Open Letter to the SF Examiner aka Gavin Newsome's other publicist

root - Posted on 01 March 2003

PNN response to an ongoing love letter to Gavin Newsome by the SF Examiner

by Valerie Schwartz/PNN Community Journalist and Poverty Scholar

I wrote the following letter to the editor of the S. F. Examiner after reading an article called "Change--not spare change" by Bruce Bellingham on 11-22-02.

The article disturbed me not only as a person who has experienced poverty, homelessness, and a former addict. Its content was underlying with Newsom as Saint and political promotional statement in his behalf, while talking about how people need to have a "change of heart "and stop putting the "blame" on Gavin (even before Prop N will prove itself to be his political bane). I urge you readers of POOR to read this article. With all its gobbledygook I believe that it still tries to place "blame" on the poor/homeless for their poverty... and once again in true Examiner fashion tries very overtly to have people believe that almost all of our cities homeless are addicts.


I am having a very hard time trying to ingest the misinformation, bias, and the promotion-job for Gavin Newsom in his pursuit for the Mayoral throne, in today's article by Bruce Bellingham "Change--not spare change."

Trying to paint Mr. Newsom in the light of a martyr--and compare him to John F. Kennedy--for social change is repugnant and extremely misleading. Alas the poor hotel, restaurant, and big business owners, ---boo hoo -- which he is a part of, are losing big bucks? I mean: are you trying to have your readers believe that people's suffering, poverty, and lives are less valid than those who have jobs, homes, healthcare, and more than a living wage?

"I do know this. To feed an addiction is to kill. We might as well offer rat poison to the addict. I know some might think that is a good idea. But it could be your daughter." Bruce Bellingham 'Change--not spare change' S. F. Examiner 11-22-02

If you wanted to get real... Mr. Newsom sells drugs that people abuse. Yes that being alcohol. In essence, he feeds the addiction of many and by your article that makes him a "killer." Perhaps society thinks it is okay. More than likely the people who can afford to eat and drink at his cafe's, winery, and wine stores all named "Plump Jack" in San Francisco, Squaw Valley, and Napa (not to mention the "Matrix" a bar in the Fillmore) can go to their houses to sleep it off unnoticed in the sanctity of their homes where they aren't under the scrutiny of the public eye... or maybe they'll just run over a homeless person, or someone who just "could be your daughter" on the way to their next drink.

So...what about the people who abuse substances who have homes? Are they believed to be better than homeless addicts are? What is the message you are trying to convey? Substance Abuse is a worldwide plague that has no class discrimination. To belie that homelessness is caused by addiction is not correct. Homelessness is caused by different degrees of numerous problems. Yes, there are addicts who are homeless, just as there are far more who practice their addiction indoors and unseen..

Once again your paper states that " the homeless might go somewhere else if they can't get the money here" and the statement that "most of the poverty and homelessness is caused by addiction" are deeply wrong. It is only a small piece of a monolithic puzzle. People do not choose where to live in poverty. It is not that simple. You give the impression that homeless people will always gravitate to wherever it is easier, where they can get a free ride. Have you considered how much crime is going to go up when these people's benefits are almost entirely cut off? Desperation will motivate one to do things that they normally would not.

I agree that it would be nice if people would have a "change of heart." that people become aware of real issues such as poverty, healthcare, mental health, discrimination, and the hate of the people, who mainstream society considers different from themselves, would be a start. I also agree with Bruce Bellingham when he says that people shouldn't place blame... Please stop blaming the poor for their poverty.

If the money spent on the advertising for Prop N alone would have been funneled into the community for housing, more adequate shelters, or vocational programs of some sort:: wouldn't that have been a "change of heart?" Instead, you continue to put articles in your paper that short-change the poor and homeless. I ask you, is this the kind of "change" your paper is speaking of?


Valerie Schwartz Community Journalist @


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