District 4 candidate Jessica Ho, said she backed a controversial anti-Sanctuary City ordinance in an endorsement interview. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Sunset District candidate reverses position on ballot measure aimed at weakening Sanctuary City policy


I tell you, San Francisco, Wednesday’s political news had me chuckling so hard I just had to jam. I’m notorious for misremembering lyrics, so I sung to myself a variation on Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight.”

“I said a flip flop, flippie to the flippie, the flip, flip a flop, and you don’t stop, a rock it out!”

You see, just last week this column highlighted District 4 supervisor candidate Jessica Ho telling local Democratic Party members at their endorsement meeting that she backed Angela Alioto’s Sanctuary City reform ballot measure — which nearly every prominent politician in Ess Eff has opposed.

After taking heat for that puzzling answer, she flip-flopped within a day of my column, essentially announcing “uh, never mind!”

Ho’s most prominent backers, like State Senator Scott Wiener, all previously called out Alioto’s measure as demonizing immigrants for political gain.

The would-be Sunset District supervisor announced her reversal in a Facebook post August 23.

“In light of recent news questioning my support of our city’s Sanctuary City policy, I want to be abundantly clear — I absolutely support San Francisco’s Sanctuary City policy,” Ho wrote on Facebook. “While at an endorsement meeting recently, I was asked about a proposed ballot measure concerning the Sanctuary City policy. I apologize if my answer implied that I even believed that this measure was necessary.”

Uh, implied? I think not. Here’s the funny thing, dear readers: Her answer is on video. Video!

A quick watch reveals there’s nothing “implied” about her answer, as former supervisor David Campos straight out asked Ho if she supported Alioto’s ballot measure, which I’m told will return in 2019. Ho’s answer?

“I do support it.”

Gabriela Aleman, a former coordinator at Mission District nonprofit Accion Latina, called out Ho’s wackadoodle defense.

“Jessica, you gave a clear, unequivocal answer when asked if you support a ballot measure to strip back San Francisco’s Sanctuary Policy,” Aleman wrote on Facebook. “You weren’t misunderstood by the press, you misunderstood a basic, fundamental question that’s been at the forefront of policy debates in San Francisco for months. Either you’re willing to change your positions overnight, you don’t have positions, or you don’t understand the positions you are taking.”

Burn and ouch — but she’s right. It was a rookie move.

Campos, politically savvy and a supporter of Ho’s most prominent opponent, Gordon Mar, was obviously trying to snag Ho on a divisive issue. But regardless of Campos’ intention, if Ho said she supports it, that’s what she said. Even more importantly than her problematic position, the Sunset District should take a hard look at just how easily Ho was hoodwinked — that’s just amateur stuff, folks.

If she got tripped up like this by one question at a routine endorsement meeting, how can anyone expect her to hold her own at the cutthroat Board of Supervisors?

* * *

In a move that is sure to surprise no one at all, uber-rich tech investor Ron Conway’s civic leadership group, sf.citi, has filed a formal ballot argument against the homeless funding measure Our City, Our Home, Proposition C.

The gross reciepts tax on San Francisco businesses grossing over $50 million would house at least 4,000 homeless people and expand shelter beds by 1,000, fund legal assistance and rental subsidies, and fund “intensive” mental health and substance abuse services. Basically, if you want to get people off the streets, you should be for this measure.

Hell, even groups one might expect to oppose it, since they are often allied with wealthy business and developer interests, like our local Yes in My Back Yard group and the United Democratic Club, support the measure. That makes Conway’s opposition especially galling.

In the ballot argument text, sf.citi argued that the tax increase “addresses the right issue of our time” but is “too costly” and doesn’t include benchmarks on spending. They even trot out the age old tech argument that Our City, Our Home is the “antithesis to innovation.”

“We simply cannot continue to throw more and more money at the problem with no results,” sf.citi wrote.

Firstly, we don’t spend as much money on homelessness as people think. An excellent, recent column written by San Francisco Chronicle columnist Heather Knight poked holes in the myth that The City spends roughly $300 million annually on homelessness. More accurately, two-thirds of that money is spent on people who are already housed — let me repeat: already housed — and would be on the street without the spending.

Secondly, Conway be damned, people far wiser than he have backed Prop. C — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier voted to support the local homeless ballot measure Our City, Our Home at the local Democratic Party board on Aug. 25.

And one important muckity-muck who hasn’t said a dang word about Prop. C is Mayor London Breed. When I asked her political spokesperson Maggie Muir if the mayor has finally made up her mind about endorsing it or not she said simply, “I have no update for you Joe.”

Breed’s silence speaks volumes — especially as Big Tech raises its voice against funding homelessness.

* * *

Robin Williams’ good-natured soul is missed all across San Francisco, but now we can see his kind eyes on Market Street, between Sixth and Seventh Streets, whenever we’d like — a new mural shows his eyes watching down on us.

I’ve got a whole news story up on it you can read at sfexaminer.com, but also noticed a sweet posting about it on Facebook from Coalition on Homelessness organizer Kelley Cutler.

Cutler wrote that the mural “reminded me of when I was working with homeless youth in the Haight and how the youth regularly told me about meeting Robin in the park, and how caring and awesome he was to them. I heard this often… the youth never had a bad thing to say about him… always stories about how he made them feel special.”

She posted a photo of one of The City’s Homeless Outreach Team vans parked in front of the Williams mural.

Cutler added, “I imagined Robin whispering to them saying ‘Take good care of the beautiful and amazing people who are forced to sleep on the streets of San Francisco.’”

On Guard prints the news and raises hell each week. Email Fitz at joe@sfexaminer.com, follow him on Twitter and Instagram @FitztheReporter, and Facebook at facebook.com/FitztheReporter.

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