Political power play unseats SF Police Commissioner

Police Commissioner Angela Chan fought the federal government as they unjustly tried to deport undocumented San Franciscans who were guilty of no crimes, and won. She fought to arm the SFPD with de-escalation tactics instead of Tasers, and won again.

But at the April 30 Board of Supervisors meeting, Chan lost. The board denied her reappointment to the Police Commission, and seven supervisors voted to appoint her opponent, Victor Hwang, instead.

The decision came after heated backdoor politicking by Chinatown political leader Rose Pak, insiders told us. Politicians involved would only speak on background, for fear of reprisal from Pak, yet indicated that Pak felt Chan did not consult often enough with Chinatown interests and focused too broadly on issues of concern to other communities.

Chan gained national recognition for her work against Secure Communities, challenging a provision that allows U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to call for illegal holds of undocumented persons they’d later like to deport. Pak came out swinging against Chan in the wake of those battles, we were told.

“It’s a sad day for the immigrant rights movement when a strong leader cannot be reappointed,” Sup. Eric Mar said just before the vote.

After Sup. Katy Tang introduced the motion to strike Chan’s name from the appointment, and replace it with Hwang’s, other supervisors noted the obvious elephant in the room — there was not only one vacant seat on the police commission, but two.

Supervisor John Avalos suggested the Board of Supervisors make a motion to request the mayor appoint Hwang himself, allowing for both Chan and Hwang to be appointed.

But Board of Supervisors President David Chiu said he’d asked Mayor Lee that very question to no avail. “It is not something that will happen,” he said. “It is not the practice of the mayor to solve difficult decisions of the board. It’s up to us.”

Sups. Mark Farrell, Scott Wiener, Malia Cohen, London Breed, Jane Kim, Tang and Chiu voted to strike Chan’s name from the appointment, and to vote to appoint Hwang instead. (Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez)

LAWSUIT FILED TO HALT TECH SHUTTLE PILOT

The road to regulating Google Buses has a new pothole: a lawsuit.

A lawsuit filed in San Francisco Superior Court May 1 demands the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s commuter shuttle pilot program be put on hold while a full environmental review is conducted under the California Environmental Quality Act.

“We know that these buses are having devastating impacts on our neighborhoods, driving up rents and evictions of long-time San Francisco residents,” said Sara Shortt, executive director of the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco and one of the lawsuit petitioners. “We’ve protested in the streets and taken our plea to City Hall to no avail. We hope to finally receive justice in a court of law.”

The suit was filed against the City and County of San Francisco, Mayor Ed Lee, the Board of Supervisors, the SFMTA, Google, Genentech, Apple, and a handful of private transportation providers. It alleges the tech shuttle pilot project is in violation of the California Vehicle Code, which prohibits any vehicle — except common carriers (public buses) — to pull into red zones that are designated as bus stops. It also alleges the city abused its discretion and violated the CEQA by exempting the Shuttle Project from environmental review. (Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez)

ILLEGAL ANTI-CAMPOS FLYERS TARGETED IN ETHICS COMPLAINT

Several San Francisco neighborhoods over the last week have been targeted with illegal campaign flyers against Assembly candidate David Campos — breaking both state election laws requiring the group and its funding source to be identified and local laws against placing political flyers on utility poles and other surfaces.

Former Ethics Commission Eileen Hansen this week filed a complaint about the guerilla campaigning with the California Fair Political Practices Commission, which has jurisdiction over state races.

“I am asking for the intervention of your office into what appears to be a blatant and arrogant violation of campaign finance reporting and disclosure laws in California’s 17th Assembly District Primary Election,” Hansen wrote in the April 30 letter. “As you well know, the political climate in San Francisco is quite sensitive, and nerves are raw. If this violation is allowed to continue, it will have a chilling effect on the entire election and further alienate voters, and potential voters.”

The race between Campos and David Chiu has indeed gotten more heated in recent weeks, but Chiu campaign manager Nicole Derse denies that the campaign has any knowledge or involvement with the illegal campaigning: “We think everyone in this race should be transparent.”

In her letter, Hansen casts doubt on the Chiu campaign’s claims of innocence: “The wide distribution, professional design, and overnight appearance in distant locations strongly suggest that these flyers have been produced and distributed by a funded political organization aligned with Assembly candidate David Chiu, whose aim is to attack and discredit Chiu’s opponent David Campos.”

And she even identifies a leading suspect in this illegal campaigning: Enrique Pearce and his Left Coast Communications firm, which has a history of dirty tricks campaigning on behalf of Mayor Ed Lee and other establishment politicians. Hansen notes that the flyers appeared right after the registration of a new campaign committee, San Franciscans for Effective Government to Support David Chiu. Although the group hasn’t reported any fundraising yet, its contact phone number goes to Left Coast Communications and Pearce, who hasn’t yet returned our calls on the issue.

This campaign stunt in reminiscent of an “independent expenditure” effort in the District 6 supervisorial race in 2010, when Pearce was connected to a mailer supporting Sup. Jane Kim that was funded partially by Willie Brown, again because the supposedly independent group listed his phone number even though he was worked directly for Kim.

The anti-Campos mailers include some nasty and misleading charges, labeling Campos “City Hall’s Hypocrite” by falsely claiming Campos ignored rising evictions until he decided to run for the Assembly and that he was concerned about Google buses but wanted to charge them less than $1 per stop. A third flyer claims Campos “lets wifebeater sheriff keep his job” for his vote against removing Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi from office for official misconduct.

“This is a secretly funded shadow organization aligned with David Chiu, committing a desperate move that is as illegal and it is false in its claims,” Campos told us, saying he hopes the FPPC is able to stop and punish those involved. (Steven T. Jones)

SUPES CALL FOR INCREASED YOUTH FUNDING

José-Luis Mejia says he’s seen a little bit of everything in his work with transitional-age youth.

A few have died suddenly; others wound up incarcerated. Then there are those who beat the odds by attending top-level universities, opening up their own businesses, or dedicating themselves to public service.

As associate director of Transitional Age Youth San Francisco, Mejia was part of a grassroots coalition that has been working for about two years on crafting a measure that aims to increase funding for youth programs, seeking to give a boost to transitional-age youth services in particular.

It culminated with the April 30 introduction at the Board of Supervisors of a suite of new proposals to support youth programs, including a pair of charter amendments that will appear on the November ballot.

An amendment sponsored by Sup. John Avalos would renew the existing Children’s Fund, renaming it the Children and Youth Fund, and increasing the property-tax set-aside that supports it from three cents per $100 of assessed valuation to five cents. Funding would be designated for programs set up to aid “disconnected transitional-aged youth,” including homeless or disabled youth, unmarried parents, those who identify as LGBTQ or are aging out of foster care, and other specified categories. The amendment would also create a Commission on Children, Youth, and Their Families, to oversee the Department of Children Youth and their families. A second charter amendment would extend the Public Education Enrichment Fund (PEEF), another source of funding for youth programs.

Avalos has strong support on the Board, but the mayor’s office has reportedly been pressuring supervisors not to support Avalos’ measure.

“As we all know, San Francisco is experiencing incredible economic activity,” Avalos noted April 30. “We’re experiencing growth and speculation that is lifting many boats, but not lifting all boats. And some of the people who are not doing so well are children and families.”

The Children’s Fund, and PEEF currently set aside over $100 million for children and youth in San Francisco. The funding sources would sunset if action were not taken to extend them. (Rebecca Bowe)