EDITORIAL: Get out of the way, Mr. Mayor


 Let us begin with the obvious: Mayor Gavin Newsom has absolutely no business deciding who should replace him. His petulant statements suggesting that he will delay taking office as lieutenant governor until the supervisors pick a candidate he likes are an embarrassment to the city. If he actually refuses to take the oath of office Jan. 3, when his term in Sacramento begins, it will damage his reputation and political career.

Newsom knew when he decided to seek higher office that he'd be leaving the city early if he won. He knew that under the City Charter, the Board of Supervisors would choose a new mayor. He knew that a progressive majority on the board was likely to elect someone whose political views differ from his. If he didn't want that to happen, he should have stayed in town and finished his term.

Instead, his ambition and ego drove him to Sacramento, and he needs to accept that he is now out of the process. He should publicly agree to follow the state Constitution and join Governor-elect Jerry Brown for a timely swearing-in ceremony. Meanwhile, the supervisors need to make it very clear that they won't accept this sort of political blackmail and will choose the next mayor on their own terms.

There's only one more regularly scheduled meeting of the current board, on Tuesday, Jan. 4, the day after Newsom's term as lieutenant governor begins. It's unfortunate that the progressive majority on the board hasn't been able to find a consensus candidate, and it's appearing more and more likely that the next mayor will be a short-termer, a caretaker who agrees to fill out Newsom's term. We've consistently argued that Newsom's successor ought to be someone who can run for a full term in November, but there's certainly a case to be made for the right person to take on the job for just 11 months. A progressive caretaker could fire all the failed managers left over (at high salaries) from Newsom's tenure and make cuts to sacred cows like the police and fire departments without worrying about reelection. We'd still rather see a candidate with the courage and skill to make the tough choices and run in November on that record. But if that's not possible, it's important that an interim mayor be chosen carefully.

It's also important that the progressive supervisors consider the long-term implications of their choice: If the next mayor only serves out Newsom's remaining time, who's going to run in November and what will the interim mayor do to promote the prospects of a progressive candidate?

A number of names are floating around as possible caretakers, and several would do at least an adequate and perhaps an exceptional job. Former Board President Aaron Peskin has brilliant political instincts and knows how to run the city; he's let us down on a few votes, but would work well with the progressive board majority. Sheriff Mike Hennessey is popular with the voters and has good progressive credentials (other than the move to privatize jail health services, which makes him somewhat unpalatable to labor), but he's never faced anything resembling the political nightmare of the city's current fiscal crisis. Sup. Ross Mirkarimi has a great legislative record and has hinted that he'd consider the job, but he still has two years to go as supervisor and would have to give up his seat and put his political career on hold. Former Mayor Art Agnos is the only one on the list who's actually run the city at a time of crisis and would certainly be willing to make the tough decisions. If he could run an open office and listen to a diverse constituency, he might make up for the mistakes he made his first time in the job.

None of these candidates could do the job alone and if they want to serve a short term as mayor, they need to start talking openly about it, explaining what their plans would be and give San Franciscans (and not just six supervisors) a reason to support them. 




Reading all this it would seem to the uninitiated that Newsom was leaving office in disgrace and that the BOS needed to find a progressive to clean house and 'fire all the failed managers'.

The truth is that Newsom was reelected by 74% of the voters and that 72% of the city's voters placed their faith in him for statewide office this November. Meanwhile, NONE, ZERO, ZILCH of the SFBG slate for BOS was able to gain an electoral victory.

Even the powerful DCCC endorsement, after just two years under the 'brilliant political instincts' of Aaron Peskin went from a certain admission to the BOS to complete irrelevancy with the voters.

SFBG politics, while obviously heartfelt and passionate, is totally out of touch with the will of the people in this city. Perhaps Newsom isn't the only one who should be moving on.

Posted by Homer on Dec. 28, 2010 @ 5:46 pm

To be complaining about Newsom's scheming at this late date?

Reading all that might make someone unfamiliar with progressive scheming and getting over feel that progressives had some real values.

The custom of assigning the acting mayor position to supervisors on a round-robin basis was discontinued as a result of Daly's appointments. Daly said by way of explanation for his actions, "I'm an activist. I had an opportunity, and I took it. I stand by what I did. It was the right thing."

Posted by matlock on Dec. 28, 2010 @ 7:13 pm


Read the paragraph,

"Anti-unionism in employment"

Who still gives any credence to anything you have to say?

Posted by Patrick Brown on Dec. 28, 2010 @ 7:34 pm

Gavin Newsom, while by no means perfect, was at least elected by a city-wide majority of voters. These same voters are legitimately concerned about the damage the far-left "progressives" could do to SF. That's why most voters (according to poll below) agree with Gavin that a caretaker, moderate mayor who focuses on nuts and bolts governance is preferred to some left-wing ideologue.

But the Guardian is more concerned with perpetuating progressive fantasies of higher taxes and more overpaid government workers than the opinions of mere voters.


Posted by Paul Noe Valley on Dec. 28, 2010 @ 8:19 pm

You folks have argued in several articles that the new board of supervisors has essentially the same political makeup as the old board (saying Kim has the same values as Daly; Cohen to Maxwell, etc.) If that's the case, why do you care so much that the the old board be the one to choose the next Mayor? It seems totally inconsistent.

Posted by Patrick on Dec. 28, 2010 @ 8:32 pm

Is my score correct?

Posted by Patrick Brown on Dec. 28, 2010 @ 9:36 pm

Glad to see the Guardian is maintaining it's staff crybaby quota. Don't worry, Bruce. Soon you'll be drowning your tears in overpriced drinks at the newest DOWNTOWN bar to be owned by an out-of-towner.

Posted by RamRod on Dec. 28, 2010 @ 9:53 pm

Excuse me 6-0

Posted by Patrick Brown on Dec. 28, 2010 @ 10:12 pm

If the BOS appoints a caretaker mayor we can expect the entire year will be dominated by news stories about the "real" mayoral candidates running in November - who's ahead and who's behind - who supports who - who pissed off who - etc. etc. The city's important business will be an afterthought. Every major decision will be deferred based on the constant refrain, "Let the new mayor decide THAT issue. It's too important for a caretaker mayor to make the decision."

Most of the candidate names I've heard for next November's mayor election are underwhelming considering the huge issues facing the city. Yee? Leno? Herrera? And these are the better candiate names - all decent politicians with some important poltical acheivements - but not candiates who inspire visionary leadership taht can try to bring the city together in a time of ever-increasing chasms between the haves and have-nots.

David Chui's name isn't in the top five of my favored mayor candidate list, but considering the alternatives I hope the new board of supervisiors realize they need to appoint someone with real accoutability that can make critical decisions facing the city. This isn't a time for interim anything. We need real leaders who can make real decisions and be held accountable to the voters in November. If some of the uber-progressives aren't thrilled with Chui as a choice, maybe that's a good sign he can work with most of the city's diverse constituencies.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 28, 2010 @ 10:50 pm

I've seen this (@ Patrick Brown on Dec. 28, 2010 @ 7:34 pm) before, now that you are actually writing the blog, would you like to address the issue that Patrick Brown brought up via the wikipedia.org website, and more specifically the "Anti-unionism in employment" section. I would like to know.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 28, 2010 @ 10:53 pm

Guess not, one rule for Bruce and one for everyone else!

Posted by Guest on Dec. 29, 2010 @ 11:26 am

Looks like Bruce is much better at preaching from the pulpit than conversing with his minions :-)

Posted by Patrick Brown on Dec. 29, 2010 @ 9:55 pm

Agnos, Hennessey, Mirkarimi and Peskin would all do a terrific job as Interim Mayor. They would do the progressive community proud at a time when there is no clear voice or direction in local public policy. One of the things this Board can do with such a pick is fill this void and help answer some basic governmental questions: what are reasonable goals for SF government; how do we pay for what we need to have and what things can be done to take some of the rough edges of a town increasingly polarized and defined by glaring income inequalities.
The Newsom years have managed to avoid such basic questions. Newsom has a great PR machine. He deserves credit for promoting gay marriage. The leased hotel program is a first step to address homelessness. As far as budget conflicts, for most of the years Newsom was in office the economy was humming so it was possible to keep bargaining groups content, and the ones that bet right in the 2003 race were rewarded with generous contracts. This is in part central to today’s budgetary dilemma and will result in additional layoffs and service cuts if the issue can not be responsibly addressed. The other part of the equation is new revenue. Newsom fought taxes that would in any way hurt his financial base, the people he needed to contribute to his statewide campaigns. So we’re lucky he is leaving while the damage can be repaired.
What progressive supervisors should know-- Supervisors Avalos, Campos, Chiu, Daly, Kim, Mar, Mirkarimi--is that there is a community in SF that will support you for making a progressive choice. It may not be as immediately tangible as a Chron editorial or phone call from Dianne Feinstein or Wade Randlett house party but that desire for a better society is there in San Francisco’s electorate. Progressive politics with the Mayor's office can look radically different than the thin gruel many are accustomed to: cranky club meetings; a limiting endorsement process that can be intolerant and resists policy innovation anchored with a blogosphere that in a previous era might be sympathetic to witch burning in Salem and acts as a virtual judgment factory.
It is not without risks but the Board has a better choice to begin making next Tuesday.

Posted by GuestC on Dec. 28, 2010 @ 11:20 pm

You are now the old guard.

Changes are coming!

Posted by Arthur Evans on Dec. 29, 2010 @ 9:52 am

And we're going to take out Mar and Avalos next year too. And make damn sure Haaland ain't winning either. You're all done.

Posted by Moderate wave on Dec. 29, 2010 @ 11:00 am

SF progressivism has degenerated into a male-dominated, dogma-driven sect tied to the careers of certain cheesy politicians.

Some of its most vocal ideologues are anti-intellectual, anti-cultural, anti-feminist, anti-Semitic, age-ist, and lacking in spiritual depth and social skills.

Not an inspiring picture. And certainly not progressive, at least by any rational interpretation of that word.

Social contradictions must yield to the pressure of events, as surely as winter ice melts under a spring sun.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Dec. 29, 2010 @ 1:47 pm

From shriveled ideological fantasy, the ideologues spring, the dogma of the seething progressive sect writhes. Cheesy, some members of the sect are nomadic jamboree handout politicians, anti-feminist. Melts the progressive sect glorifies events visceral hatred. Tied filth crisis stoned filth ice.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 30, 2010 @ 10:26 am

Narco-nomads, anti-intellectual practical ideologues male, prostitute filth crisis certain nomadic addicts, are alcoholics drunks and druggies. Narco-nomads, drunks and druggies are the local progressive sect! Progressivism Harvey Milk Club, are anti-intellectual. Warlord certainly, dogma-driven, they are true believers in the male prostitute Chris Daly.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 30, 2010 @ 10:27 am

Enlighten us more, glorious one!

Posted by Patrick Brown on Dec. 30, 2010 @ 7:22 pm

I have a strong tendency to concur with many of Arthur Evans’s sentiments.

I have witnessed a long history of self-described “progressives” in San Francisco politics enact a string of irresponsible legislation that seems to only meet the needs of a very narrow constituency. There are a number of larger city-wide issues that need to be addressed, i.e. infrastructure, jobs, means to recruit and retain needed businesses, realistic measures that assist the homeless and other less fortunate members of the City, measures that will slow the outward migration of African Americans out of SF,etc.

What I have seen thus far has been a farcical political circus of self-aggrandizement and sabotage. Many of the progressive block of the board seem to lack basic common sense, maturity, and most importantly, wisdom. They seem to have gotten completely out of touch with reality on many issues that are important to the rest of us. In short, I do not feel comfortable having them select the next interim Mayor on my behalf as a tax paying resident.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 30, 2010 @ 12:43 am


The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well sav'd, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound.


Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything

Posted by Tom on Dec. 30, 2010 @ 9:15 am

Aging can bring good and bad things. When aging produces wisdom, the world gains. But when it brings rigidity, the results are harmful.

Bruce Brugmann and Tim Redmond started out well. They had fresh ideas, challenged the status quo, and inspired people.

But then a funny thing happened. They became successful and institutionalized. Today they push stale dogmas, are part of the status quo, and demoralize people.

They would have done better, had they remained outsiders. In that case, their aging would more likely have produced wisdom rather than rigidity.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Dec. 30, 2010 @ 9:57 am

Of the Dogmatic Progressive Sect?

I'm sure that rigidity is but a fading memory for Arthur Evans who has gone all sloppy, flaccid and soft.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 30, 2010 @ 10:29 am

The city's moderate sect has been infiltrated by downtown corporations, big real estate interests, and developers.

The city's progressive sect has been infiltrated by the nonprofit political complex, unions, and the cannabis capitalists.

But the people of SF are larger than these sects and their arrays of special interests.

Let's create a new politics here from the ground up, dedicated to the real-life needs of ordinary people, and open to new ideas.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Dec. 30, 2010 @ 10:56 am

So, Arthur, everyone who is in politics is a member of a sect but you?


Posted by marcos on Dec. 30, 2010 @ 9:20 pm

Wonderful teachings! "Oh Glorious One" !

Posted by Patrick Brown on Dec. 31, 2010 @ 10:12 am

The board of supes, elected by districts, is an institution that encourages parochialism. There's a need in city government for some office to have a broad perspective of the common good.

Such is the office of the mayor. The person who holds it should not be locked into any narrow, sectarian ideology but instead have an eye for broader horizons.

Bruce Brugmann, however, wants the mayor to be a hatchet-wielding ideologue who will carry out a coup on behalf of our local progressive sect.

Let's move beyond the narrowness of the ideologues and appoint a mayor who acts on behalf of the common good.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Dec. 31, 2010 @ 10:58 am

The board represents districts i.e. the people of the city and county. They are elected democratically to serve their district and the city. Would you rather we replace them with a king, queen & court? It sure sounds like it. I'd imagine you'd fill the role of jester very nicely.

If anything the office of the Mayor is transparently subject the whim of downtown "narco-capitalists", banks, hotels and money machines because of the amount of power centered in the office. Duh?

You appear to live in a private world of fantasy, where any act of democracy offends your very person.

Posted by Sean on Jan. 04, 2011 @ 12:24 pm

Memo to Sean:

The supes are not the people.

We're stuck now with the supes in the position of appointing the interim mayor. It would be better if the people elected the mayor, but that's not possible now.

The situation has arisen because Gavin Newsom got bored with the office of mayor and wanted to trot off to Sacramento. He should have finished his term of office here.

The situation is aggravated because all sides are now jockeying to pull off a coup, without any regard for the common good. No one is showing a broader vision for the overall welfare of the city.

The Munchkins all have the daggers out, trying to bring each other down. It's a sorry sight. The progressives are as bad as everyone else, even worse.

Whoever wins the appointment will have power but not legitimacy. For the latter, we will have to wait for the election of November 2011.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Jan. 04, 2011 @ 1:03 pm

Memo to Arthur: The people elect the Supervisors. That's how democracy works. If you don't like it, move to Russia or China or some other totalitarian state. We're not living in your magical monarchy just yet.

The charter of the city allows for rare situations like this and succession lines clearly need more work but frankly if you don't like it - campaign to change the charter to allow for a special election, but in the mean time let the people who are actually elected do their jobs and get on with the brass tacks of daily government and stop sniping at the people we have elected as though they are characters in some sort of personal soap opera fantasy.

As for "Mayor" Gavin Newsom; he has political ambitions and managed to get himself elected (yet again) by this ghastly thing called the "people" of the Great State of California - which seems to offend you so deeply. Do you really hate people and democracy that much Arthur?

And who died to make you grand imperial wizard to tell the people who they can and cannot elect to the board and who can and cannot run for any office? Are you completely delusional?

As for "shoulding" someone to complete a term? How dare you. Your utter lack of respect for democracy sickens me.

Have you ever ran for office? If not, then I suggest you keep your armchair general ramblings to yourself, you are like a eunuch in a harem.

Posted by Sean on Jan. 04, 2011 @ 1:46 pm

Says Sean in a post above:

"If you don't like it, move to Russia or China ..."

That's what I heard right-wingers say to me in the 1960s when I was protesting the Vietnam War.

It's important to stand up for rationality and democracy in politics against the arrogance of both the left and the right.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Jan. 04, 2011 @ 5:04 pm

Arthur please don't dare tar me with the progressive brush and thanks for giving me my morning laugh "stand up for rationality and democracy in politics"... seriously Arthur?

This from the man who clearly despises the very function of democracy. You want to "should" a man to complete an office tenure when the people have elected him to a higher office? You want to deny him the right to run for another office?

Next you'll be down at the courthouse protesting jury verdicts because they didn't represent the people.

From analyzing your many, many, many posts using google data - try it sometime for fun - you're repetitious, self-righteous and frankly a bore.

And you still do not understand the fundamentals of democracy.

Posted by Sean on Jan. 05, 2011 @ 12:51 pm

I don't know whats more tedious, the fact that you can't respond to any challenges to your fantastical construct of reality or the fact that you tout your protest of the Vietnam War. Whoop Dee Do! Arthur. Really. Whoop Dee Doo!

Like so many so-called progressives of your era, you're now a sad right-wing wing-nut spouting the tired "when i was a young fella" meaningless rhetoric. As the man says "What have you done for me lately"?

Its sad to see you as fodder and prey for the power-hungry monied elite of this town pushed around like a gullible pawn, guileless and witless.

Try stepping away from the keyboard for a while Arthur, go outside, get some fresh air and sunshine and maybe take an interest in whats around you instead of whats wound up inside you.

Posted by Sean on Jan. 05, 2011 @ 5:15 pm

To Homer and others:

The Truth about Newsom’s numbers – Okay, one more time, for the record…

Let’s not overstate Newsom’s supposed voter appeal. He has never truly won a contested election on his own in his life. And he certainly did not win "the majority of voter support in SF" even in 2007.

A bit of history:
Newsom was appointed to the board of supes by Willie Brown.
He ran as an incumbent virtually unopposed (sorry h.).
He ran again basically unopposed.

During his time on the board he failed to distinguish himself in any real way.
Despite being a supe for two terms he was never elected board president, indicating that never earned the respect and support of his colleagues (Matt Gonzalez, meanwhile, became prez after only 2 years on the board, and despite being the only Green).

In 2003, Newsom stalled out at 38 percent of the vote according to polls that year. Despite his ,millions in financial backing, being Willie Brown’s chosen successor, and basically two year head start (beginning his with “Care not cash” attention-getter), Newsom was unable to win over enough voters to seal the deal. So he found himself in a runoff against the underfunded, but independent and popular Board President Matt Gonzalez.

This was arguably the only race where Newsom ever truly had competition. Despite spending 10 times more than Gonzalez, despite the backing of Willie Brown, Newsom's fawning PR extension the Chron which did huge spreads on homelessness, Newsom’s springboard issue, and inaccurate reports on Gonzalez, despite the support of aunties Pelosi and Feinstein in the Dem Party, Newsom fell behind Gonzalez in the polls, so the Dems flew in both Bill Clinton and Al Gore (on a Getty jet) to shore up support for Newsom’s flailing campaign at the 11th hour, and then he only managed to squeak by -- amid reports of voter fraud, mind you -- and barely defeated Matt Gonzalez.

As I've said before, if the playing field had even been slightly more even -- financially, journalisticaly, Gonzalez would have won.

In 2007, Newsom again ran virtually unopposed. That “72 percent” Homer and others speak of was in fact 72 percent of a low, uninspired voter turnout of about 100,000. Take a look at the numbers. SF has a population of around 800,000. Of that only about 400,000 are registered to vote. Of that, only about 200,000 bother to vote. In 2007, only 100,000 bothered to vote. So yes, Newsom got 72 percent of that paltry showing, but that equals only about 25 percent of registered SF voters, so in actual fact, only 25 percent of SF voters voted for Newsom in 2007 – the rest stayed home.

And only 12 percent of SF residents voted for Newsom at all. That does not add up to any kind of overwhelming support. Even some of his closest advisers are lukewarm about the guy.

And we all know how successful his gubernatorial campaign was. Lt Gov was the easy cure for Gavin’s post-gube tantrum.

Still, it’s a shame how far mediocrity and fallacy can rise in our current electoral system. I guess it’s up to the likes of us to add the relevant asterisks to the historical record and try to field better candidates.

S. M. P.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 05, 2011 @ 10:11 am

The Six Guys Club, the all-male progressive clique that has been running the board of supes, was shattered in recent weeks.

Chris Daly, the most vocal of the Guys, came across in the media as a raving fool and the object of scornful laughter.

David Campos came across as a cheesy climber and schemer, after his claque bombed in their City Hall ploy to have him crowned as mayor.

David Chiu broke irretrievably with the other Guys, who now view him as a traitor.

Eric Mar showed he had no backbone and vacillated on a crucial last vote for Gavin Newsom's choice for interim mayor.

All the Guys were outmaneuvered by Newsom in the mayoral-appointment game. They looked like The People's Front of Judea in the movie "The Life of Brian," with the whole city watching and laughing.

Soon Daly will be out of office. The Guys' break with Chiu will remain bitter, regardless of whether Chiu stays as a supe or becomes D.A.

The irony in all this is that the Guys inflicted this ruin on themselves. They had six votes, enough to set policy for the board and appoint an interim mayor.

But they couldn't get past their own testosterone surges and petty ambitions. They couldn't act in a rational, balanced, unified way.

When the new board convenes next week, they will be a mere rump faction.

* * * *
Note to Sean. You say "Have you ever ran for office? If not, then I suggest you keep your armchair general ramblings to yourself."

Citizens have a right and duty to speak out and hold politicians accountable for their behavior.

It's called democracy.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Jan. 06, 2011 @ 10:01 am

Arthur, you wouldn't know democracy if it landed on your hand and sang to you.

You're a right wing reactionary failing in the guise of a wannabe gentile wise old "hippy" sage. Age doesn't bring wisdom Arthur it makes people cling tighter to their narrow set of beliefs.

You absolutely vilify the people this city elected and by extension anyone who actually voted. You consider the boards very presence and power an outrage to your personal self. You are not partaking in this democracy, you are locked outside by your own internal vitriol and self-loathing.

Please stop kidding yourself that you're speaking out as a citizen in some act of civic duty. You're not speaking out, you're ranting to an audience that isn't listening. I'd guess the SFBG staff haven't banned you yet because they feel sorry for you, like the crazy old uncle who repeats the same outraged lines about what "they shoulda done" over and over again throughout their life but never did anything about it. Never organised a political action committee, sat on or chaired a meaningful political organisation, never financially donated to a political cause.

Your rhetoric is tedious beyond comprehension and I think you've lost sight of the woods for the trees.

Focus on something that'll actually improve the life of your fellow San Franciscans. You seem to have so much free time on your hands, I'm sure it could be put to better use that trolling the sfbg comment board copying and pasting the same hateful vitriol over and over again.

Posted by Sean on Jan. 06, 2011 @ 1:07 pm