Letters to the Editor

Week of October 8, 2003

Carping About Kamala

Leave her alone, you beastie boys!: I agree with Peter Byrne's assessment of district attorney candidate Kamala Harris as a competent, smart, and distinguished prosecutor ["Kamala's Karma," Sept. 24]. The article is also correct that Harris' opponents, Bill Fazio and Terence Hallinan, are trying to "knife her with innuendo," and are not attacking her platform or professionalism. As a woman who has followed Harris' career, it is upsetting to see the two male candidates in this race launch personal attacks at Harris.

Through her record of legal accomplishments, her work with domestic violence, and her impressive list of community, law enforcement, and legal endorsements, Harris clearly represents a threat to these two men and to the status quo. She has the most diverse base of support, and she has proven herself through her work in the communities of the underprivileged, minorities, and women.

Fazio and Hallinan undermine San Franciscans by spreading innuendo about Harris or launching personal attacks against her. I want to see the candidates assessed for their qualifications and ideas for reform of the District Attorney's Office. In this campaign, the only candidate I see advancing such ideas is Harris.

Maria V. Martinez

She's nothing but a sellout: Byrne unintentionally makes a great case why Kamala Harris is so undeserving of the District Attorney's Office. I have been wondering how she could ever have put out for a complete slimeball like Willie Brown. Now, Byrne tells me: She got a BMW and patronage positions in return for sex with her sugar daddy.

Ideally, someone from a minority background should be more representative of the poor and disadvantaged than someone from a WASP background. However, we've seen time and time again that this may not be true. Her BMW, "buppie glamour," sorority affiliation, and her sucking up to the likes of Vanessa Getty all indicate her true values. She has no reason to attack Willie Brown because his values are her values. She values imprisonment over rehabilitation and strongly backs mayoral candidate Gavin Newsom's ballot initiative which would criminalize the homeless for such harmless acts as standing with a sign on street medians.

Rapper Ice-T maintains that everyone is either pimping or whoring. Perhaps this is why Kamala so ardently professes lip-service solidarity with the young ladies of the evening lining Capp Street. Unlike them, however, Kamala has sold herself not out of economic necessity but rather out of pursuit of class privilege.

Harry S. Pariser
Inner Sunset

A notch on her belt: It is less important that Harris bedded down with Brown (the more the merrier!) than that her access to the boudoirs of power serves as a fast track to the top.

Simply put, would Kamala Harris have a Ruben-esque campaign treasury and thus standing as a viable third-place candidate had she not used Willie Brown as a notch on her bedpost of ascension?

Yes, Harris is brilliant, but San Francisco is bristling with brilliant, articulate attorneys who are not quite so easy on the eye nor heterosexually available to most mayors as is she. And the absence of a proactive Harris platform for using the DA's Office to combat corruption simply leads to more troubling questions.

Should the fringe benefits of beauty be permitted to swing an election where the flip side just might be much more tolerance for corruption?

Marc Salomon
San Francisco

Political swingers:Harris' final comment, "I believe that everything you put out in the world comes back to you. There are consequences for everything," is very appropriate. Kamala Harris will always be remembered as Willie Brown's ex, and no matter how she tries to distance herself from him, her prior association with him says a lot about her character and her judgment.

From my perspective, she's another Arianna Huffington. She used a rich and powerful guy to get ahead, and now that she has achieved a certain recognition of her own, if the guy's a liability, she distances herself from him. The reality is she knew who Willie Brown was, and what Willie Brown was, and she knowingly and willingly consorted with him and took advantage of her association with him -- going as far as accepting political patronage jobs that are a taxpayer rip-off. Someone who has enjoyed the fruits of political corruption is not someone I want in the DA's Office. But hey, Kimberly's gonna be spending a lot of time in New York, so if she doesn't get to be the DA, maybe Kamala can be of service to Gavin!

Richard Beleson
Russian Hill

Sugar daddy:In response to the question of Harris' mother, "What has Willie Brown done for her?," he has done the following:

1) He provided her with a patronage commission job that paid her $100,000 a year in addition to the $120,000 she made in the District Attorney's Office.

2) He purchased her a new BMW car.

3) He continues to provide both economic and political support.

Ms. Harris can't say she got here on her own; she had plenty of help from Willie Brown.

Joanne Minsky

Protesting, um, too much:Contrary to Byrne's assertion, I have never criticized or commented on Kamala Harris' present or past relationship with Mayor Willie L. Brown in any discussion with Byrne. Neither has any member of my staff.

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