Get a clue, Randy Shaw


I read BeyondChron every day, and Randy Shaw, who operates the site, and Paul Hogarth, his managing editor, often have interesting commentary. But I’m constantly annoyed by people who run what by any stretch is a journalistic operation, but don’t follow the basic rules of (even alternative, activist) journalism: When you’re going to say something nasty about somebody, you call that person for comment.

Randy never called me, or Steve Jones, or Bruce Brugmann, before he launched an attack on the Guardian as part of a political machine. If he had -- or if he’d done any reporting work and called around town -- he might have learned something.

Randy's argument is that the "machine" -- including the Bay Guardian -- is trying to block Jane Kim's election as D6 supervisor. Let's examine that for a minute.

There are plenty of people in San Francisco who would love to have a political machine. But it’s just not happening. The very fact that Jane Kim has the support of so many progressives -- including the Board president, David Chiu, and Supervisors Eric Mar and John Avalos (all part of what Shaw calls the “machine”) suggests that nobody has to clout -- not even me -- to tell a candidate whether she can run for office, to control (or cut off) campaign contributions, or to wire an election.

In the days when Willie Brown ran San Francisco, the machine really did keep people from running for office. It really did close off avenues to political advancement. And if the machine was against you, it was really hard to raise money. If Brown were still the boss, and he didn’t want Kim to run, she would have been frozen out of much of the support and money she has today. Instead, Brown was at her campaign kickoff -- and nobody’s manged to intimidate her many supporters and campaign contributors.

And guess what? The Guardian -- the axis of the machine evil trying to freeze out Kim -- endorsed her as our second choice.

I stand by what I said months ago -- there’s nobody in San Francisco today -- and no cadre or group -- with the clout to operate as a political machine.

Nobody can line up six automatic votes on the Board of Supervisors. Even the progressives on the Democratic County Central Committee can’t always seem to get it together (note that Aaron Peskin, the chair and supposed machine honco, supported Tony Kelly for supervisor, and the DCCC didn’t put Kelly on its slate).

Right now, power in this city is fairly diffuse. That’s both a good and a bad thing. Good because machines are exclusionary, bad because it means the progressives can’t always function on a level that gets the right candidates elected and the right legislation through. Good because the left in this city is aggressively, almost happily disorganized and politically diverse, full of characters, voices, interest groups, candidates and elected officials who don’t always agree with each other and take orders from nobody. Bad because when we’re disorganized, we tend to lose.

Jane Kim didn’t get the DCCC endorsement. Nobody talked to me about that; I’m not on the panel and none of the members called to ask my advice. I would have said what the Guardian said in our endorsement package: There are exactly two progressive candidates who are qualified to be the next D6 supervisor, and their names are Debra Walker and Jane Kim. I still don’t understand why Kim entered the race against an established candidate with whom she has no substantial policy disagreements; I think that, before Kim moved to the district and entered the race, Walker was the clear consensus candidate of progressives, and as a matter of strategy, since Kim and Walker are both on the same side on the key issues, it might have made more sense for the left to unite behind one candidate.

But that’s not the issue anymore; Kim had every right to run, and now any cogent, honest ranked-choice voting strategy includes both her and Walker.

That statement alone makes clear that the Guardian’s not exactly in synch with the DCCC or any of Shaw’s other “machine” operations. The DCCC decided that the top candidate in D10 should be DeWitt Lacy, and left Tony Kelly off the slate entirely. We endorsed Tony Kelly as our first choice. The labor activists on the DCCC (and in the “machine”) are dead set against Margaret Brodkin winning a seat on the Board of Education; we endorsed her.

I would have explained our positions to Randy Shaw if he’d called or emailed me; I’m really easy to reach. And slapping people around without talking to them is bad journalism and bad progressive politics. Randy and I have disagreements, but I don’t consider him the enemy; we’re both part of a larger progressive community, and while I love (and thrive on) disputes in that community, we ought to be civil about it.

(I always contact Randy before I write about him. I did that yesterday, and asked him a series of questions, including why he never called me for comment. His non-response: "I write 3-4 articles a week and have published three books. You are free to quote from anything I have written without asking me about it.")

Herb Caen used to say (somewhat in jest) that if you “check an item, you lose it.” In other words, once you start talking to everyone involved in an issue, you sometimes find out that the story isn’t at all the way you heard it.

That’s what should have happened with Shaw’s completely inaccurate claim about Steve Jones.

BeyondChron says that Jones was trying to get Kim to challenge Carmen Chu in D4 because they're both Asian-American, " in effect saying that as an Asian-American Jane should run among 'her people,' implying that demographics prevailed over issues and political stands."

I talked to Steve about it; he did, indeed, talk to Jane Kim when Kim was shopping around for a district to run in. What he told her -- and would have told Randy Shaw -- was that it would be great for Kim, a school board member with citywide name recognition, to knock off Carmen Chu and expand the progressive majority rather than going after a strong progressive candidate in a solidly progressive seat. Race had nothing to do with it.

In fact, just about everything we’ve written about Kim comes down to the same argument: Sometimes, you have to think about the larger progressive movement, not just about yourself.

I sometimes wish the all the people who say the Bay Guardian is part of a powerful Peskin Machine were right: I’d love to pass a city income tax, hit the wealthy up for about half a billion dollars a year, eliminate the budget deficit without cutting services, municipalize PG&E (and have municipal cable TV and broadband), ban cars on a lot of streets, create 25,000 units of affordable housing ... I’ve got a great agenda. And the Guardian’s so powerful that none of it ever happens.

Randy Shaw and I were both around for the tail end of the Burton Machine, and I think he gives the brothers Phil and John Burton too much credit. They were great on national issues, progressive champions in Congress. But they weren’t progressive leaders on local issues.

The Burton Machine was nowhere on the fights against overdevelopment and downtown power. Phil Burton rarely used his clout to support progressive causes and candidates at home. The machine got Harvey Milk fired from a commission appointment when he announced he was going to run for state Assembly against Art Agnos. The machine came together to make sure that Nancy Pelosi, an unknown who had never held office, got elected to Congress instead of Harry Britt, the most progressive elected official in the city at the time. The machine never helped out on public power, the numerous anti-highrise initiatives, rent control, or much of anything else that challenged the real estate interests like Walter Shorenstein, who gave vast sums of money to the Democratic Party.

Yes, George Moscone, a Burton ally, supported district elections, but once he got elected he stopped challenging downtown power.

And, of course, when Willie Brown emerged as heir to the machine throne, he was a disaster for progressives. He also at one point controlled an unshakable majority on the Board of Supervisors; he could call up votes whenever he needed.

The progressives in San Francisco today share an ideology on local issues -- tough local issues that involve powerful economic forces at home.

And honestly, Randy: It’s not all about Jane Kim.




No, it's about Debra Walker.

She's a solid progressive who would end the gravy train that runs from the city coffers into Randy Shaw's multi-million dollar operation.

He's just protecting his financial interests. Can't say I blame him. If she wins, there will be a reckoning.

Posted by orlistat on Oct. 06, 2010 @ 12:07 pm

Randy Shaw and Paul Hogarth are liars. They are for Jane Kim simply because Randy's poverty empire was challenged by Debra Walker when she was a commissioner, and they have the nerve to pretend to be journalists all the while being part and parcel of the Kim Campaign. It's almost as bad as Luke Thomas, the "editor" of Fog City Journal, who lies to his readers by pretending to be a writer (and a bad one at that) when in fact he is on the payroll of Kim's campaign and consultant.

if anyone has a "machine" it's poverty pimp Randy Shaw!

Posted by Randy Shaw Jr. on Oct. 06, 2010 @ 1:08 pm

Walker lied when she said told Meko for months he was her #2 and she won't endorse anyone. It's all about Walker, junior. On top of that, Walker's supporters have engaged in nasty smear campaigns against both Meko and Kim, adding further fuel to the fire that is now burning and dividing the progressive movement.

You want to be a part of that, junior? Oh, wait, you already are.

And before you start slinging mud junior, show some balls and identify yourself.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 06, 2010 @ 3:07 pm

English in not your 1st language, is it?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 06, 2010 @ 5:24 pm

Hey "Guest" where are your own cajones? Telling someone to grow a pair and identify themselves means nothing when it comes from someoe who won't identify themselves.

Now, I am not ID'ing myself, but then again, I didn't call anyone out on it!!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 22, 2010 @ 12:14 pm

Tax funded propaganda is what is.

Randy Shaw's salary has doubled over the past ten years.

The Tenderloin has the highest population density in San Francisco. Surely within that dense, diverse community, the THC could find someone who was an articulate journalist grounded in that community. But that is not what Shaw wanted, not what Hogarth brings to the table which is an uncanny ability to anticipate what Shaw wants and needs from him and for him to preemptively write that without thinking about questioning it. No self respecting journalist would put themselves in the position of being a political hack for a lucrative private nonprofit enterprise.

Irrespective of any pertinent federal tax laws on the matter, does anyone who pays property (yes your rent pays property taxes) and sales tax in San Francisco feel that it is good public policy, feels comfortable with those dollars ending up at the THC to publish beyondchron which stokes the political debate in a way intended to drive more city funding onto the THC's coffers?


Posted by marcos on Oct. 06, 2010 @ 1:17 pm

If Debra Walker was the so-called consensus candidate, other candidates would not have run. Machines grease the track for their annointed candidates. Trying to get an endorsement two years before an election is machine-like.

Whether it's Keys or Kim, The Guardian is upset that their annointed candidate is not the consensus candidate for this district, my district.

How funny though. Nothing provokes a response faster than calling a white liberal "racist"

Posted by Consensus on Oct. 06, 2010 @ 2:04 pm

Sometimes it's time to think about the movement instead of yourself? Are you serious? Try practicing what you preach and endorse the clearly more qualiied candidate. 1st place victor in a citywide election? President of a municipal body that rose through the ranks and has actual policymaking experience and has manger a multi-million dollar budget? A candidate strongly supported by progressives save those that don't want to disobey the dictum of an insular group? Let's be honest for once here. This is about bollocks seniority. Right from the minute Kim intimated she may run she was disuaded because Ealker had ben hanging around and now, supposedly, "it's her turn." Does that sound like responsible politics? No. It sounds like high school student body presidential election politics. Stop the bs.

Posted by Diddulus on Oct. 06, 2010 @ 2:58 pm

In fact, just about everything we’ve written about Kim comes down to the same argument: Sometimes, you have to think about the larger progressive movement, not just about yourself.

This makes me laugh really. The only candidate who's guilty of this is the one saying "it's MY turn now! I've been here for a while, waiting!". I'm sorry, I wasn't aware political offices were awarded on the basis of senior progressive status. Try endorsing based on proven, empirically confirmed criteria, like, oh I don't know, experience.

Posted by Diddulus on Oct. 06, 2010 @ 3:01 pm

You don't discourage new people from running?

How about your conduct with Hope Johnson? Then you have the gall to lament the fact that there's no new blood running for the Community College Board? She was in the race until you and Gabriel Haaland conspired to crush her in the D Triple C Peskin/Guardian Machine juggernaut.

I hope you don't realize what a hypocrite you've become, Tim.

You'd be pretty miserable.

Giants relievers as the 5th starter!

Casilla opens.

Mota throws the second

Lopez throws the third

Ray throws the fourth

Runzler throws the fifth

Affeldt throws the seventh

Romo throws the eighth

Wilson closes

And, they could do that the next day if needed.

We need to get to 25 on roster by tomorrow morning.

Means we gotta cut 4 for this series only.

I say we sit:


Whiteside (Sandoval's your back up)



Go Giants!


Posted by Guest h. brown on Oct. 06, 2010 @ 3:20 pm

I love the hypocrisy of a guy using the Guest ID to challenge someone to ID themselves. What informative dialogue.

BTW, who gives a shit about 2nd place endorsements anyway? they are meaningless and a joke. The fact you people give a shit shows how out of touch you all are. Suck on that, commenters!

Posted by Guest x. frown on Oct. 06, 2010 @ 3:37 pm

2nd place votes are only meaningless if you're a Walker supporter, junior.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 06, 2010 @ 4:02 pm

Look, I'm pissed at Randy's BeyondChron conduct right now, but the truth is, he's dedicated his life to a community that most people ignore, and for all its flaws (and every organization has flaws) the Tenderloin Housing Clinic has helped an awful lot of people. To quote a local political activist who often clashes with Randy, "on balance, the world is a better place because Randy Shaw is in it." So let's keep that perspective.

Posted by Tim Redmond on Oct. 06, 2010 @ 7:22 pm

Tim, he's helped a lot of people to basically remain forever in poverty while he profits on it. The worst part is that he's still under the believe that he's doing good here when in fact the issues are worse than when he started. Randy Shaw is the local embodiment of the problems in aid for Africa. You create an untenable, unsustainable system that just requires more and more money each year without actually solving a damned thing.

Posted by Loiner on Oct. 07, 2010 @ 9:02 am

Yes Tim, there are 'flaws'. You want to ask any of these people if the world is a better place? You have all 650 of their names now

You'll have to look for them on the streets of SF tho

Posted by jeff on Oct. 11, 2010 @ 9:32 am

The more progressives fight within themselves, the more it becomes about the candidates and their friends instead of the district, the easier of a time that Sparks will have of it.

Whether or not it is "Debra's turn," a concept which I reject, Shaw sought out another candidate because of his personal animus with Walker, not because of any substantive political differences, not because he was outraged about Debra's perceived inevitability. Everyone gets to run for office if they so choose, but recipients of city contracts, especially non residents of San Francisco, should not be in the business of picking and choosing supervisors and using tax subsidy to editorialize to that effect.

No, Randy Shaw is not pure evil. But he is corrupting activism and politics in the TL and the rest of D6. Whatever progressive politics he is able to advance are checked and rolled back by the the conflicts inherent in taking public contracts. Tax dollars going to a service providers funding advocacy journalism is corrupt. That corruption needs to stop. Perhaps if Walker is elected it will and that is what scares Shaw.

After Randy has his "come to Jesus" moment, perhaps he can go on to do whatever good work he does at a rate of pay commensurate with the community he works in.


Posted by marcos on Oct. 06, 2010 @ 7:57 pm

" around for a district to run in."

Don't like 'em.

Posted by Guest GrannyGear on Oct. 06, 2010 @ 9:33 pm

" around for a district to run in."

Don't like 'em.

Posted by Guest GrannyGear on Oct. 06, 2010 @ 9:34 pm

It is apparent from his article that Randy is a labor attorney and tenant attorney and not a trained journalist and should probably be viewed in that light, but he has helped a lot of people out of lots of landlord trouble all for free and probably could call in lots of favors if he wants and is an extremely valuable progressive ally.

Hopefully it is a learning process that, fun as it is, publishers should be careful when publishing wild unhinged rants.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 06, 2010 @ 10:50 pm

Plus I just read in the comments that Luke Thomas is getting paid by the Jane Kim campaign (?) so if that is true his friends posting on this opinion board are being a little disingenuous with their outrage?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 06, 2010 @ 10:53 pm

I'm supplementing my earlier commentary to focus on a salient distinction that needs to be made if we are to have a more meaningful dialogue concerning the DCCC's myopic snubbing of Kim...

The distinction I wish to make is between criticisms that seem to focus on Walker's status as the "annointed candidate" of the progressive machine and my earlier criticism of the seniority-based system by which that status seemingly accrued to Walker. Truth is, it's not necessarily a bad thing to be the "annointed candidate" of an influential organization, public figure or even a movement itself. What IS a necessarily bad thing is the annointing of a particular candidate as the true "progressive choice" by influential actors on the basis of irrelevant and frivolous criteria. Let's be honest. Endorsements out to be awarded to the best candidate, which, frankly, is the candidate who brings to the office sought prior policy-making and budget management experience, intellectual excellence, a well-established progressive record, and a history of success in negotiating the political pitfalls of San Francisco while forging alliances across groups with often widely divergent views. Given the conspicuous absence of any rebuttal to my earlier pronouncement that Kim is CLEARLY the more credentialed candidate and, following the above reasoning, the appropriate choice among the (clearly fickle) progressive establishment, the point has been made clear. Seniority in the progressive movement alone is neither a legitimate, nor compelling, reason for "annointing" a particular individual "THE progressive choice." Why do I say alone? Because, well, simply put, Walker is older than Kim, who, accordingly, has had less time to acquire "senior" progressive status, and that's ALL Walker has on Kim. That's right. Age. This should not serve to disqualify Kim as the natural choice among the progressive establishment, as she has been working tirelessly to advance the progressive agenda from the very first moment of her arrival. What's more, if one were to put Kim and Walker toe-to-toe in a battle of credentials, I think each and every one of us knows that we'd have a blood bath on our hands. Kim by first round knockout. It's the truth people. Deal with it and get behind the better candidate.

Posted by Diddulus on Oct. 07, 2010 @ 5:17 am

I am progressive, radical even, but Ms. Kim is not even one of my top 3 choices. She should have thought about her future when she snubbed me on teh Gonzales for Mayor campaign. Now she's all "Hi there" because she wants my vote? I would have had more respect for her had she continued to snub me!!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 22, 2010 @ 12:34 pm

"Endorsements out to be awarded to the best candidate, which, frankly, is the candidate who brings to the office sought prior policy-making and budget management experience, intellectual excellence, a well-established progressive record, and a history of success in negotiating the political pitfalls of San Francisco while forging alliances across groups with often widely divergent views."

If we were to engage on this, then we'd be engaging on the substance of the candidates. Given that each candidate brings a wealth of both positives and negatives to the table and that sussing them out would only give ammunition to downtown, I'd urge that we refrain from doing that here. I know the candidates all too well, have lived in the district for most all of my 21 years in San Francisco. And I can state with more knowledge than most of you all that the race is a wash between Walker and Kim on the merits. The decisive factor will be who hustles the most between now and election day and who gives Sparks a greater toe hold through exposing weaknesses in either progressive candidate.

It is bad enough that the Guardian gave Jeff Adachi a forum to pimp his attack on workers, their families and health care. It is even worse that they titled the op-ed "Prop B will save Health Care." It is inexcusable that the SFBG continues to keep this article, so favorably titled to a position against which the SFBG endorsed.

Tim, Steve, change that headline so that it does not run counter to your endorsement, my access to health care might depend on it.

Let's not do what the SFBG insists on doing when Tim wrings his hands in anguish, all Hamlet like, bending over to be fair only to be taken advantage of and end up with it up the ass non consensually.

Give no comfort to our mutual opponents, okay?


Posted by marcos on Oct. 07, 2010 @ 6:09 am

And this Mr. Redmond is why you're a professional journalist and not a lawyer sucking off the city tit while living in a very nice home in the Berkeley hills. Well put response and can someone call the IRS to review THC's 501(c)3 status as Randy is walking a fine line here while not publishing on the part of a Political Action Committee.

Oh and if Shaw actually did give a damn about discourse, he'd enable contents on that blog of his. Online articles without open comments are illegitimate digital soapboxes.

Posted by Loiner on Oct. 07, 2010 @ 9:06 am

If you look at the bottom of the average Beyond Chron article, there is a button you press called "Send Us Feedback" which enables you to fill out a form to, erm, give feedback on the article. There's also a link on the Beyond Chron Website to a Letters To The Editor section. It's old school commentary, but at least interested readers can comment on Beyond Chron articles.

Posted by Peter on Oct. 11, 2010 @ 9:58 am

Shaw can't control commenters like he has Hogarth properly trained, he fears that which he cannot control because there is so much money riding on it all.


Posted by marcos on Oct. 07, 2010 @ 11:34 am

given all the progressive squabbling, the personality bashing, the gossiping and the amazing amount of lies and personal attacks that have gone on amongst progressives this year, in D6 and elsewhere, maybe it's time progressives got a serious ass kicking to remind them that this intermural insider bullshit is meaningless to the average voter, and instead get progressives to start focusing on policies that work, not bullshit talk.

People have forgotten life under a citywide elected board dominated by the likes of Mike Yaki, Barb Kaufman and the like, and when progressives were routinely on the losing end of every vote, and a Board under the thumb of an autocratic mayor, looting the city for Downtown interests. Instead especially with our class of 2008, we have a group of people who are stupid or could care less about making the city work under progressive policies, and instead just run around like morons, screwing over their own base.

ah, but better to spend time lapping up at the public trough, feeding the non profits, allowing operators like David Chiu to bargain away power for a handful of magic beans, and endless wanking off by wannabe politicos. Meanwhile SF burns.

Posted by Comment Queen on Oct. 07, 2010 @ 4:33 pm

Progressives are passionate bunch with good intentions and are on the right side of social and economic justice issues most of the time. The problem is progressives have no party, no central leadership, no order in their ranks, no primaries (though Daly tried), and no manifesto to speak of.

Perhaps all this will change when/if District 6 is lost to downtown?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 07, 2010 @ 8:28 pm

What Comment Queen said.

Perhaps the best thing that could happen to progressives is to lose enough seats so that the nonprofits get de-funded.

Those nonprofiteers who really give a shit will organize like they did in 99-00, those who don't will hit the freeways and tunnels outta here.

Given that the current Board of Supervisors folds like chairs for whatever crazy idea downtown throws at them, we're really not as far away from Willie Brown's day as it might seem, and loss of control would mean that most of us fall a shorter distance.

This is nothing about structurally reforming San Francisco government so that it effectively and efficiently delivers services to taxpayers remaining in the progressive project. It is all about pushing the merry go round, all most of us are left to do is to watch.


Posted by marcos on Oct. 07, 2010 @ 9:11 pm