PROGRESSIVES FRISK IN FRISCO
Tom Gallagher writes: They don't make routs much bigger than the one San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and allies experienced on December 12. After the runoffs of the city's first district Board of Supervisors elections since the days of Harvey Milk and Dan White, Brown-backed candidates had lost nine of eleven seats to an insurgency built to a considerable extent on Tom Ammiano's remarkable 1999 write-in mayoral campaign and fueled by the widespread perception of a city for sale. While deputy public defender Matt Gonzalez increased his 44-to-28 percent preliminary edge to 66-to-34–despite switching from Democrat to Green in the interim–none of Brown's runoff candidates reached even 52 percent (one drew only 19 percent) despite an overwhelming soft-money advantage.
DEATH ROW SURVIVORS
Scattered through the text of Robert Sherrill's article in this issue are photographs of eight former Illinois death-row prisoners taken by Loren Santow, a Chicago-based, widely published freelance photographer. The photos of men wrongly condemned to death were taken for a poster conceived by Rob Warden, a writer and activist, to publicize the errors endemic to the system. Before the present moratorium and since the restoration of capital punishment in Illinois, twelve prisoners have been executed, and thirteen freed because of innocence or lack of evidence. See Death Row Roll Call on the Nation website (www.thenation.com/deathrow) for a list of inmates awaiting execution and links to register a protest.
We congratulate the following friends who were awarded the National Humanities Medal: Toni Morrison, editorial board member; Barbara Kingsolver, Nation cruise panelist; and Earl Shorris, contributor and founder of classics courses for the poor. And National Medal of the Arts winner Benny Carter, reader.