Chiu stiffs progressives on key committee appointments

The fiscal conservatives who supported David Chiu's reelection as board president did well in his committee assignments.

Belying his repeated claims to being part of the progressive movement, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu has ousted his progressive colleagues from key leadership positions on board committees, placing fiscal conservatives into the chairs and majorities on the three most important committees and giving downtown interests more control over city legislation and projects than they've had in a decade.

Most notably, the chair of the Budget & Finance Committee was taken away from Sup. John Avalos – who challenged Chiu for the board presidency on Saturday – and given to Sup. Carmen Chu. While Chu did work on budget issues as a staffer in the Mayor's Office before being appointed supervisor, which Chiu cited in support of his decision, she has consistently voted with the three-member minority of fiscal conservatives throughout her tenure as supervisor, opposing even the most widely accepted revenue proposals and progressive initiatives.

Chiu also placed himself in the swing vote role on that committee, naming Sups. Ross Mirkarimi and Jane Kim as the permanent committee members and Scott Wiener and himself as the temporary members who serve on the committee from March 1 through budget season. Asked if that was intentional, Chiu told us, “Sure was.” With the city facing a budget deficit of almost $400 million after seven years of budget deficits that were closed almost entirely through service cuts and fee increases – rather than general revenue increases targeted at the city's richest individuals and corporations – the committee will be a key battleground between progressives and fiscal conservatives this year.

“The makeup of the committee reflects a real need for collaboration at this time of transition,” Chiu said of the Budget Committee. But Sup. David Campos was among the many progressives calling the committee assignments a major political realignment, telling us, “I don't see how you can look at the committee assignments and not see some kind of realignment. The progressives are no longer in control of the key committees." Avalos called it, “the price of moderates voting for Chiu.”

Also disappointing to progressives were Chiu's choices for the Rules and Land Use committees. On the Rules Committee, which confirms mayoral appointments, approves the placement of charter amendments on the ballot, and will play a big role this year in approving the redrawing of supervisorial districts in the wake of the 2010 Census, Chiu named Kim and Sups. Sean Elsbernd and Mark Farrell, the latter two childhood buddies who represent the city's two most conservative districts.

The committee takes the lead role in proposing the board's three appointees to a task force that will draw the new legislative lines, as well as reviewing the other six appointees (three each from the Mayor's Office and Elections Commission) and approving the plan that the task force produces. Downtown groups are expected to use the opportunity to negate the gains progressives have made in electing supervisors, probably in collaboration with Elsbernd and Farrell, a venture capitalist new to politics.

“Sean and Mark understand that if they push things through Rules that are outside the mainstream of who the board is, I expect that the full board will stop them,” Chiu told us. He also emphasized that Kim is chairing the committee, a role that can influence what items the committee considers: “On Rules, Sup. Kim will set the agenda there.”

Chiu sounded a similar rationale in defending a makeup on the Land Use & Economic Development Committee, to which he named new Sups. Scott Wiener and Malia Cohen – who were backed by development interests and opposed by tenant groups in last year's election – along with Sup. Eric Mar as chair.

“With Eric at the helm, he will do a very good job at fighting for neighborhoods, tenants, and other interests,” Chiu said. But Avalos noted that Mar will have his hands full trying to manage a high-stakes, high-profile agenda with little help from his colleagues. “There's a lot on Eric Mar's shoulders. It's his coming of age moment and he'll have to step up big time to run that committee,” Avalos said.

Avalos said he was disappointed to be removed from the Budget Committee after working on it for eight of the last 10 years, first as Sup. Chris Daly's legislative aide and then as a supervisor. “But I'm going to work behind the scene on the budget to make sure the communities are well-spoken for,” he said.

Chiu said he has gotten assurances from both Chu and Mayor Ed Lee “about the need for an open, transparent, and community-based budget process.” Carmen Chu echoed the point, telling us, “My hope is that this year the budget is going to be a very collaborative and open process.”

But on the need for need for revenue solutions, which Avalos has said are vital, David Chiu only went this far: “I am open to considering revenues as part of the overall set of solutions to close the budget deficit.” And Carmen Chu wouldn't even go that far.

“At the end of the day, we need to take into account the context of the state budget, in terms of new cuts and taxes, because anything we do will be on top of the state level,” she told us, adding this about the revenue measures that she opposed last year, “We need to ask who do these measures really impact.”

For progressives, the only bright spots in the committee appointments were Avalos chairing the City Operations & Neighborhood Services Committees, with Mar and Elsbernd also serving; and Sup. Ross Mirkarimi chairing the Public Safety Committee, with Cohen and Campos on it as well.

“I told people I was going to be fair in committee assignments and I have been,” Chiu said.

Sarah Phelan and Tim Redmond contributed to this report.


these positions have been filled by the type of representatives that the silent majority of this city would select, if given the choice, rather than the extremists who got a little too big for their boots in this last most untypical decade.

If anyone at SFBG seriously thinks that the majority of voters in this city want a far left adminstration, then they should furnish the evidence for that.

But I won't hold my breath.

Posted by Tom on Jan. 12, 2011 @ 6:27 pm

Ah, Nixon's old "silent majority," an apt label there, Tommy boy. It does sometime seem like we're right back where we started, with fearful people looking out for their own interests and hoping the cops, corporations, and political con-artists will save them from sharing the fate of the great unwashed masses. Nevermind that a majority of voters in a majority of supervisorial districts voted for self-proclaimed progressive candidates -- we're all about jobs, clean and safe streets, and "getting things done" now. That "untypical decade" is over and the capitalists are back in charge. Sleep well.

Posted by steven on Jan. 13, 2011 @ 10:43 am

Did a " majority of voters in a majority of supervisorial districts voted for self-proclaimed progressive candidates"? Really? Most commentators seem to think the new board is more moderate than the old board.

And certainly there was a swing to the right in November's elections everywhere, so it would be surprising had SF lurched the other way.

And again, progressives typically don't win the city-wide elections, implying that that "silent majority" really do prefer a moderate mayor and a moderate board.

As for jobs, less crime, safer streets and getting things done? Er, yeah, it sounds pretty good to this member of the "silent majority".

If you are correct, it will all change this coming November, right?

Posted by Tom on Jan. 13, 2011 @ 11:22 am

In the last election, we traded one progressive for another, Daly for Kim, and a majority of supervisors still publicly identify themselves with that label. But I do think we've undergone a political realignment in recent weeks, with the three Asian-American progressives supporting greater collaboration with the fiscal conservatives, who I suspect you're talking about when you refer to the "silent majority." We'll see how that works out, but I'm not hopeful. San Francisco seems to be ready to join the race to the bottom, in which we give the capitalists anything they want in the hopes that they create good-paying jobs and build decent housing, we give the cops free rein to keep the rabble at bay, and we continue to gut the public sector until the accusations of government ineptitude becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

Posted by steven on Jan. 13, 2011 @ 12:21 pm

controversy with great interest.

The SFMTA has found the parking ticket golden ratio. They gave out so many tickets and they are so costly people are more careful when they park, or just don't come to the city. So now the cities transit "experts" are wondering where all the money went. Who would have thunk?

The city lets the union write it's own rules, its top heavy with idiots like Nat Ford, mayor hair expenses out his flunkies to transit system, politicians run on making MUNI run on time and then are too terrified of the union to do anything but raise the cost of parking.

Posted by matlock on Jan. 13, 2011 @ 3:00 pm

How is Daly for Kim a 'swap'? On Tuesday Daly promised to 'haunt' Chiu and on Friday he refused to vote for Lee.

On Saturday Kim nominated Chiu for President and then voted for him and Lee. Doesn't seem like the same thing to me.

Posted by Homer on Jan. 13, 2011 @ 10:57 pm

by shutting up! Otherwise, you are just another pro-ruling-class loudmouth.

Posted by Aaron Aarons on Jan. 20, 2011 @ 7:27 pm

It was a clear majority that elected Newsom, twice.

I was one of them.

I'm largely silent.

But if you can show me where there is a mandate for an unelected Mayor who is well to the left of the Newsom/Kee moderate axis, then please furnish your documentary evidence for review.

Otherwise you get a chance to do it right in November.

Posted by Tom on Jan. 20, 2011 @ 7:35 pm


Posted by Patrick Brown on Jan. 12, 2011 @ 6:29 pm

Elsbernd reported yesterday that the City's contribution rate to the retirement system will be 18% of payroll. In three years, it will be 26%. The pension system is sucking the general fund dry. The budget deficits are just going to get worse. I'd rather have Carmen Chu as the Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee to try and address those problems. At least she has good budget experience.

The constant refrain that we need more revenues is getting old. One of the main reasons we have a structural deficit is that we have a pension system that is an anchor on the budget. No one wants to pay more taxes and fees that will go toward a pension system that enables people to retire at 50. People who aren't public employees don't get that deal and don't want to pay for it.

Posted by The Commish on Jan. 12, 2011 @ 6:42 pm

Come on, Commish, the depression has driven down tax revenues for the past four years in the mid nine figures each year. At some point, any revenue model that is subject to such vacillations needs to be revisited so that it is more resilient in the face of "the new normal." Given the hits to revenue, this means that a new tax system would need to have kept up with changing circumstances, as the cost to the City of providing a level of services does not go down.

I understand that the Small Business Commission came within one vote of endorsing Chiu's business tax proposal last year, and that it died for lack of SBC support. Chiu is a snake, but that proposal would have pointed the City in the right revenue direction.

But expecting for city workers to take the hit--and a 10% contribution is not going to significantly reduce the contractual obligations the City has to pay pensions--when the political class has not been able to get its act together to cast a wider but not necessarily deeper net for revenue lets the political class off the hook too easily.

What I see here is leg pissing with claims of rain.


Posted by marcos on Jan. 13, 2011 @ 7:22 am

Yet we have exploding deficits, do the math.

Employee costs are the primary problem here - the Controller would tell you that...They need to be reduced.

Posted by Flowers on Jan. 13, 2011 @ 10:02 am

In a slack real estate market, homeowners are demanding reassessments, the transfer tax is generating less revenue, and with joblessness nearing 20% in real terms, the payroll tax is generating less revenue.

Don't try to engineer reality to bolster your right wing war on working San Franciscans.


Posted by marcos on Jan. 13, 2011 @ 12:51 pm

I have to say - I didn't think I'd turn to the pages of the Guardian and expect to read such fantastic news!!

I feel like I have a pep in my step this morning - birds are landing on my finger and a sweet song is escaping from my lips.

Thanks Sarah!

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jan. 13, 2011 @ 12:19 am

*Thanks Steven!!

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jan. 13, 2011 @ 12:22 am

A glorious day indeed. Hugo Chavez wannabe Campos shut out after plotting with the Guardian for a year on how to steal the mayors seat. Daly wannabe Avalos should bowed out of the president race. Progs look like the whiny Marin trust-fund babies they are.

Payback is a b!tch!

Posted by Hooray for us on Jan. 13, 2011 @ 7:35 am

Avalos - Los Angeles
Daly - Maryland
Campos - Los Angeles
Mirkarimi - Chicago Rhode Island

All moved to SF to tell you about how you should live your life.

Posted by matlock on Jan. 13, 2011 @ 11:33 am

David Chiu is a Chiu-ist. His guiding concern in all things is to do what he believes will promote the career of No. 1, David Chiu.

When he first ran for supe, he told all the different, conflicting groups in his district what they wanted to hear. After he was elected, his practice was to make backroom deals that were good for him.

In the election for prez of the board two years ago, he played Ross Mirkarimi off against Chris Daly. Then he presented himself as the only person who could hold the progressive bloc together.

The progressives fell for it. He rewarded them with plum committee assignments as a result.

In the election for board prez that just occurred, he turned to the moderates for support. That's because the progressives no longer trusted him.

The moderates fell for it. He rewarded them with plum committee assignments as a result.

The people who complain today about his latest committee assignments were quite happy with his assignments two years ago. However, the principle he used then was the same as he used today: The self-promotion of David Chiu.

This guy has snockered everybody across the political spectrum, progressives and moderates alike.

Such people usually go far in politics, fast.

That's how the system works.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Jan. 13, 2011 @ 10:12 am

What a joy to hear the wailing of Progressives as their plans to ruin this city crumble. Finally some common sense on the Board.

Posted by Scott on Jan. 13, 2011 @ 11:24 am

Either they go far or they alienate sufficient constituencies such that nobody trusts them and they sink like a stone. Chiu had a free pass in 2008. No longer so.

The ratio of Chiu's accomplishments to the disturbing nuggets in his history that are sure to alienate various constituencies is so low that when combined with the inherent political unsustainability of pretending that the sliver of the Chinese American community palatable to Rose Pak and Willie Brown is in any way representative of San Francisco's Asian American community, and that any opposition to that is anti-Asian racism, portends potholes and barriers in Chiu's political path.

Shacking up at with noted Christian fundamentalist homophobe Randy Tate will ensure that Chiu's gay votes probably will not eclipse three or four digits. Having alienated the gay community and most non-Asians with the Pak's cheap appeals to nonexistent racism, and antagonized progressives with his duplicity, it will be very difficult for David Chiu to win a citywide race.


Posted by marcos on Jan. 13, 2011 @ 11:38 am

Just saw the newspeak, PC term for Chinese racism. "Ethnocentrism."

Add that to '"identity politics" people.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 16, 2011 @ 10:13 am