Saturday, October 18, 2008

Big men, little men

Whenever I read the Bay Guardian, Fog City Journal, Beyond Chron, and Left in SF, I think of Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon, where "all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average." In their own minds, city progressives are always bravely fighting the good fight against greedy developers, for justice, peace, civil liberties, etc., even when the facts clearly don't support that fantasy.

In fact city progressives are often dim bulbs and bumblers, who have screwed up---or are in the process of screwing up---every important issue in recent San Francisco history. They screwed up the homeless issue by neglecting it until Gavin Newsom finally swooped in and used it to get himself elected mayor. 

Housing? For years they okayed huge development projects, like Rincon Hill, the Market/Octavia Plan, and UC's ripoff of the old extension property without getting around to doing anything serious about affordable housing. 

The latest progressive housing fiasco is Prop. B, the affordable housing measure on next month's ballot: How likely is it that city voters are going to okay a multi-billion dollar set-aside for anything as we head into a recession/depression? 

And why did city progs put it on the same ballot as the $870 million remodel of SF General? And, finally, they are trying to screw up city traffic with a relentless anti-car approach, including the Bicycle Plan, to make it as expensive and difficult as possible to drive in San Francisco.

Now they are reaching---over-reaching, it seems--for public power. And why not legalize prostitution, too, while they are at it?

But none of that puts a dent in their inflated sense of political self-esteem. The Good People!

Rob replies to Tim Redmond (below in italics):
What does Redmond think the progressive-backed Market/Octavia Plan and UC’s hijacking of the old extension property on lower Haight Street represent? Not to mention the progressive support for luxury highrise condos on Rincon Hill, backed by Chris Daly, Aaron Peskin, and Ross Mirkarimi.

The M/O Plan rezones more than 4,000 properties in the heart of the city to encourage developers by loosening zoning regs on set-backs, backyard space, density, height, and, of course, restricting parking for the new housing units. The M/O Plan also includes at least four 40-story highrises in the Market/Van Ness area. Supervisor Mirkarimi claims that the M/O Plan is all about affordable housing, but such provisions are impossible to find in the Plan itself.

Supervisor Mirkarimi is taking the lead in privatizing the old extension property by allowing UC to put a massive housing development on a site where working people used to take college courses at night. UC has had the property tax-free for 50 years because of its education “mission.” UC lied about why it abandoned the extension operation at the site, claiming that it couldn’t afford to maintain the property, but it later admitted that it is now spending $2,100,000 to house the same extension operation in downtown SF!

Our “progressive” board of supervisors has already rolled over for developers on Rincon Hill, the M/O Plan and the UC housing development. What makes anyone think they won’t do the same in the eastern neighborhoods?

October 15, 2008
Follow the money: downtown and the landlords are trying to take over the Board of Supervisors.

It’s not surprising. For the past eight years, the progressives have had enough of a solid majority on the board to prevent Mayor Gavin Newsom from putting some of his worst plans in place and to propose — and often implement — a much better agenda. This board brought us the living wage ordinance and the universal health care program. This board is moving to solve the budget crisis with taxes on wealthy property owners and big law firms. This board isn’t about to approve an Eastern Neighborhoods Plan that turns the city entirely over to the developers. This board supports public power and renewable energy, and is willing to go up against Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

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At 3:17 PM, Anonymous herman is my handle said...

It seems to me that you're running against Mirkarimi and the rest of the board from both the left and right simultaneously. You're arguably attacking them from the left on housing and development, saying they shouldn't have approved downtown's plans for Rincon Hill, M/O, or the UC's profit motive at the Extension campus. Certainly a lot of "SF progressives" feel the same way, and generally speaking the progs on the Board gave into downtown on these developments. On the other hand, it's easy for you to oppose these projects since you've never really tried to win 50%+1 in any SF district. If you had actually won an election and were trying to win re-election, would you have been able to oppose these projects? Was it really pragmatically possible to oppose these projects categorically and survive? I may be cutting the "progs" on the Board too much slack, and you can still call them out for hypocrisy if you want, since they certainly gave into downtown on these matters despite their own brave and noble self-image. But is it completely honest to suggest that you could realistically have done otherwise? Could you assemble a majority in any SF electorate that would survive your opposition to Rincon etc?

Meanwhile, you oppose the Board progressives' embrace of the bike people. I'm fine with that, since the bike people are not talking about realistic steps to completely change the mix of vehicles on the road (a massive scooter and bicycle checkout system, like Velib in Paris), and as long as they're just talking about molding the roads to suit their own small constituency better, they don't have a real case. But it's interesting that you're attacking the Board progs for excessive idealism in the case of bicycles, and for excessive pragmatism in the case of the big developments. I doubt that Mirkarimi or the others are especially happy about the Rincon development, but for you to oppose it and criticize them for greenlighting it is kindof like Nader attacking Kerry for sucking up to corporate power. Both Nader and you are right. But you're both taking up lines of argument that are very easy to hold if you're not actually trying to win, and very very difficult to hold if you are. And you're both attacking your opponents as weaklings for giving in on a matter that you would almost certainly have to give in on as well, were you actually serious about winning.

At 7:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One wonders how the SFBG and the SF Progs can live in a country where their "Hope" candidate is supported by Colin Powell. After all the "Big Man" Tom Ammiano wouldn't allow the City of San Francisco to thank Powell for raising over $1 million for local children in 1997.

Basically it showed that Ammiano didn't have the guts to meet Powell face to face.

Why is this not surprising?


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