2008: The Year S.F. Grew Up

This was famously manifest during the Willie Brown pay-to-play-era, when investigative stories by the San Francisco Chronicle's Chuck Finnie and Lance Williams were treated as if they were examples of racism, rather than what they were: plausible evidence of systematic cronyism.

At the end of 2008, however, that way of thinking should be put to rest. In a country with an African-American president, it should no longer be considered stop-the-presses noteworthy when a black person makes the grade. And it isn't necessarily forgivable when black public officials appear to have screwed up.

This brings to mind San Francisco's black-dominated Housing Authority Commission. Along with activist groups, the commission has allowed for the delay in reconstruction of abysmal, dangerous housing projects such as Hunters View in the Central Waterfront area. There are plans to turn that decrepit, barracks-style facility into a comfortable, safe, mixed-income neighborhood through the use of public and private funds.

As residents await the project launch, workers board up units as they become uninhabitable. "Why fix them up if they're scheduled to be torn down?" this logic says. At the beginning of the month, reconstruction plans still appeared to be stalled.

One cause for the delay is the suspicion some community activists have concerning private involvement in the project, despite the fact that there aren't sufficient public funds to get it done.

Under reasonable circumstances, this kind of failure would be treated as malfeasance, with Housing Authority Commission members and the mayor who appointed them hounded out of office. White San Francisco, however, seems to treat the degrading conditions at Hunters View as a black problem and thus as safe to ignore. And black San Francisco seems to tolerate the commission members, although they're responsible for allowing the situation to persist.

As of 2008, there's no excuse for any of this. We're grown-ups now.

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