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Wednesday, August 21, 2002

h. brown's columns for August 21, August 23

August 21, 2002

Watching City Hall

by h. brown

You called me “rich scum.”

– Gavin Newsom

You called me “welfare cheat.”

– h. brown

The showdown was in the lobby of the state building downtown. It was all purely accidental. Yep. Like the sun coming up in the morning is an accident. Or … like … I mean … when it goes down at night! Another “accident,” right? Naw, this race for supervisor in the richest district on the face of the earth is no accident. Nope, the entire universe has been awaiting these next 78 days.

It was everything I thought it would be. The sun was over Gavin's shoulder when he brought me up on charges (how'd he do that?!) He was accompanied by no bodyguards or sinister consultants. I mean, the man didn't even have a tie!!

I met a consultant friend as I approached the doors of the office building. She was busy hiding her dope pipe up in the bushes because she knew she couldn't get it past the metal detectors. So, get this. It's not yet noon on Sunday and the Harvey Milk Club's Political Action Committee has scheduled a special meeting designed to keep me from getting a fair hearing in my run against Gavin Newsom. It was clear from the start that they all had calendar shots of Gavin hanging around their boudoirs. Didn't matter that they endorsed Segal. They just couldn't escape their inner conservative muse that calls to them to run away on a yacht with that boy from the Marina.

Am I losing it here?

Oh yeah, I was telling you about my first official meeting with da “public” in the opening round of my campaign to become “supervisor“! And I almost got hit by a car of Green Party politico hopefuls.

When waking up is an adventure

I'm never certain where I'm going to wake up. I carry deodorant and a condom (hey, I'm an optimist) in my fanny pack and a portable toothbrush in my pocket. When I awakened that particular morning, my hostess said a terrible, fearful thing to me. "Marc Salomon called." It made my skin crawl. The number one analytical mind in San Francisco politics was waking me up on a Sunday. It could only mean disaster.

It was worse than I could have ever dreamed: "The Milk Club is meeting without you!!"

Dear God in Heaven! Sans h. brown? What insanity could this portend? When I ran in the old 6th District in 2000, somehow the sponsors of the debates and endorsements always had room and time for all eighteen candidates. Now I'm told that the club carrying the name of Harvey Milk has cut the list of “qualified” speakers from four to two!!

Sooooo, pulling on … wait, I never undress … anyway, pulling up whatever I'd slept in, I took off on a dead run for the LGBTG Center. They weren't there!! That's when the Greens almost ran me down.

Nothing like a “Big Mac”

Having missed the “secret” Milk hearing, I drug over to the McDonald's outlet on Van Ness near City Hall and grabbed a big one with special sauce. As I crossed the street, munching, considering the demise of the Milk Club and how it fit into Tiger's run at another major that afternoon on the tube, I heard a loud honking (as unto a singing of angels): "Get the fuck out of the way!!!" That's what the driver of the first car that almost hit me said (off the top of his head). "Hey h!!!" That's what the second driver said. It was Whitney & Sarah (Leigh & Lipson – Green School Board nominees), who'd just done the Milk endorsement gig. Although they could have legally run over me for eating a Big Mac in the middle of the street against the light, they settled for yelling out where the Milk Club was holding its “secret” (to me) meeting. "In the state building!"

I went right over there. Met Gavin coming through the lobby. That gets me back to where I started, right?

Robert Haaland attacks!

Now, much as I'm sure the ole boy would acquit himself admirably, I've actually never had sex with Frank Gallagher. Lots of people seem confused on that issue. I did write a column accusing a few fellow lefties of “chilling free speech” by suing the Examiner's banjo-strumming hitman. When I stopped to talk to the butt of the consultant hanging over the hedges, Haaland approached to convey his disdain for my defense of Gallagher. There were charges of alcohol and a big party. Haaland took me to task for the piece. The chill is over, he basically monologued. Now, it's gonna be all hot air. It was a bit cool before Robert opened his heart to me.

As he talked, I got my back to the wall to watch for possible drive-bys and watched the consultant re-check her dope pipe's location in the bushes. Doris Ward & Mabel Teng entered with their aides and I immediately hit on Mabel. Hey, it was instinct!

I love these things. If I went to more of them, I'd never get any real work done. It's no wonder almost all of the candidates have all of their responses to questionnaires (I have a dozen stacked beside me now), their opinions on this and that, and their press releases written by someone else. If you've been in the situation, you understand. Hey, the day when Lincoln penned the Gettysburg Address on the back of an envelope himself (en route!) ended about then. Even little things (so you'd think, to hear the press deride them), like a race for Supervisor, bring out millions in paid talent. It's how a pre-recorded Sony animation figure can claim to work "well over 120 hours a week" with a straight face. Probably doesn't even wipe his own dishes.

Hell, if you answered every request for an appearance, you wouldn't have time for anything else. The idea that being a member of the Board of Supervisors is not a full-time job is a myth invented and continually perpetrated by the ruling plutocrats. If you give the “people’s” board no money or prestige, its members will either be rich, eccentric, or vulnerable to bribe, as is the norm most places.

Now, where was I?

Save a cat - make God smile

I have a couple of places I sleep in emergencies. One overlooks an old horse corral. It is a pleasant place. There is an untended orange tree, dying from neglect of its fruit. Over the years, there has always also been a feral cat or two. Tenants left them. They bred. They were (and continue to be – we are a thoughtful population) trapped out, spayed/neutered & adopted out or returned to a “managed” feral state.

Suddenly, when I came back from visiting my mom last week, there were a dozen cats in the corral and they were starving and desperate. A tenant hosing a trashcan reported cats leaping at the hose spray, so desperate for water! Turns out someone had died and left a trove of some 35 cats, a few dogs, a turtle, I don't know what else.

Early escapees of the disaster had begun to show up at my secret window a couple of weeks before. I wrote about them. Tina/Luna, Bonesy, and Buddy. Another tenant calls Buddy Shaka for Shaka Zulu, King of the Zulus. One more little gem showed up as the combined city and volunteer groups made their final sweep. She has no name. Make her yours.

We let them take Shaka.

He wouldn't stay in the narrow space where I sleep. We easily captured the other three, smaller females, and put them in a safe spot. Surely, at least Bonesy would have been put down. We figured we had a few weeks to fatten them up and add some fur. Shaka, he was already healthy. They said they'd bring him back in a couple of days.

We've become this rebel feral-cat-redemption grassroots kind of thing that always crops up during election years. Really. Yes, REALLY. We have at least three and probably four cats to adopt. Contact me at this column and convince me you won't kill them and we'll talk. The females are scheduled for free shots and “fixin'' in the next week or two. Our local Animal Control was great in this effort. In all of my years, I have never engaged in any endeavor with greater satisfaction than time spent attending strays. All species.

Tom ready to do the right thing?

The hottest rumor around City Hall this week that no one wants to publish (lest he change his mind) is that Board President Tom Ammiano will withdraw his name as a candidate for mayor & become a candidate for the State Senate, thus setting up a third (and reversed) decision against his nemesis, Mayor Willie Brown.

you and who else? … sobone@juno.com


August 23, 2002

Watching City Hall

by h. brown

Let's use our power for something positive. Let's tell that country getting ready to stone that woman to death that if they stone her, we'll invade them the next day.

– Supervisor Matt Gonzalez

That comment definitely raised a few eyebrows at the impromptu bull session in Ania's kitchen. I was playing Devil's Advocate (Satan & I being close friends) and calling for the destruction of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. By any means necessary. Even if they have them buried under schools or hospitals or orphanages (which, of course, is where they'll be).

Here I am looking around the room for shock and outrage & Gonzo trumps me! War mongering in the defense of feminism? I looked around to see how it was playing with the pacifist women in the crowd. They were looking at the Mattster with misty eyes. They were ready to pull on their rusty old “Joan du Arc” armor & follow the brilliant Latino lawyer/politician into hell. Or, I suppose, pull their armor off if that's what was needed.

Damn! I slunk back into the front room where my old friend, the coal-fired composite PC, was purring as it was hacked by another federal agency. I went to the email and pulled up a statement from some Chinese Democratic group.

How not to go for endorsements

Everybody's got an agenda! For some reason, these Chinese-American people seemed only interested in my views of Asian Americans. I told them as gently as I could that I suspected they were the paid mouthpiece of the totalitarian commie regime in Peking. I berated them for failing to come to the aid of the much persecuted Falun Gong. Let's see if they invite me to address their group in person. I'll make a note here not to eat or drink anything I don't bring with me.

The phone rings – more extortion

It's a nice neighborhood group in the Richmond wanting me to purchase a table at their next meeting in some restaurant. If I give them $250, they'll listen to me rant for 3-5 minutes. I don't think so.

I ask what they think of the Falun Gong. They think it's a new restaurant. Casing my new case worker

Trent Rhorer doesn't return my calls. He's the head of the Department of Human Services. All the welfare workers answer to him. Since I've been a client in the system (more than a month now), I've been trying to set up an interview with him. You know, find out what he thinks about Gavin Newsom's “Care Not” proposal. Stuff like that.

He doesn't reply, so I go through his PR flak. She's very friendly at first. Then … nothing.

There's not a lot of apathy where I'm concerned. People familiar with my, ahem, body of work are kind of like they used to accuse the Germans of being. "They're either at your feet or at your throat!" Or in the case of public servants, they simply ignore you.

I move around a bunch. It's hard to keep track of paperwork and I lost the last notice from Welfare telling me about my new case worker. His name is Albert Hsuing (he's # U456 & can be reached at 558-1112). People associated with the department told me Albert's a good one.

You couldn't prove it by me. I've been through the certification procedure for the dole twice and sure don't want to do it again. So, when I couldn't find the letter, I phoned Albert. And phoned him again. Then, last Friday, I went down around 2:00 pm in person to see him.

I hadn't gotten a check on the 1st or on the 15th. Old Albert, he never returned my calls asking for an explanation. Last Friday, I waited for three hours in the huge reception room at 1235 Mission. Filled out form 2125 & turned it in and waited em out.

By 4:55 pm, I was still waiting and the building was completely empty of clients. Me and da guards. They kept asking why I didn't give up and leave and I told them my momma didn't raise any quitters. Every fifteen minutes or so, I went to one of the house phones at the back of the room and left another message for Albert. He never came out. Never called to speak to me over the phone. Just ignored me. The other workers said he was back there. Nothing. Nothing. Then, at 4:57 pm, a departing worker had mercy upon me and phoned a supervisor who actually picked up the phone.

He started with an attitude. Bad idea. I've never learned to kiss ass and I'm not about to be brought to heel by some social services hack. The guy finally told me my last check was at a ticket window at a local check-cashing service. The check previous to that had likely been returned when I didn't pick it up. Here I'd been waiting by my friend's mailbox the 1st and 15th and 2nd and 16th … and on … and on. DHS had no problem sending me other correspondence at the address but the checks were different.

I ran and grabbed the check and had a 20 lb bag of cat food by sundown. A stray man taking care of stray cats. We understand each other.

In the hours I sat or strolled around the welfare office, I watched numerous desperate people beg for help over and over. Watched them call workers on the house phones over and over and watched most accommodated but some turned away. On a Friday afternoon. With the offices ready to close till Monday.

I called to several of them: "Call the Mayor's Office of Homelessness & ask for George Smith!" In one of the board's committee hearing, it came out that emergency placement in situations like this was one thing they did.

I talked to a couple of guards briefly and took notes for this piece. Finally, one called me over: "You'll get them in trouble talking to them." That's what he told me. He went on: "If you're too friendly with the people, they tell you that you aren't a social worker and they'll suspend you for three days with no pay." So they train the guards to be unfriendly. My, my, my.

You want realism?

I kept wondering if I'd have waited three hours and put so much effort into getting an answer on my check if it had only been for $28 instead of $197.50. That's the cut Gavin Newsom wants to make. He'd force me into long lines at Glide or St. Anthony's if I want food and into a vermin-infested shelter. A loss of dignity. Being unemployed is an embarrassment. Borrowing money when your unemployment insurance runs out is bad. Applying for welfare is worse. Paying for your groceries with food stamps takes some getting used to.

Newsom's “Care Not” legislation takes welfare recipients a step lower. No more being able to put 50 or 60 bucks a week into the household providing you with temporary shelter. Nope. It's legislation to force people like me into the “poorhouse.” Literally. Or out of town. That's doubtlessly the preferred outcome.

Oddly, I'm one of the few classes of people who would actually leave. The people used as poster children for Gavin's “poorhouse” legislation don't usually get welfare checks anyway. I mean, it takes a thick skin and a level of perseverance not seen in your normal drunk or crackhead to keep checks going. Dozens and dozens of pages of documents. Upkeep. New documents. Meetings. Work or study requirements. The system is a lot more rigid now than you are led to believe. The prize is enough cash to tide you to your next job and independent living situation.

Your normal yuppie will not ride this cold, hard rail this far into the earth. They go back to wherever the hell it was they came from. No food stamps. No being seen in the long lines at the welfare office. Naw, the yuppies & dot-commers … they drop out a few rungs above. Cut and run. Only those drawn to the city by some cosmic call will fight this hard to stay. Or those too insane, drunk, or strung out to be capable of rational thought. Sadly, Newsom's new city poorhouse will merely drive out the first group. And included in that group are some of the most talented people in town.

No on C

Just as Newsom's “Care Not” proposal is actually an attempt to “cleanse” San Francisco of its poor, Prop C is yet another Trojan Horse. It is, once again, the DeYoung Museum crowd hiding behind a bond retro-fit which they hope to ride into control of all of the prime space in the Veterans Building. This bunch of insatiable, power- & land-hungry (be calm, h.), they have enough. Their own private “Tower of Babble” will soon rise in Golden Gate Park. They'll soon have new stables for their polo ponies. They'll get free passes into the new Harding (they're “friends” after all) Golf Course and shake hands with Tiger Woods while a bunch of clueless little black & brown & yellow kids complete the lie in the 8 x 10 they'll all frame for their offices.

What a lack of honor! Having thrown out horses and kids and oldsters, now they go after the veterans! Have they no conscience at all? No on C, campers. The building needs some retro-fit. Folded into the legislation is wording transferring control of the place to the blue-bloods for whom the vets spilled real, actual RED blood.

Daly in 6!

I like a couple of the guys running against Chris Daly in 6, but none of them can carry his jockstrap into the Board of Supervisors. Hmmm, I might have rephrased that. But it does reflect how badly overmatched the opposition is in this race.

Just to prove what a bunch of losers they are, look at their leaders. In the front row of the anti-Daly forces we have Willie Brown & Gerald Green & Frank Gallagher & Ken Garcia. With leaders like this, start dating a Daly supporter on the side as a hedge.

Daly in a walk because he and Gonzalez are the only two members of the board who have consistently, across the spectrum, voted exactly as they have said they would vote on every issue. Daly champions the poor and downtrodden and takes up the truncheon against their barbarian torturers.


I noted a couple of days ago that the formerly esteemed Harvey Milk Club tried to avoid hearing from me when they made their endorsements over the past weekend. I've since learned that they, in fact, whittled the list of candidates in every district they chose to hear from down and cut out all but the wealthiest campaigns. My, my, my.

I took on candidates Jenkins (in 6) and Radulovich (in 8) for participating in the Plan C debates when the people running it chose to freeze out two-thirds of the candidates. Not cool.

Now, I would expect that kind of action from Plan C. They are clearly, simply a bunch of Republican yuppies in denial. Cutting people out of the democratic process comes easily to them. The Milk Club, on the other hand, should tread lightly when they start discriminating. Hey, let's make this blunt. The leadership of the Milk Club has lost contact with its constituency. Like SPUR and the Chamber of Commerce and some raggedy, insane symphony director, on a pedestal, alone, in the desert, imagining he's leading a huge and powerful orchestra they are waving impotent wands in the wind. (Don't you love that image?),

What endorsements mean

The week before Amos Brown got handed his butt in District 11 a couple of years ago, he was filmed standing next to then President Clinton at Glide Memorial. Amos had the endorsements of giant newspapers and senators and business leaders but, like I said, he got handed his butt by an electorate that knows anyone who forms a group to pay people to run for public office is up to no good. The longer the list of people gets who you either gave money to or received money from, they think (and I heartily agree), the less you can be trusted. The days are long gone when union members listen to the goons running their unions about how to vote and all Democrats look to the Central Committee for an honest reflection of their interests.

Doubt it? Look at the record of these PAC's over the past couple of years. It's amazing anyone keeps giving them money. Ooops, I forgot, often you don't have any choice.

Geez, I gotta go to something else. It's just noon on Friday and I'm tanked and pissed-off already. I still have a stack of forms from legitimate groups (like the League of Women Voters) to fill out by close of business.

Closing it down

Robert Haaland and Ted Gullickson are thugs. I've been watching them team with the board's laziest sell-out, Gerardo Sandoval, to bash free speech and the committee process when it goes against their wishes.

Today (Friday the 23rd) these two punks strolled around on the floor of the Rules Committee as though they (and “member” Sandoval) were, in fact, in charge. It made bad television, people. Haaland smirked up at the cameras over and over, as did Gullickson. I don't know who the hell they were smirking at. I don't who the hell they were bragging about their “powers” and “impact” to. I just know that it sure as hell wasn't me.

No San Francisco voter ever elected either of these scruffs to anything. Ridiculing the people we DID elect is not my idea of intelligent representation for whoever pays their salaries. And I want to know who the hell does pay their salaries!! They appear to be a law unto themselves.

It is positively amazing to me that these two guys are presenting themselves as the prime spokesmen for issues that I support and that their actions are totally dysfunctional toward rallying public opinion in favor of those items. Both Haaland and Gullickson are clearly playing to a different audience and a different agenda. Which ones? Gee, I don't know. Anyone wanna guess?

No on C: sobone@juno.com