The Police Commission hasn’t approved the use of Tasers for SF cops, but the issue is almost certainly going to come up Thursday/21 when the Supervisors Rules Committee holds a hearing on police use of force.
So will the shooting of Mario Woods, Amilcar Perez Lopez, and Alex Nieto. So will the larger question: Why are the local cops shooting and killing so many young men of color? So will the tenure and leadership of Chief Greg Suhr.
Sup. Malia Cohen has asked for the hearing, and while the San Francisco Democratic Party has completely buckled on police reform, and the Police Officers Association has tried to intimidate the supes. It will be a packed room; the chief will try to argue that the best solution to police shootings is to give police more and different weapons.
Sups. Cohen, John Avalos, and Katy Tang will have a chance to question the chief and have the policy discussion we really need.
And there’s a lot more on the Rules agenda – Charter amendments that could add a budget set-aside for the Recreation and Parks Department and that could end the current process of mayoral appointments to the Board of Supes.
Sup. Mark Farrell has a measure, cosponsored by Sups. Eric Mar, London Breed, Malia Cohen, Scott Wiener, and Norman Yee (yes, with Yee and Mar the more conservative bloc has six votes on this) that seems like something so nice and innocent that nobody could be opposed to it.
How could you be against “a baseline appropriation for the Park, Recreation, and Open Space Fund?” Why not earmark $3 million for parks and open space? It seems like a tiny bit of money, and it’s true that parks and open space often don’t get the funding we need.
But there are a lot of set-asides in the budget, and at a certain point some supes may say: Enough. More interesting, there’s a lot of popular anger – across the political spectrum – at the way the current management of Rec-Park is operating. The department head, Phil Ginsburg, is all about privatizing park property, turning parks into revenue generators (oh, and putting artificial turf in playing fields.)
I have heard a lot of progressives (including Sup. Aaron Peskin, who opposed the last park bond in 2012) saying that they don’t trust Rec-Park. This won’t be a slam dunk, and will be a chance to hear a lot of the criticism of the Ginsburg administration.
Then there’s the plan by Sup. John Avalos to, as he puts it “elect our elected officials.” The measure would end the practice of the mayor appointing supervisors who then wind up being long-term supporters and allies of that mayor (at one point, a majority of the supes were appointees of Willie Brown, who of course always got his way on the board). Under the measure, if a seat on the board becomes vacant, the mayor can appoint someone – who would then be ineligible to run for a full term. Instead, there would be a special election within 180 days to fill the seat. If the mayor leaves office, the president of the board would be acting mayor until an election is held to fill the vacancy.
Another option that could come up: Do what we were supposed to do five years ago, when Ed Lee promised to be a caretaker mayor would not run for election to a full term. Allow the supes to fill a vacancy – but make that interim mayor ineligible to run in the election to fill the job.
Earlier versions of his plan also changed the way the mayor would be elected and would have modified the current ranked-choice voting system for mayoral runoffs. That’s gone.
So it’s all about how we replace officials who leave before their terms are up. And I’ve said this before, but San Francisco is one of the very few places I know of in American democracy where the chief executive gets to appoint members of the legislature.
Last time he tried this, Avalos lacked six votes. But this is a different board, and some of the supes who opposed it are now up for re-election. Could be a different outcome.
All of this will be up for discussion in the Board Chamber starting at 10am.
The Planning Commission is set to discuss some changes to the way that the city funds affordable housing, and while there’s a lot of technical language here, the reality is that the planners aren’t the only ones in this game right now. There’s almost certainly going to be a Charter Amendment on the June ballot that changes the way the city charges developers for affordable housing – and it might make the changes in this proposal (which comes out of the Mayor’s Office) largely moot.
In June, the voters are likely going to get a chance to increase the level of mandatory “inclusionary” housing. Why is the mayor even proposing this right now?
Willie Brown wants to blame the protest at the mayor’s inauguration on outgoing Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi:
“It’s hardly a secret that Mirkarimi and the mayor did not get along, not with Lee’s unsuccessful attempt to throw Mirkarimi out of office because of the whole domestic violence incident involving his wife. Mirkarimi didn’t even have the class to attend the swearing-in of the woman who defeated him in November, new Sheriff Vicki Hennessy.
“Both Hennessy and Lee were sworn in on Jan. 8. Mirkarimi sat in his City Hall office that day, still the sheriff until noon. Lee’s inauguration started at 11:30 a.m., meaning Mirkarimi was still in control of security arrangements.
“What a surprise that the balconies were filled with people hooting at the proceedings. How strange that no one moved to clear them out until the clock struck 12 and Hennessy officially became sheriff.”
The problem here is that Willie Brown, and the Chron reporters, were downstairs in the VIP section with the mayor and the celebs. I was upstairs with the protesters, and I saw exactly what happened, moment by moment.
And I can tell you: There was very nearly a police riot that would have been the worst result the mayor or anyone else could have asked for. The Tac Squad – which is under the police chief, not the sheriff – was lined up in full gear, ready to go and clear out the protesters, which I guess was what Brown wanted.
There would have been mass arrests, bloodshed, screaming, all over a protest that was rooted in police violence … it would have been a way, way worse nightmare than the chorus of boos that the mayor heard.
But that didn’t happen – mostly because the chief deputy sheriff on hand, Albert Waters, kept the riot cops at bay. There were a few protesters who dropped banners and were arrested, and it got pretty tense – but at no point did the sheriffs move to “clear them [all] out.” Instead, the deputies under Waters’ command did what they typically do at City Hall demonstrations: They allowed peaceful, if loud, protest, worked with the protesters to avoid violence and confrontation, and kept things mostly peaceful.
And if those were Mirkarimi’s orders, he did everyone, including Ed Lee, a huge favor.