Michael Breyer, who has never held elective office in San Francisco and is running for state Assembly, is getting a fair amount of press -- and although he has nowhere near the visibility of Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting, he has the support of Sen. Dianne Feinstein and may throw a boatload of money into the race. He's already sent out one flier that features very little about him but a lot about his (more famous) family -- his father, Steven Breyer, is a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and his uncle, Charles Breyer, is a federal judge.
But here's what intrigued me about the mail piece: It says that
"Sacramento needs a fresh perspective. It needs old-fashioned San Francisco values."
What, exactly, are "old-fashioned San Francisco values?" One could certainly argue that the message harkens back to a day when the city was less diverse, less progressive, less open to the sometimes-radical ideas (remember this one?) that have changed the nation and the world. Of course, exploiting the workers and destroying the environment in the name of extracting riches was a famous SF value during the Gold Rush era; so was the Chinese Exclusion Act. On the other hand, resisting the Red Scare was a great traditional SF value in the 1950s, as were civil-rights sit-ins. Free love, free drugs and free lunch were vintage SF values a decade or so later. Labor struggles against capital are also a great San Francisco value.
So what, exactly, is Mr. Breyer talking about?
I called his campaign manager, Michael Terris, who wrote the piece, and asked him if Breyer was longing for a more conservative, less diverse era. "Not at all," he said. "Old-fashioned values mean family, schools, neighborhoods, quality-of-life issues. Those are shared by the many diverse communities in the 19th District." He added: "The West Side sees things a little differently."
And while one of Breyer's main issues is education, the great San Francisco value of taxing the wealthy to provide public services isn't part of his platform. Although he does support Gov. Brown's tax plan for November, he does not support amending Prop. 13 to shift the burden of taxation back to commercial property. He has the strong support of the Building Owners and Managers Association, which is all about keeping taxes low on huge commercial properties owned by vastly rich outfits.
So he clearly doesn't share my old-fashioned San Francisco values. What about yours?
UPDATE: My mistake -- Feinstein hasn't endorsed Breyer. She supported him for D5 supervisor but is staying out of this race.