Thursday, March 06, 2014

Campos Cuts Ribbon Opening 'Tamale Lady's' Mission Cantina

(Sprucing up the Campos for assembly campaign office. Courtesy photo.)

Ha ha! April Fool's Day is a bit early. Queer career politician David Campos has not cut any ribbon opening the promised business for the beloved food purveyor known as Tamale Lady, who used to hawk her wares at Mission district bars and nightclubs.

On December 30, Lauren Smiley over at the Mission Local web site reported:

The Tamale Lady, Virginia Ramos, has been through a lot this year with her ouster from her long-time tamale-peddling post at Zeitgeist. [...] She is working out the lease details for a brick-and-mortar storefront near 16th and Mission. Nate Allbee, legislative aide to Supervisor David Campos, confirmed the details to Mission Local Monday.

“It will be her very own place,” Allbee says. “We pulled out all the stops, and it took six months, but we found a place.”

Campos told us about the 16th and Mission location in a text message last week, which Allbee says was going to be a secret until they signed the lease and had a press conference likely in January. “He was not supposed to tell anyone that,” Allbee sighed. “Oh, David.”

When team Campos say they've pulled out all the stops, going on eight months now, to find a venue for Tamale Lady you know it does not mean an actual lease or opening is imminent. There is no Tamale Lady storefront. This is not the first time Campos has promised something was opening in his district and he didn't have everything lined up.

In January 2011, Seth Hemmelgarn of the Bay Area Reporter noted what was (not) happening with a small, 24-bed, shelter for queer homeless in the Mission that had first been pushed by advocates in March 2010:

Plans to open a homeless shelter space in San Francisco designed specifically to be welcoming to LGBTs are in the works, but it's unclear when the site will be ready. Out Supervisor David Campos appeared to jump the gun a bit in a December newsletter when he said, "We helped create the first LGBT friendly homeless shelter in San Francisco."

Also in 2011, the SF Weekly reported on the dire trouble at SF Pride that some thought might sink the organization and Campos said:

Pride is an organization that is no longer viable. We have tried to be helpful. We've given them the benefit of the doubt. But you do reach a point where you have to fish or cut bait.

Strong words that you might think would lead Campos to hold a hearing at the Board of Supervisors at the time of the May 2011 crisis, after all the City does provide $58,000 to SF Pride, but he pushed the matter off to another day.

It was not after the Chelsea Manning grand marshal controversy erupted in May 2013. Campos finally got around to using his power at City Hall for hearing on SF Pride in September 2013. So much for him addressing a crisis in its early stages and not letting years go by and problems fester.

In October last year, JK Dineen of the SF Business Times reported on potential condo construction coming to the 16th Street and Mission BART station area, and Team Campos made a promise:

Nate Allbee, a legislative aide to Supervisor David Campos, said that the supervisor has met with the developer and is starting to set up meetings with local community groups.

“We generally don’t take a position on developments because more likely than not they come before the Board of Supervisors and we don’t want to have a conflict,” he said. “With all development we think it’s most important for the developer to meet with the community from the get go.”

Well, four months later this Mission resident who closely pays attention to local meetings has not heard a peep from anyone about those meetings Campos was organizing. I regularly read Campos' Facebook page and Twitter feed and haven't seen any updates on the meetings. If they happened or are in the works, please let me know and I'll run a correction.

Let's not overlook the Campos proposal of January 2013 to rename San Francisco International Airport in honor of Harvey Milk, an idea which took off like a lead balloon because the Supervisor had not done any serious homework about the complex, myriad structural matters and forget about him lining up political backing from either other elected officials or grassroots groups of many stripes.

Yes, at the height of the eviction epidemic which was (and still is) devastating the cultural and ethnic character of his Mission district and growing economic disparities among moderate and low income folks, and so many other pressing social justice issues begging for attention, Campos sucks up oxygen over Harvey and the airport.

After months of dawdling about taking the matter to the ballot in November 2013, he pulled back and arranged for a naming committee to look at changing the names of terminals instead.

He's a sloppy politician with an damning instinct to procrastinate, has little to sell voters in terms of signature legislation or accomplishments after five years on the Board of Supervisors and may soon tap into the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund's national network of donors. Just a few reasons to keep tabs on him and put his records out there.

One thing Campos is expert at is advancing his political career and opening a campaign office for his state assembly run. Unlike the Tamale Lady's storefront and the homeless gay shelter, Campos is making sure he's got a spruced up bricks-and-mortar business in the Mission.

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