h. brown's columns for November 5
& November 8
November 5, 2002
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
at it again.
meeting 11/04/02 (Public Comment)
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
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
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?
Friday, November 8, 2002
Watching City Hall
by h. brown
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
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
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
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
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
It is assholes like you who give rich & ugly old white
men a bad name.
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
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
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
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
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.