Sunday, January 18, 2015

State of Ed Lee's San Francisco is Deplorable... And It Looks Like He's Running Unopposed For Reelection


Mayor Total Sell-Out

-by Denise Sullivan

Mayor Ed Lee issued his annual State of the City report from the shame and pity that is his San Francisco last Thursday, and while it might look good on paper, his critics are less than enthused.

Lee touts jobs and housing as major contributions to municipal welfare on his watch. Transformation of the long-suffering Tenderloin and Mid-Market area is another dramatic change he likes to take credit for, though the jury is way out on who won in that deal. Along with the general Mahattanization of our seven by seven square miles, Lee's brief resume includes generous tax breaks for tech biz, especially Twitter, and a transportation system that gives free reign to its new additions: The over-sized "Google" buses that tear up our roads and hog bus stops and a car service based here with a tendency toward intimidation and sexual assault around the world.

For artists, low to middle income earners, and the people of color who have been banished from the their homes in recent years thanks to Ellis Act evictions, Ed Lee is the villain in a tale of two very different San Franciscos and things are getting more Dickensian here by the day.

Here's a quick look at some of the things that Lee's beloved "sharing economy" hath wrought in 2014:

Uber VP threatens a disabled journalist

Developers Urban Green attempt to roust 98 year old renter from her home of 50 years

Police shoot and kill Bernal Heights resident, Alex Nieto

Progressive weekly, San Francisco Bay Guardian is shuttered after 48 years

Nation's oldest African-American bookseller, Marcus Bookstore, evicted and ransacked of 53 years worth of local history

Park spaces move toward permitting and tech bros go viral

Founding Mission arts and culture figures, Yolanda Lopez y Rene Yanez, evicted

I forget if the "Glasshole" incident at a local bar was last year or the year before but… you can Goggle it yourself. They have since scrapped the gadget.

And you probably heard the one about the recent rains outing our power thanks to failing PG&E infrastructure. There are rats in the school cafeterias, and the food banks are bare here in the land of freshly-legal foie gras. And for the first time  since…ever, homeless people are now becoming the victims of violent crime.

Perhaps most concerning, is that come election time this November, Lee will be running for a second term, unopposed. For readers curious, just who is this Edwin Lee (李孟賢), he was appointed mayor in 2011 to finish the mayoral term Gavin Newsom vacated when he ran off for duty in Sacramento. Lee vowed not to run but at the urging of some insiders, did and won. Ironically, though not to the folks who have lost their residences during his term, Lee began his political life as a housing and immigrants rights activist. I don't know much else about him except this: He's the guy who was asked on the occasion of Candlestick Park closing (it will be replaced by a luxury mall and condos) what his favorite Beatles song was and answered, "She Loves Me." No, Ed, she doesn't. The song is called "She Loves You.

Why there is no progressive candidate to oppose him comes down to two things, I suppose: Money, and well, money. Ed has tech (and "angel" investor Ron Conway), but without opposition, it surely looks like San Francisco's progressives have no one and our days are finally over and out (Harvey wept).  Not that we don't have some wonderful progressives at work here who could take on tech and make great candidates-- they just aren't interested. And neither are the young tech workers who populate the city who a)don't vote and b)if they did, would likely go right, as in red or Libertarian.

At Modern Times Bookstore Collective where I work part time booking forums and discussions with authors to debate these matters, we run our own monthly State of the City Forum to discuss just exactly how we think our city is doing in its time of extreme gentrification. Engaging local activists, artists and authors alongside community members in conversation, we have heard from locals no less esteemed than Rebecca Solnit, David Talbot, Alejandro Murguia and Chris Carlsson who all say we are a city who has lost its soul. And yet, there is no real plan afoot to turn things around. And so, next week, we turn to poetry for the solution. I've invited second San Francisco poet laureate Janice Mirikitani to speak to the matters of homelessness here and to the general state of our town. She knows a bit about sustenance, survival, and taking care of people: Not only did she survive internment in WWII, she's made a life here as an artist-- written, spoken, and on foot as a dancer. She also founded Glide Foundation where with her husband, the Rev. Cecil Williams, she tends to the poor in the Tenderloin daily. I intend to ask her what she would do if she were mayor. Heck, I might even ask her if she'll make a run for office.

To stay updated on the secrets of San Francisco, check former Bay Guardian editor Tim Redmond's news site, 48 Hills where Denise Sullivan occasionally posts on arts and culture. San Francisco is a small town; it was courageous of Denise to write this post for us.

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At 3:50 PM, Anonymous Lois Rita Helmbold said...

Well said, Denise! Thank you!


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