Willie Brown and accusations of machine politics in D6

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A political mailer promoting progressive supervisorial candidate Jane Kim was funded primarily by former Mayor Willie Brown through a campaign committee that Kim consultant Enrique Pearce helped start and which was located in his office, the latest strange development in a race that is dividing the progressive movement at a crucial moment and prompting a nasty public debate over political “machines.”

It's illegal for campaigns to coordinate activities with independent expenditure committees such as New Day for SF, which put out the glossy mailer proclaiming “Another renter supports Jane Kim for District 6 Supervisor” and calling her “The people's candidate.” The most recent campaign finance statements, filed Oct. 4, listed the group's treasurer as USF student Brent Robinson and the contact number being that of Pearce's Left Coast Communications, where Robinson worked.

Pearce told the Guardian that he was involved in starting New Day for SF, but that he severed ties with the group and Robinson “about a month ago” when it seemed they might support Kim. “When it started to go down that path, we said that we can't do that,” Pearce said, adding that he didn't know why the forms still listed his phone number or why the receptionist in his office took a message for Robinson from the Guardian, although Pearce said they share a receptionist with other organizations. On Oct. 5, a day after the intial filing, the group filed a form to amend Robinson's phone number.

The campaign finance form shows the group raised $9,200, including $5,000 from Brown on Sept. 30 and $2,500 from Twenty-Two Holdings LLC, which last year applied for a liquor license for the Wunder Brewing Co. Robinson did not return our calls for comment.

The Bay Guardian and other progressive voices used to decry the corrosive influence on San Francisco politics of the Democratic Party political machine established by Brown and former California Senate President (and current state party chair) John Burton. Although that machine is dormant now, the concept of machine politics has been revived in this election cycle by Kim and her allies, adding an ironic note to her support by Brown.

“I'm not a part of anyone's machine and I'm certainly not a part of anyone's master plan,” Kim declared during her June 24 campaign kickoff party, where Brown and former Mayor Art Agnos made an appearance. When I highlighted the remark in my coverage of the event, and its inference that Kim's progressive rival Debra Walker was supported by a budding progressive political machine, it triggered a raging political debate about the concept that continues this day.

The nastiest salvos in that debate have recently been fired at the Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Democratic Party Central Committee – accusing us of being part of a political machine supporting Walker and excluding Kim (who got the Guardian's #2 endorsement) – by Randy Shaw on his Beyond Chron blog. Shaw is one of two staff writers on the blog, along with Paul Hogarth, a Democratic Party activist and Kim campaign volunteer.

Shaw founded and runs the nonprofit Tenderloin Housing Clinic, which has millions of dollars in city contracts to administer SRO leases through Mayor Gavin Newsom's Care Not Cash and other programs. He started BeyondChron a few years ago with seed money from Joe O'Donoghue, who was then president of the Residential Builders Association, a developer group that has sometimes clashed with Walker in her capacity as a member of the city's Building Inspection Commission.

On Oct. 5 and then again on Oct. 12, Shaw wrote and prominently posted long stories promoting Kim's candidacy and attacking us and the DCCC for not supporting her more strongly. In the first one, “In District 6, Jane Kim takes on the machine,” Shaw defended Burton but shared the Guardian's criticism of how Brown behaved as mayor.

“Brown’s power was strictly personal, as became clear when his chosen Supervisor candidates were defeated in the 2000 elections,” Shaw wrote, criticizing political machines and writing that the progressive political movement is not “served when those seeking to run for office feel they must choose between 'playing ball' with political insiders and giving up their dreams.”

But is it possible that Shaw's strident campaigning against Walker – indeed, his protege Hogarth planned to challenge Walker before Kim decided to get into the race – was prompted by Walker's unwillingness to “play ball” with Shaw and his RBA backers? Should we be concerned that it's actually Shaw who's trying to build his own little political machine?

I've tried to discuss these issues with Shaw and Hogarth, including sending them a detailed list of questions (as has Guardian Executive Editor Tim Redmond), but they've been unwilling to respond, just as they were unwilling to contact us before writing two divisive hit pieces that were riddled with inaccuracies that they've refused to correct.

I've also left messages with Kim and others in her campaign to discuss machine politics and its implications – as well as Sup. Chris Daly, asking about the sometimes close relations that some progressive supervisors have had with Shaw and RBA developers over the years [UPDATE BELOW] – and we're waiting to hear back.

But Pearce said voters shouldn't read too much into a relatively small political contribution from Willie Brown, or from the “colorful writing” of Randy Shaw, emphasizing Kim's independence and saying that was always what she intended to stress when she raised the specter of machine politics tainting the race.

“Randy Shaw is not a part of this campaign, and Willie Brown is certainly not a part of this campaign,” Pearce told us. In fact, Pearce even noted that his office is not a part of the Kim campaign, that they're merely consultants to it. And he offered his hopes and belief that in 19 days when this campaign is over, progressives would overcome their differences and find a common agenda again. Let's hope so.

UPDATE: Daly and I just connected and he had an interesting take on all this. He noted that when Brown was mayor, the base that he brought together included the RBA, Rose Pak and the Chinatown power brokers (who also seem to be backing Kim, who used to work as an activist/organizer in that community), and, improbably, both Labor and Downtown.

"But that's not Gavin's alignment, his alignment is just downtown. The RBA guys hate Gavin, mostly just because of who is is, a silver spoon guy who never worked a day in his life," Daly said. So Matt Gonzalez, the board president who ran against Newsom in 2003, formed an alliance with the RBA and O'Donoghue, who already had a long relationship with Shaw, both personal and financial.

Daly also said that he thinks it's a personality clash more than anything else that is driving Shaw's opposition to Walker: "He just doesn't like Debra." In turn, that sort of personality-based politics -- more than any differences in ideology, vision, or qualifications -- is souring people in the two political camps on one another as this close election enters the home stretch. But will those resentments linger after this election? Probably, Daly said, although he plans to actively try to mediate the divide once the dust clears on this race.

"Luckily, we have a lot of young people entering the progressive movement," Daly said. "There's always a rejuvenation going on and one day the new leaders will be like, 'Why do that guy and that guy hate each other?' 'I don't know, I think it had something to do with the 2010 election."

Comments

Look at the behavior of the progressive politicians and their surrogates at this website and at Fog City Journal.

Why would any sensible person regard any of these characters as in any way superior to the cheesy politicians that we find everywhere?

Posted by Arthur Evans on Oct. 15, 2010 @ 10:08 pm

Guest,

On the O'Donoghue/Walker clash. It began when Joe's people were clear-cutting and building the phony live/work structures SOMA that followed their 'Richmond Specials' of the preceding decades (guy's gotta eat). Joe and his RBA were rolling along with little opposition with the notable exception of two LGBT ladies named Debra Walker and Krissy Keefer (who later ran for congress against Pelosi). Joe and his thugs threatened the ladies who were protesting the planned destruction of a dance studio. It was reported and blackened his name and he's hated them since. Keefer still runs a big dance studio (Dance Mission) and Walker has remained in the public eye. In her year's on the DBI Commission Debra never blinked when O'Donoghue/Willie/Gavin commissioners attacked her relentlessly. Their number one ally? That would be Randy Shaw.

Go Giants!

h.

Posted by Guest h. brown on Oct. 16, 2010 @ 3:09 am

h. brown knows history: richmond specials, soma live work loopholes, walter's 'construction center' with the completely illegal fourth floor (Division @ Mission) housing those fresh off the boat to create the new building 'mafia' in SF ( indentured servants working for rice and a cot while working off the 'shippping' fee into SF), permit expediters, a corrupt building department, lot's of construction cash in support ot the 90's IRA, etc. etc.
and now what?: affordable housing bait and switch games being played by some of the same residual crooks who want to control both D6 and D10. make no mistake though, D8 would never be 'burdened' with affordable housing. Nimby rules will prevent such a horror. and the progressives whine about tenants rights, sit/lie, etc. while rome burns.

Posted by we're paying attention on Oct. 16, 2010 @ 8:30 am

Other SF progressives.

This suicidal behavior, which is one display in this thread, is largely the result of the leadership style of Chris Daly. He has made divisiveness into a political imperative.

He identifies with one faction or one idea and then vilifies everybody else who doesn't fall in line. This behavior worked when Daly had the clout to bully everybody into submission. But the roaring Godzilla has turned into a radioactive lame duck.

Although Daly will soon be gone, his style is now the style of SF progressives generally. You see that style clearly among the progressive wannabes in district six. They and their operatives think they can prevail by demonizing everyone who doesn't support their own sub-faction.

The problem is that they don't have the clout to impose their bullying on everyone else. The result is that they are setting themselves up for disaster at the polls.

There's a better approach to politics than the divisiveness of Chris Daly. It's the one that SF saw in the person of Harvey Milk.

It's the politics of creating bridges. Reach out to people who think differently from yourself. Listen to their concerns. Try to come up with reasonable compromises that are still consistent with your basic principles. Be a person.

Will SF progressivism continue to ossify into a doctrinaire sect that demonizes diversity of thinking?

Yes, as long as the spirit of Chris Daly lives on.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Oct. 16, 2010 @ 9:05 am

Monday October 18, 2010 from 7pm to 9pm at Balompie Restaurant. Contact Debra Walker headquarters for more details.

Posted by Latinos for Debra Walker!!! on Oct. 16, 2010 @ 10:57 am

Progressives are to a Liberal Democracy what Tea-Party types are to the GOP.

Mr. Evans, the behavior you describe did not start with Chris Daly. He just post-womb when, in 1979 or so, the city exploded during the WhiteNight riots. I was in Civic Center at the time and watched as dozens of the same type of quasi-neo-stoner-steet thugs (our peace and love generation had retreated to the suburbs by then) stormed out of the lower Polk area and firebombed police and everyone else's cars. This was the birth (exorcist-style) of the modern San Francisco progressive: mean spirited, greedy, self absorbed, whining, spoiled, violent, reactionary, largely unemployable or marginally so. Lot's of middle class trust fund white kids and early tweaker types in the mix too. This culminated in the almost disasterous election of 20 years later of the trustfunder himself: Matt Gonzales. (Of course, trustfunder numero Gavin got the nod) . Daly is just a copycat angry little boy. The mourners who had marched down Market were largely peaceful that night and were horrified at the scene.
Let's hope sanity prevails on November 2nd.

Posted by diers on Oct. 16, 2010 @ 11:09 am

Progressivism in SF in the 1970s and early 1980s was a populist reform movement that opened the city's windows to more inclusive vistas. Two people who led the way, initially, were Harvey Milk and George Moscone.

After they were assassinated in 1978, Mayor Dianne Feinstein, a moderate, sought to reverse their legacy. She opposed rent control, equity pay for women, reforms in the police department, and reforms on behalf of immigrants, workers, and gay people.

Harry Britt, who succeeded Harvey Milk at the supes, was able to outfox Feinstein on many fronts and keep the reform agenda alive, to his credit. However, he eventually got bored with his job at City Hall and offended many by his lack of social skills.

Art Agnos and Co succeeded to the leadership of the reform movement. And that's when many problems started to emerged. Agnos and his lieutenants were nasty, dishonest ideologues.

They regarded themselves as the guardians of The One True Politics. They demonized anyone who didn't fall in line. The movement started turning into a Pharisaic sect.

Chris Daly succeeded Agnos and Co as leader. He had all of Agnos's faults and none of his virtues. He poisoned the well of political dialogue at City Hall to a degree that hadn't been seen in living memory.

At the same time, outside forces started infiltrating progressive groups and co-opting them for their own perks, power, and money. These co-opting forces included the nonprofit political complex, the unions, certain favored real-estate developers, and the cannabis capitalists.

Daly combined the dogmatism of the sect with the economic and political clout of the co-opting forces. The result is progressivism as it exists today in SF - a new, suffocating status quo, entrenched with its own power, money, and ideology.

This is a familiar pattern in history. Reforming forces gain power and then become a new status quo, which must be challenged anew.

It's time for a new, post-progressive reform movement in SF.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Oct. 16, 2010 @ 11:41 am
Duh

If anyone calling themselves a "reporter" had been paying attention like some of us have, they'd have picked up on this long ago. If it was a downtown consultant pulling this crap, progressives would rip them a new one for violations and be running down to Ethics to file a complaint. But because it's progressives, we're supposed to sit around and play with ourselves instead.

A pity that the Guardian ISN"T part of some grand machine as per the accusations of the poverty Mafia, the Irish Builder Mafia and the Pak/Brown gang...they'd have smacked this down a long time ago. But I guess there were more important things to do like come out with the "beer issue" or the sex issue or the "we have nothing to say so we'll invent a bullshit theme to generate ads issue" instead.

asleep at the wheel...BOYS!

Posted by Progs Suck and Mods Suck on Oct. 16, 2010 @ 1:57 pm

There are plenty of progressives in this race. Just don't vote for this one.

1) Debra Walker
2) Jim Meko
3) Anna Conda

Posted by manys on Oct. 16, 2010 @ 2:57 pm

Thanks for the laughs... how very silly politics in San Francisco can be... witness this whole "inside baseball" thread. Lots of accusations and innuendo, not a single comment about policy or which candidate might be better for the city. Just a lot of "who shot John."

It is amusing in its way but I wonder if more than 23 people in the city ever read to the end of these threads?

So much bickering and divisiveness and alienation of natural allies that one could imagine that some of the usual suspects might really be agents provocateurs... certainly would explain a lot of the senseless bickering that serves to just turn off average San Francisco voters.... would make for a fun movie plot.

Posted by Guest22 on Oct. 18, 2010 @ 7:01 pm

@guest22. there is a movie. it's called Jackass.

Posted by stopyourwhiningnow on Oct. 18, 2010 @ 9:07 pm

Haha. But it is true about agent provocateurs. CIA is well known for using agent provocateurs to break down dissident groups.

Classic strategy is to infiltrate a group (or recruit existing member) and then instigate internal fights. Sometimes more than one collude to at first pair together then attack each other, then make up, then do it again, more vicious each time, making the whole group look crazy and chase more stable members out. Until the whole group dissolves into a useless, impotent unit.

Sound familiar?

Posted by MacGruber on Oct. 19, 2010 @ 11:24 pm

Haha. But it is true about agent provocateurs. CIA is well known for using agent provocateurs to break down any dissident groups.

Classic strategy is to infiltrate a group (or recruit existing member) and then instigate internal fights. Sometimes more than one collude to at first pair together then attack each other, then make up, then do it again, more vicious each time, making the whole group look crazy and chase more stable members out. Until the whole group dissolves into a useless, impotent unit.

Sound familiar?

Posted by MacGruber on Oct. 19, 2010 @ 11:22 pm

the nature of being a true believer makes it impossible for them to get along with each other.

The CIA doesn't make Chris Daly act the way he does.

Posted by matlock on Oct. 20, 2010 @ 5:12 am

We all know the reality that Walker could be accused of the same thing-coordinated campaigns and developer money. When you throw mudd some will get stuck on you. In the end you are part of the same destructive tyrade you accuse others of.

Both are good gals in the end, but do you guys ever talk about the issues or just play in the mudd?

A lot of people don't care here. They just hate and hate and engage in name-calling, but at the end of the day, we need a brighter vision. One that acknowledges sister Kim as a true and true progressive and Walker as a fine candidate as well...despite both of them receiving from more conservative donors.

Guardian, you can get stuck in the name-calling and engage in a pissing fight, or you can help move the dialogue forward...a lot of people on both sides would like that.

There is life after November 2nd, regardless, but at some point the wounds become so deep they won't healed.

Posted by cecil on Oct. 20, 2010 @ 9:24 am

We all know the reality that Walker could be accused of the same thing-coordinated campaigns and developer money. When you throw mudd some will get stuck on you. In the end you are part of the same destructive tyrade you accuse others of.

Both are good gals in the end, but do you guys ever talk about the issues or just play in the mudd?

A lot of people don't care here. They just hate and hate and engage in name-calling, but at the end of the day, we need a brighter vision. One that acknowledges sister Kim as a true and true progressive and Walker as a fine candidate as well...despite both of them receiving from more conservative donors.

Guardian, you can get stuck in the name-calling and engage in a pissing fight, or you can help move the dialogue forward...a lot of people on both sides would like that.

There is life after November 2nd, regardless, but at some point the wounds become so deep they won't healed.

Posted by cecil on Oct. 20, 2010 @ 9:24 am

We all know the reality that Walker could be accused of the same thing-coordinated campaigns and developer money. When you throw mudd some will get stuck on you. In the end you are part of the same destructive tyrade you accuse others of.

Both are good gals in the end, but do you guys ever talk about the issues or just play in the mudd?

A lot of people don't care here. They just hate and hate and engage in name-calling, but at the end of the day, we need a brighter vision. One that acknowledges sister Kim as a true and true progressive and Walker as a fine candidate as well...despite both of them receiving from more conservative donors.

Guardian, you can get stuck in the name-calling and engage in a pissing fight, or you can help move the dialogue forward...a lot of people on both sides would like that.

There is life after November 2nd, regardless, but at some point the wounds become so deep they won't healed.

Posted by cecil on Oct. 20, 2010 @ 9:24 am

and the fact that these are printed articles are so crazy.

You're all insane. No exceptions.

"You're part of the machine"
"No, you're a machine"

and

Friendships being ruined over d6..

p.s. I voted for fucking newsom! THIS IS REAL

Posted by I miss SF on Oct. 21, 2010 @ 4:02 pm

D10 again and again
Sweet should drop out because she's a damn fool. Why do you say that Moss is an utter total crook? Is this because the Guardian says so? Although I'm voting for someone else in this race, there seems to be no proof on these endless accusations. Who cares if the guy made legal money selling a property? Sounds like envy on that one. Do you think he'd be stupid enough to hide funds between for and non profits and then run for office? On the scale of dumb in this race, 19 score an A; Moss, Enea, Lacy and E. Smith get an F; Cohen and Kelly get a D. A lot of this Guardian stuff is just throwing molitov cocktails into the wind.

Posted by D 10 blah blah blah on Oct. 23, 2010 @ 12:17 pm

D10 again and again
Sweet should drop out because she's a damn fool. Why do you say that Moss is an utter total crook? Is this because the Guardian says so? Although I'm voting for someone else in this race, there seems to be no proof on these endless accusations. Who cares if the guy made legal money selling a property? Sounds like envy on that one. Do you think he'd be stupid enough to hide funds between for and non profits and then run for office? On the scale of dumb in this race, 19 score an A; Moss, Enea, Lacy and E. Smith get an F; Cohen and Kelly get a D. A lot of this Guardian stuff is just throwing molitov cocktails into the wind.

Posted by D 10 blah blah blah on Oct. 23, 2010 @ 12:21 pm