Progressives battle downtown over economic and political reforms

A four-alarm fire that displaced 31 residents of an apartment building at Fillmore and Haight helped create a political drama.
James Miller

Battles between progressive members of the Board of Supervisors and downtown power brokers such as the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce defined City Hall politics for much of the last decade, until the new politics of “civility” and compromise took hold this year, a dynamic that has favored downtown interests. But now, a pair of important, high-profile issues headed to the full board on Tuesday has revived the old dynamic. And in both cases, wealthy interests are putting enormous pressure on the board.

The first involves a proposal – put forward by Sups. Sean Elsbernd and Mark Farrell, the two most conservative supervisors – to gut the city's system for publicly financing campaigns because downtown is threatening a lawsuit. They propose to end San Francisco's program of giving publicly financed candidates more money when a privately funded candidate exceeds the spending cap because the Supreme Court recently struck down similar provisions in Arizona.

This week, after convening in closed session to discuss the threat of litigation by downtown groups, the board voted 7-3 – with Sups. David Campos, Jane Kim, and Eric Mar opposed, and Sup. Ross Mirkarimi absent because he rushed out to large structure fire in his district – for the Elsbernd/Farrell measure, one vote short of the supermajority needed to amend the current city law.

Campaign finance reform advocates such as Steven Hill argue that it's unfair to modify the city program right in the middle of an election season in which Mayor Ed Lee and the wealthy independent expenditure groups supporting him are poised to spend millions of dollars to defeat a large field of mostly publicly funded mayoral candidates.

Hill and his allies are appealing to Mirkarimi – who told the Chronicle that he is leaning toward supporting the amendment when the measure returns to the board on Tuesday – not to support what they consider an overly broad capitulation to downtown's threats. They're also lobbying Sup. John Avalos to switch his vote, while downtown players are putting the screws to supervisors as well.

In an interview with the Guardian, Mirkarimi clarified his stance, noting that he was the sponsor of the original public financing law and his goal is to protect it, even if it needs to be modified to withstand a legal challenge. “I'm looking for alternatives to fortify San Francisco's program,” he told us, noting that he missed some of this week's discussion and he's hoping something can be done to retain provisions that level the financial playing field with wealthy candidates.

Meanwhile, downtown forces are pulling out the stops to kill Sup. David Campos' legislation that would prevent San Francisco businesses from pocketing money they set aside for their employees' health care under a city mandate that they provide health coverage – totaling about $50 million last year – legislation that gets its first hearing tomorrow (Friday/30) at 10 am.

Board President David Chiu has put forward competing legislation that is more to the Chamber's liking, letting businesses (mostly restaurants that are even placing surcharges of customers' bills, ostensibly to subsidize their legal obligations) keep the money. But Campos and his labor allies believe they have the six votes they need to pass the legislation, thanks largely to moderate Sup. Malia Cohen's pledge to support the measure.

While even some supporters have quibbled with the timing of this measure, Campos notes the urgency of keeping money intended for workers in their hands. “It's an outrage and the longer we wait, the worse it gets,” Campos tells us, noting that the practice, “is what many of us consider fraud.”

Unfortunately, even if the board approves the measure this Tuesday, it will still need the signature of Mayor Lee to become law. While he hasn't formally taken a position, given that his political base is the downtown crowd, he's expected to veto the measure. But we'll ask him about it tomorrow when he's scheduled to meet with the Guardian for an endorsement interview at 2 pm.


I'll give both him and you credit for that. He really doesn't need to since you're obviously not going to endorse him anyway.

I had been wondering if you were only going to interview the leftie candidates. Will you be talking to Rees, Hall and Aliota-Pier as well?

Anyway, I admire this nod to balanced coverage.

Posted by PaulT on Sep. 29, 2011 @ 1:05 pm

We talk to all the major candidates (and minor ones who request it) and we always have. We met with Rees last week, but Alioto-Pier has chosen not to come in. Frankly, I think politicians have a civic obligation to talk to us, something that only the thin-skinned amateurs or those with something to hide are unwilling to do, a small group of politicians of all political stripes.

Posted by steven on Sep. 29, 2011 @ 5:26 pm

Dare I point out that her values more accurately reflect the values of the SF Bay Guardian than any other candidate -- major or minor -- running for mayor right now?

Posted by Sue on Sep. 29, 2011 @ 8:33 pm

to give her more than a notional coverage. As Steven pointed out a couple of weeks ago, only Yee, Hereera or Adachi can catch Lee. So if the main object is to defeat Lee, then a vote for Baum or Avalos is a waste, and could allow Lee to win.

Posted by PaulT on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 9:58 am

Ms. Kim-Shree Maufas got a real grilling over her comical spending habits from you people.

Posted by meatlock on Sep. 30, 2011 @ 1:50 pm

He's like drunk blonde in a bar,

If the 'loophole fix' to Healthy SF fails then 50 million going back into the pockets of the rich will quickly turn to 850 million cause that's how much the straight-shooting restaurant people who didn't use the self-insuring route spent to properly cover their employees. They'll all stop doing that and switch to the 'Loophole Plan' cause they'd be stupid not to.

Bottom line is that Downtown wants the City to go back to covering their poorest employees at SF General in the Emergency Room.

Hell of an energetic new Moderate Board huh?

They're poised to slip arteries in both Public Financing and Healthy SF all in one week and only Progressive voice is David Campos?

We'll always have the 2010 baseball season.


Posted by h. brown on Sep. 29, 2011 @ 2:08 pm


Ross has deserted us. Don't reward it. Make him stay in D-5 for his entire term and preserve the seat as at least open to an election where we have a chance to maintain it. Miyamoto is superior to Ross and Cunnie in every way.

We're about to increase our jail population by 50%

Do you want a political hack overseeing it?

Miyamoto for Sheriff!!!

Go Niners!


Posted by h. brown on Sep. 29, 2011 @ 2:12 pm

Is that why he was endorsed by the San Francisco Republican County Central Committee?

I tend not to vote for folks endorsed by Republicans, and I see no reason to change that policy now.

Posted by Common Sense SF on Sep. 29, 2011 @ 10:39 pm

Can you ask Mr. Lee since he has been responsible for City street repair for the past 10 years (City Admin, DPW head), can we judge his job performance on the condition of our streets?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 29, 2011 @ 2:35 pm

it's hardly fair to blame him for that. He wasn't one of the politicians who made spending decisions.

But it might be worth asking him how much the City could save by outsourcing street maintenance to a non-union private entity.

Posted by PaulT on Sep. 29, 2011 @ 5:13 pm

As head of DPW, he certainly did make spending decisions and he decided NOT to fix our streets.

Wasting taxpayers' money while the city's infrastructure falls apart around him?
Ed Lee Gets It Done!

Posted by Sopa on Sep. 29, 2011 @ 5:54 pm

Let's see.....a couple of months ago the SFBG editorial pages and "progressive" letter writers were ABLAZE with outrage over Gavin Newsom's continued "illegal" membership on the SFDCCC.

But an ideologically diverse group of Supervisors voting to amend a law that is literally unconstitutional and will cost the city millions defending in court (and is destined to lose)? That's "unfair."

What b***t.

Interestingly, the unifying theme across these two issues is the Mayor's race -- insider control over the DCCC endorsements (which has rapidly declined in value ever since that group was taken over by Peskin and his ilk) and the illegal use of taxpayer dollars to fund attack ads against Lee. Are those really progressive values worth defending? I thought progressives were for fairness, honesty and a level playing field.

Folks, the Mayor's race is a virtual lock for Lee. The only other candidates with a (slight) chance are Herrera and Adachi. No one else has a credible path to 50%+1.

Let's clean up the law and move on. Heck, we can even save a few dollars to spend on healthcare or MUNI.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 29, 2011 @ 5:03 pm

Wouldn't it make more sense to keep the law as it is, let it work its way through the court system, and then write a new one if it comes to that?

And it may never come to that. The 9th circuit will uphold it, and it could be a couple of years by the time it reaches the Supreme Court. By then, one of the 5 neanderthals may be dead and there may be a moderate majority that isn't so willing to use the constitution as toilet paper.

Sure, it costs some money, but it's the right thing to do. Why the rush? Unless of course you hate public financing to begin with?

Posted by Greg on Sep. 29, 2011 @ 9:02 pm

This is what you wrote about Newsom's "crime" of not resigning from the SFDCCC after he temporarily moved into his in-law's house in Marin:

"Is this the best you can come up with in Newsom's defense? No one cares if he's breaking the law so just move on??? You can't be serious."

Posted by Greg on Jul. 15, 2011 @ 11:32 pm

But in this instance, you are saying we should just break the law for years, spend millions of dollars, and then "rewrite" it later?

Just pointing out the hypocrisy, dude.

Let's face it, these two issues have nothing to do with the rule of law or clean and fair elections....they are both driven by insider, special interests who seek to manipulate the Mayoral election. And at the end of the day, we will have hit the Progressive Trifecta - (1) Wasting taxpayer dollars; (2) Balkanizing the electorate into identity politics subgroups; and (3) Losing badly nonetheless!

Well done!

Posted by Paul Noe Valley on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 9:04 am

The crucial question we must ask ourselves now is:

Which of the two Paul's is Paul and which one is mini Paul...?

Vote Now! ;)

In my view, PaulT is clearly mini Paul, however let's give PaulNV the chance to catch up, in absurd decrepitude.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 9:32 am

PaulNV is nothing to do with me. Moreover this topic doesn't interest me, so I've no view on whether he's right or wrong on this issue.

Moreover, as lefty as Greg is, he is actually capable of being lucid, articulate and credible. So we know you're not mini-Greg.

Perhaps if you spent more time debatig the issue, and less time conjuring up endless conspiracies and launching personal attacks, you'd have more success. Or even some.

Posted by PaulT on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 9:48 am

PaulT has clearly just voted for himself as 'Paul' rather than 'mini Paul'.

I strongly disagree with this assertion.

PaulTea! Where are your facts! You have made a -solely- ideological statement without backing it up!

You have shown no links or evidence whatsoever to back up your assertion that you are, in fact, -not- 'mini Paul'.

I eagerly await your proof.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 10:10 am

prove that you're not him either. Asking for proof of which anon handle isn't some other anon handle is pointless.

The idea that everyone here who disagrees with you is really the same person smacks of desperation on your part.

Posted by PaulT on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 12:43 pm

Are you really so stupid that you are both 1) actually taking part in a troll debate that was meant as a satire to scoff at your laughable trolling -and- 2) you unfathomably believe for some unknown reason that I am saying you are the same person as Paul NV?

Can you read? I clearly said that the two Paul's are -different- and sought votes on which one is 'mini Paul' i.e. the most pathetic of the two.

The very fact that you have even continued this ridiculous thread, meant only as farcical portrait of you yourself, as if it was actually serious, shows clearly, that you indeed are the wearer of the dunce cap between the two Pauls. ;)

Welcome to your new handle 'mini Paul' :))))))

Posted by Guest on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 1:16 pm

people are always going to misunderstand which posts are yours and which are not.

So you cannot credibly complain when you are mis-represented until and unless you develop the courage to own your statements.

Posted by PaulT on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 1:33 pm

Wow... It is amazing that you cannot stop, even in a thread specifically created to make fun of you.


And again, can you actually read? Or Think? The text that you replied to was clearly me, simply forgetting to put my name on the reply.

Can you stop, last word boy?

I'm thinking no.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 1:52 pm

If you're going to troll using sock puppets, you have to pay attention.

Posted by PaulT on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 2:08 pm


You -really- can't stop...

can you..?

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 2:18 pm

By the way, Sister claims you think Mossad are watching you. Do you, like, wear disguises and stuff?

Posted by PaulT on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 4:00 pm

You really are incapable, as noted, of not getting in the last word!

How delightful............

Will the wicked witch melt, if she doesn't speak last?

Posted by 'anonymous' on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 6:15 pm


Do yourself a favor and listen to Miyamoto's interview with the Guardian team. They only gave him 32 minutes but that was plenty of time to shine. It will be interesting to see if Bruce and Tim restrict Mirkarimi to 32 minutes. That would be fair, no?

Captain Miyamoto is the guy who heads the tactical squad amongst other things. That means that if they have an altercation, he's the guy leading the good guys in to regain order. The 4 minute video clip at the opening of his interview shows you the man's demeanor. He's level and reasonable. He knows every nook and cranny of the jails and the individual pods. With a 50% increase in population looming he's the guy you want sorting the prisoner population and assigning guards. In fifteen years he's held every major job in the department except for Sheriff and Undersheriff.

Campos hearing on Healthy SF loophole remedy in 90 minutes.

Adachi for Mayor!

Baum for Mayor!

Avalos for Mayor!

Hall for Mayor!

Miyamoto for Sheriff!

Gascon for DA!

Go Niners!


Posted by h. brown on Sep. 30, 2011 @ 10:34 am

His campaign is too aggressive. At one point I was getting 6 Miyamoto invites a day! It was very spammish. Paul is getting my third-place vote. And I'd rather lick a wall socket than vote for Gascon as a first, second, or third.

Avalos for Mayor!

Mirkarimi for Sheriff!

Onek for D.A.!

Go Wall Street protestors!

Posted by Common Sense SF on Sep. 30, 2011 @ 12:14 pm

"Frankly, I think politicians have a civic obligation to talk to us."

As a scrawny little relic from the paper-print media era, your clout is not what it used to be.

All of your peers (eft-wing online/blog media) are eco-friendly. They don't waste natural resources (pulp/paper) by publishing old-media style.

You commended the BoS bill for halting Yellow Pages deliver. Why not the same for you and the SF Weekly?

You really need to consider changing to fully online publication.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 30, 2011 @ 1:40 pm

It's so odd, Mirkirmimi was whining that we would get sued over Sharps park by his so called environmentalist buddies and it would be a waste of tax dollars to defend it, now it seems he free and easy with tax dollars. How much the latest gun laws will cost the tax payers will be interesting to see, the last one cost the city 3/4 of a million. But these people get to stand on principle with other people's money.

It's also odd, my tax dollars go to finance people I might vote for if they were running against someone from the Westboro baptist chruch, but otherwise no.

As a citizen of SF I get to pay federal taxes to support idiotic foreign wars and the campaigns of idiotic carpet bagging progressives. I get to pay for the security state on the national level and the values and feel good legislation that results in lawsuits in the city. I get to pay for people suing over the war on terror and a city attorney that is constantly latching onto lawsuits with the state and fed over endless PC idiocy.

I get the best of both worlds here in SF.

Posted by meatlock on Sep. 30, 2011 @ 1:41 pm

Total waste!
For that much they could have built a ramp for Michaela Alioto to drive up and shove her dick down your throat, meatlock!

Posted by Arthur Evans on Sep. 30, 2011 @ 2:36 pm

While our event today doesn't speak directly to this issue, per se, hearing how mayoral candidates respond about our four-legged companions can help us as voters understand how a new mayor will operate if elected. Check it out.

WHAT: DogPAC of SF Mayoral Forum
WHEN: TODAY, October 1, 2011
TIME: 2-4pm
WHERE: Congregation Sha'ar Zahav
290 Dolores St @ 16th St
SF, CA 94103

Note: This location does not allow dogs except service animals. Thank you for your cooperation.

Posted by DogPAC of SF on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 9:10 am

Both Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn said one of the principle failings of the Movement was its deep paranoia and suspicion of any dissenting voices within its ranks. They partly attributed that negative aspect to its inability to gain wider appeal in the general populace.

You see this type of cultish thinking in many doctrinaire political movements, on the left and the right. The Republican party as a whole wants to drum out anyone not in-line with it's rightist positions on abortion, gay rights and increasingly - hatred of government. "Progressives" who read The Guardian are exactly the same. They view any aberrant opinion as the product of a "mole" from the federal government or corporations - not understanding at all that the opinions expressed here on this issue, at least by myself, are shared by the majority of the populace. The tunnel vision, which develops as a result of living in a political echo chamber where all one reads, hears and talks are the political positions favored by oneself, leads quickly to a frightening level of deeply disturbing paranoia and fear.

One example is the continually expressed belief that PaulT is a "paid agent" of both Chase, Ed Lee and the proponents of the Central Subway. The rationale there being that no one but paid agents have those views, which clearly ignores the fact that a large majority of Americans share his viewpoint.

Another is the fear, brought up on more than one occasion by themselves, that Mossad is stalking h. Brown and Eric Brooks. Mossad has better things to do than follow an old alcoholic who lives in an SRO in the Tenderloin and a poorly-paid organizer for an NGO no one has ever heard of. The fact that these two believe seriously that they were being followed by agents of the Israeli secret services speaks volumes about the megalomania with which they view themselves and their "heroic pursuits" on these message boards. These are but two examples of the type of paranoid, histrionic fear which many progressives react when exposed to viewpoints which don't mirror their own.

I disagree with Paul on this issue, as I have expressed. Mortgage relief would help everyone - the general populace, homeowners, struggling cities and even corporations. But I don't believe PaulT is either a troll or a plant from Chase or the FBI. And those who make those kind of wild accusations should look very deeply at the way they're living their lives because to exist with that kind of paranoia is very, very disturbing indeed. And if you doubt where that usually ends up read "Fugitive Days: A Memoir" by Bill Ayers and see what he has to say about the dogmatic groupthink which became a hallmark of revolutionary leftism during the 1960s and 1970s.

Posted by Right on Sister Snapples on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 2:01 pm

"Another common tactic is the 'a plague on both your houses" approach, where the concern troll tries to convince people that both sides of the ideological divide are doing the same thing, or are just as bad as each other, knowing the site's reason for existing in the first place is to promote one side of the ideological divide. This preys on the sites' willingness to actually debate critics and allow dissenting commentary, since there normally isn't any more to these accusations than the endless repetition of the assertion."

Posted by PaulT on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 5:40 pm

I respect that we disagree on the issue of foreclosures.

But it's refreshing to be opposed by someone who doesn't have paranoid delusions of self-importance. The idea that anyone would be paid to argue with Eric, or that U.S. agents would go undercover to discredit him, is beyond ludicrous.

Posted by PaulT on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 2:11 pm

Ummm... she's promoting Bill Ayers' views, Paul. Is that one of your heros, too?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 3:51 pm

I thought I was promoting a discussion of the consequences of what happens when dogmatic ideologues find themselves in control of any entity, political or not. As examples I used both the Republican party as it exists today and the Weather Underground as it existed in the 1970s. Why would I be "promoting" Bill Ayers' views anymore than I'd be "promoting" the Republican party, simply by virtue of using them as examples?

When someone, such as this "Guest," attacks the example without addressing the substantive issues addressed in one's comment, then you know you're on the path to victory.

Posted by Right on Sister Snapples on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 4:12 pm

And that you were just posting "opinions", as you stated awhile back when I asked you why you post on this site. So to complain that a response to you does not address "the substantive issues" of your post strikes me as quite rich.

Posted by Michael W. on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 4:36 pm

It's all opinions, mine however, are the first amongst equals.

Posted by Right on Sister Snapples on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 4:51 pm

PaulT is a "paid agent" of both Chase, Ed Lee and the proponents of the Central Subway.
Posted by Right on Sister Snapples on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 2:01 pm

Got to agree with the Troll on this one...

Posted by Right on Sister Snapples on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 5:45 pm

"On the path to victory"?
If by "victory" Snapples means becoming a laughingstock, then, yes.

Here's Lucretia Snapples "addressing the substantive issues" :

"Next shit-fer-brains?"
Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Nov. 16, 2010 @ 12:31 pm

Tiny Peskin can't get another job.
He needs to return to sucking on the taxpayer's tit...his wife's NIMBY organization can't even pay its own bills
Posted by Right on Sister Snapples on Sep. 14, 2011 @ 8:05 pm

Go renew your nursing license Florence
Don't nobody need that shit up in here.
Posted by Right on Sister Snapples on Sep. 23, 2011 @ 9:06 pm

Posted by Guest on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 5:26 pm

Thanks for replaying them for us :-)

Posted by Right on Sister Snapples on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 5:42 pm

PaulT on why he never bothers with Facts.
Facts can be selectively used to prove anything.
PaulT on Sep. 28, 2011 @ 8:08 pm

Posted by Right on Sister Snapples on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 5:36 pm

anyone with a brain can conjure up an article on the web that supports any opinion you like.
Posted by PaulT on Sep. 28, 2011 @ 7:38 pm

Posted by Right on Sister Snapples on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 5:38 pm

into your life it will creep.

Posted by PaulT on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 7:06 pm
Posted by PaulT on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 7:21 pm

In related protests elsewhere in the country, 25 people were arrested in Boston for trespassing while protesting Bank of America’s foreclosure practices, according to Eddy Chrispin, a spokesman for the Boston Police Department. The protesters were on the grounds and blocking the entrance to the building, Mr. Chrispin said.

Posted by PaulT on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 7:37 pm

The internet is so vast, and inhabited by so many morons, that you can find "evidence" for almost any trumped up hypothesis somewhere.

That's why, although I often cite vague online references, they are never actually worth a flying crap.

Does that make me bad?

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 7:25 pm

As of January 1, 2011, it is a misdemeanor in California to impersonate another individual online, punishable by fines up to $1,000 and/or up to a year in jail.

If you continue, I will contact law enforcement, and I will do everything in my power to see to it that you are prosecuted.

I'm dead serious. No joke.

Here's the text of the law:

(Readers please note: The post that I am replying to above was not written by me.)

Guardian staff, please delete the post. It is illegal. It is at the following URL: and reads:

"Actually, Paul is correct there

The internet is so vast, and inhabited by so many morons, that you can find "evidence" for almost any trumped up hypothesis somewhere.

That's why, although I often cite vague online references, they are never actually worth a flying crap.

Does that make me bad?
Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 7:25 pm"

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 01, 2011 @ 7:59 pm