[Hpn] San Francisco, CA - Mayoral race heats up over issue of homelessness - San Francisco Chronicle - November 18, 2003

HC Covington HC Covington" <hcc@icanamerica.org
Tue, 18 Nov 2003 12:10:43 -0500


Newsom fends off Gonzalez's attacks

Mayoral race heats up over issue of homelessness
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Rachel Gordon - San Francisco Chronicle - November 18, 2003

San Francisco, CA - Gavin Newsom hit back Monday at his
rival in the San Francisco mayor's race, accusing Matt
Gonzalez of doing nothing to change a system in which
"we are literally killing fellow human beings" by tolerating
panhandling and giving cash to the homeless.

"For Gonzalez to defend that is unconscionable,''
Newsom said.

His attack came one day after Gonzalez accused Newsom
of making a name for himself "by attacking the poor
with phony promises. He's someone who doesn't know what
the truth is.''

The two candidates are getting more combative as the
runoff race for mayor enters its final three weeks, and
it's no surprise that homelessness is at the forefront
of the barrage.

Newsom and Gonzalez have been battling over the issue
on the Board of Supervisors for more than a year, and
the mayor's race to be decided Dec. 9 has only
highlighted their differences.

Gonzalez took aim over the weekend at Newsom's Care Not
Cash welfare reform proposal, which would replace most
city cash stipends for homeless people with increased
services, and at Proposition M, a measure on this
month's ballot that expanded restrictions on
panhandling.

Voters backed both measures with nearly 60 percent
support, although implementation of Care Not Cash --
approved last fall -- has been stalled in court and at
the Board of Supervisors. Gonzalez said the plan would
not fulfill supporters' promises. Newsom said it would
be a start.

"What we are doing now is not working,'' Newsom said
Monday.

He has argued that the down-and-out often use the cash
they receive -- whether in the form of welfare or a
handout from panhandling -- to buy booze and drugs.

"Gonzalez has no plan to address the homeless crisis,''
Newsom said. "His only strategy appears to be an
attempt to attack and demonize those of us who do.''

Gonzalez wasn't available for comment Monday, but his
campaign spokesman, Ross Mirkarimi, said Newsom was
"pandering to an issue that pulls on everyone's
heartstrings, without giving very substantive
solutions.''

Gonzalez, he said, wants to focus on the root causes of
homelessness and poverty, but he cited few concrete
plans.

"As the campaign progresses, we'll continue to expand
on our proposals,'' Mirkarimi said.

In a campaign stop Saturday, Gonzalez said the city
should make shelters safer and provide more support
services with transitional housing programs.

He has also suggested that the city dust off the
"Continuum of Care'' homeless plan that then-Mayor Art
Agnos tried to enact more than a decade ago. It called
for a greater concentration of services to prevent
homelessness and help people secure permanent
housing.

Newsom also has called for providing more support
services and has said Care Not Cash is a step in that
direction. He also says his homelessness platform is
not just about Care Not Cash.

He wants to keep the shelters open 24 hours a day --
they are now open only at night -- and improve
coordination among various city agencies and nonprofit
service providers.

"Gonzalez is cowering behind ideology to defend a
failed system,'' Newsom said.

"We need change, and I am fighting for that change. He
is fighting to preserve a system that is broken.''


E-mail Rachel Gordon at rgordon@sfchronicle.com
San Francisco Chronicle source page: http://tinyurl.com/vj05
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