By Tom Temprano
JULY 11, 2014 — City Hall received a blast from the past on Thursday when the Anti-Speculation Tax, which is already on its way to the November ballot, was heard at the Rules Committee. The ballot initiative, which came out of the series of tenant conventions heard this past Spring, has been a long time in the making – it’s a piece of legislation that Harvey Milk was working on nearly 40 years ago at the time of his assassination.
I’d heard concerns from some folks in the LGBT community that Harvey’s legacy would be left out of this initiative, but if Thursday was any indication, the opposite is true. Harvey was front and center as Supervisor Eric Mar, who is the lead on the initiative, and Supervisor David Campos who has co-sponsored it, gave credit where credit was due and reminded their colleagues that one of their most notable predecessors died trying to get this thing passed.
They even went so far as to note that the assassinations of Milk as well as Mayor Moscone were the turning point in this legislation’s initial incarnation, as Diane Feinstein actively torpedoed the anti-spec tax when she took the reigns after their deaths.
Brian Basinger, director of the AIDS Housing Alliance, appropriately allowed Harvey to speak for himself. He showed an interview from 1978 in which Milk, who had to move from his famed camera store due to a gigantic rent increase, talked about the negative impact real-estate speculation had on other facets of our economy. Watch the video for yourself here.
I, and many others in the board chambers, got chills as we heard Harvey’s voice fill the room that he used to call his own 36 years ago. As I walked past his bust after the hearing, I stopped to let him know that, though it took us a while, we were finally finishing the work that he had started.
The supervisors in the chamber at Rules, including Campos. Mar and chair Norman Yee, were strongly in favor of the Anti-Speculation Tax with one notable exception: Katy Tang. Tang’s persistent probing of the City Attorney as to whether the tax could be considered retroactive (it could not) clearly laid out what the legal line of attack will be from the realtors lobby when, and if, the Anti-Speculation tax passes and they have to fight it in the courts.
In other Thursday City Hall news, the Planning Commission unanimously passed Supervisor Campos’ LGBT Equal Housing Ordinance in the early afternoon. The ordinance, which would require developers hoping to cash in on San Francisco’s booming housing market to state whether or not they have national housing non-discrimination policies that protect folks based on sexual orientation and gender identity, is expected to sail through the Board of Supervisors — but apparently had run into some friction at Planning. Whatever friction there had been was clearly smoothed over by yesterday morning, as all of the commissioners gushed about the great example that this legislation would send to the rest of the country. As I said to them during public comment, as goes San Francisco, so goes the nation.
Things are looking, well, sunnier at the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force these days. After seemingly endless strife, culminating in a strange non-appointment at Rules in May, the Task Force appears to be up and running again and doing so smoothly. I checked in with new Sunshine member Lee Hepner, a fellow Harvey Milk Club board member who I’d pushed hard to get on the Task Force, and according to him the drama is long behind them. The Task Force seems to be getting along well, which is a departure from the recent past, and is starting to whittle away at the long backlog of complaints.
Can someone please explain to me why Lebron James is allowed to hold the American people hostage every four years? He’s like the Republican Party during a midterm election. That said, I can’t help but feel happy for the poor sports fans in Cleveland who after years of insult and injury, the most injurious of which was his jumping ship last time around, deserve a light at the end of the tunnel. The other good news in all of this is that LeBron is staying in the Eastern Conference and far away from my teams, the Lakers and the Warriors.
As my boyfriend helped me organize the nightmare that was my bedroom, he couldn’t help but note how much of my shelf space was taken up by Gore Vidal. I mean, mid-century erotic queer fiction + biting political critique – what’s not to love!? To help give him some context we watched Gore Vidal – The United States of Amnesia, a fantastic new documentary by Nicholas Wrathall.
The film combines intimate footage of Gore and his closest friends in the years before his death with historic photographs and video that bring moments I’ve only read about back to life. Watching him spar with William Buckley, get down with the Kennedys and rant with absolute perfection about half a century of American injustice was truly inspiring.
TOM’S TOP TWO THINGS TO DO THIS WEEKEND
1) Peaches Christ Present’s The Wizard Of Oz. The Castro Theatre, Saturday @ 3pm and 8pm. Is it a coincidence that I’m turned out as gay as the day is long and that my mother’s favorite movie, the one that we watched together countless times, is as much a part of modern LGBT identity as any film ever? Probably, but I’m still going to celebrate that magical coincidence by watching some of my favorite drag queens reenact the movie that made me the gay I am today this Saturday.
2) Phono Del Sol Festival. Potrero Del Sol Park, Saturday 12-7pm.
Watch live music, take in the sunshine, and do it all while never having to leave the Mission at this fun annual festival! As a plus, you get to see pretty much my favorite musician to come out of SF since I’ve been here, Nick Waterhouse!