Ed Lee Nomination: Out With the Old and In With the Old

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in Politics

Published on January 05, 2011 with 8 Comments

City Adminstrator Ed Lee is poised to replace Lt. Governor-elect Gavin Newsom as interim mayor. File photo by Luke Thomas.

By Luke Thomas

January 5, 2011

Amidst all the drama, theatrics, subterfuge and intrigue, what did San Franciscans learn following last eve’s yet-to-be-confirmed nomination of City Administrator Ed Lee as interim mayor to replace Lt. Governor-elect Gavin Newsom?

Termed out Supervisor Bevan Dufty deserves an Oscar nomination for his acting performance. Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, depending on who you ask,  is not and never has been a progressive. Former Mayor Willie Brown and Rose Pak are the behind-the-scenes puppeteers pulling the political strings in San Francisco development politics, and progressive hopes of taking back room 200 in November have been dealt a temporary blow.

Before the voting began, it was already known City Administrator Ed Lee, a soft-spoken bureaucrat with strong ties to Newsom, Pak and Brown, already had the required six votes to win the nomination. Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, who nominated Lee, approached the press box to wager a bet that Lee would win the nomination over Sheriff Michael Hennessey who, at the time, was leading with five votes to Lee’s four votes.

A smug Supervisor Sean Elsbernd.

Having punted during the first round of voting, claiming he “didn’t want to preclude other individuals from being considered,” Dufty was now in a position to decide who would be appointed interim mayor. Rather than just vote how he intended to vote (for Lee), Dufty called for a 20-minute recess and strode over to the mayor’s office with fellow faux fence sitter Supervisor Sophie Maxwell (both termed out on Saturday) in tow.

Supervisors Bevan Dufty and Sophie Maxwell.

Following their meeting with Newsom and Chief of Staff Steve Kawa, Dufty returned to Board chambers and announced he would be casting the deciding sixth vote for Lee.

“No. Sophie was with me, so you can ask her that I did not either raise the notion of being endorsed (for mayor), nor has that been discussed,” responded  Dufty when asked if he had been “offered anything” in return for his deciding vote for Lee. “I swear that was not in my head, nor what we discussed.”

As in most things political, maximizing a candidate’s probability to win a mayoral election rests heavily on popular citywide support, or remaining loyal to the established and moneyed power brokers who can help a less popular candidate buy an election. Hennessey, a popular independent who has no such establishment ties, could not have helped in the same way as the Newsom/Brown/Pak machine in Dufty’s quest to win the mayor’s office in November.

As for Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, loyal to Pak and by extension to Brown and Newsom, did not skip a beat in not upsetting his benefactors. His vote remained firm with Lee throughout.   The question remains unanswered as to whether Chiu will accept Newsom’s offer to appoint him to DA to replace Attorney General-elect Kamala Harris, or whether he will roll the dice and attempt to hold on to the Board presidency with a view to running for mayor against Dufty, Senator Leland Yee and City Attorney Dennis Herrera.

Seemingly more incensed by Chiu’s vote for Lee than Dufty’s, Supervisor Chris Daly blasted Chiu: “We ostensibly had a progressive majority on this Board of Supervisors,” he said. “We had an opportunity and we made the biggest fumble in San Francisco political history. The blame probably goes to many places, but certainly it rests squarely on the shoulders of President David Chiu and I’m willing to point others out as well.”

“I will haunt you,” an infuriated Daly said, staring at Chiu. “I will politically haunt you for the biggest fumble in the history of San Francisco politics. It’s on like Donkey Kong.”

Supervisor Chris Daly

“Shame on me,” added Supervisor John Avalos. “We got played.”

In the end, Supervisor David Campos and Avalos saved the day for the progressive camp, successfully garnering six votes to push back a final vote to Friday, providing Board members a temporary reprieve and an opportunity to discuss with Lee, after previously stating he had no interest in being interim mayor, why he is now interested in the placeholder post.

“This decision is not supposed to be about partisan politics,” Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, who voted for Lee, said with a straight face. “It’s not supposed to be about putting a progressive or having a shot at a power grab. We’re supposed to be putting someone in office who is going to represent the City and County of San Francisco and who is going to do it well.”

“I would like to applaud Supervisor Dufty and I would like to applaud the president of this Board for the stands they have taken,” Alioto-Pier added.

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas is a former software developer and computer consultant who proudly hails from London, England. In 2001, Thomas took a yearlong sabbatical to travel and develop a photographic portfolio. Upon his return to the US, Thomas studied photojournalism to pursue a career in journalism. In 2004, Thomas worked for several neighborhood newspapers in San Francisco before accepting a partnership agreement with the SanFranciscoSentinel.com, a news website formerly covering local, state and national politics. In September 2006, Thomas launched FogCityJournal.com. The BBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, New York Times, Der Spiegel, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, 7x7, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Weekly, among other publications and news outlets, have published his work. Thomas is a member of the Freelance Unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521 and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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Comments for Ed Lee Nomination: Out With the Old and In With the Old are now closed.

  1. @Jerry: Plenty of people saw it coming. Going down there to talk at the Supes is ridiculous; we just burn a lot of our energies and change no one’s mind about anything. Those of us who went down there just wasted a huge amount of time.

  2. hope you can read past my typos–

  3. More on the “lesser-evil” Brown which I think best sums him up:


    Almost everywhere one looks today the will of the people is shushed by hypocritical paeans to sacrifice.. by disingenuous platitudes to “support the troops”… by extolling the orderly transference of power… to the sanctity of the Constitution (really?!)…to avowals of “working together”…to embarrassingly vapid declarations of love for family and religion. I can picture Billy Graham scratching his ass like he really cares.

    I just watched a video clip of Nancy Pelosi handing the Speaker’s gavel to John Boehner. Her peformance and tittering made me think of the rectitude I’d once observed in high school cheerleaders at a pep rally– so phonily canned and unimaginative: she couldn’t help pointing out that John Boehner had desired a “big” gavel– as opposed to a small one? Touché!

    Infantile symbolism seems key to keeping a brainwashed public in line.

    Boehner seemed to fidgit and mopped his nose when his family was mentioned. Strangely, I thought he may as well have been Foster Brooks. (And the stiffly assembled, in their Sunday best– might well as bee as cobwebbed as Parliament in Peter O’Toole’s Ruling Class). Who cares? What does it matter?

    Or back in San Francisco: Ed Lee? or Hennesy? Or…?

    All these characters seem mostly interchangeable– the best fitting always the most amenable to trying to act like grown-ups which invariably pleases the illusions of other children, like Michela Alioto-Pier.

    And the ones who make it to the top? They never care about you or me. They depend on the symbols and the gravitas handed them from their more pious underlings. They count on their game of politics tantalizing us into believing we share a stake, when the real game is rigged to serve at any cost only the masters of profit and power.

    I love it when someone shatters an illusion with an “outburst” like Daly. I hope he keeps on them like Donkey Kong– better I would love to see him break with them and run for mayor as an independent– if for no other sake than giving us a chance to hear from someone “how it really is.” Who else would give us that opportunity?

    Theresa Sparks, Hope?

    Ticking all the right boxes and playing the game by the rulers’ rules is commendable, I suppose. Fairfield? What’s wrong with changing one’s mind when situations change? That’s waht a real adult does.

    Back to where we are:

    Austerity is the new program. Death and destruction is the ongoing program. Transfer of wealth to the few including the privatization of public capital continues. “Charity” depends on money flow and someone drawing interest. No money? Kill it? Union? Fire them!

    Each day I glance at a website to view photos and read about soldiers sacrificed abroad for lies.

    Our enemy are the same who send them to kill for lies.

    Brainwash education… so much brainwash education.

    And NORAD can track Santa. Wink.

  4. People act like they didn’t see something like this coming. h brown and I both warned people about Chiu. Not only is Newsom going to appoint him DA but is going to pick his replacement on the board. And it will all happen before the 10th.

  5. And why’s Jerry Brown letting Newsom get away with this? Newsom can’t have done this without Brown’s promise to keep the Lt. Gov’s seat warm for him while he brokers the Board’s selection of the new mayor and appoints the next D.A.

    The new governor’s collaboration in such sleazy politics with his former rival suggests that California’s Democratic Administration is going to be as thoroughly uninterested in the majority of those they supposedly represent as Arnold Schwarzenegger was.

    But why expect anything new from the Governor who said he made Prop 13 work before and he’ll make it work again?

    And, Schwarzenegger and Newsom, if not Brown, share so many allies, including the Lennar Corporation, and what’s left of Lehman Brothers, the shadow of Lennar’s former partner in so many crimes.

  6. Peskin doesn’t look happy about this.

  7. It was great seeing you Mike and taking a much needed break while Dufty and Maxwell were meeting with Newsom and Kawa. At that point, and based on what Dufty had told me the day before, I actually thought I was going to win the bet with you and Elsbernd.

    Now I owe you a quarter and Elsbernd a beer. The sad part? Elsbernd already knew Dufty was in the bag for Lee.

  8. Dear Luke: You owe me a quarter. (We bet on whether it would be Hennessy or Lee when Dufty the Drama Queen returned from his little “recess just because” with Newsom et al in Room 200.) David Chiu had better take the DA job because he’s such an obvious snake he’s not fooling anybody anymore. You should have seen him sitting with Newsom and Larry Ellison today in City Hall during the America’s Cup extravaganza, grinning from ear to ear.

    Nice account, by the way, of yesterday’s shenanigans. It really was sort of stomach churning watching the pontificating, and not very smart, progressives getting played by the same old powers that be.