San Francisco Chronicle
By Matier and Ross
November 1, 2015
“It’s nothing new — we we are used to being treated like second-class citizens,” said Michael Blecker, Swords to Plowshares’ executive director and a Vietnam War veteran.
Photo: Paul Chinn, The Chronicle The Green Room is seen inside the newly renovated War Memorial Veterans Building in San Francisco, Calif. on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015.Swords to Plowshares, the celebrated charity that works with homeless and low-income veterans, is being squeezed out by the upscale landlords of San Francisco’s newly renovated War Memorial Veterans Building.
That’s the thrust of a lawsuit filed by the local American Legion over the War Memorial board’s refusal to provide Swords with free office space at the landmark building across from City Hall — while carving out square footage aplenty for high-society tenants like the San Francisco Opera that have the money to pay.
The American Legion is challenging the way the board — which includes such big names as city protocol chief Charlotte Mailliard Shultz and former Presidio Trust Chair Nancy Bechtle — is interpreting a city attorney’s 2009 decree that only “patriotic organizations” are entitled to free rent at the Veterans Building.
The fight goes all the way back to 2008 when the American Legion offered to make room in the building for Swords to Plowshares — but then came the city attorney’s finding that the charity wasn’t entitled to free rent.
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