ugly is as ugly does...

Coalition on Homelessness, SF (
Sun, 17 Oct 1999 12:25:42 -0800

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Hello again-

Of course, not everyone who writes for the SF dailies can claim to 
have a conscience that isn't mortgaged to someone's political 

What I find most ironic about this column is that, even as Ms. 
Saunders claims to have tired of bashing Willie Brown - and serves as 
apologist for a man whose record of violence and abuse isn't confined 
to only women - she scarcely stops to take a breath as she thrashes 
homeless people throughout her story.  You will please note that I've 
included her email address for those of you who might want to take 
time to educate her about hate language and responsible journalism. 
I strongly encourage all of you to do so.

As for me, I'm going to follow the lead of my christian friends (yes, 
there are a precious few that I'd spare from tossing to the lions). 
They tell me I should pray for my enemies, so I'm going to spend this 
sunny Sunday afternoon praying that Debra Saunders will go to Heaven 

Peace (really),
chance martin
Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco

Grim Choices in the Mayor's Race
Debra J. Saunders ( )
Saturday, October 16,1999
1999 San Francisco Chronicle


WALK DOWN Market Street any weekday before the banks open. You'll see
the homeless in the closest thing they have to a home. In the morning
you see fewer of the lawless panhandlers with an angry hand out -- the
street folks I usually call bums.

Morning is the time for burn- outs and the mentally ill. You see them
among their few dirty possessions, maybe a stuffed animal. They have to
turn to toys to find something that looks up to them.

There is nothing humane in this picture, nothing good for the city's
homeless or homeowners. If this city had a strong mayor, at the very
least the police would displace these campers and force them to use
their welfare checks for shelter. Or leave town. Better yet, the police
would roust the campers and the city would provide halfway homes and
structure for the mentally ill.

When The Chronicle asked Mayor Willie Brown this week about homeless
people camping on Market Street, Da Mayor said he didn't like to see
this squalor, but the homeless have civil rights. Funny, Da Mayor has no
civil rights reservations when it comes to rousting the homeless from
the Civic Center. But that's different.

The worst part is: If the city looks this squalid when Brown is
scrambling for re-election, what will it look like in three years?

If Thursday night's KRON mayoral debate is any indication, the answer
is: worse.

In desperation, I wrote a column a couple of months ago supportive of
candidate Clint Reilly. I knew about the domestic violence incident. It
turned my stomach, but it happened 20 years ago. As for his temper,
well, maybe the city needs a tough guy to take on homelessness.

His remedies -- a homeless census, vouchers instead of cash General
Assistance checks, zero tolerance for quality of life crimes -- would be
an improvement.

At the debate, however, the millionaire showed he's mostly mad about his
own bad breaks. He began his closing remarks complaining about the
personal attacks the Brown camp hurled at him. He imitated Willie
Brown's me-me-me look on life, but without having even won an election.

Former Mayor Frank Jordan provided a clear alternative for voters who
want to elect a nice, good man -- and who doesn't? But he didn't assure
the public that if elected, this time he wouldn't let the unions,
supervisors and everyone else roll right over him. In fact, he didn't
even assure the public that he knew he'd been rolled.

Then there's Willie Brown. I've long since tired of bashing Hizzoner. He
is charming, funny and successful. Most of all, there is a sense of
inevitability about Brown. He gets what he wants. He wins elections. He
knows how to make other politicians toe his line. If he breaks the
rules, he doesn't get caught.

Unfortunately, he's not a very good mayor. He's not an administrator,
he's a dealmaker. He treats the homeless issue as if he's making a deal,
where the important thing isn't to make the city sparkle, but to keep
various factions happy.

The shopping cart story says it all. As election day nears, the city
comes up with a plan to take shopping carts from the homeless.
Constituents balk. Brown makes as if the plan never existed. He gets the
publicity for wanting to get tough, without the baggage of being tough.
It's perfect for him, and useless. Utterly useless.

He'll be re-elected. There will be more blankets and stuffed bears on
Market Street, but not the Civic Center. Later, he'll find another
excuse to put a crown on his head and ermine on his back.

No need to tackle the homeless problem in earnest. The city, after all,
is only a prop.

1999 San Francisco Chronicle   Page A24


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6,000+ POSTS by or via homeless & ex-homeless people
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chance martin
Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco
468 Turk St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
vox: (415) 346.3740
Fax: (415) 775.5639