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Thursday, June 17, 2021

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News + PoliticsCan SF supes take on political corruption?

Can SF supes take on political corruption?

Committee hearing will give us a clue. Plus: Protecting SRO tenants, preventing evictions and saving nightlife venues ... that's The Agenda for Feb. 1 - 8

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The last time the supes considered a measure to create a public advocate – an independent office that could among other things investigate public corruption – some supervisors said it wasn’t needed. After all, they said, the board has a Government Oversight and Audit Committee, that can and should be investigating the kind of evolving scandal that has hit City Hall.

Harlan Kelly and Mohammed Nuru are both accused of public corruption. (Mission Local found this image on Twitter)

The supes have subpoena power if they want to use it, and can force witnesses to testify under oath.

That hasn’t happened yet in this scandal, but the committee has, indeed, decided to hold a hearing on the matter, and asked controller and the city attorney for updates.

The Controller’s Office report on the alleged bribery scandal at the airport is here. The upshot: The attempted bribe was pretty stupid because one Airport Commission member did not have the authority to award, or even vote directly on, the contract in question. Everything at the airport is pretty much fine.

The reality: The FBI evidence suggests that bids were routinely awarded in a back-room-deal fashion, with three of the five commissioners voting together on deals they had worked out in advance:

It’s pretty hard to believe that none of the recent occupants of the Mayor’s Office had any idea what was going on.

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There’s a lot more to this story, and there’s no doubt that the city needs substantially different oversight systems (because I don’t believe this culture of corruption has by any means ended). So let’s see how far this committee can go.

The Thursday/4 meeting starts at 10am.

That committee will also consider legislation by Sup. Aaron Peskin that would help protect SRO residents at risk of COIVD. The measure would mandate that people who meet the public health criteria for quarantine be given access to a private room, that hotel owners post a notice in common areas if a resident tests positive, and that personal protective equipment be provided for all residents.

Another COVID item on the agenda: Sup. Matt Haney wants the Department of Public Health to make public a vaccine distribution plan, including a transparent system to let people know how much vaccine is available and how and when people can access it.

The Land Use and Transportation Committee will consider Monday/1 an emergency ordinance by Sup. Dean Preston that would extend the city’s ban on residential evictions for non-payment of rent due to COVID for another 60 days. That will go to the full board the next day, where it will need eight votes to pass.

The Budget and Finance Committee will consider Wednesday/3 a measure that would create a modest recovery fund for music and entertainment venues. It’s not a lot of money, but it might keep some places from closing for good; if they can survive until the COVID crisis is over, it will make a huge difference for the city.

Priority for funding would include:

Among eligible venues, priority would be given to eligible venues that meet two or more of the following additional criteria, with higher priority given to eligible venues that meet a higher number of additional criteria: (1) the venue is in imminent danger of closure; (2) the venue has been in operation for at least 15 years; (3) the venue is a “Legacy Business” under Section 2A.242 of the Administrative Code; (4) the venue has a maximum occupancy of less than 1000 patrons, as established by the most recent Place of Assembly permit issued for the venue under Chapter 1 of the Fire Code; and (5) the venue has historical importance to, or in recent years has been an important economic force in, one or more Cultural Districts, as defined in Chapter 107 of the Administrative Code.

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.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Such a progressive Board of Supervisors in 1995, elected at-large, such that we did not even need to switch to district elections:

    Hallinan, Shelley, Alioto, Hseih, Bierman, Kennedy, Katz, Conroy/Teng, Achtenberg/Leal, Ammiano, Kaufman and Migden.

    Yep, the Frank Jordan years, a real progressive chucklefest.

    The Kaufman Charter is a Willie Brown Charter. We can’t root out Brown’s corruption so long as the document created to enable that corruption remains the controlling authority.

  2. The revised charter was approved by a large majority of San Franciscans, after being approved for the ballot by a majority of the Board which included Tom Ammiano, Mark Leno, Phil Ting, etc.
    The current corruption problem has been going on right under the noses of Herrrera and Peskin, who have been at city hall as long or longer than anyone else. Where have they been?

  3. They will not because they are part of the problem. Why is Dennis Herrera still in office despite being found guilty of retaliation against corruption whistleblower Joanne Hoeper? SFPD will not investigate because it reports to the Mayor. Successive DAs have done nothing either, presumably because they know voters will not hold them accountable for inaction.

  4. If corruption flourishes under these elected and appointed officials, Members Of The City Family In Good Standing, then what makes anyone think that another elected official who has to raise money to win election is going to be positioned to get a handle on corruption? Would anyone imagine Public Defender David Campos confronting corrupt elites, that which he did not do as Supervisor or Police Commissioner?

    The problem is structural. The Charter was designed for Willie Brown by Barbara Kaufman. The political class cannot solve these structural problems that benefit them. Progressive supervisors should punt this to the people and convene a people’s charter convention to propose a new governmental structure designed to be transparent and resistant to corruption, put it on the ballot and win.

    At the very least, the Board of Supervisors needs to call upon the Department of Justice to not abandon the investigation into municipal corruption, rather to double down on it.

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