The right-wing San Francisco Chamber of Commerce has had a pretty bad track record in local electoral politics in recent years, and its latest attack ads on progressive members of the Board of Supervisors demonstrates why: the group's muddled and hypocritical messaging is barely comprehensible to the average San Franciscan.
The San Francisco Chronicle this morning announced the new ad campaign, the first salvo resulting from strategy sessions with Mayor Gavin Newsom and other downtown players, and the article included a funny conflict about whether or not the Chronicle is giving free advertising space to the effort.
But the ads themselves are even funnier – although inadvertently so – asking voters whether "your city supervisor" prefers “buses or benefits,” “parks or pensions,” or “paychecks or pinkslips.” Apparently, the Chamber is trying to capitalize on this political season's fashionable attacks on public employee pensions and benefits, but the false choices that the Chamber sets up actually say more about its own promotion of this sort of zero-sum game within the public sector.
Hundreds of city employees have gotten pink slips in the last couple years directly because Newsom and the Chamber have sabotaged proposed revenue measures, even those that would help small businesses. They've played cynical political games that have cut Muni service and caused fares to double since Newsom became mayor, with Muni money diverted to help fund the paychecks, benefits, and pensions of police and firefighters – core Newsom constituencies to whom he gave overly generous deals to secure their early support for his 2007 re-election – while recently negotiating a deal that would exempt them from being affected by Jeff Adachi's pension reform measure for another two years.
But targets of the ads don't even need to know this whole backstory to see that the ads are simply false choices, lamely presented. Another swing and a miss from the once-mighty Chamber.