SF Retains Gay Shadow
Mayor Steve Kawa
(Gay powerbroker Steve Kawa. Credit: Luke Thomas, Fog City Journal.)
Forget the state of Denmark; something is wrong in San Francisco and it's the divisive and smokey backroom deal that went down this week, producing Ed Lee as the titular mayor.
The process sucked, starting with Gavin Newsom flouting state law by refusing to be inaugurated as California's lieutenant governor because that would mean having to resign as mayor, to bare minimal public vetting of interim mayoral candidates, to the eventual victor being not only out of town but out also supposedly out of reach of dedicated phone and web service in Taiwan.
At the end of all the conniving by every faction in and out of City Hall, the political sausage-making produced the same gay shadow mayor we've had running the city for at least a solid year, Steve Kawa. He's weaved in and out of Newsom's administration, and the scuttlebutt I heard is that when the mayor decided to run for state office, the daily details of running the city were put in the hands of Kawa, presently serving as chief of staff.
This crony of Willie Brown, and his role in choosing the new mayor, sharply piqued my curiosity on Tuesday night.
When Bevan Dufty asked for a recess at the very extended Board of Supervisors meeting as names were being considered and voted on, it was because he had urgent issues to speak with Newsom about so he and fellow supervisor Sophie Maxwell went to Kawa's office. It was there that they spoke with Newsom on the phone, sealing the deal for Bevan to change his vote in favor of Ed Lee.
My skepticism says the king-maker among the four was Kawa, and the deal was signed by him then delivered by Bevan back to the full board, putting Lee in charge of Room 200, while Kawa continues serving as the shadow mayor.
Those were some of my thoughts yesterday, as I watched the old board's final meeting, the Rose Pak-led celebration in the second floor rotunda of City Hall, and when I saw Bevan in the hallway and told him to his face I didn't approve of a backroom deal and him brokering it. Many probably think my Kawa theory is heated and unlikely, and that once all the dust settles we'll have Lee running San Francisco.
Imagine my surprise this morning reading between the lies, er, lines of the SF Chronicle and this passage in their coverage of who's in charge of the levers of City Hall power:
Some Newsom critics have dismissed Lee as a political lightweight chosen because he will probably keep the mayor's team intact, including his chief of staff, Steve Kawa, who they warn would become a shadow mayor with close ties to Newsom and former Mayor Willie Brown.
The Chronicle is wrong to say "would become" when Kawa currently is the shadow mayor. Here's another nugget of news leading my thinking, from Gerry Shih of the Bay Citizen:
“This was a recruitment,” Newsom said, referring to the intense effort undertaken by his allies — especially Kawa, the chief of staff to whom Lee is highly deferential — in the past several days to convince Lee to accept a nomination.
Even Stevie Wonder can read the handwriting on the City Hall wall. Steve Kawa's tenure as San Francisco's gay shadow mayor is extended for the next eleven months.
I spent several days trying to come to terms with this momentous event. Your reporting has helped me put more light on it.
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