Monthly Archives: November 2011

Record Low Voter Turnout, but Chron, SFBG and Bay Citizen Report Right-Wing Shift

Evidence of the claims I have been making that the Bay-Guardian, The Chron and The Bay Citizen are not only out of touch, but the worst sort of insider-journalists can be found in their ratification of the results of Tuesday’s election over the reality: only a handful of people decided the political fate of the City.

By contrast, in the blogosphere, The League of Pissed off Voters (via tweet), SF Appeal, and SFist all noted the pathetic voter turnout in Tuesday’s election – which is the story of the election of 2011.

Chris Roberts at SFAppeal notes: “In other words, 112,275 voters — or less than 25 percent of the electorate — decided who became mayor of San Francisco. And of them, 68,721 — or about 14 percent of the electorate, and about eight percent of the citizenry — actually voted for Mayor Ed Lee.”

The absence of coverage of this single most important issue of the election by The Chronicle, The SF Bay Guardian and the newly minted Bay Citizen are exactly what I have been talking about this year. The reporters and editors of these papers are participating in a cliquish civic theater instead of reporting on the needs, thoughts and desires of residents of our City.

They are engaged in stroking a few candidates and ridiculing anyone who thinks outside the box. They lack courage, conviction and objectivity and cover elections so they can be near the winners and get invited to the  party.

The Chron and Bay Citizen and SFBG not only avoided discussing the absurdly low numbers of voters who decided matters, they are even now proceeding to define them as an aggregate image of the “voters of San Francisco” and to attribute this ridiculously small number of citizens in our town with the general opinion of San Franciscans.

In the Bay Guardian, Steven T. Jones spends a long column discussing the makeup of “SF voters” – with no mention of the fact that they were not even a third of those eligible to vote! He dares to title the piece San Francisco’s Political Spectrum: a primer – What balls!

The Bay Citizen, however, is the worst and with the furthest reach. The Bay Citizen made an arrangement whereby select pieces appear in print in the New York Times’ Bay Area editions. So readers of the NYT here in the Bay thus becomes informed by a blog started less than a year ago with $5million from the Hellmans (hover over the link to the bay citizen at right).

And the Hellman family’s editors chose to publish a piece by two of their writers that claim that this election “Signals Shift to the Right” in San Francisco! With no mention of the lowest turnout ever! Again, what balls!

These aren’t journalists, they’re mediators.

This was a horrible election because wealthy vested interests manipulated millions of dollars to ensure a handful of viable choices would appear to wrestle for power, while Ed Lee was basically ratified in a confirmation election.

The Chron and The Bay Citizen and The SF Bay Guardian show their true colors even as the Occupy Movement tells the real story of the disenfranchised.

Blame the media – do it. We’d never have such pathetic candidates if instead of gravy-training reporters at the Chron, SFBG and Bay Citizen, we had real reporters and caring journalists.


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Lee Wins, Avalos Gets SFBG Clip-n-Voters and We Lose (Again)

Hardly anyone has voted.

That remains the story. Can a city official even be considered elected if a minority of the voting age population participates in the election? How is this democracy? We should pass a mandatory voting law for the City.

We must also protect Instant Runoff Voting, which did in fact force greater coalition building and less rancor amongst candidates. It did.

The need to be chosen as someone’s Number Two or Three kept these candidates honest and the results reflect it. Ed Lee’s silent treatment worked beautifully, and everybody who didn’t have a second or third choice in mind selected the Interim Mayor by default.

What a way to back into the job. Sound familiar? It’s what they accused Jean Quan of in Oakland. But guess what? it isn’t RCV, it’s voter turnout that’s the problem.

I am most disappointed in Melissa Griffin and her unfounded assault on Instant Runoff Voting or Ranked Choice Voting. This new system is good for democracy and proves useful at the aforementioned coalition-building and in encouraging more candidates (like myself, Joanna Rees, Green Terry Baum and many others) to participate. Ed Lee supporters should vociferously defend Instant Runoff, or Ranked Choice Voting.

Here’s a repost of my IRV PSA from several months back.

That said, everything has happened exactly as I expected since the Ethics Commission agreed Ed Lee could run – the main reason I dropped out.

This was a statistical inevitability. It’s a confirmation election – made from negotiations between Gavin Newsom’s crowd, Willie Brown’s and Rose Pak’s – to ensure that Ed Lee, the beloved Chief Administrator and Interim Mayor has no blemish on his record on the road to being the first Asian-American Mayor of San Francisco.

I am very happy for both the Chinese-American community and the Asian-American community at large, for the “breakthrough” that will be attributed here. But, the decision-making was done far away from most regular people, again, by power brokers who know we won’t bother to turnout, to look things up, to seek better representation.

I hope that instead of being threatened by what I am saying, Ed Lee supporters and the Mayor himself understand that my issue is with the Ethics Commission’s decision to allow Mr. Lee to run, not with him as a Mayor. He was a competent Chief Administrator and will be capable.

My issues on policy with Ed Lee are opposition to his Twitter Giveaway, the Treasure Island Boondoggle, the Park Merced “housing scheme that divides,” and his absurd idea for five-year budgets – given the huge number of interests to which he seems beholden. He lacks a progressiveness that I associate with our city. You can read specifics throughout this blog. I would have had him be allowed to run in 2015, against a real coalition-built Mayor.

I wish I could have been more active in this year’s election, but expected everything we are seeing today, months ago.

The promising numbers for John Avalos are a pleasant surprise from the standpoint of measuring the election against the power of the media to motivate. He was a non-entity before it began, Chris Daly stayed out of the way, and his absence helped Tim Redmond make Avalos run.

So Redmond pushed with his staid, old method and the numbers today are bigger. Pointless, but bigger. Redmond created the candidate and got him votes. Then had the SFBG report on the pretense of a Progressive Movement. Wow.

John Avalos’ numbers are largely due to the clip-and-vote effect observed for decades now, a method by which the Bay Guardian has become a shepherd for apathetic progressives-in-name, many very recent transplants here, who can’t be bothered to look into it, haven’t better resources or a competitive view of scale. These voters consider matters only in the last week of the cycle and do as Tim Redmond and the Bay Guardian tell them to do on election day by ripping out the page and following through.

This has been sustained because of a lack of competition for the Bay Guardian. But I restate my problem with Tim Redmond in this election: he wakes up everyday with all that power, and in recent years has seriously decayed in terms of courage or creativity. More often than not, he whines, laments and defines progressive space with his opinion of what is progressive. There is little or no collectivity and Redmond takes the centrist road nowadays leaving him as cliquish as the mainstream candidates.

That‘s the problem: the cliques at the Chron, SFBG and City Hall are the problem. That, and money … oh and the fact that nobody even cares to vote … (sigh)

The system needs a severe overhaul and I’d like to be a candidate again, but only if called upon. It isn’t real democracy – these aren’t real elections. It’s a sad decaying of SF political history.

The rulers are really stooges for the 1%, and the 1% themselves. They are out of touch and callous as so many of us suffer this terrible economy. They lack creative solutions, fear socialist ones and govern to protect themselves, their property and their right to party hard in our beautiful city.

Please stay in touch with comments. Hoping for a Sheriff Mirkarimi, I will be writing up an analysis of this election after the fact and posting it here. Thanks for your support and kind words.


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Exclude Ed Lee

He isn’t the mayor.

He’s the Interim Mayor.

He’s an excellent Chief Administrator and whomever you vote for should appoint Ed Lee Chief Administrator, agreed.

But it is corruption and cronyism that allows Ed Lee to be a candidate in this election and it is pseudo-incumbency that lends him legitimacy in the face of his own backtracking on candidacy. There is and was no clamor for him to enter the race. It is the height of political artifice.

The only way to have an ethical election is to exclude Ed Lee from your three choices for Mayor.

As I’ve previously stated, I can endorse no candidate as better for the City than myself, and so won’t. But I ask you in all earnestness to exclude Ed Lee

Five year budgets for corporate cronies and special interests are the worst thing for our economy right now.

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Occupy Oakland’s General Strike Succeeded

18% of Teachers and the tacit support of the Longshoreman’s Union gave backbone to the thousands of regular citizens loosely gathered under the rubric of being the poor or underclasses and against corporate policy that directly lowers quality of life in Oakland.

Protesters against Police Brutality were another specific and large group who joined the largely peaceful protest and rally that closed not only the Port of Oakland, but dozens of local businesses that shut in solidarity with the workers.

Largely peaceful and utterly inspiring for a workday in Oakland, the Rally was beautiful and lasted more than 24 hours – since the last of the protesters didn’t leave the Port until late this morning.

At 1pm, Kids marched as a group carrying a banner and chanting on behalf of their teachers. People gathered, spoke, shared protest, supported the Occupy Movement and organized together on a sunny, breezy Wednesday.

In the evening the protesters marched to and successfully closed the 5th largest Port in the country – and workers at the Port showed solidarity. The Port was closed all night.

After midnight, the Movement closed off Broadway between 14th and 16th streets and occupied a vacant building – which organizers say formerly held a non-profit that housed itinerant visitors – and a bonfire was made in the middle of the street, graffiti painted on the largely unused walls, and general chanting against the corporate rape of the middle class.

The Oakland Police arbitrarily decided they had had enough and that the flames from the bonfire – which was in the middle of the pavement in the middle of the road – was a threat to neighboring businesses. They demanded the protesters disband. The protesters refused.

Tear gas and explosive “non-lethals” were used and several protesters were arrested.

The Oakland Police and Mayor Quan continue to exercise the use of tear gas and brutal tactics in “rounding-up” and arresting protesters. There is no clear standard of behavior that constitutes policy – only a vague feeling of the authority wanting to decide when bedtime is – isn’t that called a curfew?

No more than five businesses suffered broken windows and three of these were banks – stated targets. The others, a grocery story (Whole Foods) and Tully’s franchise Coffeeshop were tagged as well.

A rumor spread quickly (and made RT) that Whole Foods threatened its employees with action if they elected to participate in the Strike. The rumor remains unsubstantiated, but the single word”STRIKE” was painted on the front of the store early in the day and two windows were broken.

There was considerably more graffiti in the area at sunrise than there had been at sunset the night before.

In the morning the Port remained closed briefly as protesters held for a time before being coerced into removing themselves for the sake of workers returning for their shifts.

This negotiation between the Occupy Movement and the authority in any city – Oakland, LA, NYC, Tulsa, Seattle – is being conducted on Federal standards by the protesters and State or even City standards by the police.

How can this be? The First Amendment is unequivocal. Occupy Oakland should be able to charge Jean Quan and the police in Federal court for abuse. But can they?

No, because the numbers – while considerable – weren’t anywhere near big enough. Now that’s arbitrary application of the rule of law.

This was no General Strike … but it was a rally of the kind we’ve seen for the past decade labeled as a General Strike to great success within the media and civic sectors. There was an overwhelming feeling of agreement with the consensus expressions given by organizers when calling for the strike.


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