$1,000 Rate Hikes And Goo Goo Boo Boos

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Say, aren’t Asian Pacific Americans running the political joint? Although the city is one-third APA, the SF Public Utilities Commission and its advisory bodies facing new General Manager Harlan Kelly(who’s replacing Ed Harrington) do not reflect demographic and political realities. It’s particularly startling as the SF Board of Supervisors considers the controversial SFPUC-sponsored CleanPowerSFcontract with Shell Energy. The agreement by CleanPowerSF, a state-sanctioned “Community Choice Aggregator,” would supposedly leverage consumer-buying power to “procure 100% renewable electricity” next Spring. If the contract is adopted, SF residential electricity consumers will be automatically enrolled “unless they opt-out of the program” according to a City Hall Office of Economic Analysis report. However, economist and report author Ted Egan said the “average customer” in the initial phase could pay $216 more per year. With a four and one-half year contract, the total sticker shock amounts to nearly $1,000. Egan said that represents a 23% “typical” gas/electric bill monthly increase for the contract with Shell Energy, part of the same cabal of folks ratcheting gas prices after this month’s Chevron’s Richmond refinery disaster. However, one could only imagine higher sticker shock if CleanPowerSF loses money on this deal instead of breaking even…

Former non-partisan voter education director David Lee (right) with
Assemblyman Paul Fong. Lee has received “clean” local funding from the SF
Ethics Commission.

DO APAs HAVE A VOICE?: The SF Board of Supervisors and its four APAs – Jane KimCarmen ChuDavid Chiu and Eric Mar – could shoot down or modify the measure when they return from vacation or campaign break. If the supervisors pass it, then Mayor Ed Lee could sign or nix the CleanPowerSF contract. If the legislation is enacted by supes and mayor, the last resort might be the SF Public Utilities Commission, which is responsible for implementing the contract. Well, no APAs serve on the five-member SFPUC appointed by the same mayor and supervisors. With Mayor Lee’s elevation of the award-winning Kelly to GM, that creates an opportunity to fill the vacant Assistant GM position. Currently, the SFPUC’s top eight executives consist of only one APA – Samoan American Assistant General Manager Tommy Moala. And there are the SFPUC’s “advisory” committees. Assuming they have some authority, APAs make up only one of 17 Citizens’ Advisory Committee (Ted Ko – appointed by Board President David Chiu) only two of seven members of the Rate Fairness Board (Vice Chair Kevin Cheng and Deputy City Administrator Linda Yeung) and one of seven members of theResidential Users Appeal Board (Steven Lee)…

District 5 (Japantown) Christina Olague is short on support
at the SF Democratic Party endorsements. (Photo courtesy of Olague campaign)

EMPRESS HAS NO CLOTHES: Some over confidence in District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague’s campaign before last week’s August 15 SF Democratic Party county committee endorsement vote. Only days before, Bill Barnes, veteran campaign manager, government staffer and former District 5 candidate himself, came in to corral votes for the supervisor representing Japantown, Haight-Ashbury and Western Addition. One strategic error made – assuming an inflated head count that Olague would snag the important SF Democratic Party endorsement. In reality, no consensus had developed for Olague and her rivals – London Breed of the African American Arts and Culture ComplexJulian Davis of the Booker T. Washington Community Service Center or College Board member John Rizzo. The outcome – a public embarrassment for Olague, the Mayor Ed Lee appointee who’s up for a four-year term this November. Olague’s county committee supporters, instead of supporting a neutral or “no endorsement” vote, went on to cast 10 votes, falling short of the needed 15 votes. Meanwhile, most county committee supporters of Breed, Davis and Rizzo voted for a party recommendation of neutrality…

Supervisor Eric Mar worked behind the scenes to deny consolation
SF Democratic Party endorsement to former city commissioner David Lee.

COLD WARRIOR: Meanwhile, the SF Democratic Party endorsed incumbent Supervisor Eric Mar of District 1 (Richmond) easily for the first ranking. Indicative of ideological healing between progressives and liberal-moderate party county committee members, moderates like new Chair Mary Jung and Richmond resident and party Treasurer Tom Hsieh supported Mar’s endorsement. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Mar – also a county committee member – was urging his colleagues to deny the consolation second rank choice endorsement to his rival and former Chinese American Voters Education Committee director David Lee who was also supported by Jung and Hsieh. However, Mar – blocking a major threat to his re-election – got the party to stay neutral on the second choice as the party voted 18 to 11 against Lee, falling four votes short of the endorsement…

SF Mayor Ed Lee tips SF College Board political balance by appointing engineer Rodrigo Santos (above). (Photo courtesy of Santos campaign)

ENGINEER APPOINTED: As discussed here last week, Mayor Lee last Tuesday chose a political moderate in engineer and businessman Rodrigo Santos to succeed the late Milton Marks on the SF College Board. For the remaining months, Santos will be a swing vote, giving SF City College policymakers Natalie BergLawrence Wong and Anita Grier a one-vote advantage over progressives Chris JacksonSteve Ngo and John Rizzo until the November election. Berg, Jackson, Ngo as well as Santos will face voters while Rizzo could leave the College Board if he’s elected supervisor in District 5…Meanwhile, worker’s compensation attorney Hanna Leung, also a SF College Board challenger, was on the mayor’s short list. Although she didn’t get the mayor’s nod for appointment, 2012 might be the year of the challenger. Given City College’s major accreditation and state budgetary issues, voters could help her by sweeping out most if not all the incumbents…

SF College Board candidate Hanna Leung is short listed for appointment.

GOO-GOO BOO-BOO: City’s Goo-Goos, as in Good Government advocates like SF’s progressives like former Supervisors Ross MirkarimiJake McGoldrickAaron Peskin and Tom Ammiano, implemented public financing as a reform to take the corrupting influences of out-of-town, special interest and corporate money out of politics. As an incentive, municipal candidates could receive a match if SF residents only (not corporations or businesses) contribute small donations up to $500. With recent tweaks in the law, incumbents like District 1 supervisor Mar (McGoldrick’s successor) could receive up to $152,000 from the city after raising $97,500. So far, Mar has gotten a match of $56,446. Meanwhile, non-incumbents – favored by tweaks in the law – could ante up $95,000 and receive $155,000. Well, the goo-goos, including progressives like Mar, allowed District 1 challenger, David Lee, to receive the highest 2012 city match of $126,349. And there’s another backfire effect – Goo-Goos have allowed theSF Ethics Commission to certify or virtually “endorse” the Mar and Lee local donations as “clean” by matching the dollars with taxpayer-subsidized matches…

Supervisor John Avalos of District 11 (Excelsior) and Board President
David Chiu of District 3 (Chinatown/North Beach) will review the CleanPowerSF
contract with Shell Energy. While promising 100% renewable electricity, the
pact could raise average consumer bills by 23%.

MISS ME?: Follow me on Twitter at @SFPotstickers and email Samson Wong at potsticker@prodigy.net.

About the Author

Veteran columnist has appeared in up to 450,000 households weekly in the SF Independent, Examiner (2000-04) and AsianWeek since 1996. As Editor-in-Chief (2003-07), AsianWeek and Samson received wide recognition from the California Legislature, New American Media, League of Women Voters, GLAAD, Organization of Chinese Americans, SPUR and APA civic groups. Thru the SF Citizens Advisory Committee on Elections, SF Elections Task Force and Chinese American Voters Education Committee, Wong helped boost APA influence from 25,000 in the 1980s to over 50,000 voters by the early 1990s.