The people’s program

Pub date September 26, 2006
WriterJohn Avalos
SectionNews & OpinionSectionOpinion

OPINION San Francisco progressives have spent years getting on the political power map. We have achieved amazing victories, such as the 2000 sweep that defeated the Brown machine and ushered in an independent Board of Supervisors. At times we’ve gotten mired in sectarian clashes that have prevented unity around a common vision. However, such obstacles and stumbles have taught us valuable lessons that can be the building blocks for a vibrant people’s movement. To be successful, we progressives need to have a clear vision and to keep asking ourselves questions. What does it mean to be progressive and for progressives to have power? Assuming we all agree that progressive unity is a necessary foundation for social change, what should unity look like today? And if we’re successful at maintaining power, what do we want to look like five and 10 years from now? In the first year following its founding convention and with these questions in mind, the San Francisco Peoples’ Organization (SFPO) has chosen to focus on three issues central to the lives of all San Franciscans — health care, affordable housing, and violence prevention. Over the past year, this fledgling organization has logged a long list of achievements and participated in many exciting causes. The SFPO has: •worked with the Alliance for a Better California to defeat Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s special election measures in November 2005; •assisted in the development and passage of Supervisor Tom Ammiano’s Worker Health Care Security Ordinance, creating universal health care for local residents; •advocated for Supervisor Chris Daly’s recently passed legislation 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, including a host of new budget initiatives addressing some of the root causes of violence; •launched an e-mail dispatch that reaches over 5,000 constituents and highlights local progressive issues, campaigns, and events; •played an active role in the UNITE-HERE Local 2 contract campaign, attending pickets, planning meetings, and participating in civil disobedience. Part of our effort involves critically analyzing the policy agendas of our elected lawmakers and making recommendations. Mayor Gavin Newsom, through his highly visible work to legalize same-sex marriage, rightfully gained the respect and admiration of progressive San Franciscans. However, same-sex marriage is only one issue; Mayor Newsom should not be given carte blanche among progressives for this single act. The SFPO’s second annual convention will take place Sept. 30 at St. Mary’s Cathedral. Please join us. We cannot wait to work together. The future of our city — who we want to live here, who we want to work here, who we want educated here — is being determined now. SFBG Jane Kim and John Avalos The writers are president and vice president, respectively, of the San Francisco Peoples’ Organization. For more information about the SFPO and the Sept. 30 convention, go to