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Board of Supervisors said to reconsider berthing of USS Iowa in San Francisco

USS Iowa
US Navy photo

By Luke Thomas

November 13, 2005

The berthing of the USS Iowa in San Francisco will have a second voyage in upcoming weeks. After renewed discussions with the Mayor's Office and several Supervisors, Merylin Wong, President of the Historic Ships Memorial at Pacific, told the Sentinel, "there has been a noticeable change of heart."

Merylin Wong aboard a launch that ferried distinguised visitors
to and from the USS Abraham Lincoln on Veterans Day
Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

According to Wong, Board President Aaron Peskin, who resolved his swing vote indecision by voting against the proposal in July, hinted his support for the new proposal. He cautioned more preparation work may be needed to convince other previously dissenting Supervisors to vote favorably a second time around, but is encouraged by the new proposal.

Wong characterized the discussion with Peskin as, "constructive."

At the first hearing, Supervisors used present day issues to condemn the 1942 historic relic's berthing in San Francisco. The Pentagon's "don't ask don't tell" policy and the Bush administration's occupation of Iraq were featured talking points that helped persuade Supervisors to vote, 8-3, against the orginal proposal.

The action taken by the Board of Supervisors, however, drew national attention after Wong and Supervisor Ammiano appeared on The Daily Show. The show, known for its good-natured character assassination and lampooning style, poked fun at Ammiano and Wong, but stirred a more serious debate about San Francisco's lack of heart by punishing World War Two heroes with present-day unrelated issues and rhetoric.

In a recent discussion between Wong and Supervisor McGoldrick, McGoldrick suggested the USS Iowa could be used as, "a center for conflict resolution." In another discussion with Wong, Supervisor Maxwell suggested the USS Iowa could be used as a command and control center in the event of a disaster.

And, according to Wong, the berthing of the USS Iowa has won the support of San Francisco's LGBT community. That support is expected to find its way into the thinking and reevaluation by both Supervisor Ammiano and Supervisor Dufty who voted against the orginal proposal.

In discussing the new proposal with the Mayor, Wong stated Newsom is, "warmly receptive to bringing the historic ship to San Francisco," and is "assured" by the proposal's risk-free financials and its diversity provision; "celebrating the service of patriotic Americans who chose to volunteer service to the military despite the hostility within the organization."

Mayor Newsom travels to Des Moines today to give a speech to the Iowa Democratic Party. The subject of the USS Iowa being berthed in San Francisco is expected to be a featured topic of discussion among the Iowan caucus.

The Sentinel will endeavor to highlight the Mayor's speech in Monday's edition.




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