By Luke Thomas
Editor’s note: This article has been updated with a response from Ed Lee campaign spokesperson Tony Winnicker.
August 19, 2011
San Francisco interim Mayor Ed Lee snubbed the African-American community in the Fillmore last eve, opting instead to go on a “pub crawl.”
“As we sat up here, we got a Tweet,” announced former Supervisor and mayoral candidate Michela Alioto-Pier to an audience of 200 during a mayoral debate co-sponsored by the San Francisco African-American Democratic Club (AADC) and the Fillmore Neighborhood Association. “[San Francisco Chronicle columnist] Chuck Nevius just tweeted that he’s on a pub crawl with Ed Lee and Ed Lee says, ‘It’s more fun than debates.’”
“As we sit here in the middle of the African-American community talking about issues of extreme importance, looking you in the eye knowing that you are up against the world, running for mayor and being the mayor of San Francisco is not always going to be a party,” a visibly infuriated Alioto-Pier added.
In a follow-up interview with FCJ, Alioto-Pier called Lee’s snub, “Completely disrespectful.”
Lee campaign spokesperson Tony Winnicker defended Lee’s non-appearance. “The mayor talked directly and in-depth to dozens of real, undecided voters – not political insiders – about the issues they care about. They’re also fun,” Winnicker told Bay City News.
Lee, whose campaign for mayor has been beset by scrutiny from Federal prosecutors over complaints of alleged election campaign violations, was formerly invited to participate in the debate but did not respond, said Fillmore Neighborhood Association board member Erris Egerly.
“We never got a response,” Egerly said, adding that Lee owes the community an explanation after promising in April during a budget town hall meeting he would not exploit his Board-appointed position of “caretaker” mayor to seek a full-term.
“He strictly stated he didn’t want to run for mayor,” Egerly said.
In a separate but related development, fellow mayoral candidate and Board of Supervisors President David Chiu revealed, Wednesday, during a mayoral debate, sponsored by the Alliance for Jobs and Sustainable Growth, that Lee confided to Chiu he buckled under pressure from powerbrokers Rose Pak and former Mayor Willie Brown to break his promise to the Board of Supervisors and seek a full-term.
To add to Mr. Lee’s woes and political baggage, City Attorney and fellow mayoral candidate Dennis Herrera on Monday slammed Lee for his appointment of Mohammed Nuru to head the Department of Public Works, saying the appointment smacks of “cronyism, politics and poor judgement.”
Herrera and Chiu were also invited to participate in last eve’s mayoral debate, but did not attend.