Lee Files for Mayor, Candidates Respond,
Protester Calls for Lee to “Step Down”

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

Published on August 08, 2011 with 10 Comments

With his wife and daugther by his side, an all smiles interim Mayor Ed Lee officially declared his candidacy for Mayor this morning to seek a full-term. Photos by Luke Thomas.

By Luke Thomas

August 8, 2011

If this morning’s announcement of interim Mayor Ed Lee’s official candidacy in the race for mayor, which included a protester calling for Lee to step down and fellow candidates lobbing accusations of dishonesty and lies at Lee, is any indication of what Lee will have to endure on the campaign trail, this year’s mayor’s race has the making of one of the most contentious battles in the history of San Francisco politics.

The race will come down to integrity and character of which Ed Lee is now seemingly bereft, and a battle for the many over the enriched few.

If anyone is to blame, it’s the San Francisco power elite and the development special interests that engineered Lee’s “caretaker” appointment through backroom deals from the get go – with the ultimate goal of controlling Room 200 contracts and its lucrative $7 billion purse for the next eight years.

The plan was executed to perfection with the complicity of then Mayor Gavin Newsom who was all too willing to pervert the course of democracy by delaying his swearing in as Lt. Governor, not due to an emergency or some other acceptable reason, but to service the same benefactors Lee is expected to serve.

The writing was on the wall when a split decision by the Board of Supervisors was decided in favor of Lee over Sheriff Michael Hennessey, courtesy of fellow mayoral candidate and Willie Brown protégé, former Supervisor Bevan Dufty. Dufty, by all insider accounts, is in the mayor’s race not to win, but to raise money from the unsuspecting and to steer his second place votes to Lee.

As one San Francisco Chronicle, Ed Lee cheer-leading columnist poignantly put it following Lee’s entry into the race this morning, “Willie Brown is a crook, but he’s our crook,” the very same columnist who said it’s okay to lie to one’s mother.

Lee, accompanied by his wife and daughter, filed the required paperwork at the San Francisco Department of Elections this morning officially declaring his candidacy for mayor. While filling out the required documents and signing on the dotted line, Charles Kalish, a 72-year old landscape architect, heckled Lee.

“Mr. Lee, are you going to step down because you lied to the Board of Supervisors, and are in that office under false pretenses?” Kalish asked.

Lee looked rattled but did not respond.  Any feeling of shame was shrugged off.

Charles Kalish asks Mayor Lee if he will resign.

While sheriff’s deputies and SFPD officers attempted to physically eject Mr. Kalish, Kalish responded, “You have no right to stop me. I am a citizen of San Francisco exercising my personal rights. Sir, are you going to step down?”

Lee remained silent, ignoring the very question reporters have asked, while Kalish was forcibly removed. Kalish was charged with obstructing public business and resisting arrest and will be cited and released, said Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Eileen Hirst.

Charles Kalish, a 72-year old landscape architect, was forcibly removed from the Department of Elections for simply asking Ed Lee if he would step down as mayor for lying to the Board of Supervisors and to the residents of San Francisco.

The first question Lee was asked from a throng of broadcast, print and online journalists, hit the mark: “Ed, what about the matter of trust? You said repeatedly you’re not a politician. Now, just a few moments ago, you filed as a politician. Why should people trust you?”

Lee, in some alternative universe of prepared and rehearsed talking points, responded: “I had changed my mind, sir, and I wanted to make sure people knew why I changed my mind here. I had not focused on running for mayor. I just did the work that was required. But there’s a tone change a City Hall, one that makes me feel pretty good about being mayor to be quite, err, quite, err, specific about it.”

Lee seemed to be struggling in a calculated way to avoid saying the word “honest,”  the very word that will not apply to Lee’s character or candidature.

Within minutes of Lee filing to run for office, statements from several leading candidates in the race were released:

“Mr. Lee’s candidacy draws one of the starkest contrasts in this race for San Francisco voters, both in terms of our visions for the future of our City and our independence from powerful special interests,” wrote City Attorney Dennis Herrera.

“I certainly understand why many Supervisors will feel betrayed, but I frankly don’t think Ed Lee’s broken promises will be his biggest liability in his campaign,” Herrera added. “Ed Lee told us he didn’t want to be interim Mayor. But powerful people insisted he do it, so he did. Then Ed Lee told us he didn’t want to run for Mayor. But powerful people insisted he run, and now he is. To my mind, Ed Lee’s biggest problem isn’t that he’s a dishonest man — it’s that he’s not his own man. The fact is, if Ed Lee is elected Mayor, powerful people will continue to insist on things. And I don’t think San Franciscans can be blamed for having serious doubts about whether Ed Lee would have the courage to say no.”

“I called Ed Lee this morning and welcomed him into the race for Mayor,” wrote Board of Supervisors President David Chiu. “While I’m disappointed that he broke his promise to San Franciscans not to run, it will ultimately be up to the voters to judge the character, vision, and record of those who want to lead our City for the next four years. I look forward to seeing Ed on the campaign trail and having him join the debate about how best to keep San Francisco moving forward.”

“While it is unfortunate that his first act as a candidate was to renege on a promise made to the people of San Francisco less than 8 months ago, I welcome Ed Lee to the race for Mayor,” wrote venture capitalist Joanna Rees. “ I was running against eight city hall insiders—now it’s nine.”

“If anything, the ethically questionable sideshow that brought us to today’s announcement serves as a stark reminder of the widening disconnect between insider power struggles at city hall, and neighborhoods concerned about creating jobs, strengthening schools, and ending the cycle of deficits that puts vital city services at risk,” Rees added.

“I welcome Ed Lee into the race. It’s time we had a real debate about the policies he has proposed and whether they are good for the city. My campaign will stay focused on the issues that brought me into this race,” wrote former Supervisor Tony Hall.

“The bottom line is that while the other candidates complain about Ed Lee’s broken promise not to run for Mayor, I am more concerned with his broken promise to govern responsibly and for the benefit of all,” Hall added. “In my opinion he has continued City Hall’s unfortunate tradition of punting San Francisco’s problems instead of solving them. And it is the average San Franciscan who always ends up paying the price.”

Mr. Lee said he will attend his first mayoral debate at the Castro Theater this evening at 7pm. Protests are being organized and are expected to continue throughout the campaign to ensure San Franciscans know their democracy has been hijacked and is being sold to the highest bidders, that Lee’s perceptibly tainted candidacy represents a continuation of patronage and corruption at City Hall.

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 Lee Files for Mayor, Candidates Respond,
Protester Calls for Lee to “Step Down”
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  1. I just got a note from internationally renowned Ugandan lesbian leader Val Kalende, whom I persuaded to endorse Rafael last fall, asking me whether I’m supporting Bevan Dufty, because Harvey Milk’s nephew Stuart asked her to. Val’s not only a Ugandan lesbian but also a divinity student in Boston, but I still couldn’t help responding with the F-word, all caps.

    Val’s famous for coming out, picture and all, in the Uganda Daily Monitor. Her girl friend was still afraid here in the picture, reproduced in Jezebel: http://jezebel.com/5427163/meet-val-kalende-standing-tall-in-the-face-of-ugandas-new-anti+gay-laws

    I told her I’m going to suggest she lend her stature as an international LGBT rights activist to Terry Baum and John Avalos. Avalos is probably closer than Terry to understanding the complexities of America’s culture war transplanted in Africa by the likes of Rick Warren and the C-Street “Family,” and by Obama/Clinton/Boxer/Congress, who responded with equal arrogance, triggering backlash.

    Why’s this matter in the SF mayor’s race? If the City of San Francisco, an international leader in LGBT rights, makes a statement about the Iraq or Afghanistan War, or some other crime of empire, who cares, or even notices? If it makes a statement about LGBT rights, even LGBT rights in Africa—beyond the finger wagging of our elected leaders thus far—it will, at the very least, make news.

  2. Mayor Michela !!!!
    Angels and ministers of grace defend us !!!

  3. Hey Annie,

    Dufty’s just looking for a job. I’ve run in campaigns with lots of people who were just there to promote their real estate business or take off their clothes and show their weenie to the crowd which actually happened quite often in the 2007 race.

    Pier could win with her grandpa’s name. Few recall that she was nearly elected to a statewide office when she was in her 20’s just on name recognition. What was it? Secretary of State? Something like that.

    Anyway, name recognition is everything and Michela profits from the millions the Alioto clan (Hi Angela, I’ll bring back your baseball dvd’s tomorrow) … the Alioto’s have 50 years of PR in the Bank of San Francisco.

    Adachi for Mayor!

    Gonzalez for Mayor!

    Avalos for Mayor!

    Go Giants!


  4. You say that Bevan Dufty is “by all insider accounts, in the mayor’s race not to win, but to raise money from the unsuspecting and to steer his second place votes to Lee.” Whether that’s his intention or not, I don’t doubt that it will be his race’s effect.

    But what about Supervisor Alioto-Pier, another representative of San Francisco’s imperial class? What’s she, who also seems to have little chance of winning, trying to accomplish here?

  5. The last and only time I ever saw any integrity in politics was with Chris Daly. Even those who didn’t like him could not disagree with that.

    I have noticed that San Francisco ( as well in America) voters would buy ocean front property in the desert if they like the star power of a candidate.

  6. I was going to comment on Mr Lee’s lying to the Board, and how this will impact his ability to get things done with a adversarial board in the future, but the above quote “Protests are being organized and are expected to continue throughout the campaign to ensure San Franciscans know their democracy has been hijacked and is being sold to the highest bidders, that Lee’s perceptibly tainted candidacy represents a continuation of patronage and corruption at City Hall” – made me laugh…I luv SF politics…

  7. With Ed Lee in the mayor’s race, the race should finally get some drama. The other candidates certainly aren’t generating much excitement. According to the poll mentioned in today’s Chronicle, Lee would get 35 percent of the votes if the election were held today. That’s 35 percent of people who must know that by running Lee would break his promise not to run, and after most of the other candidates blasted him about breaking his promise not to run. While the other candidates, who have been running for quite awhile, poll at 10 percent or less. With Dianne Feinstein, Rose Pak, and Willie Brown in his corner, Lee will be a formidable candidate. If the voting public believes the other candidates or their proxies are ganging up on Mr. Affability, the strategy may backfire on them.

    Let’s face it, Lee knows City government after his time as interim mayor, City Administrator, Director of Department of Public Works, Director of Purchasing and Services, and Assistant to Mayor Art Agnos. The budget has passed and the pension measure is on the ballot. Now all Lee has to do is continue being a genial mayor and stay a bit above the fray. Unless something extraordinary happens between now and the election, I predict he will win a majority of votes on the first counting.

    My wife and I haven’t decided who we will vote for. Let the fun begin.

  8. Actually, I have the spelling correct, h. A Fogger just texted to confirm the spelling.

  9. Thanks for the name correction. Now corrected.

  10. Hey,

    Nice work. It’s Khalish with an ‘h’ and he’s not an architect, he’s a hands-on landscape gardener who works magic with plants and looks 30 years younger than his 70+ years. Been the most spirited defender and proponent for Progressive politics over the last couple of decades.

    Go Giants!