Letters to the Editor

Week of Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Daly Commentary

Trash Gordon: The Weekly sure gave whiny Roger Gordon a lot of space to contend that Supervisor Chris Daly slowed funding to his groups and that when I was Daly's staffer, I didn't call him back ["The Daly Deal," Matt Smith, Aug. 31]. As a proven nonprofit mismanager, Gordon's trying to shield his incompetence by making political accusations.

First off, I always returned Gordon's phone calls, even as they became more bizarre as he sought millions in city funds for two nonprofits he controlled -- SLUG and Urban Solutions. After Gordon filed a frivolous federal complaint that threatened funding for many nonprofit agencies, I stopped returning his calls until that investigation was completed. For the record, all city officials were exonerated.

Roger Gordon doesn't fare as well under scrutiny. In 2003, Gordon was president of the San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners, which forced low-income workers to vote for certain candidates instead of conducting neighborhood beautification work. An independent city attorney investigation confirmed these facts, and the controller severed city funding from the group because it violated a voter-approved law that prohibits using public funds for political purposes. Gordon admitted "poor judgment," then tried to divert attention from the group's tactics by saying "innocent people would be hurt" because private employers wouldn't hire their clients.

I'm surprised that even after Gordon was exposed as a mismanager and fled to Washington, SF Weekly cites him as a reliable source. The article omits that his other outfit, Urban Solutions, was receiving money from two public agencies -- the Redevelopment Agency and the Mayor's Office of Community Development -- to perform the same work in the same neighborhoods. The article also left out that Urban Solutions' board members were not representative of the service area, as required by federal law. They were the only agency singled out by supervisors because they were the only one billing two public agencies for the same work. They were asked to account for the work they were doing to ensure taxpayers and low-income South of Market and Western Addition residents were getting all they deserved, and to include some neighborhood residents on their governing board.

While most nonprofits work hard to deliver services, those that break the rules must be held responsible. Supervisor Chris Daly has been a rare voice for accountability, battling Medicaid fraud at a SOMA clinic, making sure affordable housing development goes to those in need, authoring nonprofit Sunshine laws, and exposing double billing of two public agencies. I was proud to be a member of Supervisor Daly's staff working on these efforts and hope local government keeps a close eye on these well-funded groups.

If Gordon sleeps better at night by blaming me or Chris Daly for his woes, I guess it's cheaper than therapy. All I've got to say is, Roger, can you hear me now?

Bill Barnes
San Francisco

Strange? Foolish? Must be progressive!:SF Weekly does a service in exposing the evil of corrupt, inept government in areas such as housing and transportation, although calling Supervisor Chris Daly a "ward boss" is being too kind. Sadly, our senses tell us that for every folly brought to light, there are a hundred that go unreported. There are potholes on lower Cortland Avenue that will bend your Vespa's gas-gauge float arm, making that instrument useless. On upper Cortland, parents with house paint attempt to delineate the nearly invisible crosswalks -- for the safety of their children. Cortland won't be repaved until 2009; the intersections will be repainted a year after that. Of course, we can yet again vote city extortion -- the street-repair bond that is offered to us this fall.

Recently, we read that Muni must improve service or lose fare revenue. What a joke -- that Muni should charge fares. This service should be "free," like police and fire, giving some real value for our tax dollars. We can legislate wealth. We can feed and house every vagrant that arrives in town. We can take property without consequence. These things "progressives" believe are possible. But a "free" Muni? Impossible.

Strangely, the people with the house paint and hope are the same types who elect, again and again, incompetents lacking common sense, intelligence, or civil dignity. It is enough that they proudly flaunt their "progressive" label.

Maybe not so strange, but foolish -- so very foolish.

Paul Burton
San Francisco

Two cents from a Newsom-ite:This very informative article regarding the Rincon Hill developers' issues and the Mayor's Office response was enlightening. I voted for Mayor Newsom; I support him. About a year ago, I had cause to work with the Public Administrator's Office, a department under Mayor Newsom. They were incredibly rude and insensitive people. ... Obviously they deemed my issue either insignificant or not worthy of the mayor's time.

The mayor I voted for, I support and respect. Do I blame the mayor or his staffers? I believe he is responsible for his staffers and therefore responsible for the decision. The mayor is supposed to be caring about ALL San Franciscans, not just the ones who have money or press attached. That's just my two cents.

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