San Francisco Examiner columnist Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, right, takes a selfie with Mayor’s Office Chief of Staff Steve Kawa. (Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez/S.F. Examiner)

‘Frenemies’ abound at holiday schmooze with San Francisco power players

http://sfexaminer.com/category/the-city/sf-news-columns/on-guard/

The stage was set (literally), as the newly revamped Curran Theater shone in the colored lights of San Francisco magazine’s “Power Issue Party.”

There last Wednesday, the always powerful, the quietly powerful and the newly minted powerful mingled and drank together, full of cheer, warmly snug as The City’s poorest lay just outside.

As journos and politicos stood on stage at the Curran, SF Mag editor in chief Jon Steinberg told us Denzel Washington would soon stand here … a privilege bearing more weight depending on if you remember Denzel more from “Training Day” (Meh) or “The Hurricane” (Whoop!).

Arms lengths away, everyone’s favorite “slick” Willie Brown traded gossip with local apparatchik PJ Johnston, ruminating on which state politicos were circling like vultures for each other’s jobs.

Out of the corner of my eye, I spied new (progresive) San Francisco Chronicle columnist David Talbot in a bit of a … heated … discussion with the Yes in My Backyard head Laura Clark, who is also a top gun at the Robert F. Kennedy Democratic Club.

Talbot took RFK to task in his second Chronicle column — and even tapped a living Kennedy to diss the club, presumably over its thousands of dollars in oligarch tech money and support of Proposition Q against homeless tents.

Now that was worth a chuckle. I may miss having often-wrong Chronicle columnist Chuck Nevius as a dependable foil, but hilarity comes in many forms.

Perhaps my favorite odd moment of the night was one shared with the “shadow mayor,” the Mayor’s Office Chief of Staff Steve Kawa. Though the dearly departed Rose Pak’s least favorite “baldie” is known for bringing the hammer down hard behind the scenes, the thickly accented former Massachusetts resident at least knows how to give a laugh.

I’m planning a visit back east to see my family, I told him, and asked him where to go.

He hasn’t been back in years, he said. But when I mentioned some from my mother’s side are in Revere, Mass. (I think), he became animated.

“Watch out for those Revere girls!” they used to say in his day, Kawa told me. “They had their hair (he pronounced it ‘hay-air) two feet high in a beehive! And wore white stockings!”

Then, out of all things, we actually took a selfie together. What an odd, odd holiday. And so it is in tiny San Francisco, some-time opponents meet over drinks and under warm holiday light enjoy how small town we really are. At least, for a time.

In January, we sharpen our sticks and go about the dance again.

* * *

Speaking of politicos at odds, one small-time contest has wrapped: the battle for the local chapter of the Sierra Club. The BARF slate got flushed, and the long-time Sierra Club member slate won out.

It was a very-under-the-radar election, but one with potential to upset a key cog in San Francisco power, as the Sierra Club is a strong voice on housing development (to stop it, or bolster it) in The City.

The Sierra Club S.F. Bay Chapter Executive Committee’s election winners, tentatively (before vote certification) are Becky Evans, Linda Weiner, Katherine Howard and Sheila Chung Hagen.

Evans said she was worried, because the YIMBY party seems to have such significant inroads to tech. The group has bucko support on Reddit’s local page and among moderate Democrat politicians — like former Supervisor Scott Wiener, for instance.

“It’s hard to see how that visibility translates,” Evans said.

She added that the only BARF/YIMBY slate member she saw actually — you know — attending Sierra Club meetings was Travis Cole.

Cole, a local software engineer and pro-development devotee, said he expected the loss. He added, “I didn’t want to go into there looking for a fight. I wanted to find common ground. There’s a lot of places where we agree.”

According to the YIMBY’s Sierra Club slate site, Cole put more than $3,000 into the race.

He seemed to be a genuine guy, with a lot of qualms about the environment related to development, spurring him to act in local politics (more tech workers should be engaged in their community, whether we agree with them or not. So good on him).

But since this is two years in a row the BARF slate got its butt kicked, perhaps Cole can lead his fellow urbanists to work with the Sierra Club, instead of trying to usurp it.

On Guard prints the news and raises hell each week. Email Fitz at joe@sfexaminer.com, follow him on Twitter and Instagram @FitztheReporter, and Facebook at Facebook.com/FitztheReporter.

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