Re: HPN posts - Thanks! - SF Mayor - WTO

Coalition on Homelessness, SF (
Thu, 2 Dec 1999 17:17:55 -0800

>How come you're not in Seattle, Chance?

I want to be... I really want to be.  I also wanted as position here 
at the Coalition with more responsibility, and guess what?  Lucky me, 
I got what I wished for.  So now I have a paper to edit and a 
homeless deaths report to prepare for the Health Dept. before 12/22 
(preliminary homeless death counts are already at 177 - 20 more than 
last year's count).  And they're getting ready to introduce a bill to 
"reform" involuntary commitment statutes in the California 
legislature - and erase the human and civil rights of all of us with 
psychiatric disabilities in the process. YIKES!

So, instead of dressing up like a sea turtle and doing consumer tests 
on Israeli army surplus gas masks, I'm either at my desk or dashing 
off to yet another meeting.

Oh yeah, there's also all those long hours I'm devoting to running 
Willie Brown's lying ass out of San Francisco.

>Kids in the year 2020 will ask
>were you at the Battle, and you'll have to say no.

Tom, did I ever tell you about 1968, when I was the tender age of thirteen?

I first met the Beast we all fight against at a little patch of green 
in Chicago named Grant Park.  There was a convention there, too. 
They were trying to nominate their democratic presidential candidate. 
I didn't see much going on that resembled ANYTHING like what they 
taught me democracy meant in school.

The people's candidate for the presidential nomination was a pig - a 
real pig - aptly named "Pigasus." We felt that this noble creature 
might model leadership standards that would represent a vast 
improvement to political practices of that era.  Today I think we did 
the pig a disservice.

Those were bad old days.  I remember growing up with the Vietnam war: 
the carnage on the news every night, older kids in the working-class 
neighborhood I grew up in would disappear and reappear briefly in 
uniforms and crew cuts, then disappear again.  Windows of the houses 
on my street commonly displayed a small flag with a single blue star 
in a field of white, and some would have black bunting draped over 
them to let the neighbors know that their son wouldn't be returning. 
And the sons who did return weren't the guys we knew before.  As the 
war dragged on, and as the war escalated, so did my belief that the 
odds of reaching my twenty-first birthday were growing slimmer.

So there I was - I hadn't even shaved or kissed a girl yet, let alone 
vote in an election - with all these other young folks in Chicago. 
And one thing that we all agreed about was that we didn't want any 
more of us to die in southeast Asia while the U.S. systematically 
destroyed Vietnam and its people to "save" them from communism.

But the "military-industrial complex" had most of the politicians - 
and many from the left - planted securely in their pockets. And Mayor 
Daly's (Richie's dad) police did the bidding of their masters and 
stomped the living crap out of us for having the audacity to suggest 
that human lives were more important than General Electric's 
third-quarter earnings.  Hell, it seemed like everybody over thirty 
was gravely offended that we would even think to exercise our freedom 
to assemble, or our right to free speech.  But we were there, we were 
together, we had a different idea about how our country should be 
run, and we were going to have our say.

It was the first time I had ever refused or resisted any adult 
authority.  I was rewarded with an opportunity to be chased by riot 
cops across the park, and have Mace - which was a new product back 
then - sprayed directly in my face from a distance of about three 
feet by one of Chicago's finest.  I had just called him a 
motherfucker because he had split a pretty teenaged woman's head open 
with a riot baton. I'd never seen anyone hurt another person like 
that before.  I hadn't been using the word (motherfucker) for very 
long, and had only the most abstract concept of what it actually 
meant, but I was certain this cop fit the label.

I drew the conclusion that what they taught me in school about how 
the police were our friends was bullshit, too.  Matter of fact, the 
lesson was so powerful that I began to question everything any adult 
told me from that day until today.  I guess that was the day my 
childhood ended.

As for Seattle, my heart is right there with every one of those 
valiant people. Everyone has been crowding around my computer to see 
all the news photos you posted.  My favorite is the person smashing 
Starbuck's window with the USA TODAY news rack.  There was no small 
amount of poetry present in that act.  BRAVO!

>Whad dup wit da SF run-off Lection?  Will the outcome make much difference?

Tom's campaign is going full-bore.  We should have his position paper 
on homelessness by early next week, which I'll post.  We gave him 
significant input for it, so it will be interesting to see how much 
of that makes it into his document.

Yesterday's Matier and Ross piece in the CHRONICLE on the amount of 
"soft money" supporting Brown's re-election bid is just another of 
the reasons why I make it my job to stress the importance of 
defeating the Brown democratic machine to everyone I meet.

I've been skimming some of the messages about the SF mayor's race 
from others on this list, and I think I need to clear the air about 

Tom Ammiano isn't going to be the savior of homeless people here, but 
he has agreed to approach the problem differently.  Two things are 
going to make a big difference:  1) that homeless people are going to 
participate as real stakeholders in the design and evaluation of 
programs and services that they use, and  2) as mayor, that Tom will 
raise the level of debate from City Hall to the state and national 
forums where some real progress can be made at restoring funding for 
affordable housing.

And if he fucks us over, like Willie Brown did, he will learn, like 
Brown did, that we are much, much better to count as friends than as 
adversaries.  He will also learn, like Brown did, that we will 
advance the interests of homeless people with or without his consent 
or approval because that's what the homeless people here want.

I do really hope Tom will remain the close ally he has been in our 
battles with Willie Brown over homeless people's civil rights - not 
because we're tired of fighting, not because we would be better 
connected or have more political "juice," not because we're putting 
our faith in him being some "homeless savior" or some other kind of 
hero, but because lives are hanging in the balance. I think we know 
Tom well enough to know that human life is important to him, maybe 
even important enough for him to try make a difference.

>Thanks for your posts tonight, my brother.  Is that all of them?  More!

Yeah, it was a poetry issue.  It sings.  Adam, our new staff 
attorney, made a linoleum print of an oak leaf with these words:

I have had occasion to dream of revolution. Sometimes as many as six 
times before breakfast.  Unarmed guerrilla activity bringing to ruin 
towers of apathy, greed and hate.  Amid the rubble, playing children 
craft the future from bits of masonry, twigs and leaves.

Adam wishes he was in Seattle, too.  I put his print on the cover of 
the STREET SHEET as our tribute to the folks protesting the WTO.

I'll post more poems tonight.

Something else you might find amusing.  Since the shopping cart 
fiasco, we've raised funds, bought and distributed over two dozen 
used shopping carts to homeless people here.  Each cart bears a 
small, but prominently displayed placard with these words:


This cart is for the use of any homeless person in the City and 
County of San Francisco, and should be considered personal property.

This community cart is NOT stolen property or misappropriated lost 
property.  This cart's possessor is NOT subject to the penalties and 
prohibitions of California Business and Professions Code section 
22435 et seq.  No City official is authorized to remove this cart.

You have rights - get involved!
Call the Coalition on Homelessness: 415.346.3740

>Peace 'n' Love. -- Tom, Mayyah of Hahvahd Squahah

Peace & Love to you, Harmonica Tom, and to all you other fine HPN listers.
Diamond Dave Whitaker sends his best, too.


>7,000+ POSTS by or via homeless & ex-homeless people
>Nothing About Us Without Us - Democratize Public Policy

Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco
468 Turk St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
vox: (415) 346.3740
Fax: (415) 775.5639