[Editor’s note: This is the transcript of a call between Jim Jones and Tony Ubalde, a Methodist minister in San Francisco who served on the city’s Housing Commission at the same times Jones did. The transcript is undated, but is likely from during the first half of 1977, before Jones left the US for Guyana. The other individuals mentioned in the call include Tenant Commissioner Cleo Wallace, newspaper publisher Carlton Goodlett, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Charles McCabe, and (likely) reporter Marshall Kilduff, although the name is misspelled in the transcript.
[The transcript appears in the FBI’s release of Temple documents under the Freedom of Information act. The citation is RYMUR 89-4286-C-7-h-12a through h-12h.]
[Handwritten notation at top: “Background for letter to Scott: Page 1”]
Jim: Then there was another passing comment … There were so many people coming after me with different questions that this tenant project … The advisory council doesn’t really represent… They say that more of the speakers from the floor was right… That they don’t represent Hunters Point and if that is the case and if Dukes and Dukes is correct on the 87% on guns which he had heard my opinion … We sure do have people talking things fast. Somebody had already talked to them about my sentiments in that room. Of course, I did mention something about hardware – I did mention it publicly but didn’t mention it in depth that they asked me questions about … They said that, “I understand that [Housing Commissioner Tony] Ubalde holds one position and you another.” I said, “No disagreement – I totally agree that the fortress concept is a bad one; I am a pacifist at heart; I am just a little bit concerned about people being put up there with the kind of tensions and threats that we have. That was my protest – was that people being put up there without being properly trained as police people and properly equipped.
Ubalde: All you need to say, Jim, which is fairly accurate, that you are concerned about the lives of those people and I think that is the only thing that you need to say.
Jim: I did say that. I said that was my whole concern in a nutshell… That I think under the present pressure, that somebody is liable to off them to try to move in that hill for special designs. They said, well do you have any specific security group in mind. I said I don’t know a thing about these security groups but I wasn’t going to get in that bag because I don’t know these different security agencies that we are dealing with and I know we are dealing with some pretty savory [unsavory?] elements up there and I can see that they will bump off some of these cats for at $4.76 an hour just to try to show us that that housing thing wouldn’t work and I have heard a number of things about Commander Witherspoon – That’s why I took the liberty, and I thought I had to in good conscious [conscience] to ask point-blank did he have any designs after he retired to be entering into the security field because indeed if he were going to do so, he would have the ideal situation placing his own men: They would probably automatically quit the Housing Authority and go to work with him but he said it sounded to me, if you can believe what anyone says, it sounded like he had no designs after he retires but sometimes those street people up there do have an element of fact that you can get at and I would like to be able to do more searching… If you can do any searching
[Handwritten notation at top: “Background for letter to Scott: Page 2”]
on your own because one can never be too sure of your own sources. If indeed this Advisory Council speaks very extensively… I get the feeling sometimes it doesn’t speak very extensively. I get far more than one saying that to me… Maybe even a dozen, 10-12 people… That Cleo [Tenant Commissioner Cleo Wallace] has got her little group but they don’t really represent anybody. I think Cleo does some immense things and does immense things for people.
Ubalde: Well, I have heard of that rumor but no one has given me specific facts and I have asked for some facts but I haven’t gotten any. I think that what we can do at this point is simply instruct… And we definitely have a right to do this because the accusation was made that we have a right to protect the commission is that we have to instruct the director to come up with the list, especially if you are going to swear those people in on Thursday, pay you in good conscious [conscience] need to know about before that swearing in takes place.
Jim: I’m not swearing them in, am I?
Ubalde: Well, it said the commission is swearing these people in.
Jim: What would you suggest that we further do to get some information and to pin some of these people down?
[Handwritten annotation, with following paragraph underlined: “Instruction from letter to Scott”]
Ubalde: We need to get the staff to do the work for us – write a letter – a memo on your letterhead to Scott saying that the accusations made by Beasley was such and such; please furnish the Commission approve of their residency and representation. No. 1 – Representation in the sense were they duly elected by their specific target areas. There are 2 things, Jim. No. 1 – Where are they residing. No. 2 – Were they duly elected by the target areas. See, there were supposed to be 2 from each target area, like Hunters View, Alice Griffith, etc. If their answers to those questions are affirmative, then it protects you, it protects the commission.
[Handwritten notation at top: “Background for letter to Scott: continued”]
Jim: Now we need to also know how many people attend these meetings.
Ubalde: Yes, that’s right. Get an idea how many people attend the meetings; where are they held; and what form of notices are sent.
Jim: That’s important.
Ubalde: Okay. That’s the staff now. Now, the other thing, you know, one report from the staff – That’s one matter. Then you have other ways of finding out. Do not hesitate to check that out.
Jim: You too.
Ubalde: I will be happy to.
Jim: There was a deal this lady doesn’t usually speak without knowing the facts. She said it was a deal made in there to drop some of the questions that the Advisory Council had such as that I mentioned on page 29 and all of these things were just swept under the carpet after the deal was made about some of the money being diverted into travel for – Diversion of some of the money into travel.
Ubalde: To San Antonio as one area.
Jim: That was one other thing … Diverted into travel for a number of people… Then they got some different equipment that they wanted, furniture that they wanted, etc. which I don’t find any particularly suspect of that. What this young woman thought was suspicious is that they were making a lot of protest about
the whole general program… Then they were [out/not: Transcript includes both words] placating… She said that I was disappointed with the Advisor Council and I was disappointed with the attorney herself.
Ubalde: Let us say this at this point… Those accusations may be inaccurate. Be mindful of the fact that when we voted for that was when we were talking about the monies that need to be apportioned to that area. Councils can come and go but the important thing is that renovation… that modernization takes place. That’s the most important thing and we certainly are not going to be swayed by any accusation to stop their project because that project is more important than any of those Council members or security guards.
Jim: I agree wholeheartedly.
Ubalde: Now we can do the kind of homework that we need.
Jim: You do any research work that you can do in that area and ask me in the meeting what scuttlebutt I have picked up. You can weigh that scuttlebutt along with me and find out… Because I really, at times, get the feeling like it’s too much to stay on top of, in that there is a marriage that goes on here between Cleo and Scott. This is a feeling of several people of the housing staff on lower levels, the deals are made which we know not of and may not be a thing to it because innuendo runs rampant in this town, and I do know that Cleo – in terms of embellishment, I find her [Transcript indicates several unintelligible words] that came in about the threats. I think each one said they had had one… She said she had had 5 and I said, “5 – Who were there… How were they?” I could tell that Cleo was exaggerating her threats because she couldn’t give me any details and I am really concerned about this, and by the way, if anybody gives you any trouble, I brought plenty of security there today and if they give you any trouble around your home… Because police will give you this line that nothing can be done until after the fact. Well, that’s a little late. So if anyone starts hassling, do not hesitate to call. I know your commitment to people, and so you call this church and we will be there quick. But it may blow over. It may be a [Transcript indicates unintelligible word, likely “tempest”] in a teapot, although when people start threatening like this, you have to continue with a certain element of seriousness.
Ubalde: Did you notice that when Walter went over to Beasley and kind of softened him up while we were talking? I resented that.
Jim: Which Beasley was it?
Ubalde: Shorter guy.
Jim: He’s a brother, as I gather, to the one that is on the security force.
Ubalde: The young guy, the husky one, was the one implicated with redevelopment, and I am surprised he is out.
Jim: I don’t [know] why you gave me all of those sort of cordial responses. I guess perhaps because of all my security around there. This is a terrible day we are living in. There is only one thing that people seem to understand in the asphalt jungle is force met with more force. It is a horrible way to live. Because I don’t even know this man. He talked in some sort of term like, “Jim,” “Brother Jim.” This was the first time that he and brother Jim had ever met.
I do care about a number of things that I don’t have before me right now. I would like to go over with you before the next meeting the whole target business about monies and– But today, again, this guy brought up the question of the 15 million. I like the one guy. I don’t trust Kildorph [likely reporter Marshall Kilduff] any further than you can throw him because I’ve got too many insights on him from colleagues. One of them, Butler – off the record – Bill say she called him a reactionary, another [Transcript indicates unintelligible word] who works in the same Chronicle, that he is a devious person, so that’s enough for me, plus when I wouldn’t go along with him in the lynching of Cleo, he has been trying to cause as much division from me as he could since then, but Canter I think is the man who is a reasonable integrity. He said now there is a lot of money Rev. That’s been gone by the last budget and it is going to cost far more than what they have on record and it is another one of those deals. You are going to get far more expense then they are projecting, so it almost jived [jibed] with correlating with some rumors that I have, if true, we have to get to the bottom of some of this. I would appreciate if you would let the Mayor’s office know (I let them know with my greatest displeasure) of the way they handled that affair. I can see no other reason for the mayor doing what he did to us than to avoid getting into a racial situation.
I would appreciate if you let him know because I let him know how displeased I was that there was no mention to Colbert whom I am sure would have gone with you I have a lot less trouble even if Cleo had been talked to. I think we would have had a lot less trouble. She was ambitious and told me that she was going to fight about it and I knew we’d have lots of trouble.
Ubalde: Something bothered me about that. It really put you in a spot and put me in a spot. That was really a shame.
Jim: You handled it with magnanimity which saved the day.
Ubalde: I needed to do that. You know, after what I saw was going on. No. 1, 2, or 3 things I saw. One was Cleo. She would do everything to do what she did.
Jim: Well, she told me coming down the stairs. That’s what I was trying… What I told you I would go along with you if you wanted to take the fight.
Ubalde: I realize that but the fight isn’t worth it. If we are going to fight, let’s fight, you know…
Jim: She told me, “I will not go along with this. I will fight. I am going to take this to the floor so I do not we are in for trouble. [“]
Ubalde: Yes. And the other thing is, I didn’t want you to be seen publicly where you supported nonblack.
Jim: It would have created difficulties for me because I knew what [newspaper publisher Carlton] Goodlett was coming up with and I guess you followed Goodlett’s–
Ubalde: Yes. I knew he would. And I was sensitive to that. I saw what was going on and said, “Hell, I am not going to put all the eggs in one basket at this point. We still have many days ahead of us and we don’t know if the Mayor is going to reappoint Cleo anyway. And even if he did–
Jim: Well, I hope that he would take into consideration [all] she has had to say. She is one of the persons that greatly affected Goodlett. She told Goodlett all about that business and have him so hysterical – I thought Goodlett was going to print it. She told him how the mayor used– I would feel much more comfortable with you at my right arm
because I know your sense of justice. Cleo leaves me with some question. And then your knowledge, your comprehension… You know the free enterprise is failing. I wouldn’t even be on this thing. I don’t think I could stand it if there wasn’t somebody else recognizing that we are going to have new solutions, but I don’t think Cleo nor anyone else on our Commission has that grasp. Perhaps Colbert. I don’t know. I have never heard him talk about the socio-economic ramifications. It put me in a miserable position. When you talk to Cleo in terms of philosophy, I feel like I am talking to a stone wall. She knows a lot of things on the local level and what to do for people. Gutsy reactions I rather admire, but philosophically– One time she is talking like a pro-system person, the next time she is criticizing, generally with the context that Miss Harris it is a good woman and President Carter is a good man, going to do good things for people. Well, I think we are all damn fools. Even the Episopalian magazine, I have forgotten what the name of it is, I read it, a good friend of mine, Bishop Moore, progressive bishop, you may know of him from the East, saying that Carter is committed to the Trilateral Commission, that the Trilateral Commission as gone on record as saying there is too much democracy in this country, that we are going to have to reduce freedom, and that is a matter of a public statement.
Ubalde: The Trilateral Commission said that.
Ubalde: Carter is a member of that?
Jim: Oh yes, he is a member and the Episcopalians went after him heavy. It was not an alternative or Third World press but respectable. One of the many organs portrayed Trilateral Commission demagoguing and reactionary, and also Carter said –
(See tape for this portion if necessary – went on to explain).
Ubalde: Did you read the second section of the Chronicle?
Jim: That was good. Second section of [San Francisco Chronicle columnist Charles] McCabe on the Trilateral Commission in the establishment press. Thank you for bringing that to my attention.
Ubalde: And we need to keep that in mind.
Jim: It is very much there. I admire you so much even when you stood on the floor and said that we are going to have to face the economic situation that has been practiced in America is at fault. It has been the fault all over the world, and we have got to realistically deal with that in every projection we made in housing. Lots of promises are going to be that and nothing more when it comes to materializing any real major help for the people. I feel like a hypocrite when I heard that Congressman from Montana stand up and say we can’t expect to get good medical care in housing and education at the same time. What kind of talk is this coming from the servants of the people? (See tape for continuation of this subject) Off the record, I hope the mayor doesn’t appoint her. Surely we can find some other black person. Then I can get on to having a vice chairman, a chairman.
Ubalde: I am not ready for chairman. I am not ready to take all the heat yet.
Jim: You are ready to take it.
Ubalde: Why don’t you write a memo to Joan Byrnes to get onto the writing of the job description for administrative assistant to the Commission. Get that rolling so we can get our commission open. And then write a memo to me as the Chairman of the Finance Committee to start discussing the budget for October. (Preparing a budget so then I, Ubalde, can call the staff to start preparing the budget. (Memo to be on Commission letterhead)
(Hear tape for balance re Walker out to lunch with Kildorph – Our security keeps eye on him, etc.)