Thanks Gavin, Willie and Rose
For Saving Us From Democracy

Written by FCJ Editor. Posted in Opinion, Politics

Published on January 08, 2011 with 10 Comments

Former Mayor Willie Brown and Rose Pak are the biggest winners in San Francisco politics after successfully out-maneuvering the Board of Supervisors' left flank with the nomination of City Administrator Ed Lee as San Francisco's interim mayor. Photos by Luke Thomas.

By Tommi Avicolli Mecca

January 8, 2011

Not pleased with who the San Francisco Board of Supervisors was about to appoint as interim mayor, Gavin Newsom, Willie Brown and Rose Pak donned tights and capes and flew in at the eleventh hour to save the good citizens of Gotham City by convincing our elected representatives that City Administrator Ed Lee was the better man for the job.

Newsom is the reason there’s an interim mayor. He got himself elected lieutenant governor in November. Then he decided he’d postpone his swearing-in so he could appoint his own replacement. Brown is the former mayor who used to call the Board of Supervisors his “mistresses.” And Pak is Chinatown’s longtime wheeler and dealer.

“There were no deals, no backroom deals,” Lt. Governor-elect Gavin Newsom insisted.

These three know what’s best for all of us.

Silly faggot that I am, I thought David Campos, out queer Latino supervisor, would make a good interim mayor. I penned an op ed in my blog and in the Bay Area Reporter, set up a Facebook page and even dragged my tired butt to City Hall for public testimony to talk to our eleven elected representatives on the Board. I wasn’t the only one.

Though we had disagreements about who should be in room 200, those of us who went to those meetings were in agreement that the Board needed to talk about it all openly and not engage in secret back room deals and discussions.

It was to no avail. Supervisor Bevan Dufty was no doubt reading Machiavelli (in preparation for his last-minute deceptions), and Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier preparing the wine list for that new restaurant in Pacific Whites. If they heard at all, the supervisors didn’t comment on our testimony. They postponed discussing the matter week after week, ignoring the nagging voice on the extreme left side of the room that kept pushing for an “open community process.”

Supervsior Bevan Dufty and Newsom Chief of Staff Steve Kawa embrace at last eve's banquet honorong Supervisor-elect Jane Kim.

Sorry, Supervisor Chris Daly, I’m not sure we’re capable of an “open community process,” even here in San Francisco.

Ours is a broken system where money can often buy any office you want, where elected officials are more accountable to those who fill their election coffers than those who elect them, and where invisible hands pull strings behind closed doors but those hands don’t belong to benevolent wizards.

Tell Dorothy and Toto never to land here.

It’s not that City Administrator Ed Lee is a bad man. He has a past record of helping the little guy, including tenants in public housing. And his appointment is a first for Asian Americans. Maybe Ed Lee will be a fine caretaker mayor. But in the final analysis, it’s not about Ed Lee. It’s about how rotten things are in Denmark by the bay.

Interim mayor-elect Ed Lee.

Do the Gav, Willie and Rose now get to chose when San Francisco will have its first out queer mayor? Shades of the times of Harvey Milk when our crusading gay activist was told by the Democratic machine that it wasn’t the right time for an out queer supervisor. Harvey said hell no, and ran anyway–three times until he beat the machine.

In November, there will be a lot of folks from various communities vying for room 200 of City Hall. Will the dynamic trio rush in to decide who out of the cast of thousands should get the starring role?

It’s all so shameful, right down to the fact that the New York Times (via not the Chron or Examiner, broke the story about the dynamic trio’s role in Ed Lee’s appointment. I knew local journalism was a joke, but being scooped by a paper 3,000 miles away?

Brown is a columnist for the Chron. I don’t want to sound paranoid, but is it really an accident that the Chron didn’t break the story?

Frankly, it all leaves me with a sense of disgust.


Comments for Thanks Gavin, Willie and Rose
For Saving Us From Democracy
are now closed.

  1. Unfortunately this is not the end of the Newsom era, the putrid stench of his corruption will be with us for many more years.
    My fears about D8, my ‘hood, being the bellweather district have been realised, the first official act of “their” supervisor was to vote supporting Elsbernd for President of BOS. Shameful, and a portent of bad things to come.

  2. My idea for a moving sidewalk between Union Square and Chinatown through the Stockton Street Tunnel is unlikely to be seriously considered, but I submit that Chinatown has been distressed for years especially because of poor transit planning and that more imaginative solutions to vitalize the district are desperately needed. The planned subway to Chinatown will be a boondoggle of crippling proportions: overkill for surmounting very minor geographical (and psychological) barriers.

    Short as it is, The Stockton Tunnel is Chinatown’s chief lifeline to the downtown (and vice versa). Old people tell me they avoid walking through it because it is dim and not exactly welcoming. It should be spruced up at at the least. It now seems mostly neglected.

    For myself, I can picture safe pedestrian-friendly people movers to link Union Square to Chinatown through the Stockton Street choke point.

  3. @Rob, and the upzoning along 4th Street under the guise of Transit Oriented Development (that also happens to be a few blocks from the freeways) is what much of this is about.


  4. Instead of the completely symbolic Lee versus Hennessey vote and complaining about the influence of Rose Pak and Willie Brown, city progressives endorse the subway to Chinatown deal that Brown and Pak arranged years ago. That boondoggle is going to be with us long after the Lee/Hennessey kerfuffle is long forgotten.

  5. The point is to use contracting to control campaign contributions and to keep the cash flowing from the enterprise departments, state agencies and Planning Department entitlements.

    Steve Kawa knows what to do and that is why he will be staying put making sure your tax dollars go to work for them and against you.


  6. Let’s see. The vote for Interim-Mayor Lee was 10-1 with lame duck Chris Daly dissenting. If Mr. Lee is such an evil backroom deal, the “progressives” on the Board could have just said “NO!”
    This year the office of mayor is a “tar baby.” With all the draconian budget cuts coming and political enemies they will create, I can’t picture how any real politician looking to the future fall election would want the job. That’s why only “caretaker” interim mayors were considered, neither a “progressive machine politician” or a “Newsom-Brown machine politician” has a political future this year at that job. In fact, the cuts are probably the reason that Gavin Newsom took a much less politically powerful post in Sacramento.

  7. The results of last November’s Supes’ races made it pretty clear that San Francisco’s a lost cause to “progressives.” It’s not a label I identify with, but FCJ readers share a very vague idea of what that means here.

    Considering the Board’s capitulation, this year, to the RDA and the Lennar Corporation, and the equation of might and right in its passive aggressive invitation to the Blue Angels Air Show, I don’t think there was ever much reason to expect anything different of this Board either.

    And the Asian identity politics that enabled this triumph for imperial San Francisco are as depressing as the Obama election.

    In the end it seemed as much about proving who’s still boss as much as anything else.

  8. PS:

    Luke, do you think you could raise at least a million?

  9. I would be disgusted, like Tommi, if it it weren’t for him and a lot of other smart people (many who visit this site) who see through the illusions.

    [btw– I discovered Medicine for Melancholy at the library yesterday– which I was quite enjoying until the dvd crapped out on me about the time Tommi shows up in it! Hope to get a hold of another copy soon so I can finish watching it.]

    My tune is always the same: We must break completely with a system that does not work for us. /They/ listen to us only insofar as our demands do not effect /their/ goals.

    I often come to regret any interaction I have had with our corrupt system. Even perceived victories soon exposes how the system makes end runs: for instance, unions win concessions while workers are still shafted. Nonprofits are salvaged, and employees are fired en masse. Why?

    I have always been an admirer of the writer Erich Fromm who concerned his life with exposing illusions and getting past trivia to encourage us to healthier, more productive lives. In so many ways, he was ahead of his time.

    Unfortunately, I think most people who are proud of their rationality (including myself, hopefully not always) still fail to recognize the malice that often lurks behind professional politicians’ smiles, schmoozing, and promises. (Think of the hypocrisy of “Care Not Cash”.)

    Fromm had some good insights about discovering the truth. Could the person you are dealing with be oriented to Biofilia (the love of life) or Necrofilia (love for death, and all that is dead… especially money)? I am sad to say that many we give credit for good belie their orientation by their tight lips regarding grave issues. Chomsky, for example, (who was awarded by the Erich Fromm society last year– I protested): said about 9/11: “Who Cares?”

    There is great joy for me in recognizing people who fight for justice without any desire for profit, who do what is right only because it is good. They are often, not invariably, open books. You can read in their face; they don’t disappear to answer a cellphone or because they are out of time.

    They are heros– and often go unsung.

  10. Our so called progressive supervisors, need to be held accountable for their actions! What are the consequences for San Francisco politics, now that the progressive base in San Francisco is reeling in doubt and confusion?.