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Last Week, This Week, Election Eve

by Larry Bush on 11/07/2011

in Paper Trails

EVERY WAVE HAS ITS UNDERTOW…The Chris Cunnie campaign for Sheriff wave of support appears to have developed an undertow that might be serious enough to cost Police Officers Association President Gary Delagnes his job.

Last week Officers for Justice wrote to Delaganes saying that they want his resignation. Delagnes earned their anger when he denounced the group for endorsing Paul Miyamoto as well as former POA President Chris Cunnie for sheriff.

“I am formally demanding, as a SFPOA dues paying member in good standing, that you step down from the position of President effective immediately,” wrote Officers for Justice President Julian Hill on November 1.

“Your voluntary resignation will assist law enforcement globally as it is clear that you have lost focus and we can no longer trust that you will do what is in the best interest of the membership of the SFPOA,” stated Hill.

The Asian Peace Officers Association also called Delagnes to account for his attack on the minority police officers groups, and the San Francisco Police Officer’s Pride Alliance of LGBT officers also didn’t hold back, writing to Delagnes that “you are not

“The timing of your hate filled diatribe is ironic for the Pride Alliance and thus has hit at our very core,” wrote Pride President Una Bailey.

“As I’m sure you are aware from the department bulletin, all SFPD members were asked to join in being part of the “It Gets Better” video. If you are ignorant of this project, it was started due to the rash of gay teen suicides who had suffered extensive bullying at school, work and home. Due to being bullied, they could think of no way out and find no support. Thus tragically ending their life because of behaviors like the ones you exhibit toward members of this department,” states the letter.

The internal struggle made it onto KTVU-TV and into the Chronicle’s insider column.

The POA’s leadership plays a dominant role in San Francisco politics apart from the issue of Cunnie’s campaign. The police union ranks Number One for donors to Independent Expenditure Committees in Tuesday’s election.

According to the San Francisco Ethics Commission filings, the POA contributed $288,500 to various independent expenditure committees, apart from contributions to ballot measure committees. That’s one in eight dollars contributed to third party soft money groups. Some $159,750 of the POA funds went to an independent expenditure committee backing Cunnie.

Whatever the impact of this dispute on Tuesday’s election, and it can be said with confidence that it doesn’t help Cunnie to have this kind of under the blanket wrestling emerge into the public view, the POA’s war chest will be a factor in next fall’s Supervisors races.

RUN ED RUN…Remember them? The Ethics Commission railroaded through a decision on a complaint that they were an Ed Lee for Mayor committee but failing to report themselves that way. Instead they reported as a “general committee” that had no particular candidate in mind.

Ethics, in a mind-bending conclusion, determined that Ed Lee was not a candidate at the time and therefore it was not a candidate committee. Ho ho ho.

But that fiction could only be maintained until early August when Ed Lee did in fact become a candidate.

Since then, the Run, Ed, Run committee – operating actually under the registered name of Progress for All – has filed a number of reports with the Ethics Commission.

Did they now file as a committee supporting a candidate? Nope.

And, in reports after the Ethics hearing, they suddenly report spending $111,593 up from $70,000 reported at the time of the Ethics hearing.

Where did the $41,593 come from? Now we’re told that one of the donors is Sidney Chan, who happened to be Rose Pak’s attorney when she bought her below-market-rate condo.  Steven Kay, Secretary of Willie L. Brown Institute Board of Directors, now shows as contributing $5,000. The head of Lem Construction is good for $3,000, the owner of Lefty O’Douls is down for $2,000, and various others are down for amounts ranging for $100 to $1,000.

Some will recall that the legality of this arrangement was referred to District Attorney George Gascon who then re-referred it to Attorney General Kamala Harris who re-re-referred it back to Gascon.

Gascon tossed the whole issue into the round file within hours after getting it back, announcing there was nothing to it late on a Friday afternoon.

Not enough time to really, since the report was filed until last September. That’s when all of us could find that Steven Kay contributed the maximum $500 to Gascon just days before writing a $5,000 check to Progress for All. As the DA said, nothing to see here, just move along.

IOU’s DUE…After the votes are tallied, most campaigns still have a small debt that needs to be paid. When it comes to officeholders, that’s a lot easier than for those who are leaving without the implicit levers of power.

So how are our officeholders seeking the mayor’s post doing? Only one candidate, according to the last filing, has no debts. That’s Supervisor John Avalos, and this might provide some insight into how he managed to be one of the best Budget Chairs that the Board has had.

Who has the most? Our incumbent mayor, Ed Lee, who long ago blew through the top ranks of fundraising but still owes in the six figures. In fact, he owed $209,295.25. Watch that space to see how it pays it off.

State Senator Leland Yee, who will remain a state senator if not elected mayor, comes in next but with less than half of Lee’s debt, at $89,415.54. Next is City Assessor Phil Ting, who owes $70,226.80

Our incumbent District Attorney George Gascon comes in with a debt of $51,588. About $40,000 of that is owed to the James Sutton Law Firm. That’s the same law firm that has been at the center of a number of past investigations by the District Attorney’s office.  Perhaps a trade-out could be arranged.

Down in the four figures are Jeff Adachi ($3,713.67), Dennis Herrera ($2,546.12), David Chiu ($578.36).

MORE DONE THAN SAID?  Usually the ideas put forward by candidates disappear after Election Day – sometimes even for the winner.

This election candidates offered up some ideas that ought not to fade away.

Herewith is CitiReport’s list:

A number of candidates raised the need to markedly upgrade transparency in City Hall decisions. Joanna Rees ran an ad showing her attempt to crowbar information out of the mayor’s office. Leland Yee held a press conference over Mayor Lee’s failure to respond to Sunshine Ordinance requests. Phil Ting proposed a new system that requires all City Hall documents to be placed online virtually at the same time they are created.

Phil Ting, however, gets the “A” for walking the walk with his Reset San Francisco that crowd sourced solutions to the everyday issues that confront residents, from an alert when a tow truck might be headed toward your vehicle to fixing some key Muni routes. It didn’t get near the attention that it deserved, but hopefully will continue to get action after the election.

Bevan Dufty, who described himself as a cross between Hello Kitty and Mary Sunshine (did we get that right?), was resolute in insisting that the concerns of African American residents be given a greater priority. He raised this so often that at one point a wag commented, “at last we have an African American candidate for mayor.”

But Dufty, to his credit, took a Chronicle columnist (not Willie Brown) to the Bayview to see firsthand the physical and social pressures that make life barely tolerable. He noted that conditions there today are worse than they were a decade ago.  Most analysts tell candidates that the African American community is not vote rich and therefore not a wise investment for candidates seeking election. Dufty acted out of a genuine commitment and obligation to use his candidacy to force the issue onto the agenda. He didn’t succeed at getting the attention for the issue that it needs, but he ought to have.

Avalos showed he deserved his reputation as a budget master, and while his politics points him toward revenue solutions, he offered some that need to get a serious debate. Most of the debate over the past decade has been about balancing the budget by cutting waste; Avalos started addressing the failure to address abuses in tax collection and policy.

Avalos’ hearing on establishing a city bank probably gave heart palpations to the downtown crowd, but it is an option that not only makes sense but it extremely timely. It is in fact a variation on credit unions and responsible lending, and holds out more than just a promise of creating jobs, increasing demand for local business supplies and services, and returning an investment locally.

Leland Yee was the first candidate to issue a major position paper on ethics reform, an issue that grew in importance as the election season progressed. It was thoughtful, complete and has the potential to make ethics more than a City Hall joke.

David Chiu played to his strength in understanding social media and infrastructure, proposing that the city treat its unused optics system as a revenue generator and as a key element in supporting business. Making a comparison to the role that streets and highways play, Chiu looked at the infrastructure for transmitting information as an untapped asset that should be enlisted to begin returning revenue to the city.

At the same time, Chiu took issue with a city technology system that is so Balkanized that most departments can’t exchange information – and some departments can’t exchange information even within the department. As the federal government begins rethinking a system that relies on upgrades that quickly are outdated, and considering turning toward Cloud distribution that can cut across the confusion and keep systems current, Chiu is looking at the city’s future and proposing needed steps to take us there.

Dennis Herrera is the one candidate who had the courage to change his mind, and do so publicly on an issue that has political consequences. What made this more remarkable is that Herrera demonstrated how to take the voters seriously by offering a measured and thoughtful explanation that he then made available to the public.

More importantly, it seemed to demark a shift in Herrera’s view of power structures that influence City Hall, and has led him to bring an insider’s perspective on why the status quo doesn’t work for more San Franciscans and what needs to change.  More than a technicians approach to the nuts and bolts of government, Herrera was forcing an examination of the values behind the city’s choices. He wasn’t the only one to do that, but he was the only one with the insider’s perspective that runs deep into the city’s processes.

Jeff Adachi entered the campaign with the label of a single-issue candidate, focused on one ballot measure in one election. He lost that label as he demonstrated his knowledge of one of the city’s major economic engines that has been sidelined – the arts community. His own experience as a film maker – he is the first award-winning filmmaker to run for mayor – obviously gave him a credibility that is unique, but his ability to tie it into the city’s economic future and the creative spirit that many fear has fallen should have given the public something significant to consider. Those are issues that need to gain the prominence that Adachi tried to bring.

Ed Lee, as a quasi-incumbent, ran on the pledge that nothing much will change.  The last incumbent to run on a “This is as good as it gets” platform was President Lyndon Johnson in 1968, with his memorable line “You’ve never had it this good, have you? Well, have you?” But by the time that the conventions were approaching, Johnson announced he wouldn’t be a candidate after all.

It’s hard to argue that Ed Lee is seeking a full term in his own right when so far he has simply filled out Gavin Newsom’s remaining months. The same staff, the same commissioners reappointed, the same decisions from Twitter tax amnesty to Park merced, Ed Lee offers a third Newsom term (or a fifth Willie Brown term in the view of some).

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