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With h brown

San Francisco mayoral candidate, h. "Court Jester" Brown.
Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

Putting perspective on Peskin Putsch
(Daly irritant to Downtown)

By h. brown

June 18, 2007

Every year, the Mayor sends a huge budget to the Board of Supervisors, and every year they approve 99.7% of it without arguments. Every year, in a kind of amusing exhibition of hound dog vs. grizzly bear, the Board tries to 'add-back' around .3% of the projects and expenditures the Mayor typically cuts. You know, things like emergency care for the insane, legal aid for the poor, help for AIDS patients (you won't see him cutting golf courses or the opera). Every year, each side accuses the other of reckless disregard for the public safety and for lacking compassion. Every year, the Board and the Mayor spar and finally shake hands on a compromise.

Not this year.

This year, for the first time in ten years, the Board President flipped over to the side of the Mayor before public arguments even began. Alioto never did that. Ammiano never did that. Gonzalez never did that. Why Peskin? Why now?

The explanation is that Peskin has become a total stooge of Downtown business interests. And, Downtown, as we know, hates Daly, the hero of the masses. After spending millions in three elections to defeat Chris and failing, the plan has obviously been hatched to use their puppet, Peskin, to strip Daly of his power within the Board. So far, it's going well.

Aaron has used the pretext of a promised skirmish over that magical .3% the Board claws for. Peskin says that, in order to preserve order, he's replacing Daly on the Budget Committee. With whom? Himself.

Peskin did same thing to Gonzalez

This isn't the first time Peskin has maneuvered to silence the leading voice of the elected Progressives. Those 'long of tooth' will remember that Peskin and Mark Leno rendered the voice of Matt Gonzalez mute six years back at the Finance Committee. Leno and Peskin listened patiently to Matt's analyses of issue after issue and then voted him down. Police Department wins in Finance Committee 2-1. Swells win in Finance Committee 2-1. Over and over.

"I'm a college graduate and I can count to 3."

(Gonzo explains leaving Finance)

Peskin engineered the same kind of deal with Daly in the Government Audit and Oversight Committee this year. He stacked it with a 2/3rds majority of conservative supes (Elsbernd and Pier - Daly being 3rd member), and then sent items that should have gone to Daly's Budget and Finance Committee to Audits and Oversight.

The result has been that the Audit and Oversight Committee has become a rubber stamp for big-ticket mayoral budget items. It did virtually no audit and oversight, for instance, of the cops new union contract. Let's take a second out and consider that.

POA drug-test provisions toothless

Tomorrow, the Board of Supes will pass the cops' budget by a 10-1 vote (unless Jew is suspended). Sections 26 to 29 of this contract lay out the cops' first drug testing program. It is a farce.

It says cops can be tested within the first year of being hired (doesn't specify what drugs they'll be tested for - without steroids, it's useless to stem police brutality). The contract says they can be tested in their first year on the job, then again when they go for a promotion. Any other tests are done by decisions made by line officers. Who, incidentally, never order drug tests (especially not even a mention of the word 'steroids') cause it would bring down their whole house of cards vis a vis their souped-up robo-cop contingent.

I'd asked Daly if he'd try to refer the cops MOU back to Public Safety Committee (where it should have been in the first place) to hear from the ACLU and other stakeholders who weren't aware of the rushed job Peskin snuck through Audit and Oversight). Daly said, a bit sardonically, that his influence wasn't very high at the moment.

Daly is just beginning

Sometimes, as Rosie Perez said, "When you lose you win." And sometimes, "When you win, you lose." This is one of those times for all involved parties on and around the Board of Supes on the matter of Peskin's smackdown of Daly (notice how Aaron is getting more comfortable attacking Board members?). Daly loses in the media but not in the long run. Peskin wins in the media but he's going nowhere without the Progressive base he's alienated over the past year.

A smug Sean Elsbernd (did you seem him bottom out when he hypocritically criticized McGoldrick for wanting to balance the books at Harding Park?) lamented about how high the Harding fees were. They're high because Elsbernd wasted 23 million dollars building a huge debt on the course so that he could give it to his buddy, Sandy Tatum, for a dollar. Elsbernd will be defeated in his re-election run next year. My guess is by Tony Hall. Sean can then go back to being amongst brightest Board staffers, probably as Chief of Staff to a forgiving Hall.

Peskin's done, too. Whatever carrots Eric Jaye has been waving under his nose will be withdrawn after this budget is passed. Aaron's not going to be the Assessor. He's not going to the State Assembly or Senate. He has no positive legacy from his time on the Board and he has no political future. Daly's a different story.

Chris needs to offer a heartfelt apology to Ammiano (who really knows what it's like to be a voice of one - ridiculed and marginalized - year after year). Needs to apologize to Ammiano and Mirkarimi and get on with his chosen task of being the current most valuable warrior on the City's Left. Needs to apologize to Tom and Ross during Roll Call for Introductions and give them some kind of purple hearts for feeling his wrath. It might take a bit, but they will accept. They know that he's on their side and they know that Elsbernd and Peskin are not, and will only be around another year, anyway. Ammiano will need the help of Daly's legions in his run for Assembly, and Mirk will need Chris' help if he's to be elected Board prez in January '09.


Are Progressives hurt? Nope, they're strengthened. As far as I know, the last election around here was in November and we beat the shit out of Downtown across-the-board. The next election is this November and we'll certainly win the office of District Attorney and perhaps even that of Mayor.

Next year, we'll run a fresh new crop of supervisors in odd-numbered districts and we'll see a Board with the likes of Eric Mar and Krissy Keefer, or Mark Sanchez and John Avalos. We have a majority at the School Board and we'll have one at Community College by next Hanukah. Crumbling? Naw, vetting the troops, that's all. We win every year against all odds. I don't see that changing.

h. brown is a 62 year-old keeper of sfbulldog.com, an eclectic site featuring a half dozen City Hall denizens. h is a former sailor, firefighter, teacher, nightclub owner, and a hard-living satirical muckraker. Email h at h@ludd.net.


Editor's Note: Views expressed by columnists published on FogCityJournal.com are not necessarily the views or beliefs of Fog City Journal. Fog City Journal supports free speech in all its varied forms and provides a forum for a complete spectrum of viewpoints.



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