Mirkarimi called a November meeting with the mayor's office, the controller, budget analyst, and others, imploring that top-down arm-twisting for an America's Cup deal be shelved until the costs had been calculated. "Rarely has any project been asserted as intensely and vigorously as this," he recalls. "Pressure from the mayor's office was applied to as many supervisors as they possibly could."

Jennifer Matz, the head of the Mayor's Office of Economic and Workforce Development, didn't recall things quite that way. Asked whether the mayor's office had leaned on the supervisors, she noted that if the city failed to show "we were hitting milestones, we could lose this opportunity. I think the pressure to move the ball forward was pressure we were trying to externalize." Any pressure the supes were feeling to sign off on the Pier 50 deal was "the same pressure we were all feeling not to let this opportunity slip."

In the midst of this storm, however, Daly blithely remained on his preferred course as Public Enemy No. 1 of the America's Cup. After 10 years of Daly's antagonism, mayoral aides didn't bother to set foot in his office to cajole him into voting before the numbers had been crunched. "One of the few good things about being me on the Board of Supervisors," he says, "was the other side didn't waste their fucking time on me."


A lot of would-be political observers make snap judgments about Daly because of his off-putting persona. There's the strident, doctrinaire partisanship; the coarse, profane behavior; the beard befitting a man who spent the night in a Denny's. But there's more to Daly than the expletive-laced highlight reel that graced his going-away roast. Even his bitterest opponents concede that he's exceedingly bright and competent. He has to be. You can't treat people the way he does and get by on charm.

Aside from a contrarian nature — and a chance to antagonize Newsom — there were obvious reasons Daly would object to the early America's Cup deals. The former budget committee chairman has a history of penny-pinching you would expect to see touted on the campaign fliers of a God-fearing conservative Republican. He rewrote the city's administrative codes to forbid departments from producing and mailing holiday cards using public funds. (This occurred "after I got all these fucking Christmas cards," he recalls.) Expensive, novella-sized year-end reports must now be sent only electronically ("No one would read this shit. At least, I wouldn't."). Thanks to Daly, police officers who work overtime are no longer contract-bound to be fed on the city dime.

As a pillar of the pro-labor progressive establishment, however, Daly's parsimony extends only so far. Funds he snatches from elements of the city he despises can then be redirected toward his pet causes. He likes saving money, "but I like spendin' it, too."

So it's not surprising Daly would be set off by a deal involving 75 years of rent-free development along the city's waterfront for a yachting billionaire, emphatically pushed by a mayor he loathed. Chest-thumping populism alone would earn few points for the lame-duck supervisor — though, by all means, it's a card he would play; how could he help himself?

Daly's most persuasive argument was a mathematical one. He roughly tabulated the figures fed to him by Port staff and the Mayor's Office of Economic and Workforce Development, and found they didn't add up well for the city. "I'm not a big fan of Larry Ellison," he says of the contentious billionaire, whose Oracle Racing team is housed at the Golden Gate Yacht Club. "I think the sporting event is hoity-toity and really just for the elite. But, that said, the real reason why I opposed the San Francisco bid is that we took a bath on it. The Port staff basically agreed with me, even though they weren't allowed to say it."

On the day the America's Cup term sheet was introduced to the board, Daly toted a sheet of paper scrawled with pressing questions. How much would it cost to demolish Port facilities on Pier 50? To relocate the tenants? To relocate Port operations? Could the Port afford this? Could the city? How much would be drained out of the city's general fund — now and in the far future?

Only the most ardent City Hall watchers took in Daly's litany of questions or witnessed him rework his Excel spreadsheet as answers came in real time (or didn't). You may, however, have read in the press that Daly carried on for so long that his colleagues evoked the rare "10-minute rule" — the legislative equivalent of being gonged. Rather than a focus on his barrage of economic questions, the epitome of the meeting was Daly's despotic pledge to use environmental lawsuits to "bring a white squall to make sure those boats never see the water."

Therein lies the paradox of Chris Daly. He chided the media after receiving a cavalcade of calls last year following his loony pledge to utter the word "fuck" at every Board of Supervisors meeting: "Maybe I can parlay some of the intrigue around this ... and start getting some attention for important issues, like environmental racism. Maybe I can start calling it 'fucking environmental racism.'" And yet unhinged behavior can do only so much to push important issues. Railing against the America's Cup, he came off as a megalomaniacal spoilsport; it was not difficult for the mayor's spokesman to regurgitate his millionth variation of "That's just Daly being Daly."

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15 comments
kellog64
kellog64

A deal is a deal when it is done......kind of a stretch to credit Daly with anything in this context.

M Barcadero
M Barcadero

Joe's editor ripped off the "Captain Outrageous" title from the Sports Illustrated cover story about another America's Cup asshole, Ted Turner. But there is a difference between a mere asshole like Turner and and a douche-nozzle like Daley. He's referred to at our hangout as "The Nozz". He ought to keep that skipper's cap, however. Ahoy, Polloi

jorgenoe
jorgenoe

In short, San Francisco needed an asshole — and one with clout.

There seems to be no shortage.

Capn_jack
Capn_jack

The nonsense about the breakwaters is horseshit. That area had dozens of sailing ships a hundred years ago that were smaller than the Cup boats. People just pulled that out their asses to save face.

Matteo
Matteo

Any article that calls Chris Daly an "asshole" is OK with me!

marcos
marcos

Joe, this is a great article. I especially like the "Stolichnaya structures" line.

But this is of concern to me: "San Francisco regularly seals bad deals, and it could have done so again with the America's Cup — or made no deal, and lost the Cup."

If San Francisco regularly seals bad deals, then is that just a "dog bites man" story? I would assume so because SF Weekly seems to have ignored every other instance where Daly successfully went toe to toe with powerful interests, such as Rincon towers and Trinity Plaza, not to mention the countless other instances where city finances are pilfered by the already wealthy.

The piling on Daly for negotiating these deals with his constituents' best interests put first was universal. That politicians rarely do this should be front page news every day.

Will this piece and Matt Smith's passable piece on mayoral succession indicate now that Daly is termed out and the David Chiu/Willie Brown/Rose Pak nexus has decapitated progressives, that journalists feel safe to put the progressive case in a positive light? Might SFWeekly will do what the Guardian has not been able to, critically cover the machinations behind city politics that drain public resources so the wildly rich can have a good time, leaving the rest of us to hold the deteriorating bag?

-marc

Kimball Livingston
Kimball Livingston

You were doing fine until you got almost to the bottom, then turned to sweeping assumptions:

"The city, Daly notes, "may have entered into a shitty deal anyway." But the prior plan "was a shittier deal. A much shittier deal."

With Daly relegated to pouring drinks, the board will, by default, be a more harmonious place. But whether congeniality is enough to put the kibosh on a bad deal riding on greased skids remains to be seen.

Kinda jumped the rails here, eh?

phil
phil

Great article. Why am I not surprised that I'm reading this in the SFWeekly instead of the Chronicle or SFBG?

PatMonk
PatMonk

@Chris. Thanks for all you've done, and will continue to do.@Joe. Thanks for the addition to my vocabulary, "Manichean".Go Giants !

yahoo-EZ74DSBFLYRWI337PWLM7WX4ME
yahoo-EZ74DSBFLYRWI337PWLM7WX4ME

There is so much unknown about how the piers with be developed for the Cup and redeveloped afterwards that it's impossible to know if either deal is good or bad for San Francisco. Everybody is focusing on the potential $1.4B brought to the city by 2013; nobody is commenting on what happens to this prime real estate and its fiscal effects through 2085.

David Elliott Lewis
David Elliott Lewis

Like with many of Chris Daly's accomplishments, their true values can only be appreciated later on over time.

h. brown
h. brown

Joe,

Great piece. Once again the Weekly scoops the Guardian in Bruce's own back yard.

See you at Daly's Dive for Giants' games?

h.

sf citizen
sf citizen

Good first step, Sounds good that what is in writing is a better deal for SF - but one has to worry that it will actually be enforced by SF at the end of the day.

jamiewhitaker
jamiewhitaker

I am so happy that wise ass Tony Winnicker is no longer the Mayor's spokesman. Good riddance!

 
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