2010’s Top Five Most Interesting People in SF Politics

Written by Hope Johnson. Posted in Opinion, Politics

Published on December 31, 2010 with 14 Comments

Hope Johnson. Photos by Luke Thomas.

By Hope Johnson

December 31, 2010

5. Theresa Sparks

San Francisco Human Rights Commission Executive Director Theresa Sparks makes no secret her life story includes physically transitioning from a man to a woman.  Yet, she was considered the most conservative candidate in the November race for District 6 supervisor.

Human Rights Commission Executive Director Theresa Sparks.

4. Kimo Crossman

Open government advocate Kimo Crossman blew the whistle on San Francisco’s Assessor’s Office in March when he discovered it had failed to collect $3.5 million in property transfer tax from Morgan Stanley.  That’s more than half the amount Fix Muni supporters boasted saving the city by eliminating worker health care, and it goes directly into the general fund.

Kimo Crossman. Photo via Facebook.

3. David Chiu

Supervisor David Chiu is enjoying the catbird seat in San Francisco’s countdown to an interim mayor for San Francisco.  As Board President, he will automatically become acting mayor when Gavin Newsom is sworn in as state Lieutenant Governor, and could remain so indefinitely if he can prevent the Board of Supervisors from agreeing on the selection of an interim mayor.  So far he successfully delayed the current Board from discussing potential candidates by diverting attention to discussion of a process for making the choice instead.  Next hurdles are the last meeting of the politically divided current Board then the new Board sworn in on January 8th.

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu.

2. Jeff Adachi

No one in San Francisco expected a politically taboo pension reform measure to be placed on the November ballot by the unquestionably progressive Public Defender Jeff Adachi.  Adachi bravely endured the backlash and now the whole country is talking painful pension reform.  As a successful public defender, Adachi is used to presenting hard realities to his clients and pension reform was no exception.  When those who opposed his version get a glimpse of the government’s version, they’ll wish they had heeded his warning.

Public Defender Jeff Adachi.

1. Jane Kim

San Francisco’s progressive left elected leaders and its media spent years campaigning and colluding for DCCC member Debra Walker to replace Chris Daly as District 6 supervisor this November.  Undaunted, School Board President Jane Kim calmly campaigned and won handily, despite Walker’s “earning” key early endorsements before all candidates had even been qualified to run.

District 6 Supervisor-elect Jane Kim.

Special New Year’s Eve Toasts

To Julian Assange for keeping the public informed on government actions whether good, misguided, or just plain evil.  Be certain to catch the eye-opening movie Inside Job to fully appreciate the upcoming Wikileaks release of the banking and financial sector secrets.  It’s the economic meltdown cause uncovered.

To the surviving members of The Doors and Jim Morrison’s family for telling Florida to take its pardon of Jim Morrison and shove it.  They believe Morrison was the victim of “grandstanding ambitious politicians” violating freedom of speech and deserves an apology not a pardon.  Their response to the pardon for lewd behavior charges is a must read for freedom of speech advocates.

The Trends

Out:   Political divisions by party (i.e., Democrats v. Republicans)
In:      Class warfare (i.e., extreme wealth v. lower middle class)

Out:   Aaron Peskin
In:      David Chiu

Out:   DCCC Endorsements
In:      Independent, boots on the ground, grassroots field campaigns

Out:    Sophie Maxwell’s “swing” vote (aka “What did those wealthy people offer you this time?”)
In:       Eric Mar’s “swing” vote

Out:    Dilution of progressive votes by multiple candidates
In:       Dilution of Asian votes by multiple candidates (think Leland Yee and Phil Ting versus maybe David Chiu for mayor)

Out:    Gavin Newsom
In:       ???????


Comments for 2010’s Top Five Most Interesting People in SF Politics are now closed.

  1. My name is Harold Miller and I am a out of work taxi cab driver here in San Francisco and I am running for mayor in 2011, and I would love to have your endorsement. and I know you don’t know me from Adam but I am a good man and the President of the Sunnydale Tenants Association for the passed two years. Or any help you can give me would be gratefully appreciated. 415-841-0840 http://www.haroldmiller4mayor.com

  2. @Hope, thanks for your replies.

    “San Francisco Human Rights Commission Executive Director Theresa Sparks makes no secret her life story includes physically transitioning from a man to a woman. Yet, she was considered the most conservative candidate in the November race for District 6 supervisor.”

    “Theresa Sparks was included because in over 90% of the country she would be perceived very differently as a candidate than she is here in San Francisco.”


    “Which states, if I might paraphrase: Sparks has transitioned, therefore it is surprising that she was considered the most conservative candidate in liberal District 6.”

    Either Sparks as a trans person was a “novelty” candidate whose candidacy would never be viable anywhere else, or she should not have been considered conservative because she is a trans person.

    From memory, in 1998, Denise D’Anne ran for citywide supervisor and came within a place or two of a seat. In 2000, Joan Roughgarden and Denise D’Anne ran for the D6 seat. In 2004 Robert/Gabriel Haaland ran for the D5 seat. Glendon Anna Conda Hyde represented in 2010 as a drag queen. Am I forgetting anyone?

    We’ve evolved to the point where there is nothing especially “interesting” when a trans person runs for office in San Francisco.

    When a trans person wins a seat, that will be “interesting.”

    I mean, if Chris Daly ran for office in most of the flyover, most of those voters’ heads would explode. Ditto Scott Weiner and Gavin Newsom.

    From the PC standpoint, yeah, people don’t like to be wrongly pigeon holed politically based on queer status I’m not trying to bully you, Hope. The point I’m trying to make is that deducing political orientation from sexual orientation or gender identity is notoriously unreliable.


  3. Ms. Johnson-

    Excellent list. Agree with others – Adachi is clear #1. He will be proven to have been correct. Amazing to see folks still peddling their idiocy on the topic- but I have to hand it to em, a lot of voters bought their b.s.; meanwhile the City moves towards bankruptcy.

  4. I appreciate and welcome Marc’s opinion of my thoughts but want to make it clear he does not speak on my behalf and his “translation” is his own opinion. Politically correct bullying will not change that I find it interesting Sparks is a very conservative candidate here and a very liberal candidate most other places. The physical transition from one sex to another is a progressive idea that most of our voting country has not yet come to terms with.

    Along the same lines, I cannot speak on behalf of Adachi as to whether or not his measure was worth the political fallout. But that would be an interesting story for him to tell.


  5. @Hope, you wrote:

    “San Francisco Human Rights Commission Executive Director Theresa Sparks makes no secret her life story includes physically transitioning from a man to a woman. Yet, she was considered the most conservative candidate in the November race for District 6 supervisor.”

    Which states, if I might paraphrase: Sparks has transitioned, therefore it is surprising that she was considered the most conservative candidate in liberal District 6.

    In other places, Sparks would be derided as a freak (in the bad sense of that word). We’re not in other places. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall seeing Sparks’ trans status raised as an issue during the campaign at all while her politics were painted as out of step with District Six, a characterization ratified at the ballot box. Here in San Francisco, we know that what matters is not the color of one’s skin, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation rather the content of one’s character.

    Adachi avoided compromise and working with his past allies in crafting Prop B. For instance, SEIU 1021 agreed to contribute 7.5% to the pension fund starting the beginning of next fiscal year in the last round of contract negotiations. Adachi went to the ballot demanding 9%. Is that 1.5% worth the political bloodshed that Adachi and Moritz instigated? Yes, we must make difficult choices in tough times, but Prop B shifted all the burdens onto the shoulders of working families and left those wealthy who benefit the most financially from government completely and totally off the hook, except that their hedge funds get goosed when people throw their money into the equities markets when they get insecure about retirement after a 20 year relentless campaign to that effect.

    Instead of negotiating with labor, rumor has it that Adachi and Moritz are coming back for a second round. Why was Prop B better than any other reform model? What other reform models are out there? What about other gargantuan pots of money that can be tapped but would require making “difficult choices” that stepped on the toes of affluent and corrupt constituencies that count?

    Yeah, Adachi’s political meltdown was interesting last year, in the same way that Barack Obama’s political meltdown was interesting and for many of the same reasons. Adachi’s performance in 2010 was as interesting as someone pissing on your leg and telling you that its raining interesting.


  6. @ Marc

    Theresa Sparks was included because in over 90% of the country she would be perceived very differently as a candidate than she is here in San Francisco.

    Jeff Adachi’s introducing pension reform is interesting for a variety of reasons including the issues you discuss. To add to the information you provide, Adachi’s measure did attempt to avoid San Francisco declaring bankruptcy. Bankruptcy allows a local municipality to reject collective bargaining agreements, including retirement benefits, and restructure, giving unions less negotiating power than without bankruptcy. You personally may not believe local governments will file bankruptcy but union leaders clearly do believe. They have been lobbying the state to make it more difficult for local municipalities to declare bankruptcy.


  7. @Hope, what in the world does sexual orientation, gender or genital configuration have to do with political orientation? Can I divine your politics by the fact that your gender is female?

    As far as Adachi goes, there is nothing interesting when someone who was floated into power on progressive blood, sweat and tears teams up with right wing billionaires like investment banker Michael Moritz (who also contributed to the divisive GOTV for moderates measure Prop L) to further “deficit hawk” Peter Peterson’s savaging what few pensions remain, public sector employee and Social Security, after private sector employees have been forced to trust Wall Street with our retirement funds.

    We’d do as well to take our cues on how we deal with homosexuality from the mythology of the Christian Coalition than listen to the founder of Blackrock’s holy words for guidance on how to handle pensions.

    I do not believe that San Franciscans will buy into the notion that we should forgo retirement and health care security to make Wall Street gamblers whole on their losses at the table and keep trillions flowing to prosecute endless wars.

    The resources labor dedicated to beating Prop B might have helped progressives win supervisor races in districts where they lost, any labor boost was not noted in the ballot measures and appeared to not take place in the even numbered districts.


  8. “Most interesting”? Now there’s a category devoid of political content! Jeff Adachi and Crossman are the two who performed a real public service. (It’s the dirty secret of our “progressive” city government: how difficult it can be getting documents from our permanent government.) Theresa Sparks will do a lot better at the polls if she runs for a citywide office. Until proven otherwise, Kim is just another pretty face and a successful carpetbagger.

  9. Hope, as always, brava.
    It’s about time one of “our representatives” had the cojones to stand up to the Downtown mafioso and revitalise Sue Bierman’s 1995 Prop O, end explore the possibility of a Downtown Transit Assessment District.
    Wanna fix Muni and make it the operation it could be, a Public Transportation service. Then this is the way to do it.
    I just hope Jane Kim follows through on her stated intent to focus on this.
    @h. Agree, Adachi #1 – about time someone faced reality without fear or favor. Not sure why Chiu is there.
    @Hope. Tx for link to the Lizard King. Read and posted stuff on FB.

  10. We know Kimo from our last three years of experience at the Sunshine Ordinance hearings, which we unfortunately had to file several cases in order to have access of public records that the city employees do their best to withhold from the public.

    They say every cloud has a silver lining and this cloud’s silver lining is Kimo Crossman. If it wasn’t for Kimo and Allen Grossman, I’m sure our Sunshine Ordinance cases we would have lost.

    Kimo, Allen, Ray Hartz and Peter Warfield – the Sunshine posse – have put in hundreds of hours at the Sunshine hearings to protect the people’s rights. They are truly an irreplaceable asset for the citizens.

    Kimo, it’s no surprise that the Assessor’s office did not authorize an up to 10% reward payout, if they overlooked 3.5 million, it’s much easier to over 10%.

    In any event we congratulate you in this well deserved recognition.
    Happy New Year!!!!! to all.

  11. Your posts are wonderful, and thanks for including Kimo Crossman in the list. He really is an unsung private citizen working for the public just by paying attention.

  12. Pension reform, sure okay. Going to the ballot alone, not okay. Bad move, extremely bad politics.

  13. Kimo,

    Herrera is the guy who has to approve of paying whistle-blowers. Last I looked he’d refused compensation to 18 out of 20.

    I like your list, Hope. Beautifully researched and writtten. I’d only move Kim to #5 and elevate Adachi to #1. Jeff shook the City and the nation from a dangerous slumber while Jane ran around collecting money from Willie Brown and Rose Pak and repeating over and over that she wanted “to serve” and was, for some reason, opposed to bed bugs. Hardly in the same league as the accomplishments of Adachi and the others.

    Happy New Year!

    (Those without plans meet me at Buck’s Tavern 8pm)


  14. Thanks, what a surprise! And while Phil Ting, Assessor did not authorize an up to 10% reward payout, this is a great consolation. Also appreciate the legal representation from Steve Gruel in this matter. http://www.gruellaw.com/