Monday, January 18, 2010


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi anticipated the fight of her life when she inserted the public option into the House's historic health care bill. Recent media attention proves she was right.

Whereas, most prizefighters seclude themselves at mountain retreats to train, relax, and focus before a big fight; Speaker Pelosi knew exactly where to turn for her inspiration - the Delancey Street Foundation. We all know that Speaker Pelosi has a big family and extensive political network, but Saturday's invitation-only event billed as a New Year's celebration proved just how big - in the true Italian sense of the word.

First of all, the Speaker not only considers Delancey Street Foundation one of her favorite charities in America, but also an important part of her extended family. Delancey Street Foundation is considered the country's leading residential self-help organization for high school drop-outs, substance abusers, ex-convicts, homeless and others who have hit bottom. The non-profit gets their residents back on their feet and into productive lives.. They have served as a national model for over 39 years and operate facilities in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and New Mexico. The Speaker has supported Delancey since their inception, cut the ribbon to their 400,000 square foot campus on the San Francisco waterfront in 1991, and even celebrated her ascension to the Speakership there.

Saturday's 400 capacity crowd included Madame Speaker, California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton, His Honor Willie Brown, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, San Francisco DA Kamala Harris, and openly gay California Senator Mark Leno. Rounding out the crowd were Delancey Street founder Mimi Silbert, Pelosi intern-turned-Hollywood Producer Brian Quintana, husband Paul Pelosi, Paul Pelosi Jr., daughter Christine Pelosi (with writer-producer hubby Peter Kaufman), and the newest member of the Pelosi Family - granddaughter Isabella Kaufman - who the Speaker proudly allowed to steal the show.

Sure the Speaker talked health care: “Any bill we approve will have to pass the Triple A test,” she said: “Affordability, specifically for the middle class, Accountability – insurance companies will have to be held accountable; and Accessibility,” but that's not why this group was gathered. "You are here because you are family," exclaimed the Speaker. She thanked John Burton who introduced her as the "heart and guts Speaker," and acknowledged Fred Ross Jr. who orchestrated her first campaign for Congress in 1987. She then went on to thank a who's who of Democratic activist, labor leaders, teachers, nurses, environmentalists, firefighters, cops, students and other faithful supporters - all of whom she recognized by first name.

The Speaker stayed for several hours. She wasn't smiling so much as beaming while dozens of the 14,000+ graduates and residents of Delancey Street Foundation worked the room. There were enough hugs, cheers and chocolate to armor Pelosi for the next wave of blistering attacks. If Speaker Pelosi's commitment and drive since she returned to the Hill is any indication then we encourage all members of Congress to spend more time with family at the cause of their choice.

Delancey Link:

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