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.  


us voters gave him a mandate to do that over the anti-jobs, anti-growth alternative whom you presumably supported.

Lee is delivering on that mandate and he should be commended for keeping his word and doing what we the people told him to do.

Steven, you lost this battle and this debate. so why do you want the Mayor to enact policies that we the voters overwhelmingly rejected?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 2:23 pm

ALL that any city official can do. It's a State law and the city is forbidden to pass any laws that seek to violate Ellis.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 2:24 pm

Almost every San Francisco politician agrees that we must reform the Ellis Act. But what are the specific reforms?

Mark Leno tried to change the law to require a 5 year ownership period before the Ellis Act can be invoked, but received ZERO support from other legislators. What is different today?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 10:31 am

or any other city politician thinks about it.

In fact, if you study the history of Elllis, you would learn that Ellis was passed specifically to over-ride local politicians!

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 10:47 am

increase in the minimum wage and certainly $15 which would be a near 50% increase. Some business would fold or relocate of that happened, while other businesses that would have moved to or opened in SF would now not. Hiring may be cut or some folks may be let go because they do not add $15 in value for each hour worked.

It would be irresponsible for a mayor to enact a higher minimum wage without consultation. You want him to do that purely for ideological grounds with no real analysis or assessment of the impact. And that is why Lee is mayor and you're a hack writer on a free giveaway weekly.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 2:30 pm

That, in a nut shell, a very small nut shell, is what Steven doesn't understand.

Why consult business? Just make the minimum wage $15 and everyone will make 50% more money, right? The businesses will have no alternative but to pay the extra money, right? Businesses don't take staff costs into account when deciding to locate or keep jobs in the city.

Just like the famous 'corporate welfare' for Twitter. Why not just tax their stock options? Twitter would just explain to their loyal investors whey they were too lazy to move to Brisbane.

On that last one even Mirkarimi and Avalos knew that we would never see the tax revenue from Twitter's options. That money exists only in Progressive Fantasyland

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 3:59 pm

would a $15 a hour minimum wage make everyone 50% richer, but the economy would grow by 50% because of all that money magically created.

Steven is like the kid who always wants more because he cannot see who would have to pay for it. If he ran the Fed he would print 50% more money so we could all be 50% richer.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 4:21 pm

the 1% are getting richer. 1% - 15% are staying the same. The rest of us are getting poorer.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 5:08 pm

how much wealth you create. It's entirely possible that you are poor and yet still overpaid.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 8:48 pm

What the fuck? Who the fuck are you to say what is and is not important to anyone else?

Posted by marcos on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 11:11 am

It cannot be news to you that that is how most Americans think.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 11:34 am

C'mon, Marcos, everybody knows Guest is omnistical.

Posted by Pa Kettle on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 9:00 pm

This has to be computer generated, no human being would construct such a post:

"How much money you have is less important than

how much wealth you create. It's entirely possible that you are poor and yet still overpaid. "

Posted by marcos on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 9:48 pm

People get paid according to the value they generate and not based on what they think they need, would like or aspire to.

So one guy on a million a year is underpaid if he generates 2 million in value. While another making 20K a year is overpaid because there is little value add.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 7:23 am

teaches that price = marginal cost = marginal revenue. "Value" is subjective and plays no role in theories of supply and demand, whether for goods or services like labor.

A good economics professor will emphasize that these theories rely on numerous assumptions that largely explain away real world conditions. For example, multiple buyers and sellers, transparent information.

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

That should tell you something.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 11:37 am

Salaries, or "value," is based on what someone is willing to pay. If someone helps the rich get richer, he/she gets a big salary, versus if someone helps thousands of poor people, or helps preserve the planet's biodiversity, he/she doesn't get a big salary, even if the "value" is greater to a society that holds basic moral values.

So "value" is a very short-term and subjective measure the way you're using it. Bernie Madoff got rich because of the "value" he provided to his clients, even though it was an immoral Ponzi scheme that would ultimately fail. It's the same thing for many of the well-paid executives in the FIRE industries, which are also based on short-term gain but behavior that is reckless and doomed over the long haul. 

Posted by steven on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 11:46 am

Pretty funny seeing Steven lecture other people on "Econ 101".

Posted by racer さ on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 2:45 pm

way that means that an activist is worth ten times the pay of a doctor.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 3:24 pm

If you think activists are valuable, just imagine how valuable the editor of a failing newspaper is!

Posted by racer さ on Jan. 20, 2014 @ 3:38 pm

How many words you post is less important than how much sense you make.

It's entirely possible you could post a million words and still not say anything.

Posted by Eastside Clyde Townsend on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 8:56 pm

attention from the fact that his ideas are stale and have been proven wrong.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 7:24 am

Except that voters chose de Blasio over Quinn and Lhota, they chose Obama over H. Clinton and McCain/Romney. California voters choose the more liberal statewide officials over the more conservative regularly.

It is only where corporate interests make it a priority to spend commensurate with the profits to be wrung out of government and the economy via rent seeking and where liberals have been coopted into surrender via nonprofits where the moderate and conservative candidates win.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 9:44 am

gave the GOP a majority in the House.

So clearly your hopelessly simplistic over-generalization is wrong.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 4:37 pm

Voters realized their error and are changing polarities. Obama's kicking his constituency in the groin after they elected him to govern center left and he gave them the individual mandate caused the liberal base to stay home, not wanting to throw good money after bad. This caused the Democrats to lose, rightly, and the Republicans to take the statehouses during redistricting. The Republican gerrymandered to the extent that Democrat candidates, as lame as they are, got more popular vote than the Republicans.

In 2012, Democrats won 50.59 percent of the two-party vote. Still, they won just 46.21 percent of seats, leaving the Republicans with 234 seats and Democrats with 201.

This is all because when Republicans win elections they attack the Democrats but when Democrats win elections, they attack the Democrat base with a vengeance and implement Republican policies. This car only turns to the right, elections determine how fast and sharp the turn will be. The turn to the right is sharper and faster under Democrats.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 6:28 pm

that "when the left wins an election, it's the voice of the people, but when the riggt win an election, the result is a fraud".

You have often admitted defeat in politics. What you say to rationalize that failure hardly matters.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2014 @ 7:20 pm

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Posted by Makayla on Mar. 28, 2014 @ 6:33 am

that cannot do business while paying its workers a humane wage should fail. Econ 101. No decent human being will follow such a business to Brisbane.

Posted by Hoss on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 4:38 pm

And by uninformed listener in "sounded good to the uninformed listener" you mean someone not brainwashed to the SFBG progressive POV, equivalent to Rush's low information voter... a non-believer, in other words.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 3:17 pm

Build, Ed, build!

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 3:21 pm

mayor running for office on a platform of "doing nothing and building nothing". And yet that is exactly what some SF progressives and NIMBY's want.

Not surprisingly, they are all political failures and losers. The voters have spoken.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 3:35 pm

I also can't believe that the Mayor of San Francisco can't had the audacity to mention the drought situation endangering the city.

Doesn't he realize that if we had purchased those credits from Shell that there wouldn't be a drought? And that the Sierra snow pack would be miles high right now?

To say nothing of the disastrous typhoon that Ed Lee caused in the Philippines last year.

Why can't anyone else connect the dots the way that Steven T. Jones does?.

Posted by Guest2 on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 3:44 pm

Well Steven, I hope you were very well compensated to sit through this bull shit of lies, propaganda, "just say anything" and newspeak. I honestly couldn't do it. In fact, I didn't even read what you quoted that he said. I can't do that either. I read your response instead. I'm sick of hearing lies from corrupt lying political hacks who are owned by other people and work for them while pretending to work for the voters/the people and speak to the people in lofty pretty, empty words. I have zero respect for this conservative piece of work who pretends to be a "moderate," and his rabid conservative corporatist shills keep wallpapering this site with that lie/propaganda. As far as I'm concerned, he's a Fraud. Respect must be earned and this man has done nothing to earn anyone's respect.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 4:22 pm

SFBG appears to believe.

You're entitled to not like Ed Lee but you're not entitled to think that is anything other than a fringe minority view.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 4:40 pm

meetings that he knows he will hate.

Although I'd have paid to watch Steven's face while he listened to a popular mayor outlining his popular politics to a group of people far more popular than Steven.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 4:45 pm

That would never be possible when your head is firmly planted in Lee's upper colon. There's no way you could see Steven's face from there. BTW, did you just learn the word "popular" today? You used it 3 times in one sentence. Since you're learning a word a day, here's your word for tomorrow: Sucker.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 10:55 pm
Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2014 @ 8:18 am

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Posted by Gt on May. 09, 2014 @ 11:45 pm

Adding to that:

This Lee works for Rose Pak, Willie Brown, the Chamber of Commerce, venture capitalist(s), The Real Estate Industrial Complex and their Corrupt Liars, and The Tech Surveillance-State Industrial Complex and their Gentrification and Eviction Shuttles, et al. In other words: Corporations and Corporatists.

We The People (the average person) are not part of the equation.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 5:00 pm

That's the only problem with your claim that the people aren't behind Ed Lee. It's not true. They are.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 5:07 pm

What the average person looks like depends on where you're sitting in the theater, so to speak.

From my POV, the average person works or wants a job. From another, the average person is a multi-millionaire. And from yet another, it's someone who doesn't work but believes it's the city government's job to support and house him.

From my point of view, Lee is doing a bang up good job, despite having to pay occasional lip service to the nut jobs on the left.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 5:38 pm

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Posted by brand3 on Mar. 28, 2014 @ 8:01 pm

"and their Gentrification and Eviction Shuttles,"

Yes, for the idiots who are too self-absorbed and self-entitled to live close to where they work. Even my 90-year old conservative neighbor understands that. Her granddaughter is moving and she told her granddaughter, "make sure your new apartment is close to work as there are so many advances to that."

I thought: Damn, even she gets that! These techies and their shills/hacks don't. They'd rather commute on a Gentrification and Eviction Shuttle (I'm talking specifically about Genetech in this case) that uses green-washing propaganda on the back of their bus reading: "this bus takes 120 cars off the street." BS/PR/LIE. When actually that Gentrification and Eviction Shuttle (Genetech) only holds up to 56 people maximum (because there are 12-14 rows per side with 2 seats per row).

More green-washing lies from a corporation.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 5:41 pm

shuttle. Then I wrote a comment on the SFBG sharing my results. After that I checked the Internet to see if my EBC had refilled so I could buy lentils at Rainbow." - A San Francisco Progressive's Lament: 2014.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 7:09 pm


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

"When actually that Gentrification and Eviction Shuttle (Genetech) only holds up to 56 people maximum (because there are 12-14 rows per side with 2 seats per row)."

I wrote the comment I'm quoting above. I was waiting for the 33 again this evening and had more time to count the number of seats on the Genetech Gentrification and Eviction Shuttle. There are 10 rows (not 12-14 rows as I originally said) and the rows are not aligned. (They are not across from each other.) They are staggered rows. So there's even less passenger capacity on the Genetech Gentrification and Eviction Shuttle than I had originally thought and wrote. So if every seat is occupied, that is only removing 40 cars off the streets (and not 120 as they lie/claim). Didn't Genetech think that a questioning mind(s) would count the number of seats to question their green-washing propaganda/bull shit about "120 cars removed from the streets?"

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 8:42 pm

how many trips does it take? that may be how they came to that number.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 8:58 pm

Well let's see here. If a person goes to work that's one trip. Understand? When they come back from work that's two trips. Understand? But still, that would only be one car if s/he were driving. Now let's review. Now how many trips is that? That's two trips. So if the Genetech Gentrification and Eviction shuttle were full, that would be 40 people each trip or 40 cars taken off the streets each trip (but that's giving them the benefit of the doubt that they mean round trip even though they don't say round trip anywhere on the back of the shuttle).

Now 40 + 40 = 80. Correct? Now let's review. On the back of their bus it says "120 cars taken off the street." Now let's review:

120 cars supposedly taken off the streets
- 80 cars taken off the street by 40 techies round trip IF at full-capacity
40 (WTF?) 40 missing cars in their calculation. (Hmmmmmmm). So 40 cars are still missing in their calculation, and these people are supposed to be bright people who can't do simple math?

Now let's review: That means that Genetech is over-stating (lying/green-washing) about how many cars are taken off the street. Even round-trip and at full-capacity, they are still lying/green-washing. Even though they don't use the words "round trip" on the back of the Genetech Gentrification and Eviction shuttle and when one looks on the shuttle it's rare to have more than 5 people or so riding the thing.

If this explanation isn't sufficient for you, I can draw you a picture, but you would have to provide the crayons. Even some useless, sad-life troll should be able to grasp this, no? Remember this in school? It's remedial math. End of review.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 9:41 pm

what if it makes 3 round trips?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2014 @ 9:56 pm

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