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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

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News + PoliticsLee avoids tough questions in mayoral debate

Lee avoids tough questions in mayoral debate

The challengers did the best they could, but a weak format allowed Lee to duck any criticism of his record

48hillsedleedebate2

By Tim Redmond

OCTOBER 9, 2015 – Mayor Ed Lee showed up for the one debate with the five other people who have filed to run for his office, and for the most part – despite a hostile audience, some remarkable statements, and a hasty exit – he emerged unscathed, in part because the moderator never raised any questions about the area in which he is most vulnerable: The human costs of the tech-driven boom that he has encouraged and still supports.

The League of Women Voters sponsored the debate at the Genentech Hall on the UCSF Mission Bay Campus. The rules were simple – all the questions came in writing from the audience, and the moderator, Maxine Anderson, chose from them.

Either nobody asked about the housing crisis or those questions never made the cut.

The candidates had only one minute to answer each question, which didn't do much for substantive debate
The candidates had only one minute to answer each question, which didn’t do much for substantive debate

Amy Farah Weiss, who has been among the most aggressive of the underfunded candidates, repeatedly took on the mayor and criticized his policies and offered some alternatives. Stuart Schuffman, better known as Broke-Ass Stuart, who announced his campaign as a journalistic experiment, was at times insightful and often amusing, by far the most relaxed of anyone on the panel.

Francisco Herrera, a longtime Mission District activist, was passionate and in the final moments made the best case for his campaign.

The other two, Reed Martin and Kent Graham, mostly went along with the progressive positions of Lee’s challengers. Before last night, I had never heard of either of them and had no idea they were running for mayor.

Lee looked uncomfortable from the moment he arrived. He seemed to see the debate as an unfortunate duty – he didn’t want to snub the League – but he clearly didn’t want to be there. His answers were flat and appeared pre-scripted. He never smiled until the very end. He arrived to boos and left so quickly that even veteran reporters like me couldn’t catch him for an instant.

Overall, perhaps because of the format, the debate was short on policy. The candidates each had one minute to respond to each question.

The first question was about CleanPowerSF, and everyone said that was a fine idea. Lee even confirmed that he was in favor (modestly) of the public-power program. Then came a question about transportation infrastructure. Herrera suggested that the Google buses ought to meet their workers on the outskirts of town. The mayor rambled on about how the city needs more subways but also “we do need infrastructure dollars,” offering no idea where that money might come from. (He clearly isn’t going to ask developers to pay for it.)

Schuffman, after noting that he met his first girlfriend on Muni, told us that the city is too congested, in part because of all the cars the ride-sharing companies have dumped onto the streets, and suggested that a higher charge for the Google buses might help pay for public transit.

Weiss called for an environmental impact report on the tech buses and on Uber and Lyft and said the the Lee administration “is capitulating to big corporations.”

And then on to the homeless crisis.

Lee said that “there is a homeless challenge” in San Francisco, an understatement if there ever were one, and said his Navigation Center project was part of the solution. Martin made some odd statement about helicopters taking homeless people out of Golden Gate Park, which is a new one to me.

Schuffman made a nice point: “There are about 10,000 homeless people in San Francisco, and about 10,000 Airbnb rentals. I’m just saying.”

And he said that when “this administration says homeless people just have to get out of here, I find it appalling.”

Weiss offered a vision of “transitional eco-villages” on underused city land.

Next up: The Sanctuary City policy. Everyone except Lee was totally on board. Lee hedged a bit, as he has always done.

There was discussion of the dramatic decline in the African American population in San Francisco. Schuffman suggested a right of return for people displaced from Hunters Point Bayview. Herrera said we need to start by supporting Prop. I, the Mission Moratorium, and expanding it citywide.

Lee talked about a “multi-pronged approach” that didn’t amount to much of a policy at all.

Anderson chose a question about the number of people in the county jail who are behind bars only because they can’t make bail. That’s a fascinating issue, but has very little to do with the mayor’s race – it’s a matter for the sheriff and the courts. Herrera praised Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi’s efforts; Lee pretended the sheriff didn’t exist. In fact, he insisted that part of the problem was the need for education and job training in the county jail – something Mirkarimi has made a priority and has won awards for.

There was a question about human trafficking at the Super Bowl (everyone’s against it) and the dirt on the streets (Schuffman said that “we can solve our poop problem” with more toilets and Weiss talked about eco-friendly “pee planters.”)

Eventually, Anderson took a question about making tech companies pay their taxes. Everyone but the mayor argued that the tech sector wasn’t paying its share. Lee went on the way he usually does – he said that the tax breaks for tech companies in mid-Market had helped create a strong economy, which has made it possible to have healthy city budgets.

Nobody had the chance to address the city’s most pressing question: What if the costs of that economy are greater than its benefits? What if most San Franciscans are worse off now than they were five years ago? What if the stunning housing costs that have been the result of the mayor’s “strong economy” have driven tens of thousands of longtime residents out of their homes? Was is worth it?

That question wasn’t asked. So it was never answered.

Weiss summed up by talking about the need for local leaders to use their power for love and justice. She also said that she has the leadership abilities – “I had a meeting with Google, and I can talk to Scott Wiener.” Schuffman said he “found his heart in San Francisco, and that’s what we’re losing. … we need to get corporate money out of politics.”

Lee told us once again that he was proud of creating a lot of jobs. But Herrera put it in context:

“These are 40,000 jobs for people who didn’t live here, while 10,000 people were kicked out of the Mission. This planning is not for us. Our communities have the wisdom to build a city where we can live.”

I’m not usually a fan of the debate format that features a panel of reporters. Audience questions are good and democratic. But in this case, I can’t imagine a professional journalist of any political persuasion allowing the mayor to get away with essentially answering no tough questions.

Lee’s challengers did their best. But the debate never put the incumbent to the test. What a shame.

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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81 COMMENTS

  1. Instead another horrible 4yrs. of agony, for some (campaigns fail to draw the objections) unfortunately “American” political machine. Gotten placid Ed wasn’t bemused, due alleged going win nothing to defend what about senate or governorship? Ed keep dreaming where going to hold not lease approved how many inaccurate 30,000 BMR” units for San Francisco. New ruling only few have clue whom eligible another charade! Debate escape the fate: of equality of measures residents about saving the cartels!

  2. Um, to be clear, WB is hardly a model for uncorrupt government, and GN had a host of very obvious problems. Lee received less than 50% of the vote and he only came through during ranked choice’s “instant run-off.”‘ It could have gone differently, for sure, and he really has never received the majority stamp-of-approval. Also during that election his campaign was found to be questionable in the realm of voter fraud for their questionable use of stencils and how they were used by Lee campaigners to “help” (or maybe just do themselves) non-english speaking Chinese elders vote. The folks watching the tapes of examples thought it looked questionable, not clearly above board. He is not so popular. And he is a puppet.

  3. On the other hand, Lee received less than 50% of the vote and he only came through during ranked choice’s “instant run-off.”‘ It could have gone differently, for sure, and he really has never received the majority stamp-of-approval. Also during that election his campaign was found to be questionable in the realm of voter fraud for their questionable use of stencils and how they were used by Lee campaigners to “help” (or maybe just do themselves) non-english speaking Chinese elders vote. The folks watching the tapes of examples thought it looked questionable, not clearly above board.

  4. The main problem with this forum was the location; unfindable Genentech Hall in the middle of the new city the University of California has been allowed to build in Mission Bay. While it didn’t exactly appear overnight, it proves it doesn’t take forever to build a new community. It would be nice to see something done on this scale for the rest of us. But more Permaculture than Ostentatious Architect….. At any rate, it could have been held in the North Light Court at City Hall or at the Main Library, which would have made it accessible to a more diverse audience.

    I thought it was amazing that all of the candidates were I guess what you would call “progressive,” leaving Ed Lee the odd man out. I believe rising rents could be his undoing. Although there was a large vocal contingent of Lee supporters, once they find out Chinatown is next on the list for gentrification they might reconsider.

    Although the word “homeless” was uttered, there was precious little discussion about the people who live here now. The term “development” usually presumes new arrivals. I’m more concerned with the guy with no legs who has been living on and off market Street for YEARS, the young indigenous woman from the highlands of Guatemala who is breastfeeding her baby on the sidewalk, the Yemeni, Iraqi, Afghani, etc. refugees from our endless wars, and other low/no income current residents.

    I smell blood in the water. Lee looked worried. So Vote 1-2-3 To Evict Ed Lee. That’s, Weiss, Herrera, and Schuffman. When one of them wins, they can govern as a Triumvirate. I’m sure they could find a way to incorporate input from Mr. Reed and Mr. Graham (who said he wanted to act now, instead of “planning” for the future), as well as from the community via Town Hall meetings.

    The music doesn’t have to stop, but it’s time to pay the Piper.

    https://youtu.be/oFVCW7vz_2c

  5. My issue is that the Google and our busses exist, because they pollute, are eyesores, block traffic, and don’t pay their fair share for infrastructure.

    A regional public transportation system would greatly reduce the need for driving, and having people live where they work (remember telecommuting) would solve a lot of transit and traffic issue. That whole “employers want to see” their employees is just an excuse for auto-addicted Americans.

  6. You are talking about people driving to outlying Bart stations. I am talking about San Franciscans driving across the City to park at a SF Bart Station, then boarding a tech bus for the trip down 101. That just does not make sense, time-wise. And please stop jumping to conclusions about fellow commenters, like I am out of touch. That is patronizing. Perhaps you are a patronizing person, but that would be an unwarranted guess on my part, yes?

  7. You are either not a good reader/listener, purposefully being obtuse or trying to reenact an “Ed Lee” of stating a completely different “response” to the point raised (see “not a good reader/listener” above). Unless you are trying to make the argument that (1) politicians (don’t know why you would say Democrats unless you are a Republican and are trying to make an unrelated partisan jab) routinely bring black and latin@ elders who are voters WHO DON’T SPEAK ENGLISH to LISTEN to a candidate “forum” that is untranslated and ONLY IN ENGLISH and (2) you think that is a perfectly acceptable way to run a democracy of informed voters, I don’t know why you are even talking.

    And I am not even gonna bother with your silly archaic language – “model minority” – ridiculous.

  8. 1) They did talk with the MTA, as the programs grew from a handful of vanpools to the mini-buses to the annoying double-deckers we have now. The current pilot program is an effort to responsibly integrate, but people are protesting and suing nonetheless.

    2) I kind of agree, actually. I think it’d be interesting to see express Muni routes that converge at Balboa Park or Caltrain. Failing that, I think we could at least have fewer boardings at 24th and Civic Center, with BART so nearby.

  9. Whatever your judgment, it sounds like a more reasonable idea then painting walls with expensive technology that doesn’t work.

  10. Ha, that’s what you teach your kids?
    “Daddy, I gave your laptop to the smelly guy outside, hope that’s ok!’

  11. Oh, They harm SF streets. On plenty of routes they are the biggest thing on the street. Massive Diesel engines. Not nimble. Nearly the height of surrounding buildings, so no visibility. Have you tried biking next to these things? And forget about a safe left turn. Still impacting public transit efficiency. They may be a benefit to a few thousand peninsula employees, but over a few years they still haven’t demonstrated why anyone should care. Quite the opposite. Traffic is bad anyway. And they have direct economic impacts on neighborhoods.

    No where in the pollution benefit analysis are there comparisons to public transit options or living closer to work. By far the most natural, sensible options.

  12. That is completely incorrect and you are out of touch. Tens of thousands of people park at BART station parking lots around the Bay Area. Those lots are often at capacity.

    No BART to the peninsula, CalTrain inadequate, not enough pensinsula housing? Those are all actionable items for companies relying on bringing in new workers. At the very least they can lobby for the right things. If they bring hundreds of massive, private buses into a city divided and literally at war, they can certainly make progress on other fronts.

  13. Oh it’s just a class thing of course, right? Your statement meshes exactly with every overthrown oligarch in history.

    Change does not happen quietly…

    You should entertain the thought that when so many people are pushed to the limit financially and emotionally, and they see they are up against a few billionaires and corporations who are received by the mayor in secret at will and obviously get what they want — well …

  14. Popular? You keep harping on that. He is the most divisive mayor in the history of SF. Starting with being an interim unelected mayor. I expect a farce at the polls as many people are miffed even just by the lack of a contender.

    Under the watch of this ‘moderate’ mayor SF now has a social inequality level among the ‘best’ in the world. It is a poster child for how not to handle economic booms. We also have the most homelessness, worst traffic, least affordability, least open space, high crime, poor schools, grim streets apes, pedestrian injury and death, and more. That is what you expect from a moderate, failure on all fronts. Taking credit for an economic boom that happened state and nation wide is just smoke and mirrors, grasping at any links to success. Also the actual impact of the mid market ‘revival’ will come to bear as the true cost is updated past FY 2013 to include stock options, which very conveniently has been hidden for now. Perhaps the Twitter layoffs this week will hit home more, as did their blocking of office expansion last week. Or uber expanding to Oakland. Or Apple to Austin.

    I think by ‘moderate’ here you mean ‘not satisfying anyone’ as apparently he has also failed to make SF business friendly and completely failed to satisfy the nouveau riche clamoring for various quality of life overhauls. No one wins, except perhaps a few investors and founders, and property owners but only if they’re willing to cash out or evict tenants. Quite a legacy ….

  15. Hmm, well there is lots of credit-taking for the alleged ‘economic boom’ in SF. Alleged, because it’s obvious the prosperity has hit only a narrow (but vocal, confident, and aggressive) band. Alleged, because while that narrow band has prospered immensely, and others have found employment, the reality is that the majority of the population is simply trying to stay afloat as the costs of living have skyrocketed. The prosperous have overused arguments about relocation to more affordable areas – is that the definition of widely received prosperity? Moreover, that type of relocation often starts a chain of displacement that can be far reaching. As cost of living hyperinflation touches areas far removed from highpaying jobs, the crisis deepens and spreads.

    Mr. Lee has failed on many fronts. He’s taking credit for luring companies and reviving a neigbhorhood. I hear that the real credit should be going to Texas and other states which are far more successful at luring good businesses and letting their communities reap the benefits. There are plenty of booming cities nationally – many with stats way beyond whatever SF has ‘achieved’, often not even connected to a tech boom. We can start with all of the West Coast – and SF is now the poster child of how not to ‘develop prosperity’. That will certainly be a high point in Mr. Lee’s legacy. Why would give away free umbrellas when their is no rain in sight? The thought that SF would have trouble attracting good businesses is a fallacy – when was this a problem in the last decades?

    There is a long list of pronounced failures. Back room corporate deals are only one face of it.

    I think the biggest failure has been in planning and directing improvements to the city. During an unprecedented boom time, with city coffers overflowing with an astounding 9B$ budget – the quality of life, access and standards of city services, and general attractiveness have all declined noticeably. And that is not even mentioning the multiple layers of tensions, anger, entitlement, ignorance, and absence of compassion.

    Mr. Lee is clearly not thinking about his legacy, and that is always a mistake. Being a ‘moderate’ is just politico speak for ‘I have no grand vision and I will cater to moneyed interests on principle’.

    Did you know that 25% of SF residents live below the poverty line? 25%!!!
    Did you know that only 12% of the SF population can afford a median home? That number is from a few months ago, certainly lower now.

    These are not times for a moderate. Historically moderates have had great difficulties making hard decisions and fostering wide progress.

  16. That’s odd, because I have studied of all subjects too, and I have the exact opposite opinion.

    If you go around preaching that you know the truth then people are going to call you a messiah, in jest of course. Choose your words more carefully.

  17. I agree. If Gonzales couldn’t win in 2003 or whatever year it was, I don’t think it’s going to happen for a progressive mayor. Agnos probably ruined it for a couple generations.

  18. No, just a human being who has studied politics, philosophy and mentally ill behaviours. Please don’t be so ignorant by calling people who know more than you, a messiah. We are just more intelligent than you pride yourself on.

  19. Shuttles create convenience for some while harming nobody. In fact they remove cars from our streets and enable people to get to work quicker and more productively. Why would anyone oppose them?

  20. Sf isn’t progressive. It’s mostly moderate – liberal on social issues, for sure, but quite conservative on economic matters.

    The fact that Lee beat Avalos 60-40 last time, and that previously we elected moderate mayors like Newsom, Brown and Jordan versus more lefty opponents, should tell you that

  21. America has always been a nation where mobility to better oneself has been considered a normal and noble thing

    When did we become a nation of people desperately clinging to what we have and being scared of any change? When did opportunity and risk become bad things?

  22. You missed the point, which was there are cities that are more equal than SF and more undesirable. So inequality is a lousy indicator of anything

  23. If you don’t have time to speak to someone you disagree with, so be it (sort of bratty and counterproductive, IMO, but such is the norm in SF these days, or at least in the comments sections). But I will speak to you. What I hear from the progressive Supes is a lot of concern with cost of living (real but unsolvable without a lot of backpeddling or a level of building I’m not comfortable with), the plight of the lower classes, race-specific efforts, and things of this nature. Other issues I agree with them on. But my interests for the city are very bourgeois – clean parks, clean safe streets, good schools, vibrant commercial districts and enforcement of existing regulations around zoning, etc. I guess it is incorrect if I assume these are not the interests of all classes – of course they are. It’s just that so many large budget items – whether it’s the $300M they want for affordable housing on this ballot, or the $200M a year for the homeless, seem to be geared towards the lower classes. Meanwhile streets go unrepaired, parks by the wayside, needles all over the place, and so on. It’s these nuts and bolts issues I care about, and Lee comes closest to caring about them, too. I’m 31.

  24. First off, this is NOT a class issue. But you obviously are making it one. This City is progressive and has been. How old are you, to be so callous and insulting of the people who are assets to this community. What you say is demeaning and I have little time to speak to someone, who has no compassion for other people and their lifestyles.

  25. Spoken like a person who could care less about people being displaced from their homes, neighbourhood, in the City where they grew up AND call home. Why destroy a City that one has no allegiance towards, culturally, historically and artistically. I think we really know who should MOVE to Detroit or anywhere else.

  26. I have never polled the annoyance of people. I do oppose some people who feel entitled. I believe you may have a difference of opinion. Perhaps that is your story. I try not to become annoyed by a system that caters to those who are always annoyed and have special arrangements made for them. This is not a new San Francisco issue, entitlement.

  27. The idea that ‘if you can’t afford it here, move to _____’ is cliched, old, somewhat offensive, and equally ridiculous. You act like it is no problem for anyone to just get up and move halfway across the country. Please don’t indulge yourself in thinking that you have made a good (or original) point.

  28. I see my comment has sparked some exchange. To answer your question (which is one I really do ask myself) – the answer is that Lee balances the many competing interests in the city quite well. Ultimately, I need someone who is going to manage San Francisco well. I think Lee is displays an exceptional thoughtfulness and sense of balance about the city’s issues. I’m not sure whether he has made dishonest development deals or not – no one is. I think there might be some fire creating all the smoke, though. I really will give the other candidates an honest look – they all seem pretty well left of Lee, and I really would favor another moderate, since I’m not big on a lot of the things the more progressive Supes try to pass through. You have to give Lee credit for the mid-market revival and our city’s economic boom. I know it is often portrayed negatively (‘affordability crisis’ etc) but there are a lot of positives to it, too. If someone wants to make a case for another candidate, I would like to hear them out! The essence of why I will probably vote for Lee is that I would rather have a moderate who is potentially a little bit greasy than an unrepentant lefty.

  29. Affordable – if you can find a job. For unemployed or under employed, an “affordable” city is actually unaffordable, and with the lack of services, even more unlivable. Poor in Detroit is a different kind of struggle. At least here there is hope as the city has money in the first place. Living in a bankrupt city like Detroit there it is difficult to hope.

  30. You admitted using Amazon prior to 3-4 years ago, when they did not collect CA sales tax, and then not volunteering to pay it. You are a tax cheat.

    Foreign properties and bank accounts must be declared to the IRS.

    I’ve boasted about nothing. I have explained why Ellis evictions happen and why there can be positive aspects to them.

  31. Not tax evading at all, and I don’t have any undeclared accounts or property. You’re just making this stuff up.

    As for you you – you’ve boasted on this blog about your Ellis evicting of tenants and your using intermediaries to skirt local laws.

  32. Yes! That is the idea around taking public transportation. You bring what you need and if I need to go to the airport I bring what I can handle.

  33. Almost everyone who complains that SF is so unequal and unaffordable has the option of moving to the much more equal and affordable city of DEtroit.

    And almost none do.

  34. The one thing I have noticed is that those who oppose Ed Lee are often aggressive and rude, compared with those who support him.

  35. It’s Gary, the sales tax evading tenant who posts 24/7 on every local blog! He’s the only one who is obsessed with Sam on this blog, and stalks him psychotically.

  36. It’s Sam, the Ellis eviction landlord with yet a new name! He’s the only one who refers to Asians as the ‘model minority’ on this blog.

  37. I do not know which is worse, a low cost of living with inadequate public services (ie: average ambulance response time of 60 minutes, minimal public transit), and ~10% unemployment rate, or a place with a very high cost of living, services galore, and ~3% unemployment rate.

    I think I am sticking with San Francisco.

  38. They should be concerned. Just because he doesn’t appear to have an ego, and everyone has one, some are people are inrtoverted, unless they have script to follow and some aren’t, like Willie and Gavin. I don’t want to think he will win, because there is always hope.

  39. Because that destroys the entire point of the shuttles?

    When you take a shuttle to SFO, do you have to drag your bags to a Muni stop?

  40. And yet Lee is very popular, and cruising towards four more years.

    Compared with Willie and Gavin, Ed doesn’t have so much of a big ego. The voters seem to like that.

  41. Presumably his big policy idea is that homeless people will be forcibly housed in any property you own or rent that happens to be temporarily vacant.

    I am fairly sure that the Bill of Rights says that even the US military cannot do that.

  42. It’s not unusual for ethnic minorities to be led by their community leaders, politically and otherwise. Indeed, the Democrats often take black and Latino voters for granted, and expect them to fall in line. Why would the model minority be any different?

  43. Tim, you should be grateful that Lee even showed up, given that he doesn’t need to do anything to win.

    And the idea that housing is the number one issue is your own opinion. The one third of SF voters who own their own home,(which is probably one half of those who actually vote) are pretty happy about housing value inflation.

    Prediction: Lee to win with over 70% of the first round votes

  44. That was a real shock. But we must remember he used the Ellis Act to evict people from his property. So yes, think about his politics, wisely.

  45. Not if they are smart riders. Why don’t thy just use public transportation to stations, where buses can pick them up, near freeway entrances and out of the neighbourhoods? We all have difficulties with transportation, and life obstacles. Why are the techies accommodated more than other people in the City?

  46. Why would you compromise your belief that he is shady, and yet still vote for him. I always vote, but not for his politics and city managing. That seems to be one way that people could help our City. He has done a complete turnaround from the impassioned person he was, advocating for tenants in Chinatown.

  47. Cars would be a bad choice for the Google bus crowd. These are workspaces so no valuable time is lost on a crowded 101 commute.

  48. I thought the debate was weak all around. Besides Mayor Lee, who I actually thought did an OK job answering the questions, Reed Martin was the only other candidate who had anything substantive to say about the issues. Herrera, Weiss and Broke-Ass Stuart all sounded like delusional twits lost in fantasy la la land of good feelings and . Herrera is a very good community lead and agitator, Schuffman, is cute, but clueless, and Amy Weiss seems like a good person who has good ideas about how to run community gardens, But non of them could possibly run this city in this critical time.

  49. This stuff about pee planters still strikes me as very hippie. But at least she’s passionate about some ideas I consider more solid.

  50. Newsom saved us from Mayor Hipster Christ superstar, but outside of that he was useless. Profoundly disappointing.

  51. Because history shows that engaging City officials on anything is a recipe for success. If these companies had played “mother may I” with SF over the busses, it would have been ten years of public hearings, 450 hours of public comment and zero to show for it.

  52. “Schuffman made a nice point: ‘There are about 10,000 homeless people in San Francisco, and about 10,000 Airbnb rentals. I’m just saying.'”
    Seriously??

  53. Hundreds of thousands of people in the Bay Area do not drive to work. There’s no reason to believe that people going to work in the Silicon Valley are any different, especially since 101 and 280 are awful during commute hours.

    Maybe we should find a way to tax people who live in areas with public transportation when they drive to work.

    Sorry, policies should work to to change behaviors, not bend to the worst behaved.

  54. Gary. Once someone gets in their car, they are not going to drive to that Bart station; they will drive all the way down 101 to their workplace. At best they might carpool, but not because they are environmentalists. Nope, it is because parts of 101 have faster carpool lanes. Any public policy that relies on people consistently choosing the public’s generalized best interest, rather than personal cost in time, effort, and money, is a losing proposition.

  55. Lee is shady. You can’t catch him on anything but you know he has something to hide; unfortunately I will probably vote for him, as I favor a moderate mayor.

  56. Just where are those employees going to park near the Balboa BART station? There’s very limited parking. No they’ll have to take public transportation to get there. And maybe we can ask these people to be decent citizens of SF and attempt to use public transportation to get to the Balboa BART station.

  57. On the contrary, Gary. The corporate busses keep their employees from driving specifically because the busses provide a seamless trip from near the employees homes to the workplace. Make those employees travel first to various Bart stations near the edge of SF, and you will put them right back in their cars, causing big traffic for the City and 101. Employees live in SF in part for the city culture, but mostly because the Peninsular towns and cities have not allowed the building of apartments and other housing units to accommodate the employees of large companies located there.

  58. Lee’s been broken since the last World Series parade speech, and he just smiles and does his version of “How I’mma doin?”. Sorry, but none of these are legit challengers or he wouldn’t get away with that. Why would Lee bother taking part in this to begin with?

    Herrera’s quote about “our communities have the wisdom to build a city where we can live.”…..? I wish. Our communities didn’t. You can’t live in a community center or outreach program. Tenant rights groups aren’t Planners either.

  59. Redmond’s take on the debate– that the mayor was asked no tough questions and got away unscathed– is unfortunate. Given the format, the challengers did very well. In fact, I suspect if Weiss and Herrera have the resources to edit the video for campaign uses, some of it might go viral at least locally.

    The one-question-one-minute format left no room for any candidate to directly challenge another. That was probably a ground rule for Lee’s handlers. But much more of a problem was the choice of questions. The moderator picked nothing but softballs. I know for a fact that hard questions about corruption were submitted, they were ignored. There were also hard questions about Eviction 2.0, some shouted by audience members.

    What Redmond can’t seem to understand is that the challengers are all the progressives have, and that they aren’t all that bad. Weiss especially has grown as a candidate; having dropped the neo-hippie Yimby branding she came prepared– given the format– to attack the Mayor relentlessly. Lee squirmed and his handlers in suits were not happy.

    Herrera remained calm and controlled throughout and made strong points about Sanctuary Cities, touching on corruption when he could. Shuffman seemed off his game, but held his own.

    The takeaway was a consensus among the challengers that development by an outside investor class was doing nothing for the inhabitants. That’s a powerful argument. And the 123 Beat Ed Lee team still might give the Mayor a much stronger electoral challenge than Redmond or the political “experts” think. It’s all a matter of getting the message out.

  60. My issue isn’t that these buses exist. My issues are: 1) They didn’t engage city officials before launching them, and 2) they really should be limited to hubs such as the Balboa Park BART station to keep the city streets freer of traffic.

    We control where tourist buses can stop and I see no reason why we shouldn’t use the same type of control over company buses.

  61. And no discussion about how Campos’ latest homework on tenant protections got an F by a federal court (thrown out)
    Suppose for a second that the mayor might not want to spend more money defending a law which surely won’t win when it’s inevitably challenged in the courts.
    Also, it’s disappointing that certain San Franciscans can’t oppose policy without acting like spoiled children (hissing, yelling, booing, disrupting – the people’s filibuster!)
    It’s almost like their message is kissing the substance that would allow it to stand on its own without all that sound and fury

  62. I find the oversized Google buses (actually pioneered by Genentech) as annoying as anyone, but they do serve San Franciscans, even if they are not the “right” kind of residents to some allegedly progressive clientelists.

    You can hardly fault employers for working around a grossly inadequate public transit infrastructure, and things would be far worse if those employees had to drive to work (there are about 70,000 more people in SF than during the 90s dot-com bubble, but traffic jams are only about as bad as then, not significantly worse).

    As for charging fees to the GBuses, that is not possible at the municipal or county level, only at the state level. Given the astounding levels of corruption, waste and inefficiency at SFMTA and Muni, any fees would only contribute a drop in the bucket. A far better option would be to outsource Muni to companies that actually have a clue, like Transdev (runs SF Paratransit).

  63. Sometimes money works and sometimes it fails. We’ll see what happens in district 3. But Conway/AirBnB even has Newsom doing television commercials about F, and that just makes Newsom look like a whore regarding what should be a trivial issue to a Lt. Governor.

  64. Think of it this way: Not asking Lee important questions saved the city thousands of dollars because he didn’t need another fake bomb threat to get him out of the room so he wouldn’t have to answer tough questions.

  65. You don’t remember Conway’s $250,000 donation to anti-Campos campaign the day after Chiu got the weak AirBnB legislation passed? You haven’t seen the smear ads against Peskin, coming from the Conway’s $80,000 anti-Peskin campaign contribution? That would deter me.

  66. If Lee is so reviled as Tim feels he is, shouldn’t that be enough for those who are against him to rally behind a candidate who could oust him? I have a hard time believing that with all those who are against him that he’ll win the election because of “money”.

  67. The moderator also chose not to ask why the current mayor has yet to sign the Tenant 2.0 Protection – and plenty of questions came to her about that – it was obvious. Lots of missed opportunities and the mayor, unlike all the other candidates, looked at his phone more than half the time and *actually* answered barely a single audience question.

    But it is common for slick politicians to avoid saying anything substantive while they talk. So actually the most alarming to me as an audience member was the blatant “using” of non-English-fluent Chinese elders by the Ed Lee campaign. Post-debate, a self-described spokesperson who “works for” Ed Lee confirmed to me that the 3+ rows of Chinese elders in the audience – none of whom appeared to be familiar enough with English to follow the League of Women Voters’ oral instructions against signs, buttons, and stickers – were “volunteers” for Ed Lee’s campaign, brought in by his campaign. When I then questioned why his campaign/office, knowing who was coming, had not asked for or provided any type of translation for a group of potential voters so that they could understand for themselves candidate positions on a variety of items, he was increasingly shouting and blaming of the League of Women’s Voters, claiming it was theirs, not Lee’s, problem/responsibility to provide translation for people who don’t understand English sufficiently.

    Since (as LWV staff pointed out) (1) the Mayor has a whole office of translators and (2) Ed Lee’s folks knew who they were bringing but confirmed that they did not ever ask or suggest the LWV provide translation…. the only conclusion I could figure out from this was that Ed Lee’s campaign does not actually WANT a large swatch of our San Franciscans to be able to easily hear and experience each candidate for themselves. They were just brought there to clap for Lee on the cue of the lead “volunteer” (which they did). I was shocked at how patronizing and demeaning Lee’s people could be — they don’t seem to care whether anyone participates in informed democratic decisions. If someone used my grandma in that way, treating her like an idiot, I would be so mad! So I am definitely going to use Ranked Choice and vote #1, #2, and #3 on my ballot as Weiss, Herrera, and either Schuffman or Reed.

  68. 1. It was announced in advance (and again at the event) that the format would be a forum, not a debate. Expectations could be adjusted accordingly from the get go.

    2. It was also announced at the event that some of the questions would be coming from a panel of journalists and some from the audience, but with the moderator Maxine Anderson picking it was impossible to know where the questions that were asked originated from.

    I agree that there was a lot left on the table in terms of substantial policy discussion. It was wonderful to see people powered candidates directly confronting the system of corporate power and politics in SF.

    I’m disappointed that the writer of this article has still chosen not to inform his readers that Amy, Stuart, and Francisco are working as a coalition to use ranked choice voting to oust Ed Lee.

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