SF Mayor Is All Up in the News This Week and Its Not All Bad
Appointments here, apologies there. Mayor London Breed is busy sprinkling herself around, making her way into headlines here at home and across the international stage, not all good, not all of it bad. Let’s take a look at what she’s been up to.
Public Defender Manohar Raju
After Matt Gonzalez took himself out of the running to replace the late Public Defender Jeff Adachi, Breed was given the opportunity to appoint someone with a little less of a progressive streak, and that she did. On Monday, the mayor officially appointed Manohar “Mano” Raju to serve out the rest of Adachi’s elected term. Raju comes with seasoning – he managed the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office felony division and served as a public defender in Contra Costa County for 18 years prior to that. Breed’s appointment may be the safe political choice but it seems to resonate as an appropriate move among some at the PD office who worried about the fate of Adachi’s legacy after his sudden passing.
Gonzalez, who was a favorite to succeed Adachi until he had a moment of “clarity” and decided he would not run for the position come election time, said during the appointment ceremony:
“He understands the work of the public defender has to be rooted in the community. I’ve seen him prepare cases for trial and work with the community and I know that he’s going to do a terrific job carrying on Jeff’s legacy.”
Raju was honored by the appointment and called the succession “his calling” as he reassured the public that although he and Adachi are different beasts, he will continue to fight for values the late public defender pushed to the forefront over decades. The appointment was made formal in a City Hall ceremony Monday, one week to the day from Jeff Adachi’s emotional memorial in the same space.
Fury of the Irish
As the city gears up for its annual St. Patrick’s Day parade Saturday, the mayor has been busy apologizing to Irish everywhere for her not-so-popular choice to grant a posthumous Certificate of Honor to a former Irish Republic Army commander. Although Breed claims the United Irish Societies made the selection, which comes with an honorary parade grand marshal title, it is apparent the choice was not well vetted before the honor was given Friday.
The former Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness not only once fought with the IRA, he was second in command during the 1972 Bloody Sunday attack. Many people, from all over the globe, have taken to Twitter to voice anger that the mayor would honor a man who played such a prominent role in violence that plagued Ireland the United Kingdom.
It is appropriate to recognise the significant contribution of Martin McGuinness to the peace process. But it is wrong, hurtful and inaccurate to commend his ‘military service’ which was nothing other than terrorism. https://t.co/dwNeXiNyqm
— Stephen Farry (@StephenFarryMLA) March 10, 2019
Breed issued the following statement of apology:
“San Francisco values means respect for the democratic process and non-violent political actions. The language on the Certificate of Honor should have taken more care to apply these values when reflecting the history of Mr. McGuinness’ life toward peacemaker and his role in the peace process that resulted in the Good Friday Agreement.”
“I apologize for the pain this certificate has caused.”
The apology alone is coming off as too-little-too-late for many who want the mayor to rescind the honor. If she chooses not to do so, her Grand Marshal role in Saturday’s parade could come with a healthy dose of tension.
A First for San Francisco Fire Department
Breed made up some points after her Irish faux pas with Wednesday’s news that she appointed the first openly LGBT fire chief. As a 25-year veteran of SSFD, the “humbled” Jeanine Nicholson has put in the work to reach this historic point. The mayor’s appointment satisfies a demand many put forth that the successor to outgoing chief Joanne Hayes-White be someone from the inside, someone firefighters trusted and had served with. Nicholson has earned a reputation for her toughness on and off the job; she suffered second degree burns during a 2009 that injured several other firefighters and she battled and beat breast cancer, later becoming an advocate for prevention measures at the department.
Breed said of Nicholson Wednesday:
“This woman is tough, this woman is resilient, this woman is a leader.”
Those the are hot points in the mayor’s week…so far.