Of The Examiner Staff
If it wasn't for Jim Reid's dozen volunteers
in bright colored t-shirts, Supervisor Gavin Newsom
might have stolen the show Tuesday night at the
Swords to Plowshares mayoral forum.
Newsom didn't show at the event, begging
pre-scheduled house parties. In fact, at the forum's
6:30 p.m. start, three of the biggest candidates --
Newsom, Angela Alioto and Supervisor Tom Ammiano
were nowhere to be seen.
The more than 120 assembled veterans, mostly
middle-aged men, booed loudly as MC Johnny
Baskerville announced that after several weeks of
trying to get Newsom on board, his campaign had
declined. Baskerville then pinned up a photo of
Newsom above his empty chair.
Without the mayoral frontrunner, the crown
still had plenty to cheer for as Treasurer Susan
Leal, builder Reid, educator Tony Ribera and
businessman Michael Denny vied for their support.
Ammiano, straight from a board meeting, and Alioto
showed in time to tack on opening remarks.
Promises to support housing for homeless vets
at the former military sites on Treasure Island and
Hunters Point - and attacks on Newsom -- drew the
Reid, with a group of volunteers, got props
from Alioto and Denny for his "Shelter One" proposal
to house worthy homeless individuals in tiny, cheap
homes. Ribera called up his Vietnam War service, and
Ammiano his time teaching high school to the
Vietnamese in the same time period.
In an aside, Leal campaign manager Tony
Winnicker said that Leal has many public events the
conflict with house parties, but asks her hosts if
they can delay until later in the night. Indeed, the
sun shone strong throughout the forum.
Alioto positioned herself as a champion for
veterans who would get rid of the shelter system and
take them to Washington to lobby for more federal
funding for local programs.
"We shall often go to D.C," and remind
lawmakers that "our veterans are our troops," Alioto
Ribera promised to turn the El Capitan Hotel
into full-service housing for veterans, to some
Reid pledged to teach the homeless how to do
plumbing, electrical and sheetrock to get jobs and
build their own homes, calling for an effort like
the housing of survivors following the 1906 quake.
"We haven't burned to the ground," Reid said.
"But we have no money."
He criticized Newsom's Care Not Cash homeless
plan, like the rest of the candidates emphasizing
that services and housing are not adequate and long
shelter stays are intolerable.
Ammiano and Leal pledged to support a new
affordable housing bond.
Alioto jumped on straw man Newsom like a
horse at the feeding trough, chewing on him as
preying on the poor for political gain with the
November ballot measure, Prop. N, which would
replace cash grants with services for the homeless.
"He didn't give a damn about the poor,"
Alioto said. "There never was care to Care Not
Newsom volunteer T.J. Anthony, a former
homeless vet who came to hand out literature, said
Alioto's speech made him sick.
Talking to a reporter outside the event at
the Veterans Building, Anthony said the candidates
failed to talk about addiction among the homeless
"These guys are clean and sober," he said,
referring to the audience inside.