Meet the new supervisor - Page 2

How will Christina Olague balance loyalty to Mayor Lee with the needs of the city's most progressive district?

|
(10)
resident Christina Olague was appointed by Mayor Ed Lee
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY STEVEN T. JONES

Olague told us not to worry. "He's a friend...and I think it's an exaggerated concern," she said, confirming but minimizing his role so far. Yet she hired one of Pearce's former employees, Jen Low, as one of her board aide. Olague's other aides are Chris Durazo from South of Market Community Action Network (SOMCAN) and Dominica Henderson, formerly of the SF Housing Authority.

Debra Walker, a progressive activist who served on the Building Inspection Commission and has worked with Olague for decades, said she's a reliable ally: "She's from the progressive community and I have no equivocation about that."

Olague makes no apologies for her alliances, saying that she is both independent and progressive and that she should be judged by her actions as a supervisor. "People will have to decide who I am based on how I vote," she said, later adding, "I support the mayor and I'm not going to apologize for that."

 

OLAGUE'S PRIORITIES

Olague was born in Merced in 1961 to a Mexican immigrant father who fixed farming equipment and a stay-at-home mother. She went to high school in Fresno and moved to the Bay Area in 1982. She attended San Francisco State University but had to drop out to help support her family, working at various stock brokerage firms in the Financial District. She later got a degree in liberal studies from California Institute of Integral Studies.

In 1992, Olague's mother was in serious car accident that left her a quadriplegic, so Olague spent the next seven years caring for her. After her mother died, Olague left the financial services industry and became a community organizer for the Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition, battling the forces of gentrification and then-Mayor Brown and becoming an active player in the ascendant progressive movement.

But Olague never abided progressive orthodoxy. She backed Mark Leno over the more progressive Harry Britt in their 2002 Assembly race and backed Leno again in 2007 when he ran for state Senate against Carole Migden. She also voted for the Home Depot project on Bayshore Boulevard despite a progressive campaign against the project.

Olague worked with then-Sup. Chris Daly to win more community benefits and other concessions from developers of the Trinity Plaza and Rincon Tower projects, but now she is critical of Daly's confrontational tactics. "Daly's style isn't what I agree with anymore," Olague said, criticizing the deals that were cut on those projects to approve them with larger than required community benefits packages. "I think we romanticized what we got."

So how does Olague plan to approach big development proposals, and is she willing to practice the brinksmanship that many progressives believe is necessary to win concessions? While she says her approach will be more conciliatory than Daly's, she says the answer is still yes. "You push back, you make demands, and if you don't think it's going to benefit the city holistically, you just fucking say no," Olague said.

Walker said Olague has proven she can stand up to pressure. "I think she'll do as well as she did on the Planning Commission. She served as president and there is an enormous amount of pressure that is applied behind the scenes," Walker said. "She's already stood up to mayoral pressure on some issues."

Yet even some of Olague's strongest supporters say her dual — and perhaps dueling — loyalties to the Mayor's Office and her progressive district are likely to be tested this year.

"It'll be challenging for her to navigate," Radulovich said. "The Mayor's Office is going to say I want you to do X and Y, and it won't always be progressive stuff, so it'll be interesting to see how that plays out."

Comments

Watch as she sells us out.

Posted by Sooth on Feb. 08, 2012 @ 3:53 pm

Olague is nothing but an opportunistic, how do you think it will play out with the district lines a changing?

Posted by Jerry Jarvis on Feb. 09, 2012 @ 5:36 pm

Yo bro, how's life in the sticks.
Let's grant her a grace period, she's been pretty good for many years. They're all 'politicians' and we can't expect to much.

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Feb. 09, 2012 @ 6:14 pm

I was kinda secretly hoping that he'd pick some right wing machine nutball who'd be easy to beat in November. My preference would've been for an elected instead of appointed supe. Less baggage that way.

That said, he probably picked the best person we could've expected. She's been a decent planning commissioner (with some exceptions). Hopefully she'll be a decent supe. My worst fear is that she'll act progressive till the election, then turn and sell out and support the machine on key votes. Unfortunately, there's no way to tell. But what can you do? We'll just have to see what the field looks like and vote for the best candidate.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 10, 2012 @ 9:40 am

Just glad to see her off the planning commission.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 10, 2012 @ 8:41 am

Points for using the word "hagiographic " in a sentence!

Posted by Guest on Feb. 10, 2012 @ 9:54 am

It shows you how scared he is she's going to go off the Non Profit Inc reservation and how important it is that he's around to "correct" her if she does. Haaland's acting as the enforcer here so we can prolly expect the same positions held by her erstwhile predecessor at the board - Ross "scorched earth" Mirkarimi.

Posted by guest on Feb. 10, 2012 @ 10:55 am

Olague voted to make the Bicycle Plan part of the General Plan and begin implementing it without any environmental review, which was pure prog opportunism on her part. She surely knew that doing that violated the most important environmental law in California, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

But she also knew that if she was going to seek higher office here in Progressive Land she couldn't antagonize the Bicycle Coalition.
http://district5diary.blogspot.com/2005/04/bike-zealots-want-your-childr...

Posted by Rob Anderson on Feb. 10, 2012 @ 12:47 pm

You're right. The Bicycle Plan was an unfortunate power play. Whether it was bad advice from the City Attorney, or over enthusiastic supporters, or miscalulations by one or more supervisors who supported the 50 bike projects, I'm sure there are a few decisions people might make differently if given a chance.

But your team "won," so be happy! You put on a fun show in the process, so thanks for that too. I've rarely seen some of the most blowhard bicyclists foaming and ranting as much as they did when your side was tearing them up in court. (BTW, some progressives thought CEQA was the way to go in the first place since the Bike Plan was obviously a "project" and CEQA evaluation is a "progressive" reform that should apply to everyone, even the bicycle angels.)

But in the end - ironically enough - by forcing them to go the CEQA route, you made it sooooo much easier to implement all 50+ projects after the $500,000? report was prepared. So as a car driver who loves bicyclists since they don't want my scarce and valuable parking space when I'm traveling from one place or the next, I say thank you! The bicycle improvements are making driving much more predictable in many sections of the city, and the handful of parking spaces lost here and there are more than offset by the growing numbers of cyclists drawn to the much improved bike infrastructure.

But come on Rob. You need to come up with a new angle. You're starting to sound like Bruce Springsteen on "Glory Days" - the kind of person who spends most of the day in a bar, or cafe or chat room kvetching about one thing or another and not doing anything about it. We expect better from you than repetitious rants about the bicycle conspiracy and the 500 story towers proposed for the Market/Van Ness area.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 10, 2012 @ 1:41 pm

Olague is one of the ethically and intellectually challenged officials in San Francisco. She backed Michael Antonini, a millionaire developer who insists that every applicant buy him lunch (check his ethics commission filings), and gets free tickets to Giants games from architects. Antonini's latest manuver is bankrolling Santa Clara Plays Fair, by arranging for donations from Peet's Tavern to the Santa Clara group opposing the stadium. Olague defended to us over the phone Antonini's comments that Bayview was "filled with welfare housing." Now, Shute, Mihaly, and Weinberger, who represented San Francisco on the Hunters Point stadium project are representing Santa Clara Plays Fair in their effort to block the stadium in Santa Clara. Olague prevented the release of emails from Antonini to Bill Bailey, who has made several racist comments about President Obama in public meetings, and Debbie Bress, a failed candidate for Mayor in Santa Clara (who, according to court records said that AIDS victims should get what they deserve-----quote from Sunnyvale police report). Olague is an opportunist, and also an enabler of poor campaign ethics.

Posted by Mission City Lantern on Feb. 13, 2012 @ 6:25 pm

Related articles

  • Promises, promises in district 5

  • Article details bullying and retribution by the Mayor's Office

  • The price of growth

    Development is booming in the eastern neighborhoods, but the money isn't there to cover the infrastructure needed to serve it

  • Also from this author