Overheard in Fog City: Will Adachi Run?

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in News, Opinion, Politics

Published on June 09, 2011 with 7 Comments

Public Defender Jeff Adachi. File photo by Luke Thomas.

By Luke Thomas

June 9, 2011

There’s only one undeclared mayoral candidate that would have a dramatic impact on this year’s mayor’s race, and I’m not talking about interim Mayor Ed Lee, who has repeatedly said without equivocation he will not run.

That potential candidate is Public Defender Jeff Adachi who is singularly responsible for making this year’s mayor’s race a referendum on pension reform, the Care Not Cash, if you like, of 2003 that helped to elect then Supervisor Gavin Newsom over former Board of Supervisors President Matt Gonzalez to the mayoralty of San Francisco.

Yes, last year’s Prop B was not progressive or equitable and, quite frankly, was hastily assembled and arguably deserved to be crushed at the ballot.

But this year, Adachi listened to his detractors and has responded with a pension reform proposal that is both equitable and progressive, using tiered, sliding scale methodology to achieve its goal of re-balancing a structural imbalance between revenues and pension costs. And compared to Mayor Lee’s “consensus” pension and healthcare reform proposal, Adachi’s plan will save the city as much as $140 million per year, compared to only $60 million under Lee’s plan.

So what’s keeping Adachi from declaring his candidacy for mayor?  If he were to declare, Adachi’s candidacy would completely shake up the mayor’s race and amplify the conversation around pension reform.  Voters, fed up with special interests dictating public policy, might well see Adachi’s candidacy as refreshingly independent, the kind of elected that will remain fiercely loyal to the voters who elected him.

In a recent conversion with FCJ, Adachi did not rule out a possible run for mayor but said he is “focused” on gathering the required signatures for his revised pension reform ballot measure and declined to comment further.

As to when he’ll declare?  That’s anyone’s guess, but the smart money is on Adachi entering the mayor’s race after his pension reform ballot measure qualifies for the November ballot.

Why is a progressive Supervisor supporting a moderate for the Police Commission?

That’s a good question.  Apparently personal ties far outweigh any consideration for who is best qualified to serve the people of San Francisco.

Case in point, Supervisor David Campos is joining hands with the conservative-leaning bloc on the Board of Supervisors to support corporate defense attorney Julius Turman over civil rights attorney David Waggoner for the traditional LGBT seat on the San Francisco Police Commission, vacated by termed out commissioner Jim Hammer.

“They are both qualified from my perspective,” Campos said of Waggoner and Turman, “but I have known Julius since I first came to San Francisco in 1997.”

Turman, an attorney at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, defends corporations against claims of employer discrimination and wrongful termination and is affiliated with the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club.  He was considered a rising star in San Francisco politics until in 2006 Turman allegedly battered his then boyfriend, Philip Horne.

“He was never charged with those offenses,” Campos said.

True.  Then District Attorney Kamala Harris, who is also a personal friend of Turman, refused to prosecute Turman despite a police report detailing injuries consistent with battery.  Turman, without admitting guilt, later settled the matter with Horne for an undisclosed amount before being deposed in a civil case brought against Turman by Horne.

Which raises the question, will Turman need to recuse himself from police commission complaints regarding domestic violence should the Board appoint Turman over Waggoner, and why would Campos or any other supervisor continue to support a candidate for a City commission who may be subject to a conflict of interest on such issues?

Waggoner has four solid votes from Supervisors Jane Kim, Ross Mirkarimi, Eric Mar and John Avalos.  Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, who did not respond to an invitation seeking comment, will, according to Supervisor Kim, vote along with Campos.

The Board is expected to vote on the matter Tuesday.  All eyes will be on Campos and Chiu.

Supervisor David Campos.

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 Overheard in Fog City: Will Adachi Run? are now closed.

  1. Chris Roberts has a nice piece documenting that Julius Turman fails to show up to the Human Rights Commission:


  2. Adachi for mayor, Gonzalez for DA and Mirkarimi for sheriff

  3. If Adachi runs, where exactly does he get his support?

    I know, RCV and all… but keep in mind, under RCV you have to get BOTH second/third choice votes AND a fair amount of first choice votes. If you don’t have enough first choice votes to put you in the top tier, it doesn’t matter if you’re everybody’s second choice, because you’ll be eliminated early in the rounds.

    With that said, where does Adachi pick up his core first choice base?

    Progressives? No, they’ll go for Avalos and Yee before Adachi after he tried to take away people’s pensions.

    Asian identity voters? No, the great majority of those voters are Chinese, not Japanese. And they’ll go for Yee and Chiu before Adachi.

    Moderates and conservatives? Some Adachi partisans may want to delude themselves that his healthcare/pension grab will win those votes, but in the end, there are far better choices for those people -real mod/conservatives like Michaela, Dufty, Herrera, Hall… even Chiu. They know that deep down inside Adachi is still a progressive on most issues. There’s no reason to vote for a one-issue conservative when you have real, multi-issue conservatives.

    Who else? Labor? Anyone BUT Adachi.

    In short, it’s a nonstarter. Adachi has no base.

  4. @h. Think you may be right, again. Of the three I think he has the best chance of solidifying progs and fellow travellers, also the potential to reach a broader base. I know he’s not ‘actively’ seeking an IRV strategy at this time but would be open to it. I think it’s critical. Going up against the increased power, money and control of “La Famiglia” and it’s capos is going to be an even more daunting task this time. The ‘Asian’ vote is obviously formidable.
    But, nil desperandum, maybe The Big One, a Tsunami, or both, will hit, then we’d have a thriving economy, full employment and lotsa new waterfront property to give away.

  5. With RCV, you can bet on a strong Asian influence. Most likely scenario for Asian bloc votes:
    Leland Yee
    David Chiu
    Phil Ting
    Forget about a progressive being elected. Not going to happen.

  6. Adachi should get in,

    My monthly $20 contribution to a political candidate or campaign (you should all do it cause I’m much poorer than you and I do) … went to John Avalos for the 3rd straight month. Cause, he’s the only Progressive in the campaign other than Terry Baum who’s not really rolling but I think that the only prayer John has is that Adachi or Gonzalez or both enter and he get’s their second place votes.

    Folks, this is like Ammiano in 2003. Polls said he didn’t have a prayer against Newsom and that’s why Gonzalez entered the campaign. There was a lot of bitterness because of Matt Gonzalez’s late entry but if he hadn’t entered the Progs wouldn’t have had a chance. It’s the same this year.

    I have no idea if Jeff or Matt will enter this race but if neither do we’re in for 8 more years of Willie Brown.

    Eliot Hillis for Mayor!!