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Who Will Replace Chesa Boudin? Just Follow the Money

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A billionaire conservative and his GOP pals spent $7 million on a campaign to convince San Franciscans to recall District Attorney Chesa Boudin. They were helped by a steady drumbeat of negative press, which blamed Boudin for all the crime and homelessness in San Francisco, the same problems we’ve had for decades.  But people love a scapegoat, and the corporate press fed them whatever they wanted, it seems.

‘I want to be very clear about what happened tonight. The right-wing billionaires outspent us three to one.”
– Chesa Boudin on election night.

The full list of PACs and ‘Recall Chesa’ donors like Republican billionaire William Oberndorf, and VC Jean-Pierre Conte is here.

Anyone who bothered to look at the actual crime numbers knows that crime did not increase under Chesa, who by the way, has only been DA for 2 years.  In San Francisco, from 2019–21, rape, robbery, and assault decreased by 47% (-191), 27% (-851), and 6% (-160), respectively. So, violent crime (which the SFPD categorizes as homicide, rape, robbery, and assault) decreased by 19% (-1187). Property crime over that period decreased by 11% (-6083).

It’s hard to say how accurate this crime data is, considering it is reported by the San Francisco Police Department…but more on that later.

What really changed were the targets of crime, not the volume.  The burglars who run around the city at night smashing car windows have historically targetted tourists and rental cars, overwhelmingly, and for decades.  Why?  Because tourists are easy targets, they travel with all their stuff, and are far less likely to stick around to track down their stolen goods, they turn in their rental cars with broken windows, and literally fly away.

But the total number of tourists in SF was down 61.0 percent in 2020, there were just 10.2 million visitors to the city that pandemic year, down from a record high of 26.2 million in 2019.   So what did the burglars do when there weren’t any marks in Fisherman’s Wharf to rob?  They started targeting SF residents, usually in affluent neighborhoods like the Marina, North Beach, and Cow Hollow.

And when rich important people get robbed, there will be hell to pay, and pay they did.  Millions in recall pamphlets, attack ads, and misguided stories in the press blaming the DA for all the crime.  Despite Chesa doing exactly what he campaigned on doing.  It wasn’t that there were more robberies and more criminals on the streets, it was that the wrong people were getting robbed.

DA Boudin campaigned on holding bad cops accountable and focusing on rehabilitating criminals as opposed to punishing them with long prison sentences.  Two things the cops absolutely hate, and two things progressives insist that they support.

Chesa also campaigned on ending cash bail, not charging minors as adults, prioritizing diversion over prison, and not enforcing the infamous ‘3 strikes law’, all promises he made good on.

But the minute Boudin made good on his promise of prosecuting bad cops for beating unarmed civilians or shooting unarmed suspects, the police turned on him.  No SF DA had ever followed up on multiple prosecutions against bad cops before, and perhaps non ever will again, after this recall.

But when the police hate the DA, things can get toxic real fast.  The San Francisco Police Department’s clearance rate dropped to its lowest level in a decade: 8.1 percent in 2021. Meaning for every 12 crimes reported to the police, the SFPD only registers one arrest (on property crimes, it registers an arrest in roughly every 16th case). That serves as the backdrop for story after story about cops attempting to talk citizens out of reporting crimes (“The DA won’t prosecute!”); cops looking on while burglars clear out a business; or blowing off crime victims and eyewitnesses who are forced to take matters into their own hands.

(Most of the links just above are from Mission Local, they do great crime reporting btw). 

So now what?  60% of the votes cast want Boudin out, so who is going to ride in to save San Francisco?  Mayor London Breed will choose his interim replacement, and soon.  Boudin will be removed from office 10 days after the Board of Supervisors formally accepts the election results.

Breed has declined to comment on her choice for DA, but it’s pretty clear that District 2 Supervisor Catherine Stefani is on the shortlist. She’s a former prosecutor in Contra Costa County and a Breed ally.  Stefani lives in the most expensive neighborhood in the most expensive city in California, Pacific Heights/Cow Hollow.  The campaign money’s close by.

Supervisor Catherine Stefani

Breed’s main problem in installing Stefani as DA is that she’ll lose a moderate ally on the Board of Supervisors, but even so, she still gets to choose Stefani’s replacement on the Board.  Breed has installed the SF School Board and now will install the interim DA,.  All appointments the voters have no say in, for the time being.

Something tells me the same money that worked to recall our DA and our School Board, will begin to work to remedy that pesky progressive supervisor problem we have, too.

So much for Democracy.

The conservatives have fired off three recall elections in less than a year in California, the Recall Gov Newsom campaign, then Recall the SF School Board, and now the Recall Chesa Boudin.  SF Voter turnout since has dropped precipitously.  In September San Francisco had a 67.95% turnout to Save Newsom, then in February only 36% of voters turned out and the School Board was ousted.  This week, the initial numbers were indicating a voter turnout of around 25%, that number has since climbed to around 45% because a lot of people voted late.  But Chesa still lost.

The rich conservatives like this trend of low voter turnout in recalls, it lets them buyout positions in government.  You can bet that they will continue to spring more recalls, and spend a lot of money to keep election fatigue high and voter turnout low.

It’s clear they like Mayor Breed appointees more than democratically elected candidates.

You’ll start seeing their money go to work this summer and fall, again.  Our next election is in November, 2022.  SF Board of Supervisors seats for districts 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 are all on the ballot.

There is a simple, yet elegant cure for all this.  Progressives need to get off their butts and vote.  But then again, the conservative billionaires may just recall the Supervisors they don’t like anyway, and have Breed replace them.

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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

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  1. Max Chanworld
    June 9, 2022 at 1:35 pm — Reply

    Yes, please keep talking down to us as if we were all just “tricked” by conservative propaganda, rather than basing our viewpoints on our lived experience, our traumas as crime victims, and the multiple stories of Boudin’s office releasing hardened criminals who went on to kill innocent San Franciscans like Troy McAllister and Zion Young. But yeah, feel free to ignore all that and call me a Republican so you don’t have to engage with the reality of the election results.

    Doubling down on “the voters are wrong”, rather than reflecting why we’re here and whether your views may be out of touch with the city population at large, is a great way to alienate a large chunk of your readership and lose public trust. But hey, keep on going if that’s what you want. Let’s see how far we can dig this hole.

  2. Nunya
    June 9, 2022 at 1:57 pm — Reply

    Crime did increase under his reign. Prosecutions DECREASED. Hence, the whole shit show had a chain reaction. Less arrests occurred when cases kept getting kicked or dropped.

  3. GVDB
    June 9, 2022 at 5:59 pm — Reply

    When do we get to recall London Breed?

  4. J B
    June 9, 2022 at 11:13 pm — Reply

    B-A S –
    Nailed it. Thanks.

    I did not vote for Boudin in the DA election, but voted against his recall Tuesday.

  5. Urban Guy
    June 10, 2022 at 8:15 am — Reply

    The “progressives” in the City are destroying it. It needs to shift more moderate.

  6. Cadence
    June 10, 2022 at 10:46 am — Reply

    The conservatives in SF certainly are politically active. It’s about time the progressives (actually liberal as opposed to neoliberal) got off their lazy butt and got involved.
    I’m saying this because so many disgruntled people just don’t bother to vote.

  7. Ronald
    June 10, 2022 at 5:34 pm — Reply

    Just a list of suspects with long and violent records who were simply released or charges drastically dialed down, who went on to commit violent crimes including rape and murder. Who knows the real count.

    * [Child rapist was released by Boudin after two days in jail, only to be arrested by the FBI later.](
    * [Released a multiple armed robbery suspect, who killed two women after committing robbery in a stolen car](
    * [7 month baby murdered by a twice accused domestic violence suspect released by Chesa](
    * [African immigrant and Darthmouth grad killed by a drug dealer driving a stolen car, who was on the streets despite 26 cases against him and being arrested for drunk driving just a month before](
    * [Released a suspect arrested for the attempted car jacking and beating of a 75 year-old woman in a Safeway parking lot, despite multiple video and eyewitnesses](
    * [Released the violent attacker of an 84 year-old Asian grandfather, fracturing his skull, breaking his collarbone and causing long term trauma, after barely 7 months](
    * [EDIT:FIXED LINK – Dropped charges against a convicted felon with 11 firearms charges, who only 2 months later murders a 19 year old student in the Portola neighborhood](
    * [Released an attempted rape and felony robbery suspect, only for him to commit rape just 2 months later in a SOMA parking garage.](
    * [Dismissed charges against a felony hit and run suspect who seriously injured a SF citizen and sent the case to “Neighborhood Court” which is reserved for “non-violent misdemeanor” cases](
    * [Drug diversion and no jail time for puppy killer and violent Robbery of Asian Visitor] (
    * [Released an armed robbery attempt with a gun suspect after barely 2 weeks in jail, by drastically reducing charges to misdemeanor pickpocketing](
    * [Probation for a criminal who committed 15 burglary, theft-related felonies from 2002 to 2019.](

  8. Sera
    June 12, 2022 at 6:59 pm — Reply

    Wait….so at first, the police continue to do their usual job of prosecuting crime under the new DA. However, they notice that the DA is not only failing to prosecute the criminals, but he is instead trying to prosecute the police officers and scrutinize their every move. So the police decide to let all but the most heinous of criminals get away with it, because they know if they bring the criminals in, the DA will fail to prosecute and they might get fired instead. And this is somehow the police’s fault?

    How many articles must we see about heinous violent criminals who actually were arrested, subsequently let out on bail, and then they go on to murder, rape, or beat the ever-loving s*** out of someone to realize that it is clearly not working to let someone who has just committed a violent act back out into the streets? It seems like this DA cared more about the rights of violent felons than of the law-abiding people of San Francisco. The violent felons will get their time in court; those are their rights. In the meantime, the people of San Francisco should not have to worry about a released violent offender suddenly stabbing them to death as they are going about their daily business.

  9. Terry
    June 13, 2022 at 2:38 pm — Reply

    Back when I was a moron, I thought Stuart was insightful and funny.

  10. Art
    June 13, 2022 at 3:08 pm — Reply

    Boudin’s way of holding cops accountable: instructing his deputy DA to withhold evidence that would have supported the officer’s use of force. Who is the criminal in this scenario? The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

  11. artpaul
    July 2, 2022 at 10:52 am — Reply

    Hey guys (who voted for Boudin’s recall):
    Please start the crime count now, and see how much things improve, numbers wise. Whoever Breed installs, will not be an improvement. The cops will go back to shooting people, property crimes will go up, crimes against Asians will continue, and lip service will be the rule, rather than action.

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