Wiener can work with that. "The prevailing attitude in San Francisco is that if you promote business, development, and the tech industry, you'll be serving everyone," admits Supervisor John Avalos. The progressive stalwart is candid in his assessment of Wiener: "The city has come to him."


Scott Wiener irrevocably transitioned from the politician he was to the politician he is in 2008, when he met with Peskin in the president of the Board of Supervisors' North Beach abode. Wiener, then the head of the San Francisco Democratic Party, was given an ultimatum. He could retain his position as Democratic chair if and only if he agreed to a series of terms favorable to Peskin and the party's progressive wing. These stipulations were non-negotiable, and Wiener refused them. Peskin set about swaying members of the party to dump the incumbent and install him. And, via an 18-16 vote, he succeeded. Wiener's Harvard chums David Chiu and David Campos — both of whom he'd aided politically — flipped on him. After the vote, Wiener shook hands with erstwhile supporters who'd betrayed him, sighing, "People continue to disappoint me."

So, not quite five years down the road, it's hardly surprising that even left-leaning groups seek out Wiener as a legislative co-sponsor specifically because he won't shy away from conflict with Peskin. Wiener is not conflict-averse.

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.

On issues where every last stakeholder desires change, he's happy to hug it out, orchestrating countless meetings and kicking around draft proposal after draft proposal. But in situations where "you know groups of people don't want legislation to happen, period, and will do everything they can to sabotage it," he says, Wiener removes his velvet glove. His proposed ordinances are crafted largely sans negotiations, and are effectively "opening offers," which "forces the other side to negotiate," says the former litigator.

"He throws everything but the kitchen sink in there," notes transportation and environmental activist Tom Radulovich. "That creates rancor. But it works." Radulovich, in fact, has been happy to pass material to Wiener, whom he characterizes as "a very effective legislator."

"Scott doesn't have a lot of patience for the San Francisco layers of progress — the 'We had 400 meetings about this' thing," continues Radulovich. "Once Scott sets his mind on what he's gonna do, that's what he does. Other supervisors get bogged down or scared when someone says, 'Oh, you should have 400 meetings.' Scott's boldness and impatience can be a virtue. He'll often say, 'It's been through enough process, it's gotta be fine by now.' The Peskins of the world live on process. This is why he and they clash."

In the short term, Peskin's 2008 usurpation paid off handsomely. Every cause or candidate the local party endorsed or directed resources toward came up aces; progressives swept the '08 Board elections. Two years later, however, the Midas touch evaporated. And Wiener had, methodically, been canvassing District 8 all the while. "This guy had been knocking on doors for two years. Two years! Nobody does that," says Peskin. "I gotta tell you — this guy works his ass off." Wiener knocked on more than 15,000 doors on weekends, evenings, and lunch breaks between 2008 and '10. He wrote up 24 monthly campaign plans in the two years prior to the election. And he handily bested Rebecca Prozan, as well as anointed progressive and Democratic Party choice Mandelman.

"Progressives have the unique ability of turning potential friends into enemies and creating tests that people fail. Then we rail against them and make them even worse," says Mandelman. When Wiener bucked the Chamber of Commerce, they were still happy to break bread with him at clubby breakfast meetings. But when the younger Wiener didn't adhere to every commandment carried down from the progressive mountain, he was purged. "Scott took what could have been a devastating setback and made it into a cause célèbre," continues Mandelman. "In the process, we turned an ally into an opponent."

Attempts to squash Wiener in '08 only made him stronger. The progressives who rail against him and his vision for the city can take some credit for empowering Wiener to be in a position to enact it.


The packet of accomplishments Wiener hands out to those curious about how he spends his days is 10 pages long. Even politically studious voters may not be aware of the broad swath of subjects Wiener has addressed, or the intense minutiae he wallows in. He's clearly doing things — but it's such a range of things that it's difficult to explain to voters just what he's doing. Wiener is, simply, a doer.

On the highly contentious issues he's taken on — preservation, CEQA — he's forced small groups of entrenched activists to explain, in highly technical terms, why the status quo should be maintained for intensely complex processes no one could argue work well. Wiener, meanwhile, takes the easier path of claiming he's simply trying to reform a broken system. In his high-profile anti-nudity battle, it's easy for him to maintain his desired image of the adult in the room when his opponents petulantly remove their clothing or brag on the Internet about attempts to ambush Wiener and photograph his genitals, perineum, or anal region.

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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. 

 
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