Monday, February 18, 2008

Mirkarimi will be opposed

You know it's a slow news day when the dailies run stories on the November Board of Supervisors' elections. The Chronicle did one last Christmas Eve, traditionally a slow news day:

Many of the supervisors who are leaving office because of term limits are referred to by City Hall insiders as "the Class of 2000" because that was the year the self-styled progressives took control of the board after campaigning as a group and promising to challenge the power and pro-development policies of then-Mayor Willie Brown. They succeeded, but upon leaving office are nervous about protecting their gains. "This is the moment the downtown business titans have been waiting for," said Board President Aaron Peskin, who for the past seven years has represented District Three, which includes North Beach, Chinatown, Russian Hill and the Financial District.

This is the official mythology about the present Board of Supervisors, that their great achievement is that they've put the brakes on Mayor Brown's pro-development policies. Completely untrue. In fact this BOS and this mayor have been aggressively pro-development from the beginning. Supervisors Peskin and Daly---with Mayor Newsom's support---pushed through the thousands of luxury highrise condos on Rincon Hill in a city desperate for affordable housing. Why does Peskin think the city's "downtown business titans" would be upset about that?

And there's been no serious dissent from the supervisors on the ambitious, appalling Market and Octavia Neighborhood Plan, which will rezone thousands of parcels in the heart of the city to make it easier---and more profitable---for developers to build 6,000 new housing units, including highrises at Market and Van Ness, and encourage 10,000 new residents in that part of town. Traffic? Let all of those folks ride an already-crowded Muni---or let them ride bikes! And then there's the recent progressive "victory" on lower Haight Street, where the city---with Supervisor Mirkarimi in the lead---rolled over for a predatory UC, which wants to turn property zoned for "public use" for the last 150 years into a massive, for-profit housing development.

With the important exception of homelessness, this BOS doesn't have many substantive political differences with the mayor, in spite of the mythology to the contrary.

Today's Examiner story on the November district elections at least spares us a full exposition of the progressive versus moderate mythology and sticks to the horserace aspect of the elections:

Seven of the 11 seats on the Board of Supervisors are up for grabs this November. Three districts involve incumbents, who traditionally have a political advantage, setting up heated contests for four other seats to be vacated by left-leaning leaders being termed out of office: Jake McGoldrick in District 1, Aaron Peskin in District 3, Tom Ammiano in District 9...Currently, District 4 Supervisor Carmen Chu — Mayor Gavin Newsom’s recent appointee to replace ex-Supervisor Ed Jew — is running unopposed, as is District 5 Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, a progressive.

Yes, it will be good to get rid of McGoldrick, Peskin, and Ammiano. But, since the filing deadline is not until August, it's premature to talk about anyone running "unopposed." I, for example, plan to run against Mirkarimi here in District 5; I just haven't bothered to take out the papers yet. True, I'm not much of threat to actually defeat the Murk, but I will raise the issues I've discussed on this blog for the past three years, including his mindless, unprincipled support of the Bicycle Plan and Critical Mass, his vote for the Rincon Hill highrise condos for the rich, the shockingly bad Market/Octavia Plan, the awful new Octavia Blvd. expressway, the sell-out to UC on lower Haight Street, the Harding Theater fiasco, etc.

Mirkarimi has been much, much worse than even I thought he would be when I ran in 2004.

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