Be careful what you wish for. There is an undeniable distinction to running for, and getting elected to, both policy making bodies of this overwhelmingly Democratic city’s political aristocracy – the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee – but that can also create potentially embarrassing complications.
Witnesss Wednesday night’s meeting of the D-Triple C, as it is informally known, where four Supervisors who had also been elected to the DCCC – John Avalos, David Campos, David Chiu,and Scott Weiner – rushed to abstain from voting on a resolution calling for “further study” – i.e. delay – of the Parkmerced expansion – on the grounds that the long-studied matter would doubtless come before the full Board. Eric Mar, a fifth Supervisor also elected to the DCCC, was absent Wednesday but he would likewise have had to abstain.
The Supervisors are, belatedly, realizing that their also holding seats on the DCCC could potentially place themselves in violation of the Brown Act – a state law mandating political transparency which prohibits San Francisco Supervisors from getting together to discuss legislative matters in any forum but their regularly scheduled public meetings. (Copies of the Brown Act would indeed be a nuisance if posted in the bathrooms at former Supervisor Chris Daly’s bar.)
Since the purpose of the DCCC is both to get out the Democratic vote and take positions on policy matters that are in the legislative domain of the Board of Supervisors, it is not difficult to imagine the confusion and complications that will arise from so many Supervisors also hogging seats on the DCCC. If a sixth Supervisor were to run for and be elected to the panel, that would consititute a majority of the Board meeting outside the chambers of the Board of Supervisors, a clear no-no under the Brown Act.
Either ironically or purposefully, the DCCC voted last year to oppose Proposition H on the November ballot, drafted by then-Mayor Gavin Newsom, which would have barred Supervisors from running for the County Democratic Central Committee – forseeing the type of conflicts that arose Wednesday night forcing the Supervisors present to pull a abstention en masse. There was also the issue of Supervisors hogging the seats – the county Democratic committee exists to get out the Democratic vote and weigh in on policy recommendations presumable from the neighborhoods. But when Supervisors use their superior name recognition and fund raising ability – imagine a businessperson who might have a matter before the Board in the future telling a Supervisor asking for a contribution for his/her DCCC campaign committee No! – which gives Board members a hugely waited advantage over candidates from neighborhood Democrat clubs seeking a policy-making voice.
The defeat of Newsom’s reform Proposition H by a narrow margin has been attributed to the No on H recommendation on the superpowerful official Democratic Party slate card sent to all registered Democrats . Control of that slate card ‘s recommendations in the name of the Democratic Party was artfully used by former Supervisors Chris Daly and Aaron Peskin to pack the DCCC with like-minded fellows.
A motion was made at Wednesday nights meeting by the designated Proxy (full disclosure, Argonaut editor Warren Hinckle made the motion sitting in for Newsom’s regular Proxy John Shanley who was in Ireland) for now-Lt. Governor Newsom to change the DCCC bylaws to conform to the state Democratic Party county committee standard for endorsements which is 60 per cent of the members. Daly and Peskin used a change in the San Francisco County committee bylaws to 50 per cent plus one vote to endorse candidates, which manifestly enabled their takeover of the party machinery
. That motion will be voted upon at the March 23 DCCC meeting and is expected to be opposed by Chair Peskin and his allies.