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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Katy Tang Elected Board of Supervisors President as Progressives Walk Out

Posted By on Tue, Nov 18, 2014 at 8:14 PM

Katy Tang, aka Ms. President
  • Katy Tang, aka Ms. President
These days, aficionados of the Internet are buzzing about the Pitch Drop Experiment. In 1927, some pitch, a tar derivative, was placed into a beaker. Since that time, only nine tiny drops have fallen from that beaker. Doing the math, that's about a decade's wait per drop. 

Huh: Wait an interminably long time for an event that's over and done in a blink of an eye. Interesting way to spend a lifetime. 

Which brings us to this afternoon's Board of Supervisors meeting. The drama of a bloody-knuckled vote for David Chiu's successor as Board President was delayed, coming after the municipal coronation of Frida the Dog Mayor, after the environmental appeal of a proposed Telegraph Hill mega-condo resembling the very worst of Daly City, and after any number of members of the public stood at the dais and spoke or, at least, made noises for their allotted two minutes. Then came the vote. 

And, in the blink of an eye, it was done. And Katy Tang is your new Board President. 

But not without some rancor. 

Today's vote comes weeks earlier than it might have. This was the call of outgoing President David Chiu. And for whatever reason he chose this day (he claims an abundance of caution in ensuring a "seamless transition" when he decamps to the Assembly on Dec. 1) it came on a day when David Campos was absent on a long-planned vacation. Mark Farrell, a presidential aspirant, supported Campos in that Assembly race. 

So Chiu managed to kill two birds with one stone there. Intentionally or otherwise. 

Nearly five hours after the meeting started, the supervisors finally began talking — and arguing — about the presidential vote. Supervisor John Avalos pushed for a delay and was backed by Eric Mar; Avalos described holding this vote sans Campos as "antidemocratic." Mar said it would be "illegitimate." 

Avalos was very insistent about this. And, as ever with Avalos, you can't fault the man's spirit. He was selling this argument. But this was not a room of buyers. Campos is, after all, on a holiday in Bali, not chained to the wall in a dank dungeon at the mercy of a deranged man with a car battery. 

Campos' absence didn't keep the supes from ruling on an that interminable appeal of Daly City on Telegraph Hill or conducting any other business. No one would say those votes were illegitimate or antidemocratic.  Avalos and Mar's colleagues, most notably Scott Wiener, let them know this. Avalos' motion to delay the vote failed, 6-4, leaving him visibly upset, and flipping his cellphone like a baton while pondering what to do next. 

What came next was a walkout. 

Both Mar and Avalos followed through on threats to boycott the vote; Mar looked directly at Chiu before walking out and told him this was "no way to leave the board." Gravitas there.

But it was purely symbolic and about as effective as leaping in the air the moment before your runaway elevator hits the basement. You're still going to get squashed. As did Mar and Avalos today. 

Farrell nominated Tang for the position of interim Board President and no other names were mentioned. The eight supes who didn't amble out of the chamber voiced their approval and what's done is done. 

And now, the intrigue. Why did this happen? Farrell, we're told, badly wants this position. London Breed's name has come up as well. So why did things fall so neatly to Tang? Here's one way of piecing it together: 

Farrell did not have the votes tonight. A move to delay would have been seen as an act of apostasy among his moderate colleagues (Avalos' theatricality likely cemented that). So he nominated Tang, who'll take over Chiu's post on Dec. 1 and helm the next two Board meetings before another presidential vote. 

Tang may or may not want to toss her hat in the ring and become the full-time real-deal Board President in January; we're told she said she'd "cross that bridge when she came to it." Farrell wants this. Breed, presumably wants this. So, in nominating Tang, Farrell may have given himself a shot to run again in January, when Campos is back and Chiu isn't in the picture. Breed may run too. 

We didn't catch up with Farrell to run this by him but Breed said she would not angle for Board President if Tang wants to hold onto the job: "We have a good relationship. We're not going to fight it out. That's just not going to happen." 

The time for fighting is later. The time for talking and figuring things out starts now. And, in January, we'll see. We will see. 

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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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