State of the City speech filled with unsupported promises

Mayor Lee's speech was long pledges, promises, and platitudes, but short of support.

It was maddening to watch Mayor Ed Lee deliver his annual State of the City address this morning. This was pure politics, from the staged backdrop of housing construction at Hunters Point Shipyard to the use of “regular people” props to the slate of vague and contradictory promises he made.

“This place, the shipyard, links our proud past to an even more promising future,” was how Lee began his hour-plus, invite-only address.

Later, he touted the housing construction being done there by Lennar Urban as emblematic of both his promise to bring 30,000 new housing units online by 2020 — the cornerstone to what he called his “affordability agenda” — and the opposition to unfettered development that he is pledging to overcome.

“A great example is the place we’re standing right now. This took us too long,” Lee said after decrying the “easy slogans and scapegoating” by progressive activists who place demands on developers.

But that implication was complete bullshit. As we and others have reported, progressive and community activists have long encouraged Lennar Urban (which has a close relationship to Lee) to speed up development on this public land that it was given almost a decade ago, particularly the long-promised affordable housing, rather than waiting for the real estate market to heat up.

That was just one of many examples of misleading and unsupported claims in a speech that might have sounded good to the uninformed listener, but which greatly misrepresented the current realities and challenges in San Francisco.

For example, Lee called for greater investments in the public transit system while acknowledging that his proposal to ask voters this November to increase the vehicle license fee isn’t polling well. And yet even before that vote takes place, Lee wants to extend free Muni for youth and repeal the policy of charging for parking meters on Sundays without explaining how he’ll pay for that $10 million per year proposal.

“Nobody likes it, not parents, not our neighborhood businesses, not me,” Lee said of Sunday meters, ignoring a study last month by the San Francisco Muncipal Transportation Agency showing the program was working well and accomplishing its goals of increasing parking turnover near businesses and bringing in needed revenue.

Lee also glossed over the fact that he hasn’t provided funding for the SFMTA’s severely underfunded bicycle or pedestrian safety programs, yet he still said, “I support the goals of Vision Zero to eliminate traffic deaths in our city.”

Again, nice sentiment, but one that is totally disconnected from how he’s choosing to spend taxpayer money and use city resources. And if Lee can somehow achieve his huge new housing development push, Muni and other critical infrastructure will only be pushed to the breaking point faster.  

Lee acknowledges that many people are being left out of this city’s economic recovery and are being displaced. “Jobs and confidence are back, but our economic recovery has still left thousands behind,” he said, pledging that, “We must confront these challenges directly in the San Francisco way.”

And that “way” appears to be by making wishful statements without substantial support and then letting developers and venture capitalists — such as Ron Conway, the tech and mayoral funder seated in the second row — continue calling the shots.

Even with his call to increase the city’s minimum wage — something that “will lift thousands of people out of poverty” — he shied away from his previous suggestion that $15 per hour would be appropriate and said that he needed to consult with the business community first.

“We’ll seek consensus around a significant minimum wage increase,” he said, comparing it to the 2012 ballot measures that reformed the business tax and created an Affordable Housing Fund (the tradeoff for which was to actually reduce the on-site affordable housing requirements for developers).

But Mayor Lee wants you to focus on his words more than his actions, including his identication with renters who “worry that speculators looking to make a buck in a hot market will force them out.”

Yet there’s little in his agenda to protect those vulnerable renters, except for his vague promise to try to do so, and to go lobby in Sacramento for reforms to the Ellis Act. While in Sacramento, he says he’ll also somehow get help for City College of San Francisco, whose takeover by the state and usurpation of local control he supported.   

“City College is on the mend and already on the path to full recovery,” Lee said, an astoundingly out-of-touch statement that belies the school’s plummeting enrollment and the efforts by City Attorney Dennis Herrera and others to push back on the revocation of its accreditation.

Lee also had the audacity to note the “bone dry winter” we’re having and how, “It reminds us that the threat of climate change is real.” Yet none of the programs he mentions for addressing that challenge — green building standards, more electric vehicle infrastructure, the GoSolar program — would be as effective at reducing greenhouse gas emmisions as the CleanPowerSF program that Lee and his appointees are blocking, while offering no other plan for building renewable energy capacity.

Far from trying to beef up local public sector resources that vulnerable city residents increasingly need, or with doing environmental protection, Lee instead seemed to pledge more of the tax cutting that he’s used to subsidize the overheating local economy.

“Affordability is also about having a city government taxpayers can afford,” Lee said. “We must be sure we’re only investing in staffing and services we can afford over the long term.”

How that squares with his pledges to put more resources into public transit, affordable housing development, addressing climate change, and other urgent needs that Lee gives lip service to addressing is anybody’s guess.  


having their civil rights violated in the same way as blacks did under segregation.

It's hard to fathom how his brain works, and certainly not worth the effort.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 10:24 am

I wrote the comment to you:
Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 10:18 pm

You wrote:
"Something else is going on, a political consultant or libertarian group is engineering this effort at forum dominance."

Agree completely. It has to be. With paid people. One of them starts at 5.30 a.m. as s/he did this morning (look up the page) and wrote 4-5 posts back-to-back to her/himself between 5.30 and 5.39 pretending to be other people in agreement with each other. The style/tone is the same. One of the comments is about poor people still being here. Or is it multiple people with the same (sleep) schedule? How likely is that at that time? They write little smug and often hateful one-liners, so they must be paid per post, versus per word.

You wrote:
"I've volunteered over time to help the SFBG strap on contemporary comment functionality to the website, including collaborative filtering with sign up and recommendation so that readers could like other users and see comments they like while unliking other users including the unregistered and hide their comments."

I would like all that, but Steven left the impression that their version of Drupal was too old to do anything with. Then I researched Drupal and read many comments from people using Drupal who said that whatever version you start with you're stuck with. I'm not disputing anything you've said regarding adding contemporary comment functionality.

You wrote:
"Steven and Marke tell me that they will not take proactive steps to protect commenters on their site from their site being used to perpetrate the crime of internet harassment."

Interesting. Well okay. That does indeed make me look at this differently now, knowing that. This forum is often a cesspool and they refuse to do anything about it.

Note to trolls: This is not about comments I disagree with. I go to other forums on occasion and READ comments I disagree with, but they are NOTHING like the hateful, smug, ignorant, arrogant, I-own-the-facts ones on here, especially from the pathetic Lee-bots.

Second note to trolls: This has nothing to do with "Free Speech" as you endlessly go on about, not that you're ever for "Free Speech," except for your own. What this is about is a form of Hate Speech/Internet Harassment. There's a difference, although I don't expect you to understand that...deliberately so.

Now you can all pile on and write your usual smug-assed shit to me in complete agreement with each other and patting each other on the back, and I'll just ignore your ass. I'm sick of it and you.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 5:56 pm

The Guests you are referring to are always civil and on-topic. I've learned a lot from them.

It really does seem to be the case that you are desperate to try and censor commentary here but you cannot find any support, either from SFBG or from the rest of us.

Thanks for providing marcos with an opportunity to be even more insane than usual though. Posting here is a crime. Tee hee.

Note: I am not paid to post here either.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 7:38 am

We are simply providing another viewpoint.

You're comfortable with criticism, right? That's important because historically the left has rightly been accused on intolerance and c ensorship, and you would not want to repeat that mistake if you seek credibility.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 5:33 am

It's all probably the same person responding to them self. If you look, the writing style is very similar. Back-slapping agreement with each other the way trolls and Lee Cult members do. There's also projecting, like that comment @6.37pm which used lots of words analyzing and criticizing you, but didn't say anything useful or meaningful. Just attacked you for writing it.

Posted by GuestInTheCastro on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 11:11 pm

The idea that "Guest" is just one person is a myth.
While if there is a conspiracy of several of them then, as Marcos said, they are highly effective at winning.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 5:30 am

Then those on the left started jacking the handles of those on the right when they became angry at being outdone in conversations, so the "enter the dragon" phrase came upon us and now anyone who's smart uses Guest.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 10:44 am

whom I had demolished in a debate started imp'ing me, so I did what everyone else did and post as "Guest". It's funny when someone here thinks that is just one person though.

I do not imp others, although i made an exception as part of the campaign to drive Lilli/Barrier out of here. That was justified.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 10:57 am

Hurry up shuttles! You are not gentrifying and displacing fast enough….

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 10:03 pm

What are they still doing here?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 5:30 am

For these days, Hitler would be quite the hero to you trolls.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 7:37 am
Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 9:42 am

Please wacko, my hero was Steve Jobs….

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 12:16 pm

several months ago about the dire condition of these comment pages. He responded quickly and assured me that the website would soon be changing the format to make the comment pages more fruitful.

There is no reasonable way to counter idle people with no lives whose apparent sole sources of social interaction and pleasure are to write internet comments, instigate flame wars, and troll websites that express a world view contrary to theirs.

So why try? As the these comment pages have become less popular, one of the most persistent, intellectually challenged trolls has migrated to mission local to disrupt the comment pages there. All this behavior proves is what an empty life he has and what a loser he is. I figure let him bask in that victory. I wouldn't want to be him.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 9:14 am

elsewhere, and clearly crave the ability to be able to control and censor what others say. That way, misery lies.

Learn to develop the kind of tolerance and respect for differences that we San Franciscans are renowned for. The socialist states of Eastern Europe used censorship and suppression to try and instill their ideas, and they failed. Learn from there and welcome critical commentary and diverse views.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 9:41 am

I've seen his "work" on ML.


Posted by anon on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 10:05 am

Does your therapist have anything to say about your inability to accept alternate viewpoints? It may be the source of your ineffectiveness and unhappiness.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 10:06 am

of me be a textbook case of projection? Only the shadow (and you) know.

Let's see. I write the occasional comment. You write hundreds per week. Who is the obsessed one?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 10:30 am

I recognize your snarky style.

But I think his point was that you seem bizarrely obsessed with trying to shut others down. Most of us are content tos ay our piece and move on, accepting that some response might be worthwhile and others are not. Either way, it's fine.

But you seem determined to try and banish anyone here with a viewpoint you disagree with. Of course, you have zero power to enforce that, and SFBG see that as censorship and refuse.

Which just leaves you thrashing around in anger and frustration, and foaming at the mouth.


Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 10:40 am

that he allowed the comment pages to become the tool of Chinese spammers and hackers and then shut them down entirely when the Captcha went crazy. Even to this day there are as many comments advocating for Nigerian spellcasters here as there are political and often times it's the spellcasters who stay up the longest!

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 10:47 am
Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 10:53 am

Especially when they include links back to spellcasting sites in Nigeria and garment factories in Fujian Province.


Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 11:00 am
Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 11:09 am

Strategic patterns of mispluralizing shed some light as well.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 8:30 pm
Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 7:35 am

Ed Lee is full of shit. He is also heavily scripted. He is mentally incapable of talking to people without his remarks written in advance by his masters and his minions. I can't believe this asshole is going to get re-elected and continue to fuck over anyone that isn't sucking "tech"'s dicks.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 12:05 pm

But then we didn't vote for him to go around giving speeches. We elected him to "get done" what he said he would get done i.e. pro-jobs, pro-growth policies.

And he is delivering on that. After the ego mayors like Agnos and Brown, it's good to have a guy without much ego who just gets on with the nuts and bolts of the job.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 12:22 pm

Politicians need to raise money. But where does the election money come from? Over the past 30 years the wealth has been concentrated into the hands of coporations, landlords and wealthy stockowners. Story after story reports that local, state and national incomes are being funnelled to a select group of families that already own and control the ctiy's, country's and world's wealth.

It's getting to the point where even voting merely encourages the politicians to continue their attack on families and lower/middle-income people. Anyone who ever votes for Mayor Lee again is either one of the financial elites or a wannabe, or is ignorant and votes against their own economic interest, or is racist and only supports Asian candidates.

No person of conscious should ever vote or support Mayor Lee again. He and his cronies are part of the destruction of civil society, along with just about every other politician and bureaucrat working in City Hall, the state capitol or in federal government today.

I'm an atheist but the current pope is is the only world leader starting to get my attention. Some of his thoughts are below. No. 8 is the most truthful statement I've heard in years.

1. Economic inequality is the root cause of all problems in the world

Pope: “Inequality is the root of social ills ... as long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems.”

2. Trickle-down economics of the rich is a failed ideology

Pope: Some “continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. ... a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power ... the culture of prosperity deadens us.”

3. ‘Invisible Hand’ of free market capitalism cannot be trusted

Pope: “We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the ‘invisible hand’ of the market. Growth in justice requires more than economic growth ... a better distribution of income ... The economy can no longer turn to remedies ... such as attempting to increase profits by reducing the work force and thereby adding to the ranks of the excluded.”

4. New tyranny of capitalism rejects the public good, imposes own laws

Pope: “While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. ... reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good. ... A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules.”

5. Capitalism’s worship of money is a new golden-calf idolatry

Pope: “Money must serve, not rule ... we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! ... The worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money ... lacking a truly human purpose.”

6. Capitalism promotes excessive consumption, undermines society

Pope: “Today’s economic mechanisms promote inordinate consumption, yet it is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric. ... Inequality eventually engenders a violence ... new and more serious conflicts. Some ... blaming the poor and the poorer countries themselves for their troubles ... more exasperating ... widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many countries ... businesses ... institutions.”

7. Competition and survival the fittest is killing public solutions

Pope: “Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless ... masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape. ... Such an economy kills ... it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?”

8. Capitalism treats humans as leftovers in a throwaway culture

Pope: “Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a ‘throw away’ culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. ... those excluded are no longer society’s underside ... no longer even a part of it. ... but the outcast, the ‘leftovers.’”

9. Conservative individualism is undermining the common good

Pope: “In a culture where each person wants to be bearer of his or her own subjective truth, it becomes difficult for citizens to devise a common plan which transcends individual gain and personal ambitions. ... freed from those unworthy chains and to attain a way of living and thinking which is more humane, noble and fruitful, and which will bring dignity to their presence on this earth.”

10. Capitalism rejects ethics, favors the relativity of individualism

`Pope: “Behind this attitude lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God. ... condemns the manipulation and debasement of the person. ... ethics leads to a God who calls for a committed response which is outside the categories of the marketplace. ... makes it possible to bring about balance and a more humane social order.”

The article written by Paul Farrell is currently posted on the marketwatch website.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 10:00 pm

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.