Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Steve Jones: The prog case against Newsom

Steve Jones's piece on Mayor Newsom in the current Bay Guardian is remarkable, both for its length---4,103 words!---and its attempt to rewrite recent history. Jones in effect makes a progressive prosecutor's case against Newsom using easily refuted arguments:

Newsom is a politically isolated mayor who refused to heed the voter directive to meet regularly with the Board of Supervisors...Newsom had developed such a reputation for political disengagement that voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition I in 2006, calling for the mayor to show up at Board of Supervisors meetings once a month for policy discussions. But Newsom simply refused to go, deriding the idea as political theater...

In fact, after approving Proposition I 56% to 44%, a non-mandatory version of the "question time" idea in 2006, city voters rejected 51% to 49% Proposition E in November, 2007, which would have made the mayor's appearance mandatory. In the end, voters understood that the idea was the brainchild of anti-Newsom Supervisor Daly and his lefty allies and had more to do with embarrassing the mayor than with "policy discussions."

"He called for Muni to be free, then insisted on doubling Muni fares."

There was a hike in the Muni fare several years ago, when Muni had a $55 million deficit. The Muni deficit is now more than $100 million. Do Jones and city progs have a better idea for addressing all that red ink? Nope:

Newsom also has done little to help find solutions to the most controversial issues plaguing the school district in recent years, such as eliminating JROTC, school closures, desegregation, and the divisive tenure of former Superintendent Arlene Ackerman.

Even though the city is now providing money to the school system, city schools are governed by the superintendent and the school board, not the mayor or the board of supervisors. Odd that Jones mentions the JROTC issue, since the attempt by city progressives to dump JROTC---opposed by Mayor Newsom---was rejected by city voters last year:

Newsom even lost control of his own party. While he was campaigning for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Party presidential primary, Daly, Peskin, and the progressives put together a campaign to take control of the Democratic County Central Committee, besting Newsom-backed alternatives.

Yes, the progs took over the DCCC and promptly endorsed legalizing prostitution, public power, and dumping JROTC, all of which were opposed by Newsom and rejected by city voters last November. So who's more in tune with city voters, Newsom or the city's left?

That's not to say Newsom isn't a shrewd politician. Indeed, the one move that put him on the national political map was the same one that ensured his popularity and reelection in San Francisco: his decision to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples shortly after taking office in 2004. There's no evidence to refute Newsom's claim that this was a principled decision stemming from his outrage at federal efforts to ban same-sex marriage. But as a side benefit, the move made Newsom of beloved figure among LGBT voters (who mostly cast their ballots for Gonzalez in 2003) and transformed Newsom from an ambitious and privileged young politician to an early civil rights leader in the eyes of many.

It's strange that I---a Newsom supporter---am the only one in the local media to continue to point out how poorly-timed Newsom's gay marriage initiative was in early 2004. You would think that Newsom's critics at the Guardian would also remind people how Republicans then seized on the gay marriage issue---there were then anti-gay marriage measures on 11 state ballots---to help re-elect George Bush in 2004. The still unanswered question: Why didn't Newsom just wait until after the November election?

"And earlier this year, Newsom blocked me on Twitter after I publicly questioned his penchant for the communications medium (and the spelling errors that riddled his tweets)."

Gee, I wonder why Mayor Newsom isn't interested in communicating with Steve Jones? Could it be that he remembers how Jones insulted him on Bike to Work Day several years ago?

"Despite spending a record-setting $7 million and nearly two years on his first mayoral campaign, Newsom only beat the poorly funded, last-minute campaign of Matt Gonzalez by about five percentage points."

Yes, that campaign was really the high-water mark for progressives in San Francisco; they almost elected one of their own mayor. Fortunately for the city, Newsom beat Gonzalez. 

It's telling that Jones makes only a fleeting reference to the homeless issue in his long piece, since that is the issue that got Newsom elected mayor. Nor does he mention Care Not Cash, the successful measure Newsom put on the ballot in 2002. The city's progressives---including, of course, the Bay Guardian---so completely botched the homeless issue they rarely even mention it anymore, which is understandable, since homelessness is the only important city issue on which Newsom has had some real success. Better to shut up about it than remind everyone of your failure on the issue.

The reality is that, except for homelessness, Mayor Newsom and city progressives agree on a number of important issues that Jones understandably doesn't mention: Newsom has given the bike people everything they've asked for, including his steadfast support for how the city tried to illegally push the Bicycle Plan through the process; Newsom and city progs---with a lame, late, pathetic dissent from the Guardian---supported the Rincon Hill highrise luxury condos; Chris Daly thought the highrises were a big victory for progressive housing policy in SF; Ross Mirkarimi thought they were a "good deal"; Aaron Peskin bragged about his support for highrises in other parts of SF, but not of course in his North Beach.

There hasn't been a peep of protest from city progs about the awful Market/Octavia Plan and UC's ripoff of the old extension property for a massive housing development, both supported by Mayor Newsom. Nor has there been any progressive criticism of the disastrous Octavia Blvd. that now brings 45,000 cars a day through the heart of the Hayes Valley neighborhood. In fact city supervisors and the mayor joined the Bicycle Coalition in celebrating that planning and traffic fiasco on the day that it opened in 2005.

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At 6:46 PM, Anonymous kwk said...

It is difficult to imagine that anyone could read that whole Steve Jones article without wanting to vomit, so thanks for the summation. Did note in a quick scan of the article the statement that Nate Ballard was "offering up belittling one-liners to attack progressive supervisors."

The SFBG publisher, "Waddles" Brugmann, has a "blog" which regularly prints "Ammianoliners" (search on the word) which are essentially "belittling one-liners to attack non-progressive politicians."

The Ammianoliners are an excellent indication why Tom was a miserable failure in his attempt to be a gay comedian: He's just not funny, except maybe in the context of the exceedingly dull and tediously repetitious SFBG.

Repetitious: In editorial on the budget in that same issue one finds that once again the SFBG is doing battle to save the "future and soul" of groovy progressive SF. How many times have they trotted out those words to justify some idiocy of theirs?

At 1:33 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, why is it that SF comedians in general aren't funny? The Bay Guardian is one of the most important reasons that the city's left is so lame. It contains nothing but partyline, prog cheerleading, never a serious, in-depth discussion of city issues.

It's typical that Jones fails to discuss the important issues that Newsom and progressives agree on, like gay marriage, the bicycle bullshit, and their aggressive pro-development stance. The Guardian has done nothing serious about either the Market/Octavia Plan or UC's massive housing development on the old extension property. When they do write something about these awful projects, they pretend that they're all about affordable housing, which is simply untrue.


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