Harvey Milk Killing Story Draws Fact-Checkers, Old Campaigners

Does a Civic Body Good

Milk money: I read with interest your story featuring Ray Sloan's recollection and reconstruction of the events surrounding Dan White's campaign and his time as supervisor, and Ray's subsequent political activities ["White in Milk," Feature, Jan. 30].

Let me preface my remarks by stating that I never met Dan White, nor did I ever meet Harvey Milk, but saw him from afar in the Mission High School auditorium in the fall of 1978, after he had debated John Briggs on Proposition 6 on TV. I didn't meet Ray Sloan until the John Anderson campaign in 1980.

But I'd like to point out that there was an inaccuracy in the article that needs to be corrected. [John] Geluardi states that the White Night Riots caused millions of dollars in damage to city property. There might have been millions of dollars in police overtime, both in trying to control the rioters at City Hall and in the Castro Sweep that followed, but the damage to property was probably less than a million dollars. Several police cars were torched, the windows and grating to the entrance of City Hall were damaged, and a fire was started in the basement, but remember that we are talking about 1979 dollars, when sedans cost about $8,000.

Christopher L. Bowman

San Francisco

Twinkie offensive: I strongly take issue with Ray Sloan regarding Dan White's lack of antigay bias. Despite Sloan's repeated denials, White's homophobia was manifest from the start of his campaign for supervisor. White was a law-and-order conservative who viewed both the progressive mayor and Milk as overly tolerant of criminals and nonconformists. White had, in fact, won election as supervisor partly by campaigning, in effect, against gay men and lesbians.

"There are thousands upon thousands of frustrated, angry people waiting to unleash a fury that can and will eradicate the malignancies which blight our city," his campaign brochures declared. "I am not going to be forced out of San Francisco by splinter groups of radicals, social deviates, incorrigibles."

Many of us who worked in Harvey's District 5 campaign then clearly saw this as an antigay attack and an appeal to homophobia among the residents of White's district (the old District 8).

David C. Goldman

San Francisco

A lesson for Peskin: Congratulations on a fantastic piece, in all the best I've read in SF Weekly in 10 years at least. Growing up in New York, I only saw the story through the Life and Times prism. I am strongly devoted to San Francisco in all its complexities, beauties, and dysfunction, and Geluardi has captured these, while setting history a little straighter — a fuller portrait of the times and the people (Feinstein as backstabber is illuminating).

In many ways, Dan White and Harvey Milk are twin symbols of the city's past political culture, on the one hand stridently blue-collar while open-minded, and on the other charismatic and mercurial. But God, compare these guys to the moral midgets we have for supes today. As much as things change, some things stay the same. We have a better handgun law now, and I think they lock the windows in City Hall. Can we fund a Dan White Memorial Scholarship for Anger Management training and award it to Daly and Peskin?

Bill Maggs

San Francisco

Correction

The feature story "White in Milk" [Jan. 30] mistakenly identified Ella Hill Hutch as the first African-American to take a seat on the Board of Supervisors. While she was the first African-American woman to be a supervisor, Terry Francois was the first African-American on the board. He was appointed in 1964 and was elected in 1968, 1972, and 1976. Also, Gordon Lau was the first Asian-American to win election to the Board of Supervisors, but Mayor Joseph Alioto appointed George Chin in 1973.

 
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