City Beat: Why did the mayor endorse Chiu (after waiting this long)?

Why Chiu -- but more important, why now?

Why Chiu — but more important, why now?

By Tim Redmond

OCTOBER 24, 2014 – In December, 2003, the local power structure had a genuine freak-out moment: A series of polls showed that Green Party member and upstart supervisor Matt Gonzalez had a chance to beat Gavin Newsom and become the next mayor of San Francisco.

The resulting four years would have been, to say the least, unpredictable, and power likes predictability. So Newsom’s people got on the phone and hauled in the biggest hitter they could. Developer Walter Shorenstein sent a private plane back east to pick up a guy name Bill Clinton, who came out and did a rally for Newsom.

I thought about that when I saw that Ed Lee had (with remarkably little media fanfare) endorsed David Chiu for state Assembly. Even Lee’s allies say the decision makes little political sense for the mayor. Lee is not close to Chiu.

But Ron Conway and the tech leadership are very close to the mayor (and in Room 200 City Hall, Conway these days has a lot more clout than Rose Pak or even Willie Brown). And Conway really, really doesn’t want David Campos to get elected. Continue reading

x | 13 Comments

Tom’s Town: Crazy campaign mailers and endorsement

One of the five most corrupt politicians in SF history? That's quite a standard

One of the five most corrupt politicians in SF history? That’s quite a standard

By Tom Temprano

It seems as if entire forests worth of trees have sacrificed their lives to create all of the campaign literature that has been flooding San Francisco voter’s mailboxes in the lead up to the November election. We’re being hit with everything from strange photos of scrambled eggs (thanks to the real estate industry’s fight against Prop G) to voter guides from at least half a dozen groups I’ve never even heard of.

48hillstomstownGiven the sheer volume, it takes quite a bit to raise my now-desensitized hackles when it comes to political mailers but BART Board candidate Nick Josefowitz has managed to do just that with his recent mail piece. In a hit that seems more appropriate for a senate race in a battleground state than a largely unwatched race to join a regional transit body Josefowitz paints his incumbent opponent, James Fang, as one of the “5 Most Corrupt Politicians In San Francisco History.”

That’s a pretty outrageous allegation on its own, but its especially outrageous when you see that Fang’s picture on the mailer is positioned directly above that of a former public defender who orchestrated the murder of an elderly lady to steal her inheritance.

Now, Fang has indeed been fined quite a bit of money over the $2,000 that he admitted to illegally funneling into the campaign of his then-boss Mayor Frank Jordan in the 1990s. That certainly is fair game to make it into a hit mailer — but putting him alongside a guy who served 25 years for murder is pretty cold. Continue reading

x | 31 Comments

Why SF’s iconic dyke bar, the Lexington Club, is closing

Regulars at The Lex: The iconic club is closing, another sign of the times

Regulars at The Lex: The iconic club is closing, another sign of the times

By Marke B.

OCTOBER 23, 3014 — “I’m selling the Lex,” Lila Thirkield told me, her no-nonsense voice tinged with a little disbelief at what she herself was saying. Lila had pulled her car over to call me — and I hope my sudden wail of bereavement didn’t blow out her speakerphone.

Alas, it’s true: SF dyke institution the Lexington Club ( is being sold, and will probably close after New Year’s. But the Lexington Club brand will live on in one-off events. And of course there’ll be a huge closing party.

Eighteen years ago, a 25-year-old Lila opened the homey, punkish Lexington Club as a Mission neighborhood space for “the dykes, queers, artists, musicians and neighborhood folks who made up the community that surrounded it,” as she put it Thursday in a Facebook post announcing her decision. The queer revolution of the 1990s was still in full effect, but bars geared especially toward queer women were rare as two-headed unicorns. Continue reading

x | 52 Comments

Is the Left in SF dead? Um, no …


Tom Ammiano speaks at the Bay Guardian rally

Tom Ammiano speaks at the Bay Guardian rally

By Tim Redmond

OCTOBER 23, 2014 – We got quite a crowd for the Save the  Bay Guardian rally at noon today – at least 75 people, maybe 100. I got to see a lot of my old friends, heard Victor Krummenacher and Tommi Avicolli Mecca sing songs, and got a sense of how many progressive leaders in the community (starting with Assemblymember Tom Ammiano) saw the Guardian as a crucial community institution.

A lot of the attention during and after the event was on the archives – the digital and print history of modern progressive San Francisco, as recorded over the past 48 years by the Left’s newspaper of record.

I don’t know what’s going to happen to the paper; I have no idea how much the current owners would be willing to sell it for (I suspect they don’t want any real competition for the SF Weekly, which they also own, so they aren’t going to make it easy for someone to take the Guardian over). I know that a lot of us are concerned about the archives, which belong in a university library somewhere where they can be preserved, protected, and made accessible to researchers.

I’m also concerned about this (convenient) line that’s going around that somehow the demise of the Bay Guardian is a sign of the demise of the Left in San Francisco.  Continue reading

x | 108 Comments

Homesick for the place where you already are

By Amanda Witherell

OCTOBER 22, 2014  — The day the San Francisco Bay Guardian died, I was commuting to my corporate marketing job, stuck in construction traffic between the touristy beachside town of Mount Maunganui and its seedier chain-store cousin, Tauranga, in New Zealand. Pedaling my bicycle just enough to stay upright in the creeping crush of cars and trucks, I noticed that the back end of the SUV in front of me was completely covered in bumper stickers.

48hillsamandaw“Far out,” I thought, “I haven’t seen that since I was in the United States.”

That’s right: the most mainstream of counter cultural acts – to exert your personal identity over your corporate-built, non-renewable resource-reliant vehicle by festooning it with prefabricated philosophies, political statements, brands and logos – is shouting too loud in New Zealand. Exercising one’s freedom of speech, expressing one’s core beliefs, flying one’s freak flag, as it were, just doesn’t happen down here. I rarely see a single bumper sticker; encountering an entire hatchback covered with them was like running into a box of Corn Flakes in the International Food aisle at the grocery store, or walking by someone wearing a Boston Red Sox cap – instant recognition of a ubiquitous cultural norm and simultaneous surprise. You belong to me, but you’ve mysteriously disappeared from my world. Continue reading

x | 35 Comments

Politics on Tuesday: Feinstein joins Airbnb opponents — but the bill gets final approval anyway. Plus: When is a campaign consultant a lobbyist? And a curious new Chiu IE

Whoa -- Dianne Feinstein is joining the folks who want to limit Airbnb.

Whoa — Dianne Feinstein is joining the folks who want to limit Airbnb.

By Tim Redmond

OCTOBER 21, 2014 – Senator Dianne Feinstein, who hasn’t made a habit of getting involved in local politics of late, threw a bombshell into the Airbnb debate today with an oped in the Chronicle urging the supervisors to reject – and the mayor to veto – Sup. David Chiu’s Airbnb legislation.

It created one of the odder alliances in modern SF political history, with Feinstein – the champion of big business and developers – siding with neighborhood activists and progressives like Sups. David Campos, John Avalos, and Eric Mar.

And yet, the supes – by the same 6-5 majority as we saw two weeks ago – rejected attempts to make Airbnb pay its back taxes and to limit all short-term rentals to 90 days, and then passed the measure 7-4.

It’s very unlikely that Mayor Ed Lee, who is close to Airbnb investor Ron Conway, will veto the bill.

But it sets up an interesting prospect: Would Feinstein join in a campaign for a ballot measure to limit short-term rentals?

All of this is happening at a time when New York is taking a very different approach: The attorney general of that state, Eric Schneiderman, had declared that 70 percent of Airbnb listings in New York are illegal. Even the New York Post is on the story. Continue reading

x | 27 Comments

Is the tech-mogul attack on Campos backfiring?

A protest by DV survivors and their allies outside of Chiu headquarters

A protest by DV survivors and their allies outside of Chiu headquarters

By Tim Redmond

OCTOBER 21, 2014 — I always suspected that the independent expenditure attack on David Campos would start to backfire. For one thing, been there done that: The same allegations (Campos voted against the mayor’s effort to oust elected Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi) were spread all over the city in the spring primary. You can only say the same thing so many times before people stop paying attention.

For another, Campos has a lot of women supporting him, and a lot of people are getting sick of the idea that Reed Hoffman and Ron Conway can use their tech money to buy an election.

So now there’s a Facebook page and a twitter hashtag called Shameonyoudavidchiu – and it’s got the names of a long list of women who think Chiu’s allies are exploiting the very serious domestic violence issue for political gain. Continue reading

x | 72 Comments