Editor’s Notes

Pub date September 26, 2006
WriterTim Redmond
SectionEditorialSectionNews & Opinion

› tredmond@sfbg.com
So much going on this week: the cops and the San Francisco Police Commission are heading for a battle over secrecy, the cops and the supervisors are headed for a battle over foot patrols — and Mayor Gavin Newsom is heading for a battle with homeless advocates over a new round of sweeps at Golden Gate Park. The mayor and the local gendarmes can’t win any of this without community support and would do far better to stop trying to fight these battles.
Then there’s redevelopment and the city attorney … and we might as well get started:
•The state Supreme Court ruled a couple of weeks ago that all police disciplinary records have to be kept secret. It’s an awful decision, and San Francisco needs to find a way around it if at all possible. Some police commissioners, starting with David Campos, want to do that, but City Attorney Dennis Herrera is interpreting the law very conservatively and not offering the commission a lot of options.
Why not make public all the charges against cops with the individual officers’ names redacted? At least the community would know that some cops are improperly shooting people, giving liquor to minors, beating up people of color, beating up their spouses … and at least we’d all have a way to demand some policy changes. Or why not tell bad cops facing disciplinary hearings that they can plea bargain for a lenient sentence — and waive their rights to privacy — or take their chance in a full commission trial, where they will face termination if they lose? Let’s think here, people: this is too important to just give up. San Franciscans aren’t going to accept a secret police state.
•The mayor and the police chief are still fighting against Sup. Ross Mirkarimi’s plan to put cops on foot in high-crime areas. That’s a loser, Mr. Mayor. Nobody thinks that your current plans are working.
•After visiting Central Park in New York City — which is run by and for a private group of rich people — Newsom has decided to clear all the homeless people out of Golden Gate Park. Let me offer a little reality here: people sleep in the park because they have no place else to go. You cut their welfare payments and let the price of housing skyrocket, this is what you get. Sweep them out and they won’t disappear: they’ll sleep on the streets in the Haight and the Sunset and the Richmond. There’s a great campaign issue.
Besides, Golden Gate Park, homeless and all, is generally a safe, pleasant place, with only minor crime problems. But kids are dying on the streets only a few hundred yards away in the Western Addition. We don’t have enough cops to walk the beat where they could save lives — but we have enough to roust the homeless?
•Herrera, who’s got his hands full of ugly messes this week, tossed a referendum on the Bayview Hunters Point Redevelopment Plan off the ballot because each of the petitions didn’t have the entire plan attached. For the record, the plan is 62 pages. If this is the standard — an entire plan has to be copied and printed with every single petition — then as a practical matter, nobody in California can ever do a referendum on a redevelopment project. I suspect that’s not what Hiram Johnson had mind. SFBG