Over the past three months, the Guardian has been hosting a series of forums on progressive issues for the mayor's race. We've brought together a broad base of people from different communities and issue-based organizations all over town in an effort to draft a platform that would include a comprehensive progressive agenda for the next mayor. All told, more than 100 people participated.
It was, as far as we know, the first time anyone tried to do this — to come up with a mayoral platform not with a few people in a room but with a series of open forums designed for community participation.
The platform we've drafted isn't perfect, and there are no doubt things that are left out. But our goal was to create a document that the voters could use to determine which candidates really deserve the progressive vote.
That's a critical question, since nearly all of the top contenders are using the word "progressive" on a regular basis. They're fighting for votes from the neighborhoods, the activists, the independent-minded people who share a vision for San Francisco that isn't driven by big-business interests.
But those of us on what is broadly defined as the city's left are looking for more than lip service and catchy phrases. We want to hear specifics; we want to know that the next mayor is serious about changing the direction of city policy.
The groups who endorsed this effort and helped plan the forums that led to this platform were the Harvey Milk LGBT Club, SEIU Local 1021, the San Francisco Tenants Union, the Human Services Network, the Community Congress 2010, the Council of Community Housing Organizations, San Francisco Rising, Jobs with Justice, and the Center for Political Education.
The panelists who led the discussions were: Shaw-san Liu, Calvin Welch, Fernando Marti, Gabriel Haaland, Brenda Barros, Debbi Lerman, Jenny Friedenbach, Sarah Shortt, Ted Gullicksen, Nick Pagoulatos, Sue Hestor, Sherilyn Adams, Angela Chan, David Campos, Mario Yedidia, Pecolio Mangio, Antonio Diaz, Alicia Garza, Aaron Peskin, Saul Bloom, and Tim Redmond.
We held five events looking at five broad policy areas — economy and jobs; land use, housing and tenants; budget and social services; immigration, education and youth; and environment, energy and climate change. Panelists and audience participants offered great ideas and the debates were lively.
The results are below — an outline of what the progressives in San Francisco want to see from their next mayor.
ECONOMY AND JOBS
Background: In the first decade of this century, San Francisco lost some 51,000 jobs, overwhelmingly in the private sector. When Gavin Newsom was sworn in as mayor in January 2004, unemployment was at 6.4 percent; when he left, in January 2011, it was at 9.5 percent — a 63 percent increase.
Clearly, part of the problem was the collapse of the national economy. But the failed Newsom Model only made things worse. His approach was based on the mistaken notion that if the city provided direct subsidies to private developers, new workers would flock to San Francisco. In fact, the fastest-growing sector of the local economy is the public sector, especially education and health care. Five of the 10 largest employers in San Francisco are public agencies.
Local economic development policy, which has been characterized by the destruction of the blue-collar sector in light industry and maritime uses (ironically, overwhelmingly privately owned) to free up land for new industries in business services and high tech sectors that have never actually appeared — or have been devastated by quickly repeating boom and bust cycle.
Instead of concentrating on our existing workforce and its incredible human capital, recent San Francisco mayors have sought to attract a new workforce.