The general squalor and drug use around the Nancy Pelosi Federal Building has one senator from Iowa now suggesting it ought to be "shuttered for the foreseeable future."
Two months after one federal department that has offices in the Nancy Pelosi Federal Building instructed its employees to work from home for the foreseeable future, Republican Senator Joni Ernst is calling for the building to be shut down completely. It's not clear what prompted Ernst to pen a letter about the building to the General Services Administration (GSA) — maybe she was just visiting the city? But Senator Ernst has harsh words for San Francisco and the state of the sidewalks outside the fifteen-year-old building at Seventh and Mission.
"An abandoned tower looms 18-stories into the sky," Ernst writes in an accompanying thread on X/Twitter. "Zombie-like bodies with blank stares shake & stumble about aimlessly, criminals wield weapons & shoot firearms. This isn’t the backdrop of a Halloween haunted house. It's the Nancy Pelosi Federal Building in San Francisco."
The conditions are so frightening, federal employees have been warned to stay away indefinitely.— Joni Ernst (@SenJoniErnst) October 25, 2023
Hundreds were warned to stop coming to the office “for the foreseeable future” due to safety concerns with crime and violence outside. https://t.co/hWMn7NrGNe
"According to its designer, the building was set up to represent “the way government should be and how the workplace should be," Ernst writes. "Ironically, the Nancy Pelosi Federal Building is instead a symbol of the way government doesn’t work."
Ironically, the photos Ernst includes in her tweet don't actually show any squalor outside the federal building — and one photo was clearly taken blocks away in the Tenderloin.
Ernst seems eager to blame city officials, saying "the city’s inability to control crime is endangering civil servants, children, and visitors." And this is, of course, partisan for Ernst. "Nancy Pelosi and other liberal politicians have allowed criminal chaos to overtake the streets of San Francisco. Employees at the Pelosi Fed Building have already been forced to abandon it, so why should taxpayers keep the lights on at Pelosi’s haunted house?" she writes on X. This also gets a pig emoji and the "#MakeEmSqueal" hashtag, which is Ernst's catchphrase about curbing government spending — as she has told voters in Iowa, she grew up "castrating hogs."
Ernst is primarily talking about the homeless people and illegal activity going on outside the building, and outside of the recently constructed fence around the building's plaza. But she notes that the Department of Health and Human Services had advised its workers to work remotely due to employees feeling threatened there.
The Department of Labor and the Social Security Administration also have offices in the building, and it's not clear how many employees are working there regularly.
Ernst writes in her letter to the GSA, "With at least five other federal facilities within the San Francisco area and GSA reportedly utilizing only about ten percent of its available office space, perhaps the Speaker Pelosi Federal Building should be shuttered for the foreseeable future with its workers relocated where taxpayers can interact with government agencies face-to-face without fearing for their lives."
This appears to be just some political grandstanding, and it's not clear what influence Ernst will have with the GSA.
The Chronicle has the full text of her letter here.
Top image: Photo by Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images