The 100 percent

Mayor Lee reaches out to progressives — but will that continue?

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Mayor Ed Lee gives his inaugural address flanked by past mayors
PHOTO BY LUKE THOMAS

steve@sfbg.com

In his inaugural address on Jan. 8, and then again the next day as he appointed progressive Christina Olague to the District 5 seat on the Board of Supervisors, Mayor Ed Lee signaled an intention to bring all sides together to solve vexing city problems, from job creation to the need for more affordable housing.

"At its best, San Francisco is a city for everyone," Lee said at his inauguration. "We are a city for the 100 percent."

But that analysis, with his clever riff off of the Occupy movement's 99 percent paradigm, masks deep political divisions and challenges that will likely play out repeatedly this year, particularly as he partners with a handful of wealthy individuals and corporations — members of the 1 percent, on which he lavished praise during his speech, such as venture capitalist Ron Conway — to craft his economic agenda.

Lee stressed his focus on creating private-sector jobs and his acceptance that "local government will have to do more with less," while arguing that he can create broad prosperity by embracing high-tech innovations. "We're poised to invent the future, right here and right now," he said, shortly before interrupting his speech to post an employment infographic on Twitter.

The next day, after she was sworn in as supervisor representing one of the city's most progressive districts (replacing Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi), Olague echoed Lee's focus on job creation and the belief that "it's time to roll up our sleeves to get things done" in a fashion that transcends ideology.

"I think this is an incredible time for our city and a time when we are coming together and moving past old political pigeonholes," Olague said, while Lee said, "This is not about counting votes, it's about what's best for San Francisco and her district."

Yet that optimistic spirit alone won't provide for the renters and low-income homeowners being squeezed out of this gentrifying city, battles that both fought as activists — Olague with the Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition, Lee with the Asian Law Caucus — before joining city government. "We both came from backgrounds fighting for the rights of tenants and immigrants," Lee said.

At his inauguration, he said he would take on that challenge directly.

"We need to create a permanent stream of revenue to fund housing in San Francisco," Lee said, announcing the formation of a working group to craft a measure for the November ballot that would create a "permanent housing trust fund" to help finance low- to middle-income homes. "San Francisco must remain a place every one of us can call home."

Olague listed her top priorities as job creation, affordable housing, helping shepherd redevelopment projects after the state abolished redevelopment agencies, and public safety. And she pledged to be an independent vote: "Every decision will be based on what's best for my constituents and the people of San Francisco."

Progressive political leaders were nonetheless thrilled with the choice. While Olague was an early supporter of Lee's mayoral bid, she has deep roots in the progressive community and was a consistently good vote during her eight years on the Planning Commission.

"I am surprised by the choice, but I think it's a good one," Matt Gonzalez, the former D5 supervisor who appointed Olague to the commission, told us. "It's an appointment that recognizes that D5 is the most progressive district in the city."

Activist and building inspection commissioner Debra Walker agreed: "It's an acknowledgment that District 5 is progressive."

Green Party activist Susan King noted that Olague used to be a Green, as was new Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi and Sup. Jane Kim, before all switched to the Democratic Party in recent years. "It's the second former Green sworn in over the last 24 hours," King said. "It's very exciting."

Comments

finding success as soon as they leave her party.

But Lee is doing what he said he would do - represent all of the city while respecting his electoral mandate for adopting a centrist manifesto and pro-jobs stance.

Yet appointing Olague is shrewd too. Nobody should be complaining about Lee yet, not even the hopelessly biased SFBG.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 2:45 pm

You sound like Josef Ratzinger back between when he was in the Hitler Youth and was the Grand Inquisitor.

The Green Party was pushed, it did not jump, in an inquisition that gave elected Greens the choice between conversion and political execution.

Like many who were forced to convert during the Spanish Inquisition, they still practice their old crafts, only in a way that does not invite further persecution.

While the Democrats might have killed the Green Party, the work we did continues to make San Francisco a better place. The Democrats would not have partially coopted our political program after they killed us as a challenge if our ideas were not better and did not appeal to a broad swath of San Franciscans.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 8:11 am

modern day America is like being a protestant in Spain during the inquisition?

Why stop there? Maybe being Green in SF today is like being Jewish in Nazi Germany, applying Godwin's Law to your stretched historical analogies.

No, Marcos, anyone with any nous leaves the SFGP because it is a moribund collection of offbeat non-entities. Even the Bay Guardian essentially said that last year in an adriot hit piece.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 11:00 am