By Steven T. Jones
I spoke recently with Warren Hellman, the San Francisco investment banker that Business Week called “the Warren Buffet of the West Coast.” He’s a fascinating guy, someone who has drawn the ire of progressives by founding the downtown groups Committee on Jobs and SFSOS, but who has also joined with progressives to support the Healthy Saturdays closures in Golden Gate Park and other measures.
Among other topics, Hellman talked about SFSOS, which is leading the nasty and deceptive attacks on Sup. Chris Daly, just as it did on supervisors Jake McGoldrick and Gerardo Sandoval a couple years ago using mailers so heinous that both Hellman and Sen. Dianne Feinstein walked away from the group, leaving the Gap’s Don Fisher as its primary funder.
“SFSOS started doing the opposite of what I thought they would be doing, so it was fairly easy for me to part company with them. What I thought we were doing is trying to figure out ways to make the city better, not just being an antagonistic, nay-saying, attack organization. I’m not a huge fan of Gerardo Sandoval, but I thought the attacks on him were beyond anything I could imagine ever being in favor of myself. And it was a series of things like that and I said I don’t want anything more to do with this,” Hellman told the Guardian.
Hellman is still friends with Fisher, even though “there’s stuff that we just disagree on.” He considers Fisher a “very charitable man,” but Hellman has less than charitable things to say about SFSOS frontman Wade Randlett.
“If all things were equal, I’d just as soon that SFSOS went away,” Hellman said.
Hellman likes authentic, passionate people and has friends across the political spectrum, such as SEIU’s Josie Mooney. As for Daly, Hellman said, “I admire Chris Daly. I disagree with Chris on a lot of things he believes, but there are also probably a lot of things I would agree with Chris on. And I respect him.”