Best Little Whore in San Francisco - by KATHLEEN GRAY

Coalition on Homelessness, SF (coh@sfo.com)
Sat, 23 Oct 1999 14:09:40 -0800


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	The verdict is finally in... there was really only one 
reason, ever, to vote for Willie Brown. Pure, unadulterated 
entertainment. What comes to mind is a funny number in the movie 
"Best Little Whore House in Texas", as Charles Durning sings 
"OOOOHHH,  I love to dance a little side-step!"
	Sadly reminiscent of 1997, when Willie declared that there 
were no encampments in Golden Gate Park - and within 48 hours was 
suggesting that we borrow heat-seeking helicopters from Oakland to 
search out the poor souls who were living there - Willie has 
performed his redoubtable reversal again.
	COH filed repeated Public Information Act requests this month 
to determine if Mayor Brown planned to escalate shopping cart 
confiscations and prosecute homeless people as possessors of stolen 
property. The City's answer was "we have no information".
	However, once the Coalition obtained a copy of SFPD FOB 
General Order 99-03 - which outlined the proposed enforcement effort 
and laid out the process which officers were to follow - there was 
verification, albeit tacit, of the Mayor's complicity.  When the 
press became aware of all this, Willie was duly queried and in 
published statements stood firm in his backing of the order.
	Here's where the "side step" starts to happen. When public 
outrage became unquestionable, Mayor Brown must have then heard his 
musical cue - because his tune changed overnight. Far from 
acknowledging his support of the program, instead he claimed no 
knowledge of it following day, and allowed SFPD Chief Lau to take the 
fall in his place.
	So, do we believe that the politician of legendary clout, who 
often crows about his effective management style, didn't even know 
what his Chief was wickedly plotting? Or do we believe that the Mayor 
of this town is an abject liar?
	Just what does it do to John Q. Public to witness a grown man 
(in a really nice, expensive wardrobe) make an absolute ass of 
himself? Is Willie Brown actually arrogant enough to believe that we 
don't keep track of him from one day to the next, or does he hold San 
Franciscans in such contempt that he relies on our apathy?
	If the issue on which he furiously backpedaled were not so 
serious, we would all be laughing at 'Slick Willie' slipping in his 
own ooze. Homelessness has proven to be the Achilles Heel of several 
mayors before Hizzonor, you would think he'd have learned that the 
public does not approve of taking away homeless folks' shopping carts!
	The reality of this issue is not funny. Although the Mayor 
now denies such a heinous campaign, the truth lies in his ongoing 
harassment of homeless people.
	The week following the cart brouhaha, SFPD was videotaped by 
COH staffers as they told homeless people at the UN Plaza that they 
had to get off the grass. When Officer Centurion (real name, no joke) 
was asked what ordinance he was enforcing, Centurion repeatedly 
answered, "I honestly don't know what the code is, it's a park code." 
When asked the elements of the code, his only information was that it 
was illegal to be on the grass in a public park!
	When one of the victims of this harassment protested and 
asked him to cite exactly which code that was being violated, Officer 
Centurion trudged to his paddy wagon and  got on the radio. 
Returning, he replied that the statute in question was Park Code 
section 4.03, destruction of property.
	Despite the fact that Park Code section 4.03 deals with 
pollution of water or ponds in parks, and despite the fact that 
Officer Centurion was presumably attempting to selectively enforce 
Park Code sect. 4.05 (the MALICIOUS destruction of park property), we 
fail to see any justification. Is it too much to ask of SFPD to 
enforce actual codes with the arresting officer conversant with the 
number and section, the elements of each ordinance and its intent? 
Malicious destruction of the GRASS by SITTING on it, in the park at 
high noon? There should NOT be illegal enforcement of the WRONG code. 
Either way, the officer was unforgivably ignorant.
	The video reveals SFPD members were clearly blustering and 
bullying their way through their bumbling enforcement efforts, and 
only by virtue of the authority which the uniform mistakenly implies, 
and armed with a massive and reprehensible prejudice. The impunity 
with which these officers feel imbued and the aforementioned 
prejudice is conferred to them from higher up their precious chain of 
command. It is the highest authorities in our City who set the 
standard for these abuses.
	We all know what rolls downhill, just as we all know the 
source of this flagrant disregard for the civil and human rights of 
homeless people. Da Mayor's malicious prejudice is more outrageous, 
given that one of the platforms which won him office in the first 
place was his original lie: Willie promised to stop Matrix and to 
find solutions to homelessness.
	Roll over Willie, let anyone with integrity take over.

KATHLEEN GRAY


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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
coh@sfo.com
http://www.sfo.com/~coh