An "instabook" penned by political consultant Enrique Pearce titled The Ed Lee Story: An Unexpected Mayor is now the tome to tote onto Muni (until Michael Chabon disgorges another novel).
Knocking out 50,000 copies of the book ran the San Francisco Neighbor Alliance some $88,000; author/consultant Pearce declined to state just who picked up the check.
Lee's participation in the assembling of his own life story would constitute the candidate's cooperation with an independent expenditure committee, a political no-no. So, all too appropriately, it's left for others to craft Lee's narrative. The book -- which, sadly, we haven't yet had the pleasure of reading -- was gleaned via speeches, news articles, and testimony of friends and confidants of the mayor. Not surprisingly, they paint a loving portrait of a rumpled, endearing man who rose from modest means to achieve The American Dream.
There is, so far as we can tell, no mention of what Lee might actually do as mayor. Perhaps Lee is waiting for someone to write a book to tell him.
In any event, this is, if you'll excuse the pun, not entirely a novel move. In 1987, successful mayoral candidate Art Agnos wrote a book titled Getting Things Done, printed up some 150,000 copies at a cost of around $35,000, and put up billboards reading "Art Agnos For Mayor -- Read My Book!"
Agnos' book, unlike Lee's, did not give away family recipes or devote numerous pages to big-time city power brokers to cajole the candidate's deficiencies in the sartorial department. Agnos did, however, talk about that time he was nearly shot to death by crazed serial killers as well as stuff that was surely almost as interesting: "Making San Francisco more affordable, use of public lands, rent control, preserving single-family homes, revitalizing the housing authority, minority-owned businesses, regional cooperation, and transit."
Agnos pauses. "You know, I'm the only one who still has these books."
He'll be pleased to learn, however, that not only does the San Francisco Public Library have copies of Getting Things Done and its successor, Getting Things Done: A Two-Year Progress Report -- they're available on the shelves for the next patron.
Asked his opinion of Lee's instabook, Agnos said he'd consider reading it. But he did manage to get in a couple of digs. First, he said what made his book unique was that "it didn't use lots of pictures with third-grade writing telling everyone how much I liked what was in the picture."
Then he lamented Lee didn't write the book himself. Had he, "I'm sure it would say more about what he learned from me about how to say no to his power broker friends, like I did with the Embarcadero Freeway."
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