While the local media has been tossing around airport puns and (probably meaningless) Chamber of Commerce polls, there's been a subtext to this whole Milk-SFO discussion: Supervisor Campos, who is leading the charge to put the issue before voters this November, is just using Milk's legacy and the renaming effort to fly right into the State Assembly seat. Today, the Examiner's Melissa Griffin lays out all of Campos' baggage.
First of all, Griffin explains, renaming the airport doesn't actually require a citywide vote. Remember: Army Street was changed to Cesar Chavez by the Board's will alone. So why does Campos (and the board members backing his effort) need to put the matter on the November Ballot?
Allow me to offer an alternate answer: Six months after the Milk airport ballot measure, Campos himself will likely be on the ballot in the primary to take over Tom Ammiano’s seat in the state Assembly. Ammiano is termed out, and Campos has made no secret of his interest in running to represent Assembly District 17.
Campos is popular in his supervisorial district, but outside of District 9, he is perhaps best known for being one of four supervisors who reinstated Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi after the sheriff admitted to bruising his own wife.
By keeping the Milk airport proposal as a ballot measure instead of a simple ordinance, Campos will be able to raise unlimited amounts of money for a campaign that is ostensibly supporting a beloved city figure, Harvey Milk, but that shows Campos’ own name and face. Campos will thus increase his citywide recognition right before his bid for Assembly and do so without campaign contribution limits.
Again: no one wants to shut down Milk's legacy, but San Franciscans at large have a history of voting against name changes for massive public structures. So Campos' effort could end in a flop for the slain gay rights icon, but a win for the current Supervisor. If the other four board members supporting the effort really believe in renaming the airport after Milk, they can introduce their own bill to make it happen and clear the air around the discussion. As Griffin concludes, a bill with the board, "would probably have a better chance of becoming law and it would stop Campos from continuing to milk Harvey Milk."