LGBT leaders denounce attack on Herrera by the Chronicle

LGBT leaders gathered in Harvey Milk Plaza to denounce the attack on Herrera's support for same-sex marriage.
Steven T. Jones

Leaders of the LGBT community from across the political spectrum yesterday denounced the San Francisco Chronicle and the anonymous sources it relied on to question City Attorney Dennis Herrera's early support for legalizing same-sex marriage, calling the paper's front page article a thinly veiled political hit piece designed to hurt Herrera's mayoral campaign.

That strong showing of support in the LGBT community and the view offered by many that the attack came from supporters of Mayor Ed Lee – including top former Newsom Administration officials, some of whom now work for Lee – could not only mitigate damage from the article but further sully a Lee election effort that is already marred by allegations of vote tampering, money laundering, and deceptive campaign tactics.

“Those who are saying this now anonymously are as cowardly as Dennis and Gavin were courageous back then,” said Deputy City Attorney Theresa Stewart, the lead attorney who defended San Francisco's decision in 2004 to unilaterally issue marriage licenses to same-sax couples, in defiance of state and federal law, which eventually led to the legalizing of such unions. “We can't have our community turn on us for petty political gain.”

“WTF, Chronicle?” was how Assemblymember Tom Ammiano began his speech, going on to lay blame for the attack on surrogates for Lee. Ammiano also called out the mayor for campaign finance violations by his supporters, for undermining the Healthy San Francisco program that was created by Ammiano's legislation, and for repeatedly ordering police raids on the OccupySF encampment.

“How about some fucking leadership?!” Ammiano said.

Cleve Jones, an early gay rights leader who marched with Harvey Milk, also denounced Lee and his supporters for cronyism, vote tampering, money laundering, and the “fake grassroots” efforts of the various well-funded independent expenditure campaigns, which he said have fooled the Chronicle.

“To the Chronicle and that reporters – really? – this is what you do two weeks before the election? You should be ashamed of yourself,” Jones said. “How stupid do you think we are?”

Yet Chronicle City Editor Audrey Cooper defended the article and disputed the political motivations of its sources. “Clearly, I disagree [with the criticisms],” she told the Guardian. “I personally vetted every one of the sources and I'm confident everything we printed is true.”

Beyond criticizing the obvious political motivations behind the attack, speakers at the rally called the article bad journalism and said it was simply untrue to suggest that Herrera didn't strongly support the effort to legalize same-sex marriage from the beginning.

“I can tell you that Dennis never once shrank from this fight. I was there, I know,” Stewart said, calling Herrera “a straight ally who's devoted his heart and soul to this community.”

Sen. Mark Leno, who introduced the first bill legalizing same-sex marriage to clear the Legislature, emphasized that he isn't endorsing any candidates for mayor and that he didn't want to comment on the details of the article's allegations. But he noted that even within the LGBT community, there were differences of opinion over the right timing and tactics for pushing the issue, and that Herrera has been a leader of the fight for marriage equality since the beginning.

“I am here to speak in defense of the character and integrity of our city attorney, Dennis Herrera,” Leno said, later adding, “I do not appreciate when the battle for our civil rights is used as a political football in the waning days of an election.”

Ammiano also noted that even if Herrera raised doubts in early meetings, that was entirely appropriate given his role as city attorney. “Even if there are some questions, they're about helping, not hurting,” he said, expressing disgust at the Newsom Administration officials for turning on someone who was instrumental to defending the decision: “In my day, you valued your friendships.”

Molly McKay, one of the original plaintiffs in the civil lawsuit that followed San Francisco's actions, teared up as she described the ups and downs that the case took, working closely with Herrera throughout. “But this is one of the strangest twists I can imagine,” she said of the attack by the Chronicle and its anonymous sources. “It's ridiculous and despicable.”

Representatives for both the progressive Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club and fiscally conservative Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club also took to the microphone together, both saying they often disagree on issues, but they were each denouncing the attack and have both endorsed Herrera, largely because of his strong advocacy for the LGBT community.

Sup. Scott Wiener called Herrera, “One of the greatest straight allies we've every had as a community.”

When Herrera finally took the microphone, he thanked mayoral opponents Joanne Rees and Jeff Adachi for showing up at the event to help denounce the attack and said, “This is bigger than the mayor's race. It's bigger than me.”

He criticized those who would trivialize this issue for petty political gain and said, “It was my pleasure and honor to have been a part of this battle from the beginning – from the beginning – and I'll be there in the end.”


Is there anything Ed Lee's moneyed supporters won't do to take over city hall for their own economic gain? Shame on Gavin, Willie and Rose for trying to get their puppet Lee elected. The Chronicle article, the Hammer video and the phony "Ed Lee Story" book are all examples of the corrupting influence of money in politics.
Ed Lee should be able to defend himself in his own words, but that won't happen because his masters (whom he can't say no to) know that if he did he would not be elected.

Posted by Thomas Brown on Oct. 28, 2011 @ 4:47 pm

business interests trying to secure political power by non-democratic means while also supporting Occupy who also seek to achieve power through non-democratic means.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 28, 2011 @ 5:01 pm

That's like saying the protesters at Tahrir Square were trying to achieve power through non-democratic means.

Posted by Greg on Oct. 29, 2011 @ 9:46 am

Because that's really the way forward for America.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 28, 2011 @ 4:54 pm

Has Enrique Pierce disclosed who payed the $88,000 to write 'The Ed Lee Story' yet?

He really DOES NOT seem to want to do that.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 28, 2011 @ 10:09 pm

What is 'non-democratic' about the people exercising their right to assemble, speak, petition and voice their protest about the actions of their government.
Just asking.

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Oct. 28, 2011 @ 10:22 pm

Is it hypocritical to condemn the Chronicle for using anonymous sources accusing Dennis Herrera of foot dragging on gay marriage but not condemn Leland Yee for using anonymous sources to accuse Ed Lee of ballot stuffing?

Watergate would have never happened without anonymous sources.

-- When the Post Banned Anonymous Sources --

"More than 30 years ago, shortly before Watergate, the Washington Post tried to do something about them. Ben Bradlee, then the paper's executive editor, decided that the Post would no longer publish information from unnamed sources....

...the experiment turned out to be a dismal failure. The Post's competitors, including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, published important news stories that the Post did not have. The paper's readers were deprived of significant information. For a fierce competitor like Bradlee, that was intolerable.

The experiment ended after two days."

Posted by Guest on Oct. 28, 2011 @ 10:27 pm

The witnesses to vote tampering by Lee supporters weren't anonymous, but even if they were, they are exposing a crime. Using anonymous sources to make accusations relevant only to sowing doubts about a politician's commitment to an issue that he spent years proving himself on is petty, partisan, and unprofessional.

Posted by steven on Oct. 29, 2011 @ 10:27 am

Steve I was referring to this from the Examiner on 10/26....

"...Based on accounts from a former campaign worker who refused to provide his name to reporters, Yee’s campaign claimed Lee supporters paid $150 in cash to more than 30 down-and-out Bayview residents to post signs and door hangers, along with offering them bonuses and city jobs if Lee wins the race.

Yee’s campaign said the collusion took place when those same workers also were asked to post signs from the official Lee campaign.

Members of Lee’s campaign — including spokesman Tony Winnicker and campaign manager Bill Barnes — showed up at Yee’s headquarters to denounce Yee for what they called “flat-out lies...."

.....Lost in the mayhem was the anonymous campaign worker, who never showed up for the 2 p.m. news conference. Yee’s campaign gave reporters a chance to interview him three hours later at a nearby apartment building, where they said he wouldn’t “fear for his life.”

Not only did the Yee campaign use an anonymous source to accuse the Lee of colluding with an IE committee, a crime, but the anonymous source also implied the Lee campaign would kill him if they could find out who he was.

That is SO MUCH WORSE than anonymously accusing someone of a little bit of foot dragging on gay marriage.

Let me ask you this Steve. If the danger of anonymous sources is that they leak false information then which is more damaging, leaking false information accusing someone of a crime? ... or false information about someone giving good faith legal advice that may not be aggressive enough, regardless how good the legal advice?

Actually No.....which is worse. Accusing someone of acting cautiously on gay marriage, or accusing someone of seeking out an anonymous witness to a crime to have them killed?????

Plus, actually, anyone who pays attention knows right away who the Newsom leaker was if they only wanted to ask.

Have you bothered to ask any of the likely suspects if they could confirm the leak?????? I don't think anyone has.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 29, 2011 @ 6:28 pm

Plus, Steve, if it almost sounds as though you are accusing the Chron of 'malice'?

I'll tell you right now both you and Shaw better start choosing your words a little more carefully because if you accuse those reporters of malice and they produce an anonymous source and they get angry enough...wouldn't want to be you guys.

"Using anonymous sources to make accusations relevant only to sowing doubts about a politician's commitment to an issue that he spent years proving himself on is petty, partisan, and unprofessional."

Posted by Guest on Oct. 29, 2011 @ 7:25 pm

Thats like saying Herman Cain is getting the same treatment on sexual harassment as Bill Clinton in the press. It is obvious that if Ed Lee was a Democrat he would have gotten a suspended Sentence, and community service. John Burton, Dianne Feinstein and various other Democrats never lived in their proper residence.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 03, 2011 @ 10:08 pm

This may be slightly off topic but no one has ever produced a witness who could testify that Willie Brown engaged in "pay to play" politics or numerous other felonies he has been accused of countless times here in the Guardian.

The man was never convicted of anything.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 28, 2011 @ 10:55 pm

We've written countless articles exposing Brown's pay to play politics, a history we discussed in our recent anniversary issue. But few politicians are ever jailed for this because the quid pro quo is almost impossible to prove beyond all reasonable doubt, unless there's an FBI wiretap. But we've exposed a long history of Brown's financial supporters getting special treatment at City Hall.

Posted by steven on Oct. 29, 2011 @ 10:31 am

Steve the only thing I can find that you may be referring to is this??,3

I don't really see anything except vague accusations in this one article but I think you may be talking about something else? I'll keep looking for a little while but right now i just don't know what you are referring to.

What I'm really saying though is that if public figures had the same protections against libel as private citizens we'd all be getting ourselves sued. As it is now many journalists I have known could wall paper their offices with the subpoenas the routinely get served on themselves.

Plus it isn't that hard to find an anonymous blog poster these days and even though i am careful to post links to whatever I talk about I still think I could be vulnerable under, for example, the libel laws of Great Britain.

Know what, Steve? Actually, I don't think a journalist is worthy of the title if he doesn't have a file cabinet of subpoenas of potential felons demanding to know his anonymous sources.

That totally applies to you. If you don't have a file cabinet of subpoenas it means you are not doing any heavy lifting.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 29, 2011 @ 7:14 pm

@Guest, wanna buy some ocean front property in Arizona.

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Oct. 28, 2011 @ 11:07 pm

Steve, the ethical standard is 'feasible' which is a pretty vague term. Randy Shaw is a propagandist and I am a little surprised you all are swallowing what he dishes out.

"— Identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources' reliability."

Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics

Shaw actually called for John Cote and Heather Knight to stop covering the mayors race because they didn't explicitly name the source, which was probably Newsom himself, but no one wanted to simple ask him because he is popular within the LGBT community. That violates a far more important ethical standard...

"----Deliberate distortion is never permissible."

Randy Shaw has a huge financial stake in the outcome of this election and in merely an Ed Lee propagandist. His rag is a laundry list of ethical lapses. Stop listening to that fool's journalism advice.

"—Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
— Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
— Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
— Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
— Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.
— Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage."

My personal favorite is "refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment" like that big fat tax break for the Tenderloin he extorted from Jane Kim?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 29, 2011 @ 12:07 am

The problem for Dennis is that Newsom is most likely correct, that this was one big game of tiddly winks by hetero male politicians for their political advantage with LGBT hearts.

Herrera is a conservative attorney, the guy who had no compunctions in abrogating the fundamental constitutional right to referendum on the Bayview Redevelopment give away. He could have taken the principled position that precedent was wrong and that the CA constitution did not envision allowing policy makers to craft enormous ordinances as a means to make referendum signature gathering prohibitively expensive and functionally unavailable. But he sided with the developers.

In the same sex marriage case, I'd imagine that Herrera was similarly adverse to challenge Prop 22. But the political side prevailed, the pitch was 6-18 months too early for Prop 8 to intersect with public opinion, LGBT took another high profile humiliating beating, bashings probably rose, and the official homosexuals in the marriage movement have no plans on how to move forward.

Good work, Dennis and Gavin!

What we're seeing here is the flipside of the $an Franci$co Ri$ing nonprofit Ed Lee glee club, but coming from the labor liberals in favor of Herrera.

Absent any kind of mobilized grassroots pressure, it really does not matter who we elect. Neither the left nor the right has any time for the middle 2/3 of San Francisco, just 1/6 at the top and 1/6 at the bottom. There is enough evidence on the table from the past ten years to make that firm conclusion that the only way for San Francisco's policies to reflect our communities is to make politics accessible to them. Neither labor nor the nonprofits will accept this readily.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 29, 2011 @ 8:44 am

Not one time did Randy Shaw's article mention the word "Newsom."

He wants to deflect attention from the source of the leak by questioning the veracity of the charge itself so Newsom and his lacky Ed Lee do not catch the back blast from a botched hit piece.

We agree it was a swift boating but Shaw wants to ignore the ultimate source of the attack and blame the messenger because if Newsom gets damaged it trickles down to his underling, Ed Lee.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 29, 2011 @ 7:49 pm

But I can give another version of events that is even more speculative and more of a conspiracy theory which is that you were digging into Shaw's possible financial holdings in the Tenderloin and were giving a public play by play but then embarrassingly turned up nothing because nobody with half a brain is that obvious, and now you want to touch Randy Shaw like you want to touch a hot stove.

And yes, November is national write a fictional novel month......

National Novel Writing Month

Posted by Guest on Oct. 29, 2011 @ 7:57 pm

"On Sunday, Cain campaign spokesman J.D. Gordon emailed passages from the Society of Professional Journalist Code of Ethics that highlighted limiting the use of anonymous sources and evaluating their truthfulness and motives before allowing their use."

Cain Offers Ethics Reminder to Reporters in Pushback Over Sex Harassment Allegations

Posted by Guest on Nov. 06, 2011 @ 11:38 am