Overheard in Fog City: Breed Tells It Like It Is; Avalos to Campaign for Davis

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in News, Politics

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Published on August 20, 2012 with 37 Comments

Community organizer and former Redevelopment Agency Commissioner London Breed. Photo by Luke Thomas.

By Luke Thomas

August 20, 2012

There’s something special about London Breed, the born and bred Western Addition native and former Redevelopment Commissioner who’s vying to be the next District 5 Supervisor.

She’s a fiery scrapper, someone who speaks passionately and eloquently without mincing her words. She’s also leading the field in campaign contributions having amassed more than $85,000 to date.

She could be the next Chris Daly on the Board of Supervisors (Inshallah), someone who will not bow at the altar of establishment pressure, who will fight relentlessly for the voiceless in the pursuit of social and economic justice, and who will hold to account the moneyed special interests that too often dominate politics at the expense of the many.

During a post debate interview sponsored by the Harvey Milk Democratic Club last week, Fog City Journal asked Breed to comment on questions raised about her candidacy, particularly about contributions from protégés and close associates of former Mayor Willie Brown.

Such contributions beg the question of whether Mr. Brown, who is publicly supporting appointed Supervisor Christina Olague, is hedging his bets in case Olague is defeated in the ranked choice race that will be decided by voters in November.

Asked to comment on her contributions, particularly a contribution from Brown’s partner, attorney Steven Kay, Breed said, “Steven Kay and I are good friends and basically he got a lot of shit for giving me money because that’s considered being against Brown – and all the people who are friends with Brown and Rose Pak who gave me money, got a phone call.”

Asked if Brown has two candidates in the race (Olague and Breed), Breed said, “He is supporting my opponent who is the mayor’s appointee for supervisor who I don’t support and who I am running against because she is not the right candidate for District 5.”

Ok, but perhaps you’re his backup in case Olague fails to hold on to the seat. Can you respond to that perception?

“So why do women have to be a pawn for somebody?” Breed fired back. “Why aren’t women strong enough to stand on their own two feet and run and be the kind of voice that… I mean, look at my record, Willie Brown didn’t do that work, I did the work.  Willie Brown didn’t make those decisions on redevelopment – I made those decisions.  Willie Brown didn’t wipe my ass when I was a baby – my grandmother took care of me.  He hasn’t been there through the thick and the thin when I had to grow up and watch at 12 years old a bullet get put in somebody’s head.  You think I give a fuck about a Willie Brown at the end of the day when it comes to my community and the shit that people like Rose Pak and Willie Brown continue to do and try to controls things.  They don’t fucking control me – you go ask them why wouldn’t you support London because she don’t do what the hell I tell her to do.  I don’t do what no motherfucking body tells me to do.”

Now she’s definitely sounding like Chris Daly.

“Let me be clear, I am not for playing games with my life when it comes to politics,” Breed continued. “The work I’ve done for many, many years should really speak for me.  I’ve been consistent in my advocacy for the District.  I’ve not moved to twelve different places in twelve years.  I’ve been in that community, working in the trenches, dealing with the public safety issues, dealing with those things because my people are the ones getting left behind at the end of the day – so I can’t be bought.”

The other criticism we’ve been hearing is that you’re repackaging yourself as a progressive, which doesn’t comport with the more moderate positions you’ve taken, for example, when you served on the Redevelopment Agency and supported Lennar.  Can you respond to that?

“I’m packaging myself as someone who is honest and can stand by any decision I’ve made.  I don’t need to be a progressive, a moderate, a this or a that – I’m a black woman in San Francisco who has lost a tremendous amount of people in District 5 and everyone else who is moving into District 5 claims to be the savior of the black folks there, the families who are there, or the folks who are disenfranchised – where were they when someone got shot and killed at Ella Hill Hutch (community center) in front of a bunch of kids?  Where were they when public housing was getting torn down and we were getting pushed out left and right…where were they in protecting my family and my friends from getting booted out of public housing in District 5?”

“My point is, you want to believe me, well come see me in my District, where I’m the only one who is working on the ground every single day with the people who need it the most,” Breed added.

Unopposed Avalos Pledges to Campaign for Davis

Supervisor John Avalos, who is running unopposed in the race for District 11 Supervisor, signaled Saturday he will be campaigning to elect community organizer Julian Davis in the race for District 5 Supervisor.

During the opening of Davis’ campaign headquarters, previously home to the now shuttered Vapor Room, Avalos told the well-attended audience, “I have not endorsed anyone else in District 5. I have been very impressed with Julian’s work over the past eight years. He’s been involved in so many issues as a really true independent progressive in San Francisco. When I say progressive, that’s not a word I bandy around a lot. But I really truly believe that progressivism is about good government, it’s about taking a stand on social justice, it’s about making sure that we are dealing with inequality in our society, that we are promoting opportunity for people, and I see that Julian Davis has stood for many of those principals for years and years.

“When we elect Julian Davis as Supervisor in District 5, San Francisco, we’ll have a real independent progressive who’s going to stand for all these issues.

“He’s not being bankrolled by power brokers in San Francisco. He’s not being bankrolled by Ron Conway or the biggest powerbrokers in Chinatown. It’s going to be everyday people, everyday San Franciscans who are going to make his campaign successful. It’s a people-powered campaign much like we had last year in the mayor’s race.

“I’m proud and honored to be supporting you, Julian. I’ll be here, because I’m running unopposed in District 11,” Avalos added.

Davis, who has been endorsed by Supervisors David Campos, Avalos and former Board of Supervisors President Matt Gonzalez, was also endorsed today by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano.

“Julian represents a new generation of progressive leadership that San Francisco desperately needs,” Ammiano said. “He shares my values of justice and equality. I know we can count on him in City Hall.”

District 11 Supervisor John Avalos at the Julian Davis for District 5 Supervisor campaign headquarters grand opening on Saturday in the Haight. Photo by Francesca Alati.

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas is a former software developer and computer consultant who proudly hails from London, England. In 2001, Thomas took a yearlong sabbatical to travel and develop a photographic portfolio. Upon his return to the US, Thomas studied photojournalism to pursue a career in journalism. In 2004, Thomas worked for several neighborhood newspapers in San Francisco before accepting a partnership agreement with the SanFranciscoSentinel.com, a news website formerly covering local, state and national politics. In September 2006, Thomas launched FogCityJournal.com. The BBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, New York Times, Der Spiegel, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, 7x7, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Weekly, among other publications and news outlets, have published his work. Thomas is a member of the Freelance Unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521 and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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Comments for Overheard in Fog City: Breed Tells It Like It Is; Avalos to Campaign for Davis are now closed.

  1. you are not the only one who struggled in the city, got booted out of housing, or witnessed bullets in neighbors’ heads.  in fact, you are not old enough to know what the struggles were. there is nothing worse than a pro-developer who thinks her race gets the privilege of a foul mouth on the podium. good company for the board. 

  2. I’d like to know why it’s virtually impossible to get anyone to answer the phone at the African American Cultural Center.

  3. weird, the minute i finished reading this, i got a robo-call from john avalos supporting christina olague

  4. London Breed has been a failure as a Fire cCommissioner. As an African American member of the Commission she has ignored the concerns of African American members of the Department. If one were to compare her behavior with her Asian counterparts on the Commission who openly advocate for Asian members of the Department it is clear that she is afraid to take a stand when it comes to issues concerning African American firefighters. She refuses to meet with African American firefighers because she is afraid of the repercussions from Local 798 – The Firefighters Union. Sorry London you are a phony ass politician only concerned about yourself. You can still step up to the plate before you are let go from the Fire Commission and question the Fire Chiefs treatment and discrimination against African American members of the Fire Department

    • Why did Local 798 endorse her after she agreed to fire Joanne Hayes-White…the cities first white female fire chief?

  5. WOW!….this young lady sounds like a problem. Doing some checking on her, it seems she maybe a “wanna be” Kamala Harris: complete with skittish and questionable public speaking character all the way thru to a possible questionable relationship with her Daddy Warbucks, Willie Brown.Her center (ACCC), is not run very well, and has had violent incidents happen there in the recent past, as well as half-hearted attempts at culturally relevant events, that did not galvanize the whole community. Is she really someone we’d like speaking for our merchants and residents…of all backgrounds? And what is an “Outta Control” person doing running for city office? Don’t we have enough of that already?T. MorelandSon of aging, longtime Fillmore residentBerkeley, Calif.

    • since you are not a voter in the district, who cares what you think.  what have you done to make the community there better? nothing but complain and sell out.  the community has fallen apart because of people like you who do nothing but stand on the sidelines and complain.  At least she’s doing something.  My grandkids particpate in programs there weekly for the past 4 years and have not experienced the problems you mention. Those violent incidents happened at Ella Hill Hutch, you need to do your fact check before you start putting out infomation that is not true.  Clearly you are just spreading lies because you don’t like her or you are working for someone else in this race.

      • With no due respect, you need to stop defending a person who is masquerading as a vanguard for the community with no class or tact in how she represents…YOUR district. Seems education, facts, and reading missed you as much as it’s missing a lot of residents in YOUR district. I have a family member who lives in the community. I shop on Webster @ the Safeway. Patronize Yoshi’s, the Fillmore, and The Boom Boom Room. The violence I spoke of happened a year or so ago during a rap event disquised as a art show of some sort and gunplay was witnessed, as well as the bullet piercing of a window at ACCC over 2 years ago. Maybe call Ms. Breed and ask her about the recent assualt on one of ACCC’s child aides, who was jumped by some young men 2 months ago, while chaparoning 25 kids on a field trip. Do you know anything about that? Or are you just another overly-sensitive resident who is blindly supporting failure in some ignorant stance to “keep it real.” Grow up and learn your community if you’re going to defend it.

  6. @ Richmonan the above article states that he (Davis) Is not being bankrolled by powerbrokers in San Francisco. Somehow I feel Avalos, Campos, Peskin and Ammiano have not donated That much money to the Davis campaign maybe a $100.00 or so, that does not make them powerbrokers.

  7. Julian Davis appears to lack an understanding of politics in San Francisco.  In a previous Fog City Journal article, he decries the fact the SF has a appointed mayor and District Attorney (not since the last election).  This article claims he is not supported by powerbrokers in SF.  Excuse me for stating the obvious, but John Avalos, Aaron Peskin, David Campos and Tom Ammiano – all members of the Democratic Central Committee – ARE Powerbrokers of the Democratic Party – and SF is a one-party town.

    •  fyi – Peskin no longer sits on the DCCC.

    • Powerbrokers have the ability to broker power and make things happen.  What have Avalos, Peskin, Campos and Ammiano made happen in San Francisco politics over the past five years?  There are a few accomplishments, healthy san francisco, local hire, the 8 washington referendum and some immigrant rights issues, but that is imperceptible in comparison to what the real power brokers, Willie Brown and Rose Pak have managed to extract, measured in the billions of dollars, from the public sector to laud on their wealthy patrons.

  8. Almost two weeks ago, I sent the following questions to Breed, after she sent me a short comment expressing interest in possibly moving SF Fire Commission meetings to City Hall. Unfortunately, I have not heard back from her. Maybe posting the questions here will prod a response from her:

    Dear London Breed,

    like to follow up on this statement of yours from June, saying you are
    interested in exploring potentially moving SF Fire Department Commission
    meetings to City Hall, where they would be broadcast on SFGov TV. If
    you can answer these
    questions by Tuesday morning of next week (August 7), or sooner, that
    would be

    1. What steps can you take before the election to explore the option of holding the fire commission meetings at City Hall?

    2. It’s my understanding that the meeting room at SFFD headquarters on Second Street is
    not equipped with TV cameras, and that is why the commission meetings
    are not currently broadcast on SFGov TV. Is that correct?

    3. A few members of the public feel the current location of the
    commission meetings is isolated and not easily accessible via public
    transit or as centrally located as city hall where the police commission
    meets. Do you agree?

    4. What arguments would you make for putting the fire commission
    meetings on an equal footing as the police commission meeting, held at City Hall, full of public comment and aired on SFGov TV?

    5. Minutes from fire commission meetings rarely show any member of the
    general public in attendance and using public comment time. Many minutes
    show public comments occasionally from the fire union or folks
    connected to the department, like former fighters. Can you point to any
    minutes where one or two members of the general public spoke?

    6. In terms of city wide sunshine, are you aware that the Sunshine
    Ordinance Task Force is not meeting this month because they are not in
    compliance with the requirement to have a disabled member?

    7. How would you make sunshine/open government principles a key part of your D5 campaign?

    8. Sunshine advocates believe the Ethics Commission and City Attorney
    are very lax in enforcing rulings from the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force
    against city agencies and employees. How would you, as the D5 supervisor,
    bring about enforcement of all SOTF rulings?

    9. In general, what your views on how best to expand sunshine at
    City Hall and educate San Francisco residents about sunshine principles
    the SOTF?

  9. Luke, did I miss the part where you asked London who wiped her ass?

    And I’m a little clear about what upset London, was she upset because  someone was holding her accountable for her record as Brown protege who carried water for developers as she (did not even need to be/was) told to as the black community in San Francisco evaporated?

  10. Who speaks this way in public?  I’m not so delicate but I do believe swear words are only used by drunks and rhetorics who lack creativity and possibly education.  Her story may be compelling; but there is no way I would let someone who expresses themselves this way in an interview (not some back alley bar) represent me. 

    • Hey Guest,
      Do you live in District 5?  I bet you don’t, because if you did you would know that, Breed speaks the language of her people and isn’t that what people want in public office, people who know and speak like them.  You know, like when a ghetto drug dealer gets a jury of his/her peers, 12 white people from the burbs.  If you didn’t figure it out, the last sentence was sarcasim.  But all of it were true.  Peace!

      • Unfortunately for Ms. Breed, I am a District 5 resident.  I am also a black woman from meager beginnings, which is also unfortunate for Ms. Breed because I can’t accept any suggestion that this is how all people of my pedigree would respond to an interview question.  To use your reference to the ghetto drug dealer…I think he’d think it were odd if his attorney stood in court and said “you gotta let my n out, this mfer is innocent.”  Through TV shows or basic home training, the drug dealer would know that despite the language being acceptable in some places, it is not acceptable in a courtroom.  Yes, even a drug dealer would understand that someone who spoke this way in that environment is likely not the best option of representation. 
        But hey, perhaps I’m wrong, perhaps decorum is a thing of the past or was only taught in the project I was raised in – where even the roughest of the roughest would watch their mouth in front of Ms. Cathy. 
        Peace be unto you as well!

  11. The good differemce between Breed and Daly is the profanity was not directed at any people. Rather, this is speech from the heart. This is speech that is real, from someone who knows the desperation of a community in crisis, and it has been that way for a long time. All the political posturing of the last 12 years have done nothing to improve it. Breed makes a difference every day. Good for D5. Good for the City. She’s got my vote.

    • “The good difference between Breed and Daly is the profanity was not directed at any people.”

      Well I had no problem with either person’s use of sex language or what people are calling “profanity.”  What delicate people.  I thought we were all adults here.  Sex language can be very effective as opposed to the stagnant statements one usually hears from politicians.  No wonder it seems like this country is prudishly heading back into the Dark Ages.  At least she doesn’t sound like the typical stale, stuffy, “we must have decorum,” predictable, cookie-cutter politico.  I had no problem when Chris Daly used sex language and the same with her.

  12. My comments have to be “flagged for review” now? Not even Streetsblog thinks that’s necessary.

    •  I don’t know what happened, Rob, but your comments are now visible. 

  13. London Breed Is, In Fact, A Shameless Corporate Bought Rubber Stamp For Toxic Wall Street Real Estate Developers

    Sorry for being blunt Luke but this article’s characterization of London Breed as a potential Chris Daly for District 5, is utterly absurd.

    During her tenure on the Redevelopment Commission, Breed unwaveringly and repeatedly voted to support Lennar Corporation’s toxic gentrification assault on the Bayview Hunters Point community through its various Shipyard redevelopment schemes.

    Even after Lennar was fined a whopping half a million dollars for repeatedly exposing Bayview Hunters Point residents to illegal levels of asbestos, Breed still voted for every single approval of Lennar’s neighborhood destroying condo projects.

    Lennar has also repeatedly promised affordable and rental housing in the Bayview, Orange County, and Oakland, only to later abjectly abandon those promises; a fact of which London Breed was quite well aware for years, as she continuously voted to screw the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood for corporate profits. Breeds malfeasance has likely led directly to soaring rates of asthma and even some asthma deaths in that neighborhood, and will lead to hundreds, if not thousands, of future deaths and hospitalizations from exposure to asbestos and other toxins in that project area.

    The idea that London Breed would somehow be an independent, self directed legislator on the Board, is by far the most outrageously absurd thing that I have ever read in print. Ever.

    London Breed is a corporate shill. Period.

    • The City protects asbestos contamination to its fullest and is colluding with Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Take a look at the Department of Environmental Health’s record. The City has none of its own asbestos controls in place. Look at the emails that were hidden about this tragedy at Bayview. It was a complete cover-up by the city and developers. 

  14. “She could be the next Chris Daly on the Board of Supervisors (Inshallah), someone who will not bow at the altar of establishment pressure, who will fight relentlessly for the voiceless in the pursuit of social and economic justice, and who will hold to account the moneyed special interests that too often dominate politics at the expense of the many.”

    Like his support for the Rincon Hill highrise condo project?

    • Didn’t Daly manage to eek $25 million in community benefits for a project that was gonna happen one way or t’other?

      • Could you document that claim? I haven’t seen anything in the media to support that. Daly, Peskin, Mirkarimi et al supported the luxury condos from the beginning. Hard to say whether it could have been stopped or not if there’s no opposition in the first place.

          • Thanks. That’s the first accounting I’ve seen. Not clear that this is a model for development in SF—which Daly bragged about at the time—since it’s a huge, market-rate project that has no affordable housing. The substantial Affordable Housing Fee was presumably made to the mayor’s housing fund, which doesn’t make a public accounting of where that money goes and/or how many “affordable” housing units it actually pays for.

            Dealing with SF’s affordable housing requirement, developers have the option of either building the housing on-site or contributing to the mayor’s fund, which is supposed to pay for building it elsewhere.

            And what’s the SOMA Stabilizaton Fund?

      • Chris was able to direct $25M to his political cronies – those that helped him get elected.  No more, no less.  Chris was more like Willie Brown than most people care to admit.  Except Willie’s language was more civil, and Willie accomplished more for his constituents than Chris ever did.

      • Answering questions like that is what a real accounting would do. Supervisor Daly announced the deal on Rincon Hill as if it was a triumph for a “progressive” housing policy, that the developers would have to pay for all kinds of “community” benefits to mitigate the impact of those highrises—more are in the works, by the way—on that part of the city and on city housing in general. People should be provided a detailed accounting so that they can weigh the alleged beneifts against the impact of these projects.

  15. Breed tells it like it is, not.
    London interned in Willie’s office, and learned politics Willie’s way !
    Posted at Treasure Island by Willie for 4 years until T I was in the bag for the developers.
    Bay view Hunters Point another Fillmore in the making, while see was at the Redevelopment Agency she rubber stamped any thing connected with the developer Lenar.

  16. Luke what shallow reporting on London Breed, come on your better than that !

  17. Reality?

       Breed is a barnacle on Willie’s yacht.   They brought her in (Newsom appointee) to rubber stamp every single cost overrun on contracts from Willie’s contributors.    She was on whatever they call the Ballot Bond Oversight Committee or whatever.   She is a consummate ‘Yes girl’.

    She went from there to redevelopment (you don’t get promoted in Willie World for ignoring the orders of your master) … where she continued to hand the keys to the public treasury to Willie’s cohorts as she was ordered to do.

    Avalos and Gonzalez and Campos and Ammiano will ignore IRV?


    Because every single one of them is scared of Hope Johnson.

    You gonna ask her an opinion on your piece today?

    Again, and  I’ll repeat this with every post that you don’t censor.

    Have you accepted money from the Breed or Davis campaigns?

    Go Giants!

    C’mon over to Daniel’s.

    Game starts 7:15pm



  18. I remember watching you interview London Breed outside and after the last Harvey Milk LGBT club debate on Aug 14th, 2012.  It was an animated interview – she was very excited.  Now I have read the result.  You have wrote a very informative and helpful article on London.  Suddenly I feel like I know her much better.  Thank you Luke.

    • I know London.  She was upset, and rightfully so.  She very rarely uses profanity.  But she does always speak her mind and do what she thinks is right.

  19. Luke,

    Are you fishing for photo work from Breed and Davis?

    Are you fishing for site advertising from them?

    As long as you don’t take money from either camp I’ll assume you’re backing both of them sincerely.

    As long as you don’t take money from either of them.

    Can you assure me that you won’t?


  20. London has my attention.