Editor’s Notes

Pub date May 8, 2007
WriterTim Redmond

› tredmond@sfbg.com

San Francisco district attorneys have never been known for fighting political corruption. You don’t see politicians or corporate CEOs doing the perp walk around here — and trust me, it’s not because there’s a lack of criminal activity. Over the past 20 years, I’ve personally written or edited at least two dozen stories that involved clear evidence of lawbreaking by prominent San Francisco citizens, and not one of them has ever been held to account in a court of law.

(OK, I’ll give Terence Hallinan credit for Fajitagate; at least he tried. But it turned out to be an embarrassment when the highest-ranking cops walked away free and clear. And even Hallinan couldn’t — or wouldn’t — lay a glove on Willie Brown.)

Kamala Harris, who will be up for reelection next year, clearly has higher political ambitions. When I saw her take the stage with Sen. Barack Obama at the state Democratic convention in San Diego and he introduced her as one of his most prominent supporters, I could almost see the wheels turning: Federal Judge Kamala Harris. White House counsel Kamala Harris. Even Attorney General Kamala Harris. If Obama doesn’t win, she’s still on a lot of short lists for higher office.

But if she wants to be another Eliot Spitzer, she’s got to, well, be Eliot Spitzer. She’s got to be willing to take a firm hand on political crimes, pursuing and investigating violations of public trust as if that were the most important part of her job.

And she can start right now with the San Francisco Community College District.

It’s been more than a month since the news broke that an associate vice chancellor at City College diverted $10,000 in public money to a private campaign fund set up to pass a college bond act. Nobody’s been charged with any crime, but it seems to me there are some real questions not just about propriety but about legality here. And it seems to me, as someone who has watched that snake pit over there for a long time now, that it’s highly — highly — unlikely that a junior-level college official acting entirely on his own would have shifted 10 grand into a campaign committee that had close ties to elected members of the community college board.

Nobody in the DA’s Office will confirm or deny any investigation, which is standard practice. But I bet an aggressive district attorney who started digging out there on Phelan Avenue might shovel up some serious dirt. Just a thought, Kamala.

I’m beginning to think that our candidate for mayor ought to be Sup. Ross Mirkarimi.

Part of that is, frankly, political reality: Matt Gonzalez shows no sign of wanting to run at this point, and it’s getting late. Sup. Aaron Peskin doesn’t want to do it. There’s talk about former mayor Art Agnos, but I don’t buy it: Agnos would have a lot of fences to mend from his administration, and he’s not the type to apologize.

I hate to say that "leaves" Mirkarimi, because he’s actually a good candidate. He’s smart and full of energy and can take on the mayor on street crime: Newsom is going after panhandlers while Mirkarimi is trying to do something about the appalling murder rate. He’s only been in elected office a couple years, but then, Obama (who is Mirkarimi’s age, to the day) has been in the US Senate a couple years, and he could be the next president. Worth thinking about.