This article mentions some, though not all of the families (The Aliotos aren't mentioned here for example). While I haven't fully kept up, I know in the 90s at least a quarter of the financial district was held by two families. They own a ridiculous amount of the city's most valuable real estate and getting into office without their approval seems impossible.
I've been wanting someone to do a deep dive on them forever but it never happens and any analysis that lacks them feels pretty disappointing.
Because they can't influence supervisor elections or school board elections as well as they can elections for mayor. The reason why San Francisco mayors are always re-elected is because they're very middle of the road in terms of politics and risk tolerance. Activist policies are usually the product of the Board of Supervisors, the school board, the district attorney, or public initiative, all of which are completely independent of the mayor's office. Sometimes the mayor's office will try to head off policies by offering watered-downed versions as an alternative. This doesn't always work, but it does contribute to the sense that they share some of the more radical policy preferences.
If you don't believe that the mayor's office has been significantly more conservative than the other political centers of San Francisco, just look at the police department. However dysfunctional you think the police department, it's not because the mayor's office has ever appointed a far left, defund-the-police police chief that seemingly every liberal has been demanding for decades. Police chiefs are appointed by the mayor the same way the monied elite choose a mayor--someone who is middle of the road, will keep their head down, and keep things moving along as best they can amidst the fracas. And as you would expect, their performance always falls short because their job isn't to succeed, but to avoid failure.
In general the mayor's office is expected by the old money elite (and increasingly some of the new money elite, like Benioff) to be the caretaker of a city with often times very extreme and contradictory policy demands. They're expected to avoid controversy, blunt the extremists, negotiate (quietly!) among various interests (e.g. unions), and pick up the pieces when things fail.
> The wealthy people who control NYC politics seem less tolerant of such issues.
Maybe. But I tend to think that a more important factor is that NYC still has a larger working class. The upper middle class, which increasingly dominates San Francisco politically, is disconnected from the city. Their politics come from social media and national narratives. They're more focused on avoiding feeling guilty about drug addicts and the homeless than on actual results. That's why the policies keep getting pushed further and further left (far beyond what was ever demanded 10 years earlier) despite the lack of results.
The thing about the rich elite, especially old money, is that in many ways they're far more grounded than the middle classes, especially modern middle classes. If you own buildings or businesses, local politics matters immensely to you. No matter how conservative or liberal you are, what matters above all else is consistency and avoiding surprises. Consistency and security is critical because you're immobile.
The same is true for the working classes. No matter how pissed you are at economic inequality, the last thing you need is the ground constantly shifting underneath your feet. Similar to old money, consistency and security is critical because you're immobile.
San Francisco has too few of the latter kinds of people. At the end of an election cycle, its votes that matter, not dollars. The result is that moderates, which are still quite powerful, are always playing defense rather than offense.
You don't really need cabals to explain it. And it's unclear to me what mechanism the cabals supposedly have to choose the mayor; why they'd choose London Breed over say, Angela Alioto (a member of the "old money elite"); why they can choose the mayor but failed to choose their desired DA in the same election cycle; etc.
Where as long as you voted for your constituents' priority issues, you were free to strike deals on everything else.
Sunlight and transparency carry responsibility with them... and I'm not sure what we, the public, have done with the additional information (to wit, being outraged about everything, all the time) has been for the best of the entire system.
We don't look kindly on managers who micromanage their employees' work, and yet we're essentially doing the same thing to our politicians. Especially at the local level.
Government jobs are extremely lucrative, many pay six figures and opportunities to supplement with graft are plentiful. It’s a powerful club to be in and you’re potentially set for life. My spouse is a lifelong resident and remembers rushing to city hall with other hopefuls every time the city opened up applications.
The FBI is still working it’s way through the public works department with noted criminals like Mohammed Nuru and RoDBIgo Santos. I don’t really know what the Getty’s get out of playing kingmaker, but it’s pretty obvious what Willie Brown et all get out of neglecting the city and funneling money as they see fit.
Six figures in SF is literally nothing: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-44725026
There are probably at least two dozen families, each of which has a few powerful members. Getting them all to agree on anything besides their own self-interest of maintaining their own wealth and power is quite hard.
But the city government has delivered very well on that one shared interest of theirs. They own a lot of property and property values are way up over the past few decades.
Maybe many of them just aren't pro American. In almost every other country the media/politics carefully try to project some national pride and sense of unity; it's actually the opposite here in the US isn't it?
If you do or are supposed to feel some guilt or sorrow or shame for the bad, then you could feel some pride or happiness or thankfulness for the good.
Here in France we only just now had a president recognizing our role in the Rwanda genocide, which happened 20 years ago.
Overall I'm seeing a lot more people calling for being proud of our nation and moving past inconvenient historical details than self-flagellation.
Macron is an exception in how much he stands for the "duty to memory" thing. Most people are fine believing their country can do nothing wrong.
But they absolutely do love to push the moral and economic burden for such things on to the common person.
And of course people are proud of their country and history and societies because that's normal healthy part of the human condition. This behavior and thought is increasingly shamed and bullied though.
You have Pacific Heights, Presidio/Richmond (especially where Feinsteins, Pelosis, Cockers, Dorseys, etc. live) as well as Marin and Hillsborough, et al.
They can let it happen because they can create their own little bubble world and never interact with "the deplorables".
I grew up in the Bay Area and went to "good schools" with these peoples' children so I've seen them up-close-and-personal. They are not nice people.
New Yorkers in my experience are far more practical and "based" compared to Western large blue cities.
Property taxes have been frozen which basically just throws more money into their throats.
Personally, I'm very glad that this isn't a mainstream way of understanding problems. Rich people are kind of fungible, in that they usually don't want to pay taxes, but other than that usually have about the same range of politics as everybody else. Focusing on individual malfeasance tends to protect dysfunctional systems.
We're not talking about "rich people", that's fine and well. We're talking about classes with .5B+ levels of wealth, where it's not about subscribing to politics, it's about literally having the ability to influence politics, should they wish to. Fyi every country and civilization, ever, has had powerful interest groups that seek to control politics to further secure their position and interests. This is not surprising to anyone that this exists. Maybe the main difference today is that in this era of shell companies and the anonymity that comes with mass, global societies, it's able to be less public than before, e.g. way less public than when societies actually had open aristocracies not that long ago.
I mean they spend paragraphs bashing the 'leftie' DA before admitting the problem is actually the police being rubbish.
I knew they were biased, but the article seems especially bad.
My impression is the prevailing opinion within the families should not be attempting to hold office directly and that Angela's bid was not widely supported even by many of her relatives, let alone the wider group we're discussing.
The Economist is as useful in terms about learning about the world as reading headlines.
In areas that are on the periphery, their coverage feels shallow and unsatisfying. I would imagine that the writers, who are some of the best in business, are doing their research but trying to make the content accessible. I can’t fault them for that. However, in this day and age, I would expect them to offer more depth.
On any tech topic Stratechery dives in deep, analysing the incentives, actions and outcomes of each player. Every quarterly report from the big tech companies is analysed. The author also has the courage to make predictions, many of which turn out to be true. It’s worth the money in my book.
The Economist also covers tech topics but at a high level, and for an audience that isn’t tech inclined. Take for example, this gem of an article - Why Companies Struggle With Recalcitrant IT (https://www.economist.com/business/2020/07/18/why-companies-...). For a layman it’s a great intro on software is always delayed and over budget. For those of us who work in IT, it’s all obvious stuff.
A person familiar with IT might say “go deeper, talk about other issues”. In fact, I did just that. I contacted the author and pointed out a couple of difficulties in software that increase complexity, like dependency management. The author was aware of this already but chose not to add this for the sake of keeping the article a manageable length .
That’s what the Economist does - covers a wide range of topics, while not assuming the reader is knowledgeable about any of it. Even though finance focussed newspaper, they painstakingly explain every term before they use it. But these two constraints - covering breadth and not assuming knowledge mean there is a limit to how deep they can go on any topic.
If you find a newspaper that analyses every topic in the world to your desired level of detail, please let us know. Also, if the newspaper isn’t staffed by aspiring fiction writers gratifying themselves by writing impossibly large “long reads”, that would be even better.
 - their response to my letter :
Thank you for your letter. You're right, of course - I've always thought it's a bit like an ancient city like Istanbul, with modern buildings sitting on top of layers of old architecture that's only half-mapped and whose builders are long forgotten. Unfortunately there wasn't space to get too evocative in the piece itself.
I've forwarded your letter for publication, though, because it's an important point.
The Irvine Company is very similar in Southern California. It seems like they own everything when you want office real estate.
So, it's corruption, right?
Well, except that if you talk to any contractors (like your internet provider installer) you find that they love The Irvine Company because there is someone who has a little bit of competence for them to talk to when they need to. As opposed to every other real estate company that seems to be staffed by brain-damaged monkeys.
So, you can posit corruption. Or, you can posit that real estate management is one of those markets that tends toward monopoly because you can amortize the costs more effectively the more properties you own.
But people still believe that Republicans will take away your freedoms and Democrats will solve everything (I don't believe either will solve much).
Voting rules should instill confidence in elections among people who are low information and don't trust the other side. You can't build an election system on telling the other side "trust us" and "you can't prove bad things happened." And elections should be decided quickly and decisively, again to foster faith in the system. The NYC Democratic Primary was a shit show in this regard.
Look at how they do voting in Taiwain--we should do it that way too: https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3855762
Democrats tried to "annul" the 2004 and 2016 elections too. They had Congressional hearings over "voter fraud" in Ohio, based on the supposed mismatch between exit polls and the final results. (And that was with a 2 point margin for Bush, vastly bigger than the ones at issue in 2020.)
I don't think there's that much ideology to it. The place is corrupt and dysfunctional because it's conditioned itself to be corrupt and dysfunctional. Brownback's Kansas government had similar problems; same in Ohio.