Guardian forum: Everybody loves public power

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Leland Yee and Bevan Dufty share a laugh at the Guardian candidates forum. Photo by Luke Thomas/Fog City Journal.

The Guardian candidates' forum was a blast -- standing room only at the LGBT Center, a great, lively crowd, and most of the candidates for mayor showed up. Not Ed Lee, though -- we invited him, but he was a no-show. That's typical -- he's skipped the vast majority of the mayoral debates and events, and when he does show up, he leaves early.

We set out to pin the candidates down on five key issues that came out of the Guardian's summer issues forums. Shaw San Liu, our moderator, forced the mayoral contenders to give us yes-or-no answers, and our all-star celebrity panel of answer analyzers (Sue Hestor, Corey Cook and Fernando Marti) weighed in and raised signs to tell us whether the candidate had said Yes, No, or Waffled.

The questions:

1. Will you support the creation of a municipal bank to offer access to credit to small business instead of relying on tax breaks for economic development?

 2. Will you support a freeze on condo conversions and the development of new market-rate condos until the city has a plan and the financing in place to meet the General Plan goal of 60 percent of all new units available at below market rate -- and then index new market-rate housing to the creation of affordable units?

3. Do you have a viable plan to bring $250,000 a year in new revenue into the city to address the structural budget deficit?

4. Will you agree to opt out of the federal secure communities program and will you reverse Mayor Newsom’s policy and direct all local law-enforcement agencies not to cooperate with immigration authorities?

 5. Will you support a proposal to either buy out PG&E’s San Francisco facilities or build a new city grid through a bond act so that San Francisco will control its own energy distibution system?

Only John Avalos answered Yes to all five. But it was remarkable how many of the candidates supported most or all of the progressive agenda we've developed. Every single candidate voiced support for a municipal bank. And every one of them said Yes to buying out PG&E's distribution system so the city could run it's own electric utility.

They had a lot more trouble with the notion of a freeze on new market-rate housing and condo conversions, and not all of them could explain how they would bring in $250,000 in new revenue. But I give them all credit for showing up and facing the tough questions and saying that, for the most part, they wanted to promote a progressive agenda.

Here are the scores:

John Avalos: Y, Y, Y, Y, Y

David Chiu: Y, W, Y, Y, Y

Bevan Dufty: Y, N, Y, Y,Y

Dennis Herrera: Y, W, Y, Y, Y

Phil Ting: NA. NA, Y, Y, Y (He came late and missed the first two)

Joanna Rees: Y, N, N, Y, Y

Leland Yee: Y, W, W, Y, Y

Jeff Adachi: Y, W, Y, Y, Y

Terry Baum: Y, Y, N, Y, Y

So five waffles on housing policy; nobody wants to stand up and say that we're building too much housing for the rich and that it has to stop until we catch up with affordable housing. (At least Dufty was honest and told us he doesn't want to cut off TIC and condo conversions).

I'm waiting for the video and I'll post it when I get it.

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