Paul Hogarth Joins Beyond Chron as Managing Editor

by Paul Hogarth on September 19, 2006

With Casey Mills relocated to Seattle, today is my first day as the new Managing Editor of Beyond Chron. I am no stranger to San Francisco – nor to Beyond Chron. I have lived in the Bay Area for 10 years, and have been involved in San Francisco politics since 1999, when I walked precincts for Tom Ammiano’s historic write-in campaign for Mayor. I was an elected commissioner on the Berkeley Rent Board for four years before moving to the City, and worked at the Tenderloin Housing Clinic for three years before attending law school. I have been a member of various political clubs and organizations, including one year as Correspondent for the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club. So I come to this position with a certain perspective on how the City works (or doesn’t), and the challenges facing progressive activists in 2006.

San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and if we all want to stay here, we must fight hard to keep it a beacon of progressive leadership for the rest of the country. We have always been a city of newcomers, as immigrants, artists and activists from throughout the world come to make this a vibrant and diverse city.

But the largest problem facing the City today is gentrification, as the ever-escalating real estate market has made it harder for old activists to stay and new activists to come, and speculators laugh all the way to the bank. Today, Jack Kerouac could not afford to live in North Beach, Janis Joplin could not afford to live in Haight-Ashbury, and Harvey Milk could not afford to live in the Castro.

From an outsider’s perspective, it is easy to dismiss our local political battles between “progressives” and “moderates” as trivial, especially compared with the daily outrages that Republicans wage from Washington to Sacramento. To some extent, that is true — especially on cultural issues like marriage equality, the death penalty, or even some national issues like the war in Iraq, San Franciscans are far more progressive than the rest of the country.

But while San Francisco is a very liberal city, it is also a very wealthy city – and when it comes to basic economic issues that affect how we live and work, the downtown business interests will do everything they can to defend their bottom line. And just like when Beyond Chron was launched more than two years ago, the San Francisco Chronicle is still their largest mouthpiece.

Economic issues are incredibly important – after all, what good is the right to get married if you cannot afford to stay here? What good is a “tolerant” community if hotel workers cannot earn a living wage to support their families? How can we organize our neighbors to demand change in Washington if basic local decisions make it harder for us to live, work and travel throughout the City?

You simply cannot separate the social justice issues that we all care about so much with our basic economic rights. Voters may grumble about the local parking tax that will be on the ballot this November, but as Chris Daly pointed out last week at the San Francisco Young Democrats, going to see Al Gore’s movie should be enough proof as to why we need it.

As someone who has been involved in local politics for years and have volunteered on various campaigns, I fully expect in my new position to be criticized for having a political agenda. It’s a “big small town,” and rumors fly around. But I’m ready to take the heat and will do my best to provide substantive, honest reporting to San Francisco. Our community deserves as much.

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