The machine

Sup. Scott Wiener is relentless, driven, prolific — and changing San Francisco in sometimes alarming ways

Scott Wiener follows Harvey Milk, Harry Britt, and Bevan Dufty representing a neighborhood that's changed profoundly.

Scott Wiener is a political machine.

I don't mean that he's part of a political machine, although he is arguably a member of a few nascent operations in town, from the old-school Democratic Party establishment to the morphing amalgam of groups pushing what he calls a "livability" agenda. I mean that Supervisor Wiener, who represents District 8, is a machine — almost robotic in his tireless, 24/7 engagement with all things political.

In just two years on the board, he's become one of the most productive legislators in the city, courting controversy and taking on issues others had ducked. He is relentless in his quest to make government run more efficiently. He's affable, mild-mannered and accessible, often willing to work with opponents — but he has an agenda for the city that he pursues aggressively.

Perhaps more than anyone at City Hall, Wiener embodies the current political zeitgeist in San Francisco, with its emphasis on civility and private-sector job creation. He isn't the most powerful person in city government, but he's playing an outsized role in shaping the city's future — and that will only grow this week as he assumes the chair of the board's Land Use Committee.

Wiener defies easy labels. Critics who call him an uncaring conservative aren't quite right, and it's equally tough to simply accept the "urbanist" and "good liberal Democrat" labels that Wiener applies to himself. And it's hard to pin Wiener down on what sort of city he envisions, except for one with minimal bureaucracy where the trains and buses run on time.

In his City Hall office, where the walls contain little artwork, just the occasional reminder of past political episodes (like the framed Guardian butt cover from when he banned the nudists in the Castro from putting their bare asses on benches), he was happy to talk to me at length about policy. But he had less to offer on who he thinks this city is for — about who should be able to stay here, and who has to leave. He talks about preserving a safety net — but not about pushing back against gentrification and displacement with any tools up to the task.

In the end, his focus is on making government and the city's infrastructure work well for those who are able to live in a city that's become openly hostile to low-income and working-class people. He's an agent of change — but his change is disturbing to progressives. He's steadily moving legislation that makes it more difficult to counter trends that are gentrifying and sterilizing the city.





Born in Philadelphia and raised mostly in the small, conservative New Jersey town of Turnersville, the young Scott Wiener always felt one step removed from his surroundings. So he poured himself into his studies. "I was always a bit of a nerd. I'll admit I was voted most studious in high school," Wiener said.

What social life he had centered around his synagogue in a Christian-dominated community. His parents — dad an optometrist, mom running his practice — were "very partisan Democrats" in a Republican county. Although they weren't very politically active, Wiener's earliest political memory is the 1980 presidential election that brought Ronald Reagan to power: "Our house was like a place of mourning."

Involvement in Democratic Party politics seemed to just flow from his academic life, interning with a member of Congress as a teenager and then helping form a Democratic Club when he attended Duke University, which devoted itself to campaigning against then-Sen. Jesse Helms when Wiener was a sophomore.

Coming out as a gay man at the age of 20 wasn't terribly traumatic in a family where his cousin and aunt were lesbians. His main concern was whether it might hinder his plan to run for president of his fraternity, the Jewish Alpha Epsilon Pi, but he won that election anyway.


The TIC conversions aren't about helping the owners, for whom Scott Weiner cares about as much as he cares for renters.

This is about swinging elections where 2000 extra votes for the so called moderates could swing elections in the most progressive districts.

The super wealthy interests from all over the entire world who have wanted to take over San Francisco smell blood...

Posted by Guest on Jan. 29, 2013 @ 8:15 pm
Posted by anon on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 7:54 am

The agents who promised everyone they'd win the 200/pa lottery in just 5 yr while quadrupling the pool are the ones who are wealthier than TIC commune owners and are doing the work of the super wealthy who want to politically and economically cleanse San Francisco as a matter of public policy.

All that are needed are the Trophy Poor which Calvin Welch can be counted on to deal with for a price.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 8:11 am

They are mostly tenants and so, when they mover into their TIC, they free up another unit for new renters.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 11:09 am

Yeah, a unit that did not have vacancy control where the rent can be raised considerably! Studios here in the Tenderloin in my building, which is not in good shape, are now furnished and going for $2200 per month.

Posted by Granny Gear on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 12:47 pm

If all those units are taken, then clearly the rent is not "too" expensive.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 1:12 pm

Duh no. The faceless hedge funds from no one knows who or where who use TIC owners to do their dirty work, as though they are not next on the list, or perhaps sooner on the list if they can't find a bank dumber than they are to refinance their collapsing real estate ponzi frauds.

"First time home buyer" synonymous with 'sucker' traditionally in the SF TIC market.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 10:54 am

They only buy big apartment complexes like Park Merced.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 11:10 am

Because I guess this guy wasn't interested in dismantling rent control...

"...the Swiss bank UBS took back 51 buildings on which the Lembi Group owed up to $400 million."

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 2:41 pm

Oh golly gee looks who's Vice Chairman of Investment Banking at UBS...

As of 2009, Gramm is employed by UBS AG as a Vice Chairman of the Investment Bank division. states that a Vice Chairman of a UBS division is "...appointed to support the business in their relationships with key clients."[34] He joined UBS in 2002 immediately after retiring from the Senate.[35]

....the rent control wars are about rich people taking over the entire city and it goes all the way to the top.

The idiots who fell for the TIC scam are dumb enough to swallow anything and are tools to an end that ultimately doesn't include them.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 3:00 pm

Can you imagine what Lembi's business plan must have looked like for the loan application?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 3:11 pm

I suspect UBS is a little better at valuing deals than you are.

Posted by anon on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 3:18 pm

Ha ha ha UBS fantastic deal valuers...prolly up to their necks in TICs.

- UBS lost $356 million on Facebook, suing Nasdaq for it -

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 3:29 pm

"I suspect UBS is a little better at valuing deals than you are."

Oh hell yeah UBS.

The average renter in SF is a hundred times smarter than UBS, Phil Gramm, and every TIC idiot ever in the entire history of the sham criminal enterprise.

"...2008 Nobel Laureate in Economics Paul Krugman, a supporter of Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton, described Gramm during the 2008 presidential race as "the high priest of deregulation," and has listed him as the number two person responsible for the economic crisis of 2008 behind only Alan Greenspan.[19][20] "

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 3:35 pm

the bargains of a lifetime. A crisis is only for those too dumb to not see it coming.

S&P 500 is now within an inch of it's all-time high and SF RE are back to peak as well. If this is a crisis, give me more.

Posted by anon on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 4:25 pm

Which is why you can't refinance a TIC.


"...the market, which soared past 1,500, has now regained levels last seen before the start of the recession in December 2007. Sadly, this is the only thing that has been regained. Below we present some things that have not been regained since the last time the S&P 500 was at 1500.

First, as the chart below shows, the S&P is indeed above 1500 for the first time since December 2007.

Unfortunately for the economy, which has ceased to correlate to the stock market courtesy of the Federal Reserve, the stock market and the underlying fundementals, in this case jobs, are now completely independent. The chart below shows that while the stock market may be at its pre-recession levels, the employment situation has only managed to recoup half the total lost jobs, and with 4 million jobs still to go before all the jobs lost are recovered, it is very likely that not even by the end of Obama's second term will the economy have regained all the lost jobs since December 2007..."

-The Stock Market Is Back To December 2007 Levels; Here Is What Isn't-

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 4:41 pm

smart investor accepts the change, while the dumb one complains about it.

The market has gone from 666 to 1500 in four years.. I'll take it.

Oh, and some people I know are re-fi'ing their TIC right now. I guess you were wrong about that too. Did I mention that SF RE is booming too?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 4:54 pm

I'll sit this one out thanks.

Disconnect between employment and asset values is the reason we saw a line out the door at Land Use Tuesday....

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 5:19 pm

prove much of anything. Asset markets don't take a lot of notice of what SF lefties do.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 5:32 pm

What I saw was mostly TIC owners screaming that they were lied to.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 5:42 pm
Posted by anon on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 6:09 pm

Ha ha ha!

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 6:31 pm

The month before sequestration is a fine time to gamble your life savings if you are a first time home buyer.

Psychopath TIC attorneys have turned robbing Scott Weiner's constituents of their financial futures into a fine art.

"Politically expedient" was the term Mike Sullivan used?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 5:39 pm

But I'm sure you know best.

Posted by anon on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 6:10 pm

Heard somewhere banks were requiring as much as 30% down for TICs.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 6:27 pm

I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good.
I don't know who you are but certainly you are going to a famous blogger if you are not already ;) Cheers!

Posted by GSA on Sep. 09, 2013 @ 1:23 am

So as long as rich people keep getting richer, everything is fine?

Widespread human misery means NOTHING to you?

Oh there's a crisis alright. The crisis is a plague of sociopaths like you.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 10, 2013 @ 8:00 pm
Posted by anon on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 3:10 pm

If you have their client list please share.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 3:17 pm

UBS is not a hedge fund.

Posted by anon on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 3:31 pm

Can you read BlackRock's "annual report" and tell me if they are a hedge fund because I get too nauseous....

" On 17 December 2009, BlackRock Inc., New York, disclosed under the Swiss Stock Exchange Act a holding of 3.45% of the total share capital of UBS AG."

"Fink joined Blackstone in 1988 as a partner... As Managing Director at First Boston, Fink and his team pioneered the mortgage-backed securities market in the United States."

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 3:48 pm

Beginning to look like Scott Weiner's contributor list?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 4:04 pm

does not mean that that company IS a hedge fund.

Most shareholders are some type of fund or institution. So what?

Posted by anon on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 4:27 pm

It's a mutual fund company. Not surprising that you don't know the difference.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 4:38 pm

So it is. Thanks for looking that up for me.

My larger point though...

"...Hedge Funds
Competitive advantages
We offer hedge funds the opportunity to leverage the global competitive strength of UBS. We are committed to delivering the benefits of our organization to help our hedge fund clients achieve their goals.

From global clearing and custody to flexible financing solutions, accounting and administration support, we provide hedge funds of all sizes and strategies with the coordinated services they need to optimize their opportunities and minimize risk. Our clients can also take advantage of one of the best trading operations and investment research platforms in the world...."

Can you look up for me what they mean by "flexible financing solutions?"

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 5:17 pm

Also, as someone not employed by either a bank or a hedge fund, I was wondering could you look up and tell me what the f*** is "coordinated services."

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 5:22 pm

Consider your lesson over.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 5:30 pm
Posted by anon on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 5:35 pm

Facilitators of hedge funds?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 5:43 pm

All I know is lots of bankers out there really thankful for "too big to jail."

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 5:57 pm

claiming that a single shareholders of UBS might have a sideline in facilitating a hedge fund.

Real progress.

Posted by anon on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 6:11 pm

I don't remember claiming UBS was a hedge fund.

"Coordinated services."

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 6:37 pm
Posted by anon on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 6:51 pm

No it was me. I never said UBS was a hedge fund. You misread something?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 7:07 pm

A large investment company like Goldman Sacks or BlackRock wears many, many hats. They might have vanilla mutual funds for some investors, and managed private accounts for other investors. The money in their managed private accounts might be invested by BlackRock in many places other than mutual funds, including pure "hedge funds," Master Limited Partnerships, Vulture Funds (buying distressed companies or their debt), foreign currency swaps, derivatives trading, etc.

There are many smaller "pure" hedge funds that are very happy to get BlackRock money that is being invested for its clients or its owners. Sometimes BlackRock (or GS) might be the lead investor in the hedge fund, with other high-wealth individuals being able to jump into the investment scheme; other times BR (GS, and others) merely invest in someone else's investment scheme - hedge fund or not - hoping to make money for its clients or for BlackRock's owners and managers.

Whatever the semantics, BlackRock, Goldman Sacks, and most trillion dollar private banks like BofA and WF provide direct funding, loans, guarantees, insurance, and a complex variety of other services for hedge funds and other investment operations.

As always, the actual name of what is being done, or the entities that are doing it, are far less important than the actual people who are making the key financial decisions about where to invest and with whom and for what purpose when it's other than being a passive long-term investor.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 6:48 pm
Posted by Guest on Jan. 31, 2013 @ 9:27 pm

I think CalPers remembers this?

"Despite great success, Fink has also had some setbacks at BlackRock, the greatest one being the ill-fated purchase of a Manhattan housing complex for $5.4 billion in 2006. It was the largest residential-real-estate deal in U.S. history up until that time, and the housing complex ended up in default. BlackRock clients lost their money, including the California Pension and Retirement System which lost about $500 million.[4]

-CalPERS eyes ban on rent-control conversion investments-

"CalPERS' investment committee at its meeting next week will consider banning investments in real estate projects that eliminate rent-controlled apartments, according to the meeting's agenda.
The $209.3 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System, Sacramento, lost $500 million in an investment in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village in New York in 2006 in a failed plan to convert subsidized rental apartments to market-level rentals.

CalPERS wrote off its entire investment after lead investors Tishman Speyer Properties and BlackRock (BLK) defaulted on mortgages for the large Manhattan apartment complexes. The buyers had purchased the complexes for $5.4 billion. Their plan to repay the debt depended on rent on regulated apartments being raised to market levels."

Posted by Guest on Jan. 31, 2013 @ 9:42 pm

You misunderstand the post on which you were commenting.
OP isn't saying that TIC owners are "super wealthy".
OP is saying that super wealthy interests are using TIC owners to further a political agenda.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 02, 2013 @ 12:56 pm

Personally I find it refreshing to have a "gay" ,virgin, social odd ball, framing SF politics. He is perfect for the times we live in. A real Harvey Milk for 2013. At least Harvey had sex.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 10:46 am

Related articles

  • 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

  • Homeless advocates fight Wiener's effort to close parks at night

  • No sympathy for TICs