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Big Tent, Same Snake Oil

Nov
3
2003

Elites, as anyone who has been left out of one can tell you, are often self-anointing. They don’t have to be rich. They don’t have to be powerful. They just have to believe their own press.
And in San Francisco there appears to be plenty of holy oil to go around. The Guardian editorial is just one example.
There are plenty of others. The rumors, for example, that Daly’s guerrilla appointments were encouraged by Supervisor Aaron Peskin. Peskin’s professional interest is water rights management. And now with former Sierra Club president Adam Werbach on the city Public Utilities Commission, he has an ally on the board that controls city — and the region’s — water supply. Nicely done, Supervisor Peskin. So progressive, so open, so — what’s that word they like to use in business? — transparent.
That’s not all you can see behind the thin curtain. In their Lefty revival meetings, Daly and his buddy, Green Party mayoral candidate and Board of Supervisors President Matt Gonzalez preach the progressive bible. They will, they say, run the city differently. But strip away the usual code words, the flashy political protest theatrics, and their actions speak to a return to past — as the Guardian itself acknowledges with its Brown comparison — not a move ahead.
There’s Matt Gonzalez’ rental of a Walter Wong building — that’s something outgoing Mayor Willie Brown used to do during his campaign. Why? Because “expediter” Wong has political juice in the Asian communities and he uses it on behalf of those who help him. “It’s not a coincidence,” says a political op who is working against Gonzalez.
There’s the brohaha over the city’s Equal Benefits Ordinance, a landmark piece of legislation that San Franscisco’s gay community regards as the cornerstone of its political and social achievements.
Daly recently suggested, as the Bay Area Reporter detailed in this week’s issue, that oversight of the law become part of the city’s public health department, a move that would strip it of its power. ” ‘We have been betrayed,” [long-time gay rights activitist Jeff] Sheehy told the committee at a special hearing on Monday,” BAR reported. “‘This language effectively destroys the enforcement mechanism which has been key to the ordinance’s success.’”
There’s a disconnect here. Words and actions don’t meet up.

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