But as many members of the progressive community, his natural base, begin to gripe about the city's plan to plow ahead full-bore with Healthy San Francisco -- the city's universal health care plan -- while slashing the budget and workforce of the Department of Public Health and cutting programs aimed at aiding the most needy, Ammiano hopes to make a statement: Healthy San Francisco is not the problem.
"It's not that Healthy San Francisco is wrong its the mayor's obvious ..." he pauses. "Look, he's running for governor and taking full credit for it. It's not true. The labor community, my office, community activists, health people -- some of the same people who are unhappy with him now -- worked with him on this. When he goes out there and claims full credit, that pisses people off, especially people who are dealing with [health care in the city] every day. ... The reaction is really based on the mayor boasting and overselling Healthy San Francisco."
Ammiano's displeasure at the pillorying of Healthy San Francisco is understandable -- he was the major mover and shaker getting the ball rolling on the initiative; he did much of the legislative legwork in pushing the passage of the Worker Health Care Security Ordinance in 2006. When President Barack Obama recently patted Newsom on the back regarding Healthy San Francisco, Ammiano -- at least publicly -- did not utter a peep. His office even e-mailed SF Weekly the press release crowning Newsom without our asking -- and minus any commentary whatsoever.
The Assemblyman's patience, however, appears to be wearing thin.
Healthy San Francisco -- I think people should be very proud of it. I think it's going to meet its full potential. The rollout is going to be incremental and there's going to be little tweaks that it needs. But, you know, that's not the target. The target is the mayor boasting about it and overselling it," he says.
"I'm all for Healthy San Francisco being accountable and transparent -- but, in the big picture, it really is an extremely democratic, worthwhile endeavor. Unfortunately, it's getting tainted because of the mayor's boasting and overselling of it."