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Newsom' Wins Gov Race
Gavin Newsom in Chinatown one day after winning the 2003 mayoral race - Photo Robert Durrell LA Times / Gavin Newsom in Inglewood one day before the 2018 gubernatorial primary - Photo Al Seib LA Times 

Newsom's Albatross

Albatross Statue
A statue of the Ancient
with the albatross
hung from his neck.
Courtesy Wikipedia

•••••••••• February 8, 2023 ••••••••••

Gavin Newsom’s desperately needs to escape as the torment of the Hunters Point Shipyard “albatross” becomes increasingly burdensome for him to bear. His thunderous silence is amplified by the power of the California Governors’ chair. Governor Newsom needs to escape now. He must run for President. The only way out is up.

In the 1798 poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798), the albatross is strung as an inescapable burden around the neck of the sailor who killed it - bringing bad luck to the sailor and ALL his mates.

Little Gavin Newsom never dangled from a “jungle gym” in a playground across the street from the main entrance to a radiation-contaminated industrial landfill or peered - as a boy - through monkey bars into the open gate of a radiation laboratory complex at a Federal Superfund Site.

Toxic Playground
Playground at the Shipyard - peering through
a jungle gym erected less than fifty feet west
of the entry gate to the Superfund Site

And Gavin Newsom - as a teen- probably never risked his life performing “boys will be boys ”style stunts atop the shipyard’s iconic gantry crane.

“A fourth-generation San Franciscan, Gavin Christopher Newsom was born October 10, 1967, to William and Tessa Newsom. From birth, he was connected to the City’s elite. His grandfather, William A Newsom, was a confidant of Edmund G. “Pat” Brown, former San Francisco District Attorney and two-term governor. His aunt was married to the brother-in-law of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco.

Members of Gavin Newsom’s wine, restaurant, bar, resort, and real estate partnerships since 1991 include Isolep Enterprises - Paul and Nancy Pelosi’s personal investment company” [Ordained to be the Shipyard Developer: IndyBay]

“Gavin Newsom wasn’t born rich, but he was born connected - and those alliances have paid handsome dividends throughout his career. A coterie of San Francisco’s wealthiest families has backed him every step of his political rise, which in November could lead next to his election as governor of California.” —LA Times, September 7, 2018 - Seema Mehta, Ryan Menezes and Maloy Moore: How eight elite San Francisco families funded Gavin Newsom’s political ascent.

Laurence Pelosi
Courtesy Crunchbase

Gavin’s cousin, Laurence Pelosi, would become an experienced land-use attorney serving as Executive Director of Morgan Stanley Real Estate. He was Gavin Newsom’s Campaign Treasurer for his 2003 mayoral election, his 2018 gubernatorial race, and his 2021 anti-recall campaign.

In 2004, Pelosi was strategically recruited as Senior Vice President of Lennar Communities in San Francisco. At the same time, Parcel A on the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard Federal Superfund Site was delisted and transferred to the City and County for residential development. [ref]

Of note, Laurence Pelosi does not mention the high-level position he held as Lennar’s Director of Naval Base Acquisitions in his profile on the Pelosi Ziblatt Law Group website, possibly because the Superfund development project is strapped with approximately 25 civil and criminal lawsuits since he spearheaded the effort in 2004.

Madison Coming Early 2023 to the SF ShipyardPhoto:
quote marks

Today, you can buy a house at The Shipyard overlooking the iconic Gantry Crane on the historic Gun Mole Pier- where the USS Independence was hauled back from 1946 atomic bomb weapons testing in the South Pacific and docked for years as a floating radiation laboratory and where Little Boy was loaded on July 15, 1945, en route to Hiroshima - for only $300,000!”

Today, you can buy a house at The Shipyard overlooking the iconic Gantry Crane on the historic Gun Mole Pier- where the USS Independence was hauled back from 1946 atomic bomb weapons testing in the South Pacific and docked for years as a floating radiation laboratory and where Little Boy was loaded on July 15, 1945, en route to Hiroshima - for only $300,000!

Neighborhood Images
Photos by Shirletha Holmes-Boxx, Kelly Tankersley and Ahimsa Porter Sumchai

You will have to overlook views of neighbors living across the street from Hunters View public housing taken in 2022 and January 23.

You will have to ignore the findings of the 2022 Civil Grand Jury report, and it’s projected level of sea level rise on a contaminated shoreline landfill in an earthquake liquefaction zone.

Groundwater rise at Hunters Point
Pathways Climate Institute and San Francisco Estuary Institute-Aquatic Science Center, “Shallow Groundwater Response to Sea Level Rise in the San Francisco Bay Area: Existing and Future Conditions,”estimated release 2022
Illegal excavations such as this are
documented in the residents' lawsuit

And you will have to turn your head and look the other way, knowing Hunters Point hilltop residents filed a Proposition 65 legal injunction on June 19, 2021, with photographs and video evidence submitted to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. The submission showed illegal backhoe excavations conducted by Master Developer Lennar along an unreinforced fence line on Kiska Road.

On the other side of that fence sits the Hunters Point Boys & Girls Club and Wu Yee Children’s Services. Northwest of that fence is the Northridge Community Garden. And, just one block south, a four-year-old boy died of brain cancer in 2022.

“For the first time, we have the Navy’s signature on an agreement that ensures the conveyance will begin shortly.” —Mayor Gavin Newsom 04/01/04

Conveyance Agreement

The 2004 April Fool’s Day edition of the San Francisco Chronicle includes an article by Edward Epstein of the Washington Bureau detailing signing a legally binding Conveyance Agreement. Mayor Gavin Newsom and Navy Assistant Secretary Hansford T. Johnson signed the transfer of Parcel A of the Hunters Point Shipyard to the City and County of San Francisco. The agreement, which had already been announced with embarrassing fanfare by Nancy Pelosi, Willie Brown and Navy Secretary Gordon England, came despite a letter from the Navy to Newsom weeks earlier, expressing doubts about proceeding with the January 2004 symbolic agreement.

Newsom and Lennar plan
Gavin Newsom poses with Lennar's development plan

“According to the Chronicle, Newsom met in the Capitol offices of Nancy Pelosi on March 31, 2004. In attendance were Navy Assistant Secretary Johnson, Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, and Rep. John Murtha, D-Penn., ranking Democrat on the House Military Appropriations committee. Pelosi brought them in to convince the Navy that the time for delay had passed. Murtha made it clear, he wanted the binding agreement signed “by Wednesday.”

The Navy signed the accord despite fresh evidence the Radiological Affairs Support Office (RASO) raised about the safety of the property for residential development following the release of a massive investigation into the use of radioactive materials at the shipyard from 1939 to 2003. The document is called the Historical Radiological Assessment (HRA).

Radiological Assesment Map
A map documenting the extensive base-wide radiological investigations and the regions of contamination that was deleted from publication in the Final HRA

As Founding Chair of the Hunters Point Shipyard Restoration Advisory Board Radiological Subcommittee, I contributed to all three iterations of the HRA and have all three hard copy iterations in the archive. The first draft of the HRA included a map documenting the extensive base-wide radiological investigations and the regions of contamination. This map was deleted from publication in the Final HRA.

The committee released the Historical Radiological Assessment in final format on August 7, 2004. It documented hundreds of radiation-contaminated buildings, soils, and dry docks, as well as the entire storm drain and sanitary sewer system at the site of the post-World War II operations of the Naval Radiological Defense Laboratories.

Fresh Peach
Fresh peach from a community
garden. Photo by Mishwa Lee

A front-page story in the March 8, 2007 edition of the Chronicle referenced a February 16, 2007 memo written by the director of Base Reuse for Mayor Gavin Newsom. The memo proposed that the City take full ownership of the Hunters Point Shipyard and implement a plan to accelerate the cleanup of the Federal Superfund site by using a “dirty transfer” of property from the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Priorities List. The proposed “dirty development plan” would hasten the development of a property at the top of the Superfund list by removing federal, state and local government regulatory oversight of stringent health-based cleanup standards and dismantle the federal Superfund Act’s requirement for public participation in the cleanup process.

In September 2009, the Navy disbanded the Hunters Point Shipyard Restoration Advisory Board in a move opposed by the EPA. {ref}

In the June 2022 report Buried Problems and a Buried Process - the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in a Time of Climate Change, the San Francisco Civil Grand Jury recommended the Board of Supervisors create, “without delay,” a permanent Hunters Point Shipyard Cleanup Oversight Committee “charged with looking after the City’s best interests in the cleanup.”

“It should perform general due diligence and communicate the City’s concerns to the Navy and regulators ahead of major decision-making about the cleanup.”

Radioactive soil at Hunters Point
An old battery substation af Parcel E-2 South Basin Shoreline that was in between the graving docks. You can see some of the electrical machinery submerged in the water to the bay that has flooded in.

In June of 2020Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order during the height of the raging Covid-19 pandemic and the California wildfire season. It opened outdoor construction in the City neighborhood with the worst air quality, highest infant mortality rates, and statewide high incidences of asthma and cardiopulmonary disease.

Newsom's Executive Order
Newsom's Executive Order setting the construction in motion.
Neighbors of Hunters Point

The neighborhood is home to the City’s highest Covid - 19 case rates and worst air pollution.

“No public official at any level of state or local government shall make, participate in making or in any way use his official position to influence a government decision in which he knows or has reason to know he has a financial interest.” —California Government Code Section 81002(c).

As chief executive of San Francisco, Mayor Gavin Newsom took what constitutes a discretionary action by entering into the Conveyance Agreement for the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard with the U.S. Department of the Navy.

The Conveyance Agreement set a timetable for giving the City a portion of The Shipyard - Parcel A - and granted commercial development rights to Lennar/BVHP, a limited liability private, non-governmental corporation.

Mayor Newsom memorialized violations of state and local ethics laws in January of 2005 by signing into law Hunters Point Shipyard redevelopment measures he personally sponsored before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and accepted - in an official ceremony - the transfer of Parcel A from the Secretary of the Navy at the cost of one dollar!

Dr. Ahimsa Sumchai is a climate activist living on the Westside.

February 8, 2023

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