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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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Defending San Francisco values

How courageous will city officials be in confronting Trumpism -- and the legacy of corporate Democrats, including those at home?

Let's get ready. It's going to be ugly


You have to go back to 1972, and the landslide victory of Richard Nixon, to find a moment where so many people were so upset and scared as they are today. And this time around, we didn’t have George McGovern running, who might have changed the nation for the better – we had Hillary Clinton, and all we hoped for was that she wouldn’t make things a whole lot worse.

As Hunter Thompson wrote that fall:

There was something… total… something very undermining about the McGovern defeat… There was a very unexplained kind of… ominous quality to it… weeping chaos. People you’d never expect to break down… stumbled off the plane in tears…

I feel that way every time I walk around the city. Everyone I talk to is not just angry, not just shocked – but really, truly afraid.

Going from fear to resistance: SF needs to lead the way
Going from fear to resistance: SF needs to lead the way

Among other things, we need to come to terms, right now, with the terrifying reality that the Trump election empowers the worst of his supporters, who will try to make racism and homophobia and misogyny an acceptable part of the political discourse. And all of us, all of us, need to be ready to challenge that on every level.

Trumpism will creep up on us. Universities will be attacked for “political correctness.” Workplace harassment policies will come under assault. Little bits of bigotry, disguised as more Locker Room Talk, will appear in public discourse.

It won’t necessarily be overt, although some of it will. It’s going to be a slow, painful drip of horror in the way we treat each other – and we are going to have to be eternally vigilant. We have to love and support each other – and not give a micron over to the worst instincts of the worst supporters of the new president


And we live in San Francisco, and it was thrilling to see that about 3,000 high school students walked out of classes Thursday and took to the streets, in a series of spontaneous, largely unorganized demonstrations. There were plenty of signs and chants about “not our president” – but also a lot of signs that said “No Hate.” This is the next generation, and our best hope.

And BTW, according to the exit polls, Clinton won the under-30 vote, pretty much across the board.

So if we can survive this, aurvive this,” let me channel Cleve Jones, who posted on Facebook tll is not lost. (BTW, for those who say “we survived Reagan, we should remember that many of us did NOT survive. Half a million people in the US, and millions more around the world, died of AIDS after Reagan ignored the epidemic and did nothing to help.)

How we survive the Trump years here, in San Francisco and in California, is going to depend on the people in local office – and on the rest of us to put pressure on them. Because there are going to be very tough decisions coming up very soon.

San Francisco gets $478 million directly from the federal government, according to the Chron. Trump has promised to cut off all of that money since San Francisco is a sanctuary city. Even if he doesn’t follow through with that, he will almost certainly end much of the federal grant money that cities get.

Remember, that’s what Reagan did in his first budget. By the time he was done cutting, most of the federal money for urban housing was gone, and homelessness started to become a part of life in major cities.

So we’re looking at a huge hit, if not this spring then a few months later when the first Trump budget is approved.

And by the way, the need for local services is going to increase.

There’s no way we can keep going as a city without making dramatic painful cuts – or raising a lot of new revenue. We can resist Trump and backfill what he cuts, or we can accept a smaller public sector, which is what Trump and his allies want.

Are we going to move toward austerity, or do something about it?


It appears for the moment that Mayor Ed Lee will be leading this city when the shit first hits the fan, since he clearly won’t be part of the Trump Administration. The Department of elections has counted about 9,000 of the election-day absentee and provisional ballots, and more have come in, so there are still 115,000 left. If they’re evenly divided among the supe districts, that would be 10,400 per district. In some of the close races, fewer than 2,000 votes separate the top two candidates.

The remaining votes would have to break fairly significantly in favor of the second-place candidate for any results to change. For example, Kimberly Alvarenga is 1135 votes behind Ahsha Safai. The remaining votes would have to be about 58-44 in favor of Alvaranga for that lead to change.

The Election Day votes have generally gone in favor of the progressives. It’s possible, and there may be some districts with more votes than others. And the ranked-choice voting algorithm could add another element. So in the close races, nobody has conceded and nobody has claimed victory. We will have to wait.

And I have to say: The race in D5 was far, far closer than anyone in the mainstream of even progressive political thought expected. I heard all kinds of people who might have been helping Preston say they saw no reason to piss off the current board president when her challenger had no chance of winning.

But when you look at the results, if all the folks in leadership positions who so often say that we need a progressive majority on the board had gone out and pushed for Preston, he would have won. Same in D11, where labor was split and progressive unions like the hotel workers gave Safai a pass.

If nothing changes, the new board will consist of five solid progressives – Sandra Lee Fewer, Aaron Peskin, Jane Kim (who would again need an unusual break in the remaining votes to top Scott Wiener for state Senate) Norman Yee, and Hillary Ronen.

There will be five people who have in the past mostly been on the Mayor’s more moderate team: Mark Farrell, Katy Tang, London Breed, the replacement for Wiener (appointed by Lee), and Malia Cohen. The add Safai.

Tim Paulson, director of the Labor Council, called me this week to say that I am too harsh on Ahsha Safai, that the Labor Council candidates won nearly every race (true) and that Safai and Sup. London Breed were going to be solid progressives over the next four years.

That would be nice. I am not so optimisitic.

Will Safai stand up to the real-estate and tech people whose money put him in office? Certainly, the friends of the mayor think Safai is on their side; that’s why they spent much money to support him.

Will Breed’s shift to the left continue now that she’s won, or will she move back to where she was before?


We will find out soon, because the response to Trump is going to require some serious backbone and the willingness to take some risks. For starters, we’re going to need money. That means looking at new sources of revenue – and the only way we’re going to make that happen is if everyone, starting with the mayor, makes a serious effort. The mayor lost his sales-tax measure because he was too busy fighting some modest reforms (was it really worth losing $150 million just to control who is on the Muni board?)

It also means we have to be willing to stand up to Trump in some ways that might seem alarming in normal times. It will probably start with Sanctuary City.

Sup. David Campos told me that when he was general counsel to the School District, he was informed that ICE wanted to come into the schools and question students whose parents might not have documentation.

“We made it very clear that we would not allow that,” he said. “And we were prepared to call the SF police to enforce our policy.

Does that mean we have a standoff between the federal agents and the SFPD? Are the mayor and the supes and the Police Commission members willing to get behind that, unanimously?

Mayor Lee has called all of the members of the board, and the newly elected supes, to come to City Hall Monday for a “unity meeting.” That could be the start of a strong anti-Trump agenda – or a sign that some of the city leaders aren’t really ready for this.


Then there’s the Democratic Party – and the lessons we’ve learned from the failure of Hillary Clinton.

“We’ve seen the problems with the corporate Democrats,” Campos said – and there are plenty of them in San Francisco. In fact, until June the local Democratic Party was run by them.

We also know that San Francisco will be a target for Trump and his supporters. “The priority has to be fighting back, upholding San Francisco values,” Campos said. “This city can’t be bullied into giving up who we are.

And how about all of those tech leaders who consider themselves forward-thinking and who don’t like Trump? Is Ron Conway willing to bring Big Tech together to support new taxes on tech companies to replace the money we lose when we refuse to give up on our Sanctuary City policies?

If he won’t, will that be the end of his friendship with the mayor?

The battle lines are going to be drawn pretty quickly – and a lot of weak liberals who fear offended the wealthy are going to have to decide which side they are on.


  1. Tim in a later article said $400m, but Fox said $1B. I have popcorn for us who disagree with Sanctuary City policies.

  2. ….what values?…even in this city we cannot prevent the poa from shooting brown/black people in the front…back…side…armed or unarmed..driving…not driving…hands up…or down…what fucking values do the dems actually have…oh I know…ability to build luxury condos…thanks democrats…great fucking job!

  3. I predicted there would be backlash against forced lifestyle changes on people against their will, but I never thought it would happen this fast. I was particularly worried about Florida as I spent the two Bush elections there, I knew there were major problems.

    This is not about denying climate change or global warming. Nobody knows this better than Florida. This is about forcing people out of their comfort zones, and ignoring their complaints. This is about a party leadership that failed to listen to what the citizens were saying and getting caught up in their messaging. They forgot to listen to the voices of the silent majority.

    The faster pace being thrust of humans is causing mass confusion and they are lashing out in strange, unpredictable ways. It is more important than ever for us to stay focused and united in our efforts to support each other now. Let us keep that in mind as we prepare for the changes that are coming.

  4. I agree on squelching the name-calling. (Except that Trump has tapped white supremacist Steve Bannon to be his chief strategist, you dumb-shit lying racist.)

  5. Bernie Sanders is too old to lead a political revolution, but he did have an impact on the Democratic party in that he found a large base of left of center Democrats who felt they had been unheard.
    No one really knows what this guy is going to do. In the week since the election he has already reversed what he said about several key issues. First he was going to deport 10 million illegal immigrants, now its maybe 3 million. The border wall has turned into a fence (we already have a fence) Gay marriage is here to stay but the courts could reverse abortion rights? His key advisors seem to be his family members, including his sister, a well respected Federal Judge on the third Circuit Court of Appeals, and his Orthodox Jewish son in Law Jared Kushner who seems to be acting as Trump’s favored Consigliere. Toss in the rag tag crew of burned out septuagenarian reprobates like Rudy Guiliani and New Gingrich and you’ve really got a team that spans many age groups and many political affiliations.
    The impact of his policies on California largely depends on the extent to which the California Senators are able to use their clout to remind their colleagues that Presidents come and go, and the federal government needs cooperation from California too. The whole thing really depends on how psychotic the Republican Congress will get.
    This country is overdue a military coup, and I would not be at all surprised to see this happen. The US is supposed to be a Democracy, but it does not represent the will of the people anymore.

  6. The Democratic establishment torpedoed a decent grass roots candidate who spoke to the needs of ordinary Americans, crushed the hopes and dreams of millions of voters, mocked those same voters when they weren’t getting with the program, and then wondered why they didn’t show up for the coronation. They have no one to blame but themselves and their despicable nominee.

    Unlike all the liberals around me marching in the streets and crying, I actually feel hopeful, not depressed. You know what would have been truly hopeless and depressing? A Clinton victory. Progressives would be discredited, Mook would be installed as DNC head, neoliberal Clintonites would be negotiating with neocon Republicans on the best way to screw the country and which governments to overthrow for the next 4 years, and then she’d get her clock cleaned in 2020 by an establishment Republican worse than Trump.

    Trump is pretty vile, but his victory has huge silver linings. It opens the door for us to clear out the Democratic party of all the neoliberal careerists, and reorganize it to provide an effective alternative in 2020. Already, Keith Ellison is being put forth for DNC chair, and even Chuck Schumer is acquiescing. Good sign. I don’t know if we’ll be able to seize on the chance, but with the Clintons out of the way (hopefully forever), at least we have that chance.

    At the same time, I don’t think we should oppose all things Trump just because it’s Trump. His signals that he wants a more cooperative relationship with Russia means less chance for nuclear war. Already he said he’d stop funding the “moderate” head-chopping jihadists. Another good sign. And of course the TPP is dead. This is huge -it’s been a goal of progressives forever to kill this thing, and now it’s dead. We shouldn’t pretend that Trump’s victory over free trade-loving Clinton had nothing to do with that. It had everything to do with that. Even Medea Benjamin acknowledged on KPFA this morning that there may be points of agreement between progressives and Trump. We should try to find those points of agreement. And if he turns out to be a disaster, as I think he generally will, hopefully we’ll be ready with a candidate who supports a real progressive agenda in 2020.

    Oh… one more thing… it doesn’t help to call Trump’s voters racist and sexist. We’ll need to peel some off in 2020. And making shaming them for making their choice doesn’t help that goal. Instead, we need to acknowledge the hurt that they’ve been feeling under neoliberal policies, their reasons for choosing Trump, and then articulate why our program is better. Of course first we need to have a better program, and for that we need to clean out the corporatist, militarist rubbish on our own side.

  7. …democrats “discover” electoral college determines presidency…thanks dems…all the money…campaign experts…consultants…focus groups…charts…graphs…lists..voting records…none of them realized the popular vote total meant shit…thanks democrats…great fucking job..

  8. Who’s “coming” and who’s “us?” I watched the entire 60 Minutes interview with Trump. I didn’t see any evidence of these crazed fears people are expressing. If you’re in the US, have a criminal record and are here without authorization, you’re probably going to need to think about leaving. That is the only group, all of which are non-citizens, I think should reassess their future plans. Trump declared himself a supporter of the LGBT community and said he considers marriage equality settled law. All this hyperbole is becoming a bit ridiculous.

  9. Federal law trumps state or local. Tim needs to remember that before feverishly envisioning a future where the SFPD is engaged in armed standoffs with members of DHS. Please – if it comes to that everyone knows the SFPD and political leadership of this city are going to give in. And as far as revenue, indirect funds from the federal government total almost 20% of SF’s budget. Where is this city going to get an additional $1.8 billion per year? It could double the sales tax, but that’s about it.

  10. …you won’t do a damn thing to help us when they come…don’t pretend you will…anyone studying history has seen this before….execpt americans of course.

  11. That name calling is why there are so many closet Trump supporters. They don’t want to be vilified or worse by the Progressives. Progressives know where you live. Out the southwest part of he City up to 25% voted for Trump. In my precinct it was 16%. But It would be hard to find anyone who will admit they voted for Trump.

  12. That is speculation. There are extremists in all parties. The vast majority of Trump supporters in SF are not racists or homophobic. Trump is not either. However, it may not be a bad idea to attack political correctness. And turning over criminals for deportation is not a bad idea either.

  13. If this election has proven anything is that Americans are tired of being told what is and what is not ‘acceptable part of the political discourse’, especially when the people doing the telling have no idea what the words ‘racism’ or ‘hate’ really mean, as they bandy them about like pom-poms.

  14. I’m going to be pasting this everywhere:

    “Among other things, we need to come to terms, right now, with the
    terrifying reality that the Trump election empowers the worst of his
    supporters, who will try to make racism and homophobia and misogyny an
    acceptable part of the political discourse. And all of us, all of us,
    need to be ready to challenge that on every level.

    Trumpism will creep up on us. Universities will be attacked for
    “political correctness.” Workplace harassment policies will come under
    assault. Little bits of bigotry, disguised as more Locker Room Talk,
    will appear in public discourse.

    It won’t necessarily be overt, although some of it will.
    It’s going to be a slow, painful drip of horror in the way we treat
    each other – and we are going to have to be eternally vigilant. We have
    to love and support each other – and not give a micron over to the worst
    instincts of the worst supporters of the new president” –Tim Redmond

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