You really have to hand it to Mayor Newsom and his team. They can pretty much get away with anything, short of murder for hire, and no one seems to really mind. Even more amazing, even when “progressives” are right on the issues, they can’t seem to get their message out.
This latest brouhaha, between Supervisor Peskin, the Mayor, the infamous MTA, et al gets the usual “political gossip” treatment, as always. But also, as always, we tend to forget a few salient points as to how we got here.
We’re in a situation where the city has a big budget deficit and Mayor Newsom has ordered awesome-sounding “across the board cuts,” sounding all fiscally responsible. Which is funny, because as Supervisor Daly tried to point out, this is the same Mayor who blew out the budget with big expensive pay raises and increases in the City payroll.
What’s even funnier is that as Daly was trying to point this out, his infamous “cocaine” line blew up into this Big Problem, and Supervisor Peskin was gamed into removing Daly from the Budget Committee. So even though in this case Daly was right, it was he who paid the price – and the Chronicle waited 6 months to note Newsom’s key role in blowing out the budget.
Now, to be fair, it was not that hard to push Daly aside – his acrimonious style, and his spending of political capital on symbolic measures made it easy for the Mayor’s people, and their friends in the press, to make it all about something Daly really didn’t say. Chalk one up for repeating the “mean Chris” meme, and one down for any serious budget reporting.
Likewise, as the Mayor is demanding we cut funds from things we need, he’s spending a lot of money on plasma TVs and fancy new offices. And to pay all these people watching ProRun on those plasma tvs, he’s swiping money from MUNI and other agencies so he can fill the chairs.
But once again, it really doesn’t matter if the Mayor’s people are doing anything wrong – they’re recasting this as a “personal attack” and upping the ante with all kinds of personal and legal attacks, so no one stops and thinks about the actual issues at hand. And once again, as in the case with Daly, Peskin’s temperament and style are being used against him. Suddenly we’re talking about he-said-he-said, instead of talking about whether the Mayor is breaking the law, or mismanaging the taxpayers’ money.
Brilliant. One thing progressives and their allies don’t seem to understand is that in these fights being “right” with the facts isn’t enough – you have to have the political capital to be able to fight back.
Blowing it all on symbolic measures and feel-good stuff means you don’t have it when you really need it. Now, the Mayor’s holding all the cards, and although his opponents may have caught his hand in the till, they’re losing the battle.
As this latest political battle escalates, it’s clear the Mayor’s people don’t mind playing rough with their opponents. There’s no “safe word” in San Francisco politics, and those who would oppose the Mayor would be wise to remember that.
Note: I wish I was clever enough to come up with that last bit, but it’s actually a paraphrasing of a comment I heard from a friend, so I wanted to be sure I mentioned that.
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