It’s Not Chinese or Latino Time – It’s Late

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It’s SF Department of Elections “time” as in late for the historic mayoral elections for Asian Pacific and Latino American communities (with five major Asian American and two major Latino mayoral candidates). SF Department of Elections Director John Artnz’s office says Chinese and Spanish-language voter handbooks are “not late” – responding to the Chinese American Democratic Club’s emailed “displeasure on the lateness” of the handbooks. SF law requires the English version is sent by October 10. However, based on this columnist’s past household experience, the Chinese-language pamphlets for years have been received late – potentially affecting more than 20,000 Chinese-language voters. And with limited staffing, the Department “hoped” to mail the translated pamphlets “within a few days of [the Oct. 10] deadline.” They admitted “we cannot complete the translated versions” until the English version is finished. CADC called the Elections Department response “lame”…

BETTER EARLY THAN LATE: 2012 will mark the 100th anniversary of the first Chinese American woman to vote in San Francisco – eight years before American women won the suffrage in 1920. The childhood and adult years of Tye Leung Schulze will be recreated in a solo performance by actor Lily Tung Crystal, directed by Desdemona Chiang and written by Christina Ying at the SF Excelsior Branch Library (4400 Mission Street) at 7 pm on Oct. 18…Schulze was also the first Chinese American of either gender to work in the federal civil service as an Angel Island Immigration Station translator…

 

Mayoral candidates Dennis Herrera (left) and Mayor Ed Lee chuckle over a media panelist question about Herrera's campaign tactics against Lee.

HONESTY ABOUT DISHONESTY: At the Oct. 5 SF League of Women’s Voters mayoral debate in UCSF’s Mission Bay campus, KQED-FM radio host Scott Shafer noted that City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s mayoral campaign had bombarded Mayor Ed Lee with a commercial questioning Lee’s political allegiances and donors and then a release labeling his honor as “deliberately dishonest” over failing to fill out conflict of interest disclosure forms. Shafer then glibly asked Herrera, “Do you think Ed Lee doesn’t have integrity to be mayor?” Herrera replied, “I think Ed Lee has a lot of integrity. I have no problem with his personal integrity, whatsoever…I did not say he was being deliberately dishonest.” To which Shafer, the ex-spokesperson for Mayor Art Agnos, then noted, “On the press release, you use the word ‘dishonest’”… “The facts speak for themselves,” replied Herrera and days later it was revealed that the SF Ethics Commission had given the mayor bad advice about filing most of those forms…

Mayoral candidate Joanna Rees organizes campaign for Proposition H in support of SF neighborhood schools.

THE CANDIDATE: Joanna Rees has a door hanger with the tagline, “A Better Way” – echoing the fictitious US Senate campaign slogan from the 1972 Robert Redford movie The Candidate – “Bill McKay: The Better Way”…Venture capitalist Rees last week set up a separate committee for passage of Proposition H. “It’s no secret that the uncertainty of the ‘school lottery’ is driving families out of our community,” she said. “The first step…is making sure every child has access to a quality neighborhood school within walking distance of home…” Although Rees has a her own separate mayoral campaign committee, her “San Franciscans for Neighborhood Schools” TV and mail campaign could tap into more campaign resources and discontent particularly among Chinese American parents. The same parents have been fighting for fairer assignments since the Ho vs. SFUSD settlement in 1999 ending SF public school discrimination against Chinese students in assignments…

MABUHAY LELAND: Leland Yee’s years of representing the largest Filipino population – including 20,000 SF voters – outside of the Philippines in the California State Assembly and Senate have translated into mayoral endorsements from Filipino American community papers - Philippine News, Manila Mail, Philippines Today and Philippine Headlines…Enhancing Yee’s FilAm street cred – the Presidential Medal of Merit from then Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo last year and pushing for Filipino World War Two veteran benefits…

SF District Attorney candidate Sharmin Bock (left) meets members of the SF Chinese Club led by businesswoman Florence Kong (right).

THIN YELLOW LINE: Securely leaving her purse slung on a chair at her Far East Café table, SF District Attorney candidate and Alameda County prosecutor Sharmin Bock worked the APA version of the thin blue line at last Friday’s SF Asian Peace Officers Association’s promotion, retirement and scholarship banquet. The Richmond District resident returned to her table, donning on her lapel a handful of commemorative SFAPOA membership pins dating back to 1986. Bock has received the APOA and California Asian Police Officer’s Political Action Committee endorsements along with Assemblywoman Fiona Ma and Supervisor Eric Mar

CHINATOWN SWING: The SFAPOA dinner at Far East Café was one of Bock’s Chinese American community weekend pit stops along with Florence Kong’s SF Chinese Club (where Kong hosted First Lady Anita Lee and school board member Emily Murase) at New Asia Restaurant and Commandant Ron Lee’s Cathay Post… “There’s a lot of fear that they’re being targeted. Not just in terms of hate-based crime, I’m talking about vulnerability – elders on the streets, youth in the playgrounds…The Chinese American community is often victimized,” said Bock, airing a Chinese-language TV ad…. The 22-year veteran Alameda County prosecutor cited incidents on the Third Street corridor in Bayview and Chinatown shopping areas. “Robbery rates are some of the highest in the Bay Area, if not the state,” she said. One Stockton Street corner merchant in Chinatown expressed frustrations with a high level of shoplifting and that “nothing is ever done.” San Francisco has the “lowest conviction rates” she said, which discourages residents from reporting crime. Bock herself has a 95% rate in the Alameda County. An Iranian immigrant, she empathized with victims and language access needs which could win more convictions…

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi praises non-profit leaders - the late Harold Yee and retiring Gordon Chin - on Sept. 30.

OLD SOLDIERS NEVER FADE AWAY…: The month of September ended with praise for two non-profit leaders… Even seven years after his passing, ASIAN Inc. founder and “godfather” of many APA non-profits Harold Yee was still remembered in House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s preamble to Judy Chu’s keynote and comments on the White House’s jobs bill. “He was a relentless, dissatisfied persistent advocate and leader…the persistence of Harold Yee, my friend for a long time, we had our moments,” said the SF Congresswoman. As many ASIAN Inc. attendees chuckled, the former House Speaker rhetorically asked, “You had your moments too?” Yep, even this columnist can count a few moments too, getting some mentoring, whether I liked it or not……

CHANGING OF THE GUARD: Meanwhile, Yee’s competitor in affordable housing and community development arena, Chinatown Community Development Center executive director Gordon Chin retired. Pelosi lauded Chin for being a “coalition builder who never lost focus” as she presented him with a US flag hoisted in Washington DC in his honor…

APRIL FOOLS: Chin started with CCDC on April Fool’s Day in 1977 by noting, “We should never take ourselves too seriously, but we should take our work seriously.” The Rev. Norman Fong succeeds Chin as director. Having a man of the cloth might protect the CCDC’s contracting with City Hall, considering that Chin and his ally Chinese Chamber of Commerce’s Rose Pak has been attracting political machine gun fire and scrutiny from the mayoral field for being too cozy to Mayor Ed Lee…

LESSON LEARNED: Fong will have to carefully navigate City Hall. The next mayor might be like Mayor Willie Brown who slashed $400,000 of Yee’s ASIAN Inc. funding in 1996 after allies of the non-profit housing and small business developer might have been too friendly with Brown’s predecessor, Mayor Frank Jordan

MISS ME?: Email Samson Wong at potsticker@prodigy.net.

 

About the Author

Veteran columnist has appeared in up to 450,000 households weekly in the SF Independent, Examiner (2000-04) and AsianWeek since 1996. As Editor-in-Chief (2003-07), AsianWeek and Samson received wide recognition from the California Legislature, New American Media, League of Women Voters, GLAAD, Organization of Chinese Americans, SPUR and APA civic groups. Thru the SF Citizens Advisory Committee on Elections, SF Elections Task Force and Chinese American Voters Education Committee, Wong helped boost APA influence from 25,000 in the 1980s to over 50,000 voters by the early 1990s.