Transcript of Speaker Pelosi’s Remarks at the Grand Opening of the Edwin M. Lee Apartments at Mission Bay

May 4, 2021
Press Release

San Francisco – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Mayor London Breed at the Grand Opening of the Edwin M. Lee Apartments at Mission Bay.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks:

Speaker Pelosi.  Peace, joy, hope, love, Norman, he’s still here, but he's also – we're joined by Malcolm as well.  Malcolm Yeung, thank you.  Thank you to Chinatown Community Development Center.  

The Mayor talked about this taking a village, and I want to follow up on her very apt theme.  And this village is led by Mayor London Breed.  She – on this housing subject for her whole official life and probably before that in a volunteer basis.  So, many of the things that came to fruition here, have their roots in work that she did as a supervisor, and of course now as Mayor.  

So, let's talk about that village, that village that is San Francisco.  It's a place that has beautiful diversity.  And that's why this collaboration between our veterans and CCDC is so appropriate.

The diversity of San Francisco, our strength, but I always say, our diversity is our strength, our unity is our power, that there's unity between a CCDC and our veterans, is what has made this a magical, wonderful occasion.  In addition to that, the collaboration as the Mayor described – federal, state, local, private sector Ron Conway, John Cager I see others who have played a role.  

And for years, many of us have been involved in Low Income Housing Tax Credit, which has been a route to so much, but again it has to be combined with other things to make this all happen.  

I also want to just talk for a moment about our veterans.  Not a moment – but a moment in connection to what's happening in D.C. right now, right now, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dennis McDonough.  Dennis used to be the President Obama's Chief of Staff.  And as President Obama's Chief of Staff, one of his priorities was about our homeless veterans.  He came out here.  He came out here to make sure that Project Homeless Connect was working for our veterans.  He came out here personally only for that purpose.  And he has been following this issue.

So, the fact that he is now, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs in the Biden Administration resurrecting what happened between HUD and Veterans Affairs Administration, then under Obama, and now, resurrected in the Biden Administration under Dennis MacDonald's leadership and Marcia Fudge the Secretary of HUD, who has just recently worked with, with our Mayor.

So, this again is all this coming together and deep seated values in our city, our patriotism, our diversity, our respect for other opinions in collaboration.  I respect for the public, private, nonprofit sectors coming together and recognizing that it doesn't work without all of that.  

Our VIP today for speaking will be Margie Talavera, who is a resident, and we're all very eager to hear from her, but also just want to acknowledge that all of those who are finding housing here as the Mayor said to raise their families to, to reach their own fulfillment, to have their own comfort, that's what this is really about.  It's about the public policy to meet the needs of the people and to do so in a way that is, again, collaborative.  I know that Supervisor Matt Haney is either – there you are – masks are throwing me off a little bit.  Thank you Matt for your involvement and Jason Elliot, Mayor Lee's former Chief, Chief of Staff, so beautiful.

But again, when we talk about all the things that are San Francisco, it's about family, and here we are to pay tribute to Mayor Breed.  Anita is here.  Anita, thank you for sharing Ed Lee with us, so completely, and thank you for honoring us with your presence today.  

[Applause]

Again, when the Mayor, when Mayor Lee came into office, he was ready.  You know, with the jobs that he has had in the city equipped him to do the job.

When Mayor London Breed came from the board – he came from the administrative obviously – she came from the Board of Supervisors, she was ready.  She was ready to bring all of these incredible assets of our community together.  And when we take some pride in what we are able to do at the federal level, it is only possible because we have initiatives of national significance that spring from our community.  

So, again this is, you know an occasion like this, somebody will say, ‘It's my pleasure to be here.’  It really is my pleasure to be here today to pay tribute to every aspect of our great city, as we meet the needs of the people.  And some other good news is that in our bill the rescue package, there's $17 billion more for veterans that wasn't there before.  The homeless aspects have not been fully defined, but that's in the works.

So, again, this is a priority for all of us.  I talked about collaboration.  I talked about unity, and the word community, which San Francisco is a great community, has the word unity in it.  So, I have this pin, which I work quite a bit.  It's a flag.  It's a flag that has on it, ‘One country, One vision.’  That's what we can say about our city of San Francisco.  We have a vision of meeting the needs of the people in a way that is respectful of their aspirations, as well our capabilities, and we want to have them have the biggest aspirations and us to have the best capability to meet their needs.

So, congratulations to everyone who had anything to do with Veterans Commons.  I can't wait to hear from our special guests.  Representative Margie, of the, of the people who live here, they are truly our VIPs, our very important people, as are all of you who made today path possible.

So, yes, it is my pleasure to be here to congratulate everyone, but especially personally to pay respects to Anita, and our dearly beloved, Mayor Lee.  He's looking down, as – did you say that Norman?  Did you say something like that?

Supervisor Yee.  Yes, I did.

Speaker Pelosi.  I thought so.  I'm always imitating Norman.  What can you do?  He has so much to say.  Anyway, thank you for the opportunity to share some thoughts with you.  Congratulations on everything that is happening here, and thank you Mayor Breed for being the catalyst to make something – to bring all of this together and make so much possible.

Congratulations and San Francisco strong.  Thank you.

***

Speaker Pelosi.  Thank you, Norman.  This is very unplanned and unprecedented that Norman would give up the microphone ahead of time.  Right?  There we go.  

But I really want to say to you what I say to my colleagues in Washington D.C. about Michael Blecker and Swords to Plowshares.  This is a model for our nation of how to meet the needs of our vets in a way that is personal, as well as pragmatic to get the job done.

I've appointed Michael to the Veterans – Department of Veterans Affairs commission on care, where he brought his deep knowledge of what was needed for the care of our veterans.  His, shall we say, courageous disagreement – when necessary – to that he was an enormous value added.  

I knew he would be because I have seen him in action.  I started with Swords to Plowshares when Mayor Agnos was mayor, so I've seen him work with at least five mayors.  And now of course with that great Mayor Breed.

He understands that it all starts with meeting the personal needs of our vets, to honor the sacrifice they and their families have made, to recognize the challenges that they have, and that when we talk about vets – homeless vets – it's a challenge to our conscience in a very, very particular way.

And so, when we have to, we want to meet their housing needs.  We want to do so with a continuum of care that is worthy of the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform.  And nobody does it better in the country.  And I meet regularly with the veteran service organizations.  Michael has from time to time been able to join us at that big table.  And every time he does, it gives me the opportunity to take pride in what he does, take pride in how our city has recognized the value of what he has done and is doing and how it is model to the nation.  So, I appreciate Norman giving me the opportunity to say a few words.  And welcome to the podium, a real American hero, Michael Blecker, Swords to Plowshares.

***

Speaker Pelosi.  All of us?  Okay.  Come on, Mayor.  

Q:  Madam Speaker and Mayor –

Speaker Pelosi.  Mayor?  Mayor?  Okay.

Q:  So, I – Madam Speaker and Mayor, can I ask you both the same question?  On grand opening here, and I think there’s a real buzz with some of – with San Francisco almost moving to yellow tier, tourism coming back, with new masking guidance for people who’ve been vaccinated, like myself, luckily – I’m wearing a mask.  Sorry to pull it off now, but I wanted you to be able to hear me.  Any response to that?  To just moving to the yellow tier, more freedom and what it’s like to see San Francisco come back?  And what you’re [inaudible] of?

Mayor Breed.  Well, I'll just announce officially at noon San Francisco will be moving into the yellow tier.  

[Applause]

And that means less restrictions, and we are well on our way to getting to a point where hopefully, as people get vaccinated, the date that the Governor set for removing the tiers entirely has been June 15th of this year.

We have about 72 percent of San Franciscans that have received at least their first dose of the vaccine.  And we're hoping by the middle of this month, we'll get to 80, but it has been really incredible.  San Francisco is doing a wonderful job around the vaccinations.  The more people get vaccinated, the more opportunities we have to start to get back to life as we know it.  And then, we will start to ease up on restrictions based on our public health guidelines and the recommendations from our health experts.

But I don't know about you, Madam Speaker, but it feels good.

Speaker Pelosi.  It feels good.  And may I just say, a real tribute to Mayor Breed.  I say here what I say in D.C. about her.  She's a model to the country.  An example of excellence, when it came to the seeing the need, recognizing the science, playing the role of governance and making it work.  Giving people confidence that the plan she had was one that they should cooperate with because it doesn't work just by a public decree.  It has to have personal participation.  

But because of the competence she instilled, people participated.  And we are record-breaking for the country in the success of San Francisco thanks to the leadership of Mayor Breed.

And may I commend Governor Newsom as well, for his leadership, but we're talking San Francisco going yellow.  Let’s ask other reporters in case they have a question.

Q:  Are there still areas of San Francisco where, potentially with people of color, where vaccines have not been – [Inaudible] or what are those places and what [Inaudible] –

Mayor Breed.  Well, I'm really proud that from the very beginning of this pandemic, we embedded cultural equity as a part of our response.  Whether it was testing of the vaccine – we opened pop-up places for the vaccine in areas where we knew there would be challenges.  And in fact what we saw, sadly, with the Latino community is a higher number – over 40 percent at one point.  And today, it's that the number of new cases is dropped considerably, and the Latino community represents about 24 percent of those cases.  So, it has dropped significantly because we went to those communities to provide the vaccination options first, with no questions asked, with no appointment necessary.  Come as you are.  And we've been, in some cases, going door to door.  And most of the vaccines that the Department of Public Health had specifically have gone to a lot of those communities that probably would have been left out of this process.  So, I'm really proud of the city's efforts and where we are.

But I will tell you, this last bit of wrangling of those who were hesitant about getting the vaccine is going to continue to be our most challenging time.  And so, we are working with community organizations to get more creative about getting people comfortable with getting the vaccine.

Q:  Would you consider the shots – and, what is it called?  Shots and beer, the kind of thing where it’s like you get your shot and you get a beer –

Mayor Breed.  Well, I don't necessarily like beer.  I'm just gonna be honest, so.

But I do think that there has to be some level of incentives, but also it’s really about trust, right?  I know that there were some issues around trust with the Johnson&Johnson vaccine, and then we had to hold off on those vaccines.  I got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.  I've been fine.  Nothing's happened so far – cross my fingers, thank goodness.  

But the fact is, you know, I decided I was going to be an example and part of what we have to do is find creative ways to get people vaccinated, but I will tell you the conversations I've been having with a number of people. They have been – it's been challenging and in one case, I finally convinced one woman who basically was all over social media, ‘Don't get the vaccine,’ and, and encouraging other people to do that, finally say that she was encouraged by the people and the leaders that she saw, and she said: ‘Well, if it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me.  I never had a vaccine in my life before, but I'm willing to get it.’  

So, we're going to have to start getting creative because we can't force anyone to get it but we do think it's important.  It's going to lead to exactly our ability to come together like we are today, and then eventually to do so without wearing a mask and that is my hope. 

Speaker Pelosi.  If I just may add to what the Mayor said.  The – a couple of weeks ago, perhaps you were there, I was at the North East Medical Services.  We were announcing that there was $11 million that had come to that organization and what they were doing, and it was exactly what the Mayor described.  It was in Chinatown.  It was about culturally, linguistically appropriate approaches to communities.  The Mayor's word, ‘trust,’ is a very important word, and building trust in the communities.  

Now, we also have some other challenges beyond ‘one step at a time,’ ‘nothing does everything,’ and many of my colleagues, the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Joyce Beatty, Barbara Lee, right across the bay, here have had their own GOTV: get out the vaccine, get out the vaccination.  So, reaching into the African American community where there is a lot of – has been some uncertainty about this.  Each of them, I think in their weekend, this past weekend, did about 3,000 each.  So, again, about the word ‘trust.’ 

But in the Rescue Package, the language that is there is about – whether we're talking vaccines or still testing, tracing, treatment – the entire package of this – significant funding that goes, follows the path of culturally, linguistically trustworthy approach.  Not language that we could get accepted before President Biden was President of the United States.

Staff.  Last question.  Last one.

Q:  Speaker Pelosi, two questions.  One, what do you think about growing calls by House Republicans to remove Liz Cheney for speaking out against President – former President Trump?  And then the second question is about your thoughts on the recall effort.

Speaker Pelosi.  Well in terms of the recall, it's an opportunity for people to show a vote of confidence in their new – Governor Newsom, who was Mayor.  Oh, actually, six mayors.  Gavin.  Six mayors for you, Michael.  Six.  Right, six mayors. 

So, here's the thing.  We know that there's a political motivation in terms of this recall.  Okay, so that's what that is.  But there is also empathy that the Governor has shown for the people of California, because this has been painful in so many ways.  Physically, of course but psychologically, economically and in every way.  And the Governor is demonstrating clearly that he is a governor who has empathy for the concerns of the people of our state, as our Mayor has done, as all of us are concerned.  And this recall will give him an opportunity to further demonstrate that.  So while they may be doing their whatever it is they're doing with this recall, wasting time and money, it will be a time for the Governor to prevail. 

In terms – what was your first question?  

Q:  Your reaction to –

Speaker Pelosi.  Oh, Liz.  Oh, yeah.  Well, you know, I don't get involved in the – what goes on in the Republican Conference and House of Representatives.  I do commend Liz Cheney for her courage, for her patriotism and I wish her well.  Perhaps this challenge will make her stronger.  I don't know, that's up to their Caucus.  I don't welcome their participation in our Caucus and I'm sure they don't welcome my participation in theirs. 

Mayor Breed.  Amen. 

[Laughter]

Q:  One last quick question.  Facebook tomorrow plans to announce whether President Trump would be allowed to get back on the platform.  What do you think of the, you know, the pros and cons of the – allowing him to potentially get back on Facebook?

Speaker Pelosi.  Did you want to go first or do you want me to?

[Laughter]

Mayor Breed.  Madam Speaker –

Speaker Pelosi.  Okay, let me just say this. 

Mayor Breed.  Yes.

Speaker Pelosi.  I'm not a big fan of Facebook.  They have had a business model that is a business model built, built on making money on misrepresentations.  So for a long time, they made money on Russian money coming in and distorting our elections and saying, ‘What?  We didn't know it was Russia.’  Well, they’re rubles.  Okay? 

So, I'm not, again, a big fan of those – so if they're making a business decision, then that's one thing.  If they're making a values decision, then that would be another.  But, again, I'm not one of those who respects the business plan based on making money on the basis of misrepresentations and ignoring the source of those misrepresentations. 

Okay, so let me just say about our veterans.  We always say, you know, in a battle, people say on the battlefield: We leave no veteran behind.  And when they come home, we must leave no veteran behind.  No soldier behind on the field.  No veteran behind when they come home.  So, this being done in the name of Mayor Lee, under the leadership of Mayor Breed, with Swords to Plowshare and the community, Chinatown being so involved in all of this – this is truly San Francisco.  And where we – where are you?  Where's Little Bear?  Where did the little doggie go?  If you just want to see a sign of family – where is she?   

Mayor Breed.  I think she took off. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Oh, she – she went home.  We’ll have to knock on her door.  Thank you all very much.

Mayor Breed.  Thank you.