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The Hijacking of The Democratic Party

By Warren Hinckle

First, the Supervisors chipped away at the Mayor’s powers and gave them to the Board. Then, Daly and Peskin changed the rules of the Democratic Party. Now, they plan to gain control of the Party endorsement process in the primary election to make certain that only their people will be elected to the Board of Supervisors. This will happen unless buyers beware.

Chris Daly was doing his X’s and O’s. The writer from the New York Times looked at him as if Chris had a snake coming out of his ear.

The trust fund baby leftist San Francisco Supervisor had recently moved to the burbs to shield his young family from the unintended consequences of his civic enthusiasms.

Daly was explaining his endgame, how he was going to manipulate the whackadoodle San Francisco political structure, a delightful Tower of Babel without a translator, by making the right, er, left, moves. Daly sketched out a chess board of the Board of Supervisors, here a pawn, there a rook, here a wounded bishop, and tick-tacked the many moves he had in his head to castle the mayor and capture City Hall all in the last six months remaining of his termed-out term of office.

“Defense. Offense. It was like watching John Madden at the Super Bowl,” the journalist wrote. “A city supervisor pushes for a progressive future,” was the admiring pull quote in the Times’ spanking new Bay Area section, which readers were directed to by a squatty little gangrene- green sticker glued to the front page right next to that slogan about all-the-news-that’s-fit-to-print.

Whoa, pony. What news are we talking about here?

We are talking about the hijacking of the Democratic Party in San Francisco, a good old-fashioned Wells Fargo stagecoach holdup in broad daylight.

How did it come to this, as they say, historically?  The district-elected Supervisors started chipping away at the mayor’s powers beginning during the reign of King Willie and then began picking the flying buttresses off the Newsom cathedral. They deeded in fee simple these powers to the Board–while hypocritically calling Brown an empire builder while these simple representatives of the common folk gamed the system to get themselves more taxpayer-paid aides and goosing up the paltry salary of the former part time, citizen- supervisors who had day jobs as the City Charter intended government to work –to over &100k a year, making themselves a careerist  full time job best described as wannabe politicians learning the ropes of power of the taxpayers’ dime.

The power grabbing began but was not confined to sliding effective control of the Police Commission from the Mayor, and bollixing up the oversight process so grievously and stupidly that when the new police chief came to town he found that, ye Gads, maybe hundreds of cops were waiting in line for as long as five years to find out if they had wrote a ticket out the wrong way or copped a feel on a transvestite or some such transgression while they hung for years in a blue line limbo while the supervisors discussed process.

Does it stop about a supervisorial statist expanding of power to everything, not excluding the police powers? Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi has floated the concept that perhaps the police Chief should be elected like, you know, the sheriff. I invite future novelists to imagine a universe where the Democratic Central Committee/Board of Supervisors makes the pick for elected police chief. The imagination staggers.

Back to history. In the year of our Lord, 2008, Supervisor Daly and good buddy Aaron Peskin, the prickly but loveable former president of the Board, carved in stone the rules of the  local Democratic Party for the process of endorsing a candidate for public. Now, they plan to gain control of the Party endorsement process in the primary election to make certain that only their people will be elected to the Board of Supervisors. This will happen on June 8 unless buyers beware because Daly has been planning since 2008 to take over the nomination process by electing a majority of delegate to the previously little-noticed committee.

There is news, as the New York Times reported, and as Voltaire said that when you hear the news, wait for the sacrament of confirmation, but if this news is confirmed in the June 8 election, the sacrament Catholic voters will need is Extreme Unction because it will be the death of the Democratic Party as San Francisco has known it.This is of course all the handiwork of the irrepressible Chris Daly, operating under the big wingspan of Aaron Peskin. The two Supervisors, one termed out and the other about-to-be, a few years ago decided it would be lonely out there in the cold, and conspired to create a permanent government– conspire is perhaps too weighty a word, it seem more that they more sort of drifted to the same power-hungry conclusion by doing what comes naturally like two whales in heat in sexual congress; what else did you expect them to do?

The idea was beautiful in its way– if they could no longer serve as members and keep the Board of Supervisors on the path of their self-styled “progressive-ism” they would do the next best, yea a neater thing, and control the Board of Supervisors by taking control of the Democratic Central Committee. What is that? It is a party organization largely ignored except by inside-baseball type political junkies but actually wields enormous power.

The power of the DCCC, as it is called to the cognoscenti, is the power of endorsing, in the name of the Democratic Party, the official party candidates for Supervisor and citywide political offices.

Witness: In the last 20 years, only 2 candidates, Ross Mirkarimi and, yes! Ed Jew, were elected to the Board of supervisors without the DCCC endorsement.

On the flip side of that, over two decades–only 3 supervisorial candidates with the DCCC endorsement have failed to be elected. In this lopsided Democratic-registration city, the coveted endorsement of the DCCC makes being elected to the Board a dead cert thing.

Daly also is planning, just in case, to diminish the local influence of West Side more moderate Democratic voters, by rewriting the DCCC bylaws to give much more clout to East Side voters powered by the tenant-rights political cartel.

If they succeed, the result will be much sooner than later a mayoral veto-proof majority on the Board of Supervisors of left-ideologue, anti-business Supervisors of the flavor of Avalos and Mar.

I am indebted in much of this ongoing research to longtime DCCC member Arlo Hale Smith Jr., the son of the long-serving former District Attorney Arlo Smith. Smith Jr. got into the fray when he gained the ire of Supervisor Daly by even thinking about voting for the moderate, Feinstein-ite Scott Weiner for DCCC chairman instead of Daly’s partner-in-crime Aaron Peskin, who looms now to be Chairman-for-life much like Duvalier styled himself in Haiti of unfortunate memory.

Daly threatened Smith in an e-mail in 2008 (of which I have a copy) that he would never eat political lunch in this town again if he voted for the offending Weiner because, if elected to the Chair Peskin was wanting to warm, (Weiner) “would be in a position to influence close endorsement votes” which “would make it less likely that our candidates would win the endorsement of the Party.” He wrote that “Aaron, Michael Bornstein (Peskin’s chief enabler on the DCCC) and I “not only had a slate for 2008” but were working on “fielding a progressive slate for the DCCC in 2 years” (that would be the present 2010) that would pick up all the marbles. Daly told Smith that if he crossed Daly/Peskin he “would never receive the endorsement of the Guardian, Tenants Union, Sierra Club and Milk Club” — which are political appendages of, and provide the storm troopers for, the burgeoning new Machine which would be the rival of Tammany Hall, both in control of local political office and, as fire follows smoke, corruption.

After that last threat, Smith began digging into the record of past DCCC endorsements which were on the more moderate side as the balance of left/moderate DCCC members began to shift left under Peskin’s tutelage in 2008.

The present takeover plan-in-action in this election was formed in the year of our Lord, 2008, but Peskin laid the mechanical for it in 2006, by codifying in the DCCC bylaws endorsements for Supervisor, et al., by the 50 percent, plus one vote rule. This makes controlling endorsements a breeze, compared to the former DCCC standard–which is the practice of the state Democratic Party–requiring a 60 percent vote for endorsement. (Thus Gavin Newsom didn’t get the party endorsement against his Southland rival for Lt. Governor–if that standard had been 50 percent, plus one, the Gav would have had it made.

If Daly/Peskin makes its bones on this scheme, they will control, easily, the next generation of new Supervisors who will now be elected with the blessed DCCC endorsement. Peskin will go from Ayatollah–the nickname which I, alas, gave him, because of his Savanarola-like antics in North Beach, to Commissar of the Central Committee. And Daly will be pulling the strings of “progressive” Supervisors from his swimming pool in the burbs.

June 2010.

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 jack howe // Jun 12, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Loved the article but….Chris Daly running the SF DCCC from Fairfield !!!
    i think i’ll be skipping my lunch today…..political and otherwise…

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