Friday, February 22, 2013

The Sisterhood is powerful but lame



C.W. Nevius has put his finger on another non-issue: Mayor Lee's impending appointment of a supervisor for District 4. Nevius is worried because Mayor Lee

continues to dither on important decisions. The current head-scratcher is the appointment of a new supervisor for District Four in the Sunset District. In the least surprising development of the Lee administration, he appointed Supervisor Carmen Chu assessor a week ago. And her replacement will be...known next month...Almost no one I spoke to in and out of City Hall would speak on the record. But they all used words like "bewildering...weird...unfathomable" to describe the delay...by falling into another time-space vortex, the story is shifting from the appointees who don't work out to the mayor who can't seem to pull the trigger. "The problem," says one insider, "is that perception becomes reality. He has to move more quickly."

Typical that no one would go on the record here in Progressive Land, where many brag about "speaking truth to power," while power itself is timid and runs in packs.

Speaking of timidity, the hype about Carmen Chu is ridiculous. "Brilliant"? Chu has followed the tradition of Fiona Ma: she's kept her head down and her mouth shut while running with the lemmings on every important policy issue. Chu is allegedly a great number-cruncher, but, as members of the most important policy body in the city, supervisors should be able to contribute to the discussion of city policies. We have a Controller and a Budget Analyst to crunch the numbers.

In short it makes no difference when Mayor Lee appoints Chu's replacement, since Chu herself has been a political cipher on the board. Why not leave the seat empty to see if anyone but Nevius and his anonymous sources notices?

Chu's only qualification for the job was that she was Chinese in a heavily Chinese district. By birth she's also a member of the Sisterhood, which is increasingly powerful in the city, but on the Board of Supervisors women have hardly been a credit to their gender:

The inside-baseball thinking is this: The mayor's people would really like to appoint Suzy Loftus, a former prosecutor in the District Attorney's office and someone Lee previously appointed to the Police Commission. That would keep four women on the Board of Supervisors and add a mom to the mix.

Alioto-Pier was a mother, but I don't recall how that provided her any special insight into anything. Lately there's been four women on a board that's been aggressively mediocre; to call the performance by Supervisors Kim, Cohen, and Chu undistinguished is an understatement. There's no indication that London Breed will be any better. The Sisterhood may be powerful, but it's politically and intellectually lame in San Francisco.

But identity politics lives on as what Paul Krugman calls a Zombie Idea: "A proposition that has been thoroughly refuted by analysis and evidence and should be dead---but won’t stay dead because it serves a political purpose, appeals to prejudices, or both."

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