Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What is the progressive agenda?

In his piece in Fog City, Supervisor Daly uses "progressive" and "progressives" 27 times, while Randy Shaw, writing on the same subject in BeyondChron, uses the term 13 times in a shorter piece. Neither Daly nor Shaw bother defining the term for the uninitated, who are supposed to know what they are talking about. Daly doesn't mention any particular issues, except for Lennar's development in District 10 and some gripes about the recent budget process.

Shaw at least lists a few issues:

Among the obvious issues: how will the next Mayor build support for revenue measures that ensure funding for vital services? What do potential mayors think of the officials Mayor Newsom has running the city on a daily basis? What is any potential mayor’s strategy for getting the Planning Department back on track?...Can a progressive mayor secure the minimum 66.7% voter support required to pass an affordable housing bond? Can they find the money to get the increasingly[sic] number of extremely dysfunctional homeless people more appropriate housing with more support services than currently available? Can they figure out sustained and adequate financing for MUNI, parks and recreational facilities, and other core city functions?

By "revenue measures," Shaw means raising taxes and/or fees, which seems unlikely in this political context. City voters are more likely to expect the mayor and the supervisors to cut back on a bloated city government rather than allowing more taxes/fees to maintain a status quo that is clearly unsustainable. City voters allowed themselves to be flummoxed by union money to vote against Proposition B, but they also passed Proposition G, which forces Muni workers---the most unpopular in city government---to negotiate their contracts like other city workers. Does anyone think voters are going to allow the pension fund tsunami to inundate them with red ink without some kind of solution? The unions and their progressive allies better be working on one.

"Vital services"? This begs the question. Exactly which services are "vital" and which are not? I guess we're going to find out.

Getting the Planning Dept. "back on track" just so it can raise money for the city? For years the mayor and the supervisors have supported Planning's aggressive pro-development, pro-gentrification policies, including the Rincon Hill highrises, allowing UC to hijack the old extension property, and the Market/Octavia Plan, a developer's wet dream that, among other things, allows 40-story residential highrises at Market and Van Ness. Is this what Shaw means by getting "back on track"?

Progressives are going to find "adequate financing"---otherwise known as "money"---for Muni in the middle of a severe recession, even though they have failed to do that since district elections allowed them to take over the board of supervisors ten years ago?

Homelessness? Progressives botched that issue way back in 2002, when then-Supervisor Newsom's Care Not Cash was passed by city voters, who then elected Newsom mayor in 2003. All good city progs opposed Care Not Cash---a war on the poor!---and supported Matt Gonzalez against Newsom in 2003, even though Gonzalez and progressives had---and still have---nothing substantive to propose to deal with homelessness.

Unmentioned by Daly and Shaw are other "progressive" issues of the recent past: legalizing prostitution, dumping JROTC from city schools, and public power, all rejected by city voters.

And of course all good progressives---and our "moderate" mayor---support the anti-car traffic policies pushed by the city and the Bicycle Coalition. Even congestion pricing is back on the table, though there's little public support for it. These anti-car policies are the only thing that city progressives will be able to implement in the coming years, assuming that city voters continue to allow the city to screw up traffic on their streets on behalf of an obnoxious minority of bike people.

The reality is that there is no credible "progressive" political agenda in San Francisco.

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