An awful lot went down at City Hall today: four Board members were termed out, new Board members were moving into their offices, the old Board nominated Ed Lee as interim mayor, and Gavin Newsom revealed he'll be gone as mayor by Monday afternoon. Here in no particular order are some of the highlights:
When termed-out D6 Sup. Chris Daly suggested that Rose Pak be nominated mayor, since she apparently managed to broker the Lee deal in three short days, Pak shot back, “I would do it, only if Chris Daly would be my Chief of Staff."
Pak told me that she persuaded Lee to take the job, over the cell phone, while he was at the airport in Hong Kong.
Pak outlined her reasons for supporting Ed Lee as mayor. “Ed Lee has devoted 35 years to San Francisco. He’s earned his stripes. He’s the most qualified, the most unifying agent, and the most talented.”
The crowd of seniors from the Self Help for the Elderly non-profit who crammed City Hall today are a likely preview of things to come during the mayor's race.
Board President David Chiu's insistence that there were no back room deals. “Shortly after Gavin Newsom was elected Lt. Governor, I said Ed Lee should be considered as a candidate," Chiu told me. "There was never a deal.”
The strong sense that Chiu is running for mayor in November, though he hasn’t filed. Asked if he was running, Chiu said. “I’m here at the Board focused on the work.” Asked if he wasn’t running, Chiu said, “I’m here at the Board focused on the work.” (That's not a very convincing denial, David!)
On being reminded that the Year of the Rabbit kicks off in February, Chiu added, “Hopefully, this will be a very fortunate year for San Francisco.”
Oakland and San Francisco will both have Asian American mayors—160 years after Chinese immigrants first settled in San Francisco and 129 years after the Chinese Exclusion Act sought to prevent these immigrants from rising to the top.
The rejoicing that reportedly is going in the Asian community, right now.“Chinatown is excited,” a reporter for Sing Tao Daily told me. “Ed Lee is a low-key kinda guy. No one really knows him, but as former DPW director, he was always filling up pot holes.”
The stated hope that Lee will support Sup. Avalos local hire ordinance, which kicks in Feb. 23, implement Sup. David Campos’ due process for immigrant youth ordinance, and enforce the recommendations of the Mayor’s African American Out Migration Task Force.
The growing sense that Sup. John Avalos is a strong contender as new Board President.
Sharen Hewitt’s observation that burgeoning racial tensions between African Americans, Asian Americans and Latinos need to be addressed. Now.
Julian Davis' observation that while the way Lee was appointed is not something San Francisco should be proud of, the fact that we now have an Asian American mayor with the almost unanimous support of the old Board is (Daly was the lone dissenter).
Newsom's reminder that the old Board's vote was symbolic.“Today was an extraordinary historic vote,” Newsom said. “But remember, it’s symbolic. The new Board will make the appointment.”
Newsom’s description of Lee as a ‘recruitment” as he, too, insisted there were no backroom deals. “There were no deals, no backroom deals,” Newsom insisted. “He’s the right person at the right time.”
Newsom’s claim that this isn't about Lee (or anyone else who’d been nominated.) "It’s not about you,” Newsom said, recreating a conversation he allegedly recently had to convince Lee, who’d just been guaranteed five more years employment as City Administrator, to become interim mayor for the rest of 2011. “You are that something more, that something better. You’re the one guy who can pull it altogether, including if disaster strikes, which is my biggest fear.”
Newsom’s relief that he only needs to prepare a 3-page budget brief. "Someone who understands so much of the process doesn’t need 20 pages,” he said.
Newsom’s claim that ideologues make terrible mayors."If this city gets off track, plays some ideological game, it impacts the entire region,” he said. “I love that Lee is not even in the country. If he had been here, he’d probably have been convinced not to do it. Ideologues make terrible mayors, and mayors make terrible ideologues.”
Newsom’s explanation of how Lee will be able to get back his job, though the charter prohibits people who served in elected office from working for the city for at least a year.
”Hopefully, the Board will make it easy for him. Four members of the Board can put a charter amendment on the ballot. Or Lee can do it himself.”
Newsom’s revelation that he will be sworn in as Lt. Governor at 1:30 p.m, Jan. 10, and San Francisco will find out who the next District Attorney is by then.
Newsom’s claim that 2010 was an "incredible" year. “The Shipyard, Treasure Island, the America’s Cup, Doyle Drive, the Transbay Terminal. All these things are groundbreaking,” he said.