In early February, state Sen. Mark Leno of San Francisco quietly opened a campaign account called Mark Leno for Lieutenant Governor 2018. He told me he wouldn’t run when the position is next up for election in 2014 because he plans to serve out his current and final term as state senator, which ends in 2016.
Without a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the merits of same-sex marriage, the issue will once again head back to court in California.
Last week, I wrote that the court should let the backers of ballot initiatives sue to enforce any such measures passed by voters but not enforced by government officials. If justices don’t, that could prevent them from issuing a substantive ruling on the fundamental right to marry raised in the Proposition 8 case they are considering. Read More
The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives people accused of a crime the right to counsel. But when does this right become a blank check for the Public Defender’s Office? This is the issue facing the Board of Supervisors right now as it attempts yet again to get a handle on the public defender’s budget.
Jeff Adachi has been The City’s public defender for 10 years, and in that time, he has successfully lobbied to nearly double the budget of the office from $13,800,000 in fiscal year 2002-03 to $26,500,000 in fiscal year 2011-12. Read More
Last week’s Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee meeting was a doozy, and not just because each public speaker got two minutes to speak and Supervisor Mark Farrell spent three hours trying to get lawyers to stop talking after their time was up.
The reason that 81 people showed up to speak — almost all of them lawyers who are solo practitioners or work for nonprofits — is because they want a larger public Law Library. And straight from the “completely predictable” file, the Law Library is suing to get a larger space. Read More
At Tuesday’s U.S. Supreme Court hearing regarding California’s ban on same-sex marriage, the very first question, from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Charles Cooper, was, “Have we ever granted standing to proponents of ballot initiatives?”
Cooper, the attorney representing the Proposition 8 backers, admitted that the answer was no. But if the justices do not grant standing to proponents of ballot initiatives, there will be huge ramifications for the initiative process in California. Read More
Like many of you, I was disappointed that the U.S. Supreme Court didn’t spend more time discussing the core issue of civil rights when it heard arguments about same-sex marriage this week.
The unique nature of the Proposition 8 case was one reason it was surprising that the court agreed to review it. All the talk about “standing” was like the boring parts of a celebrity autobiography, just something you sit through waiting for the juicy parts. Read More
When probation officers from Chicago are concerned about the level of violence in your city, it’s time to pay attention.
Chief Juvenile Probation Officer Bill Siffermann and Assistant Chief Allen Nance both came to San Francisco eight years ago after careers in the probation department of Cook County, which includes Chicago. While they never suggested that officers in Chicago carry guns, that’s an option they are exploring for the six officers in our Juvenile Probation Department’s serious-offender unit. Read More
The Public Policy Institute of California released a poll Wednesday showing that likely voters are opposed to spending $68 billion on high-speed rail by a margin of 54 to 43 percent. And who could blame them? They voted in 2008 to endorse a $42.6 billion plan that would require $9.95 billion in state bonds and the rest from the federal government and private funding. Read More
On March 15, disgraced former San Francisco crime lab technician Deborah Madden pleaded guilty to misdemeanor cocaine possession.
Remember that Madden was charged with felony drug possession and admitted under oath that she took cocaine from the lab, but maintained that it was extra stuff that fell off the scale.
Cammy Blackstone is exceptional for many reasons.
She’s the voice you hear at each animal exhibit at the San Francisco Zoo, a winner of a Poddy Award for her foodie podcasts (she beat Rachael Ray!) and, as a legislative aide at the Board of Supervisors, Blackstone has worked for four supervisors — Sean Elsbernd, Michela Alioto-Pier, Carmen Chu and Katy Tang. That’s more than any aide in recent history.
State Sen. Mark Leno is on a tear against gun violence. While he was never exactly pro-gun, he’s using his final term in Sacramento to spearhead a number of initiatives. Read More
Last weekend, the California Republican Party held its convention in Sacramento. As it was nearby and featured a speech by neutered bogeyman Karl Rove, I went to the event and sought out those rarest of creatures, San Francisco Republicans.
“Are people nice to you?” I asked, figuring Bay Area delegates must get snubbed or at least tossed into the swimming pool by the confident delegates from rural areas. Read More
Newly appointed District 4 Supervisor Katy Tang has announced that she plans to work to reduce the number of switchbacks encountered by Muni riders. A switchback refers to Muni’s annoying and all-too-common practice of stopping a train or bus short of its destination and ordering off all passengers to await another vehicle. Read More
It’s official: Judge Rolf M. Treu has issued a trial date in the case of Vergara v. State of California —January 27, 2014. And oh, what a trial it will be!
You may have heard about this remarkable case. Essentially, the families of school-age children are suing the state to invalidate laws that give teachers tenure after only 18 months on the job and then keep them from being dismissed even after committing egregious acts of misconduct. Read More
Tuesday was Carmen Chu’s final meeting as a San Francisco supervisor, and the sendoff by her colleagues on that board was kind and earnest — and telling.
Although Chu rarely spoke at meetings, she was widely regarded as the most well-read and prepared person at any proceeding. (Note to Chu’s replacement, Katy Tang: Talk, sister!)
On Tuesday after a long meeting, supervisors still took the time to say heartfelt goodbyes to Chu.
New members Norman Yee and London Breed each lamented that they would not get to serve longer with Chu. Read More