Friday, July 20, 2012

City Hall, Supervisor Olague, and District 5

Photo by Susana Bates, SF Chronicle

People are being mean to Supervisor Olague, and Chronicle columnist C.W. Nevius doesn't like it. Nevius is worried that Mayor Lee's District 5 appointment isn't tough enough to win the election in November:

What you really want for the job is a warrior who relishes the battle...Olague needs to get hold of herself and get back the passion. At this point, if you ask her if she's sure she wants to run for re-election, she half-seriously debates the idea. "It would be stupid to say no, I suppose," she said. "Whatever." She'll run. And the early handicapping has her winning. But this time she'll need to go into the job with her eyes wide open.

Not clear what "handicapping" Nevius is referring to, since a candidate appointed by Mayor Lee has to be an underdog in uber-progressive District 5 where prog candidates are lining up to oppose Olague.

Nevius has a fanciful but common idea of what city politics is about, that the "progressive" versus "moderate" conflict is the engine of local political life, a delusion evidently shared by Olague:

Olague came into office with progressive credentials, but she also supported Lee, a moderate, in his bid for mayor. Complicating things is the November campaign, meaning her every move is scrutinized. When she voted in favor of a new housing project at 8 Washington and publicly supported an overturn of ranked-choice voting, progressive stalwart Matt Gonzalez pulled his endorsement. Many think the far left-leaning Bay Guardian will follow..."From now on," she says, "I'm not going to listen to either side. I just going to stay the course and vote my conscience."

People on the Bay Guardian left like to talk trash about class struggle, but that's nothing but ideological hot air. When it comes to important issues, there's very little difference between the left and so-called moderates on important city policies, like the Central Subway, the anti-car/pro-bike traffic policies, and City Hall's aggressively pro-development policies. Progressives have launched no serious opposition to the Rincon Hill highrises, the massive Market and Octavia Plan, the large UC development on lower Haight Street, Treasure Island, and Parkmerced. They cover their agreement with semantics: All these dumb, destructive projects are called "smart growth" and "transit oriented development," which justifies them ideologically.

Did Gonzalez turn against Supervisor Daly when he ushered the luxury highrise condos on Rincon Hill through the planning process? Maybe Gonzalez, who appointed Olague to the Planning Commission in 2004, finally remembered the 2000 election, when he buried a candidate in District 5 endorsed by another mayor.

Nevius seems to be channeling Mayor Lee---who he supported for mayor---when he lectures Olague:

Fine, supervisor, but here's the deal. Even the mayor's office is exasperated with the flip-flopping and lack of communication, and they appointed you. This could be a challenging election and you need to solidify your image. Deliver some issues for your district, take a stand and stick with it, and cultivate some dependable allies on the board.

"Deliver issues"? What can that possibly mean? The essential problem with Olague's "image" is Mayor Lee himself and her early support for him over progressive candidates, which is why he appointed her in the first place. Nothing she can say or do between now and November can overcome that handicap. She's a lame duck and a dead duck politically.

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