“This is more of the case by them wanting to go dark. The [Police Commission] President said they wanted to pick the chief before they meet with us,” Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi told CitiReport after being told that the Police Commission will not show up at a joint Police Commission-Board Public Safety Committee meeting set for this Wednesday.
The Commission’s vote shuts the door on cooperation between Mayor Ed Lee’s administration and the Board of Supervisors at the same time that an era of new civility is being proclaimed. Underscoring the politics of the decision, CitiReport sources indicate that the Commission made its decision on a 4-3 vote, with the mayor’s appointees lining up to outvote the three Board appointees to the Commission.
The Commission President’s claim that the decision was reached at its meeting last week also raised questions since the Commission’s agenda did not publicly notice a discussion or vote on the upcoming Board-Commission meeting. Mirkarimi, the chair of the Board’s Public Safety Committee, told CitiReport that the two bodies have held joint meetings several times in the past. The Wednesday meeting is to discuss community policing strategies and to hear an update on the police chief selection process.
“It’s extremely bad form,” Mirkarimi told CitiReport, “one to do it without notice to the public and two, not to inform us in advance that this is what was on their mind. It also reinforces the concerns I expressed earlier that the chief’s selection process is not being administered in the way that was signaled by the commission itself with transparency.”
Mirkarimi earlier had named a number of senior police captains who were notified that they would not be given an interview as part of the selection process. At the same time as those notifications went out, the Police Commission was holding public meetings stating it was seeking community input on the criteria for a new police chief.
That criticism surfaced in news reports, initially in CitiReport but also in the San Francisco Examiner and SFAppeal.com. The San Francisco Chronicle, which has run two news stories and two columns by C.W. Nevius, has either not told readers of the brewing controversy or suggested that complaints were not being welcomed by the Police Commission and would be harmful to the process.
Among those complaining that they had not been heard before the Commission began eliminating applicants widely regarded as highly qualified were representatives of the Department’s minority and women’s officers, including the Women’s Officers Network. The Commission did meet in advance with the San Francisco Police Officers Association.
One explanation for the preferential treatment for the SFPOA might be found in their political and financial clout in San Francisco politics.
Documents obtained by CitiReport show that the San Francisco Police Officers Association has a budget of over $3.2 million for the current year, with a total of $250,000 earmarked for political contributions and campaigns with an additional $225,000 public relations. Among those who were retained for public relations is Alex Tourk, a high profile former member of the Newsom Administration.
No other organization, including other police officer groups, concerned with police issues can come close to that financial clout.
The Police Commission has scheduled a closed door session on nominations for police chief on Tuesday, March 9 and again on Saturday, March 12. The Commission has indicated its intention to forward names to Mayor Lee by March 16.
Little known fact: about one in ten San Francisco households lives in a home that receives HUD assistance — either through public housing, assisted housing, Section 8 or other programs. Even more live in homes with FHA insured mortgages. Of course, there is also housing for the homeless, economic development programs like Community Development Block Grants and Enterprise Communities, and more.
Federal law does not recognize sexual orientation or gender identity as a protected civil rights category, but HUD has determined that it can require nondiscrimination in its programs.
The decision didn’t come easy. In 2009, HUD’s own local General Counsel denounced an effort to advertise that same-sex couples could qualify for an FHA-insured homeowner loan, calling it “wishful thinking” and the head of the local office brought up the staff member making the proposal (disclaimer: that would be me, Larry Bush) on charges of insubordination for making the proposal. Eventually those with more sense spoke up (but not before the email exchanges denouncing the effort at nondiscrimination were shared at the White House with a meeting with LGBT officials), and within HUD itself, Assistant Secretary Trasvina undertook a national review to show that a need existed for a formal nondiscrimination policy.
Among those who provided valuable input was the Lesbian Rights Project, with case examples from their work, and the city’s Human Rights Commission, that also provided data on complaints made to that group.
Now Trasvina, who many in San Francisco will remember was a member of the District Elections Task Force that redrew lines for supervisors after the 2000 census, will be in San Francisco to conduct a roundtable to get more input on the proposed new HUD anti-bias rules.
San Francisco is a great place for input, in part because people here are more aware of the issues and in part because of the people who have moved here after facing discrimination elsewhere.
The difference means allowing same sex couples to be housed together in senior HUD housing, to recognize trans individuals in HUD programs, and to recognize the needs of LGBT homeless youth to have safe and secure housing free from harassment.
It’s all good…and it matters that people participate in this process.
HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Urban Development John Trasvina will hold an LGBT Roundtrable Discussion on the proposed rule on Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs at San Francisco City Hall on Wednesday, March 9 at 2:30-4 p.m.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Office of Fair Housing & Equal Opportunity
John Trasviña, Assistant Secretary for
Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
invites you to the
LGBT Roundtable Discussion on the Proposed Rule on
Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
2:30 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.
San Francisco City Hall, Room 408
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, California
Do It Yourself provides links to tools that help you mine data sources to tailor research results for your specific interests. Internet searches are a rapidly growing component for citizen empowerment and this list will be updated as additional tools prove worthwhile.
Pro Publica won the Pulitzer Prize this year for investigative reporting. They provide data tools to allow you to both view how they researched their own stories and to allow you to dice and slice information of direct interest to you. You can subscribe to their “tools” service to be alerted when new tools are added.
Here is one Pro Publica tool:
Lookup Your Congressmember’s LPAC Money
Leadership Political Action Committees are the second-largest source of political money for sitting members of Congress. But there are few rules on how the money can be spent, effectively allowing lobbyists and other donors a back door to fund a politician’s personal expenditures, including resort and travel bills. Our analysis shows that in the 2008 campaign cycle, less than half of the $112 million leadership PAC money was spent on its intended purpose of funding campaigns.
The same link also takes you to a list of the top twenty PACS Leadership PACS for spending by Entertainment, Events and Travel.
Maplight.org/California is a site that includes data on campaign contributions to California assembly and senate members as well as by key industry contributors. They also provide a citizen guide for individual research at:
Maplight also offers free research services to journalists, bloggers and nonprofits for data that you can’t find on their site. Amazing!
Follow The Money
http://www.followthemoney.org has it all – or at least enough to satisfy most activists and civic-minded people. It includes the money from lobbyists, from contributors, industry influence, tutorials and “geeky gadgets.” It allows for a search on “point of influence” that reveal whether legislators are receiving contributions from outside their district. The site is based on a state level and happily one of the states given a deeper cut of data is California. It is provided by the National Institute of Money in State Politics. It also has just launched a new site of a one-stop shop for state and local data.
Their California data can be found here:
Open The Government
Open the Government is a multi-faceted web site with tools to research federal policies, programs and spending aimed at further opening the government to citizen accountability. It monitors compliance with Freedom of Information policies, and it includes a Right to Know database:
The home page is www.openthegovernment.org
City data is sliced and diced, including with tools for citizen empowerment, at a San Francisco-based web site http://govfresh.com
It reports on developments in transparency such as a new investment in a for-profit government transparency project (http://seeclickfix.com) that lets people post information on neighborhood needs – including San Francisco. Govfresh offers other information, including a section on Guides to various platforms at
Other sites of interest
Pier 23 is one of the remaining funky cafes along San Francisco’s northern waterfront, a place with hot jazz, cool breezes, a history that goes back to Sally Rand’s naked ladies and a future that may belong to Larry Ellison instead of San Francisco.
That’s not what the cafe’s owners apparently have anticipated when the news was announced that San Francisco would host the America’s Cup.
“Pier 23 Café has the unique privilege of not only being the WATERFRONT HOT SPOT during this international nautical event, but also of being located directly across from the START/FINISH line. We are planning big, fun daytime and nighttime events to coincide with the “greatest show on H2O”! proudly boasts the Pier 23 blog on March 3, 2011.
A hot spot indeed. According to a December 22, 2010 letter by Board President David Chiu, Pier 23 is one of three piers that might be added to the four piers and a seawall that make up San Francisco’s commitment to Larry Ellison as the price for winning the America’s Cup hosting honors.
Chiu explains in his letter to Russell Coutts, Executive Director of Oracle Racing, that he is aware that Mayor Newsom has made “necessary adjustments” to the publicized agreement that opens the door to leases for Piers 29, 23 and 19 in addition to Piers 30-32, Pier 26 and Pier 28 and Seawall Lot 330.
“I am aware of these changes and support them,” Chiu writes on his letterhead as President of the Board of Supervisors. “We have exciting work ahead of us. Let’s get started.”
Over at the America’s Cup, the use of Piers 23, 29 and 19 are now part of their plan. Pier 23 will become the center for regatta operations, Pier 19 will be for media, and Pier 29 will be part of the public village. Their intentions are highlighted in a January 5, 2011 news release.
Meanwhile, the San Francisco Planning Department has lifted the veil to show that San Francisco’s public waterfront will be cordoned off all the way to Crissy Field, including portions of the Marina Green, for private and corporate viewing stands and parties.
In a February 9, 2011 EIR planning document, the city’s Planning Department outlines what is included from AT&T Park to Crissy Field. The Marina Green, for example, is slated for a hospitality area for corporate and private functions hosting up to 2,000 people. Aquatic Park may house “corporate identity” sites. Crissy Field, Cavallo Point and Fort Mason will be made available for corporate hospitality areas, public and corporate entertainment areas for up to 100,000 people, with bleachers for up to 10,000 members of the public. From AT&T Park to Fisherman’s Wharf along Herb Caen Way there would be licensed retail outlets with security to ensure that unlicensed businesses would not have access.
For San Francisco, it will mean the eviction of an unknown number of small businesses, although the Port of San Francisco already has identified up to 19 that likely will be evicted. Chiu, a former member of the city’s Small Business Commission, is on board to help the America’s Cup “facilitate” the relationship between the America’s Cup organizers and the affected local community and businesses.
The “adjustments” negotiated by Newsom still have not been made public, although CitiReport is told that they number in the dozens. The Board gave Newsom authority so long as the changes don’t “materially” affect San Francisco’s costs. There is no language that states it may not materially affect the city’s waterfront businesses or public access, or that would inhibit the America’s Cup organizers from converting public access areas into private, fee-related revenue centers.
Board Budget Analyst, at the request of Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, will provide a break-down of the final negotiated agreement and its costs by the end of March.
Meanwhile, Gavin Newsom, having signed the document committing San Francisco to terms not yet made public, has accepted a designation as “America’s Cup Ambassador” to promote the event for the coming two years. The details of Newsom’s assignment, including whether the America’s Cup will pay him a stipend, travel costs, staffing assistants or other elements often associated with such duties, also has not been made public.
Sally Rand’s naked ladies smile from over the bar at the Pier 23 cafe. It may well be Larry Ellison who will be the one standing at that site smiling back.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the Federal Election Commission is deadlocked on whether donors who contribute through an organization like the Chamber of Commerce will be disclosed or kept secret. The issue was brought to the FEC after conservative groups argued that they are not covered by federal disclosure laws requiring that donors of $1,000 or more be identified because the donors don’t know which specific candidate will receive the contribution. In a three-three split between Republicans and Democrats, the prediction is that hundreds of millions in contributions in next year’s federal elections will be kept secret, following an earlier U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited contributions but which the judges claimed would not taint the process because the donors would be disclosed.
When we want your opinion, we’ll tell you what it is…Apparently that is the way the San Francisco Police Commission is handling its process for selecting a new police chief. While community groups were invited to give input on the selection criteria, and minority and women police groups are set for a meeting on Monday, February 28, the Police Commission already has sent out dozens of letters rejecting applicants for the chief’s job.
And from what CitiReport has heard, the list no longer has any minorities or women among the names to be considered for forwarding to Mayor Ed Lee.
“It just feels like a railroad job,” Women’s Officers Network head Belinda Kerr told CitiReport. “With all these talks of transparency, all they did was ignore that and do what they wanted to.”
The rejection letters reportedly went out before the Commission heard from community members at meetings at the Southeast Community Center and the LGBT Community Center. The only community group to be heard were those who gathered at the Irish Community Center on the west side and, of course, the Police Officers Association.
Among those rumored to have received a “thanks but no thanks” rejection is Jim Molinari, the head of Senator Dianne Feinstein’s state office, a retired SFPD police captain and a U.S. Marshall in San Francisco appointed by President Clinton. Molinari was rumored to be at the top of the list of candidates with the backing of the minority police officer groups such as the Pride Alliance, Officers for Justice, Asian Police Officers, Latino Police Officers and the Women Officers Network.
Other applicants told they did not make the list to be interviewed include some of the most senior captains in the Department widely recognized for accomplishments in improving community safety.
CitiReport sources indicate that the Commission is being driven by the mayor’s four appointees, leaving the three appointees from the Board of Supervisors with little say in the matter.
The selection process invited applications for the chief’s position on January 24, with a date of March 15 set for three names to be forwarded to Mayor Lee. The past three police chiefs – Fred Lau, Heather Fong and George Gascon – all were minorities.
The charge that the police chief selection is rigged to favor a candidate handpicked by the Police Officers Association and the old boy’s network comes on the heels of a Civil Service Commission hearing that the recent police captain test was influenced by tutoring that advantaged some candidates over others. The Civil Service Commission upheld the test results in a meeting this week, but noted that it did not reach a conclusion on whether Captain David Lazar tutored hopeful applicants and then wrote the questions that appeared on the test. According to the San Francisco Examiner account, Lazar declined comment citing confidentiality requirements.
“They cut off Main Street for me and sent me on the back roads,” former supervisor and current Market Street bar owner Chris Daly told CitiReport in a wide-ranging interview last week.
“I couldn’t pass any meaningful legislation, because by the end I knew that (former supervisor) Bevan Dufty would be a fourth vote for any veto,” said Daly. Instead, Daly handed off legislation and policy priorities to his allies on the Board of Supervisors, notably John Avalos, his former City Hall aide.
“I talked to Chiu and agreed to support him for Board President if he would make Avalos the Budget chair,” Daly said of one play to keep his priorities moving forward.
The plan also called for wielding power through the city’s Democratic County Central Committee, which was accomplished with a strong majority in 2008.
“We got creative in 2008,” Daly explained. “We backed Obama, and the result was that we took over the party. It was a great campaign. Maybe not such a great President, but a great campaign. We pulled off a miracle in 2008 and so we always had that voice.”
Getting Things Done
The post-mortems on Daly and “that voice” as he left office was that his departure would bring “civility” to City Hall and while also rejecting “ideological” politics in favor of “getting things done.” Board President David Chiu’s statement on being re-elected Board President on January 7 was a back door valedictory aimed at Daly: “”None of us were voted into office to take positions; we were voted into office to get things done,” Chiu said.
It is Daly, however, who holds the record for getting things done. He authored more legislation that became law than any other supervisor – more than 150 ordinances Daly told The San Francisco Examiner — and wrote more charter amendments (12) approved by the voters than anyone else on the Board.
His accomplishments include forging a way past the stalemates on housing and development, winning safety requirements in residential hotels that have sharply reduced fires and subsequent loss of housing, and forcing action to repair a school that was long promised a major rehab but which continually fell off the list, impacting a student body that was largely Hispanic and African American. In his final months in office, facing a near unanimous consensus to rush headlong into an embrace of Larry Ellison’s America’s Cup demands, it was Daly who pressed questions that forced the city negotiators to rethink what San Francisco needed in the deal.
One measure of Daly’s accomplishments can be found in former mayor Newsom’s grab for credit that the city’s budget delivered services despite reduced revenues. It was Daly who chaired the budget committee for half of his ten years on the board, mitigating Newsom’s cuts to the city’s safety net. Newsom also sought credit for new housing production, particularly affordable housing, but the facts are that Daly crafted the compromise that is delivering nearly 3,000 units of new housing with a high percentage of it at affordable levels.
Trinity, Rincon and CityPlace
“Trinity and Rincon were my effort to show how to come up with a redevelopment agenda,” Daly explained. Trinity, with 1,900 units of housing, and Rincon Hill, with over 700 units of housing, belong in Daly’s credit list as even Chronicle columnist Chuck Nevius noted in an April 2010 column, writing “Next thing you know we’ll be praising Daly for his thoughtful, level-headed negotiating skills.”
“It didn’t have to be Willie’s (Brown) way of fucking over the neighborhood to give the developer everything they wanted, and it didn’t have to be the Sue Hester and Calvin Welch slow growth of opposing everything and then lose,” noted Daly. “How do you deal with the effort to take a percentage of the profit and invest it in the community?”
“Trinity is my proudest accomplishment. It’s an example of a community that otherwise would not have the door open to them at City Hall. We secured rent control units and saved tenants from eviction. From a policy standpoint, we were able to have a development without conceding on matters of principle.”
While the Trinity compromise required the participation of others, from Randy Shaw to Jack Davis, is was Daly who held the levers and the political strength of will to put it over.
In the months before his final term ended, Daly also won plaudits for navigating a compromise on the Mid-Market stretch long considered blighted by deep discount stores and vacant lots. CityPlace, a five-story multimillion-dollar shopping structure, won unanimous approval at the Board in September following negotiations with Daly. City Hall lobbyist Alex Clemens played an important role in crafting options that would meet the needs Daly saw and the developer’s interests. Nevius, a frequent and harsh critic of Daly, clinched the win for Daly when he wrote “this is the most significant, important and thoughtful project to appear on Mid-Market in decades. It is a testament to San Francisco local government with terrific work by Chris Daly.”
Daly, as expected, sees these accomplishments in terms of the people who will live, work and shop in San Francisco. Trinity’s tenants became friends through the process and Daly says his young son knows them by name because of the time they have spent together. The new CityPlace shopping center with its compromise on parking is measured by Daly by the ability of a parent with a child being able to shop conveniently, or for someone to carry away a purchase too large for public transportation.
Budget as Ground Zero
There are always choices involved, where one weighs who benefits from “getting things done” and it is here that charges of ideology are levied. The budget committee is Ground Zero.
“Give police and firefighters everything they want – that’s mainstream,” notes Daly. “In District Six, you are representing the central city who rely on services that are life and death. AIDS and HIV for example. Every year it has been about standing up to cut proposals that would have cost lives. It’s real people who I know who are in the balance.” One result: “I voted against the cops’ contract.”
Daly’s insistence at looking down the road to see what impact today’s decision will have on tomorrow’s city is one reason he is labeled as ideological. What works at City Hall is to take issues in small bites, and stepping back to see what is left of the pie is unwelcome.
Consider the past six years as City Hall has pieced off its waterfront from Candlestick Point around the northern waterfront to Treasure Island. Under two mayors, City Hall focused on meeting the demands of developers and entrepreneurs on the assumption that the ultimate result would bring jobs and private capital that the city could not muster on its own.
Lennar won rights to develop the former Hunters Point shipyard, including the right to obtain half of the city’s only state park to build luxury condos on the waterfront to improve its profits.
Larry Ellison hardballed his way into an unprecedented contract that turned over two northern waterfront piers for 66 years, added options for two more northern waterfront piers for 66 years, and gave development rights to a seawall parcel across from the Embarcadero.
At Treasure Island, Lennar won development rights while a partnership including San Francisco’s most prolific lobbyist won rights to build a marina on the island.
For Daly, the critical point in these deals was the return for the city and, more particularly, whether there would be an investment that benefited the city’s remaining lunch bucket workers whose wages push them to the margins of available housing.
Lennar, in a February 18, 2011 Bloomberg article, indicated that Hunters Point sales will start with prices at $525,000 for as many as 12,000 homes and that Treasure Island’s estimated 7,000 homes will average $800,000 and some may reach $2 million.
Daly sought to win support but failed to up the commitment for affordable housing at Hunters Point and Treasure Island, noting that in Hunters Point the price levels far exceeded what residents there could afford.
“It’s the last frontier,” Daly told CitiReport. “Politicians took advantage of these communities by promising to provide jobs that never materialized. The affordability levels are disconnected from the people who live there. Basically it is massive gentrification. If they can run out the rest of African Americans from San Francisco, then ‘eureka.’”
Daly tried a two-headed approach, seeking development terms that increased the percentage of affordable housing while also seeking to pass a citywide measure to fund affordable housing. Both efforts lost, with the Hunters Shipyard measure facing the biggest war chest ever put into play in a San Francisco election up to that time.
Daly was attacked for raising policy issues in what backers claimed was a simple development strategy. His temperament also became a flash point as critics suggested it reflected a lack of sober-minded green eyeshade analysis. That such a charge could gain credence suggests how much politics has shifted in a city that was once the fiefdom of Phil Burton and that still respects John Burton, both well-known for preferring a blunt instrument where others would use a scalpel and both of whom have more than a passing acquaintance with four-letter words to describe their opponents.
With the America’s Cup bid package, Daly was almost alone in raising questions on whether the deal was as good for the city as it was for Ellison – or even close to being as good. The more Daly raised questions, the greater became the public awareness that questions needed to be asked. He might not be the lone demonstrator facing down tanks in Tiananmen Square, but Daly certainly put himself squarely in front of a steamroller that was moving fast. The outcome was a change in the city’s proposal that caused Ellison to flirt with abandoning San Francisco and to try to find another, more willing, suitor. In the end, Ellison accepted the altered terms but with Daly headed out the door, negotiated further unspecified refinements with City Hall that have yet to be disclosed.
Talking a Blue Streak
Daly’s record and his political values are overshadowed by the public perception that he is a boor whose behavior falls far short of the etiquette expected at a Pacific Heights tea party. Manners matter but for Chris Daly not so much.
Even in leaving office, Daly’s public explosion at the Board meeting that determined the selection of the interim mayor again gave ammunition to those who wanted to see Daly as uncivil so that they could dismiss his political values and agenda. In the process, it also obscured the degree to which Newsom’s own departure, as well as the corps of acolytes around him, would alter an atmosphere poisoned by invective and insult coming from the mayor and his staff.
The future, particularly the near-term future of this year’s election for a full four-year mayor, concerns Daly.
Sitting in a lounge area in his bar, he leans forward, his body an exclamation mark on the points he makes in the interview. This is a quieter area, past the room with the long bar and the tables along the opposite wall, past the walk-in cloak room that houses pinball and arcade machines. The bar has not yet opened, but it is clear that Daly is down with the details, cajoling more beer deliveries as his customer base outgrows that of the prior owner, taking a press call or two about plumbers’ union official Larry Mazzola’s call for a boycott of a San Francisco business because Daly owns it.
“After the experience of the past decade, we have come too far to fade back into the shadows,” Daly says of the work he and other progressive allies did. “Progressives will put forward a high-profile candidate for mayor. We have to decide which of us that will be.”
“I am one of five, probably the least good of five,” Daly says. “The negatives are not insignificant.”
“The realignment at City Hall has been devastating for progressives,” says Daly. “We need to answer back. Our opportunity is this year.”
Invigorating the Progressive Agenda
Daly suggests that incorporating issues such as political corruption should refresh the progressive agenda, referencing the heightened influence of Willie Brown and the role of Rose Pak, among others.
Daly sees San Francisco’s ethics system as currently allowing for influence peddling when it comes to multi-million dollar contracts and key appointments while penalizing underfunded grass roots community groups that are politically active.
“Our ethics system really does penalize small and medium-sized groups over bookkeeping errors or listing a post office box, while the big boys can just choose to pay the fine” at little cost to themselves.
“If we can adopt this to our issues, then we can have a spirited run-off” in a mayoral election, says Daly.
Under circumstances favorable to Daly and progressives, the agenda of “getting things done” is easily understood to mean facilitating the interests of some of San Francisco’s most powerful and influential interests. The fact that they find a ready open door at City Hall doesn’t require much more than to count the number of lobbyist visits to Board President David Chiu last year (by CitiReport’s count, they totaled 159 lobbyists visits among those registered with the Ethics Commission).
Daly’s vision of including corruption – or at least influence peddling – as a significant part of a progressive agenda resurfaces in a new context a familiar progressive concern. It is an issue of class and wealth, and that democratic institutions are the best remedy to give voice to those without power, denied the ability and capacity and opportunity to participate in the decisions that affect their lives.
“We can not wait to advance the case,” says Daly. “We need that kind of showing.”
“Otherwise,” Daly says of the progressive spirit that feeds him and his allies, “we’ll have a good bar but I’m not sure what else.”