“I blame Willie.” That sentiment is usually true in San Francisco, as our slick former Mayor Willie Brown has his hands in almost every local political pie.
But it sure felt odd to hear that from the lips of a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, especially as a reason for why Donald Trump is heading to the White House.
Former California representative Pete McCloskey told me, amidst the throng of politicos at John’s Grill last Tuesday for Willie’s election party, Brown is responsible for “Trump’s billions.”
As McCloskey tells it (and also backed up by a biography of Willie), our former mayor played a key role in lobbying for legal gambling in New Jersey.
No legal gambling, no Trump Casino. No Trump Casino, no Trump presidency, he argued. “The reason Trump is wealthy today is Willie,” McCloskey said unequivocally.
The scary part is, I’m not entirely sure he’s kidding.
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On Guard also spotted former San Francisco Human Rights Commission employee Zula Jones at John’s Grill last Tuesday. Jones is at the center of allegations, made by Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, that she discussed how to break up an illegal $10,000 donation to Mayor Ed Lee’s campaign with an undercover FBI agent.
“You got to pay to play here,” Jones told the FBI agent on a wiretap, according to court filings.
She wore stripes, but not the ones you’d expect. On Election Day, her gold-and-black zebra patterned jacket shimmered as she hobnobbed with city politicos.
Jones also took time to reflect on how it all started.
She first got involved with politics at age 8, she said, when her father sent her family out to leaflet her home of Shreveport, Louisiana, against a crooked sheriff “who would drag your brother” out as soon as look at you.
It was the south. They were black, but enfranchised. That election, they defeated the sheriff.
Jones’ life was filled with inspiration from the achievement of African Americans, like Willie Mays. She came to California because of the promise of a free college education.
Her involvement in San Francisco politics was solidified when she met Willie Brown, on Eddy Street in The City, as he was running for California Assembly. Jones still remembered Willie’s bell bottoms, a “rust tan” color, she said.
She was drawn to him because “he was a southerner … you’d approach him, and he’d talk to you.”
Decades later, she’s embroiled in The City’s most sensational scandal in recent times. Draw your own conclusions.
I asked her how she’s faring, ensnared as she is in a corruption case with District Attorney George Gascon, who is gunning for shady politicos through her.
Jones told me she’s reconnecting with her “love of community,” celebrating the recent election of her friend Shanell Williams to the City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees and advocating for kids of color to utilize a Bayview neighborhood swimming pool.
When I asked how exactly she’s advocating for it, she hunched down conspiratorially.
She looked to her left, then looked to her right, and said, quietly, “I’m telling everyone I know.”
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I’m not all that superstitious, but it can’t be an auspicious start for a brand new lobbying firm to flub twice in as many emails, can it?
“New Deal Advisers” is the brainchild of Chris Gruwell, Laura Kirk, Dan Dillon, Brian Sheehy and Hongqi Ding, and it invited a host of hoity-toity guests to its launch at Pagan Idol on Wednesday.
But in one of its early invitations, it misspelled Dillon’s name as Dillion (extra i), and in a separate invite it misspelled the name of the bar, Pagan Idol, as Pagon (with an o).
Ouch. I mean, misspellings happen (I never garnered as much outraged reader mail as when I misspelled “tuchas” in a column, which, in my defense, has about 20 different spellings), but you guys make the big bucks and will likely represent wealthy interests.
The least you can do is hire a copy editor.
On Guard prints the news and raises hell each week. Email Fitz at email@example.com, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram @FitztheReporter.