Editor's Notes

I think sleaze — and the appearance of sleaze — is a defining progressive issue



I had, as they say, a spirited and frank discussion last week with Enrique Pearce, the political consultant working on the Run Ed Run campaign. I chided Pearce, whose firm is called Left Coast Communications, for leading an effort that, at the very least, involves some touchy legal and ethical issues. (After all, the group is raising money for a campaign for a candidate who hasn't filed as a candidate. There are reasons why federal, state, and local laws mandate that people who are running for office declare that they want the office before they start raising money.)

Pearce insisted he was doing nothing illegal. (Okay, if he says so.) He also argued that his firm is the most progressive consulting operation in the city. (Whatever.) But the real focus of our discussion — and the reason it's worth talking about — was the question of whether corruption really matters.

I think sleaze — and the appearance of sleaze — is a defining progressive issue. If Pearce agrees, he's got some 'splainin' to do.

Let's back up here. When Willie Brown was speaker of the state Assembly, he passed some good legislation, and allowed some very bad legislation to become law. But his greatest legacy is term limits — and the terrible public perception of what was once one of the best state legislatures in the nation.

Brown was the epitome of corruption, a guy who actively flouted the notion of honest, open government. Among other things, he had a private law practice on the side — and clients would pay him big money because of his influence on state legislation. Of course, we never knew who the clients were; he wouldn't release the list.

When he was mayor, his sleazy ways continued — and left even progressive San Franciscans believing that you can't trust City Hall with your money. Which means, of course, that it's harder to convince anyone to pay more taxes.

There's no question that Brown and Chinatown powerbroker Rose Pak (don't get me started) were key players in putting Mayor Ed Lee in office, and that they're playing a big role in this new effort. Which means, as far as I'm concerned, that it's utterly untrustworthy — and that progressives should be miles and miles away.

I'm not arguing that Ed Lee is a bad mayor (he's way better than the last guy). He might even turn into a good mayor if he runs for a full term. Pearce thinks he'd be better for progressives than state Sen. Leland Yee. We can argue that later.

But as long as his campaign is directly linked to people whose standard practices undermine the heart of the progressive agenda (which depends on a belief that government can be trusted to take on social problems), then you can count me out.



Love how colloquial you've become. Pearce, "got some splainin' to do"? Well let me see that and raise you a, ... "Luuucccyyyy, I'm hooommmmeee!".

Enrique (he was 'John Henry' when I met him, so it ain't just his politics that changed) ... He ain't alone in having, shall we say, 'fluid' political allegiances. Check out Christina Olague who gave a rousing speech supporting David Chiu on the stairs of City Hall a couple of months ago and cursed me when I asked if she'd switched sides ... gave an even more rousing speech in favor of Ed Lee at his 'non campaign non kickoff'' after which she again cursed me for asking if she'd again switched sides.

Much as I enjoy having beautiful women curse me ...

Adachi for Mayor!


Posted by Guest h. brown on Jul. 05, 2011 @ 10:51 pm

Jesus christ, Tim, The Guardian is successfully being marginalized with the charges that you're representing a white remnant of increasingly irrelevant progressivism and your response is to go off with a Latino stereotype on the people who are marginalizing you. How do you think that's gonna play?

You're white. When you or I use language like that there are political semantics to that choice of diction. Latinos do not have effective political and economic power in San Francisco in the same way that whites have and Chinese Americans increasingly do and do not as a group effectively promote their ethnicity as superior the way that ours do. We don't get to do that anymore.

Tim's abusive language, however, has no bearing on his assessment of Pearce's sleaziness.

As it rounds out, Pearce has won three campaigns, Fewer and Kim for SFUSD and D6. Fewer had her own base as did Kim, and SFUSD campaigns are in general easier to win, one of many seats. Richard Marquez was the margin of victory in D6 along with a healthy dose of CCDC/Pak/Wong/Brown $$$.

Pearce has lost four campaigns: Kim '04, Sanchez '08, Jackson '10 and Prop B '08. Sanchez and Jackson should have been cake walks because both had won citywide before. And Prop B came so close, but there was no coherent campaign put together.

Compare that to Jim Stearns' record, and it appears that Enrique Pearce thinks more highly of himself than the record might suggest is warranted when he positions himself as the most progressive political consultant in SF.

The moment that Ed Lee gores the oxen of Brown or Pak or the Chamber of Commerce, then I'll reconsider, but so long as Lee is stampeding the Brown land use and the Chamber economic agendas and tossing an occasional crumb, there's really nothing to discuss.


Posted by marcos on Jul. 05, 2011 @ 11:23 pm

You are forgetting the losing campaign of Eric Safire against Lillian Sing for Judge that Pearce ran.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 07, 2011 @ 2:43 am

Thank you for correcting my omission. You've got to wake up early and stay up late to get less than 1/3 of the vote in a citywide election campaign on which you actually spend money.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 07, 2011 @ 6:41 am

Wow, Tim Redmond is acting like someone who has just seen a ghost. Get a grip, Tim! There's nothing progressive about hysteria.

If our local progressive sect felt secure in its connection to the voters, it wouldn't care whether Ed Lee ran or not. The sect would have its own positive, inspiring alternative to rally the people and carry the day.

But we all know that such is not the case. The sect has marginalized itself.

The Greens have imploded. The Milk Clubbers have turned into a stoner klatsch. The Guardian is like a high-school journalism project. There are no longer any first-class progressive thinkers.

And so their natural response when confronted by the specter of Ed Lee:


Posted by Arthur Evans on Jul. 06, 2011 @ 9:07 am

To be fair, the Democrats did blame the Greens for "spoiling" the 2000 presidential race and the Greens were unwilling and unable to contest that framing. Many local progressive Democrats proved their loyalty to the party by piling on Greens. And many higher ranking Democrats made Green elected officials offers they could not refuse.

Now, those progressive Democrats realize that they've proven their loyalty to a political party that differs from the Republicans along the margins and never enough to make much of a difference in advancing a liberal, if not progressive agenda.

Progressivism in San Francisco is a spent force unless it can build an appeal above and beyond the confines of the nonprofit and labor coalition. The problem is that the nonprofit and labor components that dominate the progressive coalition fear that the voters will not support them and fear that sharing power within the progressive coalition with voters will diminish if not end their claims on public resources.

This is not to say that the intent of labor and nonprofits is bad or wrong, rather that they are no longer viable implements capable of delivering on our shared policy goals, at least not on their own.

There is nothing new with the coalition that Pearce is trying to build, they are simply underbidding the progressive labor and nonprofit coalition, and the land use and corporate vultures are all too willing to accept the lowest bid while we continue the race to the bottom.


Posted by marcos on Jul. 06, 2011 @ 9:43 am

the fact is the Guardian is promoting some sort of bullsnot progressive IRV vote with Yee and Avalos, undermining Avalos and promoting another dishonest politician, namely Yee.

Progressives and the Guardian are way irrelevant at this point -after 10 years of power they can't pul together and win citywide, and put their faith in losers like David Chiu (backstabber) Campos (loser) and Avalos (nice guy but no hope in heck of winning). All you have left is the "DCCC" which will default to no endorsement. Labor unions in this town are going for liars or crooks and are too busy defending public sector greed at the expense of city services. Useless.

Expect either corrupt Yee or Liar Lee or worse as your Mayor. Anyone who wants clean government in this corrupt city can forget about it. Liars like John Henry Pearce can collect the money raised by Willie and Rose, and the lying lamestream media can collect the ad dollars.

Posted by Lame "Reporting" on Jul. 06, 2011 @ 3:59 pm

Both "Lame Reporting" and marc salomon are right. SF progressivism has deflated into just another flat tire on the stalled car of the status quo.

But the worst part is that SF progressives demonize those who could re-inflate their tire. Look at their treatment of Jeff Adachi.

They remind me of the Catholic hierarchy just before Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the church door at Wittenberg. The Ayatollah Brugmann plays the role of their ideological pope.

May the Reformation come soon!

Posted by Arthur Evans on Jul. 06, 2011 @ 4:37 pm

Wait a sec, the progressives represented the reformation and Brown and Pak represented the Catholic hierarchy against which we rebelled.

What is taking place now is a counter reformation where the church authorities that had been overthrown due to corruption are leveraging their resources to reassert their claims to power to continue their practices of simony and the offering of indulgences.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 07, 2011 @ 6:14 am

You're right about one point, marc. In the 1970s and 80s, SF progressives created a Reformation.

But today in SF, progressives are just another part of the ambient Ossification.

It's time to challenge the progressives today, just as it was time to challenge the establishment in the 1970s and 80s.

Reformation is an ongoing process, not a state.

Will Jeff Adachi prove to be the new Martin Luther?

He has the required temperament, and the system has the required rot.

By an ironic coincidence, Reformation Sunday occurs on October 30th this year, just a few days before election day.

"Here I stand. I can do no other."

- Martin Luther

Posted by Arthur Evans on Jul. 07, 2011 @ 9:38 am

Progressives' reformation began as a reaction to Brown's corruption in the late 1990s.

We agree that the constituent components of that coalition are exhausted politically and that the viability of any coalition based on those exhausted components cannot compete.

That said, the alternative is now rampaging unchecked, bringing us back to a political era reminiscent of the reigns of the Medici Popes the corrupt decadence of whic instigated the Reformation in the first instance.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 07, 2011 @ 10:34 am

Progressives didn't scheme their own sleaze into office and are still bitter about it.

Posted by matlock on Jul. 07, 2011 @ 3:54 am

Those who are pushing Adachi as a Martin Luther either don't understand Protestantism, nor what the Reformation was really about. That said, it makes me wonder if they really understand the race to the economic bottom, that Adachi, through his continued attempts at lowering the wages and benefits of public sector workers through his obsession at putting initiatives on the ballot, is really doing. As long as his Propostions put the cash slashed from the wages and benefits of workers into a general fund we will see a transfer of wealth from the Middle class and the poor , to those who least need it.

Martin Luther objected to the Catholic Churches's use of buying heaven through indulgences that most poor (there wasn't a viable middle class) couldn't afford and using it to support ostentatious wealth/ privilage that Pope's and bishops enjoyed at the expense of the poor. Savarola tried it some decades before but was burned at the stake because of the lack of protection that many Dutch mercantile families offered Luther in exchange for the development of a church more reflective of their budding mercantile values stymied by a church that needed to support its own rich tastes.
Adahci's Propostion B is not the 95 theses that Luther nailed to the door of Wittenburg Church. Adachi as a seminal religious figure is a bit over the top. THis comparison makes me wonder if perhaps there is a bit of a messiah complex going on not only with Mr. Adachi but his supporters.
Martin Luther also had many problems and definite flaws. He was an anti-semite. He opened the door to the bloody 30 Years War that saw the killing of countless Protestants and Catholics that only benefitted the rich and the governments whose leaders lusted after power that only authoritarian religious belief could provide. But Luther created a church without need of a pope and it opened the doors to other Protestant denominations that would further splinter into ones with no need of bishops, priests nor other paid clergy.

Posted by Guest lucretiamott on Jul. 07, 2011 @ 11:10 am

Thanks, Lucretiamott, for your informative post above. We pretty much agree about Martin Luther.

The parallel with Jeff Adachi's situation is partly a matter of temperament, and partly one of institutional authority.

Adachi bases his pension reform on arithmetic, not institutional agendas. Given certain assumptions about the drainage of public funds to pensions, certain conclusions follow arithmetically.

Adachi's temperament is to stand his ground, insist on the correctness of the arithmetic, and let the chips fall where they may.

Analogously, Luther based his theological reforms on logical deductions from scriptural texts, not institutional authority.

His temperament was to stand his ground, insist on the correctness of the deductions, and let the chips fall where they may.

Luther succeeded because certain Germanic princes provided him with protection against the papacy.

If Adachi succeeds, it will be because the voters provide him with protection against the city's "official family."

How all this will turn out, is anybody's guess. But we may be in for a dramatic confrontation that changes the drift SF politics.

That would be a Lutherian moment.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Jul. 07, 2011 @ 2:22 pm

Jeez, folks, instead of complaining about labor and nonprofits, can't anyone pay attention to what I'm saying here? Corruption is corruption, and it undermines the progressive agenda.

Posted by tim on Jul. 08, 2011 @ 4:21 pm

Tim, you say:

“I chided Pearce, whose firm is called Left Coast Communications, for leading an effort that, at the very least, involves some touchy legal and ethical issues.”

Which laws has he broken? Specifics, please.

You say:

“There are reasons why federal, state, and local laws mandate that people who are running for office declare that they want the office before they start raising money.”

Ed Lee is not running for office. He has distanced himself from the group trying to get him to run for office. He does not control this group or any money it might raise.

You say:

“the real focus of our discussion — and the reason it's worth talking about — was the question of whether corruption really matters.”

What is the “corruption” here? Specifics, please.

You say:

“Brown [Willie Brown] was the epitome of corruption.”

Willie Brown was guilty of cronyism, scheming, self-aggrandizement, and managerial incompetence, but to the best of my knowledge was never convicted of corruption.

Aren’t you courting a libel suit here? Where is your evidence?

You say:

“There's no question that Brown and Chinatown powerbroker Rose Pak (don't get me started) were key players in putting Mayor Ed Lee in office…”

The board of supes unanimously appointed Lee mayor. Were any of them paid to do so by Brown or Pak? Where any offered jobs to do so? Where’s your evidence? Aren't you sliming the entire board of supes without anything to back it up?

* * * *

Bottom line:

Your column is what’s sleazy. It’s based on innuendo and smears with absolutely no evidence to back it up.

And you call yourself a journalist! Isn’t that like a skunk cabbage calling itself a rose?

Posted by Arthur Evans on Jul. 08, 2011 @ 5:41 pm

stand up and stand back from your computer / tablet / phone

breathe deeply


Posted by Ian Waters on Jul. 09, 2011 @ 12:22 am

A quick interruption of this meeting and visit to room 200 to wish everyone a happy new year?

I know, don't feed the trolls...

Posted by Guest on Jul. 09, 2011 @ 12:40 pm

Includes those entities. It's all bad...

Posted by Guest on Jul. 09, 2011 @ 12:43 pm

Your concern seems to be that corrupt politicians elected by special interests take the money and do the bidding of special interests over that of the common good? But the Guardian backs people who are owned by special interest and do the bidding of these groups to the detriment of the citizens.

Very puzzling.

Redmond's point is like that of the book "Intellectuals" by Paul Johnson. Johnson defines away all right wing intellectuals and public figures like Ayn Rand(I know, funny, but read the book) and then complains that only the other side partakes in the hypocrisy's mentioned by Johnson. John Avalos and Campos are property of the SEIU but that is defined away, Willie Brown who is no better or worse than Avalos or Campos is bad, because thats how we are defining things, today.

The progressive/new left 30 years ago offered up a new view of government that was going to be more responsive to the citizens. What we get in action is politicians more beholding to equally narrow interests. Not a change in style, but in ownership.

Yup us dumb peasants yet again don't know whats good for us, we need progressives to lecture us.

Posted by matlock on Jul. 09, 2011 @ 12:46 pm

Troll Alert "Your concern seems to be that"=Matlock left bashing

Posted by vigilante on Jul. 10, 2011 @ 1:06 pm

Troll Alert!!!

Posted by Lucretia "Secretia" Snapples on Jul. 10, 2011 @ 3:04 pm

Otherwise, what would it have to offer in terms of professional journalism?

Posted by Arthur Evans on Jul. 09, 2011 @ 9:13 am

Are Rebecca or Sarah, or Tim, following up on the Grand Jury report and the reflexive denial of problems out of City Hall?

Being a whistleblower-- a real one, (i.e. not just to deflect attention from yourself)-- is an express-lane to career hell in SF. No news there, but the Grand Jury report is. The paltry selection of cases reported by the Controller is a joke. The substantive ones-- where are they on the list, guys?

The City Family, like other esteemed organizations, takes unkindly to a "rat."

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2011 @ 9:45 pm

Didn't even cover corrupt backroom police and fire deals either...

Posted by Guest on Jul. 12, 2011 @ 7:57 am