Two college chums are now on opposite sides of a divided city. A 64-year-old man named Jim Hammond Harding who had the pleasure of meeting the Chronicle's curmudgeon-in-chief Chuck Nevius says that “ Mayor Ed Lee and I were best friends,” at Bowdoin College, a liberal arts school in Maine. Accessing school records, SFist confirmed that Harding, like Lee, is an alumnus — they both graduated in 1974. Here, the school newspaper's picture of Lee as an undergraduate.
Harding is "a slight, balding man," formerly a nuclear power expert and once an assistant director for policy and program research at the Washington State Energy office. An employee of the Northeast Power Planning Council in Olympia checked in with Harding's former colleagues who said that they "remember him as being really sharp on the (energy) issues" and was "quite brilliant in his day."
“I had a three-bedroom house in Olympia,” said Harding. “When we divorced, my wife and I sold it and split the profit. We only cleared about $100,000." Harding came to California to stay with relatives, arrangements that fell through. His first stay in a homeless shelter was in San Mateo, and he's lived in homeless shelters in San Francisco for "a couple of years.” He's been robbed, beaten up, and doesn't expect to find permanent housing.
“I don’t want to be pitied, particularly by friends,” Harding said. “It’s a long explanation. I think it happens in a rapidly changing economy. If you can’t adapt to changes, you could easily find yourself unemployed. I’ve met bank managers in this place.”
Lee and Harding used to golf together, a favorite pastime of the mayor's. What's more, Lee even recalled Harding when asked about him. “The last time I saw him was probably five or six years ago,” Lee said. “I’m sorry to hear he is in a shelter. I hope he is getting some help.”
That might be up to you, Mayor Lee.