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London Breed Rapidly Falling out of Favor

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Mayor London Breed. Photo courtesy of Getty Images/Justin Sullivan.

London Breed is falling down.

A recent poll conducted by the San Francisco Standard found the mayor of San Francisco’s approval rating had sunk by thirteen percent since May. From city school districts to its beleaguered police department, disapproval of London Breed’s performance is mutual among typically disparate sectors. Only the Board of Supervisors has incurred more negativity.

“Among poll respondents, 64% strongly or somewhat disapprove of Breed’s job performance—an increase of roughly 12% over the Standard’s last poll in May. Meanwhile, 36% strongly or somewhat approve of the job Breed is doing, down from 49% in May.”

Why are her approval ratings so abysmal? Is her pick of district attorney Brooke Jenkins dragging her down? As with most political messes, there is more than one answer.

London Breed and the Nuru Scandal

Others cite the “gift” she accepted from ex-boyfriend and disgraced former head of Public Works Mohammed Nuru as evidence that Breed is untrustworthy. In 2019, Nuru donated $5,600, allegedly for repairs to Ms. Breed’s personal vehicle.

The FBI arrested Nuru along with restaurateur Nick Bovis in January 2020, over the bribery of a San Francisco airport commissioner for prime restaurant space at San Francisco International Airport.

Breed herself ran an op-ed against public opinion in Medium, insisting she be understood as mayor of San Francisco and not a close friend of Nuru’s in the February 2020 article.

“From the perspective of serving as your Mayor, I was furious. The allegations against Mohammed and his co-defendants, if proved, represent a betrayal of the public trust that cuts to the core of our mission, and our duty, as public servants.”

Supervisor Matt Haney, a vocal critic of Mayor Breed, said, “these revelations are very serious and likely illegal. You aren’t allowed to accept gifts from your subordinate. Period. This is a deep betrayal of the public trust and likely a violation of the law.”

President of the BART Board of Directors and a longtime friend Lateefah Simon defended the mayor. “We want our leaders to be forthright and that’s what she’s doing,” Simon said. “Black public officials—especially women—are always judged differently than their counterparts. She’s a Black homegirl from San Francisco. Anything she’s done in her past, she knows it’ll be litigated,” she said. “I don’t feel like this mayor in particular would sacrifice the integrity of her service to the city for any staff member or any leader.”

Mayor Breed paid one of the largest fines for a code-of-ethics violation in recent San Francisco history, a total of nearly $23,000.

Pulling Some Strings

There is no one reason for Breed’s ailing public image. Her 2018 appeal to former Governor Jerry Brown to commute her brother Napoleon Brown’s prison sentence left a sour taste in the mouths of voters. Mr. Brown has served nearly half of a forty-four-year sentence for involuntary manslaughter and armed robbery. Breed faced backlash for not-so-subtly referencing her title as mayor of San Francisco in the letter.

Gov. Brown denied Breed’s request, but the city’s Ethics Commission said the mayor’s letter was a misuse of her city title.

“By referencing her official position as mayor in making an appeal on a matter of personal interest, Breed violated a city law prohibiting the use of city titles for non-city purposes,” they stipulated.

The Brooke Jenkins Problem

Almost immediately after the highly publicized ousting of former DA Chesa Boudin, Breed gave Jenkins “interim” control of the freshly vacant slot. “San Francisco mayors don’t choose running mates,” said Lincoln Mitchell for the SF Examiner, “but they reveal much about themselves when they fill key vacancies.”

It’s difficult to see this as anything but personal. Jenkins once worked under Boudin as a prosecutor, ostensibly on good terms. A difference of opinion emerged between Jenkins and Boudin surrounding the trial of Daniel Gudino, who murdered his mother in 2020. Boudin thought Gudino was mentally unsound, and therefore suited for life in hospital.

Three mental health experts testified individually that Gudino was severely ill. The man told police he believed his mother was a clone and not a real person. Gudino may have been suffering from Capgras delusions, a “misidentification syndrome” in which “patients falsely believe that an identical person has replaced [someone] close to them.” By the time police arrived, he had set his mother’s corpse on fire.

Then-Prosecutor Jenkins vehemently advocated for a sentence of life in prison, but the jury deadlocked 7-5 as to whether Gudino was sane. The majority ultimately found that he was not.

Boudin eventually placed Gudino in a secure mental health facility. In response, Jenkins quit her job and joined the burgeoning bandwagon to recall her former boss. Jenkins’ lusty desire to incarcerate a schizophrenic reflects her ‘90s-era drug policies. Meanwhile, her vindictiveness prompts concerns as to whether someone repeatedly caught lying would be honest enough to make fair judgments.

Jenkins is currently embroiled in a scandal over $153,000 in campaign contributions from a nonprofit legally barred from engaging in political campaigns. Last week, retired Superior Court Judge Martha Goldin filed a complaint against Jenkins, alleging she violated State Bar rules as well as the Business and Professions code through acts of dishonesty.

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Jake Warren

Jake Warren

A Potawatomi nonfiction writer and Tenderloin resident possessing an Indigenous perspective on sexuality and a fascination with etymological nuance. Queer decolonial leftist, cannabis industry affiliate, seasoned raver, and unofficial earthquake authority.