inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #26 of 37: Mike Weiss (mikeweiss) Tue 22 Mar 11 08:52
Glad to, Laura.

When Dan White informed Mayor George Moscone that he was resigning
from the Board of Supervisors, Moscone, a sentimentalist, told him he
admired him for putting his family first. He felt sorry for the young
man, so clearly in above his head. Harvey Milk, on the other hand,
reacted gleefully to the news. "That's terrific," he said. "Now I've
got a sixth vote."

On Monday, November 13th, the Board clerk accepted Dan's resignation.
Dan's supporters - the people who had contributed to his campaign and
worked closely with him in City Hall - were apoplectic. Paul Chignell,
for one, the head of the Police Officers Association, who frequently
hung out in Dan's office. If Moscone appointed a liberal - and of
course he would - then there were enough votes to adopt a settlement of
a long-standing bias suit against the Police Department vehemently
opposed by the POA. The Chamber of Commerce urged Dan to reconsider and
so did the realtors and one of the city's most powerful Democratic
fixers, Mo Bernstein. Dianne Feinstein, Dan's mentor on the Board, and
perhaps the one person who could talk sense to him was out of town. But
even Dan's mother joined the chorus: the family offered interest-free
loans to help with his finances, and some of his younger siblings
volunteered to work at the Hot Potato on Pier 39.

Everybody was suggesting he was a quitter, and Dan bridled at that.
The greatest goad to his changing his mind might well have been the
shame he felt at letting down so many people. On whom did he blame his
sense of shame? Himself, for having quit and run when the going got
tough? For whining ceaselessly that the rest of the Supervisors and
their ilk were sneaks and snakes? Not a chance. Instead he blamed
George and Harvey, those opponents of his who would be dishing out the
humiliation he brought on himself.

But nobody had more influence in changing Dan's mind than Ray Sloan,
Dan's campaign manager and chief aide at City Hall. On the night of
November 14th, Ray and Dan's other aide, Denise Apcar, met with Dan at
the Irish Embassy, a bar near City Hall, and Ray issued a calculated

"Afraid George won't give you your seat back if you ask for it?" Ray
asked. It was a question calculated to stir up Dan's competitive
nature. So Dan changed his mind yet again. His moods were swinging
between despair and elation. When his wife, Mary Ann, heard the news
from Dan she looked frightened and torn up. Something was dreadfully
wrong with her husband and she felt powerless to fix it.

Dan met with George and asked to be reseated. George, feeling bad for
Dan and wanting to give him a second chance, said he'd give him his job
back if there were no legal impediments. The mayor then asked the City
Attorney to research this unprecedented situation, in which a
Supervisor quits and then changes his mind.

And that enraged Harvey, who stormed into George's office and told him
the gay community would not look kindly on the mayor's re-election
campaign if the leading opponent of Harvey's agenda on the Board was
given a second chance. Many other liberal supporters of the mayor were
also angry at George's willingness to reseat Dan.

On November 18th, George explained to Dan that there was a lot of
opposition, even from Dan's own district. Dan's votes in opposition to
his programs, Goerge explained, weren't making his job any easier. For
instance, there was the bias suit settlment. Just to pull an example
out of the air. It was a political message, and not an especially
subtle one. But Dan understood the situation to be personal not
political. He either didn't understand or didn't want to understand.

The next day, Congressman George Ryan, on a fact finding mission to
the People's Temple compound in Guyana was shot and killed, and the
Rev. Jim Jones' followers, most all of them from the Bay area, began to
commit mass suicide. A sense of tragedy and gloom settled over the
city, and in particular at City Hall where Jones had been an important
ally of Moscone and Willie Brown. Dan's situation was on the back
burner, and while it was he lost heart again. 

The City Attorney told George he was under no legal obligation to
reappoint Dan. Nor had Dan signalled George that he was ready to make a
political deal to get his seat back. And there was precious little
support in Dan's district. George decided that there was no compelling
political reason to reappoint Dan, and began to canvas for someone to
replace him. But what he did not do was call Dan and tell him, as he
had assured Dan he would once his mind was made up.

On the night of November 26th, an already anxious and agitated Dan
White who had been moping around his house, not shaving or going out,
recived a phone call from a reporter who told him that the mayor's
office was appointing somebody else to his seat in the morning, and did
he have a comment?

He was about to spend the worst night of his life.
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #27 of 37: (fom) Tue 22 Mar 11 14:12
You mean Leo Ryan.
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #28 of 37: Travis Bickle has left the building. (divinea) Tue 22 Mar 11 14:47
I find myself wondering if the outcome would have been different if he
had simply been told that he was finished, up front and immediately,
and not had the seat sort of dangled in front of him by Moscone. What
do you think about that, Mike?
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #29 of 37: Mike Weiss (mikeweiss) Tue 22 Mar 11 17:25
Leo Ryan indeed, thanks fom

I have often wondered the same thing, divinea. I'm inclined to believe
it would have been different. When you listen to Dan White's
confession what seems to be tearing him apart is all the dishonesty
among the politicians. On the other hand, I think George reacted first
with his heart and later with his head, not a bad sequence for a
politician. And certainly nothing that should get him killed. In a
sense, he was respecting Dan by assuming he could take a swift kick in
his political rear end and rebound from that.

And isn't this just the problem with the Tea Party? It's one thing to
sweep the scoundrals out of office  but if you replace them with
idealists and naifs, well, the consequences of that are likely to be
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #30 of 37: (fom) Tue 22 Mar 11 18:54
I think White must have been very unbalanced to kill two people in cold 
blood, in a premeditated manner, so I think that even if Moscone had been 
clearer, White still would have done something weird. I mean I don't think 
that Moscone caused the murders by seeming to waffle. (I know you're not 
saying that.)

I attended a Native American event a few months before and I was talking 
with some tribal elders, medicine people, etc, and at one point they 
mentioned in a very matter-of-fact way that San Francisco was expected to 
have a big earthquake or similarly major event around October or November. 
(It took me  while to recall that and ponder whether there was a 
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #31 of 37: Mike Weiss (mikeweiss) Wed 23 Mar 11 07:58
The 1989 Loma Prieta quake was on October 17.
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #32 of 37: (fom) Thu 24 Mar 11 00:58
Not sure how that's related to what I posted; I was talking about 1978.
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #33 of 37: Mike Weiss (mikeweiss) Thu 24 Mar 11 09:03
I guess I was suggesting that they were right but eleven years early
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #34 of 37: Laura Hogan (proctor) Thu 24 Mar 11 09:47
Sounds good to me!

Anyway, let's take up the cliffhanger in your last post. I don't think
we need to go into too much gory detail about the assasination itself,
but before you start talking about the trial, why don't we rather
briefly go over what happened on November 27, 1978. I'd also like to
talk about those events with specific reference to the suggestion made
by <oz> early in the conversation that Milk was merely an afterthought.
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #35 of 37: Mike Weiss (mikeweiss) Fri 25 Mar 11 09:03
Dan White didn't sleep on the night of November 26th. He brooded all
night long. On a table in his study, he spread old old newspaper
clippings. Many of them were about his father's great act of heroism,
saving a young man about to jump to his death and receiving a medal for
bravery from former Mayor Christopher. There were also clippings about
Dan but none about his own triumphs, or his act of bravery as a
fireman. Instead they were a record of his defeats at City Hall. 
In the closet on a top shelf he kept his old service revolver and a
new box of bullets, snug in their styrofoam. He oiled the revolver and
slotted shells into its five chambers. Then he removed ten extra
bullets one at a time, wrapped them in a handkerchief, put on a good
suit and tie, shaved and waited for his aide Denise Apcar to arrive and
drive him to City Hall. He intended to make George tell him man to
man, face to face that he would not be reappointed. And he told Denise
he also wanted to give Harvey a piece of his mind. He asked Denise for
her keys to the supervisors' offices (his own were turned in when his
resignation was accepted). So it was always clear that he intended to
see both George and Harvey. He had enough bullets for both.

When he climbed the steps to City Hall - Denise went to park the car -
he saw that the cop working the metal detector was somebody he didn't
know although he knew a lot of cops. So he reversed course, went around
the corner, and climbed through an unlocked basement window. He
hesitated again in front of the grand doors to the mayor's suite,
knowing full well that George's security detail sat inside. When a
clerk used her keys to open a private side door, he went through after

When he was finally admitted to George's light-filled office, with its
soaring ceiling and view across the Civic Center, he immediately asked
if he was going to be reappointed. George, who disliked delivering bad
news, told him he was not. That it was a political decision and that's
all there was to it. But he felt bad for the young man. He put his arm
around Dan's shoulders consolingly, and guided him into a smaller,
darker, more intimate sitting room beside the ceremonial office. I've
always thought that when George touched Dan - the man who could not
bear even to touch his wife in the depth of his self-pity - he sealed
his fate. George offered him a drink. It wasn't yet noon, and Dan
hardly drank.

George lit a cigarette. Dan took out his revolver. George began to
rise and Dan shot him three times, then twice more in his brain as the
mayor lay on the floor bleeding, his cigarette burning a hole in the
thick carpet.

Dan reholstered his gun and went rapidly across City Hall to the
supervisors side, the west side. Later, at his trial, he would claim
that he thought to see Harvey only after he saw one of his aides. But
all the evidence - his stated intention, the extra bullets, his
avoiding the metal detector and the security officers - indicated that
he was carrying out a plan. 

First he ducked into his old office, which had been stripped of
everything personal except some bucolic wallpaper Mary Ann had chosen
for him. He reloaded. Where he reloaded would become a crucial issue at
his trial and his lawyers would claim he reloaded automatically over
George's body because of his police and military training. But there is
a great deal of evidence showing that in fact he reloaded just before
he crossed a narrow corridor, ducked his head into Harvey's office, and
said, "Harv, can I see you for a minute."

Dan's presence undoubtedly made Harvey nervous - he knew that George
would be appointing Dan's replacement within the hour, and that he had
played an important role in insuring Dan was not reappointed - but he
joined him nonetheless. In the confines of the tiny office, Dan
assassinated Harvey as he had assassinated George, felling him with
body shots and finishing him off with two shots to the back of his head
as he stood above his crumpled body.

He fled City Hall, called Mary Ann and asked her to meet him at a
nearby Cathedral, and told her what he had done. As they walked the
several blocks to Northern police station - they were not spotted
although a massive manhunt was underway - Mary Ann kept one hand on her
husband's revolver, which had destroyed her life and her family as
surely as it had destroyed his other victims.

At Northern station he turned himself in to Lt.Paul Chignell, the head
of the police officers association, and one of the people who relied
on Dan's vote, and pressured him to ask for his job back.

(Brief and non-gory, Laura.)
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #36 of 37: Laura Hogan (proctor) Mon 28 Mar 11 17:10
Non-gory is a good thing these days.

Mike, you start Book Two of Double Play (entitled The Trial) which a
quotation from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, which I'll
quote in its entirety here, 

     "--and if you're not good directly," she added, "I'll put you
through into Looking-glass House. How would you like that?"
     "Now, if you'll only attend, Kitty, and not talk so much, I'll
tell you all my ideas about Looking-glass House. First, there's the
room you can see through the glass -- that's just the same as our
drawing room, only the things go the other way."

That passage gives us as good an idea as any about how the Dan White
trial went. Why don't you set up a discussion about the trial by
briefly going through the players in the trial on both sides, the State
and the defense, and also talk a little about the defense strategy at
the trial.
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #37 of 37: Julie Sherman (julieswn) Wed 30 Mar 11 18:27
Thank you Michael and Laura for guiding our discussion over the last
several weeks. Inkwell now turns its attention to a new subject, but
this topic will remain  open indefinitely to continue the conversation.

Again,thanks to all who contributed to the discussion.

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