Monday, October 24, 2011

San Francisco Politics--Chicago West

You all know that San Francisco politics reflect a city that is one step away from a loony bin. But not only are San Francisco politicians slightly nuts, they're often crooks. And among their talents are raising campaign funds which appear on the surface to be legal. But are they? We report, you decide.

Gavin Newsom resigned as mayor to become California's Lieutenant Governor after the 2010 elections. The Board of Supervisors appointed Supervisor Ed Lee to the position, to reign until the 2012 elections. Lee played reluctant virgin, but took the position after pledging he would not run for the position. That lasted until April of 2011, at which point he declared his candidacy for mayor. He quickly discovered how people working at or near minimum wage could make campaign contributions which are, shall we say, generous.

Lee received $500 from a cashier at a restaurant, with matching donations from a cook and a secretary at the same restaurant. A "helper" from the restaurant contributed $100. Oh, the restaurant is the Far East Cafe in Chinatown, owned by the Lee family. Companies cannot contribute directly to a mayoral campaign, but it doesn't seem to have slowed Lee down. Instead, he received large donations from ordinary employees at several companies allied with the Lee Family Association. Twelve employees at Kin Wo Construction bundled $2920. Ten of the employees contributed between $100 and $500, with the company accountant being one of the $500 contributors. At Cannon Constructors, another ally of the Lee Family Association, one project manager and four construction workers ponied up $500 each.

When asked about the oddly-large and numerous contributions, Lee's campaign manager avoided a direct answer at first, saying "any suggestion of impropriety is insulting and unfair." As for the Far East contributors, the spokesman said "it's a good sized entity, and I'm quite certain the staff can afford the contributions--the employees are quite generous."

Supervisor Bevan Dufty (he's the gay candidate, not that there's anything wrong with that) got forty contributions over $100 from Castro Street bartenders, including $500 each from three separate bar employees. Dufty's answer to the question about large donations from average people was "I held fundraisers at 90% of San Francisco's gay bars, and I have no reason to believe that any of the contributions are suspect. Even being a bar back (bartender's assistant), with tips, it's a good career."

Phil Ting got five $500 donations from the employees at Archway Property Services, a firm which manages properties in the Tenderloin slums. Just before Ting faced the same interviewer, he returned three of the $500 checks, but gave no explanation of either the returned checks or the ability of the other two employees to come up with $500 each.

Michela Alioto-Pier had forty contributors who gave her $500 each. Half of the contributors are listed as unemployed. Others include a contributor with an address down the Peninsula, and another from Beverly Hills. Alioto-Pier's spokesman finessed the question with "a lot of people know Michela has the best plan for job creation and they are contributing for an investment in their future." I'm guessing the job-creation involves future jobs at City Hall. Alioto-Pier is the granddaughter of former mayor Joe Alioto. No word yet about contributions from employees at Alioto's Restaurant on Fisherman's wharf. Her spokesman insists she was meticulous in following campaign laws.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera received eleven contributions of $500 each from employees of ProVen Management, another construction firm. On Herrera's watch, the city attorney's office settled three contract disputes favorably toward ProVen. He also received several large donations from employees of the printing firm that produces his "Herrera por Alcalde" signs for use in the heavily-Hispanic Mission District. No conflict of interest there, huh? Herrera's spokesman says "if any of our donors admit to being reimbursed cash for their contributions, Dennis Herrera himself will be the first to call for an investigation of it." I guess he won't do anything if they don't admit it.

Current State Senator, and former San Francisco Supervisor Leland Yee got eleven donations of $500 each from five workers at a Peninsula business in Colma named Lucky Chances Casino. Even a card dealer and a poker referee came up with $250 each. I suppose they get good tips too. Five workers from American Airporter and Airport Express SF, businesses that shuttle passengers to San Francisco airport, also came up with $500 each. Yee's spokesman was adamant that the source of the funds was legitimate: "We absolutely vet every check that we get to ensure the person who donated it did it of their own free will, and using their own funds." That's reassuring.

The Republican candidate in the race did not respond to questions. Oh, wait. There is no Republican candidate in the race. They're all Democrats.


Tennessee Jed said...

I've read and I've decided, Hawk. ILLEGAL AS HELL!

AndrewPrice said...

Democrats and illegal cash go together like mice and cheese. Sadly, there aren't enough traps. But we can always hope! :)

Unknown said...

Tennessee: There's the law, and then there's San Francisco law. Actual law is honored in San Francisco (like Chicago) more in the breach than in the observance.

Unknown said...

Andrew: How can that be? Democrats don't like money, do they? As best I can remember, they all take solemn vows of poverty the moment they enter "public service." LOL

tryanmax said...

RE: Dennis Herrera - I can't help but think that "admit" is a very charged word. Almost sounds like the spokesperson is conceding the notion. It's quite different from saying "If anyone claims..." Just sayin'.

Unknown said...

tryanmax: I think you're right on the money (OK, bad pun). Those were pure weasel words. Kinda like the non-apology apologies which come out of Democratic offices so often. Maybe we could combine the two: "I'm very sorry if I offended anyone by taking money that nobody has admitted is illegal."

T-Rav said...

And once more, I am so glad I do not live in or anywhere near San Francisco! (Just please don't let any of them come to this part of the country, oh please oh please oh please...)

Koshcat said...

I think the City of San Fransisco needs to be sued under the civil rights voting act. I found some place on the internet that SF area has about 27% registered dem, 27% independent, 30% other, and 14% republican. The democrats are clear supressing the voting rights of more than half of the citizens. When that happens, this is what you get.

On a serious note, I should care but I don't. The people of SF keep electing these criminals so they get what they deserve.

Unknown said...

T-Rav: Nothing's going to stop the yuppies and other wealthy vermin from infesting your part of the country. They will arrive, survey the scene, then tell you you're doing everything wrong. But at least you don't have to worry about the poor moving there. San Francisco is nirvana for the poor, homeless, useless, deviant, and government-dependent. You can't blast them out of there with dynamite.

Unknown said...

Koshcat: Most of the independents in San Francisco proper vote Democrat. They are comprised largely of the disaffected left, including the Green Party and the Peace and Freedom Party. Local elections are controlled by the city government, which is another way of saying Democrats. As I've said before, San Francisco actually has two viable parties--the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks. But all the lefties rally under the banner of the Democratic Party on election day because the Democrat machinery has a stranglehold on money and election procedures. Nancy Pelosi is actually to the right of about half of those voting Democratic in general elections.

As the old political saying goes, a people gets the form of government it deserves.

T-Rav said...

Nancy Pelosi to the right of half a voting bloc? Now there's a scary thought. Halloween's NEXT Monday, dude!

Unknown said...

T-Rav: You have to live there for awhile to get the natives to tell you what they really think. My son thought I was making the craziness up, until he moved in with me after college graduation and before he got a place of his own. Now he knows what it means when someone says "only in San Francisco." Every day is Halloween in San Francisco, except on Halloween, when it gets worse. When half the people you know think The New York Times is a right-wing conservative rag, you know you're in either Havana or San Francisco.

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