Should women support men? Two groups differ - 09 28 02

     Okay, it wasn't Nancy Kerrigan versus Tonya Harding.

Even so, National Women's Political Caucus of California (NWPC-CA) officials brought in their own peacekeeping forces to supervise the raucous voting of the renegade San Francisco caucus (NWPC-SF). State NWPC president Sharon Ball was present at the September 18 meeting that presaged the September 23 endorsement meeting, which was monitored by Robin Torello, a regional director for NWPC-CA.

Both Ball and Torello wanted to make sure that NWPC-SF members did not even consider endorsing any men for office.

Last April, members of NWPC-SF who wanted the ability to endorse male along with female candidates bolted from the umbrella group of NWPC-CA to form the San Francisco Women's Political Caucus (SFWPC), which can endorse men. Their departure from the local caucus gutted the largest NWPC chapter in the country. Some women remained, meanwhile, as members of NWPC-SF.

Ball and Torello's state umbrella group had objected to the San Francisco caucus' endorsements of men over the last two years. In the November 2000 election, for example, NWPC-SF endorsed three men over three women for district supervisor.

NWPC bylaws prohibit the chapter from endorsing men and allow endorsements only of women who support bottom-line issues: pro-choice on abortion; equal rights for women; comparable worth; gender equity; child care; and opposition to gender discrimination.

The philosophical conflict between state and local women came at a time when the caucus was considering its endorsements for the November 2002 races for five seats on the Board of Supervisors. Currently, the board contains only one woman, Sophie Maxwell.

The state organization took the hard line that only women should be endorsed and that resources should be marshaled behind that female candidate.

"We knew this was going to be painful," said Torello of Berkeley. "There were no men on this [endorsement] ballot. There will not be."

"The only way women will succeed is to only support women," she said.

Meanwhile, the new SFWPC (former NWPC-SF members) subscribes to a practical philosophy: Support women and men who support the same bottom-line issues and work in coalition to elect female candidates.

SFWPC, unlike the current NWPC-SF, endorsed men and women for supervisor on September 9: Gavin Newsom (District 2), Fiona Ma (District 4), Roger Gordon (District 6), Bevan Dufty (District 8), and Sophie Maxwell (District 10).

Sticking with its women-only requirement on September 23, NWPC-SF supported Lynne Newhouse Segal (District 2), Ma (District 4), and Maxwell (District 10), but it stayed neutral in Districts 6 and 8.

WARD-TENG, ROUND TWO: The April departure of the old NWPC-SF leadership left an opportunity for pro- Doris Ward forces to try to overturn the local chapter's January endorsement of Mabel Teng for assessor-recorder.

At the September 23 meeting, pro-Ward members such as former supervisors Annemarie Conroy and Sue Bierman felt that the January balloting for Teng, for the March 2002 primary, was tainted because the group also voted on four male candidates - forbidden under the bylaws - for the same office.

However, some members of the former NWPC-SF leadership, such as former president Laurie Beijen, Esther Lee, and Deborah Mesloh, returned September 23 to defend their January endorsement of Teng. The bylaws, according to Lee, prohibit only the endorsement of a male candidate. In this case, Teng - a woman - won the endorsement.

At the sparsely attended September 18 meeting, held in the State Building, NWPC-SF members voted to reconsider, at the upcoming September 23 meeting, the group's endorsement of Teng. Also on September 18, the members voted to waive a 60-day-membership requirement and allow newly joined NWPC-SF members to vote on the endorsement.

Had brand-new members been allowed to participate, Teng and Ward could have engaged in a membership recruiting war (or "stacking") to gain enough votes for the endorsement.

On September 23, however, only current members, not new members, ended up voting to uphold the Teng endorsement (and the endorsement of Gail Dekreon for Superior Court). Current members voted to allow only current members to vote, even though new members joining that evening had cast ballots and left thinking that their votes would be counted.

"They started changing the rules," said NWPC-SF member Kim Tavaglione, "[even though] some people had already voted."

"[Their] ballots were never counted," she said.

NWPC-SF member Esther Lee, however, contended that counting the ballots that evening would have invalidated ballots originally supporting Teng and DeKreon in January.

"I'm willing to talk about the ballots cast Monday night, if we're willing to talk about ballots cast in January," she said.

WHO HURT HANSEN? Also on September 23, the caucus rejected Eileen Hansen for supervisor in District 8 (Castro/Upper Market), as it did two years ago when it endorsed Mark Leno for reelection. Hansen is the only woman running for District 8 supervisor this November.

Meanwhile, another woman - Alice - as in at least five members of the Alice B. Toklas Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Democratic Club, may have cast NWPC-SF ballots to give the narrow margin of victory to Teng and also to deny Hansen the endorsement for District 8 supervisor.

On September 9, the Toklas club voted to endorse Teng for assessor-recorder and Bevan Dufty for District 8 supervisor.

However, one former co-chair of Toklas, Esther Lee, denies that she voted against Hansen.

"I voted for Eileen Hansen," said Lee. "[NWPC] is a woman's organization."

Meanwhile, some San Francisco Women's Political Caucus members who returned to NWPC-SF to vote on September 23 may have contributed to defeating an NWPC-SF endorsement for Hansen. On September 9, SFWPC endorsed Bevan Dufty for supervisor in District 8 over Hansen.

Eileen Hansen thought packing the NWPC-SF vote was "inappropriate." She was not surprised by the outcome.

"It was packed in order to block me from getting the endorsement," she said. "There's tremendous packing to change the outcome of club endorsements. . [If it happens], I'm going to lose every time."

SPAM FOR SAM: E-mail me at 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. His twice-weekly columns appear at www.sfusualsuspects.com.


Why Drew is getting nasty again - 09 24 02

District 4 supervisorial candidate Fiona Ma has been busy lately, distancing herself from a brief business relationship with a candidate whose unflattering career as an entertainer recently surfaced.

Ma has said her association with Lee ended in 1998 and lasted only long enough for her to shepherd the production of one R&B song for him as a favor to his mother - Housing Authority commissioner Julie Lee.

The song was relatively clean, compared to the ones that Lee (operating under the stage name Drew Nasty) later created .

Ma responded only after rival supervisorial candidate Lee claimed that Ma supervised his work on sexually explicit sound tracks.

Until recently, Ma and Lee were cordial -there existed the possibility that if one won the November primary to qualify for a December runoff, the loser would support the winner.

The attempt by Lee to tar Ma with the same brush that has tainted him reveals Lee's concern about Ma's candidacy. Added to that, perhaps his customer-service message isn't resonating with voters, especially seniors, who make up one-third of District 4 voters.

MA'S EMERGENCE: In the past month, Ma has broken out of the pack, winning a long list of major endorsements that cross the political spectrum. Among them: the San Francisco Democratic Party, the moderate City Democratic Club, the business-oriented Robert F. Kennedy Democratic Club, the Irish American Democratic Club, the Deputy Sheriffs Association, the San Francisco Women's Committee, the Democratic Women's Forum, and Plan C (a pro-homeowner group).

Meanwhile, Lee has eked out support from the pro-landlord San Francisco Small Property Owners and from the Building and Trades Council, a pro-development union - which he can add to support from Mayor Willie Brown, District Attorney Terence Hallinan, and Assemblyman Kevin Shelley.

CUSTOMER SERVICE: While Lee has made "customer service" his hallmark, Ed Jew and Fiona Ma have also been in the business of customer-service, serving constituents on behalf of the offices they've worked for.

Jew served as Supervisor Leland Yee 's Chinatown liaison. Ma served as a representative for state senator John Burton.

So, Lee doesn't have the corner on customer service.

Further, Lee, at an Independent editorial-board meeting held September 19, claimed he had a customer-service plan, but, when asked about it, he could not identify specifics - for example, how much the program would cost or where he would get the money in a strapped city budget - other than citing a Baltimore plan that saved that city $11 million.

Worse for Lee, customer service isn't at the top of most voters' minds. Fifty-nine percent of voters identified homelessness, the economy, or affordable housing as the top issue affecting the city, according to a July poll conducted by the Chinese American Voters Education Committee. Customer service came under the category of "badly managed" city government and was cited by only 3 percent of voters polled.

RAP ON THE RAPPER: The rapper tag on Lee accentuates two issues that may be liabilities for his candidacy: youth and crime.

Rivals of Lee, who is 28, can make the case that the city has already experimented unsuccessfully with one youthful supervisor - the temperamental 30-year-old Chris Daly in District 6.

Lee's mother has only reinforced Lee's youth by promoting her son's candidacy on Cantonese-language radio talk shows and ads. Lee, up to now, has ridden on the reputation of his mother: her work to rebuild the Central Freeway and her sticking up for property owners and mom-and-pop landlords. Problem is, Mom isn't running, her son is.

Added to that, the rapper tag also carries the stereotype of the music's association with youth gangs and crime.

District 4 generally is more supportive of "tough-on-crime" issues, according to David Binder Research. From 1994 to 1998, the district supported four local and state anticrime measures, with 68 percent of the vote. Overall, the city was only 62 percent supportive.

To counter the perception of him as supporting what may be viewed as gang-oriented music, Lee could publicize his endorsement from District Attorney Terence Hallinan and could press to receive endorsements from retired police chiefs or the Police Officers Association. Their endorsements could inoculate Lee from the gangsta tag.

However, the POA, concerned about passing the police-firefighter pension measure, Proposition H, could stay out of the hotly contested supervisorial race. The progressive Hallinan could be a liability in the conservative district, which supported prosecutor Bill Fazio for DA in 1999. Fazio, running for DA next year, is supporting Ron Dudum.

Lee also has to recognize that two years ago Supervisor Leland Yee won reelection partially by emphasizing experience and family values. Yee was married, had kids, and was older than the rest of the field.

In this race, Ron Dudum is in his 40s and is married with kids. Fiona Ma is 36 and married. Jew is in his 30s with one kid. Lee is unmarried.

Lee's youth could translate into a perception of inexperience. His rapper background may not be viewed with favor by voters older than 55. These older voters make up 34 percent of the voters in District 4, according to an analysis prepared this year by the Chinese American Voters Education Committee and Voter Contact California.

Meanwhile, Ma, an accountant, has continued holding her twice-weekly workshops that help scores of seniors apply for up to $400 in refunds available under the state's homeowner's and renter's credit programs. Earlier this year, Ma led an effort to recover $20,000 from the Board of Equalization on behalf of one senior, shortly before he died of pancreatic cancer.

It's one reason that seniors will honor Ma with a cabaret this Thursday at Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church.

SPAM FOR SAM: E-mail me at 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. His twice-weekly columns appear at www.sfusualsuspects.com.


Daly ducks debates, dictates debate terms - 09 21 02 

Better to duck debates than to be a sitting duck.

Supervisor Chris Daly snubbed a September 15 forum held for District 6 supervisorial candidates by eight organizations: the African American Democratic Club (which endorsed Roger Gordon), the Asian Pacific Democratic Club, the Filipino-Democratic Empowerment Council (which endorsed Arthur Jackson ), the Mexican American Political Association, the San Francisco Women's Political Committee (which endorsed Gordon), the Log Cabin Republican Club (which endorsed no one), the District 6 Democratic Club, and San Francisco Young Democrats.

In opting out of the forum, Daly may have learned the lesson of a Brannan Street neighborhood forum held for District 6 candidates this summer at the Delancey Street town hall.

First, avoid a hostile neighborhood, where you won't win votes. The Delancey Street site, near South Beach, is Burke Strunsky and Michael Sweet territory. As with the September 15 forum, Daly was facing at least five organizations hostile to his candidacy.

Second, as a hot-tempered candidate, avoid hecklers who can press your buttons. That happened at Delancey Street as Daly allegedly responded by flipping the bird at hecklers.

Third, avoid a format in which you may have to defend yourself against numerous members of the ABCD (Anybody But Chris Daly) wolf pack of candidates at the same time. In previous debates, Roger Gordon, Michael Sweet, Arthur Jackson, Garrett Jenkins, and Burke Strunsky have attacked Daly's two-year tenure as supervisor. Daly would be better off focusing on a single candidate in the December runoff (unless someone wins it outright in November).

Finally, in such public forums, the press will likely cover your every antic. And, if you believe Daly, the Chronicle, Examiner, and Independent in particular will hound him. His belief is disingenuous, because Daly prominently features some glowing headlines from the three newspapers on his campaign literature.

In a September 15 letter distributed at the forum by aide Bill Barnes, Daly dictated a rigid set of seven requirements that must be met in order for him to participate in what he deemed an "open and fair debate." The criteria were so rigid that he could basically excuse himself from any debate or forum.

For example, he required debate sponsors to have "open memberships." Well, San Francisco Young Democrats has an age requirement. Labor unions limit voting to their rank-and-file members only.

Daly also demanded that the forums not conflict with his official schedule. The supervisor, for example, took a brief leave from the Delancey Street forum to momentarily attend a budget hearing. But he also took time one Friday afternoon last month to hold a counterdemonstration to an ABCD (Anybody But Chris Daly) rally on the steps of City Hall.

This no-debate tack, and thereby lower profile, could derive from Daly's high "unfavorable" rating, according to one pollster. His negative ratings hover in the 30s, which is very high for an incumbent. Daly's ratings are comparable to negative ratings held by Mayor Willie Brown, according to a July 2002 Chinese American Voters Education Committee poll.

With higher negatives two years ago, Brown paid the price with the loss of his Board of Supervisors majority. Since 9/11, Brown's "favorable" ratings have edged up, partially because the mayor is assuming a lower, humbler profile.

Daly may follow a similar tack. Take a lower profile and follow the ABCD tactic - "Anybody But Chris Debates."

CARTER COUNTY: Community College Board member and Democrat Johnnie Carter has achieved the trifecta in his election bid to retain his seat- garnering the endorsement of San Francisco's Democratic Party, Green Party, and Republican Party.

Mayor Brown appointed Carter in March 2001 to the Community College Board - a post that oversees 95,000 adult students - to replace the late Robert Burton, brother of state senator John Burton, who's the mythical head of the "Burton machine." Carter is also a legislative aide for Burton.

Despite perceptions of Carter being a capo in the Burton family, the San Francisco Republican Party still liked him enough to endorse him on September 9.

"He's moderate, well balanced, not partisan," said party chairman Mike DeNunzio. "Truly a professional person."

DON'T CALL ON YOM KIPPUR: I picked the wrong day (last Monday), Yom Kippur (the Jewish day of atonement), to phone Jewish political activists about last Tuesday's item on the Raoul Wallenberg Jewish Democratic Club.

I erroneously wrote that Supervisor Henry Ulysses Brandenstein was the city's first Jewish supervisor.

Brandenstein was actually the first Jewish Democrat elected to the Board of Supervisors, on which he served from 1901 to 1907. There were more Jewish Republicans then, according to John Rothmann, Brandenstein's great-nephew. The club was named after Brandenstein prior to its adoption of the Raoul Wallenberg Jewish Democratic Club name 20 years ago.

It wasn't until 1959 that Roger Boas became the second Jewish Democrat elected supervisor. Boas later became the city's chief administrative officer.

BRIDGET JONES' DIARY? Somebody ought to issue a surgeon general's warning about how addictive this column is. There's a February 2002 online version of the S.F. Apartment Magazine column, "Lily's Diary," in regard to "staying in the rental business." Her February 3 entry reads: "Had lunch with my friend Maggie at Zazie's on Cole Street. She's up to her ears in city politics - not only reads the Chron , Exam and Independent (quotes Samson Wong like she was dating him)."

MAGGIE, DROP ME A LINE: E-mail me at 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. You can find my previous columns at www.sfusualsuspects.com.


Candidate twice evicted; naming a Jewish club after a non-Jew - 09 17 02

In one of the hotly contested supervisorial races, former AIDS/HIV policy director Eileen Hansen can make the case that she's "not one of the boys" in her District 8 (Upper Market/Castro) race to succeed Mark Leno. She faces two major male candidates - former mayoral director of neighborhood services Bevan Dufty and BART director Tom Radulovich.

She'll make her pitch to corner female voters - who make up only 42 percent of the district's voters, according to a June 2002 analysis prepared by Voter Contact Services and the Chinese American Voters Education Committee. Her district has the city's second-lowest percentage of female voters, exceeded only by District 6 (Tenderloin/SOMA), where women make up 37 percent of the electorate.

To compare, women make up 48 percent of voters citywide. However, only one of the city's 11 district supervisors, Sophie Maxwell, is female.

As the only woman in a field of six District 8 candidates, Hansen has made the case that her election would "double the number of women" on the board and that she'd be the only lesbian on the board, the first since Leslie Katz, who retired in 2000.

While Dufty won the endorsement of the liberal/moderate Alice B. Toklas Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Democratic Club, Hansen has secured the early endorsement of the progressive Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club and the San Francisco Labor Council, whose members were among the more than 250 supporters packing her kickoff at the Women's Building August 21.

Hansen will find her votes largely in the eastern half of the district, where she won Upper Market/Eureka Valley and portions of the Mission in her near upset of incumbent Leno two years ago. Generally, her voters reside in the flatter portion of the district, which abuts Supervisor Tom Ammiano 's District 9 (Mission). Ammiano is supporting her in this race.

Hansen and Radulovich oppose Proposition N (Care Not Cash) and Proposition R (HOPE). Dufty supports the two measures.

Depending on which side you take in the landlord-tenant debate, Hansen could be a saint to tenants or a monster to small-property owners or landlords. The anti-Prop. R campaign will likely buoy her with pro-tenant supporters in the Milk Club, the Housing Rights Committee, and the Tenants Union.

She did have the guts to show up at a summer forum sponsored by the Small Property Owners of San Francisco for District 8 candidates. Dufty snared the group's support.

The SPOSF challenged Hansen over the details surrounding her eviction two years ago - in which she was kicked out through an owner-move in, which she contested. She claims she won a small settlement in return for leaving the premises.

SPOSF member and attorney Elizabeth Erhardt questioned whether Hansen's eviction challenge actually reflected Hansen's stated goal of bringing civility to the political process (Hansen's campaign slogan is "Leadership that Listens"). Further, Erhardt claimed that Hansen won a large eviction settlement.

Interestingly, Hansen is now in the middle of her second eviction. This time, she'll vacate peacefully to alternative premises in District 8.

She could find opposition to her tactics as a co-founder of the People's Budget Collaborative, which stormed and seized control of the chambers of the Board of Supervisors last year at the height of the 2001-02 budget debate. Collaborative members, with Hansen observing, were arrested for performing civil disobedience and delaying the supervisors' meeting for more than an hour.

DON'T CALL US JEWISH: The members of a well-known local Jewish political club named their organization after a famous non-Jew and considered leaving "Jewish" out of the group's name 20 years ago.

The Raoul Wallenberg Jewish Democratic Club, which has 350 to 400 members, was originally called the Henry Ulysses Brandenstein (Jewish) Democratic Club - after the city's first Jewish supervisor, elected in 1901, and the grandfather of John Rothman, a KGO Radio host and one of the first presidents of what would eventually become the Wallenberg Club.

Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat and a non-Jew, had disappeared in Hungary during the final days of World War II. Hungary-born U.S. representative and Holocaust survivor Tom Lantos pressed the Soviet Union for information about the arrest of Wallenberg by the Red Army in World War II after he saved more than 155,000 Hungarian Jews.

Wallenberg may have been killed in a Soviet gulag in 1947 or 1949, according to Rothman, at a September 12 club meeting held at the Bureau of Jewish Education in the Richmond.

The club, said Rothman, embraced the name of a "non-Jew who helped Jews."

However, some Jewish political activists were reluctant to use the word "Jewish" in the name of a Democratic club.

Prior to the 1980s, political "clubs weren't so ethnically based," said former club president Natalie Berg. "It was too out-there," she said, citing criticism of the use of "Jewish" in the club name, criticism that came even from luminaries such as then-mayor Dianne Feinstein and her husband, Richard Blum.

In 1983, the club fought attempts to recall Feinstein and later worked with then-supervisor Angela Alioto on an anti-hate-crime law in coalition with the lesbian/gay community.

The club formed at a time when anti-Jewish sentiment was at its highest.

Israel had invaded Lebanon in 1982-83. Two anti-Israel measures were defeated at the ballot in San Francisco and Berkeley. The club had lobbied against attempts by the state Democratic Party to move away from its traditional pro-Israel positions.

Berg, an elected Community College Board member, believes that anti-Jewish sentiment has increased and there's a need for the Democratic club to be a voice for the community.

"I wear a Jewish star all the time," she said. "But I was reluctant [to wear it] in Europe."

She added, "It is not a friendly time for Jews in San Francisco."

Both Rothman and Berg cited recent protests at San Francisco State University in the wake of Israel's reaction to Palestinian suicide bombers.

"It's not safe for Jewish students [at the University of California at Berkeley or SFSU]," Berg said. "They're hiding."

Today, the club draws its strength from more than 33,000 Jewish-surnamed voters in San Francisco, according to a June 2002 analysis by Voter Contact California.

It advertises its endorsements in a slate card mailed to voters and in the Jewish Bulletin newspaper, which has a circulation of more than 25,000 throughout Northern California.

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


Republicans take hard line: Nobody for supe - 9 14 02

 San Francisco's Republican Party kept it simple on September 9 - nobody for supervisor.

The party, through its elected county committee, has decided to not endorse any candidate for supervisor this November.

"We mean business about fiscal responsibility," said Michael DeNunzio, chairman of the party. "We need to get our financial priorities in order."

Currently, city voters have approved $1.8 billion in voter-authorized general-obligation bond debt.

This November, voters will decide on more than $3.5 billion in revenue and general-obligation bonds for water (Proposition A) and BART (Proposition BB) infrastructure repairs, affordable housing (Proposition B), and upgrades to the Veterans Building (Proposition C).

That debt will likely sock it to homeowners or be partially passed through to tenants by landlords.

Last month, the party voted to oppose the four bonds on the ballot.

Now, it is not recommending any supervisorial candidates (no Republicans are running) in the fertile grounds of District 2 (Marina/Pacific Heights) and District 4 (Sunset) for the Republican Party. The party supported the concept of ABCD (Anybody But Chris Daly ) but didn't see any allies in District 6 (Tenderloin/SoMa). The elephants didn't like anyone in District 8 (Castro/Upper Market).

NO TO NEWSOM: One of the bigger surprises was the party's rejection of Supervisor Gavin Newsom for an endorsement. The party made a "no recommendation" in the race.

Newsom, a centrist, supported all the bond measures, though the party saw eye-to-eye with him elsewhere.

The party supported Newsom's General Assistance reform measure (Proposition N). Both the party and Newsom support Proposition R (HOPE), which would allow for the conversion of tenant units to homeowner units in apartment buildings.

Beyond issues, the party is looking long-term to the 2003 mayor's race. Newsom is seen as a potential threat to two Republicans - former police chief Anthony Ribera, who has declared his interest, and former GOP chairman Arthur Bruzzone, who is exploring the idea of running.

DeNunzio said that the electorate was "fed up with the tax-and-spend Democratic imperative," as reflected in the doubling of the city budget in six years. His goal is for the party to "set the tone of the debate," he said.

Republicans - they got religion on fiscal matters. "It's an expression of the holy spirit," he said. "Enough is enough."

SNUBBED DEFECTOR: Independent Ed Jew and Democrat Andrew Lee, both front-runners for the Republican Party endorsement in District 4, were snubbed.

DeNunzio said that he liked Jew, a candidate for supervisor. "He's more likely to vote our way" on family and homeowner issues, he said.

However, being Benedict Arnold doesn't win you any points.

"You ought to be proud of being with the Republican Party. Don't come back [after switching allegiances] to us and seek our endorsement," DeNunzio said. "We're going to work to defeat you."

"We are sending a strong message that we will not tolerate those opportunists who defected to our opposition - whether they are reregistered as Democrats or decline-to-states," said Elsa Cheung, vice-chair of the party.

Not only does his defection bother the party, but another county-committee member describes Jew as "not really conservative."

In fact, he supports two of the three bonds on the ballot.

According to the questionnaire he filled out for the party, Jew supports the more than $372 million in general-obligation bonds on the ballot, which could jack up property-tax bills for homeowners, who dominate District 4.

HIDING HIS ALLEGIANCES: Being a defector was one thing, but hiding it was another.

When Jew served as vice chair of the Republican Party, county-committee members questioned his loyalty in terms of his consorting with Democrats by serving on the board of directors for the Chinese American Democratic Club and his playing favorites for Democrats by featuring Leland Yee prominently in party literature.

"He did not disclose it until he was confronted with it," a county-committee member said. And when asked about a leadership position with a Democratic club, "he denied it until he was shown a CADC newsletter with his name in it."

Last October, Jew resigned as vice chair and left the party to help a Democrat, Leland Yee, for state Assembly. "Resigning to help the opposition," said the county-committee member.

Meanwhile, nonprofit administrator Andrew Lee didn't acquit himself with the party when one county-committee member ridiculed him for having the support of conservative California Republican Party chairman Shawn Steel but then writing down that he would not seek the local party endorsement. Why? He thought the local party endorsement would be a liability.

END OF GOP PRAGMATISM: The new party line is a signal to the end of cohabitation with Democrats who are seen as a "lesser of two evils."

"If a candidate doesn't stand for what we believe in, we are not going to endorse him or her just because he or she is the lesser evil of the two," said vice chair Elsa Cheung.

The stance could end endorsement scenarios such as the one in 1999, when the party supported Mayor Willie Brown, one of the state GOP's most reviled Democrats, because his opponent, Board of Supervisors president Tom Ammiano, was far more liberal than Brown, who was tolerable.

In the 2000 supervisorial races, the Republicans took the same vein, endorsing incumbent Democratic supervisors Gavin Newsom and Leland Yee and challenger Linda Richardson for supervisor and seriously considering other Democrats for supervisor.

SPAM FOR SAM: E-mail me at 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.


Call for election president's head over alleged slurs - 09 10 02

The former vice president of the San Francisco Elections Commission is calling for the resignation of the commission president, accusing him of using anti-gay and ethnic slurs on several occasions.

Elections Commissioner Richard Shadoian said that commission president Michael Mendelson should resign for uttering racial and anti-gay slurs on three occasions.

"He has tendencies to use terms and words that shouldn't be used. You know, they are insensitive at least," Shadoian said.

"I'm trying to be reasonable, but I don't think this stuff should be quiet," he said.

Last April, Shadoian chaired a personnel committee that screened about 15 applicants for interviews for the post of commission secretary.

Shadoian, identifying the applicant only as "Bill," said he had urged Bill to apply for the position and had spoken to Mendelson about him.

Shadoian, a psychotherapist currently on disability for a "life-threatening illness," related Mendelson's remark about "Bill" outside a City Hall third-floor meeting suite: "'We can't have a fag in that position. The public won't accept it.'"

The remark occurred in a private discussion between him and Mendelson, Shadoian said.

"I was shocked by his comment," Shadoian said. "[Bill] didn't even get interviewed."

Shadoian said he believed that Mendelson led efforts to eliminate Bill from the pool of finalists for an interview.

"[Bill] was a great candidate. He knew elections law. He was a lawyer. He had experience. He worked closely with the department; he was familiar with the staff," Shadoian said. "This guy is a natural for the job."

"I found that [slur] offensive," he said. "I told [that] to [Mendelson's] face."

Mendelson said the incident "never happened."

"[The applicant] didn't fit the minimum-qualification profile," Mendelson said. "He didn't make the ranking."

In terms of sexual orientation, Mendelson said, "I wouldn't care if the guy was gay or straight."

"Richard [Shadoian] selects the guy because he was gay," Mendelson said. "He didn't have the goods."

Sexual orientation, Shadoian said, prevented the commission from considering a "highly qualified candidate." He felt that Mendelson was manipulating the process so he could hire Shirley Rodriques for the post, even though she had no prior experience as a commission secretary. Four other candidates, including Bill, had served as commission secretary.

Mendelson countered that Shadoian was reacting to his removal as vice president of the commission and as chair of the personnel committee. Shadoian, he said, had missed eight of 20 meetings.

In a July 17 letter, Mendelson notified Shadoian that he would remove him as chair of the personnel committee and ask for his resignation as vice president of the commission for "failure to act in conformance with the standards" of a commissioner.

In a July 17 response, Shadoian refused to resign, stating that Mendelson had made "false and petty accusations . not worthy of response."

At the August 21 meeting, Shadoian walked out of the meeting.

Shadoian contends that he has refused "to go along" with the secret ways in which the commission conducts its business. For example, Mendelson barred interim elections director John Artnz from answering a question posed by Shadoian. Further, Shadoian objected to a commission vote because it related to a report issued by a meeting of the personnel committee that took place illegally, attended by only one member of the commission.

"I felt it was a punishment move, because of my standing up to them and not buying in," Shadoian said of his removal as vice president and personnel chair.

"Richard is off the wall," Mendelson said, suggesting that Shadoian "seek mental help."

"His weapon is to call people anti-gay, anti-Asian, anti-everything," Mendelson said. "He carries the gay banner. . [But] you have to take into account every [group]."

Mendelson referred to another candidate for commission secretary this April as a "drunk fag" in the presence of future commission secretary Shirley Rodriques, according to Shadoian.

Rodriques, who was hired April 24, said that she was not present.

Rodriques said she had never heard such language while serving as commission secretary.

If he had, she said, she would have replied, "Don't you ever use that language in front of me."

Shadoian, describing the incident, said he was outside the commission office next to the Elections Department in the basement of City Hall.

"Michael [Mendelson] jokingly said, '[The candidate] is doing this all [for you] . because he wants to be with you, Richard,'" Shadoian said of Mendelson's remarks.

"What?" Shadoian recalled saying.

Shadoian denied any personal interest in the candidate, who happened to be gay, and said he found it irrelevant.

"I found that insulting," he added.

Mendelson also used an ethnic slur, according to Shadoian.

Shadoian said that while waiting in a City Hall lobby after an August 7 regular meeting of the Elections Commission, Mendelson asked, "Who's that skinny chink?" - in reference to an employee of the Human Resources Department walking by Shadoian and commissioner Alix Rosenthal.

Again, Shadoian said, he confronted Mendelson. "I immediately responded that I found such language was offensive - I thought he hadn't learned anything," Shadoian said, referring to the anti-gay slurs and the March 5 "Chinaman" remark made to this columnist and witnessed by former commissioner David Serrano-Sewell.

" [Rosenthal and Mendelson] just sort of laughed and walked off together to the parking lot," Shadoian said.

Mendelson said that the incident never occurred.

"I abhor the word 'chink,'" he said.

 Mendelson said he thought Shadoian was alluding to Human Resources Department employees Ana Borja-Valdes and Marsha Stroope. Shadoian also said that those two employees had walked by.

"The person's name [Borja-Valdes or Stroope] is not an Asian name at all," Mendelson said.

Rosenthal, who replaced Shadoian after his removal as commission vice president on July 17, said that the incident was made up.

"I would have smacked Mr. Mendelson if he said that [slur]. He knows that," said Rosenthal. "I am a feminist. I am in favor of equal rights for everyone."

Mendelson, Rosenthal, and Shadoian all voted to fire Elections Director Tammy Haygood, an African American lesbian, last April in a 4-3 vote.

While he would not elaborate on the firing, given Haygood's court appeals, Shadoian said that Mendelson never used Haygood's sexual orientation as a basis for termination.

SPAM FOR SAM: E-mail me at 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.


The battleground of District 8 - 09 07 02

District 8 is the political crossroads of San Francisco.

Go west or south toward conservative District 7 (West of Twin Peaks) and you find political moderation. Go north or east and the terrain becomes more progressive (left of liberal) in District 9 (Mission) or District 5 (Haight Ashbury).

Depending on which political or geographic direction you go, you can call a major east-west artery either Army or Cesar Chavez Street.

Home to the Castro, Noe Valley, Eureka Valley, Upper Market, and Diamond Heights neighborhoods in the center of San Francisco, the supervisorial district is one of November's most intense electoral battlegrounds, as symbolized by Mark Leno 's three races for supervisor and two for state Assembly there in four years.

With the Assembly-bound Leno vacating the District 8 supervisorial seat, former AIDS/HIV policy director Eileen Hansen is back for another shot, having nearly bumped Leno out two years ago. She faces major candidates in BART Board director Tom Radulovich and former mayoral neighborhood-liaison director Bevan Dufty.

ALICE, WE LOVE YOU: The District 8 showdown continues next Monday at the city's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Center, the arena for the endorsement of the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club, an organization that proved key in making Leno the next assemblyman in the 13th District.

As reported here on June 22, Dufty and Radulovich have engaged in a recruiting war for Toklas members. And Dufty may have recruited more members than Radulovich, allowing him to win the Toklas endorsement and the election resources that come with it.

DUFTY GOT HOPE? In this race, Dufty is the relative moderate, supporting two of the litmus-issue tests of November: Care Not Cash (Proposition N), which would convert General Assistance cash grants to in-kind services, and HOPE (Proposition R), which would allow conversions of tenant units to homeowner units.

Dufty's stance on Proposition R brings two major endorsers to the table - the Small Property Owners of San Francisco, with its more than 2,000 members, and Plan C, which has 575 members. The two groups represent a substantial number of mom-and-pop landlords, lesbian/gay homeowners, and aspiring homeowners in District 8.

According to board member Michael Sullivan, Plan C - one-fifth to one-third of whose members live in the district - raised $17,000 on August 21 for Propositions N and R.

The SPOSF made its mark in the November 2000 campaign against Proposition N, a measure to restrict the conversion of apartment units to affordable-housing units called tenancies-in-common (TICs).

Dufty's support of HOPE and reciprocal support from the SPOSF and Plan C could help the candidate carve a niche of voters in the race to succeed Leno.

District 8 voters, while they liked rent-control protections two years ago, have opposed opportunities to restrict homeownership. In November 2000, 60 percent of the district's voters supported Proposition H (limits on passing home-improvement costs through to tenants). However, District 8 voters opposed Proposition N (TIC limits), 54 to 46 percent. It's this paradox that could favor Dufty.

His opponents, however, could remind voters that Dufty once worked for Mayor Willie Brown. But Dufty has reminded voters that he has had a life beyond his directorship of the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services.

For one thing, he started at the bottom - in the mayor's mailroom. Prior to that, he served as an aide to congressional representatives Julian Dixon and Shirley Chisholm, as well as to Susan Leal, after she was appointed supervisor by Mayor Frank Jordan.

HONK FOR THE WONK: BART director Tom Radulovich could end up squished in a November political vise with Eileen Hansen coming from the left and Bevan Dufty coming from the center.

Or, Radulovich could emerge as the December-runoff compromise candidate for whoever might lose in the primary - Dufty or Hansen. For example, Board of Supervisors president Tom Ammiano could turn to Radulovich if Hansen loses. Radulovich was one of the few elected officials endorsing Ammiano for mayor in 1999.

Radulovich has the most electoral experience, having won two BART Board races in a district that incorporates San Francisco's most liberal and progressive neighborhoods, including supervisorial District 8. To compare, Hansen ran for supervisor in 2000. Dufty has never run for office.

Unlike Dufty, Radulovich opposes Proposition R (HOPE). He takes what he describes as a "no, but." position on Proposition N (Care Not Cash). He has questions about implementation and accountability while praising some of the measure's features. Complex policies on homelessness should not be decided by the voters, and their inclusion on the ballot reflects the failure of the board to lead, he says.

In tune with the rejected campaign slogan jokingly offered by his campaign manager - "I said wonk, not honk" - wonky Radulovich creates the perception that he's a thoughtful politician building coalitions not guided by ideology, as opposed to another wonk, Eileen Hansen (who will be discussed in a future column).

The wonk factor extends to his membership with the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, a moderate think tank on which Radulovich serves with District 6 candidate Roger Gordon and this columnist (who's not a candidate). Then, there's his work with the Housing Action Coalition to pursue smart-growth measures, such as efforts to increase housing density along transit corridors.

A "raging moderate" wing - Supervisors Mark Leno and Aaron Peskin - supports Radulovich. But then again, Rad can be "radical," according to his Green supporter on the board, Supervisor Matt Gonzalez. But that's tempered by the endorsement of Chamber of Commerce vice president Roberta Achtenberg.

As for other interesting coalitions, Radulovich's campaign guffawed at another rejected campaign slogan: "You don't know Vulcans."

His green appeal (as in environmental interests, not Vulcan blood) extends beyond Gonzalez. Radulovich also has the powerful support of two main proponents of the so-called clean slate - the Sierra Club and the San Francisco League of Conservation Voters. Given his intense work on four campaigns to build a boulevard to replace the Central Freeway, Radulovich should find support in the northern sectors of the district.

SPAM FOR SAM: E-mail me at 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. Past columns appear at www.sfusualsuspects.com .


When you don't know, vote No: McGoldrick's Prop. K - 09 03 02

 It is ironic that Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, elected as an advocate of sunshine and neighborhoods, has decided to hurt San Francisco's neighborhood newspapers without one bit of sunshine.

At 13 minutes before deadline on August 7, a Board of Supervisors minority of Chris Daly, Tom Ammiano, Aaron Peskin, Matt Gonzalez, and McGoldrick qualified Proposition K for the ballot without a single public hearing, thereby suppressing the citizens' right to know in advance what the supes were up to at City Hall.

Prop. K would change the process for awarding to newspapers the contract for publishing the city's official public notices.

Facing mounting opposition and stumbling in his effort to jump-start his campaign, McGoldrick last week tried to withdraw Prop. K in last-ditch negotiations. The supervisor postponed a London vacation for two days in an 11th-hour attempt to ask colleagues to withdraw the measure, with help from the city attorney and from Independent publisher James Fang. However, under political pressure, McGoldrick waffled and kept Prop. K, which deliberately targets a Fang family publication, according to his own press release.

Affirming that viewpoint, the nonpartisan San Francisco Planning and Urban Research association voted overwhelmingly against Proposition K on August 21. 

Critical even of the current process for bidding on the public-notice contract, SPUR labeled Proposition K a "chilling attack on the First Amendment and the concept of a free press."

"The manner by which Prop. K was introduced brings up broad constitutional questions," the think tank said.

"[SPUR] believes that Prop. K is so motivated by the politics of trying to shut down a critical voice that . cannot be ignored."

The measure follows a trend by the supervisors to increasingly rely on the Internet at the expense of the public's right to know, a scenario that especially affects the poor, seniors, and communities of color redlined by the digital divide. Although San Francisco is the most wired city on the Internet, many residents cannot access the business of the board via computer and must rely on public notices appearing in the classified sections of free community newspapers, such as the Independent , San Francisco Bayview , and Bay Area Reporter, to learn about budget deliberations, new rent-control laws, and proposed increases in business and property taxes.

Proposition K would undo the reforms of a voter-approved November 1994 ballot measure, Proposition J, that set guidelines for the consideration of public-notice-publication bids.

That year, the supervisors, strong-armed by publisher William R. Hearst III, allowed the daily and nondaily public-notice contracts to be respectively monopolized by the jointly operated Chronicle and Hearst-owned Examiner dailies.

Specifically, the supervisors gave the nondaily public-notice contract to the higher-bidding Examiner - thereby rejecting the Independent . Offering little bang for the buck, the Examiner had a circulation that was almost four-times less than the Independent 's (87,000 versus 326,000), was offered at a higher subscription price (a half-dollar, as opposed to the free Independent ), and was based in New York (the Independent is printed and published in San Francisco). At the same time, African American leaders criticized Hearst for redlining their communities in terms of Examiner distribution.

The 1994 political shenanigans led to a lawsuit and a citizens' initiative.

The Independent sued the Hearst Corporation and the San Francisco Newspaper Agency for a predatory-pricing attempt to drive the Independent out of business. The Independent won a $1.6 million judgment, which was settled in the 2000 transfer of the Examiner to the owners of the Independent .

Meanwhile, 1994's Proposition J ended the whims of the former bid-assessment process - and effectively awarded the nondaily public-notice contract to the Independent - by implementing an objective point system by which the purchaser and the supervisors would evaluate bids for the nondaily contract. Points would be allocated for bid price, total circulation (a minimum circulation of 50,000 and a minimum publication frequency of three times weekly), subscription price, and whether the newspaper was a locally owned, minority-owned, or woman-owned enterprise.

The accusations of redlining were ended by including public-notice advertising in "outreach" newspapers distributed in lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender, Latino, Chinese, and African American communities. Later the supervisors added Japanese, Southeast Asian, and Russian communities.

Despite Supervisor McGoldrick's allegations that the cost of public notices has increased since 1994, the Independent 's bid for the nondaily public-notice contract, from 1994 to 2002, has gone from an estimated rate of $2.70 per line of public-notice advertising to $3.78 per line. That represents, over eight years, an average increase of 5 percent per year - slightly above inflation.

Meanwhile, the profligate supervisors have let the city budget double in a period of five years, to $4.9 billion.

At the same time, major political voices have resoundingly rejected McGoldrick's arguments.

The progressive-leaning San Francisco Democratic Party overwhelmingly rejected the measure, in an opinion passionately argued by former San Francisco League of Women Voters president Holli Thier and joined by Senator Dianne Feinstein and former city supervisors Sue Bierman and Leslie Katz, who cited its potential impact on woman-owned businesses.

During the Democratic Party interviews, a speaker against Proposition K described the measure as a local version of Proposition 209 - the 1996 state measure that eliminated affirmative action in state government.

Joining the opposition, the San Francisco Republican Party saw Prop. K as an attempt to silence alternative moderate voices in favor of the Bay Guardian , a nonunion progressive tabloid not printed in San Francisco.

( Note: This columnist and SPUR board member spoke out against Proposition K but abstained from the vote. Before starting a writing career, the columnist had worked on the 1994 Prop. J campaign.)

SPAM FOR SAM: E-mail me at 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