Brown, Pak, and Olague


Christina Olague was a great planning commissioner. I've always liked her, and when she was appointed we pointed out how strongly she was rooted in the progressive community.

Olague has strong progressive activist credentials, from working with the Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition to protect low-income renters during the last dot-com boom to her more recent community organizing for the Senior Action Network. She co-chaired the 2003 campaign that established the city's minimum wage and has been actively involved in such progressive organizations as the Milk Club, Transit Riders Union, and the short-lived San Francisco People's Organization.

She also served two terms on the Planning Commission — appointed by Board of Supervisors then-President Matt Gonzalez in 2004 and reappointed by then-President Aaron Peskin in 2008 — where she was known for doing her homework on complicated land use issues and usually landing on the progressive side of divided votes.

We've had some disagreements since she took office -- particularly around 8 Washington. (I also disagreed with the Labor Council on that one, and only three of the supervisors agreed with me.) And it's not the first time an elected official I supported turned around and infuriated me on a development vote.

I want Olague to succeed; I want her to come to us in the fall with a record that makes us want to endorse her for a full four-year term. She's been talking seriously about violence in the district and about young people, predominantly African Americans, getting killed. I feel like she wants to do the right thing.

But her reelection effort is starting to feature some bad actors.

At a recent fundraiser in Chinatown, former Mayor Willie Brown, who ranks as one of the most corrupt public officials in modern San Francisco history and whose administration was a disaster for poor and working-class people (he once even said that poor people ought to just get out of town because this city is too expensive for them), stood up and made a speech, warmly endorsed Olague and said he would be with her "all the way." Olague then thanked Rose Pak, the Chinatown power broker, for "all of her support over the last few months."

This makes me nervous. And it hasn't helped my nerves that I've been trying to talk to Olague about these issues for the last week, and she keeps avoiding the conversation by not returning calls or cutting conversations short when I do reach her.

Willie Brown, with his Chron column, has taken on this funny, warm, man-about-town persona, but when he was running City Hall, everything was about money. He cut deals right and left that destroyed communities and neighborhoods. He oversaw, aided and encouraged what we called the "Economic Cleansing of San Francisco." Tens of thousands of working-class people, artist, writers, young people ... were driven out of the city by a steamroller of gentrification -- all with the mayor's blessing.

Now he's working as a private attorney, and last time we checked was getting $200,000 a year to represent PG&E. We have no idea what other big corporate clients he has or what he does for them -- but it's clearly not writing legal briefs and handling litigation. He gets paid for being a political fixer. For the bad guys.

And he's going to be with Olague "all the way."



would either. Problem? Can you cite the exact issue there? Not seeing it.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 03, 2012 @ 3:24 pm

She is openly selling her loyalty to the Machine that got her appointed to the Board in the first place.

Take 8 Washington. Olague used to be against large, waterfront projects. But she voted for this one. And she consistently voted against any changes to the deal. Why? Because it benefits the people raising money for her.

D5 is the most progressive district in the city, and its vote is being sold to the highest bidders.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 03, 2012 @ 3:52 pm

If you ignore the money and the power, you become broke and powerless. Olague is learning nuance and balance, and so would any replacement.

Same thing with Obama - all the hopey changey thing had to moderate once in power. There is no mandate in SF or anywhere for extremism or ideology.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 03, 2012 @ 4:16 pm

Mayor Lee said it in the video "she knows who her friends are."

I disagree that you will be poor if you don't have a sugar daddy supporting you.

We can do better. We need to do better than Olague.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 03, 2012 @ 4:36 pm

As do 60% to 80% of SF voters.


Posted by Guest on Jul. 03, 2012 @ 4:54 pm

the very first time accept political reality and, at least to some extent, park one's ideology at the door and strive for consensus and moderation.

You've never been elected and never could be, so I understand why you don't understand this. But hasn't every liberal who has even been elected, and who didn't immediately self-destruct like Ross, move to the center?

Ever wondered about that?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 03, 2012 @ 3:19 pm

She was the Chair of Run Ed Run ---> she gets appointed Supervisor. Simple equation.

That's not "striving for consensus and moderation", that's out and out cronyism.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 03, 2012 @ 4:13 pm

for Lee is entirely understandable, reasonable and consistent with the majority of SF voters.

Your only problem with Olague is that she isn't way to the elft of the majority. Deal.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 03, 2012 @ 4:30 pm

She represents the moderate center only when the puppeteers tell her to.

She's supposed to be representing District 5, which is distinctly to the left of center. I recognize you may not like that D5's views, but our supervisor ought to.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 03, 2012 @ 7:30 pm

The moderate center was driven out of SF years ago and went bankrupt on overpriced real estate in the suburbs.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 05, 2012 @ 7:36 pm

Chris Daly. Matt Gonzalez. Tom Ammiano. David Campos. None of them moved to the "center" after getting elected, and Gonz almost got elected mayor.

Some elected officials decide to become more moderate after they take office; some don't.


Posted by tim on Jul. 03, 2012 @ 7:40 pm

more successful. Obama and Clinton, most obviously.

Where are Daly and Gonzo now?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 04, 2012 @ 7:55 am

What you are saying is that the only way to be successful is to become your opponent because there is only one outcome allowed in American politics and most anyone who promotes that can be successful.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 04, 2012 @ 8:42 am

Time to face facts. Like Olague, Gonzalez ended up kissing ass (Ed Lee and Willie Brown) to further his political career. And let's not forget his role in whipping up resentment against public workers. Otherwise, I agree with you, Tim. Some electorate officials stay true to their progressive roots (Daly, Avalos, Campos, Ammiano) while others sell out. Gonzo and Olague are opportunists who fall squarely in the latter category.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 04, 2012 @ 1:50 pm

Love watching progressives eat their young.

"rich people are boring"

Posted by Greg on Jul. 03, 2012 @ 3:23 pm

I'm appalled after watching the video. I gave her the benefit of the doubt but now, she is bought and paid for by Rose Pak. Not cool at all.

Anyone but Olague!

Posted by Guest on Jul. 03, 2012 @ 3:27 pm

I don't think this is news regarding Olague. She was picked to be Lee and Pak's rubber stamp, and she has been every day she's been in office. D5 can do a lot better.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 03, 2012 @ 3:35 pm

here's the video with Willie Brown supporting Olague. What's happening in this city? is everything for sale? Had to see it with my own eyes to believe it.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 03, 2012 @ 4:08 pm
Posted by Patrick Monk RN on Jul. 03, 2012 @ 4:32 pm

The whole thing with Lee, Brown, Olague & Pak is unseemly.

Posted by Guest D5 voter on Jul. 03, 2012 @ 4:46 pm

It's a shame the welfare of my district is determined by the highest bidder but, I'm not all that surprised. She was appointed and now it's payback time. I can see how this is gonna play out without having to stretch the imagination. Already she has began to have a subtle change in beliefs and they wont be quite so subtle if she gets voted more time. She has debts to pay and is well on her way to racking up some more seriously shameless creditors. The thought of Willie Brown running D5 makes my stomach hurt. Why should I be held accountable for her ambitions and lack fortitude? I hope she isn't allowed to prove me right.

Posted by Stop the sale of D5 on Jul. 03, 2012 @ 8:21 pm

so we all have an interest in who reps D5. If you want to declare independence and secede from the State and the Union, go ahead. But until then folks outside D5 have a say too.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 04, 2012 @ 7:57 am

This is code for corporate San Francisco reserves the right to buy any and all elections.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 04, 2012 @ 8:40 am

If you want to use the possessive form it is spelled "its." No apostrophe. Please stop murdering the English language. kthxbai

Posted by grammarneurotic on Jul. 08, 2012 @ 9:40 am

For one, the intended recipient probably can't get it.

Secondly, even those who know such things quite well (me anyway) often make the mistake without thinking about it (there, their too).

Thirdly, that isn't "murdering" the English language, maybe just treating it like a cheap tramp*, which it is, sort of.

*a convenient figure of speech, used advisedly. Cheap tramps have largely gotten a bum rap and are all too frequently the targets of un-deserved abuse.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 08, 2012 @ 9:59 am

morphs into an anal-retentive spelling or grammar nazi.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 08, 2012 @ 10:46 am

Why does The Guardian seek out losers for commentary?

Posted by Troll II on Jul. 03, 2012 @ 8:35 pm

SEIU is supposed to be representing its members in particular and working San Franciscans in general, not "low income San Franciscans" to the exclusion of everything else. This, while labor has been conceding rather than organizing outside of their comfort zones for the past decade to contest corporate dominance over government and the political corruption.

This is how labor and the nonprofits deflect progressive energies away from addressing big problems for most people onto narrow, intractable problems involving vanishing subgroups. This demonstrates a real fear of "the people," that we won't adopt their agenda at best and outright sabotage for pay at worst.

Occupy showed how a broad appeal was well received by significant numbers.

The refusal to speak to most San Franciscans on our terms is why labor and progressives are on the retreat. We've learned that when a politician is out on their own, that this machine will take them down. They did it with Daly and Sanchez on the progressive side and Tony Hall and Ed Jew on the conservative side. They are doing it right now to Ross Mirkarimi.

We are living under a political regime that is the equivalent of Soviet Russia in San Francisco these days, The ruling elites view the government and its entitlements as private property and they enforce their claims on that with a ruthless brutality. It took the death of Stalin for Stalinism to begin to come to an end. It will take the death of Willie Brown for this to begin to end.

Under those circumstances, with no viable progressive alternative for reasons outlined above, Christina's choices make sense. Progressives have given her no choice, they have marginalized themselves into irrelevance by their own doing.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 03, 2012 @ 9:06 pm

"This makes me nervous. And it hasn't helped my nerves that I've been trying to talk to Olague about these issues for the last week, and she keeps avoiding the conversation by not returning calls or cutting conversations short when I do reach her."

You shouldn't waste your time. One can always tell when a politician is lying -
they open their mouth and speak. Why waste one's time calling any of them.

If you must "print" official lies from these people, you might have better luck with Rose Pak or that Willie Brown, rather than Olague. They can tell you what Olague is going to do and how she's been told to think to "be successful." They might even send you a copy of the script that she's been told to memorize to pursue their agenda.

Nothing new here.

I don't know why anyone is surprised by any of this. It is so typical of the political stagnant swamp these days and it's exactly why more and more people are being turned off by politics.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 03, 2012 @ 9:39 pm

""One of the reasons many of us are so supportive of Christina is she is grounded in the issues of low-income San Franciscans," said Gabriel Haaland, who works with SEIU Local 1021""

Gabby doesn't support low-income anything. He works for an organization that sucks money from the SF General Fund and pays it into pension pots for retirees.

Posted by Guest Guest on Jul. 04, 2012 @ 8:09 am

Well, i don't need to say more than John Lennon did...With today's Examiner headline, regarding Aaron Peskin's testimony, John said it best:

Posted by Daniele E. on Jul. 05, 2012 @ 8:11 am

what a disappointment olague has turned out to be. kudos to the guardian for reporting it.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 05, 2012 @ 9:14 am

She needs to be stopped and frisked.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 05, 2012 @ 7:50 pm

Look up fomer SpeakerJesse Unruh's quote about lobbyists...I suspect Ms. Olague is able to be a political acquaintance without selling her soul.... and the SF Guardian ought to know...when was it ?...back in the 80's when the Guardian first started accepting paid ads from Porn shops and entities whose product defamed women.. I was terribly disappointed and was told when I called Guardian office, that they needed the money... so I am always a bit chagrined when I read some uctuous tripe about a person who has a great reputation, yet out of some zealous arrogance, this author writes this crap and takes the speculation leap ....not that Olague has done anything wrong, but she might? Please save that garbarge for the Lindsay Lohan followers.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 05, 2012 @ 8:49 pm

Supervisor Olague runs and hides in her office when reporters ask her about Walker's accusation. She claims she can't say anything about the Mirkarimi fiasco because...why, exactly? She may be a knee-jerk prog, but she has no backbone and will go down to defeat just like Juanita Owens in 2000. Remember her? She was the D5 candidate that Willie Brown endorsed against Matt Gonzalez.

Posted by Rob Anderson on Jul. 06, 2012 @ 4:47 pm

She needs to be voted off the Progressive Island. Never compromise! Never!

Posted by Guest on Jul. 08, 2012 @ 5:17 pm