Political lesson: Don't get even, get ahead - 06 29 02

Politics in San Francisco in recent years has been dictated by what you're against, more than what you're for.

There's been a thawing in the political cold war that has separated pro- Willie Brown and anti-Brown camps, a divide accentuated by the March 2002 narrow state Assembly victory of Supervisor Mark Leno over former supervisor Harry Britt.

Emeritus president Jerry Threet, in the June membership newsletter of the Harvey Milk Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Democratic Club, proposed endorsing Assembly Democratic nominee Mark Leno - a recommendation that wasn't earth-shattering, considering that Leno is favored to win this November.

But it's a big deal when you consider that the Milk Club went all out for Britt in his bitter contest against Leno.

"Like many of you, I did not trust [Mark] Leno when Willie Brown appointed him supervisor," Threet wrote.

He was disappointed in Leno's support for Brown over the Milk Club's endorsed 1999 candidate for mayor, Tom Ammiano.

However, revisiting Leno's record, Threet stated that the Milk Club and Leno agreed on common issues - support for caps on the creation of tenancies-in-common, in order to preserve affordable apartment units, and support for transgender benefits.

"We looked at him through the lens of his appointment by Willie Brown, instead of his more recent estrangement from the mayor," Threet wrote. "We judged him by his votes during his first year on the Board of Supervisors, instead of by his more recent, more independent, and more progressive votes."

Threet isn't the only one slowly shedding the anti-Brown litmus test.

Other than sharing a disdain for the mayor, the Chinese American Democratic Club in recent years has had little in common politically with the Milk Club. Unlike Milk, the CADC comes down on the landlord side of rent control, is a fiscally conservative group, and supports homeowner property rights.

However, those issues, supposedly reflecting its Chinese American constituency, took a backseat to the group's snug relationship with an economic and housing-development nonprofit firm, ASIAN, Inc. In 1996, the nonprofit lost $400,000 in funding from the Brown-overseen Mayor's Office of Community Development (MOCD). The loss has been attributed to CADC strong-arming an endorsement on behalf of incumbent mayor Frank Jordan over Brown in 1995.

Four years later, the CADC endorsed board president Tom Ammiano for mayor, even though its Chinese American constituency voted 4-1 to reelect Brown in 1999.

The CADC's anti-Brown streak was as rabid as McCarthyism's anti-communism. The result: the CADC's sacrifice of candidates with credible Asian American community records.

The loss of grant funding colored the thinking of the CADC, as evidenced when the group refused to endorse candidates with Brown links - Mabel Teng for reelection as supervisor in November 2000 - and, similarly, withdrew its endorsement of College Board member Lawrence Wong in favor of Aaron Peskin in the December 2000 supervisorial runoff.

The CADC had declined to endorse Organization of Chinese Americans (San Francisco chapter) president Phil Ting for the public-power board proposed last November, partially because he chaired the MOCD's community board responsible for doling out grants.

With the spring thaw in March, the CADC endorsed Teng for assessor-recorder over incumbent Doris Ward, as its former president, Hayden Lee, acknowledged that Teng's former relationship with Willie Brown was less of a factor in the club's latest support.

GET A CAT: "F-k" the dogs. Good thing no kids were around at City Hall last Monday to hear the response I got from the ever-passionate Margaret Brodkin, executive director of Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth. Brodkin just happened to be reentering the Board of Supervisors chambers to denounce the recommended use of $4 million in Children's Fund dollars to balance the $175 million shortfall in the coming year's budget. When it comes to supporting a more restrictive policy for off-leash dogs in city parks, Margaret isn't exactly a dog's best friend.

MY BEER OR HER HAIR? District 8 supervisorial candidate and Veterans Affairs Commissioner and nurse Veronika Cauley told friends at a June 16 fund-raiser that she was "hot for this district, and hot for them."

That timely remark came after her shoulder-length hair accidentally caught fire while she tended barbeque at the Pendulum in the Castro during the benefit for her race with Bevan Dufty, Tom Radulovich, and Eileen Hansen to succeed Supervisor Mark Leno in District 8.

According to Cauley, one bystander maintained his decorum by not throwing his beer on her burning haystack for fear of angering her.

"I would have been angrier had he just let me stand there and burn," she said. "I ended up putting my hair out by hitting myself in the head."

The result: a shorter "new look" and a blistered ear

Also at the hearty party, the ubiquitous Frederick Hobson (a.k.a. Miss Kitty) claimed Cauley as a hostess for his own July 14 Bastille Day District 6 Democrat party at the Backflip/Cabana Pool.

"We are not letting her near the kitchen," Hobson pledged.

Why not, Frederick? If Veronika can stand the heat, get her in the kitchen.

SEALED OUT: You, with the whiskers, raise your flippers up. Was it too much of a coincidence that San Francisco International Airport let its guard down when a 280-pound, six-foot-long sea lion invaded a runway at SFO on the same day (June 20) that Police Chief Fred Lau resigned and was named to a federal airport security job in Oakland?

According to the Bay City News wire story, the terrorist seal, dubbed "Runway," had snuck in unnoticed for three-quarters of a mile before invading the cargo area and gnawing on a wheel of a cargo cart.

Looks like I'm going to fly out of Oakland from now on.

SPAM FOR SAM: E-mail to samson@sfindependent.com, call 359-2899, fax 359-2655, or mail to Samson Wong at the Independent, 988 Market Street, sixth floor, San Francisco, CA 94102.


Unleashing bowwow power - 06 25 02

As the saying goes, with some dogs the bark is worse than the bite.

But neighborhood dog-owner groups, who've taken some lumps of late from the city's new policies on dogs in parks, want to put more teeth into their bite.

The bite is the new Dog Political Action Committee (Dog PAC), which raised $13,000 in small donations from more than 125 dog lovers at a Richmond District home last Wednesday.

The partisan group consists of nonprofit canine corps such as SFDOG (San Francisco Dog Owners Group), Fort Funston Dog Walkers, and Dolores Park Dog Owners. These groups alone number more than 2,400 members. And they say they represent just the tip of the dog-owner iceberg in the city.

SFDOG spokesperson Laura Cavuluzzo estimates that one-quarter to one-third of the city's 450,000 voters own dogs.

Members of the dog-owner groups supporting Dog PAC believe that the Recreation and Park Department's policy on off-leash dogs, set to go into effect August 9 in the city's parks, is too restrictive and unenforceable.

"It's a restrictive or draconian policy that doesn't allow for adequate community input or adequate . distribution of park resources," Cavuluzzo said.

Yes, even Snoopy and his Sopwith Camel would be grounded.

The policy, Cavuluzzo said, would limit off-leash dogs to "dog pens" in parks smaller than 10 acres. Otherwise, owners must leash their dogs in larger parks.

It's a "cookie-cutter approach," she said, when parks and neighborhoods have unique community needs.

If the dog owners don't abide by the restriction, either the 12 park police officers who patrol the city's 230 parks, the Animal Care and Control Department, or the Police Department could cite dog owners $25 to $30 for letting dogs roam free.

"In typical San Francisco fashion, they're going to penalize dog owners before they have anywhere to go," said Cavuluzzo, who is also a freelance writer.

"We do not want to repeal the leash law," she said. "[But] we don't necessarily want just dog parks."

Instead, the group wants dog owners and their dogs to share access to the parks with everyone else.

Because federal law restricts the political-advocacy budgets of nonprofit organizations, Dog PAC was created to lobby the Board of Supervisors to amend the policy on off-leash dogs.

And if Dog PAC can't train the supervisors to sit or roll over in regard to the off-leash policy, the group will campaign this November to elect five district supervisors who will support a less restrictive dog policy.

One candidate who already has Dog PAC growling is Lynne Newhouse Segal, who is running against Supervisor Gavin Newsom in District 2 (Pacific Heights/Marina). Segal is a member of the Recreation and Park Commission who supported the off-leash policy.

Dog PAC could influence especially close district supervisorial races, in which swaying just a few dozen voters can make the difference.

Remember, Supervisor Mark Leno, back in November 2000, missed winning reelection outright by just 40 votes. He ended up nearly losing the runoff, squeaking by with a 706-vote margin over People's Budget activist Eileen Hansen.

Dog PAC could turn its potentially most effective tactic into a slogan: If you walk a dog, walk a precinct.

BLAME BUTTERCUP: Two veterans of San Francisco politics, Alicia Wang and Andrew Sun, might seem to be people unlikely to hoist a picket sign reading, "Set my Puppies Free."

But Wang, Sun, and daughter Selena own a frisky golden retriever named Buttercup Sun, who was nabbing and scarfing down a Chinese pork bun from the dining-room table after the fund-raiser.

They hosted the Dog PAC fund-raiser at their Richmond District home because, under the new policy, they couldn't let Buttercup play in the park without a leash.

"Andrew and I are outraged by this [policy]," said Wang. "This is another reason why families leave town."

"When you have families, you have kids. When you have kids, you have dogs," she said.

Wang, an instructor of English as a second language, also understands different cultural perceptions of dogs. Some immigrants fear dogs, which were used by repressive police forces in some immigrants' old countries. Immigrant parents have reinforced a fear of dogs among their children.

Wang is the vice-chair of the California Democratic Party and political director of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2121. Sun is a former aide to Willie Brown from Brown's old days as speaker of the state Assembly. He also once served as a member of the Transportation Commission, and he is now a local lobbyist.

Wang and Sun's home has hosted many a fund-raising party for local pols such as Brown and Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval, who recently retired his campaign debt there.

A longtime friend of theirs, Dog PAC treasurer and spokesperson David Looman, served as treasurer for the November 2000 initiative campaign to slow downtown office development and live/work loft construction (Proposition L). Looman is a former campaign consultant to the Board of Education and supervisorial candidates.

"This [issue] is a no-brainer," he said. "The problem is that Recreation and Park has no brains."

"The [off-leash] policy is an expensive, restrictive, discriminatory, environmentally unsound policy for which no need has been demonstrated," he said.

"Their largest group of customers want nothing more than to be left alone," said the veteran consultant. "The supervisors are very positive, by and large. But if they're negative, they have to take on the dog owners."

SPAM FOR SAM: E-mail to samson@sfindependent.com, call 359-2899, fax 359-2655, or mail to Samson Wong at the Independent, 988 Market Street, sixth floor, San Francisco, CA 94102.


Whom will Alice spurn, Bevan or Tom? - 06 22 02

 Two gay guys love Alice so much, they're willing to fight over her.

The District 8 race for supervisor has escalated as two candidates have engaged in a membership-recruitment battle to capture the key endorsement of the Alice B. Toklas Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Democratic Club.

Attracting those members are BART director Tom Radulovich and the mayor's former director of neighborhood services, Bevan Dufty. They are among nine candidates vying to become supervisor for District 8, a political center of the LGBT community that includes the Castro and Upper Market neighborhoods. The winner of the race will succeed Mark Leno, who is expected to win election to the state Assembly this November.

Since May, approximately 200 new members have joined Toklas, including Dufty and Radulovich supporters, to meet a deadline to qualify to vote on the club's District 8 endorsement September 9.

"Basically, our membership has doubled," said Toklas cochair Paul Hogan. "This [race for District 8 supervisor] is an endorsement that people are fighting over."

Dufty claims that about half of the new members are his recruits. "I won't be outmaneuvered," he said.

Also significant is that the members could become handy volunteers in reaching the 24,000 to 29,000 voters expected to turn out this November.

The potential pool of volunteers has injected Dufty into the early mix of favorites, which includes Radulovich and 2000 supervisorial runner-up Eileen Hansen.

Candidate-waged membership drives, or "stacking," are strategies commonly used prior to club endorsement votes at this time of year. Campaigns value a club's endorsements, which they can list on literature sent to voters.

Just as valuable, Toklas mails slate cards, distributes door hangers with its recommendations in key LGBT precincts, and widely advertises its endorsements in bus-shelter and newspaper ads.

At the prompting of a concerned board member, the Toklas board of directors met on June 17 to review the credentials of the new members.

In a 12-4 vote, the board voted to accept the new memberships according to its bylaws, which require that they are from registered Democrats, have come in by the June 10 deadline, and have not been paid for in bulk (such as when a candidate writes a check for several memberships).

Former president Matthew Rothschild criticized the recruitment effort as an approach that would result in a short-term election gain rather than an advancement of the club's long-term mission of supporting the LGBT community.

"You'll never see them again," he said of the newly recruited members. "It's wrong. It's morally wrong."

Years ago, Board of Education candidates, supporting a San Francisco Unified School District ROTC policy that Toklas did not, made a major effort to stack the Toklas membership, he said. Rothschild said that, this year, such stacking could force Toklas into an anti-tenant stance by bringing aboard members favoring an initiative to allow tenants to purchase their own units.

"This isn't about District 8 [and the race for supervisor]. We're talking about the rights of tenants," he said.

Rothschild also attacked Dufty for helping his former boss, former supervisor and current treasurer Susan Leal, a possible mayoral candidate next year.

He suggested returning the memberships to each individual and asked the new members to resend their membership check if they were committed to the organization.

Dufty said that while he supported the initiative that would allow tenants to buy their unit, he didn't know how the new members would vote on any issue.

He said he considered Leal the "closest of friends" going back to 1974. She would "make a great mayor," he said, but added that he was focused on his own campaign.

"Elections are won one at a time," he said.

Former president Esther Lee attributed the influx also to people activated by Toklas' intense support of Mark Leno in his winning Assembly run against former supervisor Harry Britt.

"I think that what happened is a healthy thing," she said. "You have to open up to new people who want to be part of the winning streak."

BUYBACKS: State Assembly appropriations chair Carole Migden, a very partisan Democrat overseeing billions in state funds, never has a problem when it comes to bailing out the city.

But serving as a District 11 Democratic Club celebrity auctioneer, Migden had a tough time in her attempt to inspire bids - starting as low as two bucks - for Supervisor Matt Gonzalez 's autographed campaign sign.

The supervisor humbly suggested that it deserved to be hung "at the end of a dark hallway or in the garage."

Migden begged to differ and grabbed it for herself to hang it in her office, bidding $125 while recognizing Gonzalez's historical significance as the first Green Party member elected in San Francisco.

IN MEMORIAM: The District 11 Democratic Club dinner was sold out, raising more than $7,000 for the group's slate card. Still, the club left vacant a table sponsored by the Police Officers Association for $500. The club "redonated" the money to the POA on behalf of Officer Jon Cook, who was killed in the tragic collision of patrol cars that also injured three other officers near Mission Police Station.

SPAM FOR SAM: E-mail to samson@sfindependent.com, call 359-2899, fax 359-2655, or mail to Samson Wong at the Independent, 988 Market Street, sixth floor, San Francisco, CA 94102


Care Not Cash campaign off to roaring start - 06 18 02

Winning the Care Not Cash initiative could help Supervisor Gavin Newsom break the gridlock and build momentum at the Board of Supervisors for his agenda on homelessness.

Newsom's proposed ordinance, one piece of a comprehensive package, would reform General Assistance by converting cash assistance to guaranteed services for the homeless as a means of eliminating abuse of the funds spent on homeless people ($100 million spent on 2,674 homeless residents as of December 31). The measure would also raise minimum benefits by 14 percent.

San Francisco and Marin are the only Bay Area counties providing cash assistance for homeless populations.

"We want to start small, prove that this works," Newsom said last Saturday at a rally held for 200 volunteers.

Supervisor Chris Daly has frustrated the homelessness agendas of Newsom and Tony Hall by referring most of their legislation to a special board for study of an issue that has stymied City Hall for 15 years.

The same issue frustrated Mayors Art Agnos and Frank Jordan. Agnos, a former social worker, was perceived as coddling the homeless people who had formed a tent in Civic Center Plaza. Jordan, a former police chief, was accused of criminalizing the poor through his Matrix program.

So, without board support and undertaking a risky issue that could buoy or sink his 2003 chances for mayor, Newsom is taking it to the streets, where he hopes to build a volunteer corps to qualify the measure by July 8 for the November ballot.

Volunteers have collected nearly 4,000 signatures as of Saturday, but they need to have at least 9,735 valid signatures, out of the goal of 20,000 set by the supervisor, to qualify the measure for the November ballot.

Dr. Pablo Stewart of the Haight Ashbury Free Clinics supports the initiative.

Having worked with the homeless for more than 20 years, he says that the regular GA cash disbursement follows a predictable pattern of abuse among drug users.

"On the third or fourth [of the month] when people are broke, they come in for treatment," he said. "Then around the 14th or 15th, all of a sudden we lose them again until the 28th or 29th."

"It's all too common that I get calls that I have to identify people . because they're dead from heroin overdoses."

Cash payments are feeding drug habits and helping to kill the homeless, Stewart and Newsom say.

"A thousand [homeless] people on my watch [since 1996] have died in the city and county of San Francisco," said Newsom. "We're killing people with this cash."

The supervisor said that the top expense at San Francisco General Hospital was the more than $20 million spent on treating conditions caused by flesh-eating bacteria contracted from needle injections.

A week before, the Care Not Cash campaign started its fourth volunteer orientation inside an office owned by Newsom across the street from his Balboa Cafe on Fillmore Street.

Jim Ross , a veteran political consultant for initiative campaigns, received authorization from the City Attorney's Office just seven days earlier to start the campaign, and now he had only three solid weekends to work with, given the July 4 holiday.

Despite the tight schedule, Ross reports a "phenomenal" response from volunteers.

"I did 12 [signatures], not even working hard," said Ross, having canvassed a local Safeway for an hour on a trial run. His average hourly take is four to six signatures.

That Saturday morning, Ross attracted about 15 volunteers, with a few more straggling in from all walks of life - people who live or work with homelessness. The week's four orientation sessions have brought in more than 100 residents, attracted by word of mouth and e-mails.

At each session, volunteers have vented their frustrations.

One Castro resident volunteered after being fed up with having to walk over the homeless people sleeping in the doorway of her home, only to find the same obstacle course at the door to her workplace.

Others say that the problem of homelessness discourages tourism and patronage - sources of their livelihood.

"We see the problem every day - when the tourists come into town, that's the first thing they see," said Robert Briggs, who had a stack of petitions for his employees to sign.

      Busloads of visitors from the airport come off Highway 280 and travel north on Sixth Street to the city's hotel district, where Briggs manages the Hotel Metropolis at Mason and Turk streets. Before guests arrive at his hotel, they get an unguided tour of homelessness.

      "[Tourists] wonder why it's such a problem. Is it a normal, everyday event? How safe is it?" Briggs said.

      Spurred by Newsom's e-mail, Jim Chen said he had decided to get politically active for the first time in his life.

Chen, owner of Audio Images, an audio-recording-studio retail firm in the South of Market area, has put up with the problem since 1987. He volunteered on Wednesday by building and hosting a Web site for the campaign. In two days, 14 customers signed the petition at his store.

       "Seventeen years ago, it wasn't that bad," he said, having watched the city struggle under three mayors. "But everything that happened doesn't seem to work."

DOES FLINTSTONE EAT CHIQUITA? After Committee on Jobs' executive director Nathan Nayman added CAVE-men (citizens against virtually everything) to my political lexicon, Board of Supervisors redistricting commissioner John Trasvina peeled off his own retort: BANANA (build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything).

"They make NIMBYs pale by comparison," John said in an e-mail.

SPAM FOR SAM: E-mail to samson@sfindependent.com, call 359-2899, fax 359-2655, or mail to Samson Wong at the Independent, 988 Market Street, sixth floor, San Francisco, CA 94102.


Sweet and sour - 06 15 02

District 6 supervisorial candidate Michael Sweet 's brochure declares, "Our district deserves a mature voice that will be heard in City Hall."

Incidents such as the arrest of 28-year-old Board of Supervisors member Chris Daly for civil disobedience during a protest against a planned Hastings College of the Law parking garage have drawn seven challengers to the District 6 supervisorial race, including litigator Sweet and, as of last Wednesday, Roger Gordon, who directs the nonprofit Urban Solutions in the district.

The first-term Daly allegedly threatened to contact his arresting officer's union and captain, as well as the Police Commission, and have the arresting officer fired. The supervisor has denied making those widely reported remarks.

"There's a place for civil disobedience," Sweet said last Sunday. "[Daly] can do so much more if he used his position in a positive way, rather than force the city to spend money on processing [his] arrest."

Sweet, 32, pointed out that Daly had alienated city departments to the point where he couldn't get them to help District 6 constituents.

In comparison, Sweet, as a six-year litigator, brings people together to hash out settlements.

"You just can't keep alienating people and then get things done," Sweet said.

"I have a fundamental disagreement [with Daly] as to the role of supervisor," he continued. "A supervisor should be respected. A supervisor should handle himself in a way that commands respect."

Apparently, Sweet is respected already as a candidate, since he's been attacked early as a tool of real-estate interests for his law firm.

"The record will show I'm no one's pawn, in no one's pocket," he said.

Daly isn't the only candidate who can organize the faithful.

Sweet led volunteers to successfully qualify the 1992 campaign-reform-oriented "We the People" presidential bid of former governor Jerry Brown in Indiana and New York.

In 1996, he worked on a California measure to retain the top tax bracket to help schools and community investment - a "very liberal idea," he notes. "I am a partisan Democrat who understands the economics of getting things done in a city."

As a neighborhood activist, Sweet has struggled to fill the economic vacuum left by the dot-com bust with a proper economic mix.

Dependency on the dot-com industry hurt small businesses like the shuttered cafe he pointed out, located across from South Park.

To attract small business, Sweet had signed up 800 residents to support the opening of a Whole Foods store at Fourth and Harrison streets. A market is needed badly by neighbors of all stripes, whether from posh South Beach or the impoverished Tenderloin.

"I could have brokered a deal," Sweet said. However, negotiations between the Redevelopment Agency and supermarket officials eventually fell apart over concerns about labor issues.

Meanwhile, Daly fought with the Redevelopment Agency and its commission - at one point, in April, even proposing to reconstitute the commission over its rejection of a plan for a housing and cultural development in the South of Market area.

"He hasn't tried to build relationships with department heads," Sweet said.

He blamed Daly for frustrating his neighborhood's eventually successful efforts to remove the California Lottery billboard, whose lights kept neighbors awake along the west end of the Bay Bridge.

CASH, NO COOKIES: While I interviewed Michael Sweet at a South Park picnic table, a man, appearing to be homeless, asked him for spare change. Sweet declined, but he offered a Perrier and his wife's home-baked chocolate-chip cookies. The gentleman refused, and Sweet left me with the cookies as a parting gift from his wife, Debra, who's expecting a child in December.

The incident reflected the debate over Supervisor Gavin Newsom 's "Care, Not Cash" initiative campaign to eliminate welfare abuse by converting cash assistance to services for the homeless.

Homelessness, along with the need to bring a supermarket to District 6, is among Sweet's top campaign issues. 

"I think [Newsom] has the right idea," Sweet said. "Gavin's is one way we can do that."

IN SEARCH OF EXCELLENCE: As expected, Don Casper relinquished his chairmanship of the local Republican Party. The GOP County Central Committee accepted his June 10 resignation as chair due to civic and professional obligations.

This month, Casper became president of the San Francisco Civil Service Commission. He noted an "incompatibility of roles" in serving as head of both a partisan party and a nonpartisan commission. He will retain a seat on the county committee until next January, when members elected in March will take over.

Succeeding him is finance vice chairman Michael DeNunzio, who won the post in an uncontested election held at the Hiram Johnson State Building at the Civic Center.

DeNunzio, a fifth-place supervisorial candidate in District 3 (Chinatown/North Beach) two years ago, promised that as chair he would emphasize key issues such as the city budget, homelessness, and General Assistance reform.

One chief issue is the "financial train wreck" the city faces in continuing to saddle homeowners and commercial-property owners with general-obligation bond debt.

"I promise to end the slavery of homeowners," DeNunzio said. "They aren't just Republican homeowners, but they're also Democratic and independent homeowners and small-business people."

To reach those voters, DeNunzio, a consultant for nonprofits, emphasized decentralizing the party by adopting three core business principles from Tom Peters ' In Search of Excellence - establishing a closer relationship between the party's "customers" (voters) and volunteers, having the chair interact with volunteers and voters, and practicing the Japanese business virtues of teamwork and quality service in the party.

SPAM FOR SAM: E-mail to samson@sfindependent.com, call 359-2899, fax 359-2655, or mail to Samson Wong at the Independent, 988 Market Street, sixth floor, San Francisco, CA 94102.


Sex, race, ideology, and cheesecake - 06 11 02

 Businessman Ron Dudum insists on running on "real" neighborhood issues instead of ideology or race in the Sunset.

This year, he may face four Chinese American and two progressive candidates in his race for District 4 supervisor.

"I'm only accountable to one group, the working families of San Francisco," Dudum said, adding that the current board lacks someone who talks about school quality or traveling from the Sunset by Muni.

"You should be able to get around in the city in 45 minutes," he said. "If you've got to get to an appointment, you're stuck. That's wrong."

"Most of the debate [at the Board of Supervisors] is ideological," Dudum said at his June 1 campaign kickoff, held at the Sunset Recreation Center, just blocks away from his home. "Real people wonder what [the supervisors] are talking about."

Two years ago, Dudum finished fourth among seven supervisorial candidates, before losing to Leland Yee. This year, Dudum and Ed Jew , a former Republican County Central Committee member, are the only two contenders who have previously run for public office among a field of seven declared candidates.

RACIAL POLITICS: Dudum denounced the "politics of fear" that drives "machine politics" and pits property owners against tenants, and dogs against children.

His campaign is about bringing people together based on common interests, not dividing people racially.

For one, he supports keeping the San Francisco Unified School District unified, and he denounces the suggestion of school-district division by Supervisor Yee as "most divisive, irresponsible" and "posturing and rhetoric."

Yee, whom rival Ed Jew works for, has supported looking into the division of the school district as a way of addressing the concerns of parents who have to send their children across the city to meet a court order of desegregation. However, the Board of Education and the superintendent have denounced the division of the district as a return to racial segregation.

"Political pundits are wrong when they say an Asian or Irish candidate can only win in District 4. I'm not Asian. I'm not Irish," Dudum said. "But when I win, we win. Nobody can say 'they won.'"

"I find [racial politics] really offensive," Dudum said after the speech. "We need a seasoned business professional, not some ambitious politician that fits some demographic profile."

"I look like anything," he added.

But when some people found out that his father emigrated from Palestine in 1947, curiosity, he said, turned to a "look of disdain."

SAW DUDUM IN THE NUDE: "She was the first person to meet me in my life," said Dudum. Two years ago, when Dudum visited 28,000 households in the Sunset on his campaign trail, the supervisorial candidate happened to run into Joyce Erlwin, a retired nurse who witnessed his birth 46 years ago at St. Mary's Hospital.

"She knew the family name," he said, as the doctor had delivered lots of Dudum kids and relatives.

GUSTATORY STIMULATION: The Committee to Save Rent Control, which is fighting a November initiative advanced by Supervisor Tony Hall to allow tenants to buy their units, scrounged up $4,000 at a Thursday-night garden party behind the Housing Rights Committee office in the Mission.

Tommi Avocolli Mecca , a self-described "radical," called on tenant activists to bid for supervisors in order to raise funds to "fight the latest Realtor plot to make [San Francisco] a city of rich people." 

With the bids for Supervisor Chris Daly coming in a little slow, the auctioneer tried to stimulate a few more bids from the garden-party crowd by throwing in suggestions for, uh, a little cunnilingus along with the supervisor.

"There will be no cunnilingus involved in any date," ordered a straight-faced Sarah Low, Daly's fiancee. "There will be no oral sex."

However, bidders weren't satisfied with Daly's offer to merely cook lunch or bake a cheesecake with cherries and nuts.

Barry Hermanson offered to increase the bid if Daly would convert to the Green Party.

The dogmatic Daly declined, and Hermanson instead coughed up 300 greenbacks for some clean fun - a softball game with the supervisor.

SKINNY-DIPPING FOR DOLLARS: Also in the sporting vein at the same fund-raising party, Supervisor Aaron Peskin vowed to auction himself out for a "swim in the bay."

"Swim with a ballot-box top?" asked one prospective donor.

"Anything to find a lid ," Peskin replied with a smirk.

The bidding started and droned on to $50, $75, $100, $125, $150 - until, for $175, someone asked if he would skinny-dip in the bay.

"It's okay," said Peskin, who jump-started seven more bids before he was finally "bought" for $400.

JOHN, PAUL, GEORGE, RINGO, AND MATT: Also at the garden party, a few tenant activists seemed transfixed with Supervisor Matt Gonzalez 's "Beatlesque" hairstyle.

But Gonzalez wanted to spread the party gospel.

"If you're in the Green Party, we'll give you a 20 percent discount [off your bid]," Gonzalez said, as he fished for higher offers.

There was a $250 taker.

"But no haircut," insisted the supervisor, willing to sell only his soul for a meal of spicy scallops and a walk.

Another countered with $300 to videotape the haircut.

Not pleading poverty, Parkmerced tenant Bob Pender anted up with the winning bid of $500 for Gonzalez - far outdistancing the previous, $325 bid.

"I want to bend his ear about Parkmerced," said Pender, a senior activist organizing tenants objecting to paying for building improvements.

CARE FOR CASH KICKS OFF: Supervisor Gavin Newsom , stymied at the board with his proposal to convert General Assistance cash grants into services for the homeless, will kick off an initiative campaign at 10 a.m. this Saturday at the Plumber's Hall, 1621 Market Street. Newsom needs 9,735 voter signatures to qualify the measure for the November ballot.

YEE RESOLUTION TABLED: Last Tuesday's column erroneously reported that Supervisor Leland Yee's resolution to provide sufficient facilities to enable students to enroll in neighborhood schools passed at the June 3 board meeting. That resolution will be considered at a future board meeting.

SPAM FOR SAM: E-mail to samson@sfindependent.com, call 359-2899, fax 359-2655, or mail to Samson Wong at the Independent, 988 Market Street, sixth floor, San Francisco, CA 94102.


Budget fudget shows board divisions - 06 08 02

 In the coming weeks, the budget debate will pit the mayor, supervisors, and supporters of the Department of Public Health - including the organized health-care workers of Service Employees International Union Local 250 - against one another.

The mayor has proposed a $1.03 billion budget for the health department, which accounts for one-fifth of the city's $4.9 billion budget. The city, among the cuts, would contract out laundry services at Laguna Honda Hospital and lay off 61 health-service employees.

A week before, the supervisors voted 6-5 on Supervisor Chris Daly 's nonbinding policy statement calling for full funding of the Department of Public Health.

That May 27 vote may preview a very close vote on the budget, opening up the possibility of a mayor's veto - which four or more supervisors can sustain and eight or more supervisors can override. Such a close vote will force the mayor or the supervisors to negotiate a budget compromise to avoid a veto.

The six supporters of the resolution were Supervisors Daly, Jake McGoldrick, Matt Gonzalez, Gerardo Sandoval, Tom Ammiano, and Mark Leno.

Leland Yee, Tony Hall, Gavin Newsom, Sophie Maxwell, and Aaron Peskin opposed it.

The vote fell two votes short of the eight needed to override a veto. 

On the full board, two of the three factions have remained intact.

Yee, Hall, and Newsom - the conservative-to-centrist wing of the board - opposed the resolution, basically citing fiscal responsibility and taking exception to excepting the health department from the chopping block.

"Think of what kind of message this sends to many, many dozens of city departments," said Hall. "[They] are really being asked to cut back as much as 10 to . 20 percent."

Meanwhile, the true-believing progressive wing of the board - Ammiano, Sandoval, Daly, and Gonzalez - stuck to their guns, supporting the no-cut policy for health services.

Daly called the cuts "morally unjustifiable."

The remaining four supervisors may constitute swing votes on the budget.

Leno once called the four, including himself, the "raging moderates" or the "militant middle." Two members of the Budget Committee, Maxwell and Peskin, opposed Daly's resolution. Nonmembers Leno and McGoldrick supported it.

GETTING OUT OF COMMITTEE: The mayor's budget proposal will also have to emerge out of the critical Budget Committee.

Unlike the full board, the committee lined up against the Daly resolution, 3-2.

Of the five members of that key committee, chair Maxwell, Peskin, and Yee voted against the Daly resolution, while Ammiano and McGoldrick voted for the resolution.

MAIL FRAUD: Someone forged the name of Fiona Ma and e-mailed to her closest supporters an emergency notice canceling her first weekend rally for supervisor in District 4.

"It was a very amateurish high-jinks level of foolery," said Tom Hsieh, Jr., campaign manager and consultant for the Ma campaign. "It alarmed Fiona's closest supporters."

Using Ma's name, someone had set up an e-mail account and sent the notice Friday night in regard to the rally set for Saturday morning.

The campaign kicked off by gathering enough voter signatures necessary to defray the cost of a $500 filing fee. Fortunately, said Hsieh, only about 30 of more than 1,000 supporters received the false alarm.

And the prank didn't slow down their efforts as 20 volunteers collected more than 200 signatures.

"We're going to talk about serious issues . meet people one-on-one," said Hsieh.

Meanwhile, the campaign notified MSN and Hotmail, which will cancel the account and investigate the matter and file any criminal charges.

CLAN OF THE CAVEMEN: While on a motorized cable car in the pouring rain between the start and finish lines of the Bay to Breakers last month, Nathan Nayman, of the Committee on Jobs, imported from Chicago a new name for NIMBYs - CAVEmen, as in "citizens against virtually everything."

JACKIE OH: Her peers will no longer have to worry about an expectant Meagan Levitan having to waddle to political events like the May 22 San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee meeting.

On June 3, Levitan gave birth to an 8-pound, 8-ounce daughter, Jacqueline Niamh Carlson. Apparently, Levitan and her husband, Pacific Stock Exchange veep Dale Carlson, decided to forgo the suggestion of one of the city's chief political-campaign managers, Robert Barnes, who had lobbied them to name their baby Alice - as in the Alice B. Toklas Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Democratic Club, where he brought Levitan and Carlson together.

STAMP OF APPROVAL: Perennial candidate Joel Ventresca has notified me that his campaign signs are now "legally posted" according to local law. How can you tell? His campaign has recently affixed on the corner of each sign mini-bumper stickers containing the legally required fine print.

SPAM FOR SAM: E-mail to samson@sfindependent.com, call 359-2899, fax 359-2655, or mail to Samson Wong at the Independent, 988 Market Street, sixth floor, San Francisco, CA 94102.


Yee backtracks on school district division - 06 04 02

Instead of dividing the school district, we might divide up the words of Supervisor Leland Yee to determine what he really means.

Early on, Yee talked about division of the school district.

Yet, he's legislated nothing of the sort, he says.

Instead, the Board of Supervisors' Neighborhood Services and Recreation Committee chose to recommend an amended resolution introduced by Supervisor Mark Leno to the full board yesterday. That legislation calls for keeping the school district unified. Before Leno made changes, his resolution alluded to a proposal - presumably Yee's - to "split in half" the San Francisco Unified School District.

Yee's resolution made no mention of dividing the 58,000-student school district. Yee's resolution was sent to the full board without any recommendation.

Leno's was adopted by the full board yesterday.

Yee's resolution recommended finding facilities for current students within their neighborhoods or communities.

Nowhere was there any mention of "reorganization" - or the politically loaded term "secession" - which the Board of Education and Superintendent Arlene Ackerman have equated with racial segregation.

In Chinatown that Thursday night, just over an hour after the afternoon committee hearing, Yee said he "challenged" his colleagues to identify any references to dividing the district in the resolution discussed that afternoon in committee.

"Some assumptions were made [by the supervisors]," Yee said.

"There's lots of talk that this [resolution] is a subterfuge to divide the district," he said. "When you read that resolution . there is nothing [that says] to divide."

"It shows you the kind of nonsense with the education lobby," said Yee, alluding to his critics.

Nonsense? If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, shoot it.

Well, the "education lobby" did have a paper trail to sniff out Yee's intentions.

In an April 17 Examiner story, Yee said, "If the district does not solve these problems [with school assignment], the secession will be more than talk."

By May 1, he had replaced "secession" with the amorphous buzzword "reorganization."

In a press statement, he wrote, "One of the opportunities that is available to parents . is the reorganization of the school district."

Then he proceeded to outline state-law requirements for reorganizing a school district. He also proffered the option of charter schools.

"Reorganization" could mean a lot. It could include division of San Francisco into two school districts, a move Yee said warranted study, or it could mean the charter amendment that parents are circulating to elect the school board's 11 members on a district-specific basis.

In a follow-up story in the Examiner , Yee rattled the saber, saying he preferred to reorganize the school district into a "new and smaller district."

But he backed off temporarily four days later, saying he wanted more information as "part of the learning process."

At the Board of Supervisors meeting on May 6, Yee asked the City Attorney's Office to do some legal research so he could consider options like reorganization, more charter schools, or having the school district be run by a political entity other than the school board - which could mean the mayor and/or the Board of Supervisors.

Asian Week on May 23 wrote that Yee "has suggested cutting the school district in half."

Yee in Asian Week pointed to the success of San Jose's school officials in splitting their district and talked of implementing a policy that would send students to schools in their neighborhood, which he said would increase parental involvement.

MAYORAL CROSSFIRE: Neighborhood Services and Recreation Committee chairman Gavin Newsom was caught in the resolution crossfire of November's two Democratic nominees for state Assembly - Mark Leno and Leland Yee.

Newsom, seeking consensus or amendments to the resolutions, was put on the spot in front of a standing-room crowd of 100, with an overflow crowd in another room. Newsom wrangled with supporting either resolution. At one point, he hoped to send both Leno's and Yee's resolutions forward without recommendation, allowing the full board to absorb the debate before he would take a formal stand.

Avoiding that confrontation, mayoral candidate and board president Tom Ammiano originally referred the resolutions to Newsom's committee (which has hosted education agenda items before) instead of the board's City and School District Committee for comment.

If Ammiano had referred the items to the latter, then the three other members of that committee - Board of Education members Jill Wynns and Eric Mar and Supervisor Mark Leno, all of whom oppose dividing the school district - would have drawn fire. Ammiano himself opposed the division idea last month at an Alice B. Toklas Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Democratic Club meeting, but he was open to district elections for the school board.

Newsom, an Ammiano rival for mayor next year, will be looking for support from Chinese American voters like the ones present at the hearing. They are likely to side with a moderate candidate like himself and not Ammiano.

Then Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, who supported the Leno resolution while voting to send Yee's resolution to the full board, might not be tiptoeing carefully in the rose garden of District 1 (Richmond), whose voting-age population is 43 percent Asian American. In particular, some families have clamored to get into neighborhood schools like Washington High School.

For one, Sonia Ng led many of the speakers in supporting Yee's resolution and opposing Leno's. Ng is an ally of Rose Tsai, who is the president of the Association of Homeowners. She lost her bid for supervisor and then supported McGoldrick over incumbent Michael Yaki in the December 2000 race.

MOTHER OF HONGISTO PASSES: Gladys Hongisto, 88, passed away May 25 in Walnut Creek. A resident of San Francisco from 1942 to 1999, the former Marian Gladys Longrie was born in Lena, Wisconsin, on August 3, 1913. Her husband, Raymond, and a newborn son preceded her in death.

Gladys is the mother of former supervisor, sheriff, and police chief Richard Hongisto, who described her as "dedicated political worker."

She is also survived by her son, Donald, of Berkeley; her sister, Evelyn Line, of Minnesota; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

      Friends of the family are welcome to come to a celebration of Gladys' life this Friday at 7 p.m. at Alfred's Steak House, 659 Merchant Street, in San Francisco.

      For more information, call Richard at 415-602-3131.

SPAM FOR SAM: E-mail to samson@sfindependent.com, call 359-2899, fax 359-2655, or mail to Samson Wong at the Independent, 988 Market Street, sixth floor, San
Francisco, CA 94102.


Always keep your enemy in front of you - 06 01 02

An LBJ axiom comes to mind in light of the Tony Hall - Chris Daly Board of Supervisors debate on prohibiting public urination: "Better to have 'em inside the tent, pissin' out, than outside, pissin' in."

Supervisor Gavin Newsom said Tuesday that he was "90 percent" sure that he'd run for reelection as supervisor. Newsom is close to ending weeks of speculation that he would forgo reelection for supervisor this year and focus on running for mayor next year.

With that, progressive board president Tom Ammiano is close to having his centrist chief rival for mayor still sitting in front of him inside board chambers.

Newsom, by remaining on the board, could reprise Ammiano's November 1999 campaign in terms of taking propositions to the ballot - which led to Ammiano's insurgent write-in mayoral campaign. Ammiano circumvented a hostile, mayor-controlled Board of Supervisors by referring anti-freeway, open-government, anti-ATM-fee measures to the ballot. In turn, voters attracted to either his mayoral race or his propositions proved beneficial as he qualified for a runoff against Mayor Willie Brown and all three measures passed.

This year, the liberal-leaning Board of Supervisors has stymied Newsom's agenda on homelessness. Similar to Ammiano in 1999, Newsom has an opportunity to campaign citywide for his agenda and indirectly run for mayor outside the confines of his Marina/Pacific Heights supervisorial district.

HALLINAN NOT RUNNING FOR MAYOR: District Attorney Terence Hallinan is running a third time for DA and has ruled out a run for mayor next year.

"Right now, I'm running for district attorney," Hallinan said Tuesday.

The former supervisor and the city's chief prosecutor conducted a merchant walk and reminisced about his grandfather's pharmacy, located at Irving Street and 22nd Avenue.

His grandfather's Jonas Drugs, complete with a soda fountain, once stood at the site of Walgreens, Hallinan said.

Ruling out a run for mayor, the city's chief criminal prosecutor loves his work after seven years as district attorney and the successful prosecution of the Diane Whipple case.

Meanwhile, Hallinan and District 4 supervisorial candidate Andrew Lee visited Irving Street merchants to promote the DA's Bad Check Enforcement Unit, which has recovered close to half a million dollars in the past year.

"Some mom-and-pop stores are being put of business because of [bad-check writers]," said Hallinan, who plans to conduct future walks in the Noe Valley, Parkside, and Chinatown neighborhoods.

KAYO OKAY WITH LEE: The well-seasoned Hallinan also promoted Lee's candidacy for supervisor and offered tips to Lee on campaigning.

Hallinan, who ran as the "most progressive DA in America" three years ago, took the occasion to endorse Julie Lee 's son, who is seeking to represent the most conservative supervisorial district in San Francisco.

"Andrew [Lee] is my top guy," said Hallinan, describing Lee as a smart and politically astute Democrat.

The two see things eye-to-eye on customer-service issues like bad-check kiting.

"[Hallinan] stands for a lot of things that I stand for," said Lee. The former mayoral special assistant is running on the promise of better customer service, performance reviews of city departments, and providing a 24-hour city hot line.

LEE-HALLINAN CONNECTION: The endorsement is significant, considering that Hallinan has faced close elections for district attorney. In 1999, he barely won with 50.4 percent of the vote over criminal prosecutor Bill Fazio. Hallinan lost by 2-to-1 margins in conservative neighborhoods like West of Twin Peaks, Seacliff/Pacific Heights, and the Marina.

It's quite possible that old boxer Hallinan will face another close election (a third bout with Fazio, possibly) next year. In such a scenario, Hallinan would need to shave his landslide margins in neighborhoods like the Sunset by appealing to conservative Chinese American voters.

One route is through Andrew's mother, Julie Lee, who supported Hallinan in 1999, through a Chinese-language radio program and her base of support at the San Francisco Neighbors Association.

LOADED GUN: After the April redistricting for the Board of Supervisors, a few folks were approached by a top-bill Bay Area political attorney, who thought it would be tough to prove in court that there had been gerrymandering of areas of African American, Asian American, and Latino residents. The other alternative that may be considered is filing a complaint to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct an investigation and then file suit.

So far, it's been quiet on the legal front.

Meanwhile, the nine-member San Francisco Task Force on Redistricting is still around, even though it has finished playing etch-a-sketch with the supervisorial districts as of April 14.

"They never disbanded the committee," said task-force member Bowman Leong, citing an opinion from City Attorney Dennis Herrera. According to Leong and colleague John Trasvina, the committee still exists, just in case the White House authorizes the release of adjusted census figures, which may force the committee to retinker with the lines to account for population changes, as required by last year's Proposition G.

SPAM FOR SAM: E-mail to samson@sfindependent.com, call 359-2899, fax 359-2655, or mail to Samson Wong at the Independent, 988 Market Street, sixth floor, San Francisco, CA 94102.