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Mar
3
2004

If it weren’t for the growing popularity of gay marriage – yesterday you could get married in New Palz, N.Y., today it’s Portland, tomorrow, who knows? – next Wednesday’s SF Bay Guardian would probably carry this headline:
We’re Baaaaaaack.
Until Gavin Newsom told city officials to start granting marriage licenses to same sex couples, his credibility as a mayoral candidate was wrapped up in the passage of a “workforce housing,” initiative.


Yesterday, it failed overwhelmingly – 70 percent to 30 percent, causing The Ex to say that Newsom has no coattails. Newsom, who’s quickly getting to be as adept a pol as Da Mayor he succeded, says if he’d really supported Proposition J, he’d have campaigned for it.
Maybe. I, for one, am amazed that my ‘in’ box hasn’t filled up with gleeful e-mail from Proposition J opponents who spent a little bit of time earlier this month making fun of me. Oh, well. I still think more housing is a good idea and I still think the impetus for J’s passage was disgruntlement with the city’s planning and building department. It would be easier to create housing — to build anything in this town — if the planning, zoning and building inspection process weren’t so, so, difficult to navigate. How’s that for a euphamism?
But once again I am amazed that so-called progressives, who can pride themselves on their superior ideology and vision, see no problem taking money from a political arm-twister and bully like Residential Builders Association Joe O’Donoghue. I’m even more amazed that Prop J’s opponents can claim that the Chamber of Commerce was launching a class war – comparing themselves to David v. Goliath – while Donoghue was giving them $200,000 to fight the initiative and keep himself in business. I’d like to see a $200,000 sling-shot, wouldn’t you? Probably looks a lot like a slick direct mail piece, doesn’t it?
In the end, Prop. J suffered from a host of maladies: the message against it was clearer than the one in favor; few people could see what it would do for them; they believed the pro-tenant rhetoric; the Chamber didn’t do a very good job soliciting neighborhood support; the conflict between Chamber head Roberta Achtenberg and consultant Jack Davis, and the list goes on. And on. On top of that, Eric Jaye, the consultant hired to run the campaign was the same guy running Newsom’s mayoral race – a fight that turned out to be more involved and longer than expected.
But here’s the deal: Newsom has national credibility now. He doesn’t need coattails. With a 72 percent approval rating by Progressives – thank you, David Binder – he’s got juice with the folks who oppose Prop. J. And every time he goes on national TV to face off against conservative Republicans he picks up a little more. And let’s just admit it: The parade of weddings at City Hall has done more to sweep away the dot.bomb cloud of failure and disgruntlement hanging over the city. Love, literally, is in the air.
Newsom’s fall ballot initiative on supportive housing — a proposition that many Prop J opponents have endorsed — should benefit from this new era of good feeling. That’s if all the ghosts of class warfare battles past can be kept at bay.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 3:54 PM | Permalink

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