The machine - Page 6

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.

"I enjoy policy and I like legislating. We have a limited time here at City Hall as members of the Board of Supervisors, and I think you have to take the bull by the horns and pursue the policies that you think are important to the city, so I started doing that pretty quickly after taking office," Wiener said. "I also think you have to be willing to take risks, so I've been willing to take on legislation that maybe others wouldn't touch, or that others thought was too hard."

Radulovich noted: "He's not a cautious legislator, but he is a careful legislator. He's not afraid of starting a fight, particularly with progressives. A lot of progressives are like, 'If Scott Wiener is for it then it must be bad.'"

Vaughan is one of those activists who said she's eventually learned not to trust Wiener or his legislation: "We've been galvanized and we feel like we have to watch what he's doing very carefully."

Like many progressive activists, Radulovich said he likes Wiener and respects his political skills, but he doesn't see Wiener as sharing his political values: "His agenda is much more pro-business than mine, more about promoting laissez faire capitalism."

Rafael Mandelman, who was elected to the City College of San Francisco board last year after losing to Wiener in the D8 race two years earlier, said he has been impressed by his former adversary.

"It's unquestionable that he's super hard-working, super dedicated, probably the most effective member on the Board of Supervisors," Mandelman said. "He takes on controversial issues, and in some ways he courts controversy, but he generally leave people with good feelings."

Mandelman differs from Wiener politically on issues like CEQA reform and historic preservation standards. "On the other hand, he has taken some principled stands against some big players," Mandelman said, citing Wiener's battles against the Academy of Art on student housing and the Hospital Council on TIDF.

Wiener rejects the accusation that he's not engaged enough with the community or his critics. "I think that's made up. And really, it's a different way of saying, 'I don't agree with your legislation,' therefore I'm going to say you didn't take enough input ahead of time," Wiener said. "I've had legislation where I had more than a year's worth of meetings with different stakeholders before I introduced it."

"Even on the nudity legislation, I had hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of communications with constituents before introducing it, between Facebook, email, on the street, in the cafes, talking with people on both sides. I know some folks say I should have had a town hall meeting on it, but that's just one way of communicating with people," Wiener said. "I'm communicating with constituents seven days a week, in many different ways. So I think that criticism is unfounded."




Part of Wiener's power comes from having carved out unique niches for himself, including in two realms not traditionally occupied by fiscal conservatives: public transit and nightlife issues.

"Scott Wiener has been a tireless champion of nightlife issues since the beginning. One of his very first actions in office was to call for an economic impact study to better understand the entertainment industry's contribution to the City's economy," said Guy Carson, the owner of Cafe du Nord and a founding board member of the California Music and Culture Association.