Endorsement Interviews: Rebecca Prozan

|
(18)
Rebecca Prozan, candidate for District 8.
photo by Sarah Phelan

Rebecca Prozan, a candidate for Disctrict 8, has the endorsement of incumbent Sup. Bevan Dufty, and she and Dufty seem to have a lot in common. “I’m able to bring both sides together,” she told us, noting that D-8 constituents “like people who are independent thinkers, who are right up the middle.”

An assistant District Attorney, LGBT and District 8 liaison under former Mayor Willie Brown, and a Recreation & Parks Commissioner, Prozan is familiar with San Francisco government from a number of angles -- but she’s also perceptive of the level of mistrust that exists. “There isn’t a San Franciscan in District 8 that actually thinks government is spending every dollar as it should,” she said.

Prozan said she is supportive of a hotel tax to boost revenues, a vehicle license fee to help improve MUNI, and a parcel tax to raise money for schools. She likes the idea of conducting audits as a way to tighten up spending, but rejected the idea of requiring nonprofit organizations to disclose how they spend city funds that are allocated to them. She doesn’t see any reason for split appointments on the SFMTA Board or the Redevelopment Agency, and she believes that while it’s “not a witch hunt,” part of the solution for MUNI should be targeting salaries. She’s against the proposed sit / lie ordinance, she’s a big fan of the Community Justice Center, and she thinks gang injunctions are a useful tool for law enforcement.

Prozan also told us she thinks the city should focus on building more rental housing, and she has been shopping around the idea of figuring out how to convert 1,100 foreclosed San Francisco properties into affordable housing for “teachers, cops, and firefighters.” Listen to the full interview below.

rprozan by endorsements2010

Comments

“I’m able to bring both sides together,” she told us, noting that D-8 constituents “like people who are independent thinkers, who are right up the middle.”

Where did Prozan get the understanding that D-8 voters like candidates who are "right up the middle?" So that is what has happened to Harvey Milk's district? Harvey Milk wasn't right up the middle. So D-8 voters don't like progressives? Is that what she is saying? D-8 voters like "middle of the road" candidates? Not true for me. I like progressives who don't hide that they are a progressive and when asked they will say that they are a progressive and they can define what they mean by it. We already have enough "middle of the road" and right-wing saturation in this country. We don't need any more of it, in my mind.

"Bringing both sides together" she said. (I've never heard that before!) Didn't Obama use that tired old cliche? In his case it has translated to working for the right-wing agenda and not his progressive base. So, considering that, one can see where Prozan is headed most likely. "Bringing both sides together." What comes out of that? What comes out of that is that one side gets the preference, the other side caves in to the other side so why waste your time trying to "bring both sides together?" It's something nice to say and it sounds good but that really doesn't happen. That's like "building bridges" and "pushing the envelope" and "rolling up my sleeves to get the job done" and other standard, overused cliches that politicians say repeatedly. Nothing original there. Prozan refers to independent thinkers who are right up the middle. That turned me off immediately. I agree with Jim Hightower when he said, "There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos."

Posted by Guest Bárbara Chelsai on Sep. 01, 2010 @ 2:57 pm

Please stop dragging out the memory of Harvey Milk to justify your positions. While Harvey was interested in cleaning up the shit in the streets you're more interested in adding to it. Were he alive and proposing the same bill today you'd probably scream that requiring pet owners to clean up their animal's excrement "reeks of fascism and speciesism!!" No pun intended.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Sep. 01, 2010 @ 6:32 pm

Some responses to your post above, Bárbara Chelsai –

You say:

“Harvey Milk wasn't right up the middle.”

I knew Harvey Milk. When he ran for supe, he was outflanked on the left by Ron Green of Noe Valley. Ron Green said Harvey Milk wasn’t progressive enough. For example, Green supported rent control. Harvey didn’t.

You say:

“I like progressives who don't hide that they are a progressive and when asked they will say that they are a progressive and they can define what they mean by it.”

Any candidate in district eight who appeals to progressives only and scorns the rest will be defeated. Doubt it? Look at the campaigns of Eileen Hansen and Alix Rosenthal.

You say:

“We already have enough ‘middle of the road’ and right-wing saturation in this country.”

Middle of the road does not equal right-wing. You have no nuance in your politics.

You say:

“‘Bringing both sides together.’ What comes out of that?”

Common ground.

You say:

“There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos.”

This slogan was made popular in American politics by former Senator John Hightower of Texas. He’s a right-wing Republican.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Sep. 02, 2010 @ 9:20 am

“There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos.”

A book that is slightly more readable than the average Howard ZInn book.

A Texan leftist. He was agriculture sec for the state of Texas or something.

You're thinking of John Tower, he was attacked from the goofy right for being a drunk, supposedly cheating on his wife, and being pro choice.

Posted by matlock on Sep. 02, 2010 @ 10:02 am

First, a note on the late Sen. John Hightower: He was a right-wing Republican who held Lyndon Johnson's old Senate seat and who died in 1991. He was the one who popularized the saying about dead armadillos in the middle of the road. As best as I can remember, he first made the quip in the 70s or 80s.

Getting back to district eight and its progressives:

Harvey Milk was much different from our current Milk Clubbers. When Harvey lived in New York City, he was a Republican who worked on Wall Street.

I knew his ex-lover, Craig Rodwell, after they broke up. One of the reasons for the break-up was a difference over gay liberation.

Craig believed the energy of the famous Stonewall Riot of 1969 should be continued in a political form. Harvey disagreed. He felt uncomfortable with the new gay militancy.

Don't take my word for it. Check out David Carter's book, "Stonewall: The Riots that Started the Gay Revolution."

Nonetheless, Harvey continued to grow. He eventually became a liberal Democratic. However, he always looked for reasonable compromise, achieved in good faith, where possible.

The Milk Clubbers, by contrast, are tunnel-vision ideologues. They include among their members some of the most vicious, dishonest, and doctrinaire operatives in SF politics. Harvey would be horrified by some of their behavior.

Their claim, by the way, that Harvey was "the founder" of their club is also false. But that's material for another thread.

Let's reclaim the spirit of Harvey Milk - forward-looking, congenial, practical, intelligent, witty, and open to good-faith compromise.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Sep. 02, 2010 @ 10:49 am

Matlock, you were right, and I was wrong, about the name of the right-wing Republican Senator who popularized the armadillo remark. His name was John Tower, as you noted, not John Hightower.

Thanks for your perceptiveness!

Posted by Arthur Evans on Sep. 02, 2010 @ 2:09 pm

It was Jim Hightower, not John Hightower. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Hightower

Posted by Guest on Sep. 02, 2010 @ 3:03 pm

Thank you, Guest, for the interesting link above on Jim Hightower. It’s true that Hightower does repeat and play up the old saying by John Tower, but he is not the original author of it.

Click on "The NY Times" link below, and scroll down about one-third of the way, where a contributor mentions Sen. John Tower in passing, with these words:

“As John Tower said, only two things occupy the middle of the road, white stripes and dead armadilloes.”

http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/16/handicapping-the-colorado-...

That's not quite an accurate quote of what Tower had said. But this comment shows that Tower's original quip was memorable, stuck in many people's minds, and has enjoyed a long life in many forms since he uttered it.

It may be that the quip was originally an old Texas folk saying that both Tower and Hightower later seized on. It has that folksy quality to it.

In any case, let’s not lose sight of the original subject of this thread. The comments above by Bárbara Chelsai about armadillos reflect a doctrinaire attitude toward politics, devoid of nuance, that is alien to the spirit of Harvey Milk.

Many Milk Clubbers today have such an armadillo mentality in the district-eight supe race. Their attitude is going to earn them yet another Darwin Award.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Sep. 02, 2010 @ 5:35 pm

I was talking earlier today with a friend who lives in Harvey Milk's district about this "right up the middle" statement from Prozan. I know quite a lot of people in Milk's district and none of them are "right up the middle." They are all progressives. My friend said that this right up the middle stuff is often code for more right-wing positions and I agree with him, especially in this city.

I agree with Prozan's stand against sit-lie. I read an article in Bay Citizen recently which gives quite a perspective on what that's really about and who's behind it. One can put the title in their search engine to read the full article if interested.

August 11, 2010
Pacific Heights Moguls Fund Sit/Lie
By Zoe Corneli
High-tech financiers, not Haight Street merchants, are bankrolling Prop. L
The passionate debate about San Francisco’s controversial sit/lie ballot measure may be hottest in Haight-Ashbury, where residents and small business owners are boiling mad about transients on the streets. But many of the bucks behind Proposition L are coming from a different neighborhood — Pacific Heights — and a more elite group of residents. Campaign finance reports filed Aug. 2 reveal that the measure’s backers include some of the Bay Area’s wealthiest and most influential players. Among those who have donated a total of $50,800 to date are two major Silicon Valley financiers, a former Wells Fargo CEO, a local high-society philanthropist who runs a real-estate company and the principal of a Michigan-based development firm. (Scroll down to see an interactive chart of the donations.)
Ronald C. Conway, a managing partner of Angel Investors LP, was the first to donate to the campaign. In total, he has given $35,000 — the largest contribution from any donor — to the Coalition for Civil Sidewalks, which is pushing for passage of Mayor Gavin Newsom’s ordinance to ban sitting or lying down on city sidewalks. Conway, known as the “Godfather of Silicon Valley,” was an early investor in Google and PayPal and serves on advisory boards for Twitter, Facebook and Digg, according to Bloomberg Businessweek....More donations did indeed follow Conway's gift. They came largely from a cadre of business-affiliated power brokers, many of whom list addresses on the Peninsula, in Pacific Heights or in downtown San Francisco. Of the $50,800 in funding, the campaign has spent or plans to spend $31,613.99 — much of it on political consultants. Payments of $5,000 each went to Hsieh and Associates, the firm of San Francisco consultant Tom Hsieh; and Ground Floor Public Affairs, the company founded by Alex Tourk, Newsom’s former campaign manager and deputy chief of staff. Another $5,000 is owed to Hsieh, and $6,792.15 is owed to Tourk’s firm....

Since I'm not a member of the Milk Club or affiliated with them in any way, I don't know which candidate they will endorse for Harvey Milk's district but I suspect it will be Mandelman since he's a former president of their club.

One should not forget the Castro 14, a group of guys who got put in jail for sitting on the streets in the 1970's and how sit-lie was used then to round up queer people and that's really what this is about. Harvey Milk was a huge opponent of this, and sit-lie at that time eventually got repealed after he died. Today, more attacks on the queer folks and homeless people. Some people cannot stand the very presence of homeless people in public view in San Francisco. The attacks on the queer community and other minorities just keep coming and those who pretend to be "moderate" (code for right-wing) keep screaming for more right-wing positions.

Posted by Guest Bárbara Chelsai on Sep. 02, 2010 @ 6:25 pm

Some responses to Bárbara Chelsai –

You say:

“I know quite a lot of people in Milk's district and none of them are ‘right up the middle.’ They are all progressives.”

That’s what Eileen Hansen’s supporters said, too.

Perhaps there is a greater diversity of people in district five than you are familiar with.

You say:

“this right up the middle stuff is often code for more right-wing positions”

From your narrow view of the world, anybody to your left is a right-winger.

If Rafael Mandelman puts on your blinders, he’s finished.

You say:

“I don't know which candidate they [the Milk Clubbers] will endorse for Harvey Milk's district but I suspect it will be Mandelman since he's a former president of their club.’

The Milk Club has turned into a machine for electing its officers to public office.

I remember a time, however, when the purpose of the club was to pressure politicians on behalf of the community, not manipulate the community on behalf of politicians.

You say:

“One should not forget the Castro 14, a group of guys who got put in jail for sitting on the streets in the 1970's and how sit-lie was used then to round up queer people and that's really what this is about. Harvey Milk was a huge opponent of this…”

The original law was a no-stand, no-sit, no-lie law. It did not require a mere warning for first offenses but triggered immediate criminal penalties.

The proposed civil sidewalks law says nothing about standing. It requires a mere warning for first offenses.

Harvey Milk may have opposed the original law, but he never made opposition to it into a big production. His big priority was defeating the Briggs Initiative.

Also, Harvey never made excuses for homophobic behavior, regardless of the source. And he had a sense of neighborhood pride.

You say:

“Today, more attacks on the queer folks and homeless people.”

Most of the violent acts against homeless people are committed by other homeless people, especially males.

Why are the shelters unsafe? Is it because of the attendants? No way. It’s because of violence perpetrated by homeless males.

Please, face facts as they are and stop resorting to fantasy.

You say:

“The attacks on the queer community and other minorities just keep coming and those who pretend to be ‘moderate’ (code for right-wing) keep screaming for more right-wing positions.”

I am not a moderate but an equal-opportunity skeptic.

Also, I’ve been arrested nine times over the years in actions of civil disobedience on behalf of gay people. I don’t remember seeing you at any of those actions.

And I’ve been attacked and beaten by a homophobe for standing up in public for gay people. I didn’t see you there, coming to my defense.

A lot of what you claim to be fact is misinformation. And you have an intolerant attitude toward anyone who doesn't think exactly as you do.

You would be a perfect fit for the Milk Club. Why not join today?

Posted by Arthur Evans on Sep. 02, 2010 @ 8:05 pm

Why do you keep bringing him up as if he were? You're living in the past - a mythical past which bears little resemblance to reality.

The supervisor of D8 isn't running as supervisor against Prop L - they're running to represent a district which features a broad cross-section of homeowners, renters, gay men and lesbians, straight people, all different races and nationalities and parents. Each of these groups is concerned with quality of life issues - not with making sure, as in your case, that vagrants have the right to defecate on the streets and Non Profit Inc. to continue to demand enormous sums from the city without ANY requirement to report how that money is being spent.

Those priorities - the priorities of Non Profit Inc, vagrants and the professional politicians who sit on the DCCC, are YOUR priorities Babs. Stop conflating what YOU want with what the rest of D8 wants.

Prop L is going to pass, as is the school choice initiative. And if the Board continues to ignore the desire of San Franciscans to live in a safe and clean city then we'll just continue to bypass them and put more initiatives on the ballot to chip away at the Non Profit Inc. complex and the career politicians who live off of it.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Sep. 02, 2010 @ 8:18 pm

I read a letter earlier tonight in support of sit-lie on another website. The person wrote referring to some of the people sitting on the sidewalks...."Instead they make the rest of us suffer, whether it's being called names, getting robbed, or being attacked."

I'm unclear on whom the person is referring to as "us." The person cannot include me in the "us" because none of the people sitting on the sidewalks make me suffer. I see them and mind my own business. As for being called names, it sounds like this person hasn't matured past elementary school where being called a name hurts the little person. It sounds like this person needs to reach a level of maturity where it doesn't matter what name one is called, one completely ignores the person calling you names. As this terrible economy worsens, more and more people will be calling other people names. Getting robbed and being attacked by someone sitting on the sidewalk? I suppose in some people's mind that happens. I'm unclear on how someone attacks and robs another person while sitting on the sidewalk. More "moderate" (code for right-wing) lies. If one has trouble while walking on the sidewalk, call 911. You'd have to do that anyway regardless of sit-lie.

Posted by Guest Bárbara Chelsai on Sep. 02, 2010 @ 8:59 pm

Bárbara Chelsai doesn't understand what all the fuss is about in regard to the city's nomadic addicts and alcoholics, and their impact on public safety.

She's entitled to her confusion and denial. She's not running for public office.

However, if any candidate for supe in district eight shows the same confusion and denial as Bárbara Chelsai, he or she is in for a major reality check at the polls.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Sep. 03, 2010 @ 9:12 am

"She has been shopping around the idea of figuring out how to convert 1,100 foreclosed San Francisco properties into affordable housing for “teachers, cops, and firefighters.” Uh, cops and firefighters are paid quite a bit more than most working people in San Francisco and most of them already live in homes in the suburbs, so what the heck is that tired old statement about? Jeesh.

Posted by sfmike on Sep. 03, 2010 @ 10:24 am

I thought the same thing when I read that. I know one fire fighter who used to live in the city (a homeowner) but now lives on the Peninsula. He's currently paying 3 mortgages and seems to have an endless supply of money.

Posted by Guest Bárbara Chelsai on Sep. 03, 2010 @ 1:37 pm

Free or deeply subsidized housing for their members - along with no required personal contribution to their pensions and guaranteed healthcare for life after 5 years of service.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Sep. 03, 2010 @ 2:25 pm

I'm a D6 resident, but would suggest Rebecca ask for another photo for this posting - they've managed to make her look 3 feet tall ....

Posted by Jamie Whitaker on Sep. 05, 2010 @ 8:12 am

This town with its expensive rents and homes is elitist!!! No one can make a "change". I predict in 15 years SF will be bunch of old queens and some mexicans to clean our expensive homes and rent the overpriced rentals.

Posted by gary on Oct. 14, 2010 @ 5:26 pm