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Bay Area Headlines: Thursday, 6/25/20, AM

Progressive SF Politician Harry Britt Died / Santa Clara County Supervisors Bridging Digital Divide / Oakland Police Budget Reduced

Progressive SF Politician Harry Britt Died

Harry Britt, who replaced assassinated San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and over 14 years fought for progressive and gay rights measures, has died. He was 82.

Britt died Wednesday, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

A one-time Methodist minister, Britt worked with Milk, California’s first openly gay elected official, on his campaigns. Britt was also openly gay and appointed to the board in 1979 following the 1978 shooting of Milk and then-Mayor George Moscone by former Supervisor Dan White.

Britt authored the nation's first comprehensive domestic partners legislation, which was passed more than a decade later, the Chronicle said.

He also fought against the AIDS epidemic and for expanding rent control, increasing civilian oversight of police and limiting downtown growth. He left the board in 1993.

“Harry was progressive before the word became vogue,” said U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who appointed Britt after she became mayor. “He was a powerful advocate for the gay community who never took no for an answer."

As mayor, Feinstein vetoed Britt's bid to allow domestic partners of city workers to collect benefits and to expand rent control to vacant apartments.

In 1987, Britt ran for Congress but lost to Nancy Pelosi, whom he accused of being too conservative.

On Wednesday, Pelosi called Britt “a leader who carried forth the mission of Harvey Milk while building his own beautiful legacy of progress for all people in our city.”

“Harry Britt was a pioneer in the LGBTQ community’s entry into electoral politics,” said state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco. “Harry helped create political space for people like me to serve in elected office.”

Santa Clara County Supervisors Bridging Digital Divide

More than 9,000 families in the heart of Silicon Valley don’t have access to the Internet on a computer at home. The county’s lawmakers on Tuesday voted to approve more than $7 million to change that.

Most of those needing the computers and connections are in San Jose and the Southern, more rural parts of the county. 

Cindy Chavez, the president of the Board of Supervisors, noted in a marathon supervisors’ meeting Tuesday that Internet access at home is even more essential today because most of the basic functions of life have moved online and institutions providing public access, like libraries, are closed. She also said that she doesn’t want low income Latinx kids without access to fall further behind academically than they already are. 

Supervisor Mike Wasserman reluctantly sided with Chavez, but noted that tech industry constituents, with their stocks at record highs, should do more to step up. 

Other sources of funding for the initiative come from San Jose, federal funds, AT&T and Verizon, and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The county currently projects that it will run a $300 million deficit for it’s total budget the next fiscal year. The board needs to finalize its budget in August, and equip families with internet access by the time school starts.

Oakland Police Budget Reduced

The Oakland City Council voted on a new budget, Tuesday, with minimal cuts to the Oakland Police Department Budget despite calls to defund the OPD.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Oakland city council rejected Councilwoman Nikki Fortunato Bas proposal of a twenty five million dollar budget cut to the Oakland Police Department. Instead, the council approved a budget that would delay the police academy, which would cut $2.5 million dollars from the police, a small fraction of the Oakland Police Department’s three hundred and thirty million dollar annual budget. The city council also designated 2.35 million dollars to a program that would reach mental health professionals for emergency calls instead of police officers. 

The vote for the approved budget was 5 to 1, with Fortunato Bas voting against it. Councilmembers Dan Kalb and Sheng Thao abstained because they didn’t have time to read the plan that was released the day before the meeting.

Kevin Vance created a program of folk music for KALW, A Patchwork Quilt, in October 1991. He grew up in Berkeley during the 1960s and '70s and spent his years learning in public schools, community colleges, bookstores, libraries, and non-commercial radio stations, as well as from the people around him. When he's not on the radio, then he's selling books, taking care of his family, listening to music, entering stuff into a computer, or taking a class.