How exciting! San Francisco mayor Ed Lee was on KQED's Forum this morning, ostensibly to "discuss the economy, the future of MUNI [sic], the city college accreditation crisis, State Senator Leland Yee's corruption case and other issues" with host Michael Krasny.
Lee is known for his challenges speaking extemporaneously, perhaps one of the reasons that he rarely gives one-on-one interviews or speaks without abundant preparation. Good for KQED for making it past Lee's notoriously protective press office to get him today! In celebration of this banner event, Eve Batey liveblogged this interview with SFist pal Aaron Sankin, a former editor at Huffington Post San Francisco and current reporter at the Daily Dot. (Sankin says that he "has a fake start-up with an app that automatically puts Ed Lee's mustache on a picture of your face. The company is called Stshr and is looking for investors." He's kidding, we assume.)
9:40 AM (Aaron Sankin): I know it's 10 AM on a Monday, but that's no reason not to turn listening to NPR into an awesome drinking game. Take a drink every time the following happens:
- Ed Lee shows up 20 minutes late to the interview and the first thing he says is, "F*cking Muni"
- Someone uses the word "techie" in a pejorative
- Someone uses the word "techie" in a positive way
- You realize the world would be a better place if no one used the word "techie" ever again
- Ed Lee loses his train of thought while answering a question because he is "still recovering from an epic 4/20, man."
- Ed Lee loses his train of thought while answering a question because "4/20 isn't just a day, it's a state of mind, man."
- Someone calls Google Glass a "Segway for your face"
- Ed Lee insists only the reason he went back on his word and decided to run for a full term is because he is really a time traveler sent from the future to stop Leland Yee from becoming the mayor of San Francisco
- Ed Lee begins answering a question about evictions by reminding everyone he used to be a housing rights attorney
- Ed Lee begins answering a questions about turning off parking meters on Sundays by reminding everyone he used to be a meter maid
- Ed Lee pauses before answering a question because he has to lean over and ask permission from Rose Pak, who is standing behind him smoking a cigar
- Ed Lee thanks Michael Krasny for the interview by naming him an honorary survivor of the 1906 earthquake
10:06 AM (Eve Batey): Lee jumps right in by basically recapping his State of the City address points, ending with his concerns that city agencies are "nickel and diming everybody." I think I know what this (cough Sunday meters cough) is about!
10:08 AM (Eve Batey): Lee answers Michael Krasny's question on how tech people are snapping up housing by talking about how he's the jobs mayor. OK? Then he dives into development, saying that a lot is being built, but seems to be more focused on talking about mortgages and down-payments, not about apartments.
10:11 AM (Eve Batey): First mention of changes to Mid-Market. Is that part of the drinking game?
10:11 AM (Aaron Sankin): Ed Lee says: ‟Obviously affordable housing cannot be made without market rate housing because the developers of market rate housing are the ones paying for the affordable housing.”
San Francisco says: ‟Voting against the 8 Washington project proves we don’t believe you.”
10:13 AM (Eve Batey): Lee thanks Mark Leno for his statewide Ellis Act loophole closure legislation, talking a lot of smack about speculators who are dumping long-term renters. Local legislation to close Ellis Act loopholes, as proposed by Supe David Campos, goes unmentioned. Burn?
10:15 AM (Aaron Sankin): Ed Lee backs off pushing for a $15/hr minimum wage for San Francisco and instead says he’s ‟open for anything up to $15.” Ed Lee mentions his history as a tenants’ rights lawyer. DRINK!
10:18 AM (Batey/Sankin): Ed Lee’s response to a critic who charges that he focuses too much on making tech companies happy and not enough talking with nonprofits. ‟She should look at my schedule.” Mr Mayor, we in the media have been trying to get a look at your full calendar for ages! INVITATION ACCEPTED! When and where?
(Aaron Sankin) This is what I assume is on Ed Lee’s personal schedule:
8am - Wake up
8:30am - Spin class
9:45am - Professional mustache waxing
10am - Start being mayor
10am-6pm - Do mayor stuff
6:15pm - Twitter happy hour
7:30pm - Yogilates
8:45pm - Professional mustache waxing
9pm - Sleep
10:19 AM (Eve Batey): Lee brings up "struggling" Twitter employees who are making only $50K a year, and are "worried about the schools."
10:24 AM (Eve Batey): "Mark Farrell and I are talking very intensely" which sounds sexy! But he's actually talking about changing how SF deals with the homeless.
10:25 AM (Eve Batey): Lee pimps his $500 million bond measure for "safer streets," which is a new spin on a plan to get that money to repave streets, fix Muni vehicles, and a lot of other transit initiatives! (Because how can you question "safer streets," you monster?) He's "so sad" about our rash of pedestrian fatalities, which is why we need to spend this $500 M.
10:26 AM (Eve Batey): Madeline from SF calls bullshit on city hall promoted pedestrian safety slogan "be nice think twice," tells the mayor he's cut the funding for safety, says "it really has to be in place now." Lee says he's increasing funding, not cutting. Blah blah "vision zero."
10:31 AM (Eve Batey): Morris from SF calls in to ask about payroll taxes, but doesn't seem to understand how they work. The Mayor offers a gentle correction, talks about plan to end payroll taxes and initiate business taxes instead. Plus, more about $15 minimum wage, which, if that had been a drinking game item, I'd be in the ER right now.
10:33 AM (Aaron Sankin): One important question that has thus far gone unasked: What is the city of San Francisco doing about the fact that Thee Oh Sees, the city’s best garage band, broke up/moved to LA? LA?!
10:34 AM (Eve Batey): Banner moment. In answer to Twitter question, Lee makes first mention of Marc Benioff, says SF USD middle schools will be "all wified up." Someone please make a disgusting definition of that phrase in the Urban Dictionary so I can link to it, thanks.
10:35 AM (Aaron Sankin): Ed Lee’s solution to the ‟exodus” of students from the city’s public school system: ‟The only way to invite more students into the public schools is to make sure that they’re the best.” The mayor apparently forgot that middle school is the WORST.
10:36 AM (Eve Batey): Oh my god, this is why I can't stand call-in radio, it's so squirm inducing. Guy tells loooong story about how much it sucked when he went downtown and couldn't find anything he wanted to buy. I think it was in support of getting rid of Sunday parking meters but it kind of made NO SENSE. If this is the poster child for why Sunday metered parking is good to eradicate, smdh.
(Aaron Sankin) BREAKING: Caller who lives in San Francisco admits he drives his own personal car in the city on a regular basis/is a terrible monster who should be shunned from polite society.
"TL;DR Just in case I get a serious progressive challenger in my next election, I want to make sure my moderate, car-owning Western base knows on which side of the gas tank their bread is buttered." -- Ed Lee
10:40 AM (Eve Batey): Tech worker crows that her current job is better than her previous one as a public school teacher, and that she shouldn't be villainized for riding a shuttle. Given the tone of your note, I am sure there are plenty of other reasons to villainize you, madam.
(Aaron Sankin) Questioner: ‟I’m a 5th generation San Franciscan who went to SF public schools and a school teacher who is also a musician and now make a good salary working at a tech company.” Questioner claimed she just wanted to say she shouldn’t be vilified for making money, but probably wanted to brag about being the best San Franciscan ever.
10:41 AM (Aaron Sankin): ‟If the talent stays in San Francisco, the companies will always be here.”
- Ed Lee, who also argued it was extremely important to give tax breaks to ensure that tech companies stay in the city
10:43 AM (Eve Batey): "it's for the larger good" Ed Lee says regarding the eradication of Sunday parking, claims that residents are yelling at him for asking for support for the $500 M bond measure, even as they receive parking tickets. It's so true, everyone on the streets is talking about bond measures! HAHAHA no they are not.
"It's a surprise and shocking" when you get a parking ticket. "It's hurtful revenue...if we stop nickel and diming you, will you support us on the big ticket issues?" Lee rhetorically asks.
He says "why can't we have a day" where you don't have to pay for things. Great! Then Muni's going to be free on Sundays, too? Hellooo?
10:46 AM (Eve Batey): Caller tells Lee that Muni sucks, that people don't pay fares and that it's generally a mess. Lee seems surprised, asks what lines she rides, says he'll "take your comments seriously." It was so weird, it seemed like Muni being a mess was news to him. That can't be, right? Anyway, I am sure that $500 M will fix that, never mind.
(Aaron Sankin) Ed Lee makes a promise to ride Muni with a caller who complained about shoddy service. It’s a date! Does Mrs. Lee know that her husband just asker another woman out on the lamest date ever?
10:48 AM (Eve Batey): Questioner asks about homeless crackheads," Lee asks if the questioner is talking about the homeless, about "crackheads," or about "homeless crackheads."
10:50 AM (Eve Batey): In answer to question about residents being evicted by unethical landlords, Lee says he wants to make sure rent controlled properties remain rent controlled. I don't have any shit to talk about this.
10:52 AM (Eve Batey): OH SNAP KRASNY "techies won't even take the same buses as us!" (also, DRINK)
(Aaron Sankin) Ed Lee reminds everyone that all of the private shuttles clogging the pubic bus stops don’t just belong to tech companies—some belong to hospitals or schools. He’s right. There’s the Google Flu Trends Bus and the Google Scholar Bus...
10:54 AM (Eve Batey): Caller seems mad about micro-apartments. Lee punts to Supervisor Scott Wiener, says looking at them was his idea. Sharing credit or casting blame? YOU DECIDE.
10:56 AM (Eve Batey): Why didn't Lee OK Board of Supes resolution to divest from fossil fuels? Because he doesn't approve every resolution, Lee says. Is that a tautology?
(Aaron Sankin) Ed Lee says he has a practice of not signing every non-binding resolution that the board puts on his desk, which is why he didn’t attach his name to a letter urging the city to divest from fossil fuel companies. Although, when the Board passes a non-binding resolution declaring ‟Ed Lee is actually a really fun guy when you get to know him, also his hair always smells like strawberries,” he’ll change his tune.
10:58 AM (Eve Batey): "We're trying to create an in-migration of African-American families," then talks about development in the "southeastern corridor" (that's Bayview and Hunters Point). I'm not gonna touch that one.
And that's it! Not a lot of surprises during the hour: Lee was very focused on his talking points, ($15 minimum wage, $500 transportation bond, development), wedging them in even when they didn't really fit the question. I'm definitely bummed that we never got to the KQED-promised topics of "the city college accreditation crisis, State Senator Leland Yee's corruption case and other issues."
Or, as Aaron Sankin says: The biggest takeaway from this interview is that Ed Lee is excited for everyone to look at his personal calendar. On one hand, actually digging through the mayor’s to-do list will likely show how dreary the day-to-day reality of running what one real estate blog labeled the fourth best city in America actually is. On the other hand, it may reveal he spends every night putting on a skin-tight costume and fighting super villains.
Thanks for reading, everyone! You can listen to the full interview here, how do you think the Mayor fared?