On the surface, both candidates seemed to fit the requirements for the job. That particular seat has traditionally been filled by an HIV-positive man, a characterization that is applicable to both Lew and Hill. But the similarities end there.
Lew, who is research director at the Asian and Pacific Islander Wellness Center, has a strong background in community AIDS work. A former director of the Gay Asian Pacific Alliance Community HIV Project, he co-chaired the mayor's HIV Health Service Planning Council between 1990 and 1996.
Hill's qualifications, in contrast, are less obvious. A registered nurse and mortician, he has had relatively little involvement in San Francisco's community health organizations -- unless managing his partner Rudy Isch's dental practice counts.
Where Hill has been involved is in pressing Catholic Church-sponsored agencies for more services for people with AIDS. Most recently, he supported the creation of Leland House, a new housing project sponsored by Catholic Charities, which opened in February.
Notably, Hill's community service record contains a healthy quotient of political service, such as working on campaigns for Assemblywoman Carole Migden and San Francisco Supervisor Susan Leal. Hill sits on the state Democratic Central Committee, and was a delegate to the 1996 Democratic Party Convention.
Closer to home and more to the point politically, the new health commissioner and his partner were strong supporters of Willie Brown in his bid for mayor in 1995.
In that same race, Lew backed Roberta Achtenberg and helped draft her policy on AIDS.
Bonfire of the Inanities
Countless reasons exist to despise the cappuccino capitalists who've so thoroughly ruined the once-unassuming South Park: the appropriation of working-class Northern Italian cuisine for the enjoyment of the jaded and the privileged; the accessory pets; the insistence on dressing in the morning for a nightclub or art opening instead of work; and, not least, the apartheidlike relocation of low-income denizens -- mostly African-American -- to the far end of the park by the dumpster. But one crime stands out above all else: the insipid conversation. The following was overheard in Caffe Centro on a recent weekday at 8:50 a.m. (that's pronounced Chentro, you fool!):
Woman, mid-20s, new clothes, most likely from Bebe: "And I couldn't believe it: One of the guys after dinner ordered port. Gaww. I mean, port after we had had pate. Get real."
Woman's female companion, mid-20s, new clothes, most likely from Bebe: "You ... have ... got ... to ... be ... kidding ... me!"
The women both ordered soy lattes. One was decaf.
One more reason for that 10-day handgun waiting period.
-- George Cothran