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Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

San Francisco Peoples' Organization
celebrates one year anniversary

By Catherine Rauschuber

October 2, 2006

San Francisco is a city that embodies the progressive values of diversity, equity, justice, opportunity and optimism. San Franciscans should be proud that people across the country and the globe look toward our great city for leadership and inspiration for how a city can embrace these values in its public policies.

Saturday at St. Mary’s Cathedral, the San Francisco Peoples’ Organization (SFPO) held and celebrated its second annual convention. Founded in June of 2005, SFPO is a coalition of local community-based organizations, unions, advocacy groups, and residents working to put San Francisco progressive values into practice.

Saturday’s event included caucus elections for board seats, speakers, a supervisorial candidate forum, and issue workshops on topics important to SFPO membership, such as anti-gentrification, immigrant rights, education, and violence prevention. The day’s speakers included SFPO President Jane Kim, former Supervisor Matt Gonzalez, Supervisors Ross Mirkarimi and Tom Ammiano, Reverend Norman Fong, and the Labor Council’s Tim Paulson.

SFPO President School Board candidate, Jane Kim.

Former San Francisco Board of Supervisors President, Matt Gonzalez.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi.

Supervisor Tom Ammiano.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, David Grant (Senior Action Network), Labor Council Executive Director, Tim Paulson, and Supervisor Tom Ammiano.

As a board member representing the Women’s Caucus, I have been honored to be a part of the first year of this fledgling organization that is tasked with a very difficult charge – to construct a coalition that provides a forum for the diverse voices of the left to work together, while simultaneously respecting their differences. San Francisco’s progressives have frequently come together and rallied behind causes or personalities, but we have too often been unable to carry this unity forward. Through disbanding and reforming, we lose some of our potency and ability to build on the successes of the past. The focus of SFPO is to foster progressive unification and spirit beyond the fleeting nature of election cycles. Although we progressives may not always agree, it is important that we maximize our power when we do.

At Saturday’s convention SFPO celebrated some of its achievements from its first year. SFPO worked in close partnership with the Alliance for a Better California to defeat Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's special election measures in November 2005. SFPO assisted in the development and passage of Supervisor Ammiano's Worker Health Care Security Ordinance, creating universal health care for local residents.

SFPO also advocated to increase mandatory levels of affordable housing in new housing developments, took a leadership role in uniting communities of color and progressives to fight for Proposition A's homicide and violence prevention efforts, played an active role in the UNITE-HERE Local 2 contract campaign, attending pickets, planning meetings, and participating in civil disobedience, and launched an e-mail dispatch that reaches over 5,000 constituents and highlights local progressive issues, campaigns, and events.

Also notable Saturday was the release of SFPO's first report, a mid-term analysis of the policies and priorities of the Newsom Administration. According to the document, SFPO decided to review the current status of five issues – public safety, economic development, land use and housing, transportation, and homelessness. The 17-page report, prepared in conjunction with expert reviewers in the five issue fields, gives praise for things such as marriage equity, city greening efforts, and Project Homeless Connect, but also offers a critical analysis and puts forth SFPO’s vision and recommendations, adding a voice of social justice to the public policy dialogue in the city.

I believe we as a city are only as strong as our most vulnerable. At its heart, SFPO is about helping San Francisco to embody the progressive values it embraces and create a community that is welcoming and supportive of all its members, regardless of race, gender, lifestyle, age, or economic status.

SFPO is young and has a long uphill battle ahead of it if it wishes to become more influential in local politics. SFPO does not have the luxury of significant financial support, unlike some of its counterparts in local political organizing. Despite these challenges, SFPO members are hopeful, and this spirit was palpable at Saturday’s convention.

District 8 Congressional Candidate Krissy Keefer, Building Inspection Commissioner Debra Walker and Michael Goldstein

Kim-Shree Maufas, School Board Candidate and SFUSD Board Member, Mark Sanchez

Julian Davis, Catherine Rauschuber, jazz singer Judy B

Labor caucus

Community Based Organization caucus

Candidate Forum with District 8 Supervisoral candidate Alix Rosenthal, District 2 candidate Vilma Guinto Peoro, District 6 incumbent Supervisor Chris Daly, District 2 write-in candidate Dave Kiddoo, and District 10 incumbent Supervisor Sophie Maxwell.




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