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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

'It's On Like Donkey Kong': San Francisco Politics Illustrated

Posted By on Wed, Jan 5, 2011 at 1:30 PM


When Supervisor Chris Daly last night punctuated his promise to Board President David Chiu that he'd "haunt him politically" by uttering "It's on like Donkey Kong," he transcended the bizarre and entered the sublime. He caused a legion of hardened City Hall-watchers to say something they never thought would cross their lips: "I can't believe Chris Daly just said that."

Don't look now, but Daly's reference last night is currently among Google's very highest for the search term "It's on like Donkey Kong." Quite a feat for a decades-old, passe expression.

If you could put up with a timeframe exceeding that of a Wagnerian opera, yesterday's mayoral succession extravaganza had everything: Legal drama, rancor, treachery, comedy, and use of profanity far more creative than the stylized crap you get out of David Mamet.

But while Daly's anger at the ascent of Ed Lee was understandable, the shock expressed by members of the progressive camp was, well, shocking. Newsflash: The selection of a successor mayor by a roomful of politicians might involve politics.

In retrospect, was it a good idea to count unabashed striver David Chiu as a member of your "progressive majority"? Was it wise to count on Bevan "The Human Weathervane" Dufty? Here's what everyone got out of the Tuesday Night Progressive Massacre:

David Chiu: As reported for months, Chiu is a prime candidate to replace Kamala Harris as district attorney -- and, should he leave the board, there's one more moderate appointment from Gavin Newsom/Ed Lee. But let's assume Chiu stays on the Board of Supervisors. It couldn't hurt to throw down for Lee, a longtime favorite of Chinatown powerbroker Rose Pak -- and if you don't think Pak et al. are capable of moving government, here are two words for you: Central Subway.

Speaking of the Central Subway, plenty of contracts are going to be coming down the pike in the next year. It can't hurt Chiu with his constituents and powerful backers for Lee to be the man signing the dotted line.

Bevan Dufty: Dufty told SF Weekly in December that he'd be "thrilled" to vote for Mike Hennessey. That would have made the progressives happy, no doubt. But would they have voted for him for mayor? No way. Now Dufty can run as a moderate and write off all his many progressive votes at the board as proof of an "independent streak."

Sophie Maxwell: Like Aaron Peskin and Susan Leal, Maxwell has indicated a desire to work in water policy. She openly pined for Ed Harrington as mayor -- who, perhaps not incidentally, is the boss of the city's water system. But, more than that, she wanted a "manager" and not a "politician." In any event, it's better to be on the winning side than the losing one. And she provided her ally Dufty with some cover in shifting over to Ed Lee.

Eric Mar: This one is the hardest to figure out. After voting for Hennessey for several rounds, he abruptly shifted to Lee. And he wasn't even the deciding vote, so he can't win plaudits for courage.

As always, Eric Mar is a few fries short of a Happy Meal.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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