Tuesday, December 13, 2016

David Talbot

Photo: Sibylla Herbrich

From the editor of the SF Chronicle:

Every retirement of a beloved staffer is a sad occasion, but it’s also a time to reflect on what they have brought to The Chronicle. Chuck has served as a steadfast advocate, calling out politicians and activists when he thought they didn’t have the city’s best interests at heart, moving us to tears with stories around the struggle for marriage equality, and routinely championing the underdog.

The opposite is closer to the truth. "Chuck" often got things wrong and supported every significant City Hall project (See Rooting for the home team).

More from the editor:

We cannot replace Chuck. But next week, we will introduce another columnist who will provoke and inspire: David Talbot has agreed to join us for several months as a Bay Area columnist. David is a longtime San Franciscan, journalist and author...His columns will run three times a week in print and online at SFChronicle.com...Adding David to the staff is proof of our commitment to productive civic discourse. While he is at The Chronicle, we will also increase the frequency of Heather Knight’s “City Insider” column, which will run twice a week. Please look for David’s column and, as always, feel free to let us know what you think.

Only "for several months"? Sounds like a trial run, and both parties are unsure it will work. As a writer Talbot has a different focus that Nevius, since the latter's beat was local politics and issues. Talbot is more like a left-wing version of Debra Saunders, who rarely wrote about local issues and instead provided a conservative view of state and national issues.

From Talbot's latest column:

Democratic clubs sprout up around the city pretending to be agents of progressive change, when they are really conduits for corporate “dark money” of murky origin. “They’re poisonous mushrooms,” says political strategist Larry Bush. “This kind of fungi has a long history in San Francisco.” The biggest mushroom of Election Year 2016 was the Robert F. Kennedy Democratic Club. “They’re Ron Conway’s committee du jour, his flavor of the year,” Bush says, referring to the billionaire tech investor and City Hall power broker.

Okay, but how "dark" is Conway's money if everyone knows about it? Even I've blogged about Conway's influence on local politics.

Talbot uses his Kennedy connections to discredit the conservative politics of the RFK Democratic Club:

The RFK Club used this corporate windfall to finance a slate of business-friendly candidates like Wiener and Breed — as well as successful city measures like Proposition Q, the cruel law that lets San Francisco police confiscate homeless people’s tents after giving them 24 hours to move to a shelter. The club also opposed Proposition T, the winning measure that places strong limits on lobbyists’ financial firepower.

Okay again. But I suspect that the city's legal authority under Prop. Q, like the sit-lie law before it, will be exercised sparingly, since it barely got enough votes to pass. Like the sit-lie law, it's more of a statement by city voters than an ordinance City Hall is likely to use much. City voters didn't like the street punks camping out on Haight Street, and they don't like the homeless tent cities South of Market Street.

But it would be interesting to see Talbot dig into the history of the homeless issue in SF and how city progressives completely botched it, paving the way for Gavin Newsom to become mayor. 

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