Why should a Republican dentist decide what gets built in San Francisco?

Michael Antonini

The Board of Supervisors is almost evenly divided on confirming Mayor Ed Lee's appointment of Republican dentist Michael Antonini to his fourth four-year term on the city's powerful Planning Commission. After delaying its decision at each of its last two board meetings, the board is expected to finally decide this Tuesday.

Sup. Malia Cohen appears to be the swing vote between the progressive-to-neoliberal bloc of supervisors that would rather see new blood that is more reflective of San Francisco's values and priorities, and the board's moderate-to-conservative bloc that wants to keep Antonini there as a sure vote for whatever developers want (a bloc that strangely includes progressive-turned-mayoral-shill Sup. Christina Olague, a former planning commissioner who said during the July 17 discussion that she doesn't agree with Antonini's politics and that more diversity was needed on the commission, but that she's voting for him anyway while offering this hollow threat: “This may be the last time I'll support this kind of move that doesn't support a diverse body.”)

Sup. Sean Elsbernd, who led the charge for Antonini, fairly effectively picked apart some of the vague and misleading “diversity” arguments made by some supervisors who oppose the nomination, a discussion that Examiner columnist Melissa Griffin dramatized in yesterday's paper. And everyone praised Antonini as a hard worker.

But almost the entire discussion skipped over what should be the main point: Why the hell is San Francisco even considering appointing a Republican dentist with no particular land use expertise to a fourth term on the Planning Commission?!?! Shouldn't someone else – preferably not a rubber stamp for developers – be given a chance to serve the city? And why isn't Mayor Lee – whose main political benefactor and economic adviser, venture capitalist Ron Conway, is also a longtime Republican – paying a political price for this ridiculous appointment?

While supportive supervisors praised Antonini as thoughtful and fair, I can't gauge that for myself because this supposed public servant hasn't returned my phone calls. But I'm not sure it would have mattered because his voting record shows he is a consistent vote for developers and their interests, as even Griffin acknowledged in an otherwise supportive column.

Board President David Chiu came the closest to telling it like it is when he said, “Every person who has reached out to me from the northeast neighborhoods has asked me to oppose this nominee.” And for good reasons: Antonini is a right-winger who votes against neighborhood interests every single time. Not just neighborhood interests, but city interests as well, as shown by the commission's approval earlier this year of a CPMC project that was found to have fatal flaws that were then exposed by supervisors.

Elsbernd argued that the board should give deference to the appointing authority, noting that he's often voted for nominees whose politics he doesn't agree with, including Olague. And there certainly is some value to have different perspectives on appointed bodies. But when we grant a Republican dentist tenure in shaping what this embattled city will look like for generations, and pretend that his ideology is less important than his work ethic, we make a mockery of the political system that is supposed to reflect the values and interests of city residents.


"and the board's moderate-to-conservative bloc"

Stop the conservative ass-eating. Stop being bent-over, timid and mealy-mouthed. The above should read, "and the board's conservative bloc."

(One example): Just because some conservative is supposedly gay, does not make the person a "moderate." Hate is not "moderate." Sit-lie is not "moderate."

"Moderate" these days = newsspeak.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 5:31 pm

There no conservatives at San Francisco City Hall. Those who are called moderates in San Francisco would be considered extreme lefties in most places in the U.S.A.

Posted by Guest Howard Epstein on Jul. 30, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

Clearly we should have a blind mute undocumented immigrant lesbian with a peg leg because that might satisfy the sfbgs fetishistic idea of "diversity"
Who cares if she knows anything about development as long as she does everything the sfbg and the telegraph hill dwellers tells her to.
In reality we shouldn't be changing or allowing anything ever anywhere so let's just make sure the progressive deck is as stacked as possible

Posted by Greg on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 6:03 pm

Dude, you need to realize that when you run headlines that say...

"Why should a Republican dentist decide what get built in San Francisco?"

...that people aren't going to return your calls.

They're too busy laughing at you, after a momentary reaction of shock/is he kidding.

Nice way that you have of reaching across the aisle for innovative solutions.

Yes, the man is a practicing Dentist. That doesn't tell me that he is stupid or non-compassionate. Doesn't mean that he is out of touch with the general public. He probably speaks to more average people in a week than you do in a month. How did you decide that a person with several years of hard work on the Planning Commission has 'no particular land use expertise'.

With regard to Chiu's statement "Every person who has reached out to me from the northeast neighborhoods has asked me to oppose this nominee." Let me look at the map of the northeast neighborhood...oh, yeah, there it is, Telegraph Hill. Maybe it was the THD that was contacting Chiu? Because I know that I could ask 100 people on the street who Antoninni is and 100 would not know. Chiu nows that it is just THD and so do you.

But I love it when articles like this come out because it just points to the bankruptcy of the SFBG Progressives. Can't even copy edit a headline.

Posted by Troll on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 6:42 pm

in San Francisco. Therefore he should be appointed.

Posted by Troll II on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 7:11 pm

you'd expect to see at least one Republican on any committee.

Unless you're Tim, of course, who would never allow any opposition or contrary viewpoints.

Celebrate diversity - hug a straight white male protestant republican.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 10:29 pm

committee members. Means the city gets screwed faster and more regularly.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 11:08 pm

What is the difference between being strangled and shot in the head?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 28, 2012 @ 10:25 pm

10% of the City voted Republican, there are 7 seats on the Planning Commission, therefore Republicans should get about one seat for four out of every eight years.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 28, 2012 @ 7:07 am

It really doesn't matter what the percentage of the city Republican dentists comprise.

Under the SFBG system of apartheid they do not have the right to serve on public commissions.

They need a Mandela to overcome this tyranny.

Just kidding. Nobody really notices what the SFBG writers say. They get about 5 shares on Facebook/Twitter per story. People find Colbert and The Onion to be much funnier.

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Posted by Tannbehandling Polen on Sep. 15, 2013 @ 1:37 pm

I learned what jokes all of the Planning Commissioners (except 1) and Rec & Park Commissioners are in the fight to keep the 10 acres at the Beach Chalet soccer fields in Golden Gate Park grass and keep it part of GG Park's ecosystem.

That idea to put 1 million lbs of toxic tire particles there and convert 10 acres of living area to 10 acres of dead plastic came from the late rightwing Republican Don Fisher. Fisher's idea was blatantly against the text and spirit of the GG Park Master Plan - the "constitution" of GG Park that the City and its officers are supposed to follow.

An EIR (Environmental Impact Report) was required for the project - and because Ginsberg (General Mgr for Rec & Park) was going to make sure the EIR gave Fisher's project the okay, it was a corrupt EIR. It completely ignored the most relevant parts of the GG Park Master Plan (GGPMP) that would have outlawed the project.

For a quick example, on pg 9-5 of the GGPMP, here's what it says verbatim:

"Lighting is for safety purposes and is not intended to increase night use."

But Fisher's plan to light up GG Park until 10 pm at night with stadium lighting was completely intended to increase night use and thus is a total & blatant violation of the GGPMP.

So how did the EIR get around this???

By completely ignoring it!!! In an EIR that went to 360 pages, it never mentions that phrase from the GGPMP I just gave that would have killed the project. So by excluding the parts of the GGPMP that would showed the project totally violated it, and by purposely distorting the actual text in the GGPMP, that joke of an EIR said the project agreed with the GGPMP (only in a Steven Colbert clip does the project agree with the EIR - oh and only in corrupt SF govt bodies like the Rec & Park Comm, the Plan'g Comm, and the Bd of Supes).

So the Plan Comm had a public hearing before they voted whether to approve the EIR. So even though the EIR was a total dishonest joke engineered by Ginsberg so that it would okay the plasticization and toxification of GG Park, the Planning Commission approved the EIR quickly after 8 hours of testimony - where every Commissioner approved it except for one. The whole public hearing was a joke - it's purpose was only so they could say they had one.

And the same thing happened when the appeal of the approval of the fraudulent EIR by the Plan'g Comm went before the Board of Supes. EVERY supe (EXCEPT OLAGUE) approved that fraudulent EIR because they were more interested in kissing ass to Donald Fisher's heirs (the City Fields Foundation) and to Phil Ginsberg (that MF'er must have pics or something of some of the supes) which is why every supe that's up for re-election that voted in favor of that EIR should be tossed out of office.

These are the supes that are up for re-election that voted in favor of this fraudulent EIR and voted against what the GGP Master Plan says and voted to put a million lbs of toxic tire particles in GG Park:


I request readers to not vote for any of these people (don't put them on any of your top three choices on the ranked-choice ballot).

Get them out of office as soon as possible. If we do, one thing their replacements won't do is fuck with GG Park any more like these lovers of dead plastic turf did. They will know better and know they will pay a bad price if they do. If we don't get them out, then future ones will get the message that they can RADICALLY CHANGE by converting more of its natural environmt to ACRES OF DEAD PLASTIC AND MILLIONS OF LBS OF TOXIC TIRE PARTICLES - and they won't pay a price because the voters never take action against the supes. We can't allow that to happen - we must take action against them so that future ones don't ever do something similar.

The City of SF doesn't need people like the above on our Bd of Supes. And ideally those on the Plan'g Comm and Rec & Park Comm would be ELECTED rather than appointed - ESPECIALLY THE REC & PARK GENERAL MANAGER who can do whatever he wants with GG Park - yet he's accountable to no one (surely not the present jokes on the Rec & Park Comm, Planning Comm, & Bd of Supes). The above persons have WAY WAY WAY TOO MUCH POWER for them to not have to face the voters.

Antonini and the rest should be fired and new ones should be ELECTED. They are a completely fraudulent and worthless commission as is the Rec & Park Commission.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 28, 2012 @ 5:12 pm

Of course, this is the way government eventually ends up...even the good guys corrupt themselves. I suppose this happened to the Park Merced thing, too. Lately, the Planning Commission are supporting developers to the point where we won't have any open space. I don't even like the Major's master plan for Ocean Beach. It is supposed to be an improvement but it is really too costly. Just close Great Highway and nature itself will return by itself. The sands will take over and cover the entire roadway and it will just have to close. The only thing we should be spending our money on is repairing the steps to the beach and improve the walking and biking areas...especially more benches for the ambulatory disabled. Land's End improvement is rather nice but that building is mostly for selling things...it's not really a museum. We must be careful not overwork our projects so they don't become so planned looking. I'm rambling now so I hope you get where I'm coming from.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 30, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

Surely anyone who rules in a way that you dont agree with personally should be fired.

I can understand why children being able to more fully utilize a park to play in really incenses you. It's terrible that we cant control every aspect of our lives isnt it.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 29, 2012 @ 9:08 am

If there is anything I can't stand, it's Republicans and dentists!

Why, I bet he doesn't even attend the important cultural events that define San Francisco, like the Folsom Street Fair!

Posted by Guest on Jul. 30, 2012 @ 6:43 am

Its amazing how progressives like Steve Jones love to shout :"diversity" and "tolerance" but have no tolerance for contrary opinions on city commissions. What a hypocrite.

Posted by Ed on Jul. 30, 2012 @ 8:32 am

Because nobody ever hears from wealthy white conservative men around here. We have no idea what their special needs are, and for too long government has run roughshod over their interests and this must change.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 30, 2012 @ 8:49 am

Of course a white conservative dentist should not be able to serve on a city commission. Or vote at all for that matter.

But you lazy wimps seem to be perfectly fine with leaving it at that when the obvious solution is internment camps for people of their ilk. When are you going ro realize that?

Posted by Steroidal Progressive on Jul. 30, 2012 @ 9:30 am

You're a rabid anti-dentite!

Posted by Guest on Jul. 30, 2012 @ 9:32 am

Gee, Mr. Jones, I guess we shouldn't bestow nor accept degrees from republicans as they are inferior unlike super intelligent democrats like you. I am appalled the SFBG publishes your incredible and absurd diatribe. No doubt you would love to deport republicans to another planet because they don't belong on earth!

Posted by Town crier on Jul. 30, 2012 @ 1:00 pm

I don't want to deport them, but I also don't want to put them in powerful positions of shaping San Francisco and let them sit there for a generation,16 years or more of power and control

Posted by steven on Aug. 01, 2012 @ 2:29 pm

The problem is Willie Brown is running this City--esp.all things development. He first appointed this member of the Republican Central Committee to the Planning Commission--even though he was a Democratic Party Leader--because he knew he would always vote the development way, even when the deal screwed the City (like Sutter/CPMC).

So I seriously doubt if the Supervisor from District 10 is free to vote her conscience and bring in new blood which now, after 3 terms, in sorely needed.

Posted by Guest Charley_sf on Jul. 30, 2012 @ 1:28 pm

It's unfortunate that we still live in this archaic, stratified structure in which every last person - who at some early point actually wished to serve the people of our great city - is beholden to someone or many, many someones who bear no direct connection to the pulse of our neighborhoods, our city, or indeed our pulsing global culture.

It's unfortunate that Gavin Newsom recommended Ed Lee for our mayor... a staunch, forward-thinking Democrat pulling for a bleeding-heart conservative! Its unfortunate that, while Lee promised he had no interest in actually running and being Mayor, he did exactly that... And most unfortunate of all, he won; and now we have to live with this asshole for who knows how many years & cycles of elections he'll be running things.

Mostly, its unfortunate that us - all of us - have come to believe the propaganda; have come to live our daily lives with such primitive fears and misgivings about our culture's future, that we're okay with putting up with this shit, year in and year out! In some ways, it'll be a just day when the surprisingly high-risen sealevel meets up with Spring Tide and a huge supercane off the coast of California, and pushes the world's biggest stormsurge into the bay to inundate and carry all this crap out to sea at long last! Unfortunately, I have to say such a thing would serve us right.

So I have to ask: is there any way for us lowly citizens to recall Lee??? Does anyone besides me have the balls to get those wheels in motion? That would truly be a glorious, sun-filled day; that would!

Posted by Guest on Jul. 30, 2012 @ 1:51 pm

And even global warming won't change that.

Posted by Troll II on Jul. 30, 2012 @ 3:57 pm

Hurricanes *have* hit California.

Hurricanes hit Baja California -- Yes! It's in Mexico! -- *all* *the* *time.*

It is just a matter of time before climate change makes them a regular occurance in California.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 01, 2012 @ 7:20 am

California in the context of this discussion means the State of California, not Baja California - which is part of Mexico.

The waters off CA are cold even in the summer, which means as hurricanes near the coast of California they lose strength. Sea temperature increases will not be uniform across the planet and as of yet the CA coast has shown little evidence of the warming effect noticed around other coastal areas. Pacific hurricanes also move northwest or west due to prevailing upper winds where California is NORTH of Mexico.

There is no evidence to indicate that global warming is going to cause upper level winds to move from south to north or that the coast of CA will warm substantially enough to make CA a coastal hurricane zone. There are plenty of reasons to be concerned about global warming - unscientific, hysteria-based babble like you just coughed up is not one of them and it also makes believers in global warming look like fools.

So do this cause a favor (and all causes you support) and STFU.

Posted by Troll II on Aug. 01, 2012 @ 2:58 pm

As to Mr. Antonini's reappointment, it's discouraging that dozens of other well-qualified San Franciscans are not able to help shape the city's skyline as a Planning Commissioner, instead limiting it to one person who has already been on the board for 10 years. It's an insult to other well-qualified San Franciscians and is opposite of a city government that often says it wants to promote a diverse and engaged city electorate by rotating other qualified people through its most powerful boards and commissions, thereby creating a richer, more diverse body politic.

Mr. Antonini can still play a major role in future development discussions as a private citizen (much more effective than the rest of us given his extensive contacts in city government and land use attorneys). After 10 years - an eon in local government affairs - if he is reappointed there is clearly another agenda at play besides finding a qualified resident to sit on the Planning Commission. I think it's because he has the eye on the ball much better than others, knowing exactly how many millions of developer's profits are at stake, as well as the future rent stream from a particular project. The story is almost always the same. Land speculators and developers want the huge profits and the unions want the high-paying jobs. It's a heavenly match that plays out in cities throughout the world, and Mr. Antonini is always at the forefront on the Planning Commission to facilitate the goals of each.

More broadly, the contrast between Commissioners Antonini and Olague over the past few years has been striking, and is highly instructive of the relative power of the "moderate" verses "progressive" factions. Whereas Mr. Antonini has been able to consistently win over swing votes to his position on the more controversial planning issues, Ms. Olague has either joined him (way too many times for my taste) or has been unable to persuade swing votes to follow her position.

The inability of the city's progressive groups to find more people who have decent persuasive powers (many come off as boors, fanantics, unintelligent, or mal-adjusted) is the primary reason why the progressive factions have lost so much influence over the years. Progressives are great at throwing red meat to the true believers, but highly ineffective when trying to win over the vast majority of people who haven't made up their minds yet about an issue or may be much less informed about a particular issue in general. Gonzalez has been one of the few politicians able to frame issues in a way that doesn't automatically alienate the vast majority of voters, although Peskin, Campos, Avalos and a few others have shown some skill in this area.

Speaking of Peskin, Mr. Antonini has been about as effective an advocate for the city's monied development interests as Mr. Peslkin would be countering those powerful influences and extracting a lot more public benefts out of the major development projects that pass through the Planning Commission. Smart, reasonable sounding, and well-informed people can make a big difference at the margins, and Mr. Antonini has been kicking progressive's butts for the past 10 years with exactly these skills, especially over the past 5 years.

Before Antonini (and Newsom and Lee) you could live a fairly decent life in SF on an income of $50-75K per year. After Antonini (and Newsom and Lee) you need over $100K a year to live that same lifestyle, the difference being the much higher rents over the past 10 years (and the much higher taxes that go with the higher income). They are heros of landlords, land speculators, and developers throughout the city, who I'm sure they are quite active in promoting his reappointment.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 30, 2012 @ 3:55 pm

ought to be stripped of all rights and penned in.

I rarely agree with Republicans, certainly not the Tea party-infused national party, but this is ridiculous.

He's a member of the community and represents a viewpoint.

Tyranny, whether by the right or left is still tyranny

Posted by Guest on Jul. 30, 2012 @ 4:03 pm

Antonini subscribes to "the neighbor as nuisance". He fawns over developers and references neighbors in the 3rd party. Pity the poor developer. Malia Cohen needs to grow a brain and shoot this guy.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 30, 2012 @ 4:17 pm

...or maybe Antonini thinks that Telegraph Hill's selfish nimbyism is not in the best interests of the city as a whole.

I remember 555 Washington well. The Telegraph Hill contingent said a lot of stuff that had absolutely no basis in fact and Antonini was the only one who called them on it. It wasn't a difference of opinion, THD was saying things that just weren't true, such as that the shadows were going to ruin Sue Bierman Park when the models said otherwise (555 was a few blocks WEST of the Park and the huge Alcoa building stood in between).

Everyone else just nodded and accepted whatever Telegraph Hill said and Antonini pointed out that what they were saying was false.

So it doesn't surprise me in the least that they are mounting a campaign to get him out now.

Posted by Troll on Jul. 30, 2012 @ 5:19 pm

Well this journalist is a sham. He always deletes any post that he does not like. First amendment out the window. What a hypocrite. Secondly, he has no background to even comment on this candidate. Maybe he should stutter his way to another interview, watched by nobody, to fill his ever expanding ego.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 31, 2012 @ 9:57 pm

I've been covering local and state politics full-time for newspapers in California for 21 years, the last nine here in San Francisco. I understand all too well how land-use politics works, and the role that Michael Antonini and his backers have been playing. You can m-, m-, mo-, mock me all you want, but this isn't about me and it never has been.

Posted by steven on Aug. 01, 2012 @ 2:38 pm

You are an expert and the republican dentist isn't.

Posted by matlock on Aug. 04, 2012 @ 10:05 am

One reason why progressives will always lose at the citywide level is the constant racist demonization of the western half of the city. The phony stereotypes by progressive losers like Jones and Avalos are why they will continue to shrink in influence and lose city wide elections.

You people suck balls. And not in a good way. LOSERS!

Posted by A-hole Progressives Suck on Aug. 04, 2012 @ 8:41 am