No one expected the Friday announcement that Public Defender Jeff Adachi would enter the mayoral race. Perhaps we should have.
With 43 percent of voters in favor of his pension proposal last year, Adachi has a built-in base of folks concerned with fiscal responsibility and sick of the incestuous relationship between unions and city officials. Know who else’s fan club has a lot of members who are concerned about San Francisco’s bottom line? Ed Lee.
Known for keeping Twitter in town and negotiating a pension reform measure, Lee appeals to some moderates who want to trust that whomever is mayor will not be hostile to business or give away the farm to public-employee unions. Now Adachi threatens to lay claim to that demographic and everyone to the right of it.
How does Lee deal with Adachi? In a ranked-choice voting situation, the best way to deal with a rival for your base is to get them on your side. How might Lee get Adachi’s support? Does Lee have something that Adachi wants? You betcha: a pension solution.
Having two mutually exclusive pension measures on the ballot means that neither is likely to pass. Remember that a few months ago, Adachi offered to withdraw his ballot measure if Lee would agree to certain enhancements to the "City Plan" Lee helped negotiate. Lee rejected that offer, but he might just be rethinking a negotiated peace right now.
To be explicit, here’s the scenario: Lee agrees to a pension deal (at this point it would have to be a side agreement), Adachi withdraws his pension measure and tells his supporters to vote for himself first and Lee second. Adachi avoids another pension loss at the polls, and he gains points with the Lee administration.
Already, Adachi’s announcement that he is running for mayor knocked "Ed Lee Lied to Us" out of the headlines. While right now it looks like we will be faced with a Lee/Adachi pension showdown in November, maybe this dance ends exactly where Lee and Adachi want it to: with pension peace for Adachi and a win for Lee in the mayoral race.
On Wednesday night, the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee will select which candidates will get the Democratic Party endorsement for mayor, sheriff and district attorney in November’s election.
The DCCC has 32 members. Eight of those seats are occupied by elected officials who are members of the Democratic Party and also live in our Assembly Districts 12 or 13. They are: Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Jackie Speier, State Attorney General Kamala Harris, state Sens. Mark Leno and Leland Yee, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano and Assemblywoman Fiona Ma.
Last month, DCCC Chairman Aaron Peskin had Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom taken off the committee because Newsom no longer lives in San Francisco. The move was both justified and savvy — the committee is pretty evenly split between progressives and moderates, and getting rid of Newsom’s moderate vote helps the progressive vote count.
Wednesday’s meeting will hopefully answer two questions. First, will the committee continue its enthusiastic quest for irrelevance by again endorsing candidates who have no chance of winning?
Second, whom are the elected officials endorsing? A vote from Pelosi, Feinstein or Harris would be a welcome boost to any campaign. And with former Supervisor Bevan Dufty as the only mayoral candidate with significant support in the gay community thus far, Leno’s endorsement will be especially valuable.
With the chief of the Department of Public Works, Ed Reiskin, moving over to head the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, the No. 1 spot at DPW just opened up. Appointing the new DPW chief is the task of the city administrator, the job formerly held by Mayor Ed Lee.
Lee appointed Amy Brown to be acting city administrator, and her selection of Mohammed Nuru to be acting DPW chief is raising some eyebrows.
Nuru has been the director of operations at the DPW since 2000, when he was appointed by then-Mayor Willie Brown. Nuru’s aggressive tactics when cleaning up graffiti and clearing sidewalks have earned him the love of some merchants and neighborhood groups, but other elements of history in the department are not so flattering.
Prior to his appointment as director at DPW, Nuru ran a nonprofit called San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners. When he moved over to DPW, Nuru oversaw significant grant funding to SLUG, which continued to flow despite serious concerns about the group’s financial shenanigans.
A searing 2004 audit by the city controller accused the SLUG of nonexistent accounting protocols and states, "$62,508 of SLUG’s contract funds were improperly used by Public Works to buy a portable building for itself."
Also in 2004, City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s office undertook an investigation of allegations that SLUG improperly used employees to engage in campaign activities and did so during working hours.
While Nuru declined to be interviewed for the investigation, the resulting report found that in 2003 Nuru had "participated in directing — in one alleged instance, coercing — SLUG workers in some of their campaign activities" for (Brown-endorsed) candidates Gavin Newsom and Kamala Harris.
As an interim appointment, Nuru’s promotion might have been a blip. But now that Lee is a candidate for a full term, his ethics and close ties to Brown are under scrutiny. On Monday, mayoral candidate Herrera accused Lee of "cronyism, politics and poor judgment" in allowing Nuru to take over the helm of DPW.