San Francisco voters have sent their city leaders a sign, of sorts. Photo of Chesa Boudin by Julian Mark; photo illustration by Abraham Rodriguez

Julian Mark, Senior Reporter

I had many favorites this year, but the first that come to mind are Joe Eskenazi’s obits for Public Defender Jeff Adachi and Deputy City Attorney Buck Delventhal. These valedictions did not only tell the stories of two movers of our city’s government, but of the city itself — and the kinds of odd and brilliant characters we anoint to shape it. I teared up while reading both, as I’m sure many others did, and will do for years to come. 

Jennifer Cortez, a graduate student from UC Berkeley, had a great run with us this summer, topping it off with her profile of Jacqui, a manager at the Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8’s shelter and services program for homeless children and families. The story told so many stories — but especially the difference one person can make in the lives of children struggling with homelessness. 

Also delightful were Abe Rodriguez’s slice-of-life stories. Abe sat for hours in places I’d always pass but never enter, and he documented offbeat characters and interactions, which leapt off the page — especially at the Fiesta Laundromat and El Trebol bar. I hope he does more of them entering into the new year. 

Edwin Thompson is led away by police on Sept. 10 after trespassing at the Mission’s ‘Sunset Idea House’ at 25th and Alabama. This was his seventh police citation for trespassing on this site. Photo by Joe Eskenazi.

Abraham Rodriguez, Reporter

Life moves fast, and so do newsrooms. Thankfully I work with talented reporters who are deep into the know-how of city government and law enforcement. Julian Mark’s coverage of the San Francisco Police Department has been excellent. His story on efforts to require officers to hand out business cards after every encounter will really give you an idea of why police reform is so slow in the city. I also liked his story on former SFPD officer Paul Morgado who, in 2018, earned half a million dollars despite having been fired in 2011. 

Must also point out: Julian lives in a beautiful home.

I also liked Miki Katoni’s videos – his shooting and pacing kept stories moving forward without rushing things. One of my favorites is a story about coyotes migrating around the city, which was a well-executed blend of beautiful shooting with an engaging narration. I also really liked his video on SB50, in which he interviews State Senator Scott Weiner.

One of our interns this year, Aleka A. Kroitzsh, wrote a detailed story on an empty property on Valencia Street near 18th and Valencia. It’s a strange lot, eerily boarded up and vandalized, which really stands out on the Valencia corridor. 

Many of Joe Eskenazi’s columns and news features are a joy to read. It’s not always you see abandoned homes or buildings in the Bay Area, but one story I liked was his piece on the Sunset Idea House, or “Casa Verde,” on 25th and Alabama Streets (Ed.: Abe took great photos of both the inside and the outside). Once a multimillion-dollar mansion that was touted as the standard in green home design, Joe walked us through the building’s dismal state and how it became a home for squatters. 

His column addressing the state of San Francisco, and claims that the city is “dying,” I think accurately captured what most rational people think: This city is hurting, but it won’t ever go away. 

A repurposed item — an old broom handle? — works just fine for the faucet handle in the men’s bathroom at El Trebol. The customers don’t seem to mind. Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.

Joe Eskenazi, Managing Editor

I think everybody enjoyed the hell out of Abraham Rodriguez’s not-Batman photo illustration for my column about DA-elect Chesa Boudin, and the lunacy of comparing San Francisco to Gotham City. 

As our Dickies pants grow ever more threadbare, we curse the closure of Siegel’s on Mission. Luckily, Ricky Rodas was there during the store’s chaotic final days, as a cavalcade of men desperately piled in to buy one final work shirt or pair of wino shoes. 

Julian Mark did so much great work in 2019. If I had to pick one, I’d go with this story about the San Francisco Police Department’s mishandling of sexual assault cases and its stigmatization of rape survivors. 

Sam Lefebvre’s exposé of “toxic donors” at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art — and the museum’s willingness to portray itself as a bastion of The Resistance while taking funding from Trump stalwarts — was a brave and thoroughly researched story. 

Mission Local was proud to publish it, and you sure as hell didn’t read anything like it anywhere else. 

Finally, I appreciate Julian noticing our articles about Jeff Adachi and Buck Delventhal. These weren’t just obits but explanations of how this city works and how these two men helped guide San Francisco.

I’d like to add my obituary for Marie Harrison, who was a crusader against environmental racism in the city’s southeast, and was making claims of sloppiness, danger, and malfeasance many, many years before well-off people began moving into the neighborhood and stories about its radioactive past and slipshod cleanup attempts began to percolate into the mainstream press. 

We should’ve listened to Harrison years ago. What a city this would’ve been if we listened more to people like her. And now she’s gone, far too soon. 

Day’von “Day Day” Hann was shot to death in the Mission in July, a tragedy very much on the minds of attendees at a subsequent youth violence prevention event.

Lydia Chávez, Executive Editor

It’s rare to get a multifaceted picture of a police shooting from the police on the scene and that is what we got in Julian Mark’s November 11 piece Anatomy of a police shooting: The last chaotic moments of Jesus Delgado Duarte’s life. It is a brilliant synthesis of thousands of documents and relies completely on the interviews of officers at the scene. 

Oddly, my favorite Joe Eskenazi piece did not make it to the top 13 of most read, but it was just behind them. It was Day’von Hann is just the latest black child robbed of his life — and then robbed of his youth or even the perception of innocence that ran on July 10. Commenters were outraged that we would call a 15-year-old a child, and Eskenazi was fearless in his takedown of that outrage. Joe can often be funny in his columns and his attacks, but there was no humor here — just beautifully pitched, unapologetic anger. 

I’ve also enjoyed many of the People We Meet pieces by Abe Rodriguez. The series gives me a sense of all the different lives the Mission encompasses. 

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  1. JE – “Like a lake permeated by acid rain, the pristine nature of swaths of San Francisco obscures a lifelessness of sorts.”
    Thank you.

    ML defines the standard of true investigative journalism in this town.
    Kudos to all the writers, editors and contributors.

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