The People of SoMa Win Again

by Ken Werner, Trinity Plaza Tenants Association (TPTA) on January 20, 2006

Yesterday the Board of Supervisors Rules Committee, chaired by Sup. Ross Mirkarimi, further unified the SoMa community in choosing the seven members to sit on the South of Market Community Stabilization Fund Advisory Committee.

There were 16 candidates which both Sup. Mirkarimi and Sup. Sean Elsbernd described as well-qualified. Indeed, reading through the applications and additional resumes supplied by some of the applicants was like reading through a Who’s Who in SoMa.

A HISTORY OF MISGUIDED CRITICISM

The SoMa Community Stabilization Fund is part of the masterful achievement realized by the leadership of Sup. Chris Daly and has been a part of a heated controversy started by Mayor Gavin Newsom’s criticism of the Rincon Hill deal. Last June and August the Examiner editorialized that the deal was putting the squeeze on downtown developers and that it set “dangerous precedents” for development. The latter editorial insinuated that the $34-million earmarked for the Fund had very little oversight in how the money will be spent. The August editorial, apparently penned by James Pimentel, shows the lack of knowledge Pimentel has of government operation and oversight. “Lack of knowledge”? I think the word I should use is “stupidity.”

Also last August gossip columnist Phil Matier, writing for the other litterbox liner (the Chronicle) with a style reminiscent of a badly-scripted 1940s gangster movie, referred to Sup. Daly’s deal as strong-arm tactics against developers “that would do any ward boss proud.” And editor Phil Bronstein called the deal “questionable” as well as claiming Sup. Daly had “strong-armed developers.”

The Mayor also offered his distorted view of the deal and declared that none of the $34-million would go to community organizations or for leadership training.

But the criticism didn’t stop there. Ken Cleaveland of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), writing in the mayor’s newest propaganda rag, the Sentinel, invoked the now worn-out phrase “strong arm tactics” and continued to insinuate the Fund was questionable: “The suspicion of many IN THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY is that the tens of millions of dollars likely to be collected by this new non-profit will not go to fund tangible neighborhood improvements, but will be spent on good old-fashioned political organizing.” [Emphasis added]

Finally, earlier this month in an interview with the Examiner’s Justin Jouvenal, Newsom slammed the efforts of the community-input process and declared that Sup. Daly’s deal was “terrible precedent” and that if the same thing happened in the Mid-Market he would veto it.

That’s been the propaganda spin of the superwealthy, and Newsom is one of them.

But what’s the real significance of the Rincon Hill deal?

For years activists have been demanding that the downtown super-rich pay their fair share, and we’re still looking at possible ballot measures this year that will address this disparity where the rich get the services without paying their fair share in taxes.

But the sheer brilliance of Chris Daly’s deal — which received considerable community input from countless meetings of District 6 activists, and others — is that Sup. Daly achieved that which we have been clamoring for during the past few years. Sup. Daly has forced the superwealthy TO PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE, and that’s why Newsom and others are so unbalanced, hot-headed, and spewing out their propaganda. And yes, it sets a precedent, but that precedent is NOT “terrible” as Gavin Newsom would have City residents believe.

To force the superwealthy TO PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE is a desirable end result — but Gavin Newsom has been sitting on his thumbs for the past two years, and when he has intermittently removed his thumbs for airing, he has given us multiple scandals and multiple tax breaks for his superwealthy friends. I’m talking about Newsom’s attempts to backroom deals with the same Rincon Hill developers without asking for community input — the opposite of what Sup. Daly achieved. Sup. Daly achieved a deal by bringing together both sides in a transparent deal. (That’s also how Chris achieved the history-making deal for the Trinity Plaza rebuild.)

I’m also talking about Newsom cutting a deal with the major supermarket chains on plastic bag use that will cost the City tens of millions in needed revenue. I’m talking about Newsom’s attempt to circumvent the Sunshine Ordinance when he canceled Police Commission and Planning Commission live telecasts last year. I’m talking about Newsom’s promise to pass an affordable housing bond and then he disappeared when it came time to campaign to get the bond measure passed. I’m talking about Newsom’s backroom deals that gave us the San Francisco Grand Prix scandal. I’m talking about Newsom’s backroom deal with Comcast that screwed City residents: Comcast raised their prices this month by a staggering 7%, and subscribers are without a voice thanks to Newsom’s illicit backroom deal. I’m talking about Newsom’s promise to everyone in the City that he would lower the number of murders in the City or face a recall, and now the mayor is backing out of that promise as well. When San Francisco police officers see that the highest City official is NOT accountable, it appears that attitude works its way downward to SFPD and has produced the Videogate scandal.

Newsom’s actions, and the lack of criticism because his three propaganda ministries (the Chronicle, Examiner, and Sentinel) put profits before people, leads me to believe that Newsom just doesn’t care about low-income people, the working class, people of color, the City’s seniors and disabled — his actions during the past two years clearly define who Newsom cares about — only the superwealthy, the class to which he belongs.

The fight over Mid-Market is fast approaching, and Newsom has declared his position — he is against the people who live in the South of Market and will veto any deals that benefit the SoMa community.

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE MAGNIFICENT 7

Our victory on Rincon Hill is further magnified with the appointments of seven community members to the SoMa Community Stabilization Fund. Here is the composition of the Advisory Committee:

Rudy Corpuz, Jr., outstanding activist, “freedom fighter,” and one of the most admired and respected members of the South of Market community. His leadership of United Playaz makes him a legend in the City.

Conny Ford, Secretary and Treasurer of OPEIU Local 3, brings a powerful labor organizer to the Committee.

Jazzie Collins works almost without sleep to bring social justice to the SoMa community and is an outstanding leader and outreaches constantly to hear the needs of the community.

Ada Chan received a location waiver because she lives in Oakland, but Ada’s love of the South of Market community is evident with the considerable work she performs in our community.

Donald Frazier has been working as the Chief Development Officer at Walden House since 1999 and brings his valuable expertise to the Committee.

Kelly Wilkinson has been working with Episcopal Community Services (ECS) since 1992 and is yet another well-respected and admired activist for her dedication to helping the disenfranchised.

Finally, Steven Sarver represents the small business community and, with his wife, run the San Francisco Soup Company that employs mostly South of Market residents.

To you Magnificent 7, CONGRATULATIONS on your appointments.

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