Silver, Carol Ruth: Dan White


Carol Ruth Silver: I guess I should say something about Dan White who was my seatmate on the left, and my seatmate on the right was Harvey Milk, so I had some acquaintance with both of them. Dan was a mean, nasty guy. He wanted to be a politician. He wanted to be liked, and he wanted to be gregarious and generous as the other politicians he saw around him like Harvey and George, but he didn’t have it in him. One incident that will always define Dan White for me is my oldest son was then about six years old, and after school somebody picked him up and brought him to my office in City Hall where he would do his homework, hang out, and be under my supervision during the three to four hours after school. One day he came to the Board of Supervisors and we were having a session. He came to me, I was sitting in my seat, and said, “Mom, I have to go to the bathroom.” I said “Use the supervisors’ bathroom.” Ordinarily, I would have taken him down the hall. I said, “Use the supervisors’ bathroom because I can’t take you right now.” So he went over and started to go into the supervisors little anteroom where there was a small bathroom used by the supervisors, and he came back to me crying saying, “Mom! Mom! Dan White won’t let me use the bathroom.” I said, “What are you talking about?” So I went over and Dan said, “It’s only for supervisors.” And I said, “Dan, my son is gonna use the bathroom.” I let the kid into the bathroom, and I stood there for two minutes while the kid used the bathroom and came out. That was Dan White. Not your nicest, most generous, pleasant person. However, he tried. When he was first elected, he passed out to all the clerks and whatnot bottles of whiskey and – I’m sure they weren’t Cuban cigars – some kind of cigars. Then he would make efforts to be nice. His biggest single issue at the Board of Supervisors was to try to stop the drug-rehabilitation center which the city was trying to put into his district in the Excelsior, and he wanted us to vote no on that. He came to see me in a proper way and said, “Carol I need your vote on this because my constituents want this.” I said, “You know, as you know Dan, I used to live in Synanon. I’m a big proponent of this kind of rehabilitation programs. I really don’t think I can vote no on it.” He said, “Okay, I’m sorry to hear that.” And he went on, and he went to each of us and he didn’t have the votes. He plain ol’ didn’t have the votes. Sometimes you have the votes and sometimes you don’t. Six is the magic number. And so when the thing came up, and we all voted no, he was devastated. He couldn’t figure out why he had lost that vote, and he accused Harvey of having promised him (Dan) that he (Harvey) would vote for it, but then changing his mind.


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The Moscone oral history interviews are part of the George Moscone Collection, MSS 328.

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