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april 24, 2000. Minding their manors. On April 19, a group of about 50 low-income men and women living in the Tenderloin Four — Marlton Manor, the Alexander Residence, Antonia Manor, and Maria Manor — gathered to hear HUD’s Carolina Chavez and the Redevelopment Agency’s Sean Spear try to make sense of the regulations that govern their future. A few weeks ago, the owner of the apartment houses notified each resident of plans to prepay the mortgages on the buildings, possible as a prelude to selling the properties or removing them from subsidized Section 8 status. Or possibly not. Only Security Properties president Roy Lee III knows for sure.

Spear and Chavez opened a mixed bag of reassurances: The notification was premature, because HUD has not yet agreed to accept the prepayment. If the buildings are sold, the new owner will be eager to collect his monthly serving of rent and will likely remain under contract to HUD, perhaps with a rent hike which will affect the subsidizer but not the tenants. If he does opt out, preferring to try his luck in the private marketplace, the present tenants will receive Section 8 vouchers, which are good anywhere in the United States (and good for a long waiting list in San Francisco). Antonia Manor resident Roger Langford’s fantasies of life on the Florida beaches disappeared with a loud pop when he learned that, because technically no evictions are involved, the residents would move out armed with vouchers but no relocation money.

Redevelopment is still pushing its proposal to purchase the buildings and bring in a nonprofit to run them with the residents’ input. But at this moment, nerves are fraying in the Tenderloin.

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Thanks for the memories. In San Jose a decade-long dispute is subsiding, and founding father Thomas Fallon may finally get his day in the sun. Fallon’s claim to memorialization is his planting of a U.S. flag over the city courthouse in 1846, just before the Mexican-American War began; he subsequently became mayor of his hometown. In the late 1980s, according to the Mercury News of April 19, then-mayor Tom McEnery pushed for a statue in his honor, characterizing Fallon as "a dashing cavalier whose actions symbolized the union of California and the United States." Not surprisingly, local Latinos took another view, which they expressed with great noise and passion.

The result: the city promised not to erect the statue of Fallon it had commissioned until four other monuments were in place. Today statues commemorating the city’s agricultural past, its first pueblo, and Latino intellectual leader Dr. Ernesto Galarza have been completed and one dedicated to the Ohlone Indians is in the works. It’s time, city leaders announced, to bring Thomas Fallon out of his Oakland warehouse and set him up in Pellier Park where he belongs. Despite hisses from a few opponents, the motion passed.

The people of San Jose may regret the decision. It turns out that Fallon was a bit of a scoundrel, an opportunist who probably married the granddaughter of General Joaquin Ysidro Castro (the San Francisco street’s namesake) for her money. In his later life, "distasteful habits" managed to get him ejected from hotels.

But his wife, Carmela, is another story. In 1876, when she found him making whoopee with the family housekeeper, she conked both of them on the head with an iron poker and filed for divorce. Moving north with her six children, she entered the heady world of San Francisco real estate and proceeded to make a killing. In 1894 she built an appropriately splendid house at the intersection of Waller, Octavia, and Market streets, where she lived until her death in 1923.

Her monument is this mansion, soon to be reincarnated as San Francisco’s new lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community center. Her former husband’s monument is a two-ton equestrian statue in San Jose.

(toon courtesy of Eric Carlson)