Newsom's extortion


The mayor really wanted the supervisors to get rid of two reform measures that would have shifted to the board some of the appointments to the Recreation and Park Commission and Municipal Transportation Agency. The landlords really wanted the board to scrap a plan to reform the Rent Board. And both got exactly what they wanted.

I agree that the budget has some good news, that Newsom has agreed to fund more than $40 million worth of necessary services that he initially wanted to cut. But the price was high: The supervisors had to go along with Newsom's attempt to undermine structural reforms at two city agencies. The mayor essentially held the board hostage: If he didn't get his way on issues totally unrelated to the budget, then he'd refuse to pay for a long list of things that the supes wanted. (And these weren't pet projects of board members; we're talking about life-saving essential services. The mayor in effect said that he'd allow desperately sick people to die on the streets for lack of a bed at SF General if the board tried to take away his ability to pack Rec-Park and MTA with his favorite political hacks. Sweet guy, huh?)

Is balanced representation on two important city agencies worth the price of $43 million in cuts to essential programs? That's a nasty question, and the mayor put the board in a very bad position. In the end, the supes could have stood up to his extortion, and didn't.

Meanwhile, the landlords threatened to spend millions to defeat a measure reforming the Rent Board -- and then they threatened to also pour money in to supporting Public Defender Jeff Adachi's pension measure, which labor is really nervous about. And there was always the implied threat that landlord money would go into the district supervisor races. So progressives decided that they couldn't win that battle and the rent board measure died

And, of course, Newsom's sit-lie law and his plan to kick members of the Board of Supervisors (but not himself) off the Democratic County Central Committee are both still on the ballot. He didn't give up a thing.

So the landlords and the mayor won this round, but the supes can still fight back. What Newsom did was unconscionable; it's not as if he was negotiating a tax hike measure against cuts, or a measure that would have mandated new spending against reductions somewhere else. He took two items that had nothing to do with finance and made them bargaining chips in the budget discussions.  If the supervisors did that, they'd be violating state law, which forbids vote trading.

So what San Francisco needs now is a law that bars the chief executive from vote-trading, too. Let's get that introduced and approved -- and see if Newsom wants to veto it.


Over the years as a supervisor and then as Mayor, Gavin Newsom has been willing to compromise over every issue except rent control.

When it comes to protecting landlords Newsom is unyielding and relentless.

He is essentially a one issue politician, so strange in the era of the real estate super criminal, but that is just the kind of guy he is, an irrational ideologue.

Sean Elsberd and Michela alioto-whatever are the same way, either in denial or pathologically attracted to real estate fraud.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 21, 2010 @ 3:17 pm

The landlord lobby will STILL dump millions into the coffers of conservative BOS candidates and they will STILL dump money to defeat progressive initiatives.

In fact, they'll probably dump more in each race, because they don't have to spread it around on so many fronts!

The business lobby and their cronies won't give progressives any love for compromising. They understand only two things: strength and weakness. And compromise to them is just a sign of weakness. What most liberals and progressives still fail to fully grasp after all these years, is that there is a class WAR going on, but only one side is doing the fighting! The only way to fight back is with everything you've got. Throw the kitchen sink at them! Put the most onerous ballot initiatives (onerous to them) on the ballot, and make them spend every penny of their millions. That way they have less to spend on the supe races. And if we don't win every one, fine. Go back and hit them with more in the next cycle.

The best defense is a good offense. The only one who understands this is Daly, that's why they hate him so much.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 21, 2010 @ 10:51 pm

There is an electoral question to engage with over the "split authority" or "best practices" commission model. The last two efforts have been defeated at the polls: Prop E MTA split proposed in 2005, and the recently defeated Entertainment Commission. Nobody is giving anything up if the proposal doesn't fly with the electorate.
Voters detested Willie Brown by the time the Class of 2000 came into office, and given that animus was built over land use policies, it wasn't hard to trim the Mayor's appointment authority at both the Appeals Board and Planning. Next up Police Chief Fagan and Fajitagate, again it wasn't difficult to win voter approval for split commission authority.
Newsom does not generate the same feelings. There is no public passion about his Mayoralty. Add to the mix, that a few progressives think they might have a Mayor to call their own next year and that's why what happened Tuesday isn't bad, and properly understood even a loss.
Besides, "dealmaking" gets a bad name and it's easy copy to write but in systems like ours where governmental authority is already split up, not too much can be done without such compromise.

Posted by NaanBread on Jul. 22, 2010 @ 12:16 pm

Related articles

  • Cash backwards

    Ten things San Francisco should fund -- and 10 things it shouldn't -- to create a fair, equitable, and forward-thinking city budget

  • Corporate welfare boom: SF's business tax breaks jump to $14.2 million annually

  • Lee budget avoids cuts, but some say too few benefit from the boom