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Friday, December 8, 2023

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City HallThe AgendaElon Musk helps Preston, Breed's housing bill is back (and still facing...

Elon Musk helps Preston, Breed’s housing bill is back (and still facing opposition)…

Plus a lawsuit against SFPD contains horrifying allegations of racism and homophobia. That's The Agenda for Oct. 1 to 8

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I can see Sup. Dean Preston’s campaign slogan right now: “Vote Dean. Elon Musk hates him.”

Musk, after his perhaps serious promise to donate $100,000 to oppose Preston, just went a step further.

Complaining about a Mission Local story on Preston’s bill to stop security guards (who are not cops) from pointing their guns at people who steal $14 worth of candy, Musk tweeted (or do we now “Xted?”) that “Dean Preston should go to prison.”

That’s really bizarre; no matter what you think of Preston’s (rather rational, not at all radical) measure, introducing legislation regulating firearms is still not a crime in the United States. (If it were, the sainted late Sen. Dianne Feinstein and conservative Sup. Catherine Stefani would have been eligible to join Preston in a jail jumpsuit).

Sup. Dean Preston has pissed off Elon Musk. That’s probably the best thing that could happen to his re-election campaign.

This incident inspired one of the best press release headlines I’ve seen in a long time, from Preston’s aide Kyle Smeallie:

“Billionaire Fascist Elon Musk Calls for Imprisonment of Democratically-Elected San Francisco Official”

From Preston:

These attacks are beyond the pale. A billionaire calling for a democratically-elected official to be sent to prison for no reason is textbook fascism. Regardless, I will continue advocating for my constituents even if that makes billionaires uncomfortable and increasingly unhinged.

I don’t know what Musk does late at night when he’s Xting, but if the Texas resident wants to see Preston lose, he’s only hurting his cause.

Nobody in SF likes Elon Musk. Photo from Wikimedia Images.

I know Mayor London Breed is not popular in San Francisco today. But Elon Musk is far, far less popular. He’s probably the least-liked celebrity who lives (which he doesn’t) or works (sometimes) in the city.

Progressives hate him for his politics. Labor folks hate him for his labor practices. Tech folks hate him for his attitude. People who liked Twitter hate him for ruining the platform. The federal government is suing one of his companies over what it calls a pattern of racial harassment.

With enemies like these, Preston is going to be swimming in friends.

The mayor’s housing legislation, which every major tenant group in the city, and the Race and Equity in All Planning Coalition strongly opposed, comes back to the Land Use and Transportation Committee Monday/2.

A SPUR oped in the Chron shows where the Mayor’s Office is coming from: They will attack the supes as “anti-housing” if they oppose a measure that helps developers make more profit but does essentially nothing for affordable housing.

The committee members have now had time to review all of the mayor’s amendments, and several supes, including Rafael Mandelman and Myrna Melgar, said they have amendments of their own.

Among the issues on the table: Demolition of existing housing without any guarantee that rent-controlled units won’t be lost. The legislation allows for demolition without any community notice or input as long as the landlord says there are no rent controlled units and no tenants have been evicted—but there is no enforcement mechanism. It’s just the landlord’s word.

Given the money speculators can make buying smaller units and demolishing them for bigger units, the prospect that everyone will follow all the laws is rather dubious. Landlords violate the eviction rules all the time, and nothing ever happens.

And I have said this before but will say it again: When the bulldozers appear without notice and start demolishing houses in the neighborhoods on the West Side of town, people are going to be really, really unhappy.

The amendments that are coming forward tomorrow will be substantive enough that the measure will have to be continued again.

This is kind of amusing: TogetherSF, the tech billionaire funded organization that wants to destroy progressive politics in San Francisco, has a Twitter post talking about homeless camps. Except that they couldn’t even bother to get a local picture: This photo is from Los Angeles.

The Police Commission calendar, like the Board of Supes calendar, often has lawsuit settlement discussions, which happen in closed session. A lot of them are pretty routine.

But some are pretty serious, and on the commission calendar for Wednesday/4 is Mohammed Habib v. City and County of San Francisco.

It’s a wrongful termination case that hasn’t received any real media attention, as far as I can tell.

Habib was a cop, hired, according to the lawsuit, in 2016. He is a devout Afghani Muslim whose family fled Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran and wound up in the US when he was eight.

He graduated from the Police Academy in 2017, and was assigned to Northern Station, where, according to the suit, “had a very positive experience and felt comfortable and accepted.”

That changed when he was transferred to Central Station, where he was “subject to a barrage of harassing comments, conduct, and other communications by his supervisors and coworkers on the basis of his race, religion, and national origin.”

Cops he worked with, the suit alleges, used racist terms about Muslims and people from the Middle East. Someone wrote the words “ISIS” and “go back” on his locker. They teased him with comments about being a terrorist.

The suit also alleges that officers he worked with made racist comments about Black people, and one said that “if I see a Black person behind the wheel, I’ll pull that person over and find probable cause later.” Another officer made some pretty disgusting homophobic comments.

This list goes on, and it’s really disturbing. If the allegations are true, the department has a long, long way to go to address systemic racism and homophobia in the ranks.

Habib alleges that he complained repeatedly, and the department took no action. Chief Bill Scott then sent a letter reprimanding him for eventually talking to the press, and shortly after, he was fired.

The case number CGC-18-569287, if you have the stomach to look it up at sfsuperiorcourt.org.

According to court records, the city has agreed to settle the case. We don’t know the price yet, but I suspect it’s going to be a lot of money that the taxpayers are coughing up for ongoing allegations of police misconduct.

That meeting starts at 5pm, but there will be no public discussion of the case. That will happen eventually if the settlement goes to the Board of Supes, who must approve any case that costs the city more than $25,000—and this will be on that list.

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Tim Redmond
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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