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
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
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
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”
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
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? …
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Hey PAC's … ENDORSE THIS!!
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
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
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: