Editorial: Can The City really lead the nation? 

That didn’t take long. Voter tabulations scarcely cooled when events both political and economic cast The City’s future in a disturbing light. Not only did "progressives" strengthen their hand in local governance, but the beloved 49ers announced that the planned stadium at Candlestick Point won’t serve as their preferred gridiron.

Those stories are related. The Board of Supervisors, more resolutely leftist than before with the re-election of District 6 Supervisor Chris Daly, has oxymoronically shown its clear irresolution regarding The City’s participation in sports.

That weakness, along with other factors, mightily sapped Mayor Gavin Newsom’s ability to bid for the 2016 Olympics. The supes wanted to punt to voters any agreement to host the international games. Likewise, when the Niners offered to build the new stadium with mostly private funds — thereby sparing voting taxpayers the $100 million bond they’d authorized in 1997 — officials indicated that such a windfall, too, should go to the ballot.

So it was left for team owner John York, also miffed by a proposed parking garage, to give them a tutorial on decisiveness. In a Wednesday evening telephone call to city officials, York said the Niners had found better ore in Santa Clara. Even without consulting an abacus, the businessman knew that taking the issue to voters would cost him a $6 million campaign.

The ballot-happy supes apparently don’t know how to enter such financial calculations into their political imaginings. And who knows if they saw the unintended consequences to the Olympics, dependent as the games are on a new stadium. If they did, some of them might be taking perverse satisfaction.

There’s more. Redevelopment plans at Hunters Point include the traditional Olympic Village housing for the world’s competing athletes. Those units, post-games, would add housing stock to this shelter-limited metropolis.

Perhaps the "progressives" have nursed an ideological animus toward redevelopment so heavily participated in by private enterprise. Perhaps they should direct The City to build housing as a strictly government project. Any officials tempted to turn down a Google-sponsored Wi-Fi system in favor of a costly municipal one could be so persuaded.

They and the mayor didn’t feel that way about universal health care, which, knowing The City couldn’t fund it, they mandated businesses to undertake. That project, enacted earlier this year, was supposed to work as a model for the state and the nation. But this week a group of restaurateurs — whose very ability to survive is at stake — filed a lawsuit that could demolish any notion The City can set policies to be emulated elsewhere.

To think: Just Wednesday morning The City woke up thinking its much-discussed values had washed over the nation’s electorate. Maybe. But here at home our political leaders are stumbling. Not a good week, this, for the mayor.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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