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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.

Karthik

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A New Philosophy for San Francisco

There is a transparent reality in SF politics that neither our politicians nor newspapers discuss: the town has changed, is changing fast, and without authority, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse in Gavin Newsom’s absence (a period that by election day will have been really three years, since he spent at least the last two years campaigning for his new job).

Some of these changes are in policy that created new demographics, such as the Twitter Giveaway, while some are demographic changes that have driven policy. No politician wants to talk about the changes in policy wrought by Gavin Newsom’s period that fall into the former category, and few new residents want to talk about the latter.

Few are changes like last month’s Urban Gardening rezoning: local efforts to maintain the integrity of San Francisco. I was touched to see Antonio Roman-Alcala in the photo-op on the City’s website, standing behind Interim Mayor Lee, and applauding as he signed the document.

Some newly proposed changes sound exciting: Treasure Island Development, basketball and football stadia, but unchecked and without transparency or authority, any problems that arise from such changes don’t receive the attention they are due equally.

Meanwhile, hundreds and thousands are being ground down by the changes and have felt unheard. That is why for a decade the progressive left has been represented by the screaming obscenities of Chris Daly and the hand-wringing winging of Tim Redmond at the Guardian. A reformist attitude about our government is long overdue.

We must force our politicians and our new neighbors to address the changes in real terms, and we must restate that there are San Francisco values that are unique to our City – compassion, tolerance and a welcoming embrace. I fear repercussions are not being discussed and the need for important adaptations thus goes unheeded.

More, in these areas of tension – salaries, pensions and benefits that are too high, taxation that’s inequitable, an increasing cost of living and a deficit economy – we are speeding up to create patchwork solutions that cut broad swaths, rather than slowing down to identify and deal with root causes.

Defining SF is something few people want to do because of the socio-political risk and the fundamentally authoritative posture it requires. I wouldn’t dare try to be the aesthetic or cultural interpreter of our incredible City. But I do know it and feel it everyday, and I think that since Gavin left, we are like a ship adrift.

We must begin to poll San Franciscans more actively with current tools to comprehend our makeup now, and the exact nature of our socio-political consciousness and we must protect the many hundreds and thousands who are being eliminated from discourse by our increased “refinement and enlargement” (as Madison would put it).

I am running for office as a strong leader who wants to comprehend our constitution and work for all San Franciscans. I believe we all know what we want our city to be like, but our politicians no longer seem to represent that, whatever that is, to anyone.

This week a few examples brought this to bear for me: Prop G, passed last year, has given the SFMTA unprecedented leverage in what are now being called historic negotiations between MUNI and its employees; Captain Greg Suhr, a 30-year man of the force, who has been involved in one or two serious incidents decried by progressives over the years, was named Police Chief and the current Interim Mayor Ed Lee proposed the first-ever 5-year budget for our City.

In each case, I promptly responded – in most cases in realtime – in advance of any of the other candidates – you can read my thoughts below. I did this because I want followers to see that real leadership knows what’s right and puts it forward quickly to allow colleagues to accept, deny or seek opportunity to adapt it. Leadership starts discourse quickly and accurately then adapts with flexibility to refinement.

I found myself supporting the SFMTA and Police Chief Suhr and decrying Interim Mayor Lee’s Plan and thus realized that mine is a new philosophy for SF. It isn’t Democratic or Republican or Libertarian or etc. It is responsive to what is actually happening and untethered to any special interest. Coalition building will be the result thus of deliberating upon competing views between these vested interests, while being outside of them, being critical, smart and for the people. I am proud to suggest this because I truly believe it is what we need to move forward as a City and retain our values, which are unique in the country and maybe the world.

My campaign is one of inclusion, but I am attempting to project a strong, decisive image because I feel this is what our City sorely needs. I do not see that charismatic strength of leadership in the other candidates. We must be muscular, physical and responsive to the problems, not fixed on setting up 5-year plans for corporate cronies. I am stern and focused, an analyst ready to work restructuring our economy and City for sustainable, solvent growth at an easy pace that doesn’t grind out precious resources or residents.

Thank you to all the new followers this week. We are increasing in number and I very much appreciate your interest and support.

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