really had little choice. Willie Brown understands that: "Olague had good reason for voting to keep the sheriff in his job. She wants to win her election next week."
Brown surely remembers appointing Juanita Owens District 5 Supervisor in 2000, only to see her buried at the ballot box by Matt Gonzalez, even though he was a carpetbagger---Gonzalez moved into District 5 shortly before the election---but, more importantly, he wasn't appointed by a "moderate" mayor, and he made a name for himself in progressive circles after his losing campaign for District Attorney that flanked incumbent Hallinan on the left.
Whose District 5 campaign is the emptiest? Tough call when all are vacuous, issue-free, and committed to generalities, which are much safer than specifics. That's why they all ignore my questions: They're too specific, and the candidates would have to actually do some reading to even try to defend dubious "progressive" projects and policies. You would think the candidates are running for class president or homecoming queen.
Glossy mailer from London Breed: "As a lifelong renter, I'll fight any attempt to repeal rent control."
A red herring, since no one in the race is advocating ending rent control. Breed is just trying to counter the negative political effect of contributions to her campaign from real estate interests.
Olague: "Approved the EIR establishing the most extensive bicycle-friendly plan in the City's history."
Yes, she did that, even though it was clearly illegal under the California Environmental Quality Act, the most important environmental law in California. When she voted to make the Bicycle Plan part of the General Plan and implement it on the streets of the city, Olague had been a planning commissioner for two years; she knew her vote was contrary to the law, since the planning commission deals with CEQA issues every week. Besides, we reminded her of that at the 2005 meeting before she made that vote.
But Olague's most salient political characteristic is opportunism. As one of the Gang of Four, she dumped the Green Party when being a Democrat became fashionable again after Obama was elected president and left-wing Democrats took over the DCCC.
But the ambitious Olague knew the important symbolism that bikes had for city progressives; if she voted according to the law, her future in SF politics would have been dim.
Matt Gonzalez from Davis's doorhanger:
Julian Davis will protect progressive values at City Hall at a time when our Board of Supervisors desperately needs grounding. He has the intellect and energy to make a lasting contribution. His ethics are unimpeachable.
I've never seen any evidence of Davis's "intellect," and his ethics have in fact been challenged. I also question his political backbone in how, after his initial opposition to the project, Davis has completely disappeared on the issue of allowing UC to privatize the old extension property on lower Haight Street. The progressive party line is that this is a good "smart growth," transit corridors housing project, even though it's much too big for the neighborhood, and it provides no money for Muni to handle the 1,000 new residents that will live there.
But Bevan Dufty has provided this bad project with a patina of political correctness by ensuring that part of the project---85 of 450 housing units---will be set aside for gay senior housing. That's illegal under fair housing law, but city progressives won't let the law stand in the way of prog doctrine.
Every candidate who goes on about education and public schools is full of shit. Davis, Rizzo, Breed, Olague, and Rizzo all do that. Breed even has a realistic disclaimer before her riff on education: "While the Board of Supervisors has a limited role in the SF Unified School District’s operations, we can have an influence." So why dedicate a whole page on your website to education? Because she doesn't have much to say about anything else---except bicycles.
Of all the candidates, only Breed is explicit about her support for whatever the Bicycle Coalition wants to do to city streets. Alas, that was in vain, since the Bicycle Coalition endorsed Olague and Davis, even though Breed groveled for the coalition's endorsement as much as the rest of the candidates. In District 5, Breed supports both the bike lane project on Fell and Oak Streets and the Masonic Avenue project that will eliminate 167 parking spaces on Masonic between Fell and Geary Boulevard to make bike lanes.
Since Breed has been on the Fire Commission, it would be interesting to hear her explain why city firemen are the worst offenders at gaming the city's retirement system. Not that anyone has ever asked her about that.
The City That Knows How doesn't do self-criticism very well, which is the only thing the District 5 race demonstrates.
Labels: Bevan Dufty, Bicycle Coalition, Bicycle Plan, Christina Olague, City Government, District 5, Julian Davis, London Breed, Matt Gonzalez