“Civility Lee” Turns Uncivil During Mayoral Debate

Written by Harold Brown. Posted in News, Opinion, Politics

Published on August 17, 2011 with 13 Comments

A usually jovial and civil interim Mayor Ed Lee lost his composure during a mayoral debate held at UCSF's Mission Bay campus last eve when he was asked by Public Defender Jeff Adachi if he would agree, as have all the leading candidates, to a $1.4 million campaign spending cap. The debate was sponsored by the Alliance for Jobs and Sustainable Growth . Photos by Luke Thomas.

By h. “Bulldog” Brown

August 17, 2011

(Adachi focus of all for just showing up)

A few quotes from tonight’s fete by Downtown and Labor hierarchy are in order regarding the Mayoral candidates forum held on the UCSF’s Mission Bay Campus in the Fisher Hall.

Jeff Adachi to Ed Lee:  “We’re the only candidates who have announced that we will not take Public Financing money but I have agreed to remain within the cap of $1.4 million which all of the other candidates who are taking Public Financing have agreed to. Will you agree to remain under that cap with the rest of us?”

San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi.

Ed Lee: “Well, I don’t have a billionaire to finance my campaign …”

At this point – and much to my surprise – there was a lot of booing and hissing from the audience. I thought at first that it was because Lee had just been talking about how he’d brought a “new civility” to City Hall, but then I looked around and saw Steve Falk and Jim Lazarus and Kenny Cleveland, and a host of others who work for billionaires, and it cracked me up. The message to Lee was clear: Don’t bad mouth any billionaires in front of us!

To the credit of moderator Phil Matier of the Chronicle’s ‘Matier and Ross’ … Matier stuck with Lee and cornered him for an answer as to whether he (Lee) intended to break the spending cap. When Lee meandered around for another minute without a definitive answer, Matier closed the matter with, “I’ll take that as a ‘no’.”  So, we know that Lee’s billionaire friends won’t limit their expenditures.

Debate moderator, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Phil Matier.

David Chiu to Ed Lee: “We talked in your office a couple of weeks before you entered the race and you confided in me that you didn’t want to run, but that Rose Pak and Willie Brown were putting a lot of pressure on you to run and you didn’t know if you had the strength to resist them.”

Lee to Chiu: (again falling off the ‘Civility Wagon’ – with angry glare at Chiu): “Why am I not surprised that you brought that up!?!”

Board of Supervisor President David Chiu reveals interim Mayor Ed Lee said to Chiu he was pressured by powerbrokers Rose Pak and former Mayor Willie Brown into running for a full term.

Note that Lee didn’t deny Chiu’s account of their conversation. He was simply put-off that Chiu related it to the 800 to 1,000 political junkies in the audience and probably several dozen people watching on Comcast something from what he thought was a private conversation. A guy sitting in front of me turned to his seat mate and noted, “He’s a little testy tonight isn’t he?”

Leland Yee to Dennis Herrera: “You were quoted in the paper as saying that you disapproved of Mayor Lee’s appointment of Mohammed Nuru as head of the Department of Public Works. Would you tell us why?” Say what you will –  and I say plenty bad about Leland Yee – but among his many traits is the ability to keep the other kids in the schoolyard fighting amongst themselves.

Senator Leland Yee.

I’m telling you, Giants fans, Lee was steaming. Poise disappeared as he listened to the City Attorney tell about the investigations his office had been forced to undergo targeting Nuru, the Willie Brown tough guy who destroyed the ex-con rehabilitation, ‘Slug’ gardening program by using the participants as political muscle on the ground in the 2003 Gonzalez/Newsom runoff.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said he disagreed with Mayor Lee's appointment of DPW chief Mohammed Nuru over the "mishandling of public funds" under Lee's watch as City Administrator.

Interim mayor Ed Lee.

With Adachi in, it’s mostly about Pension Reform

Moderator Matier took a couple of swipes at candidates John Avalos and Adachi by pushing them to reveal their positions on items that are not on the ballot, condo-conversion and Care not Cash but mostly, it was Pension Reform and then some more Pension Reform.

Tony Hall took the opportunity to tell us all once again (good for you Tony, you were definitely the strongest stage presence tonight) … and when you gave Newsom a “D to F” grade for his performance as our Mayor for 7 years … you had the mostly pro-Newsom crowd in the palm of your hand laughing their asses off. Tony told us he wants Pension Reform on steroids or something approximating that.

Former Supervisor Tony Hall.

General Observations

Former supes Michela Alioto-Pier and Bevan Dufty tossed rose petals at one another all evening with Pier assuring us that, “this was not set-up before” as the audience chuckled. Of course it was set up beforehand and I’d have been deeply disappointed if it hadn’t.

Former Supervisor and Bevan Dufty BFF, Michela Alioto-Pier.

Former Supervisor and Michel Alioto-Pier BFF, Bevan Dufty.

Along those lines, Supervisor John Avalos glanced over at Public Defender Jeff Adachi who’d been left mostly all alone while the fur flew between Chiu and Herrera and Yee and Lee …

Avalos decides to not only toss an olive branch to Adachi with whom he has crossed swords a time or two … Avalos tossed an entire olive tree to the new kid on the stage with a softball question about the best way to rehabilitate kids, which is Jeff’s long suit, and John knew it, and Adachi came to life with stories of the programs he’s created over the last couple of decades or more. Now I’d like to see Adachi reciprocate in the next forum and we’ll finally have a healthy Progressive Doubles Team in play.

Supervisor John Avalos.

Why did Ed Lee have 13 cops with him?

Folks, this was not a crowd you’d expect to get violent. Way too many neckties and high heels for that kind of action. And yet, there were an awful lot of cops there. It puzzled me a bit and I was downright suspicious when 13 of the boys in blue surrounded the Interim Mayor and escorted him out of the building and to the street where they blocked traffic until someone brought Ed’s Pinto around. Hell, you thought Newsom liked bodyguard bling? I don’t believe I ever saw more than 3 cops guarding Gavin. That little Ed Lee, he’s getting pretty full of himself.

Lemme close by noting that I thought the three things that defined tonight’s event were first: Adachi being there (Luke Thomas, as I noted said, “He won just by showing up”) and second; the rudeness and incivility of Ed Lee who is running as the ‘civil’ candidate, and third; the escalating blood feud between David Chiu and Ed Lee and Dennis Herrera and Ed Lee and Leland Yee and Ed Lee.

Hey, some people finally got their true feelings out front tonight and others got their feelings hurt.

That made it a great night by this Bulldog’s always low standards.

Giants lose in extra innings again and fall 3 ½ back.

No sweat, we have a fourth of the season to catch and pass Arizona and San Francisco hasn’t played their best ball yet.

83 sleeps til we elect a mayor.

More Photos

Candidates from left to right: Public Defender Jeff Adachi, former Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, Supervisor John Avalos, and former Supervisors Bevan Dufty and Tony Hall.

Candidates from left to right: Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, interim Mayor Ed Lee, Venture Capitalist Joanna Rees, Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting and Senator Leland Yee.

Harold Brown

Harold Brown

h. brown is a 62 year-old keeper of sfbulldog.com, an eclectic site featuring a half dozen City Hall denizens. h is a former sailor, firefighter, teacher, nightclub owner, and a hard-living satirical muckraker. His other FCJ articles can be found here. here.

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