Campos, Kim Accused of Fighting Against HIV Funds

by Seth Hemmelgarn

Bay Area Reporter

Saturday July 2, 2016

San Francisco Supervisors David Campos and Jane Kim are being accused of fighting efforts to add $2.5 million to the city's budget for its Getting to Zero initiative.

As the Bay Area Reporter noted on its blog last week, gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener announced last week that he'd secured another $2.5 million for the initiative, which aims to eliminate new HIV infections in the city.

Advocates had asked Mayor Ed Lee for $3.1 million to support the initiative, but Lee had included only $600,000 in the budget he proposed in June. The city's fiscal year starts July 1.

But the full funding was included after Campos and Kim tried to cut the amount for Getting to Zero, according to a source with extensive knowledge of the negotiations. Kim's office in particular argued that the money was part of the city's broader social services and that they had jurisdiction over it.

Asked about fighting against full Getting to Zero funding, Campos, a gay man who represents District 9, said, "That's not true. That's a lie."

He asked who'd made the claim and said, "They can say that to my face."

"What we have said with respect to this" is that the "Getting to Zero funding should be protected as part of the larger Budget Justice Coalition ask, which includes Getting to Zero," Campos said. "It wasn't enough to focus on Getting to Zero."

Campos pointed to several other services that he and others were supporting. Those include food security, which was cut from $13 million to $1.9 million. He noted that LGBTs are among the people the programs help.

"All those asks are connected and had to be protected," Campos said.

"Look at it comprehensively," he said. "If all you do is talk about Getting to Zero but you don't talk about food security, you're actually hurting the people you're trying to help. ... I wasn't just fighting for Getting to Zero, I was fighting for everything else."

Kim, who represents District 6 and is running against Wiener for the state Senate seat about to be vacated by termed out gay Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), said it's "not true at all" she fought against full funding for Getting to Zero and called it "a crazy accusation."

"We wanted to fully fund the entire Getting to Zero ask, as well as all the Budget Justice Coalition requests, as we do every year," she said. The other requests included funding aimed at homelessness, short-term rental subsidies, and other needs.

Wiener, who announced the full funding last week, said Tuesday that he was "thrilled" about getting the $2.5 million added for Getting to Zero.

"We created this wonderful plan to end HIV infections and HIV-related deaths in San Francisco. Without funding, we can't execute on that plan," he said.

He added, "I'm very grateful to [District 2 Supervisor] Mark Farrell, who was steadfast" as chair of the board's Budget and Finance Committee "in defending this funding. We did have pushback at the board in terms of efforts to cut the Getting to Zero funding, but we were able to overcome that resistance and get the funding through 100 percent."

Wiener declined to comment on Campos or Kim's roles in the process.

Farrell said, "We have a historic opportunity in San Francisco in terms of Getting to Zero, and I fully believe within our city's intertwined fabric with our LGBT community, this is a priority every single San Franciscan should support. I certainly wanted to see this through to the end of our budget process."

'Significant Dynamics at Play'

Others who talked about the negotiations indicated they were pleased with the outcome even as they strove to be diplomatic about what it took to get there.

"San Francisco is passionate about their politics and San Francisco is also passionate about their community services," said Brett Andrews, executive director of Positive Resource Center, a nonprofit that provides benefits counseling and other services to people living with HIV/AIDS. "... It's no surprise there were significant dynamics at play this year."

Dana Van Gorder, executive director of Project Inform, said, "We're naturally happy with the result."

He indicated getting to that result was bumpy, though.

"The board's budget process is tough. They always have a lot of groups that are asking for a considerable sum of money, and they have to do a lot of juggling," Van Gorder said.

"I understand people were thinking of different numbers for Getting to Zero during that process," he said, but "We were very happy Scott and Mark stuck with the larger number."

Lance Toma is the executive director of the Asian and Pacific Islander Wellness Center, which provides HIV treatment and care, among other services.

"During the entire budget process, we got support from all the supervisors for HIV services and for Getting to Zero, and during the most recent process, I know that they all were weighing and balancing so many other priorities around safety net services," including help for transgender people, seniors, and others, Toma said. "These are all intersectional issues with respect to HIV, and it's critical that this network of services is preserved. Ultimately, all the supervisors in the end backed Getting to Zero's full request."

One advocate was critical of Kim, however.

Jeff Sheehy, who once served as former Mayor Gavin Newsom's AIDS czar, said Kim "doesn't seem to understand what's going on with people who have HIV and AIDS."

Sheehy, who is one of the more than 100 members of the Getting to Zero consortium, emphasized that he was speaking as an individual, not on behalf of the group.

The Getting to Zero efforts aren't geared specifically toward gay white men in the Castro, Sheehy said.

"It's not even about gay white men in the Castro," he said

However, he said, "I think that's what people think it's about. That's all I can guess. But it's not."

Sheehy said the Getting to Zero initiative is working to address issues like food insecurity and homelessness.

"It's ironic that most of what we're proposing ... is likely to be spent in Jane Kim's district," he said. "I don't think she even realizes that."

Kim's district includes the Tenderloin, one of San Francisco's poorest neighborhoods.

The supervisor's shown "a lack of awareness of the work" that HIV/AIDS-based nonprofits in her district do "and the clients they serve," Sheehy said.

"I wonder how well she'll be able to represent people with HIV" if elected to serve in Sacramento. "I worry for our community."

In response to an email about Sheehy's comments, Kim wrote, "Our entire progressive team at the board fought to protect safety net programs and services for the most vulnerable San Franciscans, including HIV funding requests such as the one from Getting to Zero. None of us believe that HIV funding should be politicized and we worked together to ensure that this critical and life-saving funding would be part of our final budget. We worked very closely with the Budget Justice Coalition to craft a budget which includes strong investments in programs and services that make the quality of life better, safer, and healthier for all of us and especially the most vulnerable. Our budget is a statement of our values and I am proud of the one we passed at budget committee last week."

Support for Kim

Others contacted the Bay Area Reporter to support Kim.

Austin Padilla, who's living with HIV, is co-chair of the Getting to Zero initiative's Ending Stigma Committee and just completed an internship in Kim's office.

"I have worked closely with Jane for the past year, particularly on the ending stigma initiative, but I am also confident in her understanding of retention and re-engagement in care, especially for younger patients such as myself and for seniors living with AIDS Survivor Syndrome," Padilla said in an email. "By empowering people living with HIV, Jane has proven to me that she will represent our community with humility, integrity, and respect to the history of HIV/AIDS."

He added, "I am 110 percent comfortable with her representing me in Sacramento as a person living with HIV and a founder of Getting to Zero."

Brian Basinger, who's living with HIV, is co-founder of San Francisco's Q Foundation, which provides housing and other services to many people living with HIV.

"I've heard Jeff Sheehy has provided a comment, even though he wasn't present for any of the discussions," he said. "I can say without equivocation that every supervisor was exceptionally supportive of the Budget Justice request that included Getting To Zero. To state or imply anything to the contrary is simply not supportable."

He also said, "The truth of the matter is that we all won big. In a single budget season, Q Foundation got funding to make up for many of the hundreds of lost rental subsidies that the HIV community has suffered over the years, and Getting To Zero got millions of dollars to fund it's new program. Could we have gotten more housing for people with HIV/AIDS if Getting To Zero was not asking for so much money? Yes. Am I complaining? No. Because that's how Budget Justice works. We all give a little and we all get a little."

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