Friday, November 14, 2008

Give The Devil His Due

Although I received more votes in San Francisco than all the US presidential candidates except Barack Obama combined, they were not nearly enough to win. The biggest difference between this year’s contest and the previous four elections where I won handily was that this year I did not receive the endorsements of the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC) and the San Francisco Labor Council.

These endorsements were absolutely critical in this election year where Obama garnered almost 300,000 votes out of the 350,000 total votes cast for president in San Francisco. With over 253,000 registered Democrats (43,000 registered Republicans) in the City, the seal of endorsement by the Democratic Party proved decisive as virtually all the candidates endorsed by the Party for all the elective positions won.

Despite the absence of the DCCC endorsement, I may still have won if I had obtained the endorsement of the San Francisco Labor Council (SFLC), which represents over 75,000 union households in San Francisco and which supplies union workers to go door-to-door to campaign for its candidates.

Traditionally, the Council endorses the candidates supported by the unions most familiar with the candidates. In the College Board race, these unions are the American Federation of Teachers (AFT 2121) which represents the 2,000 full-time and part-time instructors at City College and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU 1021) which represents the 850 classified employees of the College.

The two City College unions highly endorsed me (and incumbent Natalie Berg) and even contributed the maximum amounts allowable to my campaign. The unions’ leaders assured me that it should be a “slam dunk” to secure the labor council’s endorsement.

One SEIU union leader divulged to me that SEIU almost did not endorse Chris Jackson, the 25-year old policy analyst of the San Francisco Labor Council (who was also endorsed by San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly) because many SEIU union members believed that he was still too young and inexperienced. After one Jackson supporter argued that the same criticisms were being leveled at Barack Obama, the SEIU decided to endorse Jackson, an African-American who also campaigned on a theme of change.

The Labor Council was set to endorse Natalie Berg, Chris Jackson and myself but, I was informed, influential SEIU staffer Robert Haaland, a member of the DCCC affiliated with Daly, succeeded in convincing the labor council to not endorse me. The Labor Council ended up endorsing only Berg and Jackson, who were also endorsed by the DCCC, and both won. Jackson was also helped by the endorsements of the San Francisco Bay Guardian and the Tenants’ Union (led by Haaland) and their slate cards proved essential in the elections.

I sensed trouble in April this year after Chris Daly’s “Change Slate” won effective control of the DCCC. Because of this development, I decided to not even submit an application for DCCC endorsement as I knew I did not stand a prayer of receiving the DCCC endorsement. This was so especially because the leader of the “moderate” camp in the DCCC was Scott Weiner, the Deputy City Attorney who has tenaciously refused to settle my Walgreens case (which began in 2003) which he has appealed all the way to the US Supreme Court (where it sits).

The loss of the DCCC endorsement meant that most of the City’s democratic clubs (including the FilAm Democratic Club) would also not endorse me as they followed the lead of the DCCC.

My problem with Supervisor Chris Daly began in April of 2005 when he successfully managed to get the Board of Supervisors to freeze 90% of the $450,000 previously allocated by four City departments to the West Bay Pilipino Multi-Service Center for services ranging from a senior meal program to an after-school center for teenagers. Daly made this move after the San Francisco Chronicle reported that a West Bay employee had been involved in a Medicare scam.

"Most of you saw the story this weekend on West Bay Pilipino and some alleged activities there that were defrauding the federal government,'' Daly told the Board. "I think just from a fiduciary perspective it behooves us to send that part of the budget back to committee pending a second look -- probably by the controller -- at city funds spent by West Bay." (“Supervisors vote to hold back funds for nonprofit center”, San Francisco Chronicle, April 20, 2005).

After exhaustively investigating the allegations reported in the San Francisco Chronicle and after contacting the FBI, the City Controller reported to the Board of Supervisors that the West Bay Pilipino Multi-Service Center was not involved in the Medicare scam and recommended that the City funds be restored to West Bay.

But Daly refused to consider the recommendations of the City Controller and the four City departments that funded West Bay and refused to allow the funds to be restored to West Bay, which eventually had to close down because it ran out of funds to pay its employees and its rent. (West Bay was subsequently revived, however, thanks to concerned members of the FilAm community who acted to save West Bay and keep it open to serve economically disadvantaged students in San Francisco.)

Daly then succeeded in transferring the funds previously allocated to West Bay to Filipino community groups and individuals loyal to him. I wrote a series of columns in early 2006 denouncing Daly for his role in killing the “dream” of Filipino community empowerment by the late respected community leader Ed de la Cruz.

In response to the charges in my columns, Daly wrote a letter to the editor enumerating all the good deeds he said he did for the Filipino community, without refuting a single allegation I made about his central role in defunding West Bay.

When he ran for reelection in 2006, I actively campaigned for his opponent, Rob Black. After Daly won, he openly vowed to get back at his opponents. Give the Devil his due, he delivered on his promise.

Aside from Barack Obama, the biggest winner in the November elections in San Francisco was Chris Daly. All the candidates he endorsed and supported for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the School Board and the College Board won.

The biggest loser was San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom who was totally preoccupied with defeating Proposition 8 (the California state initiative banning same sex marriage) that he had no time to support the candidates he endorsed. And the other big loser was me, the only incumbent to lose.

But I should add, aside from Obama and Daly, the other big winner is my family, especially my sons, who will now see more of me.

1 comment:

Al said...

I'm sorry that you were unsuccessful this time, Kuya. I believe your absence from office will be a loss to the college students. I also want to compliment you on your writing style and content. I appreciate the information and updates.

Please have a good Thanksgiving holiday.