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Home News + Politics Dede Wilsey joins big money against City Hall reform

Dede Wilsey joins big money against City Hall reform

Mayor's allies spending more than $800,000 against Props. D, H, L and M

Dede Wilsey gave $150K to the mayor's pet campaign. (YouTube screenshot)

There’s an astonishing amount of money pouring into the San Francisco election, mostly through political action committees, independent expenditure committees, and groups that are raising unlimited cash to attack affordable housing and oppose good-government ballot measures.

Dede Wilsey gave $150K to the mayor's pet campaign. (YouTube screenshot)
Dede Wilsey gave $150K to the mayor’s pet campaign. (YouTube screenshot)

Among the more stunning examples: Dede Wilsey, who just narrowly kept her job as the head of the city-owned Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, dropped $100,000 this week into a committee aimed at blocking four measures that would create more sunshine, oversight, and accountability at City Hall.

The four are at the top of Mayor Ed Lee’s hit list, and his former aide, Tony Winnicker, has taken a leave from his job to work full time fighting them.

Prop. D would require special elections to replace supervisors – stripping the mayor of the ability to make appointments and shape the board. Prop H would create the Office of Public Advocate. Prop. L would give the supes more ability to oversee Muni. Prop. M would create a commission to oversee the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Economic Development.

A committee called San Franciscans Against Wasteful Spending (don’t you love these names? I’m against wasteful spending, too, and that’s part of what a public advocate would go after) has raised $840,000 to block the measures.

Among the key donors: Wilsey, whose tenure at the top of the city’s museums (which makes her, of course, a powerful force in high society) has been more than a bit controversial. She recently retained her role – and it can’t have hurt to be in the mayor’s good favor.

Her $100,000 check was dated Sept 27, 2016.

“This certainly comes across as someone wanting to wins the mayor’s favor to keep her position,” Sup. David Campos, the sponsor of Prop. H, told us.

The Fine Arts Museums are city agencies, but are run by a private board. It’s a strange relationship that the supervisors’s budget analysts says leads to a lack of oversight and transparency.

The mayor’s allies also picked up $110,00 from the Committee on Jobs, a downtown organization. A quick check on the SF Ethics Commission website shows that on Sept. 21, Wilsey gave a $50,000 check to that organization. The other big donors: Charles Schwab ($50K) the Chamber of Commerce ($20K) and Dignity Health ($5K).

So that’s where my health-care money is going. Good to know.

Then there’s $12,500 from a group called Working Families Fighting to Stay in San Francisco, which is a front for the National Association of Realtors, which has funded the group to the tune of $360,000 (so far). That group is pushing Proposition U, which would cut the amount of affordable housing available to low-income families.

There’s $100,000 from Hathaway Dinwiddie Construction Company, $100,000 from real-estate executive George Manus, and $50,000 from HFF Commercial Real Estate.

So Dede Wilsey, the realtors, the Chamber of Commerce, the real-estate industry and Charles Schwab are against these four measures. Makes it pretty easy to figure out which side to be on, right?


  1. The SMART voters will vote for DHLM and a transparent government that works for them, not one that avoids public scrutiny.

  2. Lets see, SEIU 1021 represents 54,000 folks. So $91K divided by 54,000 is $1.68 per individual member. A far cry from the $100K the individual Dame Dede donated.

  3. Turns out Dame Dee Dee has thrice (yes, that’s 3 times) given $5000 to London Breed’s run to keep her seat. Wilsey is a Republican and a real estate magnate who does not live in D5.

  4. We want a board of supervisors who are independent too many 20 million dollar boat race and tax payers money for the NFL.

  5. SEIU Local 1021 representing city workers put up $91K in independent expenditures for Alvarenga. . I guess your own paymaster’s pay-to-play bribery doesn’t deserve a mention too.

  6. Hey, be fair, how is she supposed to feed and clothe her family re. raising the price of their art by having the museum buy it, if she’s not running things.

  7. Good point Tim. It’s often easier to wade through the massive voter pamphlets by just turning to who wrote the opposing arguments to any measure, though funding numbers are an even better measure. But we’re going to have the Bay Guardian slate card soon anyway, right ? 🙂

    Re. Muni since nothing ever seems to help I figure the only way to complain is to vote for Prop L (Muni’s 50 page web form misdirections are a masterpiece re. complaint avoidance ! I guess to be fair they’d be overwhelmed otherwise). I know, I know small streets, a huge increase in population… strange that many other municipalities seem to have figured out how to effectively deal with similar issues.

    Whenever I don’t have time to walk somewhere and need to take Muni any hope of scheduling goes out the window re. the late, intermittent, or nonexistent, overcrowded buses. E.g. the latest was missing an already 15 minute late, according the electronic monitor, 44 because there was literally not an inch of space left to squeeze anyone in – needless to say that didn’t contribute to a particularly pleasant travel environment ! And that’s not to mention going to the Muni website to get a route for an area I hadn’t traveled before. When I showed up at the specified corner there wasn’t a Muni stop to be found. I walked a block to a marked Muni stop (though this one had no label re. the lines that stopped there). I asked the driver of the first bus that stopped where to catch the line Muni had specified and he said that maybe there was a stop for that line another 6 blocks in the opposite direction.

    I’m sure Prop L will do nothing to fix this apparently broken beyond repair agency (I’ve spent almost all of my life in SF and it has always been thus) but as a hopeless optimist re. preferring public options what the hell.

  8. Isn’t that why Supervisor Campos proposed the office? He will be termed out and will need a new teat to suckle. Bevan Dufty is running for BART Board, but we should be supporting Michael Petrelis.

  9. “Good govmint” to some is just “More govmint” to others.

    Supe’s interfering with MUNI? Been there, done that. Mayors appointing temp supes? So you want someone totally unaccountable?! And “public advocate” is just another name for power and budget $$$ to a termed out politician with no guarantee of results

  10. That Dede remains on the museum board is a disgrace. I won’t be renewing my membership and I hope there is a membership boycott.

    Why should I pay to support an institution where Dede gives away money whenever she wants?

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