Burton, John: Dan White


John Burton: At that time, Dan White couldn’t make a living on the Board. They paid $800 a month. When George first got elected, it was $400 a month. So he quit, and he was a swing vote on this ratification of the court settlement. I wasn’t there, but I believe the cops talked to Dan and says, “For Christ’s sake. What are you doing? You’re screwing us. Go back and try to get on.” So he called George, set an appointment and said he wanted to get on. Well, at that time whether it was Harvey… I don’t know who, but George made the point to give it to Dan Horenzi – footnote in history. What happened – and this is the first time I’ve ever said this publicly – is that George’s press secretary knew that Horenzi was getting an appointment. So he called Barbara Taylor of KCBS with a tip. It went on the air, and according to the movie – I believe this part – Dan White is going in to see George ten o’ clock in the morning. At nine o’ clock he hears George is already appointing this guy. In my mind, that’s what set him off because I truly believe that George could have talked to him because George was as good a bullshitter as there ever was. I truly believe he could have talked to White and said, “Look, you don’t like the job anyway. You’re worried about this. Bridge district you got health care. We could get you a job with who know who. You used to be a cop, investigator at this law firm at $35,000 a year which is more than you’re making now.” But anyway George got killed. Back to security at the airport, they probably would have let him walk in with a gun anyway because he was a supervisor. So anyway, George got killed. Harvey got killed. My theory about Harvey is that Harvey might have been an afterthought, although I hear he went looking. Harvey had a smile that was like a smirk, but it wasn’t a smirk, he had a smile. I think he might have said “Hello, Dan” with that smile, and Dan would have said, “He’s smirkin’ at me”, and killed him. Maybe he wanted to kill Harvey anyway. The thing I remember about Harvey more than anything else was his belt-buckle, his leather or suede sleeveless vest, and that goddamn smile he had. I remember when I had to talk to the City Democratic Club which later would become the Milk Democratic Club. But anyway that was George. I am probably the only one close to George that never gave a shit what happened to Dan White because it didn’t matter to me. Because he (George) was dead, fuck Dan White, George ain’t coming back. And then karma. White gets a chump change term, comes out and kills himself. It wasn’t good. I remember in the Speakers Lobby in the House, I guess I heard and saw Philip who had just come back from London, and ran up to him. I said, “George is dead.” It wasn’t good. We were tight. I mean I had more fun with George and the two campaigns. We had fun. I used to tell Nancy Pelosi in her campaign, I said, “It’s the most fun I ever had except in George’s.” That’s how I praise him deep, man, because that was fun.


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

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