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Friday, July 26, 2002

A Source at City Hall

one person's comments on politics in San Francisco

On Plan C, District 6  & District 8

There is now a political organization launched mostly by gay men that seeks to counter a generation of activism on the left within the l/g/b/t community. There has always been a middle-class gay constituency, but to date it hasn't been politically organized. Chair Michael Sullivan, a Williams and University of Michigan Law School graduate, disclosed this is on offer from Plan C. Sullivan lives in District 5, and the markers are certainly there for a would-be supervisor. This November Plan C will form a political action committee (pac) to promote its endorsements. Plan C's pac could well send out slatemail and take out newspaper ads, if not do television advertising.

Sullivan is direct about where the group is coming from. Plan C was launched in reaction to Jake McGoldrick's 2001 McTic proposal. Sullivan wrote the following in Monday's Examiner: "Nearly a year ago, six of us gathered in a Noe Valley living room, after that shocking July 2001 vote to ban TICs." So it should come as no surprise that Plan C supports HOPE. It's also signed on to Supervisor Gavin Newsom's Care not Cash.

Wednesday night's candidate debate had nuances. First, not every declared candidate from Districts 6 and 8 was invited. It was explained why only Districts 6 and 8 were included in the forum. In consideration of "time," a selection criterion was used to decide who would merit an invite. As a consequence a fully clothed Shawn O'Hearn sat in the audience. Neither Chris Daly nor Eileen Hansen participated. It's unclear if they did not show because of time conflicts or objected to the fact that not every candidate was invited or because their politics are not simpatico with Plan C. After all neither one of them is a Tory.

Certain characteristics stand out about the candidates who did show and were allowed to participate. The questions were predictable and the answers were canned and pre-rehearsed, but that is par for the course at a candidate forum. Thankfully this one was the first of the season. Still you had to listen to Michael Sweet use the word "opportunity" two dozen times in three minutes. Gavin Newsom mentioned Plan C on Bruce Pettit's show. Plan C scores a thread on Malik Looper's sfpolifix site. Frank Gallagher gave Plan C a plug last week in a snitch-and-tell story over whether Chris Daly would or would not attend.

Well over 100 people attended Wednesday's event, described by organizers as a "bake off." Mabel Teng wore a black leather jacket.. Teng was following well-heeled Janet Reilly's fashion cues, who also wore a black leather jacket at the last Plan C meeting. Log Cabin Republican and Tammy Haygood booster Chris Bowman stumbled around the room trying out different benches before he finally found the right one. Rebecca Silverberg's cell phone went off in the middle of the forum and she took what seemed like an eternity to figure out how to silence its juvenile ring.

With some distance now from the event these observations stand out:

District 6

Roger Gordon. He backs CnC and opposes HOPE. A credible District 6 candidate can not support HOPE. So at this point only Roger Gordon passes this threshold test. Gordon has the social science language of NPO service providers down pat. Somehow with enough CDBG money his NPO is going to create demand and markets on 6th Street through employment training and enhanced intergovernmental cooperation. He took credit for recent developments along San Bruno Avenue in the Portola District. Few in the room knew where the Portola was, much less grasped the reality that it's not anywhere near District 6. The growth of the Chinese community in the Portola or the middle-class spirit of enterprise Chinese émigrés bring to the United States counted for little in Gordon's calculus.

Garrett Jenkins supports CnC and HOPE. His only redeeming commentary was a reasonably articulated defense of public power.

Michael Sweet. He supports CnC and HOPE, if not the Reagan revolution. He said he is a liberal, but he might as well just tell the truth and come out as a "ditto head." As a corporate attorney and South Beach homeowner, he'll get his vote, his wife's vote, and that of Jeffrey Leibovitz.

District 8

Bevan Dufty. He is the most skilled in using language to advance his political goals. He connects with his audience. He is dealing with his "Willie issue" by refusing campaign contributions in excess of $100, and he won't accept the $43K in matching public funds his campaign is otherwise entitled to receive. Like Al Gore he is running as his own man. Still you sense Dufty knows that Brown remains his elephant in the living room. Dufty backs CnC and HOPE, and this group identifies with him.

Tom Radulovich. The BART Director likes certain words: Planning, Priorities, Regional, and Infrastructure. That may not make a wonk, but that is the language game he uses. He scored some good points about the incredible wealth San Francisco has enjoyed in recent years, and how boom-year revenue was diverted into hiring more public employees rather than tending to deferred maintenance or completing capital projects that would have a longer shelf life than an SEIU contract. Radulovich begged off definitive positions on HOPE and CnC. A few eyes rolled when he told the audience he had "to talk to Mark Mosher first" before taking his stand on HOPE.