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Uncategorized Why would any SF politician want the endorsement of...

Why would any SF politician want the endorsement of the Police Officers Association?


Given the SFPOA’s recent track record, you have to wonder if the backing of that group is really something to be proud of

SFPOA president Marty Halloran: Is this organization way out of touch with the voters of SF?
SFPOA president Marty Halloran: Is this organization way out of touch with the voters of SF?

By Tim Redmond

MAY 7, 2015 — A couple of weeks ago, the campaign of Sup. Julie Christensen made a simple mistake. It was the kind of thing that happens pretty often – someone in the campaign office sent out word that the candidate had received an endorsement that hadn’t actually happened.

Often that stems from simple confusion – a group’s leadership may effectively promise the support, but it’s not official until the entire board or membership votes. That’s probably why Christensen celebrated the endorsement of the San Francisco Police Officers Association:

Volunteers on Supervisor Julie Christensen’s November campaign received word via e-mail recently that she had received the powerful endorsement of the Police Officers Association in her fight against former Supervisor Aaron Peskin.

The problem? She hadn’t. The cops haven’t gone through their endorsement process yet, let alone named the winner.

“It was just an error,” said campaign manager Maureen Erwin.

Of course, we all know what the outcome of that process will be – senior SFPOA officials were in the meeting the mayor called to demand that nobody endorse Peskin. So there’s really no story here.

Except that it raises a question for me: Why, in May, 2015, would any candidate for office actually want the endorsement of the San Francisco Police Officers Association?

Let’s go back over some of what the POA has done and said in the past few months, a time when the reputation of police officers all over the country has taken a huge hit.

Instead of acknowledging that there are too many unjustified police shootings, too much violence and racism, and a need for better training, the POA:

  1. Strong-armed members of the Board of Supervisors to defeat a fairly mild resolution by Sup. John Avalos calling for more police accountability nationwide.
  1. Worked behind the scenes to defeat a similar measure at the Democratic County Central Committee.
  2. Is attacking the district attorney for supporting a statewide ballot measure that brought a tiny bit of sanity to the criminal justice system.
  3. Perhaps most disturbingly, has chosen to use union resources to defend officers accused of involvement in the scandal over racist, sexist, and homophobic texts .

The union has a pretty significant legal-defense fund, and often hires lawyers for officers facing disciplinary charges. That’s not surprising – most unions provide some sort of support for workers facing discipline. In fact, Marty Halloran, head of the POA, says that the union will “always defend a member accused of wrongdoing during the course and scope of his or her duties.” But by what stretch are sending racist texts part of the “scope and course” of an officer’s duties?

Not every police union defends every cop accused of every crime, particularly when the action is at best peripheral to the actual job (unless Halloran wants to argue that texts calling for “half-breed children” to be killed are job-related. I hope not).

Of course, the accused officers are entitled to an attorney. No matter what the crime, people in the US have the right to legal representation.

But the POA doesn’t by law or policy have to pay for it. An officer who gets arrested for, say, drunk driving while off duty doesn’t get a POA lawyer. This was a choice. And while the association has said that the texts don’t represent the majority of the SFPD, and are “disgraceful and humiliating,” it still apparently used the dues of hard-working cops to underwrite the legal defense of officers involved in the scandal.

Officers for Justice, a group of SF cops who are ethnic minorities, women, or LGBT, offered a pretty strong denunciation in March:

The Officers For Justice is outraged and disappointed that there are sworn members of the San Francisco Police Department engaging in these types of despicable racist activities and conversations. At this time we want all involved members of the San Francisco Police Department who are responsible for the texting publically identified, as it is an apparent officer safety issue for our members and citizens of San Francisco. The limited text messages we were provided identify association with the Ku Klux Klan/White Supremacy political ideology, egregious threats to “kill half breed children”, derogatory references to minorities including Asians, Filipinos, Hispanics, African Americans, American Indians, LGBT, etc. in addition to references to women as “B—–s”.

In fact, OFJ raised questions about officer safety (also, typically, a union issue), indicating that people who could send those sorts of messages might not be the ones you wanted as your partner in a tense situation if you, say, happened to be Black, or female.

The POA has raised no such concerns for its members.

Now the POA is attacking District Attorney George Gascon, who is putting together a task force to investigate corruption at the SFPD. Yeah, it’s a bit amusing to have the DA announced he’s investigating actions that happened while he was police chief.

But a lot of law-enforcement professionals say that the failure of local district attorneys to investigate and prosecute police misconduct is one of the reasons that it’s so common. And Gascon argues that he needs to know if officers are involved in this sort of conduct before he puts them on the stand in a case where their credibility could be an issue. It would be a disgrace if Gascon wasn’t investigating.

Much of the tirade was aimed at Gascon’s support for Prop. 47, a modest step away from the three-strikes mentality that has overcrowded the state’s prisons, cost the taxpayers billions, and left people convicted of nonviolent crimes serving absurdly long sentences.

Prop. 47 won 79 percent of the vote in San Francisco.

(In the course of that attack – it’s on Page 5 of this PDF – former POA president Gary Delagnes says that Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi had called him to complain that “nobody was going to jail and the place was empty.” It sounds as if Mirkarimi was denouncing the DA for not being tough enough on crime.

Mirkarimi, who has always supported alternatives to incarceration, told me today that the quote is “absurd” and that he never made such a statement.)

I called Halloran to ask him about all of this, and he hasn’t called me back.

Around the country, the New York Times reports, police office associations are starting to lose their luster – and political clout.

Some wonder why that hasn’t happened here: John Crew, former Police Practices Lawyer for the ACLU, told me that “the SFPOA’s actual positions couldn’t be more out step with San Francisco voters if they tried.”

So again, the question is not why Christensen prematurely announced the POA endorsement. The question is why she wants it in the first place.

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.


  1. I have had (unwanted) dealings with that unsavory character pictured, Martin Halloran, and he is a backstabbing thug whose reputation for disobeying the orders of his immediate superiors is well documented. The only good thing about his being POA president is that he no longer serves as an officer.

  2. It hadn’t—but you’re probably right that Wiener’s positions will help him attract racist voters as well.

  3. Correlation does not imply causation, but in any case I think yours is an older understanding of the correlation. Once upon a time it may have been true; now I think the correlation is negative. Once upon a time, anti-Zionism resided primarily on the right, where most anti-Semites reside. More tolerant leftists generally supported the Zionist cause due to a lot of residual sympathy after the holocaust. But that dynamic began to turn when progressives began to fully understand the implications of what the Zionist project really entailed. So now, most of the progressive left -folks like Chomsky and Zinn, Max Blumenthal, Glenn Greenwald, Alice Walker, Gore Vidal, etc etc., are generally anti-Zionist. OTOH, it seems like the traditional right, often associated with anti-Semitism, has reconciled itself with Israel. That’s probably because there’s an ideological kinship between different right-wing/fascist ideologies. ZIonist anti-Semites like Nixon, Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, and Jerry Falwell all come to mind. But this was building for a long time -illustrated brilliantly when rabidly anti-semitic former Nazi sympathizers running the apartheid regime in South Africa, who earlier stood on docks preventing shiploads of Jewish refugees, embraced and kissed none other than Menachim Begin, who agreed to supply them with military hardware and nuclear technology to keep their regime going. It was the start of a beautiful long term relationship that only ended when that despicable regime finally died -two Apartheid regimes that realized their destinies were linked.

    Galloway… yeah, he comes off as pompous and arrogant, and that may have cost him the election. But he pushes a lot of issues that others are afraid to speak out on, and that’s valuable. And I don’t even agree with him on many things.

    Obviously we do disagree on the UK result. But I do find it encouraging to see the collapse of the sellout LibDems. They got what they richly deserved.

    And then there was the rise of the SNP -phenomenal. Many are saying this is the beginning of the end for the UK. That may be premature, but it really highlights the cultural differences between England and it’s neighbors. I’ve always been a fan of self-determination, but have a distaste for nationalism. That may seem like a contradiction, but only because the forms that nationalism seems to take. Generally, people in Scotland believe in things like progressive taxation to help the less fortunate, rights of workers, no nukes/no war… you know, the stuff of basic human decency. So it’s no surprise that sensibility infuses their version of nationalism too. It’s a civic-minded, non-xenophobic, social-democractic nationalism that is explicitly inclusive of the immigrant minority communities in Scotland. Contrast that with the mean, rabidly xenophobic snobbishness of say, UKIP. The SNP makes nationalism look good.

    I’m coming more and more to the conclusion that people should have the right to go their own way wherever humanly possible. I think it wouldn’t be a bad thing if the remnants of the old colonialist British Empire finally completed its breakup into its component pieces. Come to think of it, it probably wouldn’t be a bad thing for the US. I’m not wild about the prospect of theocratic neanderthals running anything, but it seems like certain segments of the country yearn for that kind of stuff. Maybe it’s best to let them do it, on their land and on their own dime. The West Coast -California, Oregon, Washington -has little in common culturally with places like Alabama or Tennessee or Texas. Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad thing if America had it’s own velvet divorce at some point. I think people would probably be happier on both sides of that.

  4. Either this is indeed a malware program, or “Sam/Sybil” is in need of psychiatric help. Nowhere in my posts do I even use the term “gay,” let alone as an insult.

    If this is an actual person, my recommendations from the previous forum hold: put the pipe down, stop drinking, take/stop taking your meds, get some sleep, and get a life.

  5. You used the word “gay” as an example of insulting repressiveness when you could have used another noun, and you should own that bigotry.

    Why do you think that being gay is the worst thing that someone would repress?

  6. The correlation between being anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic is non-zero. Although I did like Galloway’s performance when the Senate quizzed him. He is still a pompous oaf, however.

    Lovely result in the UK election, more generally, and not least because the opinion polls all got it wrong.

    You are still trying to draw an analogy between SFPD and the Gestapo. I don’t think that is a helpful comparison. The reason I get on well with SFPD isn’t political at all. It is simply that cops are always civil to me, and I attribute that to the fact that I don’t give them attitude or problems. I suspect those who have trouble with cops have some kind of agenda – either criminal or political.

  7. Ahhh Sam; projecting again. Now we know how you really feel.
    What I said was that one of the causes of the culture of homophobia that exists in male martial culture is repressed homosexuality. I never said being a repressed homosexual was the worst thing someone could be; you did.

    I’m beginning to think you might be a repressed clown, and that’s not meant as an insult. You missed your calling.

  8. I’m not necessarily equating US cops with the Gestapo. The point is that even in a case like that, the majority of Germans had nothing to fear from even brutal thugs like that. As long as they shut up, didn’t talk back, weren’t seen as dangerous to the state, and weren’t members of certain minority groups, they had nothing to fear. It’s obviously not that extreme here (yet), but the idea is the same.

    As for Galloway, he’s certainly anti-Zionist, but I haven’t heard him say anything anti-Semitic. He’s sued people for libel for trying to suggest that, and AFAIK he’s been successful each time. The parliament lost a powerful anti-establishment voice last night. This Shah person is nice enough, I’m sure, but as a cookie-cutter Labour backbencher, her career depends on the party establishment. She’ll sit down, shut up, and do as she’s told, or else. Galloway had a stature that is irreplaceable, and for that the racists and Zionists are quite happy, I’m sure.

  9. Why choose the word “gay” then?

    Why not a repressed clown, criminal or choirboy? Why choose “gay” for the worst thing someone could be?

  10. Maybe that is good politics for Wiener because most voters think that black mobs rioting in the street has nothing to do with “racial justice” and everything to do with a thug mentality?

    Had that occurred to you?

  11. Oh Sam, get a clue.
    Being repressed is a psychological condition which causes the person to not only hate themselves, but to project that hatred to others. I’m not “insulting” anybody.

  12. It’s worth noting that Scott Wiener was instrumental to the POA win against #BlackLivesMatter at both the DCCC and the SFBOS. Clearly, he sees opposition to racial justice as a winning issue with police, and he thinks they will help him when he runs for higher office(s) more than the constituents of his who are disillusioned with police brutality and discrimination. Welcome to SF 2015: where being an enabler of police racism is good politics.

  13. Wow, Godwin’s Law is kicking in early today. Is that really all you got?

    Oh, and your friend Galloway lost. Since he is a major anti-Semite, it seems that you and he might have more in common with Nazi’s than me.

  14. Nothing is universally true but it may be that cops have not changed but that some people have become more hostile towards them.

    Your theory would have to explain why people like me see no problem with cops and enjoy good relationships with them.

  15. The NLSY cohort sizes were around 10,000. A proffered cohort size of 1 is not persuasive. Anecdote is not data.

    The data indicate that over the last generation, law enforcement has changed. Forty years ago, it was true that in encounters with police, people created their own problems. Today, this is no longer universally true.

  16. There are racists among all classes of people, including cops, black criminals and city supervisors.

    That does not mean that cops are bad at that jobs any more than in means that black criminals cannot be successful at it. Heck, even Campos has some political success and he is the biggest racist on the BofS.

  17. No, I continue to find SFPD to be civil and courteous.

    What is happening probably is that some groups of people (black criminals, progressives) act in a hostile way to cops and so the cops are hostile back. I don’t blame them

    It is all about how you interact with them. If a cop asks for my assistance, I politely and fully co-operate. Result? A cordial encounter.

    People create their own problems.

  18. What does that have to do with the increasing disconnect between criminality and law enforcement?

    The numbers suggest that thirty five years ago, it was true that – criminals aside – it was normal for people to experience nothing but civility from the police. Today, by contrast, while still true for a lucky majority, it is no longer universal.

  19. On the contrary. Unlike you I have a wife, children, many friends and this is mere recreation for me.

  20. That was my point. You were the one who suggested that it was by saying the cops were repressed homosexuals.

  21. Except that I have no credible reason to believe that a cop would ever intend me any harm unlike, say, a criminal. I have experienced nothing but civility from LE.

  22. Your reply to my query is more of a riddle than an answer. Recall that once you said what cops texted in their off-duty time was not relevant. My question to you is fairly simple: is it OK if police text or email comments that are racist, sexist, or homophobic while on duty?

  23. Criminality comes in any color. The one big difference, is that when the color of the criminals is blue, you have nowhere to turn for help. Violence backed by the power of the state is the most dangerous and frightening form of violence.

  24. jhayes, do you ever send tweets or make remarks that are offensive to conservatives or christians?

    Most likely, yes.

    Do I think that makes you less qualified to do your job?

    Most likely, no.

    So do I care about private statements you make?


  25. Yes I do care about what’s true and am perfectly capable of sorting through fact and fiction. Unfortunately I don’t find a lot of fact on these discussion boards, only opinion masquerading as fact.

  26. Well, I do admit that Tim is much better at making up facts. You got me on that one.

    Some people, prefer to hear things that are actually true. For you it apparently isn’t a big factor.

    Too each its own.

  27. If you feel that way you should stick with the Chronicle. It’s anodyne and perfectly suited to fact-free thinking.

  28. The IP address in the header of your email notification is from 48Hills and not from Sam. You should ask Tim about his time zone confusion.

  29. Oh, please. Tim Redmond’s “coverage” of the Christensen-Peskin race.

    Do you take no pride whatsoever in the words you utter?

  30. Now here’s an interesting question: Where is Sam posting from? The Disqus email notice I got about his post above shows it coming in at 2:01 p.m. That’s Eastern Time. Besides shifting alias we have shifting time zones.

  31. Sounds to me more like he was suggesting that Redmond demonstrate a little more objectivity and to stop looking for sneaky ways around the fact that he cannot endorse Peskin.

  32. You are about 10,000 times more likely to be violently assaulted by a black criminal than a white police officer.

    Interesting that you still favor the former.

  33. Sounds like you’re trying to force Redmond to stop covering the Christensen-Peskin race. Good luck with that one.

  34. Hilarious to see Sam referring to himself in the third person and then setting up a straw man contradiction between himself and his first reference. Identity confusion?

  35. Why aren’t “progressives” calling for the resignation of the police chief and sheriff?
    Or at least demand an explanation as to how something like this could happen under their watch? Police and military cultures are by design racist/sexist/homophobic, with a lot of repressed homosexuality. These institutions are in drastic need of “disruption” and “innovation!”

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