Saturday, November 19, 2011

Guardian declares victory after progs lose another election

Reading the Bay Guardian's post-election story, one would think that city progressives had won. For one thing, the writers---Steve Jones, Tim Redmond, and Rebecca Bowe---redefine what losing means:
The Avalos campaign did, to a significant extent, what the mayoral campaigns for Tom Ammiano in 1999 and Matt Gonzalez in 2003 did---it got the progressives excited and brought a new generation of activists into the world of local electoral politics. As Avalos called up his key supporters to the stage at Roccapulco on election night, it was clear that a broader progressive coalition was forming, with new faces, young organizers, and people of color. The left in this town has a long history of winning by losing: The Ammiano campaign created the movement that took back the Board of Supervisors a year later, and the Gonzalez campaign drew more activists into the movement (emphasis added).

Exactly what are the issues around which this "progressive coalition" is allegedly forming? Except for fleeting references to Propositions E and G, there are no issues discussed in the 2,500-word article. Prop. G is described as "the sales tax measure that Lee was hoping would fill part of the revenue gap, went down in flames." Even though the Guardian also endorsed Prop. G, its loss was only a defeat for Mayor Lee!

This progressive celebration of yet another defeat is reminiscent of how Jones and Redmond celebrated something they called the "transit-justice" coaltion after the 2007 election that Mayor Newsom won in a landslide.

The celebratory Guardian article features losing candidate John Avalos, who is also weak and/or fuzzy on the issues. His campaign website is a lot like that of Jane Kim in her carpetbagging victory a few years ago, though, unlike Kim, Avalos at least has an "issues" link, where we learn that Avalos is for Muni, creating jobs, and of course bicycles. Avalos's comments on homelessness show that he doesn't really understand what city policies are now, let alone how to make them more effective.

Avalos aggressively supports Ranked Choice Voting, though his only chance of beating Mayor Lee would have been in a runoff. Recall that the last time city progs even came close to winning the mayor's race was the 2003 runoff between Gavin Newsom and Matt Gonzalez. But it was just as well that Avalos didn't have to face Lee in a runoff, since it would have only revealed how much he and the mayor agree on important issues. Revenue for Muni? Both Lee and Avalos support the Central Subway, which is draining $200 million of scarce city transit money.

His website is oddly spineless politically, since Avalos doesn't take a stand on any of the propositions on the ballot, not even the popular street bond that the Bicycle Coalition---which endorsed Avalos, of course---likes so much, even though city taxpayers will end up paying $437 million for the $248 million bond when all the interest is paid on that borrowed money.

The Avalos website links the recent San Francisco magazine article on bikes in the city, probably because the writer went on a bike ride with Avalos, a serious bike guy. Wonder what Avalos thought about how the author accuses David Chiu and Leah Shahum of hypocrisy when they soft-pedal, so to speak, their anti-car views when talking to the media?

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At 1:20 PM, Anonymous sfnowthen said...

It might be premature to count Avalos out politially--he appears to have a political following that extends beyond the city limits of San Francisco. According to that Bay Guardian article people came from as far away as Fairfield to join in the celebration of his "Lose By Losing" campaign.

At 6:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If there is no difference between Avalos and Lee - seems like the progs won! The moderate candidates like Pier and Rees and Hall were complete non-factors. As was your man Adachi.

At 11:55 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I'm not counting Avalos out, just indicating that he's pretty fuzzy on a lot of issues.

It's a "win by losing" interpretation of his campaign by the Guardian, not "lose by losing."

To hear them tell it, city progressives never really lose an election, since they are by definition the Good People, who permanently occupy the high ground, siding with the poor and the oppressed against the wicked Dowtown Interests.

Nor do I claim that there's "no difference" between Lee and Avalos, though their agreement on important issues seems just as significant as their differences. Avalos and Lee agree on the Central Subway, the anti-car bicycle policies, the street bond, and on the city's aggressively pro-development policies as reflected in the Market/Octavia Plan (40-story highrises at Market and Van Ness!), UC's housing development on the old extension property and the "smart growth," transit corridors assumptions underlying City Hall's approach to planning.

Avalos's campaign website doesn't really make a serious argument for anything; it's a pro forma exercise that preaches to the choir. As the de factor head of the city's progressive faction, his positions on every issue will be more closely examined for future reference.

The so-called "moderate" votes in this election can't be separated from the "progressive" votes, since ideology really plays such a small role in our politics. Are David Chiu, Leland Yee, and Dennis Herrera, for example, moderates or progressives? The only issues that Adachi disagrees on are city pensions and the Central Subway. He's progressive on everything else.

And even Mayor Lee is with progressives on labor unions, bike issues, the street bond, and, like a good party Democrat, the biggest boondoggle of all, high-speed rail.

At 12:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are David Chiu, Leland Yee, and Bevan Dufty, for example, moderates or progressives?

Neither. They are waffling ass kissers.

At 1:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the Street People (don't call them "Homeless")issue, more and more San Franciscans are reaching the end of their collective "ropes" after having poured tens of $millions annually to non-profits. Yet things have gotten worse.

The General Fund earmarks support programs (drug rehab, overnight shelters, SFGH medical emergency....on and on) and what does the city have to show for it? The progressive frankly have not a clue other than to continue to enable lifestyle choices of those who are on the street because they cannot do drugs or drink in shelters or SROs or other housing provided. Perhaps it is time to do measured benefit analysis for non-profits who engage in providing services with city funds. Are they making a difference in changing peoples lives or merely enable them to continue their lifestyles?

At 1:38 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Completely wrong on every issue you mention, and you're too dumb to post your stupid comment to the right blog post.

At 12:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The current (23 Nov. 2011) Bay Guardian writes "Supervisor John Avalos, candidate for mayor, heads downtown in his beat-up family car. He parks..." and talks to members of OccupySF.

He didn't bicycle over? He drove in an air polluting beat-up car burning precious fossil fuel? Yet another case of "do as I say, not as I do."


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