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Friday, November 8, 2002

h. brown's columns for November 5 & November 8

November 5, 2002

Watching City Hall

by h. brown

Ah, nothing like those certain first Tuesdays

Another election day. Time for yet another humiliating defeat. But, Iím not alone and many of the people taking a fall tomorrow truly deserve it. Nothing like an ass-kicking in the cool sharp air of fall in San Francisco.

Let me get right down to the business at hand. I havenít published for a week or so & thus have changed my mind on a race or two.

Dumping Mabel Teng

For the past week or so, Iíve been looking at this sign out my friendís window. It is a copy of a Ward for Assessor sign, but in the best spirit of negative ads, it reverses the original meaning. Instead of saying that a noted official supports Doris Ward, it says the FBI is investigating her.

Now, you know me. Itís not easy to go below my standards. Hell, far as I know, I donít have any. At least, I didnít think I did. Still, there was this lying, mean-spirited sign out there and it has gotten to me. I am therefore withdrawing my endorsement from Teng and tossing it to Doris Ward. For this reason:

Mabel Teng went and did a mea culpa in front of the Bay Guardian Editorial Board. She said she had seen the light and was now a Progressive. I donít think so. A true Progressive would not have announced that she was going to dump the most qualified person (Deputy Assessor Ronald Chun) just as soon as she gets elected. She noted sheíd be firing bunches of other folks too. That will do it for me. Like poor Ronald Chun, I have been fired before for simply being perceived as a threat to my boss because I was competent. Soooo, I call upon all of you who have ever been unjustly dumped or who disapprove of the practice, to vote for Doris Ward.

Doris Ward for Assessor

Sean Connolly for judge in 10

Call me an old silly. (Go ahead Ö Iíll wait.) Call me an old silly, but I donít think sexual orientation is a legitimate qualification criterion for determining who will be a good judge. I know. I know. Iím just an old fashioned guy. I think that things like years in the trenches defending and prosecuting and writing law and things like that should count on the rťsumť of a judge. Sean Connolly for judge! He has the experience.

There is tendency in San Francisco to hire or vote for someone strictly on the basis of their gender or sexual orientation. Uh huh, essentially, a club of gay bigots. A very big club, I might add. Well cowboys and cowgirls, they are no better than the rednecks they claim to oppose. Letís call them "pink necks." And letís reject their thinking and vote for the better candidate. Even if the candidate is (horror of horrors) a straight white male.

It could be worse. Imagine if the best candidate were a Republican! Speaking of RepublicansÖ

The other "Green" Party

James Fang is running for the BART Board. Vote against the boy. And not just because he is a Republican.

Vote against him because he and his family have taken a scummy, racist piece of rag newspaper (Da Examiner) and taken it down a few notches. Jeeeez, at times they reach my depths and you just donít want that kind of thing empowered. Do you? Let me give you an example of the kind of thing the Fangs think is perfectly legitimate business.

The Fang/Strunsky connection

A little paper showed up on my doorstep the other day detailing some amazing accusations regarding the Fangs. Theyíve denied none of the accusations, simply brushing them off as "old hat." One of the things we are supposed to overlook is the fact that this Strunsky kid (Burke), who is running against Chris Daly in 6 (of course, with the Fangs endorsement) Ö that this kidís dad is a member of the Airport Commission. Now, when James Fang and his BART Board chose a route to SFO, one of the first speculators rushing in to buy a property along the route was Jamesí mom, Florence! Imagine that!

I know, I know, just a coincidence. And it was probably just a coincidence that by a miracle, the anchor tenant of Floís new property is going to be some tentacle of the SFO! Uh huh, Burkeís daddy, he used his position on the Airport Commission to get Flo a guaranteed cool million over a couple of years in rent and what does Flo do? Why she goes and endorses Burke for supervisor.

Are you following this? I know, I know, all coincidence. Still, if youíre a suspicious kind of person (like me), you start to wonder if all of these endorsements are all about sex or money.

Chris Daly for supervisor in 6

Of course Iíd like to see James Dunn build his tunnel under Nob Hill. And maybe a series of those pyramids all over town. (If you know what Iím talking about, you really are a local political junkie.)

But much as we need tunnels and buildings, we need representation of our most downtrodden more than anything. AND that does not mean giving them a one-way bus ticket out of town as Tony Hall wants to do or putting them in concentration camps like Gavin Newsom would prefer.

No, it means pushing for new housing for the poor as Chris Daly advocates with his Prop B measure. It means having the balls to fight the mayor and his rich developer friends in the streets, building to building, to save something for the local residents. All of the major candidates in 6 other than Daly are in one rich manís pocket or another.

Vote for Daly, folks. An, take your neighbor with you. If you canít find your neighbor, phone another friend in the district. The mayor and developers will spend thousands today driving a bunch of clueless hacks to the polls to vote for their candidates. So, you get out there and make certain our clueless hacks are there to offset them. Huh? You got that?

Prop N is not worthy of San Francisco

Gavin Newsom has been very kind to me lately. Heís gracious. Has good teeth and a nice smile. Heís rich and young and full of fun. And his "Care not Cash" proposal is the work of barbarian minds. Thatís what makes the boy so dangerous. Heís nice but he fronts for some of the most horrible people in San Francisco. And they are out to get Ö me.

Make no mistake about it, it is very personal. For the past 3 months of this campaign, I have been living on welfare. My unemployment ran out & since I was eligible, I applied for General Assistance and after a couple of false starts (they make it tough to keep the money flowing), I was approved. It was, and remains, extremely humiliating. You gotta be on the bottom to stand in those lines and look at the people around you who are now your peers. To have the Safeway clerk announce: ďAnd youíll be paying with food stamps!?Ē I can make fun of just about anything but welfare is no laughing matter. Here are the facts.

If you have a network of friends and family, you can live on GA. Nothing fancy, but you can get by. Every 2 weeks, you can enrich the household putting you up with huge bags of food and boxes of soap & a dozen rolls of toilet paper and pounds of good coffee.

Thatís all over under Gavinís proposal. Instead of sleeping on your friendís floor, safe and warm with a couple of cats snuggled up next to you, your money purchases a spot in a scummy city shelter and you arenít even guaranteed that. Youíre guaranteed that you have the right to go stand in line at the shelter. And at the soup kitchen. If there is no space or food, you get a piece of paper and go stand in another line to get money. The people who run welfare know how desperate their clients are. They understand they can make them give up and shrivel into the subhuman things you see lying in the streets and alleys, just by giving them one more line to stand in. Just by giving them one more form to fill out. They understand the stress they bring about. Thatís why there are so many guards at those places. The Newsom proposal will bring more lines and more stress and more suffering.

Let me tell you a story.

Jim Reid hits bottom

Jim Reid is a hell of a builder. Heís also a candidate for mayor. He ran against Willie last time and I think the mayor hates him worst of all his opponents. Jim was the only one in town who realized the Progressive revolution of 2000 would not be complete until the mayor was recalled. He knew the mayor would find ways around the new board and he was right.

Reid knew the answer to homelessness was to build cheap housing and he is right. He built a model of a fully contained module with a kitchen and shower and bed. He built two such models. In 2000 when Reid was running for supervisor, he brought one of the models and set it up across from City Hall. There it was, an actual physical model of a solution to the homeless problem. The mayor was livid.

A few months ago, I was in the Elections Department filing some papers when Willieís boy, Bill Lee, came in and the conversation turned to Reidís construction. ďWe were going to get it hauled away,Ē Lee said. Too many cameras, I guess.

Point is, Jim Reid is a problem solver, not a bullshitter like Willie Brown. That makes Da Mayor look bad and Da Mayor, he donít like to look bad.

Reid is at it again.

Board meeting 11/04/02 (Public Comment)

I was lying back trying to kick a flu or cold or something yesterday and watching Channel 26 as always. The supes were going through the motions, with their thoughts on todayís election. It was all kind of boring until Jim Reid got up to talk during Public Comment.

He looked like shit. In fact, he looked like the people Iíve been standing in line next to for the past 3 months! The reason was soon evident. Reid had been staying in city shelters for the previous 6 evenings and the toll on his body and spirit was overwhelmingly obvious. Heíd been turned away from a shelter along with another 17 denizens because, even though they had pads for them to sleep on, they had no blankets. So they just turned them back out into the streets.

Being the warrior that he is, Reid went to City Hall, lay down on the steps, and tried to go to sleep. He was arrested and thrown into jail. I have absolutely no doubt that Willie was informed and drank a glass of champagne in celebration.

It was awful.

Hey, I know awful. I was born in the projects and never even had a bed to sleep in until I was a teenager. (We slept on the floor cause there were so many of us.) I know bad & what the few nights in the cityís shelter system did to a strong man like Reid was very, very bad. I knew it could happen to me too.

Newsomís Prop N is designed to do exactly that to every homeless person in San Francisco. Even if you are able to work out a couch-surfing arrangement amongst friendsí homes that keeps you clean and well fed and sane and employable, thatís gone under Newsomís plan. Yup. The money I used to buy toilet paper and soap yesterday goes back to the cityís General Fund, where Willie Brown will decide how it is to be spent.

We donít need Newsomís Prop N. We need Reidís innovative housing and Dalyís Prop B to build it with.

Just how dumb are you? (YES ON L!!)

A couple of years ago, Walter Shorenstein and his fellow blood-sucking cabal of realtors brought in some out-of-town lawyers to sue the city. Walter, he donít like to pay taxes. Not at all. Naw, it wasnít enough that Bush is giving the Shorensteins their federal taxes back. They donít want to pay local taxes either.

And no lie is too large for Walter. There he is on TV most days now, sitting in the middle of the front row and clapping while one of his flunkies tells the voters a big ole lie. The lie is one of omission. L.M. Boyd used to say that the definition of a lie was when you withheld all or part of the truth from someone who has a right to know it. The ad for Prop L is just such a lie. It is a cartoon that suggests that L is a tax raise on ALL property. It is not. It is simply a tax on millionaires. Yep, no property sold for under a million dollars is affected. It is aimed at Walter. But Walter and his rich friends donít want to pay their fair share. Or any share.

YES ON L!!

Get out there and vote folks. Barry Hermanson in District 4. Yes on J to give the supes a living wage so they arenít tempted by contributions from Joe OíDonoghue and Walter Shorenstein. You know the drill. Yes on D, E & P (think, "Johnny DEP") to give us a reduction of 20% in utility bills. No on í because the Vetsí building should be for Veterans! No on R because it overturns rent control.

How can we miss you if you donít go away?

I may have to go into the publishing business in some form or another next week. Right now, all I know how to do is write up columns in Word and send them out as email attachments. Thatís cool as long as you have a generous editor/publisher like Betsey Culp to correct your most egregious errors and put the stuff out on the web like underwear on a clothesline.

But there's a rumor that the Call is going into hibernation after one more, post-election issue. I donít want to quit writing and I wonít, but I am open for suggestions regarding either temporary venues or help in setting up a new site.

Thank everyone who has helped me in my race for District 2 supervisor.

Keep the fire burning. Iíll pick another district and weíll do it all again in '04. Who you want me to run against next? We have districts 1,3,5,7,9 & 11 up in '04. Or we could go for a city-wide office next year?

smile: sobone@juno.com

Friday, November 8, 2002

Watching City Hall

by h. brown

Upon evaluating the recent election

(In the quiet, gentle, cleansing rain)

It is Friday and Iíve been fighting a bad cold since election night. You know, bourbon, aspirin, juices, beer & a little green bud. Ania (also sick with the same beast) forces me to eat soup every now & then & the 3 black cats join me as I read the papers & watch the tube & sort through the numbers from Tuesdayís latest stab at democracy.

About thatÖ

Work an election Ö skip jury duty!

We should not exactly feel like the Lone Ranger here because we havenít yet figured out how to run an honest & orderly election. We have lots and lots of highly intelligent and highly paid people, from the mayor to any number of consultants and publishers and corporate moguls, who will spend just about anything to see that the good of the general public is not served. They prefer the direct, total control over the machinery of the department they had until the voters called for an independent elections commission some two years ago. Of course, the mayor & his cohorts have fought the implementation of the votersí will since the last vote was counted on that one and any other voter-approved propositions (Instant Runoff Voting?), any new laws that challenge corporate/blueblood dominance.

That is the way it is, folks. That is the way it has always been. We just have to keep going back to the polls over & over to build dams and plug breaches in our shield against the total greed.

Iím chasing rabbits here. Back on point.

I believe you made a mistake (not me) when you voted to allow city workers to work the polls. As a matter of fact, I donít think you should allow ANYONE to work the polls who volunteers. How ya like dem apples?

My reasoning is simple (couldnít be any other way, could it?). Lots of city employees are political hacks. If they "volunteer" for poll duty, they were likely forced to. Hey, years ago, in another time and another city, I was a city employee. I knew the alderman and his family & it never hurt us one bit when we applied for city work. It works that way everywhere. Allowing the people who got their jobs from the mayor to work the polls at a time when questions of impropriety are rampant is simply stupid.

Use registered voters chosen from the jury pool. Hell, more people would register to vote. I canít tell you how many times people told me they didnít want to register to vote because they knew theyíd be put in the top of the line for jury duty (itís true, tho the city denies it). Better to make a hundred bucks for one day of training and another of processing ballots for their neighbors. Itís only one step, but it would be a good start.

I couldnít help thinking as I stood in the Light Court at City Hall Tuesday night and watched the acting director of elections swallow his tongue that maybe some of Willieís DPT people were just a little "slow" (like up to 3 hours in some cases) to deliver additional ballots as needed. Watching the declining tyrant rant on the evening news pretty much confirmed heíd engineered the thing to me. He ignored the fact that, technically, the director of elections never worked for him (under the last incarnation, they worked for city administrator, Bill Lee). Da Mayor screamed: ďIt wasnít this way when I (!!) ran the Elections Department!!!Ē

He said that. He really did. He said it on Channel 4. Sadly, I do believe the mayor still has enough people moving ballots on election day to put in the old fix. Oh, it ainít like the old days, but Iím waiting to gloat over Chris Daly avoiding a runoff until Iím certain Willie doesnít have another Friday surprise up his sleeve.

Progressives continue to kick ass

The downtown machine ran 3 serious challengers (& lined the pockets of a fringe candidate or two also) at Chris Daly & he kayoed them all in one round. (OK, I couldnít wait to gloat.) That was the third most important win on Tuesday. Iíd have to say that the Tenantsí Union victory (thanks Ted!) over Sarosh Kumanaís Prop R had to be the most important triumph of the day. Second, Iíd put the increase in the supesí salaries.

Now, the mayor told Matier & Ross that they wouldnít get a dime while he was mayor. Isnít that interesting? What an incredibly transparent scoundrel is our townís leader. A couple of months ago, when he was trying to overthrow another proposition approved by the people (removing the Department of Elections from his control), when he was fighting that by having his ex-director (Tammy Haygood) sue to keep her job, when he was doing that, he sent her to the Civil Service Commission because he said that even though all of the sitting commissioners were mayoral appointees, that they were independent & would be fair. Of course, they agreed with him. NOW, Willie says that since he appoints the Civil Service Commission, they will NOT give the supes a raise while he is still mayor. Are you starting to get an idea that this guy doesnít care much for the will of the voters? Can you believe the butt is talking about running for public office again and thinks he can win? Willie, I only get 1% of the vote in my races and I could beat you.

Note to Peter Magowan

Dear Peter,

It is assholes like you who give rich & ugly old white men a bad name.

Sincerely,

An expert on the subject

Speaking of Tom Horn

Mr. Horn, now that you have been defeated in your attempt to throw the veterans out of the Veteransí Building, will you and your people be returning the statues you took from the lobby?

The new board

If you thought anyone could beat Gavin Newsom in District 2, you have better drugs than I do. Soooo, no surprise there. Look for Gavin to appoint Jim Lazarus to the board as the District 2 supe if Newsom becomes mayor.

I should make a comment or two on this race since I was, after all, a participant of sorts. Newsom only debated the other candidates twice. In total, Iíd say around 200 people got to compare the 4 of us first hand. Kudos to Gavinís handlers.

I went elsewhere to watch him against Matt Gonzalez & Sister Bernie Galvin & he fared poorly. Not that he canít debate. Itís just that he has a thin skin and his material is indefensible under the lightest scrutiny. Heís practiced and robotic and retreats into meaningless number recitation that could put a boulder to sleep.

I could teach him to overcome these shortcomings and become completely unbeatable but, as Dick Nixon once put it, ďIt would be wrong.Ē Instead, Iím gonna keep kicking Matt Gonzalez in the ass & telling him to run and save our world as we know it. Matt & the other supes should realize that Willie just might refuse to implement Prop J (supe salary increase) and that Newsom voted against it too. If Willie refuses & Newsom wins and refuses, these kids could stay at minimum wage for another decade.

Election day parties

I am a political junkie. Therefore, I am in paradise on election days. Tuesday, a friend and I began at 10:00 am, jogging the various campaign headquarters and polling places and lunches and stuff like that.

I ainít never seen nothiní like Allegroís (1701 Jones, on Aaron Peskinís Russian Hill. Lord, lord, lord. Best as I could figure, ace fat cat attorney Robert McCarthy was the host with the most. I, on the other hand, was certainly the least at the feast. I queued up and got a half glass of good merlot (5 times, I think). Then I eased out to the sidewalk and stood on the curb. Within minutes, Jerry Brown was standing on one side of me, droning on about one thing or another. Willie Brown was giving a speech about the foulness of the present Board of Supervisors to the Exís Frank Gallagher, who grinned ear-to-ear as he jotted notes. Chief of Police Earl Sanders left the uniform at home and came in a wide lapel, double-breasted fray suit set off by a brilliant savannah brimmed fedora. He looked like one of the club owners in the "Cotton Club." Feinstein came by and Boxer & the fire chief was there. (I grabbed a fire captain & he did a great 5-minute explanation of how the cityís auxillary water system works while we all gathered around a plug.)

One expensively tailored lady ran into DPT boss Fred Hamdun and knocked his drink on a matron whose jacket was either a fabulous work of art or something her grandkids made at camp (hard to tell with some of the clothes rich people wear). Peskin was there to comment that if his Prop L failed (new tax on the millionaires surrounding us), heíd be glad to run it again at the next election, only doubled! It failed, of course, due to a brilliant campaign by the wealthy completely obfuscating the issue. I met Don Solem for the first time. Itís good to know the opposition (especially, if theyíre buying). Mark Leno showed off an antique marijuana lapel pin. Alioto, Newsom Ö on and on.

Iím not doing the scene justice. A sparkling clear fall day on a street lined with mature trees. No thru traffic except for guests and locals. Old dude next door comes home from shopping, his garage door opens and the mayor, police chief and a senator have to move out of his driveway so he can get into his garage. Should have seen the look on his face.

Wrapping it up

The only changes on the board should favor progressive ideas. Face it, anything is an improvement on Leland Yee, who is heading for, uh, Ö sunnier climes. District 4ís new supe will be Fiona Ma unless she starts dating Gary Condit. In 8, you gotta love Mark Leno as a suave & gentle soul but he voted with the evil empire more than he did against it. I plan to push my shopping cart over to the Castro & register to vote for Eileen Hansen if I can. I stand by my previous prediction of a runoff landslide for Eileen. Hey Sophie, tell the crew to put more tp & stuff in the womensí loo. You wonít be alone much longer.

Yeah, it should be an interesting year. McGoldrick & Peskin & the gang should take heart from Dalyís win against all the downtown machine could muster. Mabel Teng can reassess her own damn kitchen. Kevin Shelley will put up or shut up on IRV, which could well mean the difference in next yearís race for mayor. Gray Davis is broke again. The Peace Movement awakened from a 40-year sleep. Itís been raining for 2 days (yeah!). My cable connection is gone. Newsomís Care Not (I went to their victory party - can you believe it was dry?! - 3 months work & not even a beer). The measure could be enforced as soon as one week from now. That would mean moving from a dinner table to a soup kitchen. From a friendís couch, to a flop house. The Call is on the verge of a temporary closure. No job in sight.

Hmmmm. I feel pretty good. The election told me most that our side has to increase exposure of our positions to the public. Iím thinking the next big opportunity for this is the new cable contract coming before the city. Iíd like to see about another half-dozen news shows on the order of cable Channel 23ís "City Desk," shows for all of the supes and other elected officials.

later: sobone@juno.com