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Gavin's Rovers: The Republican Connection

District 6 Supervisor Chris Daly
Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

By Chris Daly , Special to Fog City Journal

Reprinted with permission.

June 10, 2007

Many San Franciscans rejoiced last week as Scooter Libby was sentenced to 30 months in prison. But when it comes to media manipulation, deceit, and vicious political attacks, I'm afraid that Rove's Republicans in Washington have little on Team Gavin here in what is supposed to be the country’s most progressive City.

Never mind Newsom's resolution supporting Bush's "War on Terror" in 2001, his donation to the Republican Party, and the Republican support that nudged him past Gonzalez in ‘03. Forget about Gavin's opposition to grassroots efforts to impeach Bush and Cheney and his total lack of support for measures to call for withdrawal of troops from Iraq and military recruiters from our schools. While the entire field of Democratic (and even some Republican) challengers for President is running squarely against Bush, Team Gavin is deep into Karl Rove's playbook. For proof you need only to look at Newsom’s current shenanigans around the affordable housing appropriations and the year’s most important policy document – the annual budget.

What's Wrong With a White Bread Budget?

Labeled Back to Basics Newsom highlighted his pet projects during his budget announcement last Friday at the City’s 311 Center. In his record-high $6.1 billion proposal, Newsom was able to include upwards of $40 million in new programming for street resurfacing, additional police officers, 311 call takers, and various other wonder bread projects. In front of the cameras, Newsom was well polished.

What the Gavinator failed to mention was how he was able to fund his pet projects. Despite a steady stream of public comment and even 2 rallies in front of City Hall, we never heard from Newsom or his corporate media hacks about Gavin’s cuts – including the largest programmatic cut ever proposed in a San Francisco budget. Massive reductions, most notably Newsom’s $33 million cut to affordable housing programmed by a supermajority of Board members last month and devastating 4% cut to health services, paved the way for Gavin’s slush fund spending.

In my April 24th blog, A War of Words, I chronicled the background on this year’s affordable housing supplemental. A supermajority of Supervisors passed the original $28 million supplemental as well as another $5 million supplemental for first-time homebuyer assistance. On May 11th, Newsom returned the legislation unsigned with a "signing statement" seemingly invoking George Bush’s Unitary Executive Doctrine, declaring, “my administration will not spend funds which we do not have.”

Prepare for Showdown

Meanwhile, Team Gavin had already been quite busy building the budget hype around their new pet projects. In the early days of May, with the affordable housing supplemental already passed by a supermajority of Board members, Team Gavin launched in the press their plans for additional homeless funding, a small business one-stop shop, and a killing-2-birds-with-one Public Works Summit to both build the case for increased spending for roads while having “dialogue” with voters in-lieu of an appearance at the Board of Supervisors for a formal policy discussion.

The timing of the Mayor’s budget strategy should take nobody by surprise. It’s now the norm for the Mayor to lead up to their June 1st budget submission unveiling their shiny new initiatives to generate positive press and perhaps even some goodwill with members of the Board. The difference this year is the Mayor’s backhanded maneuvers on the Board’s affordable housing appropriations.

We heard the official justification for the Mayor’s statement that the City didn’t have the money for affordable housing (when clearly they did) last week from his Budget Director, Nani Coloretti. “At the time he made the statement it actually was true.” (SFGTV 3:45:00) Coloretti contended that the Budget Office was not planning on including the Mayor’s new initiatives as of May 11th. She never attempted to reconcile her statements with the roll out of Newsom’s new initiatives by the Mayor’s press office before May 11th, and she never explained why, if it was true that the budget shifted to the good by tens of millions of dollars in the final half of May, the Mayor decided to propose deappropriation of the Board priority for affordable housing anyway. This “explanation”, or lack thereof, is typical of the Newsom Administration whenever there’s controversy – let the low-level flak do the dirty work – but doesn’t accurately reflect what really was going on behind the scenes at the time.

The Republican Connection, Part II - Gavin Newsom's Karl Rove

While the Mayor was making the case for tens of millions of dollars in new pet programs, he simultaneously needed to figure out how to thwart the Board on affordable housing without having the votes to sustain a veto. The answer was found in Rove’s playbook – defiance, deceit, personal attacks and implementation of a Republican press strategy that was revealed earlier this year during the Scooter Libby trial.

The San Francisco Chronicle penned it a “smorgasbord of Washington insider details.” Some of the most sensitive information revealed at that trial came during testimony of Cheney press aide, Cathie Martin. Martin detailed White House efforts to manipulate the media and talked frankly about the tricks of the trade -- identifying news outlets susceptible to control, giving exclusives to friendly reporters and blackballing critics, using 3rd party columnists to make attacks or soften blows, and queuing bad news into slow news cycles.

Insiders know the mastermind behind the Gavin Newsom political operation is campaign consultant (and rent control foe) Eric Jaye. While Peter Ragone was in front of the cameras and took the beating for lying to the press about Newsom’s substance abuse problem and his use of several aliases to post on blogs, it’s always been Jaye pulling the strings. He is Gavin Newsom’s Karl Rove. It was Jaye’s Care Not Cash efforts that gave “homeless advocates” a bad name, while building the campaign infrastructure for Newsom’s initial run for Mayor. During that Mayor’s race Jaye called Newsom opponent Angela Alioto a "political terrorist" and may have generated fake emails to sow dissent between Gonzalez and possible Democratic supporters. Many believe that Jaye has been the force behind the Newsom administration, managing Newsom’s engagement on every high-profile issue during the administration – whether it be gay marriage, the triple-play, the police video scandal, the Ragone situation, and, of course, the Newsom/Tourk affair and Gavin’s substance abuse issues.

Attack Daly

All the while, Jaye has been at the helm of Newsom’s never-ending reelection effort. While I didn’t pick it up at first with my own re-election going on last Fall, it’s become clear as of late that Jaye’s strategy is to make Newsom’s reelection all about me. Why not? With their constant battering, they’ve driven my negative numbers up into the low 40’s and with all of Gavin’s foibles, they needed a really good bad guy.

In October, I blogged about Newsom’s play around the police overtime supplemental. A recap on GavinWatch does it even more justice. Their play had begun. Team Newsom followed that up with an attack on me for delaying installation of surveillance cameras at 16th/Mission so that the community could meet to discuss the issues. The Mayor’s press office issued a press release with a critique of my actions by Director of Criminal Justice, Allen Nance. Only problem, Nance wrote in an email cc’ed to Board President Peskin that he never made those comments and actually thought it a good idea to go ahead with the community meetings. (He also seemed peeved that they misspelled his name!)

Jaye’s big play would have to wait until after the controversy around the Mayor’s affair and substance abuse issues died down. In March, Team Newsom launched their “Community Court” surprise. And I say surprise, because when it first hit the front page of the Chronicle, nobody that I’d talked to in the impacted area, almost entirely within District 6, knew about it. That included any of the stakeholders around the 8-year old, restorative justice Community Court in the Tenderloin and South of Market. Perhaps the Newsom PR folks didn’t realize that there were already Community Courts in San Francisco. They later changed the name of their proposal to the "Community Justice Center". While I didn’t make any comment for the first article, I did for their follow-up Sunday Chronicle front-pager.

To this day, the details on Newsom’s proposal aren’t worked out. As I understand it, the Superior Court judges are lukewarm on the whole idea, the issue of defense attorneys is unresolved, as is where the services that Newsom is promising are going to come from. To this day there isn’t any written detail on the program besides a rote one-pager. Given all of this, of course I oppose it. I’m afraid Eric Jaye wouldn’t have it any other way. Here is their organizing call from Newsom’s reelection website. Be careful! They've cleverly disguised it as a site for independent civic engagement.

Attack Daly, Part II - Operation Astroturf

While Jaye’s attack on me isn’t limited to single issues (check out last week's email screed Stand Up to Sleaze), they really seem to be firing up their war machine for this budget battle. Their initial response to news of my introduction of a motion to return the monies they stole to affordable housing – this little 4-sentence gem from the Mayor's press office. Then figuring their lie was at risk of being exposed and needed to be repeated over and over to make it true, Jaye and friends turned to the usual suspects. In days they'd produced a favorable headline in the Republican Ex (Daly Threatens to Hack Into Newsom’s Budget Proposal) coupled with a fluff piece and an editorial in the Corporate Chron seemingly reprinted directly from campaign materials (Daly’s Political Games). Beyond the now obligatory email screed from the Newsom campaign, it appears that Jaye is committing more significant resources to the fight. They’re trying to rally “small businesses along with labor and neighborhood activists” to defend their move. The Newsom campaign appears to be operating in concert with the Mayor’s Budget Office, in possible violation of campaign and ethics laws. They are pulling out all the stops.

Gavin Newsom Stole $33 Million for Affordable Housing. Let's Take it Back!

No matter how hard they try, they can’t change the truth. Gavin Newsom stole $33 million from affordable housing. He’s cut millions in vital health programs just to fund his pet projects and to attempt to galvanize his stagnant reelection campaign.

In the face of Team Newsom's efforts to whitewash this City, we must strengthen our resolve to secure more affordable housing. Building affordable housing is one of the best tools we have to ensure the diversity of our City, and I believe we are worth fighting for! Make sure you don't miss the most important budget battle in the history of San Francisco this Wednesday and don't forget to bring your white bread!

Wednesday, June 13
City Hall
12 Noon - Polk Street Steps
1PM - Legislative Chambers #250




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