Guardian editorial: Mixed report on Mayor Lee

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EDITORIAL Mayor Ed Lee's first big decision — the appointment of a District 5 supervisor — demonstrated something very positive:

The mayor knows that he can't do what his predecessor did and ignore and dismiss the progressive community.

His inauguration speech demonstrated something else: That he has no intention of being a mayor who takes on and defies the interests of downtown.

Part of the reason Gavin Newsom was a failure as mayor is that he was constantly at war with the left. He ran the city as if his was the only way, as if there were no good ideas coming out of anywhere except his office — and as if anyone who disgreed with or voted against him was his enemy.

That didn't work, and it doesn't seem to be Lee's style. He was under pressure to appoint a supervisor who would go along with him on key votes, but he also knew that a moderate or a lackey would deeply offend the voters in D5, who supported John Avalos for mayor and remain among the most progressive voters in the city. The choice of Christina Olague shows a willingless to accept that progressives play a significant role in San Francisco politics. (It also shows that he is better than any mayor in recent memory at keeping a secret — nobody outside of his inner circle had any idea who his choice was until he announced it Jan 9.)

Olague was, overall, an excellent planning commissioner, and has the potential to be an excellent supervisor. But she will need to make clear from the start that she is representing the district, not the person who gave her the job. Because on some of the key issues that will come before the board this spring, her constituents are well to the left of the mayor. If she can't vote against his wishes, she'll have trouble in November.

Olague also needs to be sure that some of the issues her predecessor, Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, championed (public power and community policing, for example) don't fall by the wayside. Her expertise in land use issues should be helpful as the board wrangles with waterfront development, affordable housing and the giant California Pacific Medical Center hospital project.

Lee's inaugural speech was mostly a typical political speech for a new mayor, but it contained a nugget that's worthy of note. He proclaimed that San Francisco should be a "city of the 100 percent," a takeoff on the Occupy movement's 99 percent slogan. And while that's mostly rhetoric, it's also a sign that the former housing activist is not going to be a mayor who wants to make a legacy of challenging the economic and political powers of San Francisco.

Working together is fine — but there are a small number of very wealthy and powerful people who have interests that are utterly opposed to the interests of the rest of us. Economic injustice is every bit as real in this city as it is elsewhere in the country — and that's something the mayor didn't even mention or acknowledge. Pacific Gas and Electric Co., the big real-estate developers, the landlords out at ParkMerced, the Chamber of Commerce,  and the Board of Realtors ... they don't want to work together. They want their way.

So it's a mixed report for Mayor Lee — and over the next few months, he's going to have to realize that everyone in the city can't and shouldn't work together, that there are battles where politicians have to take sides, and that all of us will be watching very closely to see where he draws the line.

Comments

In this short column you somehow managed to have two central points which *directly* contradicted eachother. Kind of amazing...

"Part of the reason Gavin Newsom was a failure as mayor is that he was constantly at war with the left.. and as if anyone who disgreed with or voted against him was his enemy"

followed by...

"and over the next few months, Lee's going to have to realize that everyone in the city can't and shouldn't work together, that there are battles where politicians have to take sides, and that all of us will be watching very closely"

Jesus fucking christ. Awful, lol.

Posted by Longtime Lurker on Jan. 10, 2012 @ 4:14 pm

Nicely spotted.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 10, 2012 @ 6:45 pm

Turning a deaf ear towards those who create wealth and who sign paychecks is a requirement for anyone serving as Mayor. But a refusal to adopt the Progressive social engineering policies that the wealth makes possible? Absolutely inexcusable.

Posted by Steroidal Progressive on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 12:29 pm

Your statement starts out from a position that one group of people are worthless scum who must be ignored, and the opposite group is unquestioningly meritorious and to be feted.

On whose say-so? Sounds like a double standard to me. When Obama said he wanted to be a President for ALL Americans, we applauded that. Has the script changed? Because you say so?

If it was wrong for Newsom to ignore Progressives, then it's wrong for Lee to ignore Conservatives. Bruce can't have it both ways.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 12:48 pm

Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 10, 2012 @ 9:07 pm

How's that union coming along Bruce?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 10, 2012 @ 9:42 pm

Every indication so far is that Lee is going to follow the agenda that he successfully presented to the voters and NOT the Progressive agenda of the SFBG. He should be recalled for this transgression.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 11:32 am

Lee stood on a moderate, pro private-sector platform and won easily. So he should pursue that agenda and not the one he defeated.

As Lurker noted, Bruce thinks it was a problem that Newsom ignored the elft but now thinks that Lee should ignore the right.

Hypocrisy.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 12:16 pm

Just because offices are elected by winner take all does not mean that governing has to be winner take all. If there is 40% progressive support, then there is no reason why a Mayor cannot govern 60/40 as well.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

A leader does what he thinks is is best in every situation.

He doesn't think: "Oh, I favored the right last time, so I'll favor the left next time". No politicians, left or right, thinks that makes sense.

If you were right, it wouldn;t matter who we elect because they'd all have to be "balanced". But the people decisively voted for a non-progressive, and there is no mandate for the Mayor to ignore that clear majority view.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 1:15 pm

Then that runs counter to the Mayor's stated desire to be the mayor of the 100%.

The way I see it, whenever liberals are elected, they are commanded to do the bidding of the right, and when moderates and conservatives are elected, they do the bidding of the right and ignore liberals.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 1:51 pm

Does the mayor mean to convey that he is going to be the mayor of the 100% while giving 40% of the electorate no consideration?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 2:10 pm

the fact that the voters rejected the politics of Avalos. I have little confidence that had Avalos won 60-40, he would have spent 40% of his time enacting pro-business policies.

The whole point of winning power is that you act on what you promised.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 2:27 pm

Come on, if Avalos had won, then the corporate lobbying and media machines would be working overtime to demand that business got more than its fair share of consideration and would double down on their commitment to funding recalls and election challengers just as they did when progressives held the Board of Supervisors.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 2:32 pm

Right now, Lee is ignoring nobody. And that's why we elected him - he's not a polarising character like Avalos.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 2:46 pm

both sides pursue their agenda. Of course. what else would you expect.

SF has voted itself a moderate mayor so it makes sense that he "occupies" the center. He will listen to both extremes and then make a decision. Personally I remain confident that he will do what the city needs regardless of ideology.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 2:12 pm

Moderation would mean that all sides have input on policy and that when there is no middle ground solution, that solutions towards either poll would be equitably divided according to popular support.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 2:26 pm

Did Bush "lean" towards the right? any more than Obama "leans" to the right? What's the point in winning elections if you can't skew outcomes?

Lee will surely listen to all sides. But he can't please all sides. And when in doubt, he'll steer a moderate course, yielding neither to the rabid right nor the loony left. Problem?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 2:35 pm

Bush would be expected to lean to the right because he ran as a conservative. Bush did not lean to the left.

Obama would be expected to lean to the left as he ran a a center left campaign. But Obama did not lean to the left. Obama leaned to the right.

This electoral car only turns to the right.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 2:47 pm

elect to ignore both extremes, which I believe is the mandate he feels he has been given by the electorate.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 2:56 pm

I say let's take a wait and see approach to Mayor Lee. So far I like his style.

Posted by Mission Loco 94110 on Jan. 18, 2012 @ 1:31 pm