Perhaps Wiener was destined to write the anti-nudity ordinance.


Scott Wiener grew up as a tall, lanky, unathletic, closeted Jewish boy in what his longtime political strategist David Latterman calls "the yee-haw part of south Jersey." In 1997, after graduating from Duke University and Harvard Law School, he headed to San Francisco, a place where, as Wiener puts it, "you can go and be who you are."

Just who Wiener is is open to debate. He does not make himself easy to know. Wiener is a remarkably controlled individual; friends and colleagues of two decades who have been by his side as he suffered setbacks as a high-profile gay activist and politician say they've never seen him lose his composure or even raise his voice. Wiener has, extremely publicly, been betrayed by his so-called political friends; his actual friends are largely nonpolitical. Wiener tightly compartmentalizes his life. He politely requested SF Weekly not contact his family back East. The one close friend who spoke with us is his former law school roommate, Adam Cohn. Wiener, Cohn says, is not the social misfit he is portrayed as — though Wiener has lugged hardback Robert Caro biographies of Lyndon Johnson to the beach as summer reading. "When they first meet Scott, people make the mistake of thinking he's too uptight or too serious. But he's not," says Cohn. "He is very comfortable in his skin and very comfortable with other people."

Those close to Scott Wiener say he's not "too uptight or too serious. ... He is very comfortable in his skin and very comfortable with other people."
J. P. Dobrin
Those close to Scott Wiener say he's not "too uptight or too serious. ... He is very comfortable in his skin and very comfortable with other people."
Upon being sworn in as a supervisor in 2011, Scott Wiener realizes he is too big 
for his desk.
Joe Eskenazi
Upon being sworn in as a supervisor in 2011, Scott Wiener realizes he is too big for his desk.

The supervisor's friends enjoy a side of him that evidently isn't on display for his colleagues on the board. Fellow supes say they can't recall Wiener ever cracking a joke. Wiener's staffers note he's an insomniac who has been known to send out cogent and grammatically correct policy-related text messages at midnight, 3, and 6 a.m. Wiener's board colleagues know this. Says one, "There's no spouse. No kids. No movies. No book club. No Warriors. No nothing. This is it. Morning, noon, night. It's all he does. And he loves it."

Wiener does not deny this (though he does have a fondness for schlocky horror films). He admits to working 80 hours or more, seven days a week, with up to a dozen events to attend every weekend. "I have been dumped by people not willing to be a politician's spouse," he says. "That's fine. It's not for everyone."

The supervisor's prorated hourly take puts him well behind a city janitor. He is earning far less than he did as a city attorney, which, in turn, was far less than he did as a private litigator ("My mother says I'm downwardly mobile"). When asked what, after all of this toil, he hopes his legacy will be, he does not rattle off the iconic accomplishments of his predecessors: Healthy San Francisco, the minimum wage ordinance, paid sick leave. Within seconds, Wiener is touting his measures to simplify the city's regulations for operating restaurants or secondhand shops, or the proposed widening of the sidewalks on Castro — "a dream of the community for 15 years."

Between cranking out work texts in the wee hours, perhaps Wiener is dreaming about pavement. While the supervisor himself is larger than life, his chosen policy areas are not. But that works in his favor. Right now, San Franciscans aren't complaining.

"Things have reached the point — and not only locally — that the average Joe Citizen longs for someone quiet, competent, and with a capacity to govern and solve problems. Someone who shies away from the big issues and actually gets things done," says S.F. State professor emeritus Rich DeLeon, the dean of local political scientists. The first decade of this century featured large-scale San Francisco social policy changes — and high-decibel politics. Wiener offers neither of these, and, for good or ill, that's what today's San Franciscans reward. Despite the overt machinations of powerful political sharks and a persona as tantalizing as dry oatmeal, Mayor Ed Lee easily fended off all challengers. Lee and Wiener are not political twins — but "he gets it done" is an attractive mantra to affix to oneself these days.

"The window of major policy revision is mostly closed. Now it's moving from outward-looking to inward-looking," continues DeLeon. "I think San Francisco seems to be happy with its more pragmatic, business-oriented, jobs-oriented agenda and the kind of people who can work with that."

Wiener can work with that. The tall young man riding shotgun in Peskin's car would struggle to be elected in the San Francisco of the day. Peskin's raison d'être of preserving neighborhoods and extracting concessions from developers resonated with a populace wary of the rampant corruption, displacement, and uncontrolled development of the Brown years. But those voters have, in large part, been offset by affluent newcomers amenable to Wiener's quality-of-life politics and policies friendly to both development and business. Growth isn't a dirty word for them. They are growth.

Wiener looks forward to the 2,000 or so housing units slated to sprout in his district between Castro and Octavia alone (making him the rare pro-development supe unafraid to push for construction in his own district). Residents settling in San Francisco due to Wiener's land-use policies are likely to be amenable to such policies. Along with a growing tally of residents in District 8 and citywide, they'll ask why the city shouldn't cater to business coming off a recession. Why shouldn't the city ease businesses into those vacant storefronts — and panhandlers or obnoxious exhibitionists out of the public spaces?

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
19 comments
sebraleaves
sebraleaves topcommenter

Are the recall Wiener rumors for real? Voters don't take too kindly to someone who tries to take away their right to protest at the ballot, or someone who tries to hide information from about how to legally appeal decisions they disagree with.

Why do people who hate a place the way it is, move and try to change it? Why don't they just stay where they are, and leave those of us who love the way it is alone?

marcos
marcos

Of course the risk of having no political center of gravity is that one is constantly pissing everyone off about something.

Wiener is not crafting any new coalitions to challenge the dysfunction in government, rather fine tuning dysfunction to benefit whomever he's carrying legislation for.

The gamble, and the risks are significant, is that people remember whatever crumbs they get and forget the turds tossed their way when Wiener makes his next move.


UntoldStories
UntoldStories

“Cathedrals” seems meant to mock the regular people that dare to question the SF political machine, but it is true. The parks are our Cathedrals, built over generations and shared by all. Just like religious Cathedrals, parks are a places that people go for a sense of community, to be inspired, to relax, to meditate, to escape day-to-day pressures, and for family bonding – among other things. The wonder is these Park Cathedrals have been shared and meant for everyone no matter one’s race, age, gender, social-economic background, sexual orientation, or political persuasion.

Just like with a religious institution that is loved and financed by the masses, the parks are a gold mine and are ripe for corruption and manipulation that benefits only a select few. It is quite sad that trusted City leaders aren’t interested in the needs and desires of the majority of people that are paying millions for this unnecessary and deceptive bit-by-bit destruction and commercialization of much loved parks. Allowing people to speak but not listening or caring what is said seems far worse than not pretending to listen at all. For Sup. Wiener, these Parks Cathedrals seem to have little meaning other than as pawns in his political chess game.

Guest
Guest

The Mayor Of Castro Street 

marcos
marcos

Aside from Wiener's distinct lack of political center of gravity, what I find interesting is that someone who has no life to speak of outside of politics is making policy for the rest of us who do.

At some point, you've got to have some skin in the game along with constituents to make grounded policies.  

But when your policies don't need to be grounded, when the name of the game is putting points on an apolitical board than the guy next to you to augment your resume, then government ends up all reduced to mindless technocracy.

patnlisa
patnlisa

The antithesis of pretty much everything Harvey fought and died for.

JinCastro
JinCastro

What DOES emerge about this guy is how peculiar he really is:  obsessive, arrogant, non-human.  Banning nudists will be his only real legacy.  As a District 8 voter, I look forward to kicking him out of office in 2014.

apple123
apple123

balboa high grad here. and Castro neighborhood resident ... i can always tell the non-san franciscans.  they talk about the city being this city where anything goes, blah blah blah.  i am a native san franciscan and i support scott weiner 100%.  as for this city becoming too expensive...  it's not just san francisco, it's every major metropolitan area right now:  london, paris, new york, tokyo, beijing, singapore.  some of you want to blame weiner for the cold weather we're having.  Scott is the best thing to happen to this city in a very long time.

apple123
apple123

balboa high grad here.... i can always tell the non-san franciscans.  they talk about the city being this city where anything goes, blah blah blah.  i am a native san franciscan and i support scott weiner 100%.  as for this city becoming too expensive...  it's not just san francisco, it's every major metropolitan area right now:  london, paris, new york, tokyo, beijing, singapore.  some of you want to blame weiner for the cold weather we're having.  is it because he's gay or jewish or what?   scott weiner is doing his job, not like those two san francican wannabes from los angeles, avalos and camps.

apple123
apple123

balboa high grad here.... i can always tell the non-san franciscans.  they talk about the city being this city where anything goes, blah blah blah.  i am a native san franciscan and i support scott weiner 100%.  as for this city becoming too expensive...  it's not just san francisco, it's every major metropolitan area right now:  london, paris, new york, tokyo, beijing, singapore.  some of you want to blame weiner for the cold weather we're having.  is it because he's gay or jewish or what?   scott weiner is doing his job, not like those two san francican wannabes from los angeles, avalos and camps.

philhellene
philhellene

This guy is an ambitious train wreck.  He would do well in Orange County but his ideas are out of sync with San Francisco.  Don't encourage him by giving him publicity.

SF_Resident
SF_Resident

Wiener is such a TOTAL disaster.

He is arrogant, full of himself and a puppet for the realtors and wealthy!

He must have learned both totalitarian behavior and neoliberal ideology during his Fulbright year in Chile. 

He will do a LOT more damage to this Cty. :(

Guest
Guest

SF is moving beyond its adolescence. It's slowly becoming more serious, pragmatic, and sensible.

Blipper
Blipper

@philhellene The typical SF response to anything they are afraid of/dislike - get out of town!

Blipper
Blipper

@SF_Resident You seem to love hyperbole. Anyone who knows Scott knows that he isnt arrogrant or full of himself. Anyone who isnt virulently anti growth in this town is "in the pocket of developers"

Grow up, and get out of your provincial shell

Guest
Guest

@Guest It's becoming a carbon copy of everything that people once moved here to get away from. In the new San Francisco life is a struggle, over crowding if it means more growth is good, and life is cheep because your replaceable. If you love the struggle of life that is NYC in 2013 you will love  the new pro- big-business , 2.5 kids and a sabb, vacuous, bore-fest where MBAs have a touch base and something called "quality of life" feels prescribed from a network TV show, Its living with people for whom culture is yogurt or something to check off a list. Yes serious indeed. 

GuestyGuest
GuestyGuest

@Guest That's just a more convoluted way of saying "I've been living in my rent-controlled apartment for over 20 years, and I'm scared I'll be thrown out."  Anyone who actually owns property in SF probably doesn't think the way you do.  

Guest
Guest

@Guest Maybe it's time to move on and make room for someone who will appreciate all the opportunities SF provides. 

 

Around The Web

©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.
Loading...