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Monday, April 5, 2002

Watching City Hall

by h. brown

Verily, it is Springtime …

and the Sap is rising


He came over one night

and I was in my bathrobe

– Conversation among women sitting near my computer

I just had myself a hell of a week. I actually used my body to work hard. That's something I haven't done in months. It felt good.

Wheelbarrow loads of rocks, raking fresh concrete.

I spent a whole day moving Deby & Zoe. Zoe's 4 & starting school in San Anselmo in the autumn & Deby who's her mom & older thought it was time to split the Tenderloin. Co-parent Frank helped. And huge Michael Moore, who was my boss years ago at the Harcourt. Deby, of course. She's 6' barefoot & at 19 was the best softball pitcher in Oklahoma.

Melissa, from Las Vegas (originally Montana) came back to town from a few months in Brazil, where my daughter keeps fixing friends up with lodging with families who teach em Portuguese, feed em & have "the adventure of a lifetime" under cheio Lua … the full moon … for $200 a month. Everyone stays longer than they expected. Melissa helped & she's tall & beautiful & dark as walnut from the beaches.

Monica helped. Back from the Peace Corps. A distance runner. Part of an inner corps of friends who are as close to a commune as I've had here in 20 years.

And of course Ania, who played with Zoe & coordinated the entire thing. We're getting pretty good at moving each other.

I ran. I lay in the sun in Sonoma. I steamed at the Y. I'm getting ready to face “Prince Charming” in the fall. Life is good.

The State EDD (Employment Development Department – in charge of unemployment insurance) sent me $51 after holding all my benefits to pay off an old debt for four months. They also said that I had $487 more dollars in benefits coming. The next day they sent me a new bill for over $500.

Oh well. Ania saved me the newspapers while I was otherwise occupied. I have a mission. San Francisco politics. I do it for all of the above people plus thousands more who aren't brilliant and beautiful and young and strong. I read what happened. I read my email. I go after the bad guys.

When I screw up while going after “bad” guys

I railed last week about the new plans for Harding Golf Course because I thought the place will cost too much & will be another draw on the local aquifer.

I was wrong on both counts. Tony Hall's office pointed out to me that the renovations will cost sixTEEN million & not sixTY million and that as for all the water for the course/s (Fleming is included in the rebuild) … they'll continue to use Hetch-Hetchy water.

Now that's two pretty big points to miss & I'm gonna apologize for purely sloppy research & a tin ear & endorse the project with a caveat or two.

I think the bill should be paid for by the new corporate taxes the board is working on to replace the Shorenstein & Pals Rip-Off of the city vaults last year. And, I want the courses to sponsor an entire tour for underprivileged kids.

Hey, they admit they're taking millions from funds that could be used for rec centers in poor neighborhoods. Oh, they'll pay it back but for awhile it won't be there. Use the kids in every phase of the game from caddy to mowing lawns to cleaning the johns.

I'd love to see a course run by young people of color. Home Depot won't promise to hire them when it invades their neighborhoods. The city should. What a great matter of pride to see a PGA tour event run entirely by people of color. Only in San Francisco.

Speaking of “Uncle Tom”

Bill Barnes, who is Supervisor Chris Daly's legislative aide, got called an “Uncle Tom” at a meeting in Bay View last week. Now, I get called worse than that every day but there is a big difference. For one thing, I'm often an asshole & deserve to have it so noted. For another, Barnes is brilliant, peaceful & a dedicated activist who only wants to help. It is the true “Uncle Toms” who are making the accusations. Allow me to elaborate.

Uncle Amos Brown

Two weeks ago in the Bay View Willie Ratcliff quoted the Reverend Amos Brown as demanding that all new jobs in the Bay View and Western Addition be reserved for black people.

Now, that impressed me. I like lots of Amos Brown's ideas. I like the idea of bringing a ship or two here to use as floating SRO's for the homeless. I'm beyond tough love when it comes to shoveling the drunks & druggies & delusional off the streets. It sounded like he was onto something again.

Alas, the quote was 9 years old.

1993! Back before Amos Brown became a mouthpiece for white developers & corporate interest groups. How things change. Two weeks ago the good reverend called supervisors trying to open the door to, among other things, the ability to force Home Depot (who refuses to agree) to hire local people of color in the store … he called the supes "snakes" for attacking the Home Depot project. It's obviously on the mayor's list of corporate donors. Them or one of the builders who has the “in” on the project.

It is sad to see our leaders stray. It is disgusting to see them sign off on polluting power plants and accept poisoned land as a base for housing for black people. Then they call Bill Barnes an “Uncle Tom” for trying to actually help black folks. It is irony. It is insanity. It is doublespeak.

Warren Hinckle, the RBA & the poor

Non-profit housing is a financial risk. Big time.

Poor people don't tend to have much money. And politicians like to add requirements to non-profit ventures built on the public dime so that they do really weird things in the construction & management process. Like hire poor people to work. Train them too. Sometimes they don't make the best of employees. Show up drunk or not at all. Break your heart. Often as not, though, they'll steal your heart. So many people only need a chance. A job. A place to sleep. To wash. And, for God's sake, to take a shit!

Have you noticed that not much non-profit housing is being built in San Francisco? It's because Willie Brown has been giving developers better deals to build market-rate housing. Working through Gerald Green, Director of Planning, the mayor built over 3,000 high-end live/work loft spaces that were not needed and cost a half million apiece while collecting no impact fees for things like transportation.

Plans approved by Planning get built. Willie Brown decides which plans (for the most part) get approved by Planning. It is impressive as hell. And effective.

Soooo, you have the Brown machine lackeys, like Hinckle of the Examiner & Joe O'Donoghue of the Residential Builders, preaching about why ANY building is good. Building out precious land to create unattainable (for the 92 percent of us who can't afford to buy here) housing.

You get the ludicrous picture of the mayor, who controls 99.7 percent of the money spent by government in this town, accusing (usually through people like Hinckle & Joe Dough) non-profit builders of not being efficient or profitable. Truth is, the last thing Willie Brown's people want in San Francisco is more low-rent housing. ’Cause black & brown & yellow people tend to live in those units.

A racist system. Run by a black man. Only in San Francisco.

Ammiano scores big time

Gerald Green went before the new Transportation & Commerce (used to be Land Use) Committee yesterday & he wasn't too happy to be there.

He was late. Jake McGoldrick (District 1) chairs the thing & Jake should be the last person complaining about being late.

Anyway, Green spoke about his budget before Jake, vice chair Tony Hall, and board president & committee member Tom Ammiano & it went swimmingly well. Even Green admitted (sans glee) that the process of sending departments before the relevant board committee before they go before the budget committee works.

Ya know what's happening? The board is going to school on the mayor's books.

It is utterly fascinating to watch Green try and explain why one EIR (Environmental Impact Report) might cost $300 grand and another cost $50 thousand.

Maybe not this year, but next year at the latest, I see light bulbs popping on over heads all over the city. If not the heads of board members, certainly many in the TV audience will follow previously unavailable threads.

It's good for the city. Finance chair Aaron Peskin showed up, as did Supe Leland Yee. Usually, it's pulling teeth to get the supes to “drop in” on committees other than their own.

The new structure is spawning new habits. I likes em.

back & bad: sobone@juno.com