San Francisco homelessness & Brown's next Mayoral campaign FWD

Tom Boland (
Wed, 3 Feb 1999 20:16:09 -0800 (PST)

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FWD  San Francisco Examiner - Wednesday, February 3, 1999


       By Gregory Lewis of the Examiner Staff

       Willie Brown brings in former campaign manager Jack Davis to help
find a solution.

       Haunted throughout his administration by San Francisco's homeless
problem, Mayor Willie Brown has taken to weekly meetings over the last
half-year to grapple with an issue that has helped topple the two previous

       Apparently, Brown is concerned enough that the homeless issue may
dog his re-election chances that he asked his former campaign manager, Jack
Davis, to attend Monday's most recent homeless policy meeting.

       However, Brown said, Davis, who "is not my campaign manager yet,"
was "there as a citizen" and didn't have much to say at the meeting, which
focused on The City's new effort to force chronic drunks into treatment
centers rather than jail.

       "But I'm sure Mr. Davis will, eventually, when he thinks of
something," the mayor said at a Tuesday news conference. "You know, Mr.
Davis is an absolute genius."

       Davis ran Brown's 1995 campaign and is expected to do so again this
year. He also was one of the co-chairs of Brown's transition.

       Given his ties to the mayor, Davis said later in a telephone
interview, "it should come as no surprise" that he was sitting in on
various city meetings.

       "I'm in The City and will be sitting in on a whole range of
meetings," Davis said.

       In addition to his campaign work, Davis has been a contract lobbyist
at City Hall. He currently represents two clients - Home Depot and a
citywide landlords' association - according to Ethics Commission reports.

       Asked whether his interest was related to running Brown's
re-election campaign, Davis said: "Maybe that will happen, maybe it won't.
But I want to get a feel for what's going on inside this administration. I
have a vested interest in how this administration performs."

       "'I want to know how it's doing, who's doing what, how it's
performing well, and understand it from top to bottom," Davis said.

       Davis was joined at Monday's meeting by several city department
heads, including Police Chief Fred Lau, supervisors Tom Ammiano, Amos Brown
and Leland Yee, homeless coordinator Terry Hill, merchants, a judge and
district attorney's office representatives.

       Brown said the participants and issues had varied at the weekly
sessions. While no homeless advocates attended Monday's meeting, which
distressed Ammiano, they have been at previous sessions.

       Brown also has met separately with homeless advocates twice since
November and plans to meet with them again.

       Randy Shaw of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic also has worked with the
mayor to find single-room occupancy hotels for The City to lease and help
ease the housing crunch.

       Shaw said a deal could be completed within a week for The City to
take over one hotel.

       "This will make the mayor very happy," said Shaw. "It will bring
some opportunity, since the publicizing of the crackdown on the homeless
and the like."

       In November, Brown faces voters unhappy by what they see as failures
to improve Muni service and combat homelessness. The homeless issue played
a key part in former Police Chief Frank Jordan's win over Mayor Art Agnos
in 1991 and, in turn, was a factor when Brown beat Jordan four years later.

       Homeless advocates have complained about the number of homeless
people arrested for so-called quality of life citations such as urinating
in public during Brown's three years in office. The advocates also are
upset by the supervisors' recent move to sweep the homeless from Hallidie
and United Nations plazas. Brown said he'd sign the board's legislation
"because it will be an additional tool for those who are involved in trying
to deal with the problem in The City."


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