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Daly also sought to restrict the use of alcohol and drugs by elected officials, commissioners, and committee members prior to meetings. When the Ethics Commission was considering the ordinance, one exasperated commissioner said, "Supervisor Daly, are you suggesting we put a Breathalyzer outside all of the city's meeting rooms?"
Both of the ordinances were laughed out of City Hall, but not before it cost taxpayers time, money, and patience. Like a child whose tantrums embarrass his parents and everyone else in a restaurant, Daly doesn't seem realize how much damage he does to the progressive cause. In the current campaign for the board, Daly's eight years of fits, tantrums, and rants are doing a great deal of harm to the progressive candidates he supports.
Daly's political opponents, which include the San Francisco Association of Realtors, the Building Owners and Managers Association, and the San Francisco Coalition for Responsible Growth, are spending hundreds of thousands to beat progressive candidates, and the most effective weapon they have is Daly's behavior.
"One of our collective failures has been to ignore and inadvertently enable Chris Daly," Peskin says. "We never took him seriously enough to rein him in, and we should have done it years ago."
District 11 candidate John Avalos has been relentlessly attacked in mailers and robocalls because he is Daly's former aide. The San Francisco Coalition for Responsible Growth spent $14,700 on a hit piece mailer that had a picture of a man sleeping on a sidewalk next to an overloaded shopping cart. The large lettering above the picture reads, "Some supervisors think this is acceptable." And below superimposed pictures of Avalos and Daly: "Chris Daly and his legislative aide District 11 candidate John Avalos watched while their district, including the Tenderloin, got worse for working families."
And the attacks don't stop with Avalos. The San Francisco Association of Realtors paid for robocalls linking District 3 candidate David Chiu to Daly, who has endorsed Chiu. In the calls, a woman says, "David Chiu is the handpicked candidate of far-out Supervisor Chris Daly and his radical, ineffective faction on the Board of Supervisors." She wraps up the recording with, "If you like Daly's antics, you will love Chiu."
Earlier this year, Class of 2000 members Daly, Peskin, and McGoldrick filed to run for the little-known Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC). Usually, ambitious pols use the DCCC to help launch bids for higher office. Rarely do three incumbent supervisors voluntarily take a step backward career-wise and compete to run for the DCCC.
But there was a good reason for the trio to do so — they led a progressive slate attempting to take over the local arm of the Democratic Party. By controlling the DCCC, Peskin and his allies could steer official Democratic Party endorsements to their handpicked successors on the board of supes. In a city where 56 percent of the voters are registered Democrats, the party's endorsement is a huge shot in the arm for local candidates.
The slate led by McGoldrick, Peskin, and Daly won a majority to the committee in the June primary. Shortly thereafter, Daly started assuming the role of ward heeler, cajoling his colleagues to back Peskin for chairman. Daly sent out an intimidating e-mail to fellow members of the DCCC saying that if they didn't vote for Peskin instead of incumbent chair Scott Wiener, there would be a price to pay.
"I, for one, have already committed to make it my personal mission to make sure that any members voting for Scott never receive the endorsement of the Guardian, Tenants Union, Sierra Club, and Milk Club in subsequent races," Daly wrote. "I hope that you decide to be with us."
The 34 members of the DCCC elected Peskin as its chair by an 18-16 vote last summer.
Under Peskin's leadership, the committee, again by narrow margins, swung to the left and endorsed progressive supervisor candidates in three critical swing districts (1, 3, and 11) critical to maintaining a progressive majority on the board. They also endorsed several progressive ballot measures, including Prop. H, a proposal to study public power, and the controversial Prop. K, which would decriminalize prostitution.
"The problem I see is that they took over the party and now they are heavily promoting their favored candidates for supervisor," the deposed Wiener says. "And you see a political machine coming into existence."
The legacy of the Class of 2000 will be largely determined by the outcome of next week's election. If voters approve the DCCC's endorsed measures and elect its candidates for supervisor, they will establish a new political machine that can, in a real way, counter the much larger moderate machine that includes heavy hitters like U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former state Senate leader John Burton.
But voters will also have indirectly chosen a boss for the new machine, Chris Daly, who still has two years remaining on his term. The newly elected supervisors, beholden to the DCCC's endorsements, might feel obligated to elect Daly as board president, which would give him new heights from which to bully his political opponents.
"If Avalos (and the other progressives) win, then Daly's won the whole ballgame and everyone will have to let Chris do what he wants," says political number cruncher David Latterman, president of Fall Line Analytics. "If all three progressive candidates lose in those districts, then it's a case of Daly rising high, but poisoning everyone around him."