Politics on Tuesday: Forget school assignment; the real issue in the Board of Ed race is a looming teacher strike

Stevon Cook and Shamann Walton are the only candidates endorsed by the teachers' union

Stevon Cook and Shamann Walton are the only candidates endorsed by the teachers’ union

By Tim Redmond

SEPTEMBER 2, 2014 — The San Francisco School Board race is something of a sleeper this year; not much in the way of new stories, not much of the sort of high-profile news that’s kept the Community College Board race in the headlines.

But that could change very fast if the board can’t come to terms with the teachers’ union, which has overwhelming membership support for a strike that could happen before Election Day.

There will be at least one newcomer on the board – Kim-Shree Maufas has decided not to seek re-election. There was talk for a while that Hydra Mendoza would also decline to seek another term, which would be fine with me: Mendoza has always been a problem. Not that she’s always a bad board member, but she’s worked for years as the mayor’s education advisor – and that creates an immediate, unavoidable conflict of interest. Is she representing the mayor and his wishes, as she has to do all day to earn a living – or what’s best for the schools? At times, those are in conflict.

But she decided to run again, and it’s hard to oust an incumbent unless the person has done something pretty bad, and the voters don’t seem to agree with me that Mendoza can’t serve two masters. So that the odds are that she and incumbent Emily Murase will retain their seats — unless the teachers walk. Then it’s anyone’s race.

Maufas is strongly supporting Stevon Cook – although Cook didn’t get the Democratic County Central Committee nod, which went to Trevor McNeil (a DCCC member), incumbent Emily Murase, and Shamann Walton, who also ran last time. Cook did get the Milk Club, along with Jaime Rafaela Wolfe.

And, significantly, Cook and Walton are the only two candidates who have the support of the teachers’ union. That’s because negotiations are tense: “Given that we’re in the middle of a contract fight, we can’t possible endorse any of the incumbent board members,” Ken Tray, political director for the United Educators of San Francisco, told me. Continue reading

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Is Ed Lee opposing the anti-speculation tax? Or did the Realtors go off a bit early?

This was posted a few days ago on the SF Board of Realtors website. Gone now.

This was posted a few days ago on the SF Board of Realtors website. Gone now.

By Tim Redmond

SEPTEMBER 2, 2014 — Is Mayor Ed Lee opposed to the anti-speculation tax, Prop. G? Well, the last time I asked him he wasn’t; he said he was reviewing the proposal and hadn’t made up his mind. His office hasn’t put out any press materials announcing his opposition.

The supporters of Prop. G haven’t heard that the mayor is opposing them, either. In fact, the former housing activist who is trying to push his own “consensus” measures this fall, including a Muni bond, might not want to infuriate the entire tenant movement, which is behind the tax.

I can’t think of a single good political reason for the mayor to come out No on G.

So why did the San Francisco Board of Realtors post a flier on Facebook saying that the mayor was against the tax? A flier aimed at organizing support and raising money? A flier that says “find out why Mayor Ed Lee [and] Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu and Supervisors Mark Farrell, Scott Wiener and Katy Tang all say no to Prop. G?”

I don’t know. The Mayor’s press office hasn’t responded to an email I sent almost a week ago asking for his position on the measure.

But I checked Facebook again tonight and the flier seems to have been removed. And the mayor’s name isn’t listed on the No on G campaign website.

So maybe the Realtors had a bit of a premature ejaculation here. Imagine that.

What the flier does tell us is how the landlords are going to run their campaign. It’s going to be a repeat of the Big Soda attack on a sugary drink tax in Richmond, where the well-funded effort said that none of the money raised would go for youth or public health programs.

In this case: “Not One Cent” for new housing.

Problem: If you designate a tax for a specific spending priority, it needs a two-thirds vote. Also: This tax isn’t about raising money; it’s about discouraging speculation by taking the profit out of it.

Still, now we know what the tenant movement is facing. And it appears the mayor, at this point, hasn’t actually entered the battle. Sorry, Realtors.

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The battle to save Flower Mart: A video not to miss

Save San Francisco’s Flower Market from Steve Agnos on Vimeo.


By Tim Redmond

SEPTEMBER 2, 2014 – The battle to save the Flower Mart could become a very big deal in San Francisco politics.

We covered it in detail here. The issue frames in very clear terms one of the defining land-use questions in the city today: Are blue-collar jobs going to be displaced, freely and without any efforts by the city, in the name of creating office space for tech companies?

Is that what we want for the city? Does it actually make any economic sense?

The video description of the struggle is a great encapsulation of the issues, in just a few minutes. Check it out.

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Guest opinion: Some reasons for hope on Labor Day


By Larry Bradshaw

SEPTEMBER 1, 2014 — On Labor Day, we celebrate the American worker – but this year, many workers wonder what the celebration is about. Growing economic inequality is dragging down so many working families. These are tough times for many Americans.

CBS News just reported new census data showing that from 2000 to 2011, the poorest Americans saw their net wealth drop by more than $5,000 dollars. During that same period, the wealthiest American’s saw their wealth jump by more than $61,000.

But this is also a time of hope. In 2014, a national movement to raise the minimum wage in our low-wage economy has taken off, and shown us a path forward to reducing economic inequality. Continue reading

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Turn the Flower Mart into tech offices? Say it’s not so

Former Mayor Art Agnos speaks at a rally to save the Flower Mart

Former Mayor Art Agnos speaks at a rally to save the Flower Mart

By Zelda Bronstein

The Flower Mart, a beloved San Francisco institution, is in danger of falling victim to the City Hall-stoked tech real estate boom.

The wholesale market for flowers, a staple for local florists at Sixth and Brannan since 1956 that Martha Stewart once called the “best flower market in the country,” could soon be bought by a real-estate developer, meaning the tenants may face eviction since the property is far more valuable if it’s turned into office space.

Although the headline in the July 25 Chronicle—“Developer acquires S.F. Flower Mart”— suggested that the market is doomed, the Mart can still be saved, and with it a big piece of the city’s old, industrial, blue-collar base.

But that will take a prompt and vigorous show of public support and political muscle. Continue reading

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City College accreditor’s own experts didn’t want to shut the school down


By Tim Redmond

There are so many reasons to love the lawsuit that City Attorney Dennis Herrera has filed against the City College accreditors. It’s going to force this rogue group to show up in court and answer questions, it’s going to give a judge a chance to see just how rotten this whole deal was … and it’s going to bring a lot of new facts to light.

For example, this.

An LA Times reporter has been reading the documents that the ACCJC filed – and came on a stunning piece of information that everyone on every side of this issue needs to read and consider.

See, the ACCJC sent a team of experts to visit City College. It wasn’t a particularly balanced team – most of the members were administrators, only a small number were teachers. And many of its findings had to do with City College not having enough administrators.

But still: Even this biased team suggested that City College be put on probation and given time to fix its problems – NOT given “show cause” notice. The experts that the ACCJC appointed, the agency’s own team, didn’t want to move toward shutting down the school. Continue reading

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United adds Uber app — despite SFO ban on Uber faux-cab pickups


By Tim Redmond

Uber’s attempt at world domination doesn’t end with its somewhat dubious efforts to screw its competitors. The faux-taxi app is now partnering with United Airlines to attract passengers getting on or off a plane.

One problem: At a lot of airports, including SFO, it’s illegal for Uber’s faux-cabs to pick up fares.

A reader who is a regular United Airlines customer, and uses the United phone app, told me that the app offered her Uber connections for both SFO and LAX. And while Uber’s traditional limo service is licensed to pick up at the airports, the “ride-share” drivers are not.

And the app links directly to the Uber service, including the ride-share service. Continue reading

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