MARY JUNG STRONG AS SHE FLEXES POWER

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The San Francisco Democratic Party’s governing arm last week decisively rejected a proposal that would have stripped-power from Asian Pacific American (APA) Chair Mary Jung, Treasurer Tom Hsieh from influencing the Party’s highly coveted endorsement mailer sent to 242,000 Democratic voters making up 56% of SF voters. Hene Kelly, a retired teacher, proposed the amendment. Kelly who is wife of Dennis Kelly, president of the city’s powerful teacher’s union (United Educators of SF who oversee the SF Unified School District which is 40% APA), claimed her amendment would expose conflicts of interests. But critics said it singled out the APA leadership of the committee. The party’s 32 member elected county committee rejected the Kelly proposal 19 to 5 with eight members abstaining or absent. The vote drew APA party activists like former California Democratic Party Vice Chair Alicia WangAsian Pacific Democratic Club President Jay Cheng and Darlene Chiu-Bryant, one of Mayor Ed Lee’s 2011 campaign finance managers. Although not present, the Mayor was likely watching from afar…
SF Democratic Party Chair Mary Jung (center) with Recording Party Secretary Kat Anderson (left) and former Party Secretary Leslie Katz (right)

SF Democratic Party Chair Mary Jung (center) with Recording Party Secretary Kat Anderson (left) and former Party Secretary Leslie Katz (right)

TARGETING ASIANS OR SUNSHINE: Amendment author Hene Kelly defended her motive to “open a conversation about transparency” in the party’s policies and procedures while lauding county committee member work in distributing its slate card. “In no way did I want to quiet, or ‘shush’, as my grandchildren would say, Asian Americans. In no way did I want to take the vote away from Asian Americans”…Slamming Kelly’s measure, county committee member Zoe Dunning, a former navy commander who fought the US military’s anti-LGBT Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy said, “This isn’t about disclosure. This is about prohibition. This is about banning people.” Dunning compared the Kelly amendment to “voting suppression laws being enacted in the South primarily by Tea Party Republicans…”
First Vice Chair Zoe Dunning (center) denounces Hene Kelly proposal to strip power from SF Democratic Party Chair Mary Jung and Treasurer Tom Hsieh as SF College Board member John Rizzo (left) and Recording Party Secretary Kat Anderson (right) listen.

First Vice Chair Zoe Dunning (center) denounces Hene Kelly proposal to strip power from SF Democratic Party Chair Mary Jung and Treasurer Tom Hsieh as SF College Board member John Rizzo (left) and Recording Party Secretary Kat Anderson (right) listen.

CHINESE EXCLUSION V. CONFLICT OF INTEREST: Former SF Democratic Party Chair and SF SupervisorLeslie Katz opposed the proposal. She warned about the “law of untended consequences” with the proposal looking like it “targets particular groups or organizations and may preclude people we value”…College Board member Rafael Mandelmann said “this is not personal…after 150 years of brutal and outrageous discrimination in this City and country, it is a good thing to have a Chinese American chair [of the Party].” Mandelmann, overseeing a 40 percent SF City College student campus on the verge of losing its accreditation, defended the proposal. “[The slate card committee] should not be composed of people who have a financial interest opposed to the endorsements the party has just made. That’s obvious and maybe important”… Attorney Alix Rosenthal, abstained on the measure after feeling “a little icky about it” herself after having received compensation for advising 2011 candidate for SF District Attorney Shamin Bock who lost to George Gascon. Rosenthal admitted a conflict of interest measure would prohibit “most of us from voting on a lot of issues”…

APA SOLIDARITY: The 19 vote coalition shooting down Kelly’s proposal represented a liberal-moderate coalition. Among them was a solid and historically shaky APA bloc supporting defeat of the measure, including Jung, Hsieh, Board of Supervisor President David Chiu of District 3 (Chinatown/North Beach), California Attorney General Kamala HarrisAssembly Democratic Caucus Chair Phil Ting, and State Senator Leland Yee. Only progressive leaning District 1 (Richmond) Supervisor Eric Mar and former school board member appeared for the meeting but did not stay to support either the first ever APA chair, or back progressives and the wife of the teachers union president….Also opposing the measure included liberals (SF progressives are further left than liberals) and moderates like US Senator Dianne FeinsteinCongresswoman Jackie Speier and District 8 (Castro/Upper Market) Supervisor Scott Wiener

Hene Kelly (right) proposed amendment to strip power from SF Democratic Party officers including Chair Mary Jung and Treasurer Tom Hsieh. Board of Supervisors President David Chiu (left) opposed the Kelly amendment.

Hene Kelly (right) proposed amendment to strip power from SF Democratic Party officers including Chair Mary Jung and Treasurer Tom Hsieh. Board of Supervisors President David Chiu (left) opposed the Kelly amendment.


 
THE LEFT AND THOSE WHO LEFT: Meanwhile the party’s progressive wing splintered with notables Kelly, Mandelmann, District 17 (eastside SF) Assemblyman Tom Ammiano and Matt Dorsey (spokesperson for City Attorney Dennis Herrera) backing the proposal. However, they were abandoned by notable absences like former State Senator Carole Migden, Supervisors John Avalos of District 11 (Excelsior), David Campos of District 9 (Mission) and Mar. State Senator Mark Leno, aligning with liberal-moderates and progressives, abstained…

FUTURE OF MAYOR IN 2015: The vote for Jung has implications for future endorsements in June and November municipal elections, especially in contested races for SF Supervisor, SF School Board and SF College Board. While the liberal, and thereby less progressive party hasn’t shifted to the center, the vote indicates it’s shifting in that direction after a progressive rein under Jung’s predecessor and former Board of Supervisor President Aaron Peskin of District 3. The decisive vote sends a message that Jung is firmly entrenched as party chair with powerful allies such as Mayor Lee, housing industry and APA Democrats behind her. While Jung is chair, it remains to be seen how the county committee will determine its endorsements at the California Democratic Party, as in the case of the liberal or “progressive with shared values” David Chiu versus a more ideological David Campos in the 2014 District 17 Assembly race to succeed Ammiano. Or will the party go for 2015 mayoral re-election of Mayor Ed Lee after snubbing him in 2011? The Jung vote represents an optimistic snapshot for a 2015 endorsement for Lee…

WHERE IS EAST RUTHERFORD: Super Bowl XLVIII festivities ignore host East Rutherford according to its Mayor in a CNN report last Sunday. The New Jersey town of 8,900 residents is one-fifth Asian Pacific American as of 2012 US Census estimates, primarily Indian and Korean American. The NFL will celebrate in New York, converting Times Square to a “Super Bowl Boulevard”…

SANTA CLARA WHO: With Santa Clara receiving the Super Bowl bid in two years, the city of 116,000 – 37% APA (with no APA representation on the Santa Clara Council) and representing the APA gamut of Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese Americans – faces East Rutherford’s predicament. Back in 1985, Stanford University hosted the Super Bowl (where the SF 49ers blew out the Miami Dolphins). However, the limelight glowed on San Francisco as much as this week’s Super Bowl will focus more on New York and less so on New Jersey and East Rutherford. So, SF hasn’t lost the entire 49er team. The city’s still associated with the 49ers and netting goodwill without the expense of footing costs associated with a new stadium…

FIRST ALL STAR: Ever the selling point…guard, Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, who are trying to splash down a waterfront arena, is unfortunately mentioned in the same breath as the last All-Star in 1993-94, Latrell Sprewell – infamous for choking his coach, owning a pit bull biting his infant daughter’s ear and allegedly blurting a racial slur at an APA arresting officer for speeding and driving with a suspended license…

MISS ME?: Email Samson Wong at potsticker@prodigy.net and  follow him at Twitter @SFPotstickers
 

 

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.