San Francisco City Hall stands taller than the California State Capitol and taller than the U.S. Capitol Building – and people will tell you it has to be that big to hold the egos, drama, star turns, hopes and mendacity that takes place there. It has literally been a stage for love, death and taxes.
San Francisco politics appear to people outside the City to represent a single point of view. The closest you can find a Republican officeholder at City Hall is outside on the sidewalk, where sits a statue of Abraham Lincoln. Even the City’s only Green Party member on the Board of Supervisors re-registered as a Democrat.
The truth is, as much as City Hall remains the favorite spectator sport of most San Franciscans – perhaps not more than the World Champion San Francisco Giants, but close – you can’t tell the players without a card. And, much of the time, you can’t tell the plays that are underway as well. The score changes constantly.
CitiReport will tell you what passes for Merely Rumors, where the Paper Trail leads, who is In and who is Out (and what’s in their bank account and investments), who got Busted, and give you a guide to how to Do It Yourself in following the money and mapping the terrain of politics and its impact on the citizens.
Politics, money and ethics are the intersection, whether it is Willie Brown, Gavin Newsom, the Progressives, the Moderates, the political consultants, the lobbyists, the campaigns and the media.
Larry Bush, editor of CitiReport, served as a Special Assistant to Mayor Art Agnos in City Hall from 1988-1992, was an aide in the California State Legislature from 1984 to 1988, worked as the regional Public Affairs Officer for the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (and also served as Freedom of Information officer) and has been a columnist at the Hearst-owned San Francisco Examiner and the San Francisco Weekly. His reporting and commentary has appeared in The New Yorker (a profile of Willie Brown), the New York Times (on the AIDS/HIV epidemic), the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, and in papers across California and the United States. He has written for Playboy, Mother Jones, Inquiry, the Village Voice and the San Francisco Review of Books. His reporting on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender politics and the community won awards from groups from New York City to Dallas, Texas where he was the keynote speaker for the first National Lesbian and Gay Leadership Conference in 1982. His profiles and interviews of former New York mayor Ed Koch, Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, national conservative leader Terry Dolan, Moral Majority leader Jerry Falwell, John Schlafly, son of anti-ERA activist Phyllis Schlafly, received national attention.
In 1992, he took over a subscription-based biweekly called CitiReport and, coupled with his columns in the San Francisco Examiner, wrote about ethics, government, politics and money. The results influenced the creation of the San Francisco Ethics Commission, the establishment of voluntary spending limits for San Francisco candidates, electronic filing of campaign reports, and conflict of interest reporting for City Hall aides. His publication of behind-the-scenes political maneuvers aimed at tilting City Hall strongly in the direction of the City’s downtown businesses resulted in a reversal for a proposed new City Charter.
CitiReport is now revived as a free blog, covering San Francisco from having been on the inside but learned more from listening to those on the outside.