Saturday, January 08, 2011

SFBG: Chinatown Boss Heckled by Queer
Over Mayoral Backroom Deal

Two of the key players in the underhanded, to say the freaking least, process that produced Ed Lee as San Francisco's next mayor were sleazy Willie Brown, and his Chinatown counterpart in scummy practices and backroom dealing Rose Pak. Brown was not present at the Board of Supervisors' meeting on Friday as his and Pak's candidate was ratified to take over Room 200 at City Hall.

But Pak was there and she got an earful from me. Well, someone from the public had to object to the many acts of political screwing of the downtown machine bosses, in the afterglow of the vote in the rotunda, site of the Harvey Milk bust and memorial plaque. Wanna bet Milk would have raised his voice against the citizen's of San Francisco not being allowed a proper public vetting of all the candidates, through debates and hearing with the mayoral wannabees present and accounted for.

I did my part to register public disgust with what's gone down at City Hall. From Steven T. Jones over at the Bay Guardian:

Yet he also acknowledged the unseemly way in which Lee came out of nowhere to get the nomination, with little public vetting, “If Ed was out there a week earlier, it would have been a lot better. It was a flawed process,” [Gordon] Chin [of the Chinatown Community Development Center] said.

So flawed that Daly and many progressive activists are still smarting about what happened and wary of what kind of mayor Lee will be. “No more backroom deals,” queer activist and blogger Michael Petrelis repeatedly shouted at Rose Pak as she was being interviewed outside board chambers.

But [Rev. Norman] Fong just shrugged and told me, “There’s backroom deals on the left too.”

Oh, so an Asian leader acknowledges a deal went down over Ed Lee, and well, that's basically not much to worry about because the progressives cut deals also. Here's a radical notion to consider Rev. Fong, and all power-players of San Francisco: Let's diminish ALL backroom deals.


Jerry Pritikin said...

Mayor Feinstein, who ran for the Mayor's office twice, and came in 3rd both times... then somehow chose Harry Britt, to replace Harvey's seat on the Board... the same guy who was suppose to be in charge of getting Anne Kronenberg that appointment. I know that Terry Hallinan was to be a Co-Chair ib Harvey's re-election campaign also supported Kronenberg... then decided to run against Harry. Harry's campaign against Terry, was
one of the dirtiest campaigns ever ... however, backroom politics is nothing new in San Francisco!

Patrick Monette-Shaw said...

Kudos, Michael, for giving Rose Pak an earful. I’m glad you didn’t “pie” her. You’re right that machinations of Willie Brown and his erstwhile pal, Rose Pak, involve back room deals.

The pair of them will be involved in backroom dealing at City Hall until the day both of them are out of our hair, ensconced six feet under and resting comfortably in their coffins. Brown’s legacy will leave us with a crop of graduates from the Willie L. Brown, Jr. Institute on Politics & Public Service, undoubtedly having passed Brown’s “Back Room Dealing 101” seminar.

Rose and Willie couldn’t have pulled off this latest stunt without the help of three supervisors central to Ed Lee being chosen mayor: David Chiu, Sophie Maxwell, and Bevan Dufty. (I have the highest respect, as do most San Franciscans, for Lee’s public service record.)

Ever since 2002 Dufty has been haunted for being a puppet for Willie Brown, who Bevan served as an aide.

There are reports that incoming Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom is now insisting, “There were no deals, no backroom deals,” in picking Lee to be mayor.

Previously, Newsom asserted “I’ll reserve my right to wait until the new board convenes that will have to deal with the decision and consequences of an interim mayor pick.” What “right,” Gavin, is that? Some new modification to your First Amendment free-speech rights?

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd who sparred with Supervisor Chris Daly over details of the Board’s selection process, said the Clerk of the Board’s process proposal ensured “complete impartiality.” Dufty, Chiu, and Maxwell’s actions on January 4 threw “impartiality” under the bus.

Newsom appeared most concerned with the possibility a progressive replacement would undo many of his so-called “accomplishments.” Newsom said he wanted “… to make sure it’s someone that is not going to take us backwards and is going to create a political firestorm because I’ll feel some sense of accountability to that.”

It’s ironic Newsom is worried about “accountability,” given his record as an unaccountable mayor. Perhaps Newsom meant “accountability” to SPUR and the Chamber of Commerce, in addition to “accountability” to Rose and Slick Willie.

After eight years as District 8 Supervisor, Dufty must know that political futures are typically based on backroom deals, where select individuals are promised political favors and personal advancement.

According to an article in the Bay Area edition of the New York Times carried locally in the San Francisco Bay Citizen newspaper on January 6 (, prior to the Board’s meeting on January 4 Newsom summoned Dufty and Supervisor Alioto-Pier to his office. Newsom knew he was a single vote shy of preventing Sheriff Hennessey from getting the Board’s nomination, so Newsom turned the screws on Dufty.

Then, during Dufty’s infamous 20-minute break in the Board’s January 4meeting, Dufty and Maxwell met in Steve Kawa’s office with Newsom on speaker phone.

Could these two behind-the-scenes meetings have involved a violation of California’s Brown Act, which prohibits seriatim meetings (closed-to-the-public meetings when one member of a policy body privately contacts another, who then contacts another, in a chain of communication that eventually constitutes a quorum of the group)?

Let’s see: Dufty, Maxwell, Alioto-Pier and Chiu, all wheeling and dealing privately with Newsom. These four supervisors met out-of-chambers, possibly violating seriatim prohibitions, and Newsom now says there were no backroom deals? Really?

Is this the same Newsom who said the pick for mayor shouldn’t be “politicized,” as if Room 200’s occupants are never chosen for their political leanings?

Dufty’s role in this is despicable. When it comes to November’s election, Chiu will not get my vote to become DA, and Dufty will not get my vote to become mayor. Nobody should ever forget that needing just one vote, Newsom leaned on Dufty, and Dufty caved, as always.

Civic Center said...

Pritikin makes a good point. This is the way it has always been in San Francisco politics (and probably most other municipalities, with regional variations). It's also true that with the rise of the internet, more people are actually paying attention to this stuff, and this style of blatantly old-fashioned backroom power politics is becoming less palatable with each day. So congratulations, Mr. Petrelis, for once again being obnoxious in public.

Anonymous said...

Do you mean something like this?

Sec. 67.3. Definitions.

Whenever in this Article the following words or phrases are used, they shall have the following meanings:

(a) "City" shall mean the City and County of San Francisco.

(b) "Meeting" shall mean any of the following:

(1) A congregation of a majority of the members of a policy body at the same time and place;

(2) A series of gatherings, each of which involves less than a majority of a policy body, to hear, discuss or deliberate upon any item that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the City, if the cumulative result is that a majority of members has become involved in such gatherings; or

(3) Any other use of personal intermediaries or communications media that could permit a majority of the members of a policy body to become aware of an item of business and of the views or positions of other members with respect thereto, and to negotiate consensus thereupon.