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News + PoliticsDCCC votes Wednesday on critical fall races

DCCC votes Wednesday on critical fall races

Will the party side with the mayor and the tech industry — or can Peskin and the Airbnb measure round up the votes?

Sup. Julie Christensen and Aaron Peskin are in a  tight race for the DCCC endorsement
Sup. Julie Christensen and Aaron Peskin are in a tight race for the DCCC endorsement

By Tim Redmond

AUGUST 10, 2015 – The San Francisco Democratic Party will vote Wednesday night on its endorsements for the November election, and the outcome will be significant not only because of the impact the DCCC slate can have but because it will be another key signal of how directly the mayor and the real-estate and tech interests control the local party.

There are several key ballot measures that will be a referendum on Mayor Ed Lee’s policies – and the District 3 supervisorial race will be a critical decision that will determine future control of the Board of Supervisors.

The DCCC matters in part because in this heavily Democratic city, a slate mailer that offers the official recommendations of the party carries weight. In an election like this one, it also offers the wealthy allies of the mayor a way to pour unlimited cash into campaigns: If the party, for example, endorses Sup. Julie Christensen, Lee’s tech oligarchs can contribute vast amounts of money to the Party, which can use that money to print and mail Party literature.

At this point, as far as I can tell, the D3 race is very, very close. Both sides are working the phones madly, and the fact that Peskin is within range of winning is a remarkable testament to his political skills.

“This will be a close vote on what is a very disappointing committee,” member Rafael Mandelman, who is also president of the Community College Board, told me.

Now: If this were really about “Democratic Party” politics, Peskin would have a huge advantage. He’s not only a former member of the DCCC, but he’s a former chair, and as member Alix Rosenthal told me, “I have to respect all the work that he has done for the Party.”

If you go to the Federal Elections Commission website, and type in “Aaron Peskin” and “Julie Christensen” you will find that Peskin has, over the years, contributed thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates at the Congressional and national level. The only Julie Christensen who has given any money is a woman in Folsom who works for a drug company.

But of course, we all know that, for all the pious talk the members put out about supporting “active Democrats,” it’s really power politics, and the stakes are so high that every possible swing vote is under immense pressure.

And at this point, most are on one side or another. Rosenthal is among the very few who are not committed – and that makes her a critical swing vote.

“I haven’t made up my mind,” she told me. “Aaron and I have a long relationship, and we’ve had some disagreements, and I think Julie is a good person, and I’ve always been about getting women elected to office.”

There are actually three choices: The panel could go with Peskin, with Christensen, or with “no endorsement.” Or members can abstain, which – frankly – is pretty weak: We elect these people to make decisions. Ducking is ducking, whatever you call it.

To make the plot even thicker, Rosenthal has interviewed for a job at Airbnb – and one of the biggest investors in that company, Ron Conway, is a big supporter of Christensen. Peskin has been a part of the campaign to more tightly regulate short-term rentals.

Rosenthal told me that nobody at Airbnb has put any pressure on her. “I brought it up myself, and they said my DCCC votes wouldn’t matter,” she said. “I don’t think Ron Conway pays that close attention to the details of who Airbnb hires.”

The rules governing conflicts of interest at the DCCC are so weak that nobody ever has to recuse himself or herself for anything. Tom Hsieh Jr., who is working on the campaign against the Airbnb initiative, can vote on that issue. Mary Jung, the chair, is the chief lobbyist for the SF Board of Realtors; she still votes on tenant issues.

Every statewide or national elected official who lives in San Francisco is automatically a member of the DCCC (and although they don’t go, they can appoint a proxy), so the final outcome might come down to the likes of Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, neither of who at this point has endorsed a candidate. State Sen. Mark Leno and Assemblymember Phil Ting are with Peskin. We don’t know where Assemblymember David Chiu, who won his first election for supervisor with the strong support of Peskin, will go; the two have long since parted ways over issues.

Then there’s the Mission Moratorium and Airbnb.

Airbnb has created some unlikely alliances; the Apartment Association has joined with the Tenants Union to promote the ballot measure that will more strictly regulate short-term rentals. Feinstein is almost certainly on board with that measure. Chiu, of course, wrote the bill that the measure would largely overturn.

Again: It will be close.

And there’s a fascinating twist here: If the DCCC were to endorse Christensen, and then vote in favor of regulating Airbnb or in favor of the Mission Moratorium, the big money would stay out of the Party slate card: Ron Conway isn’t going to spend money on a card that endorses his candidate for D3 – but then seeks to impose regulations that will have a huge financial impact on Airbnb.

On the flip, if the DCCC endorses Peskin and then opposes the short-term rentals measure, the money stays out.

I suspect that we will see the Mission Moratorium vote break more closely to the vote on Peskin – although I can’t see Feinstein or Pelosi voting for that one.

So a huge and fascinating vote that will tell us: Does the local Party really represent the values of the traditional Democratic Party? Or has it, as my friend Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez says, become more or less Republican?


Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.
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    Congestion can be easily improved by increasing capacity on MUNI and BART. More busses, more trains, and lower the fare so that more people use them. Of course that takes money, which isn’t that hard to get. But you have to have the political will, which the current administration clearly doesn’t.

  5. Tell me then your solution for the problem of “congestion” that you think is so terribly important. Bonus points if you can fix it without making global warming worse or negatively impacting working class and poor people.

    PS I lived in a 1000 square foot house during High School with 10 other family members. We had approx. 90 square feet per person and no A/C and this was in The Central Valley. How many square feet per person did you family have when you were in High School?

    PPS Why couldn’t you join the military?

  6. Thanks for responding.

    That facts made you suspicious is a sad commentary on the discourse on this board. I try hard to stick to facts and/or rational analysis as a practicing macro economist and only try to say something that I think I have real knowledge about. Maybe we can engage better/smarter going forward.

    Other points –

    If some is hired in your opinion – why even respond? Thats a win for them, not you in my view.

    Almost every is a advocate for their own political position – I have my own biases so in that light I am a political advocate for positions I believe are right – arent you the same way too (regardless of what the view is)?

    Anyways – thanks.

  7. That is a huge smackdown for Peskin. I guess he made a lot of enemies last time around – the drawback to not being a newbie, I guess.

    Considering that the DCCC is much closer to the SF electorate than the progressive wing, this vote is significant.

  8. I was homeless for a while too, and I went to school on a mountain of debt. Good for you that the government provided you with a GI Bill to pay for your college. I didn’t have that. And no, you can’t “guarantee” that you grew up poorer than I did. You can’t get much poorer than zero, which is what our family had when we arrived here. Well… ok… $120 and the clothes on our backs. But that’s close enough to zero, I’d say.

    But this isn’t about a pissing contest as to who had it worse. I take issue with your sanctimonious attitude toward people who have real world problems which you are apparently insulated from.

    You remind me of the douchebag Mission techies biking to work on their fixies, thinking they’re saving the world while they’re oblivious to the neighborhood they’re destroying.

  9. What was the actual vote? Nothing on the DCCC site about it. I’d like to know who voted which way on which candidates and measures. It will be useful in 2016.

  10. Results are in: Peskin got zero votes, DCCC endorses Christensen.

    No on Mission Moratorium, Yes on Mission Rock Development.

    Yes on Low Income Housing Bonds.

    A sweep for the environmentalists and a big loss for the NIMBYs.

  11. If they have genuine problems that require assistance, like a
    disability, then they should get all the support they need. But
    “needing” a big house is just a dumbass American brand of stupidity, not an actual need.

    Almost everyone I know who lives in East Bay lives in a 2000 square foot house or larger, drives a Minivan or SUV and refuses to send their children to what they perceive as inferior public San Francisco schools. Shall we compare what the average home size is in San Francisco vs. any of your leafy East Bay Suburbs?

    All of them could downsize their lives if they wanted to, but no, they “need” to drive everywhere. For their children. How sick. They are destroying the planet for future generations “for the children.”

    I made a lot of tough choices and suffered a lot in my life to even have a small crowded flat to raise my family in. I was homeless for a while and went to school on the GI bill. I didn’t grow up thinking that I was entitled to have everything handed over to me. And I guarantee I grew up poorer than you.

    People have lots of choices in life: where to live, where to work, when to have children. If people consistently make bad and selfish choices, society should not bend over to reward them for their selfish stupidity.

  12. No, Uptight Biker, it is Alix Rosenthal who is using the sexism card to shield herself from criticism for making a decision that otherwise has no merit. The same way Willie Brown appointed cronies and then used the race card to shield himself, because they were cronies of color.

  13. Yes, you’re privileged because you don’t have to work outside of the where it’s practical to take MUNI or BART. Either you’re privileged because you get to choose a job you can commute to by bike or MUNI -many working class people simply don’t have that choice -or you’re privileged because you don’t have to work at all. And from your position of privilege you wag your finger at others who don’t have the same options as you. And then you have the audacity to even say that it’s because people who are less privileged than you are somehow classist!

    I take MUNI or BART or bike every chance I get, for what it’s worth. And your attitude of sanctimonious indifference to the plight of others who aren’t like you makes you sound like a prick.

  14. But a lot of people need to get to East Bay locations, and public transit can add a lot of time at that end. I was in this situation last year. I could take BART, but public transit added nearly an hour where I got off in Berkeley.

    I cycle, and take BART and muni when I can (as does my daughter), but you can’t do that with all trips.

  15. Please tell me where I can get paid to be a Christensen support, I would like some extra cash. So far the money has only gone the other way.

  16. I am privileged because I take Muni? What a peculiar attitude to take. Almost all car trips in this city are optional. People say they “have to” take their car, but the reason they take a car is because they don’t like having to rub shoulders with the poor people on Muni.

  17. And this “Some of the members who voted against tighter short-term rental regulations had ties to Airbnb. Leah Pimentel has appeared at Airbnb support rallies and was quoted saying she hosts on the platform. Member Tom Hsieh told the Examiner he is a consultant working with the No on Measure F campaign.

    The DCCC has bylaws that allow members to recuse themselves when there are conflicts of interest, but a DCCC representative said none had recused themselves in the last year.”


  18. Reminds me of “Cool Breeze” fortified wine that was popular amongst the homeless alcoholics when I first moved to the Mission. It elicited the most technicolor of yawns. Now, we’ve got fortified whines instead.

  19. Good for you that you’re privileged enough to have that luxury! Some of us do not. I never cross the Bay Bridge by car unless I absolutely need to.

    Your post exemplifies the holier-than-thou, “I’ve got mine” attitude of this administration.

    Hey, I’d love it if the city improved the infrastructure of BART and MUNI so that people who use their cars didn’t have to. But what have they done in that regard? Absolutely nothing! They don’t give a shit about the quality of life for ordinary people, as long as their pockets are getting lined.

  20. Peskin got zero votes at the DCCC endorsement hearing? Wow, there really is a new breeze blowing through San Francisco politics!

  21. Yeah, the “sharing” economy! I bet Alix will get to luxuriate in one of those fancy yurts in the playa because she’s now a playa.

  22. I get around jut fine on Muni and on a bicycle. It is your expectation that you can cross the Bay Bridge in a car at rush hour that is problematic. We are a Transit First city.

  23. Yes! I was talking about this just the other day. Used to be that I’d say “how wonderful that it’s not like in LA” where you basically can’t move from about 2PM to 8PM. Not too long ago, I could go over the Bay Bridge at 9:30 AM or 6:30 PM and it would be smooth sailing. Not so anymore. Starting early afternoon, the whole eastern side of the city is jammed. One hour waits to get on the bridge are commonplace. Runaway development without a thought for infrastructure has already trashed the quality of life in the city, and Ed Lee is hell bent on trashing it more. We have become LA.

  24. Your fantasy of being able to get in your car and drive quickly to wherever you like, park right in front of your destination and walk 10 feet to the location is never going to happen. It never did happen and it never will happen and dare I say, it does not embrace San Francisco Values at all. You would probably be happier in car-centric suburb. Great cities aren’t built for the convenience of motorists.

  25. “But member Alix Rosenthal said she was voting for Christensen because “people calling me on behalf of Supervisor Christensen have been more transparent, more honest brokers and less manipulative.”

    I wonder how many untraceable gift cards will be slipped to Rosenthal prior to her jaunt to Burning Man?

  26. Yeah, a meeting that was packed with paid Christensen supporters, and a committee with members who are directly or indirectly supported/stand to profit by the same venture capitalists that support Ed Lee and Julie Christensen are unbiased, just as you are supposedly unbiased.

    You’ll never convince me.

  27. Just left the DCCC meeting where numerous speakers and elected officials noted the Peskin campaign’s misogynistic tone, dirty tricks, bad neighborhood vibes, etc., and spoke in support of Supe Christensen’s real achievements in D3. The vote was not even close, and not one member voted to endorse Aaron Peskin.

    So, @Gary_SF:disqus it seems I’m not the only “shill” who’s delusional by your definition.

  28. A woman coined the term “progocialite” in the mid 2000s.

    Perhaps you could ask her if the term is gender dismisive?

    There are male progocialites too.

  29. OMG, the DCCC is conidering the endorsement of Peskin? I thought they ran him out of that organization on a rail?

  30. In 2008, Aaron Peskin was President of the Board of Supervisors and Kamala Harris was the District Attorney. Seven years later, she is the State Attorney General and poised to become a US Senator. Meanwhile Aaron Peskin wants his old job back. Pathetic.

  31. It’s true. Peskin was for the Central Subway when in office and then against it when he thought that he didn’t need Pak. Those were the days when he was babbling about her being an agent for the Chinese government.

    Although, in his defense, nobody can prove that he was sober when he made that accusation against her.

  32. Gary’s made it very clear in his recent posts that if he votes for Peskin, he’ll do it with one hand holding his nose. He and I disagree on a lot of things, but I can’t for the life of me even consider accusing him of gender discrimination.

  33. Lol, CTA is essentially just a branch of CCDC that can actually endorse people, and we all know why CCDC/Rose Pak is supporting Aaron Peskin. Spite may create the basis for a good temporary alliance, but it’s doomed long term.

    The unholy alliance of Rose Pak/CCDC with Aaron Peskin will only lead to unintended consequences for one of the party’s, as their interests do not align.
    Peskin has a history of being against projects supported by Chinatown, such as the Central Subway and City College campus. Ultimately Peskin’s main ideology of Nimbyism will only lead to conflict with Rose Pak’s pro development interests.

  34. “Isn’t the point of any discussion to at east try and convince others of your views?”

    If it is a genuine discussion, yes. A genuine discussion is not a conversation between an industry/political advocate who may or may not be getting paid by that industry or candidate, and whose objective is to disrupt any thoughtful discussion. ‘Bomb hurling’ is one tactic, such as this nonsense that those who disagree with Christensen are guilty of ‘sexist bias.’

    Would it be helpful if I just wrote ‘shill’ instead of ‘paid shill’?

    Regardless, if you were/are indeed genuine and a ‘type-A’ about doing research and getting your facts in order, I do apologize for calling you a shill, paid or otherwise. I’m impressed how easily you brought facts into the conversation. It almost seemed too easy, and that triggered my suspicion.

    Sometimes it is difficult for me to determine who is just writing ‘talking points’ from an industry/political dispatch and who is genuine in their opinions. And don’t kid yourself, there are “people” in comments sections who are being paid to disrupt. You can search on ‘paid troll’s or ‘trolls disrupt’ and then slog through the results to find a few credible sources.

    Again, I apologize. Have a good evening.

  35. I totally disagree with Bikers comment too but Gary, your penchant for calling any one who holds an apposing view to yours on any matter, a paid shill is entirely unhelpful. Undermines your credibility and argument in my opinion.
    Isn’t the point of any discussion to at least try and convince others of your views?

    Bracing to be a called a paid shill (again) by Gary 🙂

  36. Gender discrimination is a very serious issue and for you to use to trounce on people who disagree with Christensen is despicable.

    And as I have written several times, I’m not crazy about voting for Peskin, but it is a sacrifice worth making to vote Mayor AirBnB’s puppet and SPUR’s representative out of office. I disagree with her issues with the in-law rules, I disagree with her lack of transparency on 8 Washington and height restrictions on the waterfront and I disagree with her on 1920c, among several other issues.

  37. No, Proglodytes are those who have been at local Democratic progressive/labor politics for more than three decades who still think that it is 1978 and the Soviet Union is a shining beacon for the proletariat.

  38. If the city slows development of dense housing, where will people live? Somewhere else. Why do they have to be crowded into SF so developers can make a buck?

    Doesn’t congestion favor dense development to allow for shorter commutes? This is an article of faith among the development crowd, but it doesn’t reflect that not all trips are for work. I just picked up my daughter from a medical appointment near Union Square. In between construction cranes, Market Street closure, and general chaos created by too many vehicles in too little space, the round trip from upper Mission took about 90 minutes.

    (This is a growing issue and people are angry about it. Note Willie Brown’s comment Sunday about how long it took him to get home from the Bayview via 3rd street recently.)

  39. This is interesting. More details please. Also, what about SF’s other Dem clubs, including the DCCC? How does money play into this picture, particularly in the case of the Noe Valley Democratic club?

  40. Accusations of sexism used as a shield. Should female politicians be exempt from criticism because of their sex? You seem to think so. Should black politicians be exempt from criticism? By your logic yes.

    At its heart this “powerful men” argument is a straw man, inserted without basis or reason. Like patriotism, it is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

  41. Shunned? I always knew that San Francisco’s progressives were like the Amish. A patriarchal society led by old white men with facial hair, a fondness for keeping things the way they are, and adherence to doctrine.

    One difference is that the Amish actually know how to build things.

  42. The D3 Dem Club is also mostly made up of White people above the age of 65. Strange, considering that doesn’t at all represent D3’s demographics.

  43. Yeah when he was losing an argument with me (not on 48 Hills), he gender-baited as well.

    He acts like a paid shill.

  44. I don’t believe that is true. I look at all of them, although they play a secondary role in my evaluation. The ones I’ll probably disregard are those from the DCCC, Alice B. Toklas, and the Noe Valley Democratic Club.

  45. Your comments aboutt Rosenthal, Christensen and powerful men are unfair to most of the posters here. Gender has nothing to do with it, they just don’t like Rosenthal and Christensen’s politics and the direction of the DCCC.

  46. What I’m seeing are not any “Downtown Interests” at work here, but cleverly-code-worded articles implying that Rosenthal and Christensen are weak-willed women who only do the bidding of powerful men. Reading the comments below only confirms this sexist bias.

    I for one hope that Alix sticks to her principles and does the right thing by endorsing Julie — who is putting in a very solid performance on behalf of her constituents so far and seems poised to deliver more real solutions to real problems, including affordability and evictions.

  47. During Saturday’s hillwide garage sale in Bernal Heights my wife and I heard three separate conversations about people leaving SF because it is getting really crowded. Under Ed Lee’s watch SF has become a gold mine for developers while infrastructure has languished.

  48. slow down..dense housing projects

    If the city slows development of dense housing, where will people live?

    heavy street diets that rob us of our precious time

    Doesn’t congestion favor dense development to allow for shorter commutes?

    most new residents commute out

    Only 20% do; excluding nonworkers, 35%. In 2006, the latter number was 30%.

  49. I have a hard time seeing how Alix can say some of this stuff with a straight face -committed to electing women… Ron Conway doesn’t care how I vote, etc. I hope I’m wrong, but if she’s saying that kind of BS, then I think she’s made up her mind to vote against Peskin and just trying to soften the blow by claiming she’s undecided.

    Doesn’t matter though. He won without the DCCC the first time, and he’ll win without the DCCC again.

  50. “Airbnb has created some unlikely alliances; the Apartment Association has joined with the Tenants Union to promote the ballot measure that will more strictly regulate short-term rentals. Feinstein is almost certainly on board with that measure. Chiu, of course, wrote the bill that the measure would largely overturn.”

    This is interesting. About a year ago, everyone in my building received a very passionate letter from our saintly landlord (a super thoughtful guy) urging us tenants to not engage in AirBnB and other vacation rentals because it is bad for San Francisco. And he is a member of the Apartment Association.

  51. Lets not jump to conclusions let’s wait and seen how Alex votes, if she votes in favor of downtown interests then she is a traitor to the progressive values, she then needs to be treated as one and shuned.

  52. Re: “To make the plot even thicker, Rosenthal has interviewed for a job at Airbnb – and one of the biggest investors in that company, Ron Conway…”

    Tim, most likely, honestly believes that Ron Conway is one of the biggest investors in Airbnb. But it isn’t true..

    The reality is that Conway’s firm SV Angel participated in a $7.2 million Series A round in November 2010. Nobody outside of the principles (not even Tim) knows how much of the $7.2 million came from Conway or how much came from Ashton Kutcher or the other 6 investors who put in $7.2 million combined.

    Since that time there have been several investment rounds totaling close to $2.3 billion (Kutcher continued to invest, Conway did not). So Conway’s investment is less than 0.3% of the total. So he was in faitly early but Tim’s description of him as “one of the biggest investors” simply isn’t true.

    Source: https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/airbnb

    Also, Conway’s SV Angel firm has invested in everything; a total of 615 companies including Pinterest, Harry’s, Periscope, Snapchat, Github, IFTTT, Dropbox, Flipboard, Foursquare, Buzzfeed, Stumbleupon, and Facebook.

  53. Before Mary Jung took over the DCCC used to boast on its web site that it had a 100% endorsement rate in recent elections – in other words if the DCCC endorsed it was going to pass muster with the voters. This is not true anymore, and the tag line has been removed – most people now know that tech libertarians, corporate democrats, and those who benefit from the monetization of SF control the DCCC.

    But I am disappointed that Alix Rosenthal has drifted so rightward. It’s lame to continually mask your right wing votes by saying your supporting more women being elected. It’s taking a progressive ideal and turning it inside out.

    I do not feel I could trust her on the BOS because she is not true to any core principles…except herself. But then again I think Zoe Dunning will run for Scott’s seats to keep the seat in the rightward fold.

  54. If we are truly honoring Jim Meko’s memory, as the Planning Commission did last week, we would vote for Peskin, the Mission Moratorium, and a slow down of Trump-like towers and dense housing projects.

    A huge wave of distrust is rolling across the city like a heavy blanket of fog, suffocating us with too many changes too fast. Voters are choking on heavy street diets that rob us of our precious time.
    They need a break to digest it all, and come up with an alternate plan.

    We don’t need any more buildings in Mission Bay until the traffic flows again on Embarcadero and emergency vehicles can function. Removing traffic lanes and parking will not solve the problem when SF residents who work in the city are forced to move out and commute in, and most new residents commute out.

    Voters are not dumb. They are disgusted. Figure it out DCCC.

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