Good Morning, SoMa!
With Jim Meko
Daly and the Seven Dwarfs
October 1, 2006
Rob Black slammed District 6 Supervisor Chris Daly last week
for stalling Mayor Gavin Newsom's $2.5 million request for police
overtime. We have had over 66 murders and are on pace to
meet the 10-year high this year and Chris is even refusing to
have a hearing on public safety, charged Black. Daly had
simply asked to see the specifics of the Mayor's plan. Newsom's
anti-violence proposal was more a press release than a policy.
Well, good morning SoMa. Welcome to the 2006 race for the San
Francisco Board of Supervisors.
Seven challengers have lined up this Fall against Daly, with
Black receiving Newsom's endorsement. The same downtown interests
that tried to knock off Daly in two previous elections have endorsed
Black and are blanketing District 6 with scurrilous hit pieces.
Their polling suggests that discontent over public safety and
quality of life issues might resonate with District 6 voters.
All seven challengers are targeting this so-called pissed-off
Campaigning in the gutter
SoMa-based lawyer Matt Drake rails: "Our streets are not
toilets! In virtually every neighborhood in San Francisco, this
behavior would not be tolerated. In District 6, however, the city
continues to allow our streets to be used as toilets. We can all
smell the effects. This is unacceptable."
Manuel Jiminez, who bills himself as the "quality of life
candidate" opines, "Allowing criminals to thrive in
the city is not a responsible 'progressive' position. It is an
abdication of responsibility by our government. Help me tell our
government to stop pandering to the monied interests and political
issue junkies that dominate their agenda."
And Black concludes, "Individuals who refuse help and yet
continue to harm communities by aggressive panhandling, public
intoxication and narcotic use, and relieving themselves in public
should be accountable to the communities they harm."
An independent mailer paid for by the Golden Gate Restaurant
Association thunders: "Many District 6 residents are frustrated
with dirty streets, poor sanitary conditions near their homes
and street crime. Rob Black supports enforcement of quality-of-life
laws, like the public urination and defecation ban. Chris Daly
opposes these laws." Pee, poo and panhandling are defining
the most lackluster campaign since the return of district elections.
Under our "strong Mayor" city charter, the Mayor appoints
all department heads, including Police and Public Works, and they
answer to him alone. If you have a problem with pee or poo, call
the mayor. If Daly were to meddle in the operation of these city
departments, Newsom's press flack Peter Ragone would be all over
him, charging abuse of power under color of authority.
We're voting for a legislator
The Supervisor who represents District 6 is part of the legislative
branch of government, a role centered around the creation of legislation.
By all accounts, Daly is the most prolific and effective member
of the Board in this respect.
In the two years that he chaired the Budget and Finance Committee,
Daly delivered a balanced budget that filled many gaps in funding
cuts in the Mayor's original proposals. This year's budget restored
$28 million to affordable housing and tenant protection programs.
In other legislative accomplishments, Daly prevented the loss
of 360 rent-controlled apartments by brokering a landmark development
agreement for Trinity Plaza, convinced Rincon Hill developers
to contribute $50 million toward improving the community's infrastructure
and ushered in neighborhood notification and chain store controls
in the Western SoMa zoning districts.
Based on the current demographics of District 6, Daly is almost
guaranteed reelection. His base of support is found in the Tenderloin,
around the 6th Street corridor and in the North Mission. But he
also enjoys strong support among small business owners, families
in the residential enclaves, organized labor and from those engaged
in the arts and in the entertainment industry.
Demonizing the poor
These emotional appeals are in reality a Karl Rovian attempt
to divide the electorate by race, class and economic status. Polling
suggests a wedge can be driven between Daly's traditional base
and the growing number of wealthy condo owners settling in SoMa.
Pee, poo, panhandling, police and public safety are all code words
that, when you get right down to it, play off of the sensitivities
of those who have made large investments in housing in an area
that's in transition and reflect a distaste for the poorest elements
I long for the quality of candidates who ran against Chris Daly
the Mission housing activist in the first round of district elections
back in 2000: Hank Wilson, dedicated AIDS activist; Denise D'Anne,
elegant and erudite city hall insider; Joan Roughgarden, Stanford
professor and environmentalist; Mark Salomon, passionate Green
Party intellectual; h. brown, political satirist ... and even
James Leo Dunn, the dapper gentleman who ran on a promise to employ
the homeless digging a tunnel under Nob Hill, providing them with
housing in its network of catacombs.
Dunn passed away recently but the others are all still fighting
for their community.
On the other hand, Chris Dittenhaffer, Roger Gordon, Michael
Sweet and Burke Strunsky -- all favored by the downtown interests
currently backing Black -- are nowhere to be found.
Candidates who exploit economic disparities and run polarizing
campaigns to further their own ambitions belong in the political
dumpster. The pee and poo politics of these seven dwarfs make
James Leo Dunn's tunnel concept sound downright presidential.
Six months from now, you don't really expect any of them to be
contributing to this community, do you?
Jim Meko is a South of Market activist, currently serving
as chair of both the SoMa Leadership Council and the Western SoMa
Citizens Planning Task Force and as a member of San Francisco's
Entertainment Commission. Here at the Fog City Journal, of course,
he's expressing his own personal opinions.
Jim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.