Olague's antics on RCV alarm her progressive supporters

Sup. Christina Olague is handling the pressures of her divided loyalties very well.
Steven T. Jones

As Sup. Christina Olague was being appointed to the District 5 seat on the Board of Supervisors by Mayor Ed Lee in January, we noted how difficult it might be to balance loyalty to the moderate mayor with her history as a progressive and someone running for office in one of the city’s most progressive districts.

By most indications, Olague doesn’t seem to be handling that balancing act -- or the pressure that goes along with it -- very well at all, to the increasing frustration of her longtime political allies. And that’s never been more clear than on the issue of repealing the city’s ranked choice voting (RCV) system.

As you may recall, earlier this year the board narrowly rejected an effort by its five most conservative, pro-downtown supervisors to place a measure repealing RCV on the June ballot. So chief sponsor Sup. Mark Farrell tried again in March with a ballot measure for November, this time just for citywide offices, and Olague surprised progressives by immediately co-sponsoring the measure, giving it the sixth vote it needed.

Since then, she’s offered shifting and evasive explanations for her actions, telling RCV supporters that she would withdraw her support then going back on her word. Sources close to Olague say that she’s been taking her marching orders on the issue directly from the Mayor’s Office, even as she tries to appease her progressive supporters.

Even trying to get a straight answer out of her is difficult. Two weeks ago, as the Farrell measure was coming to the board for a vote, I called her on her cell phone to ask whether she still supported the measure, and she angrily complained about why people care about this issue and said “you’re going to write what you want anyway” before abruptly hanging up on me.

I left her a message noting that it was her support for repealing RCV that had raised the issue again, that I was merely trying to find where she now stood, and that we expect accountability from elected officials. She called back an hour later to say she was still deciding and she denied hanging up on me, claiming that she had just run into someone that she needed to talk to.

At that week’s board meeting, she offered an amended version of Farrell’s proposal – which would replace RCV with a primary election in September and runoff in November for citywide offices – repealing RCV only for the mayor’s race. She has not directly addressed the question of why she supports a September election, which is expected to have even lower voter turnout than the old December runoff elections that RCV replaced.

So RCV supporters worked with Board President David Chiu to fashion an third option, this one maintaining the ranked-choice election for all offices in November, but having a December runoff between the top two mayoral finishers.

Going into this week's board meeting on the issue, nobody was quite sure where Olague stood on that proposal or the overall issue, again because she’s been making different statements to different constituencies. And as the issue came up and various supervisors stated their positions, Olague stayed silent, as she has remained since then, refusing to return our calls or messages on the issue.

But because of technical changes to the three measures requested by the City Attorney’s Office – which Farrell made to Olague’s option, which he said he would support if his is defeated – consideration was delayed by a week to this coming Tuesday.

RCV supporters and Olague’s progressive allies didn’t want to speak on the record given that she is still the swing vote on the issue, but privately they’re fuming about Olague's squirrely temperament, lack of integrity, and how she’s handling this issue (as well as her bad votes on the 8 Washington high-end housing project and her role in the Lee perjury scandal).

But rival supervisorial candidates like Julian Davis – who came to the hearing at City Hall Tuesday and proclaimed his unqualified support for RCV – are less reticent.

“Silence or avoidance are not acceptable, so we’re calling for her to explain why a low-turnout, plurality election in September is good for San Francisco. Help us understand,” he said, noting that such a election especially hurts minority groups and other progressive constituencies that don’t vote as reliably as conservatives. “Why should Christina Olague have anything to do with it? You and the rest of San Francisco deserve an answer.”

Meanwhile, Davis recently won the endorsement of local Democratic Party Chair Aaron Peskin, while fellow progressive candidate John Rizzo announced his endorsement by Assembly member Tom Ammiano. And there are rumors that some prominent progressives who have already endorsed Olague are considering withdrawing their endorsements because of her recent behavior.

All of which make for some interesting dramas going into Tuesday’s RCV vote.


The "Lee perjury scandal"? Come on.

Debra Walker says Olague told Walker that Olague talked about Mirkarimi with Lee + Peskin says some shadowy figure named Walter Wong approached Peskin about some job offer for Mirkarimi and Wong was Lee's agent = the "Lee perjury scandal."

This is all pretty unsubstantiated stuff to be slotting it into the category of a mayoral perjury scandal.

Posted by The Commish on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 11:25 am

just because Steven prefers the lie to the truth.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 11:58 am

You have to understand, around here if a Progressive says something damaging about a moderate it carries the same value as a Supreme Court decision.

For example in this case if Peskin says that Wong 'gave him the impression' that Lee had approved a deal, well, then we KNOW that Lee did.

After this is over they'll revert to "The legal process hasn't yet determined anything" like they did in the early Mirkarimi days. But right now it doesn't suit their purposes to do so.

Posted by Troll on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 12:39 pm

Where there's smoke.....

Posted by Patrick Monk RN on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 11:33 am

Where there's smoke . . .

Posted by Guest on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 11:57 am

Touche; but one fire is already being investigated, let's hope the other is pursued with equal fervor and resources.

Posted by Patrick Monk RN on Jul. 14, 2012 @ 9:00 am

taking an objective look at Rank Choice Voting, and seeing it for what it is - VOTER SUPPRESSION, particularly in the ethnic communities.

It is pushed by an elite group of election wonks, with no regard for the average, casual SF voter.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 11:40 am

As for hanging up on Steven, I imagine he gets that a lot. And Olague was 100% correct - Steven is just going to write whatever he wants anyway.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 11:59 am

Huh? "Voter suppression" , yet the Board of Supervisors and other San Francisco elected officials have seen representation of racial and ethnic flourish since RCV's adoption? Voter suppression when winners in the great majority of RCV races are winning with larger, more representative turnouts than the old December runoff system?

Facts are stubborn things. See data here

Posted by Guest on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 12:24 pm

...the claim that it is responsible for ethnic diversity is another croc that the RCV people need to spread because they have no accomplishments to speak of.

Did Ed Lee need RCV to win? How about Carmen Chu?

Eric Mar, Jane Kim, & David Chiu all had substantial first round leads before RCV kicked in. Eric Mar's opponent in a run-off would have been another Asian American.

There was one Asian American Supervisor who did have only a 50 vote lead after the first round.

Yes, Ed Jew avoided a run-off thanks to RCV.

Posted by Troll on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 1:09 pm

Racial minorities lost several runoffs in 2000-2002 after having big leads in November. Turnout plunged in those runoffs.

Runoffs also get more racial polarizing -- all too easily for campaign consultants to use racially charged messages when a minority is facing non-minority.

And oh yeah, the old Ed Jew charge. Any of the top three Asian candidates would have defeated Dudum one-on-one based on the RCV rankings.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 2:08 pm

>"Racial minorities lost several runoffs in 2000-2002 after having big leads in November. Turnout plunged in those runoffs."

How come the RCV people never cite examples???

And if turnout plunged then you aren't talking about the Mayoral race which is what they are currently voting on. Turnout went UP in the last two Mayoral December run-offs.

Posted by Troll on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 2:34 pm

December mayoral runoffs corresponds to the Chiu proposal, which keeps the best parts of RCV (no vote splitting)

Posted by diabolical_mdog on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 8:13 pm

Both Lee and Chu were appointed before they were elected. Incumbency is a huge advantage for any person running for office, no matter what form of tabulating votes is used. If neither person had been appointed, I doubt they would have had similar first-round percentages as they did once they were incumbents.

Posted by John on Jul. 14, 2012 @ 11:13 pm

"the Board of Supervisors and other San Francisco elected officials have seen representation of racial and ethnic flourish since RCV's adoption"

Look up: Correlation vs. Causation.

Correlation does not imply causation. Correlation between two variables does not automatically imply that one causes the other. Otherwise we could surmise the increase of Facebook users is driving the Greek Debt Crisis...... ;-)


RCV is not the CAUSE of the diversity of the board anymore than global warming. The board would have about the same diversity if SF used PLURALITY. Actually, with plurality you would have had more women and LGBT winners - a better representation of SF.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 2:53 pm

I see, so RCV is responsible for anything bad that happens in the city during the time it's used, but not for anything that can be called positive.

And note: we're comparing RCV to low-turnout, polarizing runoffs to the Board of Supervisors, not to plurality voting. Plurality voting would be a big problem for other reasons, which is why no one is talking about it as an option.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 14, 2012 @ 1:41 am

OK already, we GET it.

Olague better come around and do the right thing because golden boy Julian Davis is right there and ready to wear his SFBG endorsement.

Enough already...how much space are you going to take up just threatening her?

Not following the Progressive line indicates a "lack of integrity". OK, we're being polite and not laughing at you (although it is pretty hard).

Posted by Troll on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 12:01 pm

The RCV proponents favorite tactic right now is to cherry pick September primaries from other cities that were non-competitive, e.g., strong incumbents weren't challenged and often didn't even appear on the September ballots.

It is a totally sleazy attempt to mislead.

Boston, New York, Washington DC all use September primaries. While outside the Bay Area, Minneapolis-St Paul are the only major cities trying RCV.

You don't hear about cities repealing their September MAYORAL primaries, you do hear about cities like Burlington and Aspen repealing RCV.

Sorry, but RCV is absolute nonsense and its supporters need to be misleading if they want to have anything to say.

Posted by Troll on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

The Olague-Farrell proposal for September primary is sure to have low turnout - just like primaries in the cities you mention.

As an example, check out Cincinnati in 2001 when it went to a September-November mayoral system. The turnout was less than half of what it was in the November runoff. And the September business-type candidate who won more than half the votes lost badly in November to a Democrat in November.

The Chiu alternative would keep a high turnout first round in November, with the possible runoff in December very likely to keep high turnout, because December runoffs for mayor are the only ones that keep turnout high.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 12:30 pm

The cities that I mention had low turnout September primaries when they were basically uncontested. It had nothing to do with the calendar month. Just like we had an all time low Mayoral turnout when Newsom ran for reelection unchallenged.

I don't have time to track down the Cincinnati election from 11 years ago that you refer to. But since it was 11 years ago maybe it would help if you just told us when Cincinnati moved away from September Mayoral Primaries.

Or is Cincinnati just as stupid as the cities of New York, Boston, Washington DC...

Posted by Troll on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 12:54 pm

... to get rid of September primaries. At least some of them will likely go to RCV in the next few years.

You don't get the turnout point. A lot of voters don't get excited about a race that isn't going to decide who wins. Primaries that just reduce the field to two are never going to get the turnout that the runoff will be. That's particularly true when you try to do something that California has never tried before, of course.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 2:11 pm

Cities like Boston, New York, Washington DC?

How much time should we give these kids to figure things out?

Can you produce a shred of evidence to back your claim that New York 'will likely go to RCV' or is it just another example of an RCV person making a hollow statement?

I totally get the turnout point. Ed Lee beat Avalos 85k-57k. Both were historically dismal totals.

Posted by Troll on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 2:30 pm

The Bay Guardian has the most transparent and open comment policy of any news media I read. It is admirable the way it tolerates these awful trolls.

BeyondChron is the exact opposite. It allows no comments and is in total lock down. Comments are totally blacked out. In keeping with its purpose as a propaganda medium, I would imagine.

The Chronicle forces you to send an email explaining why you want to comment, and they base their decision to allow you or not based on your answer. I haven't bothered yet, but I think I know what to say, that I support development downtown and want to comment in support of development projects. Should be no prob.

Fog City Journal, just plain quick to ban you.

The Bay Citizen. I don't even know what to think about that.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 1:13 pm

their own censorship policy... such as it is.

I was banned after an expressly facetious posting that "all Jews are terrorists" which I wrote because an earlier post stating quite un-facetiously that "all Arabs are terrorists" persisted even after it was reported.

There are so many trolls who are expert at making sly ad hominem attacks on that site and since their catalog of comments is so shallow and trite, they really have nothing to lose from being banned anyhow. It is refreshing that this site allows the use of frank language, as sometimes nothing else quite fits.

You didn't mention the San Francisco Examiner. Now that the paper has new owners who aren't wingers and since they have bought the Guardian, perhaps that site could draw many of the decent and intelligent comment-energy away from the raddled Chronicle site?

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 2:19 pm

>"It is admirable the way it tolerates these awful trolls."

I just looked up and down the thread....just what did we do that was so awful?

We questioned Steven's use of the term 'perjury scandal' because it is based on hearsay. Most journalists would use a qualifier such as 'alleged'.

We questioned the assertions of the RCV people.

We may not be the most polite people but we didn't attack anyone personally.

If you think that people posting alternative opinions makes them 'awful trolls' then maybe the internet is never going to be fun for you.

Posted by Troll on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 1:29 pm

What did you di, Lucretia, Queen of Trolls? Don't get me started. You are, hands down, THE worst troll on this site...although you have some close rivals. Still, no other troll can match you when it comes to personal attacks and vicious slander. Case in point: You've accused Tim of being a creepy stalker type. (Note: Tim had merely written a column calling on celebs to pay their fair share of taxes.) You did the same to Christine Craft simply because her point of view differs from yours when it comes to the Mirkarimi case. As a lawyer and talk show host who had Ross on her show, Ms. Craft has every reason to be intrigued by the case. But that didn't stop you and a few of your cohorts from making it all about her. You don't speak to issues so much as attack people, so give us all a break. Steven has even had to call you out on racist statements that you posted in this forum. And you are absolutely ruthless when it comes to attacking him and Tim. I could go on, but I don't have time or patience. Still, somewhere deep down in your mean little heart, you must know the truth about yourself. But if you're still in denial, just look in the mirror.

Posted by Sister on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 3:03 pm

I think Lucretia is Troll II but am not sure. It sure ain't me but I appreciate your kind words anyway.

Posted by Troll on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 3:19 pm

Troll II - and I am deeply humbled and honored by all of the support here. Without friends and fans like you'd I'd be nothing today. My trolldom has been a happy place lately and its thanks to everyone here and in other forums too.

Step into the lion's den - sometimes you get eaten by lions.

BTW - who's Lucretia?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 3:56 pm

Is Olague handling the pressure well? The article says no, the photo caption says yes. Is her vacillation contageous?

Olague and Lee dance for the same puppet masters.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 1:35 pm

Why does the BG insist on eating conservative ass by describing conservative politicians as "moderates." A politician lies about their corporate, conservative, wingnut agenda and tries to deceive the unthinking sheep by calling oneself a "moderate," implying they are a sweet, harmless, butter-wouldn't-melt-in-my-mouth politician. The BG falls for it.

What is "moderate" about hating on the homeless/street people with sit-lie, for example? There are many other examples I could give. What is "moderate" about "stop and frisk?" What is "moderate" about 8 Washington?

Do you not realize that the word "moderate" has become Orwellian newspeak?

Why do you keep using it? To eat conservative ass as so-called "progressives?"

Posted by Guest on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 2:23 pm

Newsom, Lee etc are all moderate and, ny national standards, left of moderate.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 14, 2012 @ 3:35 am

My definition of right wing is that which promotes a change towards a system of greater political and economic inequality.

By espousing "moderate" viewpoints around here, you are in effect working to shift things in that direction. I don't have much patience for those who in a facile manner think themselves duty-bound to make the arguments for those to the right of them. Everything is a gestalt.

Plus, the serious wingers around here know that they can't just come right out and say what they mean so they seek to work around the edges and subtly shift thought in their direction.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 14, 2012 @ 6:14 am

If the post mentions "ass eating" then it must have been written by Marcos

Posted by Greg on Jul. 14, 2012 @ 7:35 am

Olague needs to be voted off the Progressive Island.

"Compromisers" and "pragmatists" are not allowed here.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 2:33 pm

With a quote bu his favorite candidate vying to replace her Julian Davis.


Posted by Guest on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 2:46 pm

Steven is the adolescent who never grew up, writing about pot smoking, burning man, cycling and nightclubs.

Tim is the old fart before his time, complaining about every change.

In a year's time, neither will have a job.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 5:19 pm

Prof. Cook - University San Francisco's resident RCV experts' testimony based on study of SF's RCV:

"Communities with higher proportion of Asian and Pacific Islanders, Latino residents, older voters and actually progressive communities were more likely to make an error on the (RCV) ballot. Overall (citywide) 1.3% of the people in SF made and error that could invalidate their ballot using RCV. In some precincts the figure was almost 10%"!!!!


Note: According to the SF Department of Elections, the recent Gov's race had 0.13% ballots errors in SF.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 4:13 pm

The rate of ballots not counted at all due to voter error was MUCH higher in last month's top two primary than with any RCV election.

Cook gives evidence that RCV opponents like. He gives a lot of evidence that opponents ignore

Posted by Guest on Jul. 14, 2012 @ 1:44 am

"...noting that such a election especially hurts minority groups and other progressive constituencies that don’t vote as reliably as conservatives. "

Really, this whole rankled voting fiasco is because some groups can't get their members to get up off their butts and go vote?

I've got a better idea. Go back to the way we have always voted, but this time make it illegal not to vote, punishable by a fine of a couple hundred bucks. That should help the general fund, and after a couple of hits to their wallets folks would get much better at meeting their civic responsibilities.

Posted by paulbarwick on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 5:33 pm

Best idea I've heard in a very long time.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 14, 2012 @ 9:25 am

>"Really, this whole rankled voting fiasco is because some groups can't get their members to get up off their butts and go vote?"

RCV condones voter laziness.

What? You can't bother to vote? By mail or in person? No problem, we'll change the rules so that you don't have tol!!

Too many ugly aspects of RCV to list in one lifetime.

Posted by Troll on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 5:41 pm

It's somehow "lazy" of me if I want to vote in a single election (or even an RCV primary with a runoff) that doesn't suffer from vote splitting and all the other ridiculous effects of first-past-the-post systems?

Posted by diabolical_mdog on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 8:15 pm

Another article detailing virtual "I'm not touching you" antics of harassment against Olague. Do you think she has nothing better to do with her time then answer your stupid questions about what she does?

Progressives eat their own. I have watched this time and again in SF. I'm watching it now with weeks of editorials threatening Olague is she doesnt fall in line with the bay guardians POV.

Also, there is no perjury scandal. Just because desperate to maintain any sort of relevance whatsoever Peskin, and never met an election she couldnt lose Walker say something - doesnt make it true.

Did Peskin not author an editorial saying Mirkarimi needed to step down? Now he's singing a different tune? And he gets a pass for this why? What a profound bunch of losers!

Posted by Greg on Jul. 14, 2012 @ 7:44 am

... their own" in regard to Olague is another case of your habitual obfuscation.

You wouldn't be lamenting criticism of her if she actually *was* one of "our own." Similarly as with mention of Mayor Lee's seemingly perjurious conduct.

Your criticism of Peskin for speaking with honestly at somewhat cross-purposes to his previous editorializing against Mirkarimi represents you doing what amounts to an intellectual contortion.

How *do* you get your head so far up your...

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 14, 2012 @ 8:08 am

I would respond to the substance of your post if you hadn't previously demonstrated an inability to recognize that the world does not begin in your head and end 5 feet in front of you.
Seriously, you and Marcos are two of a kind. You both write as if the entire world exists only to react to you.
So yeah, go on with your bad self and your gigantic brain.
When you can tell that a person has virtually no close relationships in their personal life just by reading their posts on a public forum - you just feel sorry for them.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 14, 2012 @ 8:22 am

And when I use the term "troll," it isn't because I disagree with you, but because you have personally confessed unwittingly to having troll-like fantasies; such as when you recently expressed a desire to wear a "meat outfit" into a vegetarian supermarket.

Just to be even more painfully obvious, a troll is someone who expresses themselves in ways calculated to disturb others and for that purpose alone. Talk of pathetic.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 14, 2012 @ 9:05 am

Multiple polls show that 75% of the people feel that it is okay to wear a "meat outfit" into a vegetarian supermarket.

Ironically, that is similar to all of the polls that show a vast majority of people want Mirkarimi gone.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 14, 2012 @ 9:32 am
Posted by Guest on Jul. 14, 2012 @ 9:35 am

So glad to hear that you dont disagree with me that I think you are a self obsessed loser. Acknowledgement is the first step towards meaningful change.

And who wouldn't thoroughly enjoy upsetting the ultra-twee delicate sensibilities of the Rainbow folks? Anyone who says they wouldnt is lying.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 14, 2012 @ 9:48 am

Olague is turning out to be not much better than Chu. I thought she might show some independence from the mayor, but this move on her part is a slap in the face to District 5 voters. Olague has never been elected, yet she's trying to change the way elections are held.

Until she's actually elected, she should either go with the general will of her district's voters or shut up about issues like this. Her 8 Washington vote meant I'd never give her one of my votes anyway.

Posted by John on Jul. 14, 2012 @ 11:10 pm