Sunday, May 16, 2021
News + Politics Wiener votes with cops, against Leno accountability bill

Wiener votes with cops, against Leno accountability bill

The law-enforcement lobby may be discredited, but it still apparently has some clout in San Francisco

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There was a strange moment at the Board of Supervisors today that shows just how powerful even the discredited law-enforcement lobby can be.

The supes were considering a resolution endorsing a bill by Sup. Mark Leno that would mandate more police accountability. These things are usually pretty routine, and get put at the end of the meeting: It’s rare that any resolution supporting a measure by one of our local representatives gets anything but unanimous support.

Scott Wiener wants to clear out homeless tents
Scott Wiener sides with the cops and against Sen. Mark Leno’s accountability measure

But that wasn’t the case today – and the supe who tried to derail the resolution was Scott Wiener, who has been a close Leno ally and whom Leno has endorsed to replace him in the state Senate.

I was surprised when I was first reporting on this that Wiener wasn’t among the supes who had signed onto the endorsement resolution. The Leno measure is more than reasonable, and it has the backing of dozens of major civil-rights and open-government groups.

But the SF Police Officers Association and the statewide law-enforcement lobby are fighting it. I texted Wiener and asked him whether he was with Leno on this one, and he said:

“I have concerns about the legislation in its current form, but I am open to supporting it in a more targeted form, focusing on sustained complaints of extreme use of force or egregious misconduct.”

At the meeting, he said that he thinks the measure will be amended eventually (that is, watered down). “This bill, in its current form, I won’t be able to support it today.”

Again: Huh? Leno has done so much for Wiener, helped him get elected supervisor, helped him with his state Senate campaign, and there are very few times I can remember when Wiener hasn’t supported something Leno was doing.

In this case, it’s a really important measure that would have an impact on the rash of police misconduct. As Sup. David Campos noted, “this is actually a pretty mild piece of legislation.”

But Wiener couldn’t bring himself to support the bill. So instead, he tried a parliamentary trick: He asked that the supes resolution be divided into two measures, one that simply commended Leno for taking on the issue, and another that actually endorsed the bill.

That way he could vote to comment Leno and say he was open to some sort of police reform – but still not endorse the actual measure that Leno was trying to pass.

Any member of the board has the right to divide a piece of legislation, so there was no debate on it.

Instead, Sups. David Campos and Aaron Peskin argued against the pointless commendation, which went down 8-3 with only Wiener, Mark Farrell, and Katy Tang voting yes.

The actual measure endorsing police accountability passed by the same measure, with the same vote.

So Wiener in effect tried to undermine a key piece of legislation his mentor and ally is working hard to pass, against sustained law-enforcement opposition. This, I suspect, will be an issue in the state Senate campaign.

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.

55 COMMENTS

  1. Wiener is jut awful. I don’t think there is anything I have heard or read about him that I have agreed with.

  2. Why is it a surprise? Wiener hates the poor, black folks, trans people and is a lackey for out of state and out of country developers. If he wasn’t gay and in SF he would be a Republican.

  3. Does anyone find it curious that Wiener lead the way on SF’s new Parental Leave law, not to mention his taking the lead on the new solar panel laws, both things progressives should absolutely love, but there’s no mention of that stuff at all by Tim? Nope, instead he focuses on some b.s.,non-binding resolution, and how wonderful Jane Kim is for floating the idea of free college of CCSF. Here’s one guy getting progressive legislation enacted, and another who is kind of pipe dreaming, but Wiener is now a “dick” and “fuck him, ” per the comments. Why not just come out and admit that you don’t really care about progressive laws, you just care about the horse race of getting your candidate elected?

  4. “or he just completely lacks any principles and sells himself to the highest bidder.” I think you hit the nail on the head right there!

  5. Wiener is worse than I thought. Maybe he’s pimping for a position in the Clinton presidency.

    There should be demonstrations outside his office and home. Fuck him.

  6. I was up in Sacramento lobbying for this with the ACLU just last week. Decent baby step bill. Puts us in line with states that already have this… like Florida, Texas, and Utah. Pretty astounding that Wiener opposes even this. Either he’s ideologically somewhere in Ted Cruz land, or he just completely lacks any principles and sells himself to the highest bidder.

    At the ACLU conference, everyone was singing the praises of Leno, and I kind of cringed. Yes, he’s gotten better on issues like this recently. He’s no longer a one-issue legislator. Better late than never I suppose. Maybe someday he’ll endorse a progressive locally (don’t hold your breath). But this is classic two-faced Leno. He does something halfway decent (with plenty of accompanying fanfare touting whatever milquetoast reform he happens to be putting forth as the greatest thing since the Bill of Rights); then follows it up by taking a big crap on all the high-minded principles he wears on his sleeve by endorsing a dick like Wiener. All the while smiling in your face. And everyone says “Such a nice guy, that Mark Leno!”

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