Endorsements 2011 - Page 2

Avalos for mayor. Mirkarimi for sheriff. Onek for district attorney. Yes on C, No on D, E, and F ... complete endorsements for the San Francisco election

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The Guardian endorses Ross Mirkarimi for San Francisco County Sheriff
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY KEENEY + LAW

But frankly, the entire process that brought us to this position stinks of backroom deals involving some very unsavory characters. Lee, a career bureaucrat, wasn't even interested in the job (and wasn't even in the country) when the Board of Supervisors met to choose Newsom's replacement. At the last minute, Newsom, Chief of Staff Steve Kawa, former Mayor Willie Brown and a few others orchestrated a deal that aced out Sheriff Mike Hennessy — the progressive choice — and put Lee in Room 200. And then, after denying for months that he had any intention of running in the fall, he changed his mind — telling Sup. David Chiu that he was "unable to resist Willie Brown and [Chinatown powerbroker] Rose Pak."

In a recent interview, Lee said he would give Brown an A+ for his time running the city.

That's a very bad sign. The years when Brown was mayor were awful. Between 1996 and 2001, some 20,000 people were driven out of San Francisco. Evictions ran as high as 200 a month. It seemed as if every day, another low-income family or senior citizen or artist community was forced out of the Mission to make way for rich dot-comers and illegal live-work lofts. At one point, Brown even said that the city was so expensive that poor people shouldn't live here.

Developers ran the Planning Department. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (which now has Brown on a juicy legal retainer) ran the Public Utilities Commission. The city was deeply damaged by cronyism and corruption. Anyone who thinks those years were anything other than a disaster has no business in Room 200, City Hall.

Even with all of that, we were willing to give Lee a shot. It's been tough to find three candidates to endorse, and we were hoping he'd come talk to us, impress us, and leave us the option of putting him on the list. But after taking weeks to schedule an endorsement interview, he didn't show up.

The Brown-Newsom legacy has been terrible for San Francisco. This is a city where the rich are getting richer, housing prices are out of reach for working-class people, tenants are getting screwed, affordable housing is falling far behind the need — and the Planning Department is talking about building housing for another 40,000 rich people, destroying blue-collar jobs in the process. City Hall badly needs change.

It's critical to end the 16 years of regressive policies and bring in a mayor who is independent of the old, corrupt political machine. And while we are strong supporters of Sup. John Avalos, with ranked-choice voting, we believe that it's important to round out the slate with candidates who also have a reasonable chance of winning.

Avalos is by far the best candidate, the strongest on the issues, the one who can be counted on to bring a progressive reform agenda and an age of innovation to City Hall. More than anyone else in the race, he understands the crisis facing the city and the need for dramatic action to protect tenants, poor people and what's left of the city's middle class. He realizes that San Francisco can't continue to allow developers to build million-dollar condos without mandating a more-than equal amount of below-market-rate housing.

He realizes that the public sector is under attack nationwide, and that San Francisco needs to fight back — and that means raising taxes on the rich to preserve and expand public services. He told us he'd like to see the city's revenue increase by $500 million a year by the end of his mayoral term — enough not only to halt the ongoing budget cuts but to begin to restore essential programs that Newsom gutted. He's already begun exploring legislation to create a municipal bank to take money that now goes to Wells Fargo and Bank of America and use it to make loans to local small businesses.

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