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Live Blog: Edwin M. Lee Named S.F. Mayor

| January 11, 2011
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The Board’s now in session as a committee of the whole to consider appointing an interim mayor. As we said earlier, this is supposed to be a done deal—we’re supposed to come out of the process today with city Chief Administrative Officer Ed Lee as the interim mayor. But this is the San Francisco Board of Supervisors—it just got done listening to a warning from an Old Testament-style zealot that the end of the world is nigh—so stay tuned. (And to see the board’s decision-making process in visual form, see the graphic put together by our colleague Lisa Pickoff-White: The SF Supes Quest for an Interim Mayor.)

5:20 p.m.: A final outsider’s thought before we post the speech audio and get out of here for the night: Ed Lee says he’s in the job for a year and that will be it. Don’t depend on it. A year will be long enough for him to get a start, to build on the support he already has, and maybe realize he likes Room 200, the mayor’s office (he says he’ll have it open to the citizens every day, by the way). And if he decides to run for a full term after all, he’ll be running as an incumbent.

5:15 p.m.: We had to take a break to deal with newscast duties. Listening to the speech he gave in the rotunda after the swearing in, there’s lots of boilerplate. But the man is dead serious about his credentials and his ability to move beyond political divisions. Here’s the piece of the talk we think you’ll see everywhere:

“With all due respect to the young talent of many young leaders with whom I now share this responsibility, I was a progressive before “progressive” was a political faction in this town. [Applause.] Years ago, I fought the establishment to make the city function better, to make our communities more inclusive. I fought for justice.

“When I left Boalt Hall and joined the Asian Law Caucus, I fought to integrate the San Francisco Fire Department. I fought to protect the rights of blacks and Latinos and gays and lesbians and other marginalized groups. I fought for tenants, I fought for senior citizens, I fought to empower the powerless.

“When I joined the city I established the city’s first whistleblower program. I made sure our domestic-partners and women-and-minority-owned business ordinances were successful. I helped establish our recycling program, now the nation’s most successful. I ensured equal access to government services for all our citizens, including our immigrants, documented and undocumented.

“In other words, I am my own person.”

4:12 p.m.: Lee takes the oath. He’s mayor! Brown says, “Mr. Mayor!” and shakes his hand. Newsom gives him a hug. In the background, Rose Pak, the Chinese American political heavyweight, shouts, “We did it!”

4:09 p.m.: Board of Supes President David Chiu confirms the 11-0 vote, then he gets a chance to note further the historic nature of the occasion for Chinese Americans and Asian Americans. “This is about the American dream. The idea that anyone from any background … can come here and someday be here at the top of the community is what it’s about.”


4:06 p.m.:
Brown’s back at the mike, noting the presence of former mayors and/or their family members and of a host of other dignitaries. One doesn’t like to be uncharitable, but you wonder what’s up with all these people that they need the ostentatious ego-stroking that Brown is administering right now.

3:56 p.m.: Newsom: “Mayor Lee, here’s my advice. You’ve got a year. Start with what you want to try to accomplish and work back from there. … Do what you think is right. … Always remember that the people outside this building are the people we have to represent.”

3:55 p.m.: Brown introduces former Mayor Gavin Newsom. He’s been out of town for all of 30 hours or so, reminding me of one of my favorite country song titles, “How Can I Miss You If You Won’t Go Away?

3:53 p.m.: Former Mayor Willie Brown is acting as master of ceremonies for the swearing in. He’s laying it on, too. He notes that David Chiu, not Edwin Lee, was the first Asian-American mayor in San Francisco history (he’s been acting mayor since yesterday). “We thank you for your service,” Brown tells Chiu to guffaws from the audience.

3:47 p.m.: Chiu adjourns the board so that Lee can be sworn in inside the City Hall rotunda. Superior Court Presiding Judge Katherine Feinstein (yes, one of those Feinsteins) will administer the oath.

3:45 p.m.: Lee promises to work with the board and vows that his doors will be open to everyone. Says to Jean Quan, “We couldn’t allow you to have the only fun in the Bay Area.”

3:43 p.m.: It’s unanimous, 11-0. Lee is the “mayor-select,” and Chiu invites him to the dais to address the board and the chamber.


3:41 p.m.:
Board President David Chiu: Tells Campos that he appreciates his opening comments and vows to work with him. Calls for a vote on the motion to ratify Lee’s appointment.

Progressive stands for values of inclusiveness, tolerance, and acceptance. This is Ed Lee’s day. Comes from our community, is rooted in our community. who has a tremendous depth of experience here. Calls for unanimous vote

3:40 p.m.: Supervisor Carmen Chu: “In advance, thank you to my colleagues for supporting Ed.”

3:38 p.m.: Supervisor Eric Mar: Says he’s looking forward to a unanimous vote. More praise. Say what you will about the antics of Chris “Donkey Kong” Daly, a little fractiousness is entertaining when you’re in the transcription business.

3:35 p.m.: Jane Kim, a new supervisor: She too praises Lee and reads a long list of his accomplishments (at Asian Law Caucus and elsewhere) on the part of Asian-American groups and “all the disenfranchised” in civil rights struggles. If there was any doubt, we’re headed for a unanimous vote.

3:31 p.m.: Supervisor John Avalos: Starts with a strange ramble of how nice it was to see Jean Quan, the new mayor of Oakland, in the Supes chamber wearing a red dress. He calls it very empowering to encounter her. Notes the historic importance for Chinese Americans in choosing Lee as mayor and says he’ll vote to ratify the appointment.

3:25 p.m.: Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi: He says Farrell was “spot on” in his praise of Hennessey. Then he launches into a long critique of the process and deal-making that led to the progressive board members getting blindsided (in his view) last week. All that having been said, he praises Lee, says he looks forward to Lee’s style of inclusiveness, of a turning-down of partisanship, and that he believes Lee will usher in a period of “smart politics” without the labels of progressive or moderate. Mirkarimi criticizes “identity politics” and says progressive need to define what they’re about beyond ethnic and group labels.

3:23 p.m.: Mark Farrell, another new supe, says choice of Lee is historic given city’s rich Asian-American heritage. He praises Michael Hennessey, the erstwhile progressive candidate to get the interim mayor’s job.

3:18 p.m.: Scott Wiener, one of the new supervisors, says he’ll respond to Campos. He says the city is diverse culturally and politically. “When we govern from one extreme or another extreme, we do a disservice to the city,” he says. To the matter at hand, “I am proud to support Ed Lee, District 8 resident Ed Lee, as mayor. … The second consecutive mayor from District 8. I think that speaks volumes about the strength of our district.” That last bit gets a laugh from the other supes and the audience.

3:15 p.m. Supervisor David Campos starts the “debate” by reviewing the state of progressive politics on the board and in the city. He bemoans the widespread perception that San Francisco is moving to the center, notes that Jean Quan of Oakland is a sign of what a progressive can do (get elected to office?), and that progressives in recent years have a lot to be proud of: the city’s Healthy Family program, living wage law, and liberal policies on partner benefits.

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Category: Government, News, San Francisco

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About the Author ()

Dan Brekke has worked in media ever since Nixon's first term, when newspapers were still using hot type. He had moved on to online news by the time Bill Clinton met Monica Lewinsky. He's been at KQED since 2007, is an enthusiastic practitioner of radio and online journalism and will talk to you about absolutely anything. Reach Dan Brekke at dbrekke@kqed.org.

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