Sunshine eclipsed - Page 2

Supervisors reject Sunshine Ordinance Task Force members for stealthy political reasons

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PHOTO BY SAWYER STEELE

The infamous votes against Wolfe: Wiener (ah, yes, the heir of the Harvey Milk and Harry Britt seat in the Castro), Farrell (where is Janet Reilly when we need her?), Malia Cohen (who comes from the Potrero Hill/Bay View/Hunters Point district that needs all the sunshine it can get in facing an Oklahoma-style land rush of development), David Chiu (who was reportedly angry over the unanimous task force opinion finding he violated the Sunshine Ordinance with late submission of documents before the controversial vote to redevelop Parkmerced), Carmen Chu and Sean Elsbernd (neighborhood supes way out in West Portal and the Sunset who almost always vote the downtown line at City Hall). The good votes for Wolfe: John Avalos, Eric Mar, Cristina Olague, Jane Kim, and David Campos.

Campos told me that the organization candidates were "eminently qualified," that they should have been appointed, and that he would fight for them. He advised the organizations to "stand by their candidates." He is urging that the issue of organization candidates come back to the next Rules Committee.

Rick Knee, SPJ's mandated journalist on the task force surveying the carnage, said the supervisors' actions stem "partly from a desire by some supervisors to sabotage the task force and ordinance itself, and partly from a vendetta by certain supervisors after the task force found several months ago that the board violated local and state open meeting laws when it railroaded some last minute changes to a contract on the Parkmerced development project without allowing sufficient time for public review and comment."

Knee is right, and it isn't just Parkmerced, but all the high-stakes development deals flowing through City Hall these days, with their advocates preferring to cut backroom deals rather than being subjected to the full scrutiny of the public and the task force.

James Chaffee, a former chair of the task force, watched the board proceedings with outrage and fired off a letter to all supervisors later that day. He charged that the board in sacking Wolfe violated the Sunshine Ordinance on several counts. Among them: the board changed the committee recommendation on Wolfe without allowing public comment and it passed over Wolfe even though the ordinance requires at least one member of the task force to be "physically handicapped." That was Wolfe.

Thus, Chaffee wrote, the orchestrated coup was "the perfect example of a failure to follow the sunshine ordinance that led to the sort of problem that it was intended to forestall, namely the supervisors taking an action without being informed of what they are doing.  If Scott Weiner and David Chiu and the rest of the crew did not consider the citizens the enemy and exercize judgment about whether they were complying with the spirit of open government rather than just shaving off the letter of the law as closely as possible, this could have been avoided."

Chaffee said he couldn't tell if David was physically handicapped but he said nothing in his application for the task force nor was any disability apparent from the video of the rules committee meeting.

Chaffee said David's  application showed he  was "self-employed as an investor, obtained a BA from Stanford in 1993, has never attended a task force meeting, and left the statement of his qualifications blank."

Chaffee said, "It's easy to see why Scott Wiener likes him. He said it would be a long road before he would go against the city attorney's office and when it came to constitutional law, he would place the city attorney's opinion above his own because the city attorney is an 'expert.'"