SFDA Office Politics (Cont’d)

(Continuing the memo that awaited District Attorney Hallinan when he got back from a week's vacation on August 12, 2000.  TTH stands for Terence Tyrone Hallinan. He was named after the great Roman playwright who had been born in North Africa, enslaved, educated by a liberal master, freed to write his comedies. Vincent Hallinan could quote him. He told Kayo that Karl Marx's favorite line was from Terence: “ Nothing human is alien to me.”)

Jaxon asking about Ronan Byrne, former SFDA employee who stole from FOPP program. He's represented by Bill Fazio. Investigation began in late ’96. SFDA sent case to AG for prosecution. Byrne was arrested only recently.

Steven Hill, Center for Voting & Democracy, wants you to endorse the Public Ethics Commission’s proposal to restore incentives for voluntary spending limits on candidates. 665-5044. Ross Mirkarimi told him to call.

Rob Raich requests photo of TTH for fund-raising letter. Also, will you join the Oakland Club in opposing the feds’ petition of certiorari (asking the Supreme Court to review the Ninth Circuit’s decision allowing distribution of mj to patients with medical necessity).

Points to make to Vic Lee in defense of your approach (from Vernon Grigg, summarizing your conversations with him):

• I never want to send somebody to state prison until they’ve had an opportunity for drug treatment.

• The city’s treatment resources are stretched thin.

• SF is where the money is —the tourists, the partying. The same things that bring people to the restaurants and theaters and nightclubs attract the dealers and hookers.

• Get DPH and the mayor involved in solutions to the drug problem.

• The incarceration system is operating at capacity. Nonviolent offenders get released.

Darrell reappeared in the office Thursday around 2:30 p.m. and conducted a meeting of some managers.

Around 4:30 he entered Patricia Amador Lacson’s office, saying, “I’m not the reason you’re quitting, am I?” He left without looking in on me. I gather he made some calls encouraging people to talk to Rob Selna, and that he gave Selna your number in the country.

Thursday evening at home I got a call from Jaxon Vanderbeken who said that afternoon couriers delivered six copies of a letter from Darrell Salomon (including one to Matier & Ross and one to Frank Bannack, publisher of the Hearst Corp., one to Jaxon, one to managing editor Jerry Roberts) demanding that the Chronicle retract their slur on his honor. At this point I figured you had authorized this move.

Friday I attended a meeting of Wendy Nelder’s Anti-Graffiti Education Task Force at Northern Station, where SFPD officers sang a familiar refrain: if only the DA would charge more harshly… Darrell was supposed to attend but didn’t. Phil Kearney or Judith Garvey should make the next one —or you or Paul. This is a serious problem. The cops’ biggest complaint is that, after an elaborate hunt to penetrate “highly sophisticated” look-outs in vans with cell-phones, they come upon young men standing in front of freshly painted walls and carrying backpacks full of “art supplies,” but unless they witness the act of painting, the DA won’t charge. Asked if there could be a formula whereby a third “circumstantial” case got charged, an officer stated that third arrests were rare because most of the taggers came to San Francisco from out of town. We’re a destination for the more serious wall-painters! They also want the DA to charge the lookouts with conspiracy… Questions arose about the legality of rewards. Somebody in the office should take primary responsibility for charging graffiti cases, and you should be in the loop.

Friday lunch was Kamala’s farewell event at the Mission Rock Café, which was well attended. I was not happy that she had invited Opatrny. I sat on his left, Vernon sat on his right, and he was instructed not to take notes.

Darrell appeared Friday afternoon. He had written a memo on the subject of pay raises and the lure of the private sector, which was distributed to the staff. On his way out around 4:30 he looked in to ask, “Any news?” I said, “You’re the news.” He seemed surprised that I knew that he’d threatened to sue the Chronicle (a story ricocheting all around town) and he went into his bullying-lawyer mode, interrogating me about who I’d heard from and attacking the accuracy of my phrasing. (He had not threatened to sue, he had “demanded a retraction.”) I told him whatever he wanted to call it he should have discussed this step with me in advance —even if he decided not to take my advice— since I’m the press officer and demanding a retraction from the Chronicle involves the press and has ramifications for Terence Hallinan and the office. Darrell disagreed that his action had ramifications for you and the office —but of course it does, as I patiently explained, and you should have been notified in advance. “If Terence does not support me on this, I will resign,” he announced in stentorian tones. Then he scurried into his office to call you. Then he came back and we talked until 6:30 p.m.

I told Darrell that I knew he didn’t have special disrespect for women and black people and gay people, because I’m a straight white man and he could have not treated me with less respect over the past six months. (But if I were a woman, I would have attributed his meanness to “male chauvinism,” and if I were black I would have pegged him for being a racist.) “You’re an equal opportunity abuser,” I reassured him. And he seemed glad to hear it!

I told Darrell I didn’t like him constantly violating the press policy he had instituted with such great fanfare. Also, that I didn’t want him winging it with respect to DNA testing, those questions should go to Elliot Beckelman, who has some real expertise.

He is contemplating resigning. He realizes that something hasn’t worked out. He said he’d make more money in private practice and that he could be The Independent’s general counsel. I told him he could do a lot of good for Terence Hallinan from that position.

Darrell asked me repeatedly whether I thought he should resign. I said it was up to you. “But if you were giving Terence advice…” I said I didn’t give you advice of this kind unless asked.

I was astonished to hear Darrell say during our heart-to-heart that in his whole life he has only known one person who used drugs. Also, that he’d never heard of Harry Anslinger. I told him he’d known plenty of people who used drugs, but he only knew that one of them did.

PS. Anton Segal's father is going to talk to the press. He saw for himself that the local media is so concerned about SFDA internal politics they didn’t bother to cover the trial of the man who killed his wonderful son. He might even expose Garcia’s extreme prejudice. (To end on a hopeful note.)

One Response to "SFDA Office Politics (Cont’d)"

  1. Fred Gardner   July 12, 2020 at 8:22 pm

    The headline on this piece should have been “SFDA Office Politics, Cont.” My bad.

    Reply

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