Ethics Commission to discuss Progress for All


San Francisco Chronicle reporter John Cote's scoop highlighting how Recology executives were working behind the scenes under pressure from Chinatown power broker Rose Pak to encourage Mayor Ed Lee to seek a full term is just the latest development for a committee that's raised eyebrows already, and it may be just the beginning.

Five mayoral candidates -- board President David Chiu, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, state Sen. Leland Yee, former Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, and businesswoman Joanna Rees -- have teamed up to encourage the San Francisco Ethics Commission to investigate whether Progress for All has run afoul of local election laws, rallying behind an effort spearheaded by Democratic County Central Committee Chair Aaron Peskin in a July 28 letter to commissioners.

At the heart of the issue is whether Lee or any of his representatives have been coordinating with agents of Progress for All. If they are, Progress for All would have to be considered Lee's own, candidate-controlled committee, Peskin asserts in the letter.

"Given the close relationship between Ms. Pak, the Mayor, and Progress for All, it is very possible that the committee has 'consulted' or 'coordinated' with the Mayor, and therefore its expenditures should be deemed to be made 'at his behest,'" Peskin's letter to the Ethics Commission argues. A City Hall insider told the Guardian that Pak -- a primary driver behind the Run, Ed, Run campaign -- is regularly observed going to and from the mayor's office.

"If Progress for All or any of these other committees has been acting on Mayor Lee's behalf, those committees may have violated the $500 contribution limit and prohibitions against accepting corporate, union or city contractor money, restrictions that apply to all candidate committees," the letter states.

Financial disclosure filings for committees fundraising for the Nov. 8 election are due Monday.

Aside from the question of whether there is coordination between Lee, who has not yet announced that he will run for mayor, and Progress for All, concerns have been raised about city contractors aiding in the efforts of the campaign. Under the city's Campaign Finance Reform Ordinance, contractors doing business with the city are not allowed to make political contributions.

(Given the revelations that Recology executives' signature gathering efforts were done in violation of company policy, it's no wonder Recology executives become bashful when approached by reporters who ask tough questions.)

Meanwhile, Recology might not be the only city contractor that Pak has encouraged to support Run, Ed, Run. A column that former Mayor Willie Brown published recently in the San Francisco Chronicle suggests that this isn't the first conversation of this kind.

"One thing you can say about Chinatown powerhouse Rose Pak, she is not shy," Brown's column begins. "Holding court at the party for the opening of the new airport terminal, Rose was seated at the table with interim Mayor Ed Lee and his wife, Anita, and a host of other local officials. 'I want every one of you to call his office and tell him he should run for mayor,' Rose told the table. 'And do it right away so that there's no misunderstanding.' Then she turned to the architect David Gensler. 'Didn't you do this terminal?' she asked. 'Yes,' he said. 'Didn't you remodel this terminal before?' 'Yes,' he said. 'Then your firm should raise a million dollars for his election campaign.'"

While Brown may not be a visible player in the Run, Ed, Run campaign, he's certainly been at the table with a key driver behind it and Lee himself -- and he's using his platform in the Chronicle to get the word out about Lee's potential mayoral campaign.

"The specific revelations of unethical and possibly illegal activity are very troubling and need to be fully investigated by the Ethics Commission as soon as possible," Chiu told the Guardian.

Political consultant Jim Stearns, whose firm is managing Sen. Yee's mayoral campaign, joined the chorus in calling for an investigation. "If you think about the fact that these guys still, according to press reports, are eating together once a week, and there's not supposed to be any coordination ... You have this committee that is essentially operating in complete disregard of the campaign law," he said. "It's sort of like there's a crime being committed, and where's the police?"

The San Francisco Ethics Commission will hold a policy discussion about how to treat Progress for All at its Aug. 8 meeting, Ethics director John St. Croix told the Guardian.

"We've told the committee that we believe they're a primarily form committee, which is an independent expenditure committee on behalf of a candidate for office or a ballot measure," St. Croix explained. "They're claiming that there's no candidate, so they can't be that committee, even though they're acting pretty much exactly like one would."

As things stand, Progress for All has filed as a general purpose committee, he added. "A general purpose committee is what you would think of as a [political action committee]. They usually represent an organization or elected group of individuals, they tend to exist for a long period of time, and they contribute to multiple campaigns, whereas a primarily formed committee is created to support or oppose a single candidate or a single ballot measure in a single election," he explained. Another key distinction: "Independent expenditure committees don't have contribution limits the way that candidate committees do. Candidate committees have a $500-per-contributor contribution limit."

Peskin, meanwhile, hinted that there may be more to come. "There's a lot of it," he said, "and I think there are many people who have stories to tell."


Connection or not, if you are influencing voters you are subject to scrutiny.

To quoting Ms Pak:

"And now, for the first time, I raise the question whether our Ethics Commission -- especially the director -- whether he is under undue influence from campaign managers in this town. We wrote him asking for details and asking under different scenarios, which is permissible, then he answered us on the phone and said everything is fine. Then two weeks later he leaks it to a newspaper. Is that ethical? And then he is quoted by a newspaper implying that we're skirting the law? That's no way to conduct an office. If you feel that we have broken the law, let us know -- inform us. We never got a goddamn written thing from him! [Pak bangs the table] So we're demanding that he writes our legal counsel. He does not know his ethics."

Posted by Nusfrat Jones on Aug. 01, 2011 @ 8:50 pm

"the issue is whether or not Progress for All has broken any local election laws."

- Emily

You're right that the Ethics Commission should hold an investigation of Progress for All. The fact that they bill themselves as a general-education effort, not an effort on behalf of Ed Lee, is a red flag.

However, the opponents of Ed Lee apparently have decided that their best strategy for defeating him is to attack his backers.

This strategy won't work. It didn't work when Gavin Newsom ran for mayor, and it won't work now.

The reality is that Lee's opponents - and especially our local progressive sect - have no realistic strategy for taking on Lee.

They will continue to strike sour, negative notes on their out-of-tune political pianos for the rest of the year. The resulting cacophony will only encounter deaf ears on the part of the voters, to no avail to Lee's opponents.

To have any chance of winning, our local progressive sect will have to come up with a message that's positive, inspiring, and practical. And the message will have to be carried by a candidate who is credible as a can-do problem-solver and consensus-builder.

The sect will be unable to come up with either such a message or such a candidate.

Ed Lee will be elected mayor in November. Whether that's a good thing or not is another question.

Also, the impotence of our local progressive sect will once again be made manifest to all. Whether that's a good thing or not is also another question.

But such are the realities of political life in SF.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 01, 2011 @ 10:24 am

The Oakland mayor's race was won with liberals and progressives uniting, promoting a positive message while offering voters an alternative to Perata's machine corruption and reminding voters of that corruption.

The same can work in San Francisco because Willie Brown and Rose Pak's lack of appeal plays citywide.

Posted by marcos on Aug. 01, 2011 @ 11:47 am

"The same can work in San Francisco because Willie Brown and Rose Pak's lack of appeal plays citywide."

- marc salomon

Neither Willie Brown nor Rose Pak is running for mayor. The effort to bring down Ed Lee because they are his backers will fail, just as the effort to bring down Gavin Newsom because of his backers failed.

"The Oakland mayor's race was won with liberals and progressives uniting, promoting a positive message."

- marc salomon

Our local progressive sect here in SF is incapable of uniting with anyone or of promoting a positive message.

They have no social skills. They don't know how to engage in rational discussion. They attack anybody who doesn't agree 100% with all their dogmas. They often concoct their strategies while under the influence of medical marijuana or medical alcohol.

The impotence and dysfunctionality of our local progressive sect is a prominent feature of the city's political landscape. It will be very easy for Lee and his supporters to outmaneuver the sect.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 01, 2011 @ 1:01 pm

Right, and although the Democrats said that Barack Obama was not on the ballot last November, the Republicans successfully took steps to ensure that he was, both uniting conservatives against the specter of socialism and alienating liberals and progressives from supporting a president who was demolishing their agenda.

Posted by marcos on Aug. 01, 2011 @ 2:09 pm

then how did he get elected Mayor?

Let me guess - election fraud?

Posted by Harry on Aug. 01, 2011 @ 2:50 pm

Why should anyone pay attention to your generalities and obfuscation, Harry?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 01, 2011 @ 3:46 pm

Although being amused by the effect it has on the lefties is certainly among them.

I like him because he is non-political (by the standard of others), business-like, moderate and acts as a bulwark against the liberal excesses of the Board of Supervisors. He understand stands that business is the most important thing for the City, and he talks to and involves a wide range of people and advisors.

He's got my vote and, I suspect, those of a majority in the City. 51,000 signatures and counting, I believe.

Posted by Harry on Aug. 02, 2011 @ 7:22 am

How much do I love Ed Lee? Let me count the ways!
1. He's like, moderate, and he supports business and stuff.
2. And progressives don't like him, so I like him
3. He really gets stuff done, not like other politicians like um... Willie Brown... I mean Newsom... I mean... oh you know what I mean... he just gets stuff done n' stuff!
4. He doesn't like progressives. I like the cronies in city hall much better than those progressives with all their cooties, and Ed Lee kept all of them in their plum positions. That's the way you run a city!
5. He really supports business, and business needs to be supported because the best way to help the economy is by giving tax breaks to the rich.
6. He doesn't support progressives, like the people living in Park Merced on fixed incomes. If they wanted to stay in the city they shoud've started big corporations.
7. He's such a bullshitter... I mean bulwark! bulwark! And we definitely need more bul... warks in this city.
8. I love his signs. That campaign was really awesome, and so authentic grass roots!
9. He's got such an awesome mustache. Does anyone else in city hall have such a great mustache?
10. Did I mention that he gets stuff done?
...just don't ask me what stuff exactly.

Posted by Mirror Image on Aug. 02, 2011 @ 8:02 am

Who's the scariest mayoral candidate of all?

The one who's going to squash your favorite lefty candidate. No wonder you sound so angry.

Posted by Harry on Aug. 02, 2011 @ 9:49 am

Tell me you are kidding.

A pothole tax to fix the streets??

A sales tax increase for the big raises he just gave to police and fire??

A phony pension (and health!) reform deal that doesn't put a dent in the problem??

You can't get a more tax-and-spend liberal than Ed Lee.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 02, 2011 @ 9:29 am

Lee should resign now, give up his guarantee to get his old job back and run like anyone else. What a scam this has all been.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 01, 2011 @ 12:13 pm

"Lee should resign now..."

- Guest

Our local progressive sect is not going to get anywhere with the voters by chanting this mantra. They'll just come across as sore losers - even before the election is held.

The challenge the sect faces is to produce an appealing alternative to Lee. But they're too stoned and stupid to do that.

They need to develop social skills, thinking skills, debating skills, and coalition-building skills. And they themselves, or at least their most vocal advocates, need to become clean and sober.

It's not going to happen, folks. You might as well expect a clam to turn itself into a sturgeon.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 01, 2011 @ 1:50 pm

The folks backing Ed Lee for mayor clearly have momentum with the voters. His progressive critics have rhetoric.

Click here:

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 01, 2011 @ 3:53 pm

This Recology story is only a start. It's a window into how City government will operate over the next 4 years but it won't derail the Ed Lee freight train.
That train was set in motion by the progressive "community" itself and the Class of 2008 that in the words of Chris Daly "fumbled" the ball last December over the interim Mayoral vote. A new set of elected officials came into office with no respect for their own base, actually attacked their own electoral base and made Obama look like a competent negotiator while knuckling under to Steve Kawa during budget negotiations. Kawa will extend his tenure in the Mayor's office.
Progressive political leadership took a massive hit in 2008, and that is why Ed Lee will be Mayor until at least 2016. What's left of the progressive community needs to own this reality because it created the conditions that made it possible.
This is harder to do because the progressive community doesn't have an actual newspaper to do serious political reporting. That's gone. There are self-serving bloggers with lucrative axes to grind, alcoholic bloggers and decent photographers blogging but there is no political journalism on the left in this town. That's a huge problem because the Left needs criticism as much as the human body needs oxygen and glucose.
Aside from the precarious economics of the modern newspaper business, Tim Redmond and B3 have been at their jobs for decades now. They are decent individuals with good values, but the Guardian today makes a great case for the necessity of change and growth in adult life.
Thinking back to the Lee selection process, the Guardian came up t first with a list of names --including Herrera and Leno who are both be preferable to my bias to the Willie Brown reincarnation movement we're about to witness in full glory -- and then went to a straight jacket list of requirements of who it could be. What thing counted was missed: getting someone who not only verbalized progressive values but had done something to promote them, and most importantly would pull for the entire progressive community in office.
So enjoy the remaining 3 months of the progressive Ed Lee, and then SF government can get back to promoting careers of contributor offspring, loading up commissions with feckless appointees who have never had an independent thought in their lives, steering lucrative contracts and leases to the "donor community," and forking over development rights to favored "project sponsors." Like it or not that's the future. It's one the progressive political community lost.
Thank you Class of 2008, and a big hats off to what's left in SF political reporting for shinning such a dim bulb on how this came to be.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 02, 2011 @ 6:20 am

A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark.

For all of the leftists ensconced in reformist nonprofits, they sure stand ignorant of Marx' call in his early, interesting philosophical work, in this case, The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, for "relentless critique of all things existing." In accordance with Ted Kaczinsky's accurate description of leftists as "over socialized," San Francisco progressives favor playing nice with each other and keeping each other employed in reformism that they refuse to critique their friends and in so doing enable continued dysfunction and never course correct.

Contemporary progressives also leave by the wayside any notion of 'permanent revolution' as described by Marx, Trotsky and even Jefferson.

One activist, one nonprofit job, one time.

Posted by marcos on Aug. 02, 2011 @ 9:03 am

According to Randy Shaw (link below), SF has never elected an outsider as mayor. At the same time, he says, our local progressive sect's strategy for defeating Ed Lee is to paint Lee as just another insider. Which is not a smart strategy, given the city's record in electing mayors.

Here's the link:

By the way, I hope everybody gets to read the post above by Guest:

"Losing the Future, Progressive Style"

Guest is right. SF's progressive movement has degenerated into a parody of its former self. It has no credible newspaper, no formidable political leaders, no first-rate thinkers. Dependency on medical marijuana and medical alcohol is widespread.

This deterioration is not good for the city. SF needs a progressive force that is inspiring, articulate, intelligent, practical, efficient, and clean and sober.

Otherwise, the city will fall back into the situation under Mayor Dianne Feinstein, where the moderate sect, smug and provincial, gave away the whole store to downtown business interests and big developers.

The first step is for SF progressives to snap out of denial. That means facing up frankly to the problem.

It will no longer do to launch ad hominem smears against anyone who dares to point out the progressive emperors have no clothes.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 02, 2011 @ 9:21 am

What would Randy Shaw, Berkeley hills resident who commutes into San Francisco to make $140K at last check as a poverty pimp housing people who make 1/10 of his income and less know about outsiders?

Posted by marcos on Aug. 02, 2011 @ 10:17 am

"What would Randy Shaw ... know about outsiders?"

- marc salomon

Your comment above illustrates a fatal flaw with our local progressive sect - the practice of turning debate into issues into ad hominem attacks on other participants in the debate.

Because of this practice, the issue at hand gets lost in mutual personal recriminations. No insight is gained. However, the ad homimen attackers do succeed in silencing rational discussion, which is their goal.

There's nothing progressive about being a divisive, self-marginalizing ideologue dedicated to creating ad hominem diversions.

Let's be reasonable.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 02, 2011 @ 12:29 pm

whine and rail against you that I have to ask, in all honesty, whether there is any sport for you in refuting and repudiating these mental midgets and political idealogues?

Posted by Harry on Aug. 02, 2011 @ 1:34 pm

I don't even know how you can stand to be around us mental midgets. I'm so in love with you. Too bad you haven't had sex since 1987, because I just love self-hating men who spout tedious holier-than-though hypocrisy. Ooh... you're just so civilized and reasonable, unlike anyone who disagrees with you.

Posted by Another Sycophant on Aug. 02, 2011 @ 2:02 pm

It would make sense that one whose stock in trade is hypocrisy to give no purchase to charges of hypocrisy.

It is not ad hominem to hold individuals accountable for the contradictions in the positions they decide to adopt for themselves, especially when those contradictions expose a dissonance between stated and practiced political values.

That is one way that we assign values to contributions to (or subtractions from!) the discourse.

Posted by marcos on Aug. 02, 2011 @ 1:42 pm

Despite media reports suggesting the contrary, my own impression is that Ed Lee has not yet made up his mind about whether to run. His distinguishing virtue has always been that he's sensible. And running for mayor would not be sensible in many ways, either for him or for the city.

Let's hope he decides not to run. In that case, the era of good feeling will continue at City Hall until the end of the year. The politicians down at City Hall will actually act like adults, and not like petulant children. Lee will be better able to do his job, with the least amount of aggravation to himself.

Wouldn't that be good for the city? Wouldn't it be a refreshing change from the sullen atmosphere created in the past by Chris Daly and Gavin Newsom?

If Lee decides to run, on the other hand, the churlish, childish behavior will return at once. The usual suspects won't be able to restrain themselves. The common good of the city will suffer.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 02, 2011 @ 2:37 pm

Priceless nonsense from a blind hypocrite who lives in the past a legend in his own teatime.

I hope this is archived for years to come.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 02, 2011 @ 3:42 pm

Ed Lee has declared he will run for mayor (link below).

He was good as an interim mayor. How he will be as a regularly elected mayor is another question.

The thing that will work to his advantage is the nondescript gaggle of mediocrities who are running against him. None has distinguished himself or herself as a person of excellence.

Lee will also be helped by the ineptitude of the city's progressive sect. They have known (so they say) for eight months that Lee would run. Yet they have come up with no effective counter-strategy in that time.

For the remainder of the campaign, they will likely engage in their usual futile tactics of attacking the motives and character of anyone who disagrees with any of their views.

Which means they will lose, once again.

Click here:

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 08, 2011 @ 12:12 am
Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 08, 2011 @ 12:25 am

This is a suggestion, which several people on this message forum have kindly honored so far. If others have not seen this suggestion before, I thought it might be helpful to write it here. For other who have read it previously, please pardon the repetition.

If everyone (literally) were to stop responding to anything (literally) Vagabond & Ayatollah Arthur Evans writes on this message forum, he would have no one to argue with. Arguing and belittling progressives is his hobby. Let's step back and imagine what that would be like for Evans to be completely ignored by everyone, justifiably so.

Rational people here seem to strongly dislike Evans. Or perhaps others are as dysfunctional as Evans and enjoy the taunts, exceedingly rank smugness and childish argument sessions one receives with self-righteous and hypocritical Evans.

Fortunately, to their credit, most of the time the Bay Guardian staff have the maturity to ignore Evans despite his continual taunts of them like an out-of-control, nagging child.

Evans is an embarrassment to this forum and any rational person knows that, and anyone who engages Evans is enabling and taunting an insane person. Does that seem like civil and sensible behavior for esteemed intellectual and intelligent people of reason?

Let's be reasonable. Let's be adult.

Posted by Artor Evons on Aug. 08, 2011 @ 3:03 am

The salient lesson of the day is the implosion of SF progressivism.

If the latest poll is correct, neither John Avalos, "the progressive alternative in this race," nor Leland Yee, who some hope will prove to be a stealth progressive, are top-tier mayoral candidates.

The top-tier candidates are the ones that our local progressive sect loves to vilify: Ed Lee, Michela Alioto-Pier, Bevan Dufty, and Dennis Herrera.

At the same time, Chris Daly has now undertaken to subvert Ross Mirkarimi's bid to become sheriff. Daly is going around telling everybody that if Mirkarimi is elected sheriff, it will provide Daly with an opening to return to politics by running for supe in district five.

This is the kiss of death for Mirkarimi. No politician is more loathed in SF than Chris Daly, and nothing so offends the average voter as the thought of Daly's return to City Hall.

The Milk Clubbers and the Greens have imploded. The Bay Guardian has one foot in the grave. The Ayatollah Brugmann still issues fatwas, but who cares?

The progressive faithful have lost the ability to engage in rational debate. Ad hominem character assassination is all they're capable of now.

Ed Lee or Michela Alioto-Pier or Bevan Dufty or Dennis Herrera will be the next mayor. And our local progressive sect will continue to marginalize itself into irrelevance.

Don't stone the messenger for delivering the message.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 08, 2011 @ 9:40 am

We should be happy anyone has chosen to stand up to anything for us. But we should be elated to quit talking, and stand up for ourselves.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 17, 2011 @ 2:29 am