Friday, December 03, 2004

Billions of dollars are flowing in the Bayview-Hunters Point economy over the next several years, and everybody is getting paid. For the crowd packed into Thursday night's Planning Commission meeting on the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, that was certainly true: the lobbyists, the preachers, the small-time politicians, the legislative and administrative staffers from S.F. and D.C., and the homeless too. ... (Heck, even Commission President Shelley Bradford-Bell is in on the action, recusing herself from the vote since the Bayview Opera House she leads is heading up the "African Marketplace" multicultural center planned as part of Phase 1 of Lennar Corp.'s shipyard neighborhood.) ... Back to the homeless. Yes, they were getting paid, though surely not at the rates of the various public affairs folks who made sure everybody had a speaker card and a "Support Phase 1" sticker. ... Abdullah Megahed, the muckraking Egyptian homeless advocate who's always working to convince city officials of the mess going on in the shelters, hands the reporter a piece of paper and whispers in his ear. "$10, they told everybody in the shelters $10 to come here. Shhhh." ... The sheet reads: "Public Utilities Commission Meeting. Mandatory Meeting for Hunters Point Residents. Jobs are Available for Hunters Point Residents. Please Attend. Date: Thursday, December 2, 2004. Place : City Hall, Room 400. Time: 6:00 p.m." ... It's all correct except the title of the meeting, and the jobs part, if you want to be a stickler. ... Consultant Denise LaPointe tells folks there's no need for more public comment; it's 8 p.m. and Lennar needs all four votes of the remaining commissioners who are starting to tire after seven hours of hearings. ... Scores of men rush out; the reporter catches one, man who gives his name as Charlie, who says he's hopeful to get a construction job out of the deal. ... Minutes later, Abdullah is back. "They are all across the street," he says. "They did not get the money." ... Outside in the courtyard across from City Hall, more than 50 men are gathered. When the reporter arrives, Abdullah makes some kind of announcement like "Here is one of the top Examiner reporters, here to take care of everything." The reporter begins taking down names and phone numbers, only to realize later that at least a few of these guys surely thought he was going to get them their money. There are residents from three shelters, Multi-Service Center North, Episcopal Sanctuary and A Man's Place. Most are Black, several are Vietnam-era vets. ... More than half the group crowds around the reporter to explain how men came to their shelters Wednesday night and promised them pay if they signed up to speak at the meeting. They were to be paid after leaving City Hall and are worried because they've got to be back by 9 p.m. to get a bed and it's been bitter cold. They identify a large man standing on the fringe of the crowd as "Frenchie" and say he was one of the organizers. Frenchie cops to nothing. ... One man has the card of Rev. Ted Frazier, who they say came out to talk to them but didn't give them any money. ... A smaller knot of men is not talking to the reporter and one young man comes over repeatedly to scold the rest. "They said they had to go to the bank," he says. ... Most don't believe that, they think their money has gone and walked away. ... A few are adamant that the money doesn't matter, it was about the issue; others are drug addicts and desperate for the money, according to Abdullah. One vet says he was convinced by testimony that Phase 1 should not go forward. He's very convinced, money be damned. ... After the reporter has given a man at each shelter his phone numbers in case they've truly been stiffed, a black Lincoln slowly cuts in front of City Hall. Charlie Walker, the trucking contractor and organizer often known as "The Mayor of Hunters Point" is inside. ... Suddenly the mass of men is moving and a few shout that the money has arrived as they crowd around a couple of men who take them away from City Hall and towards the Civic Center Playground to begin reading from a list of names and handing out $10 and $20 bills. ... "Tear up that notebook," the young, more patient, shelter resident says. ... The reporter watches the distribution for a bit, then heads back towards City Hall, only to run into Frazier. The Rev. explains that he heard about the trouble and came down to encourage them that whether the money came or not they had done something good for the community. Frazier says he doesn't know who promised the pay, but that he had gone back up to let the Lennar team know it wouldn't look good if these folks went home angry. He says Walker is back inside. ... A minute later, Walker comes out with ILWU icon Redevelopment Commissioner Leroy King and a couple others. Nothing criminal going on here, and I've got nothing to do with it, Walker says. No problem some folks getting lunch money, either, he says. ... LaPointe comes out of City Hall and hears part of the story. She wants a copy of the flyer, which several of the men had, and the reporter promises to fax it later. She wants to get to the bottom of who brought the men, who she says weren't crucial to the vote in any case. ... "It’s too weird of a story for words," says Lennar PR consultant Sam Singer, reached by phone. Singer says he's not heard of such an odd dispute in his career, a chapter in a book nobody will believe in 20 years. ... This is real retail organizing, this is. ... Inside City Hall, the deputies on late-night door duty think they've seen a scoop in the making. It only makes the front page if the men don't get paid, the reporter says. ... Everybody gets paid. ...

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous6:29 PM

    When there's anything to do with Hunter's Point, everyone has his hand out for something other than a day's work.

    ReplyDelete