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San Francisco’s AIDS Czar Insults Local CARE Council

Desperate to appear actively involved in budgeting processes leading up to proposed mid-year cuts in HIV/AIDS services, San Francisco’s so-called “AIDS czar,” Jeff Sheehy, attempted at the 11th hour to pitch a “request” on behalf of Mayor Newsom to the local community advisory body known as the CARE Council.  The council is a federally-mandated body whose duties are to determine the size and scope of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, to undertake needs assessments of the healthcare services needed by the community, to set service category priorities, to allocate funds to each service category, and to subsequently determine various funding “scenarios” should our jurisdiction (known as an Eligible Metropolitan Area, or “EMA”) receive less than, or more than, funds expected.

So when Mitch Katz, Director of Public Health for San Francisco, announced his plans to reduce DPH’s mid-year budget reductions — which resulted from the failure of voters to pass a sales tax increase and a business tax measure — that include $1.3 million in reduced frunding for HIV prevention services, the Mayor dispatched his mayor-appointed AIDS Czar with some sort of hat-in-hand “request” to the CARE Council (presumably a funding request), details of which proposed request remain unknown.

The council tentatively scheduled an agenda item for its Novermber 22 full council meeting, setting aside time for Sheehy to make his pitch from the Mayor and to introduce himself to the council, since he has now failed to appear before the council since his appointment as Czarina last June, fully six months ago.  

Thinking that perhaps the Czar, the Mayor, and perhaps Dr. Katz still do not understand the processes by which the council operates, the Co-Chairs of the council reportedly sent Mr. Sheehy a lettter prior to its November forum, explaining their processes and various mandates set in stone by the federal government.  

Upon receipt of the council’s letter, Czar Sheehy called, apparently finally understanding how the council’s processes work, cancelling his appearance. Attempting to “make nice” in order to build bridges with the Mayor’s office, the Council invited Mr. Sheehy to attend nonetheless, in order to introduce himself (at long last) to the council and for Sheehy to receive proper introduction to each council member.

Sadly, on Monday, November 22, despite having kept the czar on the council’s agenda, Sheehy turned out to be a no-show, therein, however inadvertently, insulting the council by his failure to show up, yet again.

While council members appeared nonplused on November 22, some in attendance wondered whether Sheehy’s absence was a deliberate thumbing of protocol, and a deliberate snub to the council’s authority to establish priorities through their independent authority.

While Sheehy may be all too willing to burn bridges, the strained relations between the council and the mayor bode ill for San Franciscan’s relying on the very HIV/AIDS heatlhcare services that Sheehy has neglected to nurture in his role as the mayor’s policy advisor on AIDS issues.

It’s time the mayor replace Sheehy with someone who knows the political capital of accepting an invitation to introduce himself to, and learn about the political connections of, the very people he appears to prefer snubbing. After all, the LGBT community knows, all too well, about snubbing and being snubbed, and the insults that therein ensue.




Copyright (c) 2004 by Patrick Monette-Shaw.  All rights reserved.  This work may not be reposted anywhere on the Web, or reprinted in any print media, without express written permission of the author.  E-mail him at