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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Board of Supervisors: Get Used to Muddle in the Middle

Posted By on Wed, Jan 2, 2013 at 11:45 AM

click to enlarge Just like the Board of Supervisors, but with gold hotpants
  • Just like the Board of Supervisors, but with gold hotpants

By this time next week, barring an event recalling a Strom Thurmond phone book-reading filibuster, San Francisco will have a newly minted Board of Supervisors president.

Incumbent David Chiu is in a solid position, but others, including Scott Wiener, are making plays of their own. It'll be intriguing to see what happens -- and not just because board president elections offer the spectacle of behind-closed-doors politics in open session. No matter who "counts to six" and wins the presidency, a new board dynamic will be in play -- the muddle in the middle.

In the recent past, the board had its strongly defined left and right flanks, with a few crossover votes in the middle. But that's no longer the case.

These days, the only really reliable progressive votes are David Campos and John Avalos and the only rock-ribbed moderates are Mark Farrell and (possible short-timer) Carmen Chu. Jane Kim and Eric Mar lean left, but can be politically opportunistic (or less doctrinaire, depending on how you see things).

Incoming supes London Breed and Norman Yee figure to lean moderate and progressive, respectively -- but it's hard to pigeonhole them. Chiu and Malia Cohen are also hard to figure and Wiener has an unpredictable streak of his own (remember, he voted in favor of CleanPowerSF).

So, figure that the pool of middle-dwelling supes now numbers as high as seven. How this plays out with regards to the business of governing San Francisco remains to be seen. But it figures that with more legislators willing to listen to arguments and buck "party lines" on an issue, these could be good times for those paid to make arguments about issues. Namely, lobbyists could be more influential than in years past.

A quick glance at who was lobbied the most in 2012 reveals that David Chiu met with lobbyists 102 times and Malia Cohen had 81 sit-downs. That's far more than any other supervisor. And, again, it makes sense. You're not going to make an effort to convince someone ideologically set against your proposal to see things your way; as former Supervisor Chris Daly once told us "One of the few good things about being me on the Board of Supervisors was the other side didn't waste their fucking time on me."

Whichever supe emerges as board president may be the first of many successful lobbyists in the years to come.

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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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