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Friday, July 30, 2021

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News + PoliticsThe Agenda: Criminal justice takes center stage

The Agenda: Criminal justice takes center stage

Supes will face critical vote on jail as Campaign 2016 begins

Progressive supes and labor leaders show up to support Kimberly Alvarenga for Supervisor
Progressive supes and labor leaders show up to support Kimberly Alvarenga for Supervisor

By Tim Redmond

DECEMBER 14, 2015 – Kimberly Alvarenga, as expected, announced her campaign for District 11 supervisor Friday, with a crowded event on the steps of City Hall that showed the depth of progressive support for the long-time activist who now works for SEIU Local 1021.

And just as her supporters gathered for the photo op, more than 100 high school students who had walked out of class to protest the killing of Mario Woods showed up on the steps, too, with a loud and raucous demonstration.

It was perfect timing, and in fact a lot of Alvarenga’s supporters clapped along as the students demanded justice and chanted about police killings of African American youth.

Then Alvarenga went into City Hall and pulled the paperwork to make official another part of the progressive campaign to retain and expand control of the Board of Supes.

As we noted last week, the progressive forces now seem to have strong candidates in all of the contested races for next November.

Alvarenga was district director for Tom Ammiano in the six years he served in the state Assembly. She has the support of Ammiano, Sups. David Campos, John Avalos, Eric Mar, and Jane Kim.

If Hillary Ronen, chief of staff for David Campos, wins in D9, there will be two women with young kids on the board, something we haven’t seen in years.

As Avalos noted,

Kimberly has that quiet tenacity to continue the fight against the wealthy interests that seek to deny working people a place in this city. District 11 still has a chance to be the home of San Francisco working and middle class soul.

High School students fill the steps of City Hall to protest police killings
High School students fill the steps of City Hall to protest police killings

The students tried to get into City Hall, but deputy sheriffs did the thing they do when they want to control a crowd – they said that anyone with a backpack or bag had to enter from the other side of the building, where there’s an airport-style metal detector. So instead the young people stayed on the steps, where the TV cameras were anyway.

The shooting, and the horrifying videos that have surfaced, could be and ought to be a defining moment for change in the SFPD. And it’s not about getting Tasers for the officers (that doesn’t always work). It’s about developing a new attitude toward the use of deadly, and potentially deadly, force when it clearly isn’t needed.


Criminal justice is going to be at the forefront of the next Board of Supes meeting, when both the plan for a new jail and a new policy on traffic stops for bicyclists will be on the agenda.

I am going to suggest here the that Mayor Lee’s plan for a new jail is in serious trouble. Sups. David Campos, John Avalos, Eric Mar, and Jane Kim are against it. Sup. London Breed will be at a press conference Monday morning to join in the opposition. That’s five No votes. And while he’s been a bit cagey about his position, I can’t believe Sup. Aaron Peskin, after all the work progressives did to get him elected, will be the sixth vote to build a new jail.

We may see some amendments and attempts to make this more palatable – maybe the deal would involve more mental-health beds and alternatives to incarceration. But the bottom line is that the criminal justice system in this city, and in the state and even the nation, is moving away from mass incarceration – and if we do build a new, expensive jail, we’re going to find ourselves in five or ten years with a facility we don’t need and can’t use for anything else.

And we’ll be diverting General Fund money to pay for it.


Then there’s the bicycle policy change, which isn’t the biggest deal in the world (should people riding bikes be able to go through a stop sign at an empty intersection, which they do all the time anyway, without getting a ticket?) except that Mayor Lee has vowed to veto it, and there might maybe be eight votes to override, again if Peskin goes along.

Which would deal the mayor two big defeats in one day, and set the tone for a very different 2016.


Then everyone goes on recess and things (officially) slow down for the holiday – but the politics will kick into high gear as the candidates plan what will be a dramatic 10 months of campaigning over the future leadership of the city.

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.
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  1. Well I don’t give a shit how much Lee won by, I just care that he won. Politics is winner take all, ask Campos. You seem to think Lee’s numbers mean there could be a Progressive resurgence coming. Like a dying man bleeding out, you dream a final dream.

  2. Little Man Spam makes the illogical and stupid claim that every single person who criticizes Woods’ killing was at that particular protest–100% of them, on a work day, at that hour, at City Hall, in San Francisco, with those students. No need to allow for those who hadn’t heard about the protest, or who couldn’t make it, or who don’t protest.

    It’s the lamest, most transparent attempt ever to try to discredit dissent. Yet he tries it over and over again. FAIL!

  3. Where are the priorities of the Board of Supervisors where police behavior is concerned? How can anyone think about the Idaho Stop when confused officers are killing people? Why are we talking about prioritizing when to fine people for breaking state traffic laws when armed police are confused over when to use deadly force to subdue an unarmed citizen walking down the street?

  4. Everyone, bike riders included should focus on those hot dogs. Tame them, and the whole thing becomes less contentious. Unfortunately, I think some in the bicycle community want friction.

    I think the biggest issue is rough hours, on popular routes, when the single riders often have to compromise their normal routine to ride effectively.

  5. There’re the single riders, like myself. Then there’s ‘rush hour traffic’. And then there’s the hot-dog “team” riders.

    Didn’t realize it was a $200 tix. Cops ought to concentrate on Team Hot Dog – bang for the buck.

  6. I agree with the zoning regs….. but then, here again, housing concerns do the bidding for loosening development regulations.

  7. At least 2 of the 3 aids (if not all 3) look like they were placed there with future office in mind, so you could be right.

    I also agree that there’s a disconnect in progressive policy versus voters desires in D3. I’m not sure Peskin will run for mayor though. I keep joking that’s he’s putting himself in line to get appointed when something goes awry with Lee’s term, but I think that’s the only likely way he becomes Mayor. There’s a lot of money to be had in office right now, and that’s the only way to explain why he went all in to get into office knowing he’ll have to campaign again in another 8 months or whatever.

  8. Personally, I think he returned because he previously thought he would be appointed mayor after Newsom left, which obviously didn’t pan out. So now he’s back, which could tee up a mayoral run after Lee is termed out.

    I think the Progressives may find themselves without the staunch ally they envisioned. Props F and I failed in D3. I don’t think those voters are all that left leaning. They mostly want someone who is going to keep D3 looking charming and who will provide good constituent services. Peskin is going to have to balance the desires of his voters with the desires of those that helped get him elected.

    I bet that Peskin’s new LA, formerly Kim’s LA and campaign adviser, will be the person they push to replace Kim should she be elected to State Senate. It seems like that particular staffer may have made the jump to Peskin because she feels like she has future here in SF rather than Sacto.

  9. Poor $am. You have struggled mightily to convince us that Lee won in a landslide, which you long ago defined as 60%. But the rules say that RCV counting ends when a candidate has a majority of first position voters, which Lee did with 55%. That means that 45% supported someone else. This is not a landslide on a ballot when all of your opponents are relative unknowns.

    Today’s report on polling of Lee’s performance and the city’s direction affirms this.

    You may take comfort in the RCV results for the mayor’s race, but as I’ve noted before, they are not that strong for Lee. The second place finisher had 3.5 times as many second and third place votes transferred to him as Lee did. Put simply, Lee simply did not have that many second- and third-place votes.

    As to your “silent majority”, it’s a myth, just as it was in the days when Nixon’s speechwriters coined it.

  10. The “progressive” solution to the profit-non_profit developer conundrum is to splay the zoning regs, pack the “affordable” into extended height/density, and give the developers some extra units as a concession.

    Oh, and alter the “affordable” from 50% of AMI to 150%. Goes down soo much smoother, and voters don’t know the difference.

  11. You sure one reason Peskin didn’t return was so he could get a piece of the SOMA action? One clue is he picked Jane Kim’s campaign advisor as a legislative aid.

    And what exactly do we expect when the Progressive policy towards being pro-housing does the lobbying for developers? It doesn’t get more twisted.

  12. Also, what you’re describing takes into account a single bio rather than the rush hour clusters following the careless hot dogs as pack leaders.

  13. You are more likely to see moderation of those who post only to make personal attacks on others rather than follow Tim’s clear request to stay on topic and avoid ad hominem attacks. Why not debate the issues instead?

  14. I’m glad 48 Hills has called out Aaron Peskin’s cagey-ness. Now that he’s on the board they should be able to 1) impose new regs on Airbnb, 2) pass a development moratorium in the Mission and 3) reject the new jail. I could him voting against the Idaho Stop law. D3 is a major biking thoroughfare for people commuting to the FiDi or SOMA and I think his voters not care for biking behavior. However, he’s led Progressives to believe he’s with them on these issues and now that he’s here I don’t see them reviving any of that past legislation.

  15. Ah yes, anyone who doesn’t buy into mindless progressivism is just like Trump.

    Keep using that argument. It’s so credible.

  16. Long term? SF has been electing moderate mayors for 25 years now – Jordan, Brown, Newsom and Lee.

    Are you telling me that Lee easily winning re-election is part of your cunning multi-decade long-term strategy for a progressive winning the mayor’s race in, say, 2050?

  17. hello hiker: that Sam character has a really thin – skin; he totally reminds me of Trump and so many of his elongated “debates” to maintain his imaginary influence on this site are really comical –

  18. wrong again “You lost. Get over it” we are thinking in the long term and Lee and he is not infallibly right with the “tough decisions”

  19. Not at all. My arguments have been both consistent and effective. Which is exactly why you are trying desperately to create a diversion.

  20. While I would luv an “Idaho Stop” rule here, I fear the culture that has grown up (rolling thru anyway in any way) will just result in total confusion when there’s any question about liability.

    Ferincstance, a bike approaches from the Right and enters intersection. A car approaches from the Left, stops, enters intersection and there is a collision. While nominally the bike would have a ROW, it only has that ROW if its first to enter. A swiftly moving bike might enter the intersection after the car has stopped, but – on the ground – that can be difficult to determine (for both, actually). There is not much time with a rolling bike to determine who is already IN the intersection and who is entering.

    Maybe this could get parsed; and I hope so. But I fret, due to so much lawless activity I see on a daily basis (wrong-way riding, poor passing, ignoring others ROW).

  21. Less than one third of voters failed to pick Lee as one of their choices. And he won after just one round of RCV. That is a landslide, especially since Lee din’t campaign.

    The opinion polls don’t matter because Lee has a new term and is then termed out. His office has a vital role of representing the silent majority of moderate voters who are not fairly represented by a board of supervisors that is anomalously skewed left by a gerrymandered system of district elections which distort the vote in ways I have explained to you before.

    So his goal is not to be popular but to be right, and to continue the impressive economic growth and success we have seen under his leadership.

    You lost. Get over it

  22. Who cares what Lee’s ratings are? You do $am. First you argued that Lee would be re-elected with an overwhelming majority, which you defined at 60%. He got a soft 55% since it was against a group of opponents with no name recognition.

    Then you argued that Lee’s second and third-place votes in ranked choice balloting were actually cast by people who really wanted Lee to win and were voting for someone else in first place just for fun. You dropped that argument after I pointed out the absurdity of trying to guess what their intentions were.

    I also noted that the number of votes that Lee picked up from ranked choice balloting (second and third place votes) was less than a third of those delivered to Francisco Herrera, the second place finisher in the ranked choice balloting.

    The polling results reported in the Chronicle point out what many commentators said right after the election: Lee is starting off with a much weaker hand than he had during his first term. Lee may yet turn it around, but I don’t see an easy pathway for him at this point.

  23. Who cares what Lee’s ratings are? He easily won re-election and is in his final term and doesn’t have to make the easy choices that placate the voters. He can instead make the tough decisions that are necessary but not always popular.

    I actually agree with on that this immunity proposal for cyclists should be rejected, A temporary localized trial might be fine assuming a foolproof way of quantifying the risk could be determined.

  24. While I fully support bicyclists and expanding San Francisco’s bicycle infrastructure, I don’t think there is enough popular support for this law to overcome the bad PR created by the minority of bicyclists who are seen as being obnoxious.

    Personally, I think we should give the Bike Yield Law a chance on a trial basis and modify it if needed. Identifying good data to measure the success/failure of this change and aggressively collecting baseline and on-going data is important.

    I think that maybe the obvious needs to be re-iterated in a public forum: That the legal and financial consequences of a bicyclist colliding with a pedestrian, automobile, motorcycle, etc. by not stopping are the same with or without this law.

  25. 100 people protested the Woods neutralization?

    So to put it another way, in a city of 800,000 people, 799,900 people don’t think it is worth protesting?

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