Did Supervisor Scott Wiener recently hire a publicist? San Francisco media is rather infatuated with him all of a sudden. He's been the butt of many a wiener joke with regard to the nudity ban and it's won him a fair number of enemies among the left flank of the gay community, who have decided it makes him a conservative. But for those who haven't been paying close attention to his various other efforts, Wiener is clearly one of the most effective politicians in local office right now, and he's already made his higher ambitions quite clear.
First, just two weeks ago, Wiener was on the cover of the Guardian with a lengthy profile by Steven T. Jones, which dubbed him "The Machine," able to court controversy while still being "one of the most productive legislators in the city." For all their political disagreements with him, the Guardian clearly respects him more than most moderates.
This week finds him on the cover of SF Weekly, and the profile there by Joe Eskanazi is even more glowing, celebrating the fact that he's trying to strip down the city's notoriously obstructive bureaucracy and that he's a workaholic with a deeply pragmatic bent, and little time for the usual political arm-twisting. "In an increasingly affluent and self-absorbed city," Eskanazi writes, "There's an opening for a politician less concerned with making San Francisco a city on a hill than working on the pipes beneath it. This is Scott Wiener's time, and we're living in Scott Wiener's city."
It would seem that Wiener's spearheading of the successful anti-nudity legislation put him front and center in the eyes of local politics watchers, and they're now celebrating the rest of what he's doing, which ranges from the more pro-business, pro-development side of things, to progressive moves like blocking the Academy of Art from converting more SROs to student housing. He readily acknowledges that all politicians in SF are left of center, and liberal, however he also accepts the fact that he might get called a Nazi still and he'll never be left enough for some.
Melissa Griffin has also penned a Wiener profile for the new issue of San Francisco Magazine, one that delves further into his rise to power, noting that his stock value is only going to rise as chairman of the powerful Land Use committee, and in his efforts to improve Muni service which may be the #1 issue for the Board to deal with in the minds of many city dwellers, at least those who don't work on the Peninsula and don't ride a bike to work.
Griffin is also a bit more cutting in her description of his persona, which matches up across all three of these profiles: he's driven, tireless, he loves politics, and he doesn't have much of a sense of humor.
He gestures slowly and speaks directly, seeming at times as if he’s in “power save” mode, reserving his energy in case of emergency. “Straightforward” is a description used by a number of people who’ve worked alongside (and sometimes against) him. “Excitable” is not. He doesn’t drink to excess, he has only a few close friends, and he prefers walking over riding a bike. He’s a single gay man who represents the Castro, but he’s on no one’s “most eligible bachelor” list (his dating life, he’ll be the first to tell you, isn’t as robust as his legislative agenda). ... For exercise, he practices yoga. For “fun,” he attends up to five community events a night.
And both pieces conclude with the prediction that Wiener will go far, and may be the prime candidate to take Mark Leno's state senate seat in 2016 that is if he isn't running for Congress by then.
Eskanazi finishes with a quote from a Wiener confidant. "[People have] heard of him. He does shit. And they respect him."