Shell Deal Rests With Mayor

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With SF Board of Supervisors passing the SF Public Utilities Commission Shell Energy-CleanPowerSF contract (See 9/13/12 “Potstickers” and 9/17/12 “Editorial”) on second reading last Tuesday (Sept. 25), enactment rests with Mayor Ed Lee, who could sign or veto it within 10 days. The board then has 30 days to override any veto with support of eight of eleven legislators. Lee’s veto could stick if he secures a fourth supervisor to sustain his veto. He can count on three from the board’s moderate-conservative wing – Supervisors Carmen Chu (District 4 – Sunset), Sean Elsbernd (D7 – West of Twin Peaks) and Mark Farrell (D2 – Pacific Heights/Marina) who voted against the SFPUC deal with Shell. D8 (Castro/Upper Market) Supervisor Scott Wiener reluctantly supported the contract, after expressing concerns about consumer choice and little time the board had for last minute amendments…MAYOR’S CONCERNS: Before the board voted Sept. 18 on the contract, the mayor asked for a delay to rework it. His honor had concerns over rate increases – average $18.53 monthly or $1,100 over five years, risking $13 million if not enough customers sign up and the controversial provision forcing consumers into the deal unless they “opt-out” to return to PG&E service…

SF Supervisor District map of resident sentiment on CleanPowerSF based on April 2012 survey. Red colors indicate areas likely not to stay with CleanPowerSF. Green represents areas likely to stay (Map courtesy of SFPUC).

APA RELUCTANCE WITH SHELL: Retiring SFPUC General Manager Ed Harrington’s successor, Harlan Kelly, will have to look to mostly non-Asian Pacific American (APA) areas (see map) to kickstart the Shell-CleanPowerSF program. According to a SFPUC survey of 3,512 residents with Chinese and Spanish interviews last April by Fairbank Maslin Maullin Metz & Associates, APAs were likely not to stay with the program, especially in Supervisor Districts with major APA communities – District 1 (Richmond), D4 (Sunset), D7 (West of Twin Peaks), D10 (Bayview/Visitacion Valley) and D11 (Excelsior/Ingleside). While their districts generally were very hesitant about the Shell deal, Supervisors Eric Mar in D1 and John Avalos in D11 voted for the program. Chu of D4 and Elsbernd of D7 opposed the deal like their constituents….

ED’S HONEYMOON: With supervisor candidates reading the same tea leaves, civility and collegiality between Mayor and supervisor candidates deserve watching. One pre-Labor Day poll numbers showed slight slippage in Mayor Lee’s numbers. It’s nowhere near as toxic as Willie Brown’s second term (2000-03) when challengers wiped out most of Brown’s appointed or allied supervisors like Chinese Culture Center director Mabel Teng and KRON analyst and US Civil Rights Commissioner Michael Yaki. Just recently, Prop E supporters (replace job-killing payroll tax with gross receipts tax) say the mayor’s “believability” ratings are high…

INDICATORS TO WATCH: District 5 (Japantown/Haight Ashbury) supervisor candidates are attacking mayoral appointee Christina Olague. She could take the tact of distancing herself from Mayor Lee like attacking his temporarily sidetracked California Pacific Medical Center development. However, that will be the challenge considering Olague led the “Run Ed Run” movement drafting the Mayor. The other barometer: District 1 (Richmond) where Mar could try to tie ex-commissioner David Lee with Mayor Lee, who has stayed neutral in the race. If he gets bashed by Mar, the still popular Mayor Lee could swing to David Lee…

500 PLAN C VOTES: Mike Sullivan, head of Plan C – “the moderate voice of San Francisco” – has an assignment – call up 500 Richmond residents on behalf of District 1 candidate David Lee, who’s running to unseat incumbent Eric Mar. The aspiring homeowners have been stymied, waiting sometimes years in the city’s lottery to convert a unit to an affordable tenancy-in-common. Legislation to accelerate conversions has been stuck in the Land Use Committee chaired by Mar….

Creation of affordable housing is issue for District 1 Supervisor candidate David Lee (center) supporters Josephine Zhao of Small Property Owners of SF (left), Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (right) and Plan C Co-Chair Michael Sullivan (not pictured).

CHINATOWN OPPOSES SHELL: Although Supervisor Chiu like most of his District 3 supported the Shell-CleanPowerSF deal (see map), he said, “I heard from constituents of mine in Chinatown and throughout the City, in neighborhoods like the one in the heart of my district, where [polling] showed that there was little or less support for this program than in others.” GM Harrington replied SFPUC was looking for 90,000 “happy” customers or neighborhoods with majority support, according to his market survey…

SUPPORT FOR SAFETY NET: Jane Kim feared low income customers are not “caught in a program that they did not realize they could opt out of” the Shell deal as she, Supervisors Mar, Chiu and Cohen of District 10 (Bayview/Visitacion Valley) hashed out an amendment to protect them. Mar supported “the most aggressive education and outreach program” – more than the SFPUC’s minimum four household notices. Carmen Chu, defeated in amending and delaying the contract, echoed immigrant concerns, “having parents who worked all the time, people just miss things, they miss bills that come in the mail, sometimes they miss things through e-mail”…

RATES THREATENED: Likewise, Chiu echoed Chinatown tenant concerns, “I wanted to ensure that the [SFPUC] heard this loud and clear… the board will consider rejecting rates that do not reflect the policies that I described”…That is, low rates, outreach to low income households and limiting opt-out fee. Chiu’s remark is insightful. SFPUC gets the green light if they cast a safety net for low income and immigrant residents. Meanwhile, middle class APAs are stuck with higher rates…

SUBSTANTIAL RATE HIKE: During board debate, Government Audit and Oversight Committee Chair Farrell called the SFPUC opt-out deal as “coercion.” Although tenants, seniors and low income folks were protected, he said “there will be people vulnerable who will be paying higher rates unbeknownst to them.” Farrell questioned assumptions of GM and former SF Controller Harrington. Citing a SF public finance manager, Farrell said, “We’re going to have to increase the rates substantially over the 20% to 30% to build out the full program…”

SF School Board member Emily Murase (right) talks about top priority of school construction contracts and job creation at fundraiser for school board candidate Beverly Popek.

IF EUROPE IMPLODES, THEN WHO?: At a Northern California pro-GOP White House nominee Mitt Romney press conference in GOP activist Albert Chang’s Chinatown Grant Palace, Northern Silicon Valley State Assembly candidate (24th District) George Yang – raised questions about Obama’s ability to lead the nation, especially economically. Yang – running against incumbent Democrat Rich Gordon to represent major APA regions like Sunnyvale and Cupertino, tried to strike a chord with California investors. “If there is a crisis in Europe, especially economic, who do you think is more capable to handling the situation in the White House?” asked Yang, comparing the economic experience of Romney’s “global” experience in Europe and Boston business experience compared to a Obama, a Chicago law professor…

TONGUE TWISTER: Honor at last Friday’s community dinner for the unveiling of the Chinatown campus, SF City College trustee Lawrence Wong received from table host Ken Hamai – custom made lit electronic lion dancer mounted on a pedestal and unfurling its tongue and hand-printed scroll. Hamai, a 2012 Gay Asian Pacific Alliance honoree, congratulated Wong for his long battle to build the Chinatown campus…Among Hamai’s guests – LGBT pioneer Hoover Lee

SF College Board member Lawrence Wong (left to right) celebrates opening of SF City College Chinatown campus with Chinese American Democratic Club President/former School Board member Eddie Chin, architect Sam Kwong and teacher Margaret Lee.

WOMEN IN BLACK ROBES: Tongues wagged at the golden silence of ex-College Board trustees Lillian Sing and Julie Tang. The non-partisan Superior Court judges always sat silently at College Board meetings – speaking volumes about how they really felt about building the Chinatown campus…

I BUILT THIS HOUSE: Interviewed at the Westside Chinese and Asian Pacific Democratic Clubs forum, SF College Board member and engineer Rodrigo Santos noting his intimate familiarity with the scenic Golden Gate Heights abode blueprints of Bill and Sophia Ma – the parents of Assemblywoman Fiona Ma

College Board member Rodrigo Santos

INTESTINAL FORTITUDE WANTED: Anyone like Sonya Thomas or Takeru Kobayashi?  Diverse group of political activist or candidate contestants to compete in 2nd annual “Potsticker” eating contest on eve of Tuesday, Oct. 23. Proceeds benefit AsianWeek Foundation … Awards given for timed gorging (how many eaten in 3 minutes) and new category – for style in how potstickers are eaten. CONTACT: Angela Pang at apang@asianweek.com or 415-373-4002….

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.