Matt Haney attends a news conference announcing Vincent Matthews as the new superintendent of San Francisco's public schools at the SFUSD administration building in San Francisco, Calif. Friday, March 31, 2017. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

Haney courts Chinatown — even though he wouldn’t be supervisor there

Does Chinatown know who the hell school board member — and newly announced District 6 supervisor candidate — Matt Haney is?

The answer to that could determine the progressive’s ability to beat his lone major opponent, Bay Area Renters Federation (BARF) leader Sonja Trauss.

As my colleagues reported earlier, Haney’s presumptive progressive competition, Sunny Angulo, is no longer mulling a run. But Angulo’s strengths as an aide to Supervisor Aaron Peskin, representing Chinatown among other neighborhoods, highlight Haney’s weaknesses.

Now, Haney’s playing catch-up, and has started making inroads with major Chinatown political players, though he’s still got work to do.

“I need to talk to him first,” said David Ho, a key political organizer who trained under the late Rose Pak. When I asked if he was backing Haney, Ho cautioned, it’s a “community process, bro.”

Part of that process took place — where else? — at the New Asia restaurant in Chinatown last Thursday night. As the Community Tenants Association celebrated decades of tenants advocacy, clinked glasses and noshed on ribs, Supervisor Jane Kim walked Haney around the banquet room, introducing him to key players.

But Chinatown isn’t in District 6. So what good is it to schmooze there?

“Chinatown isn’t just about Chinatown,” said Malcolm Yeung, deputy director of the nonprofit Chinatown Community Development Center. “There are huge numbers of organizations in Chinatown that actually serve a citywide Chinese and Asian population.”

And, as longtime progressive candidate consultant Jim Stearns told me, Chinatown housing groups have ties in the Tenderloin as well, a key constituency for Haney. To beat Trauss, he’ll need to marshal those forces in the single-room-occupancy hotels.

Shifting demographics may also favor Trauss, Stearns cautioned. New condo owners and renters in South of Market may share more political ideology with the BARF candidate.

“I think D6 has developed and added more moderate voters,” Stearns said, though he added the caveat that “overall, it’s a still a very progressive liberal district.” There’s also a dropoff of Trauss-friendly “moderate”-aligned voters in non-presidential election years, Stearns added.

When asked about his record with Asian communities, Haney said he’s been an advocate for English language learners, low-income students, students of color and more, and has provided “more resources for translators” in the school district.

Still, there’s no question that the mumbling at some tables at New Asia last Thursday were people asking if they’d ever seen Haney in Chinatown before.

Yeung said that’s “not entirely fair,” and that Haney has helped Chinese San Franciscans. “I don’t know that our community has a lot of familiarity with Matt, and I think he’s going to have to do work to build up that familiarity.”

He’s got about a year to do it.

* * *
Folsom Street Fair’s annual leather-clad fest has for years attracted politicos in their chapped-hide finest, like state Sen. Scott Wiener, who can oft be seen sporting his leather vest (and little else) there.

This year, as far as I can tell, it was the Yes in My Backyard people who took the political cake home for best Folsom fun. As tweeted by Planning Commissioner Dennis Richard (who walked Folsom in nothing but a black speedo and matching cowboy hat), YIMBY organizer Laura Clark decided to modify the “YIMBY” acronym.

So what’d it say? “Yes in My Butt Yes.”

Oy vey. I may not agree with their politics of “Build, baby, build!” but you certainly can’t argue the YIMBY’s don’t have a grand ol’ time.

* * *
I didn’t attend Folsom this year, mostly because I sincerely believe if you’re not a participant in someone’s community (like the leather community), you shouldn’t walk and gawk. So I spent this sunny Sunday in my neighborhood, the Inner Richmond, at the Autumn Moon Festival.

No matter how gentrified the Inner Richmond has become (I’m looking at you, snooty-looking, black-painted wine bar with no signage!), there are still enough long-time locals to come out in spades. Dancers tip-toed across a stage in front of neighborhood favorite Toy Boat, local politicians schmoozed and yours-truly enjoyed a brew on the 540 Club’s patio in the sun.

Sadly for bike-boosters, it seemed the Ford GoBike booth was by far the least-attended. A peek at their map showed at least a few interested folks tagged intersections where they’d like new “bikeshare” booths to appear in the Inner Richmond, mostly by Golden Gate Park, but it was still practically a ghost town.

Yet far in the corner of the festival sat a tent that was practically mobbed. My curiosity was piqued. When I finally politely nudged through enough people, I was finally able to see what the draw was …


You could say they saw a lot of — cough — foot traffic.

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

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