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The Department of Health and Human Services billed it as a national “listening tour,” and late last month the department’s assistant secretary for children and families, Wade Horn, visited the city to hear from state and local officials about their experiences implementing the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program created by the 1996 Welfare Reform Act. That legislation is up for congressional renewal next year, and HHS’ sessions are an attempt to forge consensus and minor fine-tuning, according to Horn.

He told the Chronicle that he’s not heard anyone express a desire to return to the old welfare system, nor has he evidenced complaints about the new five-year time limit on federal welfare benefits.

The look of the well-heeled western regional welfare department directors assembled at the Grand Hyatt bore out Horn’s statement. Among them, as Lisa Gray-Garcia reported in the San Francisco Bay View, was a total of one actual welfare recipient. Gray-Garcia herself, a credentialed representative from POOR Magazine, and a former welfare recipient, was not invited.

While the sole TANF token inside extolled welfare reform, some 200 welfare rights advocates assembled out front. Horn called them “protesters” and added that they needed to learn how to communicate better.

As the event ended, Horn suddenly emerged surrounded by four aides, saying he had heard the crowd wanted to talk to him. To no one’s surprise, the questions were as tough as the answers were mechanical. Horn was asked if he would meet with them again to “really talk.” “When can you commit to a date?” someone shouted.

“I will commit to the process,” Horn said as he walked off. “I am not sure when or where.”


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Kudos to AsianWeek for apparently being the only media outlet to broach the fact that Redevelopment Agency Commissioner Benny Yee operates a real estate agency. The speculation on the street is that Yee’s affiliation with for-profit brokerage and construction companies weighed heavily in Yee’s decisive (4-3) Commission vote to reject nonprofit TODCO’s (Tenants and Owners Development Corporation) affordable housing project on 6th Street.

Although Yee argued that first consideration be given to SOMA-based nonprofits, he pressed to keep the bid process open even after TODCO was the only developer to respond with a proposal on two separate occasions. Yee’s calling TODCO “an unconscionable monopoly” in the South of Market area aroused the vehemence and suspicion of residents. TODCO currently has eight of 28 Redevelopment Agency–funded projects.

Yee was unavailable for comment about the allegations, AsianWeek reported.

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Tenant Times in its latest issue offers an early reminder that the March 2002 elections for Superior Court and California Supreme Court will shape the future of the city and the state. The paper cites recent Superior Court decisions which have struck down laws shielding tenants from senior and disabled evictions, racial discrimination, free speech violations, and massive rent increases. Anyone wishing to help with the Judicial Campaign Research Project can contact the Tenants Union: 415-282-5525; judges@sftu.org.

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The effect of the recession on the Mission district is thus far a mixed bag, according to the New Mission News. Businesses keyed to the hotel and tourist trades are hurting, as are, for obvious reasons, mail services. Grocery outlets and seasonal foodstuffs industries are doing well, along with “restaurants and bars that have had good patronage in the past.”

The Northeast Mission Industrial Zone, ground zero for recent gentrification battles, lies either cratered, vacant, or fallow. Bryant Square construction stopped months ago, the late S&C Ford facility is moribund, available commercial space is voluminous, and live/work loft construction has slowed markedly.

Antagonisms are heated further up 24th Street, however, as residents and merchants lock horns over the proposed installation of fourteen parking meters on 24th between Castro and Diamond. The Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association sought the meters in response to customers’ difficulties in finding spaces to park.

The Noe Valley Residents and Professionals Association, comprised mainly of 24th Street residents, countered that meters would make an already problematic residential parking situation worse by bringing more cars into the neighborhood and impacting nearby streets. The Noe Valley Voice reports that neither the intercession of the Department of Parking and Traffic nor compromise discussions between the two groups has been successful.

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There may yet be some solace in the failure of Prop. F and Measure I in the Bay View, Hunters Point, and Potrero neighborhoods. The Potrero View reports that the San Francisco Community Power Cooperative has received a $1.5 million grant from the San Francisco Department of the Environment to help southeast residents and businesses reduce electricity consumption and save on energy bills.

Lighting retrofit and weatherization programs, a refrigerator trade-in program, energy saving kits and access to neighborhood recycling and vehicle repair assistance programs are available for a $10-per household yearly co-op membership fee.

John Hutchison

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fire_11.13.01.jpg (27242 bytes)Remember the Tenderloin 4, those four low-income buildings that the Redevelopment Agency labored hard to save from privatization last year? For the residents of at least one of them, life continues to be worrisome. A recent visit to Marlton Manor, at 240 Jones, turned up ugly thick mold in bathroom vents as well as what appeared to be expired inspections on the elevators and fire alarms.

elevator_11.14.01.jpg (17801 bytes)Repeated requests for explanations to Mercy Charities Housing, the building’s new guardian, went unanswered.

Betsey Culp

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This just in from NextArts, the folks who show their support for the local music community by staging free local concerts:

WE’RE GETTING EVICTED. And that’s a scary proposition, as all too many know.

The good news is that we’ve found a suitable new space with a reasonable landlord, but we need help to make the move-in costs. Do you love us that much? Because we love you.

And if you think that what we did last year was cool, just wait until you see what we have planned for 2002. It only gets better.

So, if you believe in Bay Area music and would like to see and hear it free in our public spaces, please send your love and holiday cheer to the address below. Be sure to include your e-mail address on any correspondence so we can add you to our (low-volume) “Friends of NextArts” mailing list. Inclusion on this list keeps you informed of private and unannounced events.

Seriously, we can’t do it without you.

NextArts (NextArts@yahoo.com)

PO Box 192425

San Francisco, CA 94119

Phone 415 468-7694. Fax 415 508-0311

P.S. Our thanks to all of the Bay Area musicians and music lovers who contributed to a successful 2001 season. Stay tuned to www.NextArts.org for notes and history on our epic 2nd year.