On Guard! - Page 2

The news you need to know this week: Herrera takes some flak, but pushes right back, while property interests reveal their support for Prop. E

"WTF, Chronicle?": LGBT community leaders express support for Dennis Herrera


Herrera was also the target of another attack on his LGBT credentials last week, this one by the San Francisco Chronicle, which ran a front page story on Oct. 26 in which anonymous sources said he raised doubts in private City Hall meetings about San Francisco's decision to issue same-sex marriage licenses in 2004. It was entitled, "Fight turns ugly to win gay votes in mayor's race."

Despite trying to couch the hit in passive language, writing that " a surprise issue has emerged" based on accusations "leveled by several members of former Mayor Gavin Newsom's administration," it was clear that it was the Chron that made it an issue, for which the newspaper was denounced by leaders of the LGBT community from across the political spectrum at a rally the next day.

"Those who are saying this now anonymously are as cowardly as Dennis and Gavin were courageous back then," said Deputy City Attorney Theresa Stewart, the lead attorney who defended San Francisco's decision in 2004 to unilaterally issue marriage licenses to same-sax couples, in defiance of state and federal law, which eventually led to the legalizing of such unions. "We can't have our community turn on us for petty political gain."

"WTF, Chronicle?" was how Assemblymember Tom Ammiano began his speech, going on to lay blame for the attack on surrogates for Mayor Ed Lee. Ammiano also called out the mayor for campaign finance violations by his supporters, for undermining the Healthy San Francisco program that was created by Ammiano's legislation, and for repeatedly ordering police raids on the OccupySF encampment.

"How about some fucking leadership?!" Ammiano said.

Cleve Jones, an early gay rights leader who marched with Harvey Milk, also denounced Lee and his supporters for cronyism, vote tampering, money laundering, and the "fake grassroots" efforts of the various well-funded independent expenditure campaigns, which he said have fooled the Chronicle.

"To the Chronicle and that reporter — really? — this is what you do two weeks before the election? You should be ashamed of yourself," Jones said. "How stupid do you think we are?"

Yet Chronicle City Editor Audrey Cooper defended the article. "Clearly, I disagree [with the criticisms]," she told the Guardian. "I personally vetted every one of the sources and I'm confident everything we printed is true." She also tried to cast the article as something other than a political attack, saying it was about an issue of interest to the LGBT community, but no LGBT leaders have stepped up to defend the paper.

Beyond criticizing the obvious political motivations behind the attack, speakers at the rally called the article bad journalism and said it was simply untrue to suggest that Herrera didn't strongly support the effort to legalize same-sex marriage from the beginning.

"I can tell you that Dennis never once shrank from this fight. I was there, I know," Stewart said, calling Herrera "a straight ally who's devoted his heart and soul to this community."

Sen. Mark Leno, who introduced the first bill legalizing same-sex marriage to clear the Legislature, emphasized that he isn't endorsing any candidates for mayor and that he didn't want to comment on the details of the article's allegations. But he noted that even within the LGBT community, there were differences of opinion over the right timing and tactics for pushing the issue, and that Herrera has been a leader of the fight for marriage equality since the beginning.

"I am here to speak in defense of the character and integrity of our city attorney, Dennis Herrera," Leno said, later adding, "I do not appreciate when the battle for our civil rights is used as a political football in the waning days of an election."


Either Christine Deakers is uniformed and has not read Prop E or she is deliberately trying to mislead readers. Prop E is prospective only, not retroactive, meaning it will only apply to laws passed after 1/1/12. Rent Ordinances passed by voters in the 1990s will NOT be subject to the provisions of Prop E. Any changes to those propositions would have to go back to the voters as is required under current laws. Only ballot measures passed after 1/1/12 would be subject to the changes in Prop E. Also Prop E does not apply to bonds, taxes, charter amendments nor initiatives via gathered signatures. I would hope that the fact checking of articles would be better for a "newspaper". Someone is not doing their job.

Posted by Guest David John on Nov. 02, 2011 @ 11:15 am

Personally, I am Yes on D, E and H - no on the others

Posted by Guest on Nov. 02, 2011 @ 11:36 am

Ditto to the first comment.

The last line in the "Buying Reform" article in the print edition of the Guardian says, "that means if voters say Yes to Prop E, a slew of tenant measures approved in the 1990's could come under immediate attack." Earlier in the piece, the author cites a theory from a critic that the proposition is targeting legislation from the 70's.

The voter guide issued by the Department of Election clearly states: "Proposition
E would not allow the Board and Mayor to amend or repeal: measures that the voters approved before January 1, 2012."

In other words: Proposition E will not permit changes to any voter-approved ordinances currently on the books -- whether they're from the 70's or the 90's.

Does the Guardian have some way of interpreting the law differently? If not, then this article should have a prominent correction and include a note to readers that it was based on inaccurate reporting. Anything less is doing your readers a disservice.

And, removing the last sentence of the article on the web version without noting the very important difference with the print version is only adding insult to injury in terms of building trust with your readers.

Posted by Eli Zigas on Nov. 03, 2011 @ 2:37 pm

We have corrected the inaccurate information in "Buying reform" and we apologize for the errors. We've also highlighted the change with a prominent post: http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2011/11/04/correction-prop-e-isnt-retroactive

Posted by steven on Nov. 04, 2011 @ 1:10 pm

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