Friday, July 24, 2009


When a prominent person's departure sparks lavish praise, as with Michael Jackson or Walter Cronkite, I ask the eulogizer to name one good thing that person did.

For instance, I challenge MJ's fans to name one of his songs  that will become a standard.

Interesting to learn that Jackson's favorite song was "Smile," by Charlie Chaplin. "Smile," is definitely a standard.


Chris Daly's recently announced departure from San Francisco prompts the question: Name one good thing Chris Daly did in his eight years as San Francisco supervisor.

For me there's an obvious answer: Chris Daly sacrificed his own career in order to block the appointment of Julie Lee's son to public office.

Julie Lee eventually went to federal prison for funneling grant money, intended to help immigrants, into the campaign fund of an old-old-boy San Francisco politician.

Kevin Shelley, California Secretary of State, whose campaign received the stolen grant money, employed Julie Lee's son, Andrew, in his office (State payroll). In his previous role as legislator, Kevin Shelley initiated the grant and steered it toward Julie Lee.

While the grant money rip-off was proceeding as planned, then Mayor Willie Brown declared October 13, 2001 "Julie Lee Day" in San Francisco. [Chicago has probably had a "Tony Rezko Day."]


Then, Mayor Willie Brown appointed Julie Lee's son, Andrew, to a seat on San Francisco's Public Utilities Commission, a move that stank to heavens of imperial height.

In a Matt Smith SF Weekly article, Chris Daly describes a meeting with Julie and Andrew Lee:

I have two chairs in my office. In one sits Andrew Lee, and in one sits Julie Lee," Daly recalls. "I said, 'Andrew, tell me what you know about utilities.' He said, 'I don't know anything about utilities.' You've got to respect his honesty. I said, 'Then how are you qualified?' He said, 'Customer service.' I kid you not; that's what he said: 'Customer service.' I said, 'How is that going to serve you in the PUC?' He said, 'I'll have to get back to you on that.

So happens Mayor Willie left town for a few days and it was Supervisor Chris Daly's turn in the rotation to be Acting Mayor.

The strict if tacit rule is that the Acting Mayor never really acts.

Chris Daly broke that rule and actually tried to accomplish something in his few dozen hours as Mayor. This was highly taboo and rendered Daly eternally radioactive to establishment politics.

Most of Daly's efforts were futile, but one thing he did accomplish was to block the appointment of Julie Lee's son.


Daly paid a price. But events proved him right. He did a good thing for San Francisco.

Thank you, Chris Daly. You did the right thing.

Do we recall...  that Gavin Newsom's first political position was via an appointment from Mayor Willie Brown, to the San Francisco Parking and Traffic Commission.

BTW: Everyone mentioned here is either a Democrat or self-styled "progressive."

---- o -----

No comments: