Our top 10 memorable moments from one of the city's most memorable officials
City Hall won't be the same in the new year — and not just because Gavin Newsom will be off in Sacramento being lieutenant governor. Sup. Chris Daly, who has represented low-income constituents from the Tenderloin, SoMa, and adjoining District 6 neighborhoods for a decade and has long been framed as Newsom's nemesis, has been termed out.
True to his spitfire reputation, Daly agreed to go out with a Jan. 5 roast. So we thought we'd do our part by recalling our favorite moments from a supervisor who served as the progressive conscience of the board — but not always politely.
"How can you have decorum when at the same time you are allowing children to go hungry and homeless?" he asked us recently. "The most gracious or grateful or proper thing should be to work for justice. To me, that's good manners."
Here are 10 things we will never forget about Daly. (And attend his roast: Wed/5, 8pm, $20. The Independent, 647 Divisadero, SF. Facebook info)
1. He shares a birthday with Fidel Castro.
Daly was born Aug. 13, 1972, characterized as the Day of Long Odds, according to Gary Goldschneider and Joost Elfers' Secret Language of Birthdays. Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro was also born on Aug. 13, in 1926. Further compounding suspicions that Daly is a pinko commie-lover: he met his wife Sarah Low at the World Youth Festival in Havana.
2. He painted with dark colors as a child.
"My mom tells the story about going to the teacher-parent conference when I was four or five and the teacher wasn't exactly sure which kid I was," Daly said. "Then she figured it out: I was the incredibly quiet, somewhat shy, well-behaved one. But she had one concern: when I finger-painted, I always picked really dark colors like black, brown, and dark green. So she called me over and asked why. I told her, "Those are the colors left when all the other kids take all the other colors." Hmmm.
3. He got into fisticuffs with Mayor Willie Brown in 2001.
"Unbeknownst to Brown, Chris brought some homeless activists to a meeting that was supposed to be private," recalled Sup. John Avalos, who was Daly's legislative aide at the time. "Brown stood up and started going after Chris and somehow the story morphed into a fist-fight." Daly claims the mayor started the confrontation.
"He got up and actually got out of his chair and came after me," he said. "And I said, 'You want some of this? You want some of this? Bring it on.' "
4. He developed a whole new meaning for "acting mayor."
In October 2003, Willie Brown went to Tibet and, as was his practice, allowed the supervisors to rotate into the "acting mayor" position, typically a ceremonial job. Daly promptly appointed two progressives to the Public Utilities Commission. "Brown interrupted his visit to announce that there had been a 'coup d'état' in San Francisco and that he had got to get on a plane to deal with it," former Supervisor Jake McGoldrick told us.
5. He screamed at the cops during an arrest in a protest over a proposed parking garage at Hastings Law School in 2002.
Many versions of what really happened here. "I was screaming 'Ouch!' — I was in a pain compliance hold," Daly said. "The cops said he was screaming at them about having them fired," former Sup. Aaron Peskin recalled. "Chris said he was saying 'Ow!' and the police said he was saying, 'Do you know who I am?" Avalos said.
Either way, the photo was used against him by downtown interests in the 2006 election.
6. At an MTA budget meeting in May 2005, Daly stepped out of his role as board member and into the persona of outraged member of public.