SFBOS grab bag: Diva Breed, Yee's jig, delayed Chiu, and more

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Protester Gypsy Taub slams Wiener and Chiu.
Steven T. Jones

Now that the dust has settled from this week's San Francisco Board of Supervisors inauguration and presidential vote, I thought I'd return to a few random gems that were still stuck in my notebook, waiting to see the light of day.

Under the heading of There's a New Diva under the Dome, new D5 Sup. London Breed didn't wait for the official noon inauguration prescribed by the City Charter to take her oath of office, instead holding a packed event at 10am in the North Light Court, where her oath was administered by a key supporter, Attorney General Kamala Harris.

“I held a swearing in earlier to be able to have a large crowd of supporters,” was how Breed explained it to her colleagues later, and it's certainly true that attendance at the official event was limited by the size of the room. But it's equally true that gathering a who's who list of local power brokers to applaud Breed's ascendance as a key swing vote sends the signal that she expects to be at the table when the big deals get cut.

President David Chiu, who is also no stranger to political power plays, sounded a tone of humble leadership after maneuvering himself with closed-door negotiations into an unprecedented third consecutive term as president, noting that there is still much more work to do.

In fact, Chiu said he was almost late for Breed's event because, “my bike light got stolen, the Muni bus was late, and then I had a hard time catching a cab.”

Sup. Eric Mar revisited his reelection race last year with a huge understatement – “In my campaign, I had to do a little more work than my colleagues did.” – noting that he and his supporters overcame an unprecedented $1 million in spending against them: “We sent a strong message that the Richmond District is not for sale and never will be.”

Sup. John Avalos gave credit for his surprisingly easy reelection campaign to a unlikely but deserving source: journalist Chris Roberts, who uncovered evidence that Avalos challenger Leon Chow didn't really live in the district, which he reported in SF Appeal, forcing Chow to withdraw from the race. Avalos called Roberts “an honorary member of our campaign.”

Meetings like this are often just dripping in sanctimony, and this one was no exception, so it was nice to see a moment of genuine child-like exuberance from new D7 Sup. Norman Yee, who at 63 is about twice as old as most of his colleagues. As he thanked supporters and laid out his goals, Yee suddenly seemed overcome by this opportunity, smiling broadly, doing a little jig, and declaring, “Darn, I'm excited!”

I was less impressed by the rambling mini-lecture that Cohen gave on the topic of leadership before she withdrew her nomination as president. “That's what leadership is about, stepping forward, outside your comfort zone, and doing things,” said the supervisor with a scant legislative record as she quit the race for president before her colleagues were even given the chance to vote on what she said was the importance of having a women of color in charge. “Every person here has that leadership quality within them.”

From both supervisors and the general public, there were also a number of statements made about the history of the board presidency that were not quite right, particularly as it pertained to Cohen and Jane Kim nominating one another for president and the issue women of color being nominated for that slot.

So, for the record, the last time a woman of color (former D10 Sup. Sophie Maxwell) was nominated for board president was 10 years ago. The last time a woman served as president was Barbara Kaufman (1997-99). And the last time there was a woman of color serving as president was Doris Ward, who served from 1991 to mid-1992 when she left to become Assessor. Also, the last three-term president was John Molinari, who served from 1979-83 and '85-'87.

The most colorful moment in public comment was when nudism activist Gypsy Taub came clad in homemade hat that urged people to oppose and recall Sup. Scott Wiener. But because Wiener had already said he wouldn't accept a nomination as president, she turned her criticism on Chiu, who was also slammed by another leftist speaker who told supervisors, “If you can't prevent David Chiu from being president, we deserve to be slaves.”

Finally, the meeting included an unremarkable speech by Mayor Ed Lee, who pledged to work with each supervisor and offered this unsupported claim, “We continue to make sure this city is successful for everyone.”