DA Chesa Boudin on May 18, 2022.

Chesa Boudin is a man in desperate need of victories and, earlier this month, he got one. Incongruously, a U-Haul was involved. 

The embattled District Attorney announced on May 10 that a long-running undercover sting operation had led to the arrest of a man named Quoc Le and the recovery of some 1,000 items allegedly filched from San Francisco cars. In a theatrical touch, the nexus of this alleged international fencing operation was a Quickly (a less-than-enviable product placement for the boba tea chain, once again, courtesy of San Francisco). 

Just days before the planned arrest and seizure, Boudin says he received a “somewhat frantic” phone call from his lieutenant leading the operation. Detaining Le and moving a Best Buy’s worth of electronics from the Larkin Street Quickly would require logistical assistance and vehicles the District Attorney does not possess; namely, a car with a secure cage in the back. But, Boudin says, the San Francisco Police Department declined to participate.

“We can arrest somebody,” says the DA. “We can put handcuffs on them. How do we transport them to the county jail without a car? How do we seize the evidence without a truck to move evidence? Usually what we do is ask the police to come to assist at that stage of the process. And we did here. I was shocked they said ‘no’ … They were too busy.” 

So, the DA’s office rented a U-Haul. It loaded 130 bankers’ boxes of electronics into the truck. Boudin says the transport of Le was handled by officials from the United States Postal Inspector and Homeland Security Investigations. 

The notion of someone in the District Attorney’s office going through the process of renting a U-Haul — getting approval, charging it on a work credit card, perhaps struggling to operate an oversize truck and knocking a branch off a tree (surely it’s not just me who’s done this) — feels more like satire than real life. There’d be great comedic character actor roles for the federal officials, too, perhaps surly about the lack of name recognition for their obscure agencies, which were obviously not the DA’s first option. You could even give them gaudy uniforms and aviator sunglasses to dramatically remove

But this is no satire. This is how things work in San Francisco. Or don’t. 

“We won an election, people,” Chesa Boudin told supporters on election night, 2019. And, lo, he was right. Photo by Julian Mark.

The police have not yet returned an inquiry regarding the official SFPD line on how it all went down at the tea shop. But one more anecdote or one fewer, even one involving boba and a U-Haul, is hardly necessary to conclude that the relationship between the police and district attorney’s office is toxic and dysfunctional and San Franciscans are suffering for it. 

The San Francisco Police Department’s clearance rate has dropped to its lowest level in a decade: 8.1 percent. That means that 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.  

Whether the police are engaging in a wildcat strike or simply underperforming would appear to be a difference without a distinction. Either way, Mayor London Breed’s response has been to push to give the department more money and more staffing. Whether this is simply good politics to address a constituency now far more concerned about public safety than in prior years, or something that feels a bit more like a protection racket, would also figure to be a difference without a distinction. 

Allegations of ineptitude in the face of an alleged crime wave did not, however, get the DA’s office the promise of more money and more staffing. Rather the opposite: Boudin is now facing a recall. And, based upon abundant polling, it seems overwhelmingly likely that voters on June 7 will force him to once more rent a U-Haul — to clean out his office. 

DA candidate Chesa Boudin gets a lift on the SF State campus from Jimmy Fails, the star of “The Last Black Man in San Francisco.” Photo by Julian Mark, November, 2019.

Boudin was vulnerable to a recall the moment he won his race, and highly likely to lose one the moment it qualified for the ballot. That’s just math: He won his contest in 2019 with 36 percent of first-place votes in an election with only 42-percent turnout. In an up-or-down competition, and with no opponent to counterbalance him, he’s at a structural disadvantage. Any winner of that election would be. 

But, unlike his 2019 competitors, Boudin is a polarizing figure and reformist firebrand who has claimed his election signified San Franciscans’ endorsement of his ideas, and he has governed as if he received a mandate. As Mission Local wrote in 2019, it’s unclear if San Francisco voters were more enthralled by Boudin’s ideas or simply voted for the best-run campaign. And it is difficult to govern decisively and claim a mandate after a thin, ranked-choice victory in a low-turnout election. That’d be the case even if a recall funded by big money from shadowy PACs disseminated to a Russian Doll-like assortment of committees operated by the city’s little Roger Stones wasn’t in play. Clearly, it is

Within days of Boudin assuming office in January, 2020, San Francisco elected officials were telling their disgruntled constituents that they only had to wait six months to begin signature-gathering for a recall. That happened.

Unlike other reformist DAs, Boudin was elected to serve a municipality with a rather low threshold for a recall: In Pennsylvania, for example, there are no recall elections. And, unlike other cities that voted in reformist DAs, and re-elected them, San Francisco does not have a large bloc of African American voters who can personally attest to the societal damage wrought by “tough-on-crime” prosecutors. Boudin, rather, was largely elected by people for whom criminal justice and criminal justice reform remain a concept rather than a lived experience. So this is not the most rock-solid base, especially when it was a plurality of a low-turnout election. 

And finally, on too many occasions, Boudin has simply not proven to be politically adept when facing the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. 

So the recall is happening and the polling — it’s bad for the DA. It’s a bad sign when your own campaign releases polling showing you down just 10 percent only weeks prior to election day, as a counterbalance to even more brutal polls from others. It’s a bad sign to be doing poorly enough with likely voters that you need to begin reaching out to unlikely voters. And that makes it an even worse sign that, as of last week, only 6 percent of ballots had been returned for June’s election. The DA needs all the votes he can get. And those votes remain elusive. 

Chesa Boudin is a man in desperate need of victories, and he can at least claim a Pyrrhic one in that, while his campaign’s polling shows him underwater, his policies are polling well.

Well, that makes you think. 

It makes you think that, among other conclusions about Boudin’s likability or competence in executing his worldview, facts don’t much matter in this recall campaign. Data certainly doesn’t. 

By any statistical measure, San Francisco is not going through a crime wave. Violent crime is at historic lows. Property crime is off the hook, of course. But it’s been off the hook for more than a decade, and SFPD clearance rates in property crimes are infinitesimal. Yes, especially with property crime, there is a high degree of underreporting. But that’s long been the case.

So, clearly, there’s a disconnect between what the statistics say and how people feel. It is not advisable for politicians to tell voters how they should feel, nor to whip out a graph and try to convince crime victims that they really don’t have it so bad. And Boudin failed here. He admits that now, albeit too late. 

Especially during the early and middle sections of the pandemic, car break-ins tapered off and home burglaries skyrocketed. It is clear that Boudin did not adequately gauge how emotionally violated citizens would feel when their homes, or their neighbors’ homes, or the homes of people on Nextdoor were broken into, far more so than a vehicle break-in. So while it’s accurate to note that crime is down, it’s not necessarily useful. Not all crimes impact people the same way, and not all neighborhoods are being affected in the same way. 

Boudin’s bedside manner, so to speak, has been poor. But that still doesn’t mean the diagnosis is whatever the patient feels it ought to be. 

San Francisco’s crime rates remain lower than those in municipalities with traditional, law-and-order DAs, and lower than in similarly sized cities with Republican mayors, in states with Republican governors. And that’s the case regardless of how competently or incompetently Boudin is running his office. Meanwhile, the police arrest rate in San Francisco is rock bottom in California

Further, the issues of paramount concern to San Franciscans, including horrific, scary street conditions and rampant homelessness, are either matters wholly under the aegis of the mayor, or ones in which the DA is not central. 

Even the recall’s backers admit that “the DA obviously doesn’t have a direct effect on the increase in crime,” though that’s the message they’ve obviously been selling: That San Francisco is suffering through a crime wave, and that Boudin is the cause of it. It’s a double bank-shot of hokum. 

DA Chesa Boudin, May 18, 2022.

Ideally, we would have a rational debate between Boudin and his aspiring successors regarding his policies and management style, with the competitors outlining what they would do differently. And we’d vote for the candidate we want: That’s how a regular election would work. Instead, Boudin has the unenviable task of running against himself while fending off a lavishly funded recall campaign, some $6 million to date, with voters having no say in whom the mayor will unilaterally appoint.

Crime is, by and large, down in San Francisco, but that doesn’t mean conditions are acceptable. Clearly they’re not, especially in a city with a yearly budget sizable enough to buy an aircraft carrier. Voters are ill at ease: In the face of perceived chaos on the streets, the appeal of retributive, cuff-’em-and-stuff-’em policies — the sort that led to California’s prisons being so crowded that the Supreme Court declared them to be cruel and unusual punishment — apparently remain alluring, even in “liberal” San Francisco. 

San Francisco never defunded its police department. But, in the face of perceived chaos on the streets, politicians no longer even have to pretend that they ever intended to. Boudin did indeed make good on his campaign pledge to prosecute violent cops. But it netted him little success in the courtroom and, it seems, is no longer a pressing issue for this city’s voting demographic.  

San Francisco’s problems, at long last, do seem to be catching up to it. It’s hard to argue that the most nuanced and well-thought-out solutions will be the ones we adopt. That would be out of character. 

Regardless, those problems will still be here next month, and thereafter. Even if Boudin isn’t.  

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Managing Editor/Columnist. Joe was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left.

“Your humble narrator” was a writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015, and a senior editor at San Francisco Magazine from 2015 to 2017. You may also have read his work in the Guardian (U.S. and U.K.); San Francisco Public Press; San Francisco Chronicle; San Francisco Examiner; Dallas Morning News; and elsewhere.

He resides in the Excelsior with his wife and three (!) kids, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

The Northern California branch of the Society of Professional Journalists named Eskenazi the 2019 Journalist of the Year.

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  1. Politics is a bare knuckle sport. I keep hoping Boudin punches back hard sometime before the recall election day. I want to see all those dollars spent by his opposition wasted.

  2. Boudin would have had to adjust his approach to win re-election, but maybe he wouldn’t be facing a recall if he’d just had the stones to call out SFPD for their petulant refusal to do police work. You can’t ask to be paid for not working just because you think someone else won’t apply your work correctly.

  3. Nothing has convinced me the Chesa is a good choice like the absolute full-court press of every even marginally establishment figure to destroy him personally and make him the scapegoat for SF’s numerous problems. Most of the comments here just prove this point, no thought, impervious to evidence, and full of rage clearly suggesting that Boudin is somehow responsible, or has the ability to decrease homelessness. He’s the DA, not the mayor or a legislator, the only mechanism he has to decrease homelessness is to house all the people in SF’s jails.

    The number of people tacitly implying that he’s somehow a genetic terrorist, is similarly telling. SF has a historically low violent crime rate, even as violence in cities has surged across the country – regardless of who is in charge locally. If the logic that Boudin is somehow to blame for the crime which does exist, clearly we should be celebrating his leadership in preventing violence. But somehow, that never matters.

    Recall supporters are convinced that SF is in a state of decay which can only be solved by mindless carceralism. A solution that has never succeeded, but which apparently only be failed.

    The paramount irony, of course, is that they claim anyone who points any of these extremely obvious facts is a toxic ideologue who won’t listen to reason, while they froth at the mouth.

    1. Boudin wrote a book supporting the murderous authoritarian regime in Venezuela. That alone, is good enough reason the toss the Marxist.

      1. Nothing says ‘ignorant demagogue ‘ like a reference to Marx. You’ve never read anything he wrote, have you? Nobody has. Nobody cares.

        1. You’re wrong. Read American Marxism by Mark R. Levin, A New York Times best seller. Lots of smart people care.

  4. Chesa Boudin wrote a book on the The Venezuelan Revolution that was supportive if it. One more example of the toxic death spiral of his defective ideology. So revealing that the policies he claims will fix society, just causes crime and starvation.

  5. “…issues of paramount concern to San Franciscans, including horrific, scary street conditions and rampant homelessness, are either matters wholly under the aegis of the mayor, or ones in which the DA is not central.”
    Interesting you point this out, Joe, but make no note of Boudin’s various extra-DA duties campaigning for statewide policies and non-SF initiatives (just check his website) and other virtue-signal-rich stances, totally non-germane to direct crime reduction in SF. If Boudin was an SF native and hard worker of it’s streets, like you Joe, it would show. But instead, we see a slick carpet-bagging, lawyer descendant of a “civil rights terrorist” cashing in on a political territory he thought he could win in a favorable election climate. He barely won and rather than reach out with relevant policies, including community meetings with the police and it’s union to take the issues on, head-on, he took the tired tactic of playing the same old blame game. Shame to see you joining in on this Joe. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you play favorites in these reports. This is a first.

  6. Wow. Just keep writing articles like this implying the opposition doesn’t exist, is crazy or is evil or is ignorant and Trump will win in 2024. Critical race theory doesn’t exist (tell that to those who loved Lowell, merit, hard work valuation and the SAT Test and saw them destroyed due to alleged systemic racism in a nation fairer than any in history in which immigrants of every race from some nations, all who study more hours, earn more than whites within a generation), we didn’t double the homeless budget and fail to solve homelessness, getting rid of 8th grade algebra will actually increase test scores, police are racistly killing unarmed people (proven false by Roland Fryer and Zac Kriegman which was ignored), it’s fair for biological males to compete in sports with biological females if they identify as female, etc. Boudin is failing to press charges multiple times on car theft, shoplifting large amounts, car break ins, and open air drug dealing so free and easy drug addicts are driving to SF from over 3 hours away. 26 Walgreens’ closed because Walgreens won’t even hire security and police won’t even charge people citizen’s arrested by the Guardian Angels who were caught stealing hundreds on video. Police won’t chase anyone because why risk being hurt if Boudin won’t press charges. Just keep writing things like this that we’re ignorant and if we were intelligent like you we’d let Boudin keep destroying the quality of life in SF by not putting people in jail for a week or two who shoplift, so you think we’re smart. It’d be real smart to just understand your slow explanation. Sorry pal, Loftus would have made shoplifters at least spend the weekend in jail and prosecuted carjackers and car break in perpetrators. When people work 8 hours for $120 and see someone steal 500, the need the therapeutic impact of knowing the person who did that had to be locked in a cell for weeks for their sins and they have a better life than that person because they are moral and work. When people study thousands of hours they need praise for their sacrifice, not being told they’re privileged. The Democrats need a centrist like Bill Clinton, Obama or Tulsi. If people like you keep writing articles Trump will win again and that will be a tragedy! And it will be your fault for lying.

      1. Joe,
        Citizens of San Francisco have PTSD, whether you acknowledge it or not. I feel mine has diminished a bit, after dropping my yes on H ballot in the mail.

  7. Recall Chesa Boudin looser. Not even his own peers respect him and not to mention the police. His policies don’t put criminals in jail or reform them in any way. Instead, criminals roam free and keep committing crimes and sometimes even worse by involving innocent victims in fatalities. I can’t wait to see this dude back on the street again.

  8. Idiotic. Every one of those gangsters could grab a hammer or a shovel and go to work. There’s no shortage of manual labor jobs but a great shortage of hard working young Americans that are willing to take those jobs. That’s why immigrants are building this nation. Try not to bring racism into every conversation and maybe you’ll be taken seriously. Those illegals selling fentanyl are criminals wether American or Latino . And this sanctuary city sets them free to kill more people rather than turn them over to be deported.

  9. Chesa Boudin “is required to ‘consider’ immigration consequences”.

    Following the 32 PC pleas trail one comes up against the paradox that foreign nationals bent on criminality and spreading deadly toxic substances around The City are themselves victims forced into this life of crime by human traffickers.
    These folks are welcomed into our society by our compassionate nature to spread death within our society with little consequence because they are victims. Makes sense?
    Yes – the war on drugs is a failure. Just legalize it already.
    Yes – this drug thing is consumer driven.
    And – yes – soon as one drug dealer is put out of action another will take their place.

    But as I walk the streets throughout The City and see our Latinx brethren doing just about all the hard core manual, physical labor to keep this city going and working their asses off to make it in this city and country:
    ditch diggers, concrete workers, roofers, painters, construction folks, tile installers, plumbers, the list goes on …
    can’t help but have little sympathy for the drug dealers and their fancy duds and sneakers (spend some time around 9th and Mission).

    So perhaps that is part of what’s driving this – the perception the DA’s office sees criminals as victims and has pushed this concept harder than folks can remember under previous DA’s. And it doesn’t make sense to a lot of people that they should tolerate being victimized for the sake of making it easier on the criminals.

  10. Hey fellow voters,

    How about we have these arguments on OUR terms in a real election next year? I know and respect the folks who think this DA is steering that office in the wrong direction. They may very well be right and my vote is up for grabs in a real election. I don’t have much respect for the very few leaders/ donors of this specific recall effort trying to overturn the will of the electorate while not being burdened with the task of actually putting up solutions (in the form of their preferred candidates) for us to choose among. All of us real voters on all sides have a lot of overlapping concerns; who doesn’t want crime to go down and homelessness solved, etc.? We don’t agree on the solutions but try, in mostly good faith, to push the ones we think are best. Not so with the cynical funders and leaders of this effort who put forth ludicrous arguments like “The DA is solely responsible for crime and the police or any other part of the system has nothing to do with it” that they don’t actually believe. And for those real voters who do think changing the DA will be a good thing, why do you think the mayor will appoint someone better? Don’t you want to have an actual choice next year?

  11. “ There are three types of lies- lies, damn lies and statistics “ Only a fool would say that this city is safer under this DA. Are there statistics for every person who feels threatened walking down the street? Are there statistics for not being able to walk down the streets because of filth and garbage strewn about by the homeless ? Hopefully this is just the beginning of the end of these liberal social experiments.

    1. Nobody said that. People said the DA doesn’t have an effect on crime rates. It is irrelevant who the DA is. Crime doesn’t go down with tough on crime DAs like Sacramento lady any more than it goes up with progressives like Boudin or Krasner.

  12. There are so many great reasons to vote no on the recall campaign and ZERO reasons to vote yes unless you really hate people of color, love cops and think incorrectly that jail and prison do anything to make crime go down or make people who make mistakes rehabilitated. An abbreviated list:
    1) innocence commission
    2) holding cops accountable
    3) giving people a second chance (diversion)
    4) not letting the mayor choose the DA
    5) thinking recalls are costly wastes of time and should never be used unless a politician has actually committed a crime, been corrupt, etc.
    6) not prosecuting racial profiling based searches / “driving while black” stops
    7) 1170(h) resentencings to let elderly people who served 20+ years come home to their families
    8) re-thinking which crimes we focus on – i.e. not just poor people of color but corporations who rob their workers, large-scale fence operations and high amount drug sales (society seems to care more about the nickel and dimers in the Tenderloin than the Sackler family who commit crimes on a massively larger scale)
    9) and there is so much more I do not have time to cover. But the bigger point is that recalling Chesa won’t do a thing. It will not reduce crime, it will not make the system “fairer” and the same problems will persist.
    Take if from those of us who work directly in the court system every day and fight these battles. These are long-term problems in San Francisco and recall is short-term attempt to fix those and it will fail because nothing will change. Y’all will need a new scapegoat in a month, that’s all I’m saying. nothing good will come of recall but a hell of a lot of bad will come of it. Lives will be destroyed, dirty cops will go unpunished and innocent people will languish in jail longer. The war on drugs is an epic failure. Black Lives Matter. Vote No.

    1. Restorative justice cannot and will not work anywhere in this country until we as a society do the work to build a more fair and just economic system. As great as you think Boudin (the child of two convicted terrorists, mind you) is, he can’t shift the stranglehold the oligarch class has on American life. All he can do is engage in his performative progressivism which has done NOTHING to improve the City. Understand, people are tired of having their property stolen and vandalized. Enough is enough.

      1. Love all the fucking insane comments in this section. Just pure rage at the thought that Boudin’s lightly reformatory policies might not be the cause of all your problems.

      2. You’re not willing to blame the police for not doing their job. It is the police who need to arrest no matter what you bizarrely think the DA is or is not doing. That will prove crime stats. But you recall people never hold them accountable. That’s all the reason I need to vote NO.

  13. Joe,

    “If you can keep your head when all about you

    are losing theirs and blaming it on you.

    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you

    yet make allowances for their feelings too … ”

    Rudyard Kipling

    “Truth is the first casualty of war.”

    That one I don’t know who said it.

    I’ve worked at every position in the criminal justice system except lawyer.

    42 years and ended up with a Fellowship from Clemson to come back and get a Maters while teaching and learning from the best.

    Born in St. Louis projects.

    11 years with American flag sewn on left shoulder proudly.

    System is badly broken and Boudin is best I’ve seen …

    by far

    But, wadda I know?

    I like the banned Chomsky too.

    First step for Reform in SF is for a member of the BOS to champion a Charter Reform Ballot Measure to make the Office of Chief of Police of the City and County of San Francisco into an elected office.

    Only way you get a top cop answering directly to the Public instead of the POA or Mayor.

    Love your writing Joe; maybe only political writer in town who still inserts hair of levity.

    bad … “bedside manner”

    “buy an aircraft carrier”

    We don’t get many laughs …

    Biggest failure of all by far ?

    Zelensky

    Advertised himself as a comic and he hasn’t made me laugh once.

    On Recall …

    If Arntz doesn’t leave a back door open, Chesa wins for certain …

    Next November with a full electorate weighing in at a General Election.

    Dealing with the Billionaire Recall Lit in my lobby was like being in that steel plant in Mariupal.

    Just never lets up.

    Go Warriors !!

    h.

  14. “By any statistical measure, San Francisco is not going through a crime wave. Violent crime is at historic lows. Property crime is off the hook, of course. ”

    May I remind you, property crime is, in fact, a crime. And yes, it’s “off the hook, of course.” So, by any statistical measure, this hot take of yours is simply ill-informed.

  15. Reminds me of my favorite Rockford Files quote, when his sketchy friend Angel Martin was blamed for a murder he didn’t commit

    “It’s a frame built for a dummy and you look good it it!

    Anyway, sucks to be Boudin, maybe next time he’ll figure out the important role that listening to your patients plays in bedside manners

    SFPD should probably all be fired. SFDA definitely. How do we get the Feds to takeover SF law enforcement on a civil rights basis?

  16. Huge fan of Joe but quoting the Quickly case ? Boudin sat on this case for 2 years while countless thefts occurred, and then ran a ‘Muppet-show sting’ on the same criminal right before the recall. Should be recalled for this embarrassing pageantry alone.

  17. Governance by recall is costly and undemocratic. Do not hand over the DA’s office to the Mayor and the SFPOA. Vote for whoever you want — the next time! A vote for the recall is a vote for no one in particular. Recalls subvert the legitimacy of fair elections and relocate power into the hands of the few.

  18. As I have said many many times in the last few months….whether you like/agree with Chesa Boudin or not…he is so embroiled in controversy to be completely ineffective.

  19. Thank you, JE. There is much more to say about specific actions the DA has taken to protect our lives while staying faithful to his campaign promises towards humane and restorative justice. Too many to list here. But many of us voting NO on the recall are influenced by his Innocence Commission, which re-investigates cases where wrongful convictions have led to sometimes decades of incarceration. See Joaquin Ciria — his conviction for a murder 32 years ago was just vacated. Most readers probably can’t imagine spending a single day in jail. Imagine 32 years. Chesa Boudin is juggling life and death issues and achieving a transformative justice that no other DA has done before. He deserves the chance we voters gave him to prove himself.

  20. Wow. It’s as if Chesa Boudin was solely responsible for the pandemic. The irony of the DA being recalled for not doing his job when the police refuse to participate in the arrest in a sting operation doesn’t even register. This just goes to show big money can buy propaganda that people will fall for every time. It works on a national as well as local scale.
    It’s not up to the police to decide if something is a “waste of time” for them. They shouldn’t get to decide if they respond. They shouldn’t get to drive around the city acting as if laws don’t apply to them. They shouldn’t get to sit in their brand-new taxpayer paid-for $243 million fortress and whinge about being held accountable for doing their job. But this is a political thing, and the far right has had SF in its sights for years.

    1. “The far right”? Textbook denial. We did this all to ourselves, no help needed. Ironically, you show the same mindset you accuse the police of. That said, once Boudin’s gone, we got to move on to the hard part. Fix the PD, which is filled to the rim with petulant prx. That said, looking at how London Breed’s cozying up with the corps these days means they can feel validated in their passive-aggressive ways. Makes you wonder… perhaps London Breed is part of the far-right cabal as well? /s

  21. get used to these recalls because our democracy is no longer decided by voters but by tech leaders.

  22. Illegal aliens selling lethal poison on the streets of the tenderloin in broad daylight are arrested and set free due to the city’s sanctuary policy. Is that the SFPD’s fault? Boudin’s policy of letting the small fish go is killing people daily, I wish him luck as the next public defender. A job he’s much more qualified for.

    1. A fitting episode for Better Call Saul. Maybe they can make a new one for Chesa? “Boudin’s Baked Justice”, or something.

  23. Got to love these last ditch efforts to save Chesa Boudin. Nonstop glowing Examiner and Chronicle articles, ads on TV, this article, etc .

    Boudin has been an utter failure. SF deserves better. If Boudin wants to support the criminals and worry about their rights, he should go back to being a Public Defender. #DemocratForSanity

  24. I’m a far lefty on criminal justice issues. I was a member of the legal team that obtained the Supreme Court ruling on overcrowding (which Joe misstates. The Court did not find prisons to be so crowded that it declared them to be cruel and unusual punishment. It affirmed the trial court which found that the CDCR failed to provide medical care as required under the 8th Amendment, and a population reduction order was the only way to remedy that violation).

    But I’m all for this recall. Chesa has no interest in prosecuting criminals, which is the function of the DA. He has stated on the record that he believes a long list of criminal activities simply should not be punished. He is a very good public defender. That should be his role. Any civilized society needs to enforce criminal laws, and while that does not mean long draconian sentences are the answer, simply declining to prosecute at all is not the answer either. It is true that the police are not doing their jobs, partly because they think it’s a waste of time when the DA won’t prosecute and partly because Chesa hates them and is more interested in prosecuting cops than working with the police to arrest and prosecute criminals – so they are throwing a tantrum. We need Chesa out of there (which will happen), and then Bill Scott needs to tell the cops that it’s time for them to start doing their jobs again. Ideally, imho, we’ll move toward a system where criminals are more certain to be caught and prosecuted when they engage in criminal activity, but their punishments will be fair and just with an emphasis on breaking the cycle for the redeemable ones, which is most.

    1. “Far lefty on criminal justice issues” LoL… San Francisco centrist Democrats really do tell themselves the craziest stories. Enjoy the city’s even further rightward tilt. I’m *sure* your cops can beat and arrest their way out of the opioid and homelessness epidemics… And don’t worry! You’re still progressive because you listen to NPR and vote for Nancy Pelosi!

  25. Boudin’s incompetence, corruption, and cruelty are well documented. He has refused to prosecute thieves, vandals, rapists, and murderers and crime is now completely out of control. He must be recalled. Vote YES on Prop H.

    1. It was the feckless mongering of the POA that made Boudin a brand. Ranked-choice voting lifted him into office as a paperweight DA who was behind the curve right off the bat. Soon after arriving, he set himself up for failure with his spiteful dismissals of career prosecutors and as the fall guy when he sent out misguided victim questionnaires (“How was you experience?” – well duh). All in all, he made his stint as DA into what I call the Boudinic. Turns out, there are simply too many hard knock criminals and irredeemable methheads around to want to charge full steam ahead towards the SJ nirvana.

  26. Good analysis of how RCV impacted Chesa’s election and how he misinterpreted it as a mandate. He never would have been elected if there had been a top-two runoff. Now that we all get mail ballots we should go back to that system and avoid another costly mistake.

  27. There is a case for recalling Boudin: There are too many anecdotal examples of subjects with serious records who are repeatedly released or are given “light deals,” and who go out and to commit more serious crimes, including murder; a DA’s office filled with defense attorneys; a respected judge who, in open court, lambasts the DA’s office. The voters had a hazy idea of what would happen with Boudin and now they know. “SF never defunded its police department..” Essentially it did: staffing issue put on the back-burner for way too long. Boudin’s staff can figure out how to rent a U-haul and to transport one prisoner – not worth him whining about it. Boudin did not make convincing arguments during you interview. He sidestepped your question regarding recent info on the amount of diversions and he tried to explain the use of 32 PC pleas as a reasonable disposition in order to avoid immigration consequences. He emphasized that he is required to “consider” immigration consequences but he offered no explanation on how his office goes about their decision process as they “consider” the defendant’s immigration consequences. Boudin is a poor DA. His application of his ideology and his general incompetence merits recall.

  28. Both the pro and anti Boudin articles flying around are missing the point of why I’m voting to recall. I firmly believe that “cuff um and stuff um” devastated my community in the 90s. Someone who committed a property crime wasn’t given a chance to turn their life around before going away for some years. But Boudin’s use of diversion programs and not prosecuting quality of life crimes has not stopped chronic offenders and/or those who commit crime to feed their drug habit.

    Prosecuting wasn’t the problem, it was the sentencing! Prosecuting just establishes the record of guilt and affords the suspect due process. Not prosecuting to avoid sentencing breaks down the entire criminal justice system.

    1. Convictions *are* part of the problem. There are a lot of downstream effects of having a criminal record that make life difficult, regardless of whether you serve time. Eligibility for jobs is one of the big ones. Diversion programs are really good alternative pathways to both sentencing and prosecution.

      As for the claim about diversion being ineffective, we honestly haven’t given it enough of a shot to say either way.

      But we *have* tried mass incarceration for a few decades, and that has turned out to be a pretty terrible policy. So why not at least let Chesa finish the term he was elected for. He is doing everything he promised in his campaign, there is no basis to recall him.

      1. Diversion hasn’t been given enough time? SF Pretrial was founded in 1976. How long would you like us to wait to evaluate the record? Their recidivism rate was higher than the baseline for those incarcerated under Boudin.

        Mass incarceration isn’t an option on the table for any SF DA. It’s astounding how much time his boosters spend citing criminal justice reform which was implemented in the city 5-10 years, at least, before Boudin because District Attorney. Did you think we were Modesto or Fresno in 2019?

      2. Framing the available options as a choice between Chesa and mass incarceration is disingenuous

      3. You and your fellow progressive ideologues may not like it, but there is basis to recall him. That basis is the electoral process and it is codified into law. Don’t like it, change the law. But that’s just it, right? Progressives don’t and can’t get anything done—tepid symbolic gestures and vapid posturing are all they can muster.

      4. What are you talking about? Read criminologist Barry Latzer on The Rise and Fall of Violent Crime in America (obviously written before progressive pro-crime DAs like Boudin starting getting elected, as crime is predictably skyrocketing again). Mass incarceration worked wonders; indeed, it is the only thing that does work consistently. Warehousing criminals = safer streets; failing to do so = dangerous streets.

      5. I will call this one out. I was prosecuted and convicted on multiple drug related felonies during the hard sentencing years from 2000-2010 including my first strike in 2000 when I was sixteen. If I had not been routinely prosecuted, I would have died on the streets a long time ago from being shot or a drug overdose. After multiple sentences to jails, I was finally sent to some rehabs, and the second time around I was sent to a rehab I stay sober and have been that way since 2009.

        I have always had a job, often multiple jobs, thanks to the second chance programs that SF has in place. I am now a licensed professional after going through community college and finally the UC system for engineering.

        When the criminal justice reform topic comes up, and as a life-long liberal and classical liberal, I support reforms. However, I do not agree with the sentiment that the problem is prosecution. The problem is most certainly in the lack of sentencing options that provide true rehabilitation options. Prison should be reserved for true sociopaths which many in the current prison population are not. Rehabs are often filled with drug use and understaffed. There are not enough options for long term, constructive rehabilitation. However, had I not been routinely prosecuted I know I would not be writing this now.

        Also, a process to remove ones criminal past from not only the court records but also the internet and news sources is necessary. People can search my name on the internet and find archived news articles from 2003 for a crime I was arrested for but not convicted of, however, that is no where on the internet. I am for freedom of the press, but this is something that hampers my job searching since the first thing someone does when they get an application or a resume is put your name in the search box. At some point, I do not want my children to search my name and find something I was accused of decades ago. I should have the right to protect my name.

  29. It’s the whole cumulative progressive rhetoric / agenda that has turned voters against Boudin, and will likely turn them against other progressive city leaders. The same people who support Boudin are supporting defunding / reducing police, non-enforcement of quality-of-life crimes, woke school board actions (renaming schools, closing Lowell), no bail, anti sit-lie, and the list goes on.

    It’s the result of the progressives continuously muscling through purely idealistic policies with zero regard for the consequences, Boudin and Collins are both guilty of this here – pushing agenda-driven policies without majority support of citizens because they’re there as reformers, not to do the job they signed up for.

    1. Well, sorry, but that’s not true. I suppose you’d be offended if I assumed you watch Fox News? Many of us who supported the school-board recall are not down with this one.

        1. Seems to me \social media and comment sections and Nextdoor are full of right wing “Democrats” telling everyone about every time their car window gets broken, and causing many to feel fearful for no logical reason. Also, the right wing self proclaimed “Democrats” are likely newer SF residents, and forget that this is a PROGRESSIVE CITY and will STAY a PROGRESSIVE CITY. You guys may have loud voices, but you are not the majority and not turn SF into a red city. Give it up and move home already.

          1. @ Sick of This

            I’ve lived in San Francisco my entire life and watched the city devolve over the past 4 decades as “progressives” have moved here and taken over government over the years. If you were born here, good for you. But Boudin is not from San Francisco. He is from New York and Chicago and has probably only lived in SF for 10 years or less (hard to tell from his bio).

            Contrary to your accusation, being a Democrat is not voting “red.” San Francisco is only 13% Republican and there are plenty of life-long SF Democrats who don’t follow the knee-jerk progressive party line. The “progressive” left continues to believe that they are the only “correct” thinkers, and anyone else who doesn’t agree should leave… and talk about shouting down those who don’t agree with them– it’s the MO of the loud progressives who continue to force through ideological policies without considering the real-life consequences.

            In fact, SF is not all progressive, and progressive values, measured by PVI score (see https://www.sfchronicle.com/sf/article/How-do-the-politics-of-San-Francisco-differ-by-16738961.php) are all over the map, and lower among the African American population and the Asian population in San Francisco. African Americans also represent a much higher percentage of crime victims, with little representation on the Board of Supervisors, while many white (privileged) progressives who supposedly “know what’s best” continue to run the show.

            Apparently “democracy” only applies if one agrees with the progressive agenda. Otherwise, SF Democrats are told to “get out” of our city by a band of carpet baggers who’ve decided they know best. No thanks.

        2. Pat your a man with reason I must say, some good points! I am fully behind you logic. For myself we need to stop being so obsessed with what we “feel” is “right or wrong”, especially in regards to far progressive ideology, and instead lets look at what is working or not working. I think we can learn a lot about where we are now, vs where we have been in the past.

          For crime in particular, I’m all about giving people second chances and enriching type sentences. However, if you are committing violent crimes in our our others cities, especially more than one, we need to take these people off the streets and give real hard hitting punishments, which has not been happening. Allison Collins got what she deserved, I think the asian community in general in SF are who we should be listening closely too, they have a lot of good insight at this time.

  30. Love seeing all the desperate yoyos doing damage control for this clown. He’s out of here. The soft on crime experiment failed, yet again. San Franciscans aren’t as easily fooled anymore.

  31. Is this article just making up facts? The recall signature gathering began February 2021 or April 2021, and it’s the latter which qualified for the ballot. The Feb 2021 effort was led by some toxic personalities which no local politician would have aligned themselves with. Where are you getting that the move to recall started the day after Boudin took office and was underway 6 months later?

  32. yes the criminal system is broken on all aspects appears no one wants to stop violent crime . my experience with the DA office is they are more pro crime and criminal then holding criminals accountable , some outright refuse to do their job. The da has a hidden accountability system for its employees. be good to see the victim of crimes what they have to say. Chesa Boudin da system has a lot of flaws that need to be fixed
    appears he wants to blame then fix the pro criminal system he has inherited.

  33. Chesa might have only received 35.7% or 68,575 of 1st place votes, but he also received 22,191 2nd place, 18,465 3rd place and 19,478 4th place votes. If you look at the raw cast vote record, 128,709 voters ranked Boudin on their ballot- that adds up to 67% of all ballots cast in the 2019 DA’s race. Another way of saying this is 2/3rds of the voters who weighed in on the DA race ranked Chesa on their ballot. RCV analysis requires a little more nuance I think!

    1. @NuanceRCV where in the world do you get these numbers from?

      There was NO fourth round voting because there was no possible FOURTH round of calculations in a FOUR person race. There never could be, it is not even theoretically possible, that’s not how RCV works.

      It make me seriously question how you derived your other numbers. It can’t be from the Final RCV Detailed Report published by the SF Department of Elections.

      1. Hi Klk, These numbers are from the Dept of Elections- it’s a little confusing, but in my comment I mentioned the numbers are from the ‘cast vote record’, not the final RCV detailed report.

        The Cast Vote Record is a giant document the Dept of Elections publishes that lists all of the votes on a ballot- you can look at a ballot’s CVR and see, for example, a raw ballot that voted Chesa #1, Loftus #2, Dautch #3, Empty #4 . The Final RCV report would never count these #2s and #3s, since Chesa was never eliminated, but the votes are still in the Cast Vote Record since they reflect the choices a voter made on their ballot. This is independent of the 1st round, 2nd round, 3rd round RCV process. By looking at the Cast vote Record, you can tell who got how many #1s, #2s, #3s and #4s even if the ballot was never evaluated for RCV beyond #1 or #2.

        Here are the raw tallies according to the Cast Vote Record for the Nov 2019 DA race:
        Chesa Boudin:
        #1 68,575
        #2 22,191
        #3 18,465
        #4 19,478
        Suzy Loftus:
        #1 59,698
        #2 31,028
        #3 20,701
        #4 17.,778
        Nancy Tung:
        #1 37,022
        #2 29,877
        #3 23,722
        #4 16,302
        Leif Dautch:
        #1 26,758
        #2 36,478
        #3 27,359
        #4 12,733

        so out of 192,053 ballots cast in the DA race, 128,709 (or 67%) ranked Chesa in some way.
        Around 67% ranked Loftus somewhere as well, and it’s more like 55% for Tung and 54% for Dautch. Another way to think about this is that 33% of voters did not rank Chesa on their ballot. Still, he seems to have been approved by a majority- not a plurality.

        Chesa got the most #4 votes and of course the most #1 votes.
        Dautch got the most #2 votes and the most #3 votes.

        I’m happy to help explain further- if you post your email address, we can hop on a Zoom and we can walk through it together!

  34. No mention of three (3) drug prosecutions in his first year in office? No mention of the Tenderloin, which is the worst it’s been in thr 40 years, I’ve been alive? No mention of stores being boarded up in Union Square and the Financial District? No mention of long-time retail stores closing? No mention of pharmacies, which are critical to the surrounding communities closing?

  35. It’s time to listen to the voters. We are tired of being a Fox News punchline and watching our tax dollars go to nothing for the last 25 years. The message is arriving shortly. Pay attention to it Supervisors.

    1. If you’re tired of reading Fox News trashing of SF then stop reading Fox News! It’s been proven over and over to be full of lies and misinformation. Unfortunately it seems as though more and more locals are turning to the right-wing infotainment networks for their news and not paying attention to legitimate media outlets. Most of the responses here make no reference to hard data provided by the SFPD itself that crime is down overall in SF, that it is the SFPD which is making historically low numbers of arrests, that the DA is prosecuting at levels the same or higher than predecessors.

      If Boudin is recalled, all those thirsty for tough on crime policies will see after a couple years, how they won’t be any safer, crime won’t go down, but Fox News and the SF Standard will just write whatever they want, void of facts, and blame it on other progressive politicians. And more GOP billionaires will bankroll more recalls.

      SF ought to do better and look at real data.

      1. SF Standard employs some of the city’s best journalists (present and past!) and produces more data-driven and better edited coverage than basically any other paper in the city. What are you on about?

      2. Here is real data. I have seen dozens of brazen shoplifting episodes with my own eyes at my local Safeway. I stopped counting at TWENTY-FIVE episodes!! I only witnessed one crime ever there pre-pandemic. Is all this Boudin’s fault? No. But he’s part of the problem – not just him specifically, but the entire progressive, pro-thug mindset he brings to the DA’s office.

        The GOP approach to crime works. I lived in NYC in the late 80s into the 90s, and I saw it work under Giuliani. Basically, we need more cops; more aggressive cops; undercover cops targeting gangbangers; longer prison sentences for violent offenders; the voter repeal of Prop 47; routine (and public!) capital punishment for murderers; small arms de-control so decent folks can walk around armed (say, with .38s or 9mms); Stand Your Ground laws like they have in FL; and a generalized and public commitment to “broken windows” policing – to the idea that tolerating “quality of life” crimes, like pathological vagrancy and open air narcotics use, leads to disrespect for the law, and then to more serious offenses (which is exactly what’s happening in SF and everywhere “progressive prosecutors” have been elected).

        Those who care about SF (or even just their own property values and businesses and/or jobs) need to stand and fight the pro-crime Left – or this city will continue its current death spiral. I was born here, and have lived here for most of my life (and there has never been an entire year for nearly 60 years when I did not spend some time home in SF, even if I was working and living elsewhere). I have never seen the city so derelict, seedy, and dangerous. TIME TO CLEAN IT UP!

      3. YUP! I hope everyone who votes out Cheasa is happy when they still get their car windows broken after the Mayor appoints her crony. Because these issues will not go away and no DA will lock up every petty thief for life. Sorry right wing “Democrats” you are not helping a damned thing.

  36. The Quickly case is a sham. The electronics in Operation Focus Lens came from there and Boudin never charged the case, nor did he do anything with the 8 county stolen property case pending since January 2019. Instead, Boudin did an absurd bait car op and caught the same guy he wasn’t holding accountable for years. Why would SFPD or anyone else work with anyone that incompetent?
    The Quickly case and Boudin’s deception around it is more than enough reason to recall him. https://abc7news.com/operation-focus-lens-2-million-stolen-goods-san-francisco-property/5750210/

    1. Why didn’t the SFPD make the arrests? Why were they waiting for Boudin? And when Boudin says OK let’s arrest them, the SFPD says they don’t have the time. Why? Too busy campaigning for the recall? If Boudin gets recalled, watch the crime scare magically disappear. And the Mayor, a Black woman born and raised in the projects, will not only shovel more $$$ to her new best friends, but will run a classic law-and-order re-election campaign.

      1. The issue with Chesa imo isn’t his progressive values, it’s that he’s failing to implement them in a way that makes sense. The loss of his parents has caused him to over-correct against the CJ system (which needs reform – no doubt), ignore his constituents, and then lie to defend his decisions. The dude was a defense attorney twice in his career prior to becoming a DA – he’s clearly biased against sfpd and in favor of criminals.

        As for this article, Chesa can’t have his cake and eat it too. In the live interview (linked below), Chesa said he and the chief of SFPD get along and even stated they share a deep commitment to making SF safe. If that’s true, then one must believe SF was too busy to help. I’ve called SFPD several times asking them to pick up dumped luggage from my street only to learn that Northern Starion routinely has 6 officers working at any given time. That’s insanely low – but this author is more interested in a hit piece of SFPD than to admit they have a staffing issue themselves. Surly if the chief, who chesa gets along with, could help, he would of.

        RBG once said, “fight for the things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you”. Chesa isn’t doing that and until we have a DA who will, SF will never progress – that’s why I voted yes on the recall and urge you to do the same.

        Go to 14:30: https://www.kron4.com/video/sf-district-attorney-chesa-boudin-addresses-crime-recall-in-interview-with-kron4/7670256/

  37. Is anyone clear on the current state of the Jamaica Hampton case, which happened way back in 2019? This is what I think I understand:

    – Boudin initially delayed filing charges against Hampton, but reserved the right to do so later

    – Boudin did proceed with filing unspecified charges against the rookie police officer, securing a grand jury indictment

    – Boudin at around the same time did file charges against Hampton and secured an indictment, publicly asking *both* Hampton and the officer to surrender themselves via Twitter

    – A judge then *dismissed* the charges against Hampton for a technicality claiming that Boudin’s team failed to properly identify the suspect. (?)

    – I think Boudin re-filed charges against Hampton, although it’s hard to follow

    – The officers case is still pending

    – Hampton’s charges (if re-filed) are still pending

    – it’s 2022

    I mean, WTF here — how is the public of San Francisco served by this outcome in any way? Regardless of whichever political leanings I may have, do I want more like this?

    I listened to the Joe / Chesa discussion. Chesa has a few interesting reform-minded ideas but appears to be an incompetent ideologue who will fumble execution over principle. No nuanced influence, just blunt force trauma.

      1. I’m not right wing, I’m a lifelong Democrat born in SF, and even I’m sick of you Progressive jerkoffs defending Buudin no matter how many victims suffer due to his horrible permissive policies. Enough is enough. You don’t give a damn about the residents of this city, just your insane toxic ideology.

    1. Hmmm… I , and the thousands of impoverished Residents who have no choice BUT live in the Open Drug Selling Bazaar of the TENDERLOIN wonder 🤔💭 WHY !

      1. “Progressives” only care for their ideology. Whether or not their ideology is good for the people, is not one of their concerns.