Lots of buzz and politicking around D5 appointment

Who will succeed Ross Mirkarimi as supervisor from District 5?
Evie Pit

There is eager speculation – and lots of public and private pressure being applied to Mayor Ed Lee – over the question of who he will appoint to fill the District 5 seat on the Board of Supervisors that is being vacated by Sheriff-elect Ross Mirkarimi.

Anti-progressive entities from the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce to the San Francisco Chronicle are urging Lee to appoint a fellow moderate to the solidly progressive seat, despite the outrage that would trigger on the left and the difficulty that appointee would likely have keeping the seat after the November election.

Chron columnist CW Nevius today published a weird little puff piece plugging London Breed – a moderate who wants the D5 seat, a fact he strangely didn't mention – and her leadership of the African American Art & Cultural Center. Chron columnist Leah Garchik also pumped up Breed as a D5 appointee last week. Nevius' column in particular seemed to be a thinly veiled attempt to influence the decision, despite the regular insistence by Nevius and others at the Chron that they never have a political agenda or try to influence City Hall. Yeah, right – at least we at the Guardian are honest about our advocacy for more progressive city leadership.

Breed is being strongly pushed by Willie Brown, the former mayor and current Chron columnist, as well as most of the city's African American ministers, such as Revs. Amos Brown and Arnold Townsend, who showed up at last week's Board of Supervisors meeting and followed Lee back to his office after his appearance before the board.

Sources connected to the ministers told us that Lee hadn't returned their phone calls in recent weeks and they were angry about the snub, so they showed up to let him know and mau-mau him into appointing Breed. Indeed, Brown did get a private meeting with Lee after his followers wedged their way into the office.

Reporters had asked Lee about the D5 appointment just moments before and he said that he was in no hurry to make a decision. “I want to pay my respects to many groups in District 5,” Lee said.

While many names have been floated as D5 contenders, there are a few that rise to the top. Malcolm Yeung, public policy director of the Chinatown Community Development Center, is being pushed by Rose Pak, the Chinatown power broker who worked with Brown to get Lee into Room 200.

But given Lee will probably avoid simply choosing between the Brown and Pak choices – unless they can privately coalesce around someone, which is certainly a possibility – most City Hall speculation these days falls on Christina Olague. The Planning Commission president comes from the progressive camp but she also served as a co-chair of Progress for All, creators of the Run, Ed, Run campaign that persuaded Lee to run for a full term.

Speaking to the Guardian in October, Olague denied that her early endorsement of Lee had anything to do with the D5 seat, which she said she wasn't seeking but would take if offered. "If we get progressives to support him early on, maybe we'll have a seat at the table,” was how she explained her support for Lee.

On Friday, Olague showed up for Mirkarimi's art opening and holiday party in his City Hall office, and she chatted with other possible contenders for the D5 seat, including Quintin Mecke, Julian Davis, Gabriel Haaland, Jason Henderson, and Michael O'Connor. Asked by the Guardian if she had any insights into how the appointment was going, she said all she knows is what she's read online and in the newspapers.

And so we wait.


No problem there. But he should also want to ensure re-election in 2012, while rewarding support for his mayoral campaign. He clearly will not appoint anyone who didn't support him for Mayor.

I'm comfortable with that reasoning.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2011 @ 3:30 pm

I don't see any reasoning here, just a couple of unsubstantiated opinions. Lee has no clear voter mandate, let alone one that would support naming a moderate to district that overwhelmingly votes progressive. And for a mayor who claims to be a bridge-builder, I don't see why he'd apply such a strict litmus test for his appointment to this district. Then again, I don't know why I'm engaging with someone who is once again simply parroting the ridiculous "mandate" trope, because I've been down this road before and you folks aren't interested in dialogue.

Posted by steven on Dec. 20, 2011 @ 4:45 pm

How can you reasonably expect Lee to appoint an enemy? and someone who doesn't support his vision and policies? That's ridiculous. Would Mayor Avalos have appointed a conservative?

And of course Lee has a mandate. He got over 50% more votes than Avalos in the de facto runoff. Are you suggesting he ignore that?

Moreover, the decision is what is best for the city, and not just one area of the city. While of course D5 is becoming more moderate along with the rest of the city.

Done deal, Steven. Sorry.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2011 @ 5:19 pm

If a Mayor Avalos was given the appointment for Districts 2 or 7, moderates would be justifiably outraged if he appointed a progressive to represent them. That's why we have district elections, so the values of various parts of the city are represented on the board. And District 5 rejected Lee in favor of Avalos by a 2-1 margin. This is a divided city and if Lee acts as if he has a mandate to represent the values of only the 60 percent of voters who supported him then we are in for some major battles in the coming year. Luckily, I think Lee is smarter and more diplomatic than his supporters who are commenting here.

Posted by steven on Dec. 21, 2011 @ 11:26 am

That's the whole point of elections.

But re D5, if Lee picks someone who is a supporter of "the 60%" then that will leave the Board as having 6 moderates and 5 progressives, which is broadly in line with the way the city as a whole is.

And particularly for a new Mayor, you really can't credibly expect him to appoint a political foe, can you?

Maybe Lee can finesse this and appoint somebody that nobody likes!

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2011 @ 11:41 am

No, sorry to you, Guest. Avalos beat Lee in D5.
You don't speak for me in D5. Butt out, troll.

Posted by MistOfTheCity on Dec. 22, 2011 @ 8:55 am
Posted by Guest on Dec. 22, 2011 @ 10:31 am

60% of the vote is usually considered a mandate in American politics. Just curious, what percentage would a moderate candidate have to get to receive a mandate in the SFBG's eyes?

Posted by District 3 Vet on Dec. 20, 2011 @ 10:27 pm

a mandate isn't so precisely defined, meaning that people interpret it how they want. Basically if your guy wins with 51%, you claim it's a mandate while if the other guy wins with 60%, you claim he doesn't have one.

So "mandate" is a highly subjective and pejorative term. But over 60% is a clear enough margin of victory, and most reasonable people would take that as a high degree of voter approval for Lee's message and platform.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2011 @ 6:18 am

Are the people who advocated for the "instant runoff" method of electing Lee.

So with the 60% Lee got in RCV, under the methodology they wanted, it's a little late to be spouting about who or who doesn't have a mandate. The past whining about election day votes for Avalos is also the raving of idiots.

...and the same people who wanted to force a "progressive" mayor on the city, after the city elected a two term moderate, now wanting to be outraged if Lee doesn't appoint a progressive?

It's year zero with our progressives.

Posted by Matlock on Dec. 21, 2011 @ 3:36 pm

Obama's numbers are terrible, the House was lost in 2010, the senate looks like losing in 2012, the Tea Party has been a stunning phenomenon and finally, locally, we have had one fumble too many as Sf votes for yet another moderate Mayor and the left loses the BofS with Ross's suicidal run for the irrelevant office of Mayor.

Wonderful to watch.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2011 @ 3:57 pm

Before you write off Mr. Obama and Dems next election, you may want to consider the opposition. The GOP almost ranks up there with the self-destructive tendencies of the local progressive sect. Even the Wall Street Journal is aghast at the latest GOP political fiasco involving the payroll tax cut.

"Republicans have also achieved the small miracle of letting Mr. Obama position himself as an election-year tax cutter, although he's spent most of his Presidency promoting tax increases and he would hit the economy with one of the largest tax increases ever in 2013. This should be impossible."

The opinion piece mentions major GOP mistakes on how the issue was framed, the lack of a coherent strategy, and even mentions the favorite San Francisco progressive tactic of using the circular firing squad whenever things don't go their way.

The GOP and local progressives have a lot in common, but don't try to tell either group that since listening skills and thoughtful reflection are not part of the toolket used by either group. No wonder mainstream voters are repulsed by both (increasingly irrelevant) factions.

You'll probably like this part too:

"After a year of the tea party House, Mr. Obama and Senate Democrats have had to make no major policy concessions beyond extending the Bush tax rates for two years. Mr. Obama is in a stronger re-election position today than he was a year ago, and the chances of Mr. McConnell becoming Majority Leader in 2013 are declining."

As someone who has spent many years touting the elimination of regressive payroll and sales taxes by substituting the lost revenue with taxes on the rents, dividends, interest and capital gains received by 1%ers, it reaffirms my naive belief that the best political strategy is pushing what you believe in and ignoring everything else. Sometimes opposing factions react stupidly and allow the general public to see the other side for who they are and what they really stand for.


PS - Nice spin effort, but no self-respecting progressive will ever believe Mr. Obama or the Democratic Party is in the least bit "progressive." The Democratic Party's primary financial backers - multi-millionaire landlords in the big cities and billion dollar technology companies that have been shifting jobs and profits overseas at an accelerated rate - have seen their fortunes soar over the past few years while the misery level index for the 99%ers continues to climb. The Democratic Party continues to be a major factor in that outcome.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2011 @ 5:52 pm

for? Greens? Communists? That's the choice you have. You don't like the two big parties then fine, but that makes you the one percent.

The GOP has achieved a lot sicne Obama got elected. They nixxed the public option for healthcare, extended the Bush tax cuts and stopped the worst of Obama's policies - exactly what an opposition is supposed to do.

Anyway, the point was that the left has been losing elections for the last two years, locally and nationally.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2011 @ 6:11 pm

Uh, sorry, retreat? Not a chance. That silence you hear are us listening and quietly circling the wagons. Stop playing checkers and get with Spock's game of choice.

Posted by MistOfTheCity on Dec. 22, 2011 @ 8:58 am

if Lee appointed a moderate to D5, while progressives were outraged that they didn't get to appoint a progressive into the mayors office a year ago.

Every day is a new day.

Malcolm Yeung from ACDC would be a great choice.

Posted by matlock on Dec. 20, 2011 @ 4:12 pm

Horrible choice. H
e has absolutely no base in D5 and would only serve Lee directly as he does now doing business directly and from Room 200.

There are far better choices to make other than current Room 200 insiders and commissioners that are merely Trojan horses for the likes of the Brown/Pak machine.

Funny, it's not even representative of the once once powerful SF Democratic County Central Committee.

Posted by MistOfTheCity on Dec. 22, 2011 @ 9:06 am

and not just for one district. Too much is at stake esp. as the Board is balanced right now.

And do you really expect Lee to select a political enemy or someone who didn't support him for Mayor? Niave.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 22, 2011 @ 10:35 am

The only plus to Olague would be that she would be off the planning commission.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2011 @ 4:54 pm

I think Malcolm Yeung would be an excellent supervisor and Christina Olague I would be happy with. I would hope that as we saw with the election of Ed Lee that the City is moderate. I support many progressive issues but as someone who has worked all my life I do not support handouts. More than anything I support small business and creating jobs. I believe that both Malcolm and Christina will do just that.

Posted by Town crier on Dec. 20, 2011 @ 5:15 pm

Lee is simply the latest in a long series of moderate Mayors - Jordan, Brown, Newson and now Lee. It's important that Lee accomodates the clearly stated views of the majority and uses his mandate to appoint a balanced, moderate Supervisor.

The number one issue in the election was jobs, and the voters clearly understood that Lee's pro-business appraoch was the key to that. On what possible basis could Lee turn around and suddenly ignore that?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2011 @ 5:31 pm

The word "moderate" should be replaced with "centrist." The word "moderate" implies a virtue that is not correlated with centrism.

Posted by Guest Hard Truth on Dec. 20, 2011 @ 5:23 pm

The word "moderate" should be replaced with "centrist." The word "moderate" implies a virtue that is not correlated with centrism.

Posted by Guest Hard Truth on Dec. 20, 2011 @ 5:24 pm

The city's voters rejected both left-wing and right-wing extremes. So it makes sense for Lee to appoint a moderate centrist to the vacation place.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2011 @ 5:32 pm

=v= The _Chronicle_ uses "moderate" to mean supporters of moneyed interests. The word is as meaningless as "progressive" in local discourse.

Posted by Jym Dyer on Dec. 23, 2011 @ 9:44 am

While I think many 'progressives' were a little miffed at Ms Olague's early endorsement of Mr Ed, I think it probably demonstrated both a pragmatic approach and an ability to read the 'T' leaves. She has a long and distinguished record of service to the people of our town.
Breed, like Cohen, would simply be a continuation of all the lackey's annointed by Slick Willie and Gavin the Greaser.
Malcolm Yeung is a 'protege' of Rose, of the 'WilliePak PAC'; endorsed by Madame 'DiFi', that champion of the people; probably inextricably entangled in the currently topical 'Lennarist' boondoggle, the Central City Subway from and to Nowhere.
This is gonna be real interesting and could show us whether Mr Ed is just a puppet for 'La Familia' or his own man and is focused on the families of the city.
I admit that I'm a little 'conflicted'; if 'redistricting' puts Daly's domicile in D5, then
"It's on like Donkey Kong
- YIPPIE, bring it on !!."

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Dec. 20, 2011 @ 5:40 pm

A "little" miffed?

Posted by Gerald on Dec. 20, 2011 @ 9:31 pm

Christina Olague has done more to destroy local jobs and increase the cost of housing and most everything in San Francisco in her role on the Planning Commission than anyone I hear mentioned for the D5 seat. The Eastern Neighborhoods Rezoning did more to kill our regional economy than anything in recent memory. It does not surprise me that she is the darling of the progressive movement, intent on our economy being run by the government... but who is left to pay the taxes it requires?

Posted by Guest Judy on Dec. 20, 2011 @ 5:53 pm

The irony is that the Progressive Left disdains her, too. She not well-liked outside a small group of older activists who fought the land use battles during the 80's. Also, her endorsement of Chiu and THEN Lee was seen as the worst kind of opportunism.

If Lee appoints her, she doesn't actually get him much progressive buy-in. And if he thinks the progressives will line up behind her, he should talk to a few progressives.

No, the only logic behind an Olague appointment is that it removes her from the Planning Commission. But trading a supervisorial seat for a planning commissioner for is like sacrificing a rook for a pawn: dumb move.

Posted by Milk Clubber on Dec. 20, 2011 @ 8:53 pm

a good choice for a role where she will have to make a lot of tough, unpopular decisions.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2011 @ 6:19 am

Agreed, Judy and Clubber. Spot-on!

Posted by MistOfTheCity on Dec. 22, 2011 @ 9:07 am

From the article: "most of the city's African American ministers...showed up to let him know and mau-mau him into appointing Breed."

I'm seriously stunned to read something that racist anywhere, let alone in the San Francisco Bay Guardian!

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2011 @ 8:40 pm

Matlock, no I wasn't. But I am familiar with African history, and how the world perceived the Mau-Mau uprising at the time. It wasn't "chic."

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2011 @ 1:43 pm

Just relaying the info. Not making a comment either way. I find the term unfortunate.

Mau-Mauing isn't really associated with Africa in this case.

Posted by Matlock on Dec. 21, 2011 @ 3:31 pm

Oh, yes Mau-Mauing IS associated with Africa in this case. It means how the natives ("Africans") FORCED things to occur by sheer FORCE! And, SFBG reporter Mr Jones, the minister who attended the Board of Supes meeting and followed Ed Lee to his office was ARNOLD Townsend NOT ALBERT! PLEASE GET YOUR NAMES RIGHT BEFORE YOU POST OR GET A BETTER PROOFREADER!

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2011 @ 4:24 pm

If you don't like something here at SFBG you are free to stop reading it and being a troll.

Posted by MistOfTheCity on Dec. 22, 2011 @ 9:01 am

Olague was quoted, after the Planning Commission voted finally to give the Academy of Art permission to diminish our rental stock by converting SRO's and apartment buildings to student housing, that she was fatigued. I guess the Academy of Art wore them down. Do we need a Supervisor or any leader in this city who can be "worn down" into submission?

I thought SRO units had to be replaced unit for unit by the way, what's happening there?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2011 @ 12:11 am

Not sure what your point is there.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2011 @ 6:21 am

I was just touring art galleries the other day with a few friends and an art consultant who taught there at one point. When the conversation at one of the galleries turned to the Academy of Art, the gallery owner immediately said, "Oh you mean our real estate school?" I didn't know what they meant because I wasn't too familiar with the issue, so they explained it. Apparently, the Academy of Art engages in a number of shady practices... underpaying its employees, promising students jobs for their exorbitant tuition upon graduating (and of course not being able to deliver)... and buying up a whole bunch of real estate, breaking up apartments and hotels into tinier quarters, and then renting out those tiny rooms to students (two to a room) for about a thousand a month, well above market rate for the kind of housing they provide, even in San Francisco. Apparently it's not the greatest art school, but they're great at making money for themselves.

Serving the city though? Not so much.

Posted by Greg on Dec. 21, 2011 @ 1:59 pm

you reduce properties to the largest possible number of small rooms? Students don't need suites of rooms or large-scale layous. They need study-bedrooms.

You see the same thing in berkeley where the University has bought up most of the large buildings around the campus and converted them to multi-room student housing. What else would you expect?

I happen to agree it's a shitty art school. But that's not the point. They are entitled to modify their properties to make them more suitable for students rather than, say, families. Makes perfect sense.

As for under-paying their workers, I imagine that they would retort that they comply with the minimum wage laws and that otherwise pay levels are a matter of supply and demand.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2011 @ 2:11 pm

There are reasons why it's a shitty school, guest. Perhaps good teachers don't stay because they're paid so little.

And while students have different needs than families, they shouldn't be charged as much as families either. You shouldn't gouge your own students. It may be legal, but it's not right, and our planning commissioners shouldn't be going along with it.

Posted by Greg on Dec. 21, 2011 @ 3:31 pm

If the dorms are too expensive, then rent in the open market.

It's a dumb landlord who tries to charge more than the market will bear.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2011 @ 3:52 pm

The Academy is a bad school and a bad landlord. But I don't expect much from landlords. You're absolutely right that landlords will act in a way that squeezes the absolute most out of their tenants while providing them the absolute least they can get away with. That's pretty much considered "good business" under our capitalist system.

However, our government should be acting in the interests of the public to mitigate the excesses of these for-profit entities, which is why I'm more disappointed at the actions of the Planning Commission than the Academy itself. They should have stuck to heir guns and told them that if the Academy is going to act against the interests of the public, then they could expect continued difficulties from the Planning Commission.

Posted by Greg on Dec. 22, 2011 @ 8:36 am

Why wouldn't Ed Lee appoint Christina Olague as a sop to progressives? This would give him a plus with most progressives, not to mention the LGBT and Latina/o communities, and something that would cancel out some of the bad taste progressives have endured from much of his early tenure. It would not change his conservative majority on the board. It would also free up the conservatives (no, they are not moderates or centrists in this town; look at their records) not to have to fight to defend a London Breed or a Malcolm Yeung appointment, which could cost them plenty. They'd be fools to fight an Olague appointment, a battle that would be a foolish waste of money and they'd still have David Chiu to do their majority work.

Posted by Alan Collins on Dec. 21, 2011 @ 12:27 am

he feel any need to give them a "sop"?

His real obligation is to the 60% who voted for him precisely because he is not a "progressive"!

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2011 @ 6:22 am

Because, Troll, for the reasons I stated. Go read my post again.

Posted by Alan Collins on Dec. 21, 2011 @ 5:39 pm

try and please the Progressives. My point is that Lee has no need to do that because of the broad voter support he received last month.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2011 @ 5:43 pm

Fine, you're entitled to your opinion. My first point is why are you and so many others in here afraid of saying who you are? Are you ashamed of your opinion being attached to you as a person? Are you being dishonest and/or perhaps do not want to be publicly associated with what you've said? Why not come out of the closet? Are you at work? In City Hall? On company or public time? What exactly is the deal in a country that is not quite *yet* a complete police state that people can't feel comfortable expressing an opinion without hiding behind the curtain of "Guest"?

Second, my other point is that Lee has little to lose because this seat will in all likelihood revert to being a progressive stronghold regardless of whom he appoints, and he has much to gain by de-alienating progressives who may have disliked his first months in office--by appointing someone they can support. It is not about his contempt for the people who didn't support him, as you suggest; it's about making amends, about recognizing the politics of District 5, and about the "new era of civility" he asserts that he has brought in. It's his choice. I'm not expecting great things. I know who's bought and paid for him. He's been a complete disappointment to me since he was appointed but here he can prove he means a bit of what he's claiming around pulling the city together. Maybe not. Too bad for us if he doesn't. Steamrollers seldom meet no resistance.

Posted by Alan Collins on Dec. 22, 2011 @ 12:20 am

Lee should know that, don't you think?

And D5 is becoming more moderate, just like D6.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 22, 2011 @ 8:12 am

Which of these guys other than Ginsburg has ever actually gotten anything done that the voters liked?

Walk through the parks and they're clean and the homeless are largely gone.

Remember what they were like four years ago, with 700 homeless people living in GG Park?

As a runner who uses the parks system regularly and pays a boatload of taxes, this is the ONLY thing I get back from the system that rapes me... and while I still hate it, the beauty of SF Parks makes it a little bit more tolerable.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2011 @ 9:58 am