Notes from the Sierra Club's gala dinner


While I focused on Jerry Brown’s disappointing speech to the Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter’s gala dinner on Wednesday night, there are a few more notable nuggets in my notebook worth posting here, starting with what appears to be the collapse of plans for a California Constitutional Convention.

The Guardian recently reported on the difficulties that the campaign was having, but consultant Clint Reilly told me that the effort is basically over, with fundraising shortfalls being the final nail in the coffin. That’s one more reason why “hope” seems to be in such short supply on the political landscape.

The event was held in the Merchant Exchange, a building owned by Reilly, who helped underwrite the gathering. So it was no surprise that the evening was MCed by his wife, Janet Reilly, who is running a strong campaign to replace Michela Alioto-Pier on the Board of Supervisors.

There were lots of political luminaries at the event (list to follow), but there was one particularly notable attendee and particularly notable absence. Los Angeles City Council member Janice Hahn was one of the few politicos from down south, making the rounds in support of her run for lieutenant governor. But Mayor Gavin Newsom, who is considering challenging her, didn’t show up.

Also a no-show was U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, who appeared by video to address the gathering and express appreciation for being the recipient of the Sierra Club’s first Phillip Burton Badge of Courage Award for environmental stewardship. Accepting the award on her behalf was California Democratic Party chair John Burton, who was his usual salty self, taking a dig at the San Francisco Chronicle by referring to someone who wrote “for the Chronicle back when that was a newspaper,” and describing the award’s namesake thusly: “My brother was an outstanding environmentalist who didn’t like the outdoors much.”

He also made this funny, self-effacing crack at the start of his speech: “I think a third of the people in this room would like to see the accelerator stuck on the rug of my Prius.” I was not among that third.

There was a strong turnout of local political leaders, but tellingly, only from the left side of the political spectrum. The members of the Board of Supervisors who turned out were David Chiu, Chris Daly, Ross Mirkarimi, Eric Mar, and John Avalos. Other political luminaries on hand included City Attorney Dennis Herrera, Sen. Leland Yee (Yee and Herrera are each running for mayor) City College trustee John Rizzo (who introduced Brown), Senator-turned-Oakland mayoral candidate Don Perata, District Attorney Kamala Harris, Rep. Jerry McNerney, and Sen. Loni Hancock.