Theresa Sparks: A Compromised Candidate

Written by Chris Daly. Posted in Opinion, Politics

Published on October 26, 2009 with 40 Comments

Human Rights Commission Executive Director Theresa Sparks has positioned herself
as the downtown candidate in the 2010 race for District 6 Supervisor.
Photos by Luke Thomas

By Chris Daly, special to

October 26, 2009

The Big Rollout

Last week’s big rollout by District 6’s newest resident confirmed the rumor: Theresa Sparks has positioned herself to be downtown’s candidate in the 2010 race for Supervisor.

It was a mid-week media blitz that would make Gavin Newsom blush. A 6000-word feature in the chichi San Francisco Magazine leads with the sensational, “San Francisco’s most electrifying political candidate since Harvey Milk.” The SF Weekly’s 5000-word cover story, Transblazer, was equally glowing, replete with fashion photos that drew a comparison to Lorraine Bracco of The Sopranos fame. Both pieces delve deeply into Sparks’ personal life, including her transition after moving to San Francisco in the late 90’s.

Even down to the timing, the rollout was strategic for Sparks. With Jane Kim now openly looking at the race, the progressive field could get more crowded. (Homegrown contenders Jim Meko and James Keys have been vying with early frontrunner Debra Walker for months.) This gives Sparks an even greater opportunity to differentiate herself from the other major candidates as the moderate. Already Sparks is taking shots at the progressives…

The Art of the Political Attack

Sparks avoids taking the responsibility of lodging her own critique of progressive candidates in the race. Instead, Sparks references unnamed third-party sources:

[People are] not too impressed with the current candidates.”

Sparks refuses to say who it is that isn’t impressed, and she definitely won’t say why. This indicates that Sparks will try to avoid the direct engagement of her opponents in the race, leaving the personal attack to her proxies, named or unnamed, which she then can reference.

“I think this board needs more balance, needs more independent thinkers as opposed to people who have one or another ideology.”

While it seems like Newsom handler, Steve Kawa, has a hand in Sparks’ candidacy, it is widely known that Sparks comes out of State Senator Mark Leno’s political camp. While this camp could be called “moderate”, it is certainly no more “independent” than the progressive political camp. Progressive politics, which specifically challenges corporate power and special interests, is necessarily independent of the political machinery that feeds off of that very same corporate power and special interests. While progressive ideology may be better thought out than the moderates’, it is simply untrue that there isn’t a “moderate” political ideology in San Francisco. Also, the concept of “balance” on the Board of Supervisors ignores the bigger political picture in San Francisco, and that is that the Board of Supervisors has been the political balance to the significant power of the Mayor’s Office over the last 9 years. Giving the Mayor an extra vote on the Board on this or that issue only strengthens the hand of the Mayor, who already has more power than the Board of Supervisors.

Newsom Chief of Staff, Steve Kawa.

Moving beyond the theory to the practice, Theresa Sparks was appointed to the Police Commission by the Board of Supervisors. This came after the Board of Supervisors and the voting public amended the Charter, with 2003’s Prop H, which checked the power of the Mayor on police matters (previously, the Mayor made all Police Commission appointments.) Sparks was appointed, at the direction of then D9 Supervisor Tom Ammiano, despite the fact that the Latino community ended up with no representation on the Commission. While Commissioner Sparks’ appointed authority provided her the entree for independent engagement on the Commission, during her tenure she moved closer and closer to the Newsom Administration. By the end of her service, Sparks worked hand in hand with Newsom on the Commission’s most important decision – selection of the new Chief of Police. (As a footnote, while Chief Gascón has received much early praise, I can tell you for a fact that he has never once contacted the District 6 Supervisor or the office of the District 6 Supervisor as is customary despite his additional enforcement efforts in the Tenderloin.) Despite being appointed by a progressive Board, Sparks parlayed her work with Newsom on the hiring of the new Chief into her run for Supervisor in addition to her HRC position. That isn’t independence, that’s opportunism.

SFPD Police Chief George Gascon.

The Whole Truth

Other than her carefully crafted criticisms of her opponents, Sparks avoided the gritty politics in her tell-all stories. Instead, she focused on humanizing her big introduction while also dealing with her transgender identity in much the same way that the early candidate Obama dealt with his race. Sparks clearly understands that the transgender candidate will not win the office. However, a candidate who happens to be transgender has a decent chance.

The reaction to Sparks’ story around town has been universally positive. Both the SF Weekly and SF Magazine pieces evoke an intense sense of compassion for Theresa’s struggle. Readers can’t help but root for her as she perseveres through the adversity of discrimination and transphobia, from potential employers to her own family members.

But Theresa’s personal story isn’t the whole story and neither article included any criticism of Sparks’ opportunistic move into the district, her lack of record on the most important issues here, or the potential conflict of interest that arises when a City department head becomes a candidate for office. Instead, both biographies pointed to the historic nature of Sparks’ pending run, as if this is the first time a transgender candidate has ever stood for Supervisor. The SF Magazine opined that Sparks’ run is, “perhaps the most high-profile bid for power ever attempted by a transgender person in the United States.” Sparks certainly doesn’t shy away from the Milk comparisons or the press’ interest in elevating her candidacy. Sparks needs this hype to offset her shortcomings as a District 6 candidate.

The real history of transgender political engagement in San Francisco is far richer than Sparks’ rollout acknowledges. The first transgender candidate for San Francisco Supervisor was Denise D’Anne in 1998. D’Anne, a Milk Club activist and progressive stalwart, won a respectable 35,244 citywide votes in her first bid for office. In 2000, D’Anne ran for District 6 Supervisor alongside the dynamic Joan Roughgarden (whom I cross-endorsed), a Stanford professor who specializes in deep ecology. The strongest run for Supervisor by a transgender candidate came in 2004, when tenant and labor activist Robert Haaland finished second in the District 5 race. Haaland ended up with 7,272 votes and took Ross Mirkarimi to the 19th round of counting before Ross was declared the winner. Haaland was likely one endorsement away from winning the race, as the most important endorsement in District 5, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, ranked Mirkarimi first and Haaland second. In fact, Haaland finished first in second place votes beating Mirkarimi by nearly 2000 votes (showing the strength of the Guardian endorsements).

Director Sparks vs. Candidate Sparks

There is a flip-side to how detailed Sparks’ big splash was. In providing so much access and so many details to the reporters, Nathanael Johnson and Lauren Smiley, some interesting bits of information ended up tucked away in those stories. The most troubling kernel for candidate Sparks was found in Johnson’s SF Magazine piece…

“Soon after Sparks told me she was running, she got a reprieve: a new, $167,596-a-year job as executive director of the notoriously mismanaged Human Rights Commission… That’s a good bit more than the $98,660 she’d earn as supervisor, but by then, she was set on running, and so will step down from the commission if she wins.”

Earlier in the article, Johnson mentioned that Sparks had made her decision by Pride weekend. The fact that Sparks is publicly disingenuous about her decision 3 months after making it isn’t even the worst of it. (In September she said, “I’m not sure if I can afford to run for supervisor. I’d have to take a 35 percent pay cut.”) The real problem has to do with the lack of disclosure of her intentions and the motivation for the firing of the previous head of the HRC, Chris Iglesias, to make way for Sparks. When Iglesias was fired, nobody could figure out why. Newsom had never expressed concern over Iglesias’ job performance and Iglesias was well liked within the community and the department. After ruffling the Latino community, the Newsom administration made sure Iglesias got a soft landing. In the revisionist history of politics, Sparks wrote in the latest HRC newsletter that her taking the job “allow(ed) Chris Iglesias to move on…”

According to the Bay Area Reporter’s Matthew Bajko, “Sparks said she was taken aback when she [sic] Steve Kawa… called her in June to talk about the HRC post.” The consummate City Hall insider, Kawa certainly knew what many others had known for sometime: Sparks was interested in the District 6 seat. Whether running for the coveted seat was part of the deal or not, both the Newsom administration and Sparks had the responsibility to tell the public of Sparks’ intention to run for Supervisor.

The head of the Human Rights Commission is an important job. The HRC doesn’t just “advocate for human rights.” They implement and enforce the City’s disadvantaged and local business laws along with federal fair housing laws. In her resignation from the Police Commission, Sparks cited the importance of dedicating herself fully to her new job. (Never mind again the inconsistency of this with her pending run for District 6 Supervisor.) Not only is the work important, the head of the HRC has a lot of power over business in San Francisco and a disproportionate number of these businessmen and businesswomen donate to political candidates. The measure that codified the Human Rights Commission in the Charter, Proposition J in June 1990, was supposed to take the politics out of the HRC. The Board of Supervisors even argued in the ballot handbook that, “Proposition J will take the Human Rights Commission out of politics.” Having the Director of the HRC running in a hotly contested political race raises all sorts of conflict issues, but at the very least the political campaign compromises her ability to do a good job at the post.

Already Sparks has been making the rounds in District 6. Jim Meko witnessed Theresa Sparks at the “Taste of South Beach” event being escorted by Newsom staffer Jason Chan on September 19th. I noticed that Sparks was a guest at the Manilatown Heritage dinner on October 2nd. Now that we’ve learned that she has also been running for Supervisor all the while, one has to wonder if we are seeing Candidate Sparks or Director Sparks making her way across District 6. City ethics laws clearly state that no City official or employee may use any City resources for political activities. Given this, it seems as if Director Sparks is on shaky ground every time she goes to a District 6 community event. Again, this is not only problematic ethically; it also will hinder Sparks’ ability to be effective as HRC Executive Director.

Meko’s Got Your Map

By October 12th, 4 months after making her decision, Sparks was finally talking seriously about running for District 6 Supervisor. “I’m leaning heavily towards it,” she said.

Sparks had finally signed a lease for an apartment at Turk and Van Ness and was moving into the district the following weekend. In her profile, Sparks referenced doctor’s orders to lay off exercise as the primary motivation to move to a flatter part of the City. Unfortunately for Sparks, she moved into one of the hilliest parts of District 6, Cathedral Hill. At least her story sounds better than an explanation even truthier – Sparks needed to move into the district in order to run for District 6 Supervisor (which she decided to do in June).

Similarly, Sparks has been quick to point out that she has worked in District 6 for 10 years. What she didn’t say is that, like tens of thousands of others from across the region, her work “in the district” has meant commuting into the district to work in an office. While I have been aware of Sparks’ efforts with the transgender community in the Tenderloin (and her work there was laudable if not limited), the truth is that Sparks has very little connection to the issues that matter the most in District 6. On affordable housing and tenants’ rights, health and human services; community planning and land use; transportation and the environment, Sparks just hasn’t been there. Meanwhile, the field of progressives in the race is quite impressive on these issues. While not a part of that community, they’re also pretty good on transgender issues, too.

District 6 is a tough district. We need a Supervisor who has been there during the toughest battles. We need someone who isn’t just an “independent thinker” but who prioritizes their neediest constituents over their own personal political ambition. We need a fighter who will look out for seniors when they are getting evicted and stand with the kids when their school’s roof is leaking. In other words, Theresa should thank Jim for the map and head on a different course.

Downtown in Play

I think that the downtown boys learned their lesson in 2006. They can’t win in District 6 with a candidate that looks like they’re from Montgomery Street, so they are changing it up. Last week, Theresa Sparks made a flashy entrance into the District 6 race. Both the SF Weekly and SF Magazine made Sparks look good and effectively presented her personal story to evoke compassion. In doing so, they effectively dealt with any issues around Sparks’ transgender identity. In the decade since I first ran for Supervisor, I have never been the subject of a single profile piece that went as in-depth as either of Sparks’ two profiles published on the same day! That means the big money is lining up. We should expect more of it.

While compelling, Theresa Sparks is a heavily compromised candidate. Beyond the usual political gamesmanship, Sparks took a City post that was cleared out for her right around the time she decided to run for elected office. Sparks and the Newsom administration hid her political intentions away. She has a significant potential conflict of interest between her City position and her role as political candidate. Sparks opportunistically moved into a District where she has done a relatively small amount of work on the issues that matter the most.

Has Theresa Sparks’ once celebrated independence been compromised?

With all of that said, with 4 or more progressive candidates battling it out in a district that may be the 3rd or 4th most progressive in the City, downtown now has an opportunity to steal a seat away. We can’t let that happen.

Chris Daly

Chris Daly

Chris Daly is the Political Director for SEIU Local 1021, a union of over 50,000 public sector and non-profit workers. He served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from 2001-2011 and owns and operates The Buck, a bar and grill on Market Street.

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  • bee-cause

    Dear Chris,

    First off, thank you for your years of service. I agree with you about concerns with Ms. Sparks-though I don’t know her well enough to make an informed opinion.

    I do want to address your comments about Chief Gascon. While Chief Gascon has not met with your office, he has on many times met with residents of the Tenderloin. We have met various times with the Chief and his Deputies on the issue of unneeded car impoundments and their impact on hard-working families, which disproportionately hit the Tenderloin -very very hard.

    We’ve also met many times with the Captain and will continue to do so with his successor on the issue of safer streets for families. He and his office have definitely been accessible and were present at a community forum at 201 Turk where your office was invited. In the room, we had SRO residents, Cantonese, Russian, Spanish, and Arab-speaking tenants and it was shared with us what those changes were. We spoke to your office that there was a desire on our part to support the individual rights of a person to be on the street while addressing the violence and drugs families encounter as they walk on said streets. There MUST be progressive solutions to crime.

    I may not be a king-maker nor a darling in the “progressive movement” -just an organizer in the neighborhood-but I will make sure that the TL families and tenants that I’ve worked with for the last five years have their voices heard in the next election.

    I, personally, seek a unifier. This work is full of divisiveness (of which I too am guilty of), but the people of the TL deserve a lot more than they’ve gotten and we need a Supervisor who will know when to fight and rise above the pettiness and always listen to them before listening to his/her ego.

    It is no mistake that a lot of organizing that has happened in the city comes from the Tenderloin. From struggle comes earnest desire for change. Now, I leave with a note (that I was recently reminded of) to all those running to keep in mind:

    The Rose That Grew From Concrete by Tupac
    Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete?
    Proving nature’s law is wrong it learned to walk with out having feet.
    Funny it seems, but by keeping it’s dreams, it learned to breathe fresh air.
    Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else ever cared.


  • Ruth R. Snave

    Where Theresa Sparks stands on the issues remains to be seen. She should be pointedly questioned on such matters, as should all the candidates.

    However, she will quickly gain the upper hand over all her opponents if she becomes known as The Candidate Whom Chris Daly Wants to Defeat.

    Any number of others will be the candidates whom Chris Daly likes, at least somewhat. They will have to divide that characterization among themselves.

    But Sparks will galvanize and unite all who feel discontent with Daly if Daly keeps making her his special target.

    It won’t hurt that she has style, humor, smarts, and spark.

  • Richmondman

    Chris – thanks for not gentrifying the Tenderloin. Now leave.

  • jimmy

    These comments are irrelevant to what the article is about.

    It seems that you have a personal beef with Daly.

    It also seems like a stretch to defend the Police Chief given the comments he has made in the press about the legislation Campos has proposed.

    So you take this opportunity to take a whack at Daly, defend the police chief, and ignore the serious issues that Daly raises? What’s really going on here?

  • jimmy

    Actually, this response to Daly’s articles reveals why Sparks will probably win

  • alternative johnny

    take a pill and chill. We all know shits all slopping around looking to fill a crack and this is no exception. But more importantly Theresa needs a make-over. With the help of new rugs for pugs and NASA she could achieve the same smooth, silky skin as Gavin and that distinctive mission-impossible Steve McGarret, undertaker type thing.

    Anyway, when are the cops gonna stop busting my ass for drink drivin’? I was mixing a cocktail doing 80 and the smokies pull along side. I asked them if they wanted ice and then they busted me. Some people…


  • marc

    The only way that downtown was able to pile up 41% in D6 in 2006 was that it had a boogie man to run against, one which they spent six years successfully vilifying with a full court press. What failed at the ballot box has succeeded in plunging the Chronicle’s circulation by 25% over the past six months. Let’s hope that the Chronicle finally folds before Daly is termed out for some sweet, sweet revenge.

    With Chris Daly termed out, those district six residents with experience living and participating in politics within the district seeking to replace him have not (yet) been demonized by the press, and we need to keep it that way.

    Fortunately, most of those luxury condos which Daly allowed to be approved were built and purchased right at the cusp of the real estate bubble. Not only do many remain unsold, but I’d wager that many new homeowners are now underwater and might not be registered D6 voters in one year’s time, especially if interest rates rise next spring.

    Without a boogie man to rile people up against, and with a base that is actually diminishing now, for the first time in a decade, faster than our base can be displaced, one might see Rob Black’s performance in 2006 as a possible high water mark for downtown. What Black lacks in personality, Sparks makes up, but what Black had in politics, Sparks lacks. It does not matter what gender identity one pours into an empty dress, so long as she who wears the dress has no political moorings in these critical times.

    But the more that Chris Daly attaches his own personal opinions to the race to succeed him, the more that our own version of FOX News, the Chronicle and the WorldNetDaily crowd over at the SF Weekly, gets to rile up our own local tea baggers against the person Daly supports or in support of the person Daly opposes.

    Chris, you make good points because you are a brilliant political analyst. Now shut up in public as relates to your successor, continue to work behind the scenes to do what’s right over the remainder of your last term and in laying the groundwork to keep D6 progressive, and please take care to not give our opponents any targets linking you to the race to succeed you which might make things worse after you term out.

  • milkcluber

    Thanks, Chris, for bringing these issues forward. I am particularly concerned that Sparks is in a position to show favoritism to city contractors as HRC Director. That agency certifies whether a business is legitimately a minority-owned, woman-owned or small business for contract preferences, and can knock a business out of line or put them ahead of the line — even when a city commission deems a different contractor to be preferred. At one point HRC and the Airport were on the verge of suing each other over exactly this issue. Sparks can benefit by more than campaign contributions — she can benefit through endorsements and promotion.

    Secondly, Gascon alone should be reason to put Sparks through intensive questioning. He just named Greg Correles as Mission Station captain, which includes the Castro. The city’s leading marijuana activist still carries a bullet from Greg in his leg. Greg also told the media in 1990 that “I may shoot them and I may not” referring to AIDS protesters. And Greg led the raid to steal Bay Times newspapers because of the unflattering picture and story on then-chief Dick Hongisto. When Greg was suspended without pay for that action, he quickly lined up the old boys club to donate to cover his lost salary. If this reflects Gascon’s indifference to police misconduct records, particularly against LGBT people, it probably is a harbinger regarding his attitude toward other disadvantaged people. Sparks should be asked to apologize for this selection and to make public all the behind-the-scenes communications with the mayor’s office. She also should immediately resign as HRC Director.

  • Hope Johnson

    Handlers for Sparks are just testing the waters with the sfweekley article. They (maybe Alex Tourk?) want to know how the public responds to a transgender candidate and the various messages before Sparks is officially in the race. Anyway, I don’t believe Sparks will be the downtown candidate. She is springing from the Newsom-Leno power structure line and, in the long run, no way in hell is Willie Brown going to help them push Sparks in D6. Not conservative-looking enough. And they need Brown’s seal of approval to get D6.

  • jtothed

    Hope has, in my opinion, the right train of thought here. Newsom is in no way capable of propping up any candidate in any district.

    As for the HRC comments, they as a body are severely lacking in credibility because many of their recommended contractors would be jailed for wage/safety violations if the OLSE had a real budget to investigate and enforce labor laws. Just because something is “culturally” acceptable does not make it legal. Indentured Servitude is Indentured Servitude. Her continuing this farcical MBE/LBE program without legitimate enforcement should be enough to count her out for ALL progressively minded people.

    Finally on the Chris Daly comments on machine politics, give me a break! You have, quite successfully I might add, made serious inroads as a machine politician through your appointments, the rise of your former staff members, and your ability (right or wrong) to mobilize the voting public. You are not Phil Burton yet, but deeeeep down you want to be.


  • Ruth R. Snave

    Wow, take a look at this thread and the articles in SF Magazine and SF Weekly. No other potential candidate for next year’s supe race in any district has generated as much feeling as Theresa Sparks’s possible run in district six.

    So far, most of the feeling expressed in public venues appears to be positive. The most negative has come from Chris Daly and his core supporters.

    All of which, I would say, bodes well for Sparks.

    Daly has accumulated a lot of dents in his reputation because of his knuckle-dragging, testosterone style of doing politics over the years.

    And he hasn’t helped himself by the relocation of his family to a bourgeois suburb, while keeping a toe-hold for himself in a room in his SF district.

    Sparks is poised to present herself as the perfect antidote to testosterone abusiveness posing as progressive righteousness.

    She has good social skills, wit, and graciousness, all which have been sorely lacking on the part of Daly. And she can deflect the charge of carpet-bagging by pointing to Daly’s own creative living situation.

    My impression is that both district six and the city as a whole are moving forward toward an era of post-progressive reform, at the same time that Western civilization as a whole is moving forward toward post-modernism.

    Theresa Sparks can help spark the process on all scores.

  • Jiro

    In a respectful way, Daly has moved the conversation forward in District 6. Today’s electoral reality is that ranked choice has front loaded the local endorsement process so campaigns now start a 1 year before actual balloting. Why? While conceptually intriguing IRV’s runoff provision remains largely conceptual. It’s an illusion. Sophisticated candidates and interest groups know they get one shot. There is no second chance to stitch things together in a runoff — exit the capacity to experiment with interesting candidates or novel ideas about what San Francisco could be.

    Daly hints in the final two sentences of his essay where the D6 discussion needs to go. What does the Left do now that such a formidable candidate has emerged? One who can plausibly appeal to moderate as well as some progressive voters –those not swayed by the traditional endorsement mechanisms. Sparks has money and electoral resources (consultants, news coverage, endorsements) to go the distance.

    The Left may choose to play a local, electoral version of “Casino Capitalism” and roll the dice that self-interest, ruthlessly applied, will give the top spot to those willing to assume the greatest risks independent of whether they are fully conscious of them or not. The alternative is an ongoing conversation over the best strategies and tactics to prevent a Downtown takeover in D6. If the Left is serious about winning the Mayor’s office in 2011, after 22 years of being shut out, dealing with D6 would be healthy place to start.

  • marc

    If Daly had been building a machine, then the least he’d be doing would be hardwiring his successor like Peskin did, and would have won his bid for whatever mid level CADP functionary post he sought earlier this year.

    The only common threads that predominates Daly’s appointments are those which protect and empower the labor and the nonprofit communities, especially poor people and people of color.

    Had Daly gone for the jugular, he would have pointed out the absurdity of Newsom appointing someone to a $170K post overseeing fair contracting whose sole executive experience has been at the helm running San Francisco’s venerated major dildo operation into the ground.

    Perhaps the Human Rights Commission is or should be a major dildo operation, we know that the Board of Supervisors is more often than not, but do we want our major dildo operations run into the ground, fellow San Franciscans? I think not.


  • bee-cause


    Progressives have, in large part led by Supervisor Daly, been the leaders on housing, budget and education policy. My main concern is the lack of progressive framework on public safety (except foot patrol legislation which TL residents are pushing)-which is a top issue.

    On paper, Ms. Sparks looks great, but of course we know to possibly see through that. There are progressive Supervisors, particularly Campos and Mirkarimi, who have made great inroads in the arena of safety, BUT the next D6 “progressive” candidate needs to be solid on this.

    Cheif Gascon is highly disappointing on the issue of immigrant youth detention, changing his position within the last month. In dealing with the Tenderloin, though, he has made efforts to improve quality of life. I may disagree with the effectiveness of buy-busts, but foot patrols have increased tremendously and the beginning of the school year was impressive. From what I hear, Gascon is meeting next week with parents at an elementary school in the TL.

  • Ruth R. Snave

    I hope everyone reads and re-reads marc’s post above. It’s a classic example of the type of attack on Theresa Sparks that some progressives will launch against her and that will backfire, guaranteeing her victory.

    No one should be surprised by marc’s post. It’s part of a longstanding patriarchal pattern.

    Since the progressives took over the board of supes in 2001, they have been a guy thing. Whereas women were a majority in previous boards, the progressives brought in a ratio of ten men and one woman in 2001.

    When challenged on this point, some progressive ideologues (including marc, by the way) said that progressive men knew what was best for women. I kid you not.

    Then Chris Daly became the leader of the progressives. It was obvious from his personal behavior that he had zero familiarity with the feminist critique of Left males, a critique that came finally into its own in the 70s. Daly was a throwback to the Leftist male behavior pattern of the 50s and 60s.

    That testosterone tradition continues. Today the progressive block at the board consists of six males and no women. The progressive guys consolidated their control by supporting a rookie male over a veteran woman, Sophie Maxwell.

    And now, finally, comes marc’s post above.

    I have some news for you guys. A revolution is at hand, and it will start in district six. You should all be scared, very scared.

    Hold onto your balls and dicks, because –

    You can’t keep a good woman down!

  • marc

    “When challenged on this point, some progressive ideologues (including marc, by the way) said that progressive men knew what was best for women. I kid you not.

    Arthur, you needn’t lie in your screeds.

    What I said was that voters elected progressive men instead of women and that the voters know better than you what they want.

    Are you one of the few who feels that after Sparks’ service on the Police Commission that the SFPD is doing a better job than they were before she headed that Commission?

    Do you think that serving as CEO of a sex toys company, bringing it to the verge of bankruptcy is a qualification for heading a department that decides who gets the contracts?

    Do you think that it is proper that someone who oversees the letting of contracts is able under flimsy city ethics laws to take contributions from those firms for her election campaign?

    The truth is that we have no idea what Sparks’ politics are even though she has been invested with power for the better part of this decade. She appears to take whatever position pleases whomever is empowered to make a decision that concerns her advancement.

    First Ammiano appointed her to the Police Commission in order to secure the endorsement of the Tolkas club for Robert Haaland’s 2004 supervisorial bid. I know how much affection that Arthur Evans holds for Ammiano.

    Then Newsom overlooks her lack of qualifications and appoints her to a highly paid city job in anticipation of her run for supervisor. Likewise, Arthur Evans has been somewhat critical of Newsom’s administration.

    The same old, same old political merry go round is hardly the stuff of revolutions.

    But bring on the strong candidates, they galvanize us to make us do our best work!


  • Ann Garrison

    Question for Chris Daly, re this statement:

    “Progressive politics, which specifically challenges corporate power and special interests, is necessarily independent of the political machinery that feeds off of that very same corporate power and special interests.”

    Why then, Chris, do you remain such an undying Democratic Party loyalist?

    This is not a hostile question, just a question.

  • Joe Lynn

    I disagree with Marc’s implication on the legality of the Executive Director of the Human Rights Commission taking campaign contributions from contractors certified by her agency. “Do you think that it is proper that someone who oversees the letting of contracts is able under flimsy city ethics laws to take contributions from those firms for her election campaign?” It would be a violation of her conflict of interest obligations under the Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code. Of course, there is a real question as to whether the Ethics Commission has the professionalism to prosecute such violations, but I understand that at a recent Rules hearing, Sup. Daly indicated his personal satisfaction that it does. I personally believe his confidence is misplaced, but he has not given us any indication yet as to what inspired it. It could be the ultimate irony that the candidate he opposes is financed by illegal contributions which the Ethics Commission — which he supports — cannot police because of their own unprofessionalism.

  • Ruth R. Snave


    I enjoyed reading your entertaining post above in defense of the Six Guys Club that runs the supes.

    However, entertainment should always be tempered with accuracy. Hence some replies follow.

    You say:

    “you needn’t lie in your screeds. What I said was that voters elected progressive men instead of women and that the voters know better than you what they want.”

    Nope. You said progressive men know what’s best for women. Which is not surprising, since you also believe that progressive men know what’s best for everyone.

    You say:

    “Are you one of the few who feels that after Sparks’ service on the Police Commission that the SFPD is doing a better job than they were before she headed that Commission?”

    The problem with the SFPD has been its ineffective chief, Heather Fong. She was good as calming influence for a year or two but overstayed her usefulness. I have confidence that the new chief will improve things.

    You say:

    “Do you think that serving as CEO of a sex toys company, bringing it to the verge of bankruptcy is a qualification for heading a department that decides who gets the contracts?”

    The sex-toy companies have proliferated in recent years, over-saturating the market and driving down the profits of each. Go down to the Castro and see how many there are.

    Also, retail stores in general are hurting because of competition from the Internet and from the global economic collapse.

    You say:

    “Do you think that it is proper that someone who oversees the letting of contracts is able under flimsy city ethics laws to take contributions from those firms for her election campaign?”

    She hasn’t entered the ring yet at a candidate. She still may decide not to. But it’s great that merely by thinking of entering the race, she is rattling all the right cages.

    You say:

    “The truth is that we have no idea what Sparks’ politics are even though she has been invested with power for the better part of this decade.”

    If you know so little about her politics, then why do you feel so threatened by her? Reading your posts, one would think she was Karl Rove in drag.

    You say:

    “I know how much affection that Arthur Evans holds for Ammiano.”

    Arthur Evans admires Tom Ammiano’s record on social justice but criticizes his record on public safety.

    You say:

    “Arthur Evans has been somewhat critical of Newsom’s administration.”

    Arthur Evans believes that Newsom started out well but went off the track after two years.

    You say:

    “The same old, same old political merry go round is hardly the stuff of revolutions.”

    I take it that this is a reference to Chris Daly’s living situation. Or perhaps to the degeneration of the Milk Club into a machine for electing its own officers to public office.

    You say:

    “But bring on the strong candidates, they galvanize us to make us do our best work!”

    Hold onto your dick, she may be headed your way soon!

  • marc

    Babeland: Not Feeling the Recession
    Monday, December 1, 2008, by Izzy Grinspan

    Yesterday sex toy shop Babeland sent out an e-mail offering 10% off their products—a discount that seemed surprisingly low during a weekend when high-end stores like Barneys and Kirna Zabête are slashing prices by 50%. (We’re aware that this would be the perfect opportunity to make a Sex in the City–style pun about paying more for a plastic wang than an Alexander Wang, but we’re trying to control ourselves.)

    Anyway, the Post knows exactly why Babeland doesn’t need to offer a big sale this weekend: As economic times get tougher, people have less sex, and sales of marital aids go way up. “Toys in Babeland in SoHo is witnessing a rise in ‘appliance’ sales – nearly doubling units sold, to 3,304, between mid-October and mid-November, from the same period last year,” they report. “The Village sex shop The Pleasure Chest has seen a 13 percent increase in sales this quarter over the same time period last year.” Just something to keep in mind while investing.