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Author Topic: Senator Diane Feinstein  (Read 645 times)

JimH

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Senator Diane Feinstein
« on: September 30, 2023, 10:48:45 am »

No matter what your opinion of Senator Feinstein, she has to be given a lot of respect for her endurance as a politician.  I think she was gifted.

I want to tell the story of how I happened to meet her, just as her political career began to blossom.

I'd been a pseudo hippy carpenter in Oakland, California for the first three years out of college (1967), but I eventually moved to San Francisco and got a job working for Mission Coalition Organization.  MCO was a coalition of 53 organizations from the Mission.  Labor unions, churches, business groups, Latino non-profits, etc.  I was the staff person for the Planning Committee and for Public Works.

In 1971, we got involved in an attempt to limit where high rise buildings could be built.  A business person, Alvin Duskin, led a grassroots effort to put the issue on the ballot.  I collected signatures on a few weekends and eventually helped get MCO involved. 

I was learning how effective organizing could be and the height limits issue was a perfect issue to organize around.  Saul Alinsky, who was an inspiration for MCO, said an issue had to be immediate, specific, and realizable to be useful for organizing.  I thought this one was, and that turned out to be true.

After bringing the issue to the MCO Planning Committee, I got permission to try to bring in other neighborhood organizations who shared our concern.  I spent two weeks on the phone and meeting people in person.  One of the people I reached was Diane Feinstein.  She was the president of the Pacific Heights neighborhood organization.  She was immediately helpful and articulate, so I suggested that we hold a city wide meeting of representatives from neighborhood organizations and that she act as the temporary chair.  She agreed.

We held the meeting on the top floor of her house, in a big room, probably an attic.  She was brilliant.  She listened well and steered the meeting skillfully.  I was really proud of her work.  Many years later, I discovered that, at the time, she was a newly elected member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.  Apparently, I hadn't discovered her.

The city took the subsequent community feedback seriously enough that they did a thorough analysis and proposed limits that are the basis of what they are today.

So thank you, Senator Feinstein.  Well done.
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