Thursday, April 14, 2011

San Francisco: A one-party town

What's laughable about the leftist indignation after the BOS appointed Lee interim mayor instead of Aaron Peskin or Michael Hennesey is that they would have done pretty much the same thing Mayor Lee has done and is doing. The political differences between the three candidates were/are miniscule. The only difference is that Lee really is an interim mayor with no ambitions for higher office whose main task is to achieve a consensus on the city's looming pension tsunami[Later: Wrong!]

Until his time is up next January, Lee will be the establishment's caretaker, making the same kind of appointments that Peskin and Hennessey would have made, e.g., Joel Ramos to the MTA board.

As I've pointed out before, much of the progressive agenda has already been rejected by city voters, like public power, legalizing prostitution, a do-nothing approach on homelessness and Sit-Lie, and dumping JROTC from city schools.

In today's BeyondChron, Randy Shaw urges Supervisor Avalos to enter the mayor's race as the progressive candidate. The only issue Shaw mentions is the Twitter tax break, which, as he notes, Avalos voted against. 

The question is, What would Avalos bring to the party? Where's the urgent need for a candidate with a progressive seal of approval? (For that matter, what did Matt Gonzalez bring to the campaign in 2003? Quick, except for homelessness, name a single important issue that distinguished him from Gavin Newsom.)

Luke Thomas sneers at the lame and tame Question Time:

...the Q and A softball format devised by Board of Supervisors President David Chiu resulted in what can best be described as a snooze fest and an opportunity for interim Mayor Ed Lee, who had one week to prepare answers to the questions posed, to read pre-scripted statements of policy without fear of pesky supplementary questions that could be used to challenge or further explore the mayor’s policies.

What makes Thomas think any of the supervisors had any follow-up questions? 

The point is that there is no serious dissent in City Hall on important issues, like transportation and development. When he was a supervisor, Chris Daly did a lot of chest-thumping and often showed his contempt for Mayor Newsom, but it was more personal than political. They both agreed on the bicycle bullshit, the transit corridors dogma, and important development projects, like the Rincon Hill highrises, the Market/Octavia Plan, and allowing UC to develop the old extension property.

The moral of the story: San Francisco is a one-party town politically. Even allowing for the fact that it's early in the campaign, this is illustrated nicely by the fact that none of the candidates for mayor has staked out a position on an important issue that is different from whatever the conventional wisdom is in City Hall.

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Another anti-car "activist" appointed to MTA board

Mayor Lee has appointed Joel Ramos, an anti-car bike guy, to the MTA board, where he will join anti-car activist Cheryl Brinkman, who was appointed by Mayor Newsom. Ramos is from Transform, a "smart growth," "dense development" group. From today's Chronicle story:

The high-profile agency oversees Muni and San Francisco's parking, traffic control and taxi operations. And the seven-member governing board has a lot of work in front of it: directing management in contract negotiations with Muni operators, securing an agreement with the federal government to fund the Central Subway project and deciding whether to keep the agency's executive director, Nathaniel Ford..."He will bring his experience and passion for transportation issues to the board, and as a regular transit rider and daily bicyclist, Joel will bring a valuable perspective to the SFMTA board," Lee said Wednesday.

Yes, of course the city wants the feds to put up most of the money for the Central Subway, but let's not forget that San Francisco, a city with a chronically under-funded transit system, is also chipping in $300 million for that political deal disguised as a transportation project. A prog lemming like Ramos would never oppose the Central Subway. We already know that, like all good progressives, he supports the high-speed rail boondoggle. He also supported the discredited Berkeley BRT proposal.

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