A Source at City Hall
Counting to 4
In 1995 then Assembly Speaker Willie Brown launched his
mayoral campaign in Japantown's Peace Plaza. What stood out about the
kickoff was that you knew what a Brown administration would be all
about. It was for the deal. The common factor of those on that dais was
the understanding each had that they would get the best deal if Brown
were mayor. Most weren't disappointed.
Brown's second term now is winding down. He is a lame
duck. There are eight votes on the Board of Supervisors to override his
veto on most questions. Home Depot was the exception. The November and
the December runoff elections are Brown's last shot at getting at least
four votes in play on the Board of Supervisors, unless he's able to get
an appointment or two with the help of Gray Davis, should the governor
Brown has two strategies. End up with four seats after
the December runoff elections, or work to re-elect Gray Davis this
November so at least one existing member of the Board of Supervisors can
be offered a "promotion" to give the mayor an appointment. It's worth
noting Independent columnist and longtime Brown propagandist Warren
Hinckle's broadside against Supervisor Gonzalez's full-time equivalent
pay proposal going to the voters this November. If adopted, members of
the Board of Supervisors would get a raise from their current salary of
$37,500. However, if it actually passes, the incentive to take an
appointment from the governor would be less. This Hinckle column might
actually have some kind of political calculus to it other than bile.
Four votes are sufficient to sustain a mayoral veto.
Four votes make it possible to telegraph to Board President Tom Ammiano
(presuming he continues, and that might be the subject for another Brown
revenge fantasy) that the mayor either wants this or that in the budget
and every piece of legislation or he'll veto it. Brown would be
something more than a ceremonial figurehead in his last year as mayor.
That leverage is worth fighting for, and Districts 6 and 8 will get
extra attention because of it. Here is the electoral connection.
Chris Daly in District 6 is a target because of the bad
press he has received in the daily papers, particularly in the Fangs'
Examiner. The fight in the mayor's office, the love, and the dustup with
the cop set the table. The fact that Daly got in Brown's face means
there is definitely a price to be paid. The odds of taking Daly down are
long. The district's demography works to the incumbent's advantage. The
Chronicle stories confirming existing suspicions about how government
operates under Brown, such as Lance Williams's series on Planning
Commissioner Hector Chinchilla, make it that much harder for Daly's foes
to gain traction.
District 8 is an open seat. Mark Leno is going to
Sacramento after winning the March 5 primary. There are three front
runners in the race: Eileen Hansen, Tom Radulovich, and Bevan Dufty.
Hansen came within 700 votes of knocking out the popular Leno in 2000.
Radulovich has spent the last six years on the BART Board. Dufty has
been the consummate staffer for all his professional life, and this is
his first run for public office. Dufty was Director of Neighborhood
Service in the Brown Administration.
Outside of the "environmental community" Hansen has most
of the left locked up. She's been active in groups like the Harvey Milk
Club for well over fifteen years. Her gender is a hard fact for
egalitarians to overlook as they size up a Board of Supervisors composed
of ten men and one woman. Were Hansen to win, she would be the only
progressive female politician in San Francisco.
Radulovich's upset win in 1996 was made possible by a
deal those at Peace Plaza would acknowledge for its realism. The BART
Board incumbent was a Quentin Kopp protégé, Michael Bernick. He just
happened to be under FBI investigation for questionable campaign
contributions. Working for Bernick was veteran political consultant
Dennis Collins, who got looped into the fed's wiretap. It was a summer
of bad press for Bernick, who appropriately enough now works for Gray
Davis. The Milk Club president thought it was good politics to swap
Milk's support for Robert Barnes's school board candidate Juanita Owens
if Alice B. Toklas would support Tom Radulovich for BART. At that time
Robert Barnes was the undisputed "El Hefe" of Toklas. The deal went
down. Owens went on kowtow to Bill Rojas and eventually get trounced in
2000 by Matt Gonzalez in District 5. Radulovich now serves on the BART
Board and participates as the minority in 7-2 votes.
Dufty is the most driven of the three. He has superior
interpersonal skills. That counts in District 8, especially in a
community in which word of mouth can be decisive. A veteran Brown
Administration antagonist recently acknowledged that Dufty has the best
grasp on the neighborhood's issues. The antagonist commented that Dufty
would put together the best office to do constituent work after
complaining from bitter experience about the one-dimensional ideologues
that qualify as staffers for some of the present board. Dufty would go
beyond hiring groupies to chant the words. The only real question is how
far does Dufty's loyalty go? How much distance will Dufty put between
himself and his former boss? At the Plan C forum he stressed that he was
running as his own person. Dufty's success as a candidate may well rest
upon how many voters believe that he is running as his own person.
In the meantime, Brown will be looking for four votes.