Editorial: Newsom's leaked memo costs the city

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The mayor's leaked memo puts the city treasury at risk, possibly violates the law, and promotes his gubernatorial ambitions at the expense of sound city policy

Click here to read Sarah Phelan's story in this week's Guardian titled, Restoring the sanctuary.

EDITORIAL At the heart of the conflict over Sup. David Campos' recent sanctuary legislation is a basic issue of civil rights: Should a young San Francisco immigrant arrested by the local police be treated as innocent until proven guilty — or should that person face deportation, even if the arrest is bogus and no formal charges are ever filed?

All Campos wants to do is establish that an arrest is not a conviction — and, as anyone who works with youth or immigrants in the city knows, thousands of innocent people are picked up by the police every year, sometimes because of simple mistakes, more often because the local cops have a propensity to arrest young people of color in disproportionate numbers.

And under current city policy, anyone arrested on felony charges who lacks proper documentation can be turned over to federal immigration authorities. And even if the suspect turns out to be innocent, he or she can be deported. That's not fair, not consistent with the city's sanctuary policy — and, according to the ACLU, not legally defensible.
But Mayor Gavin Newsom, not content with arguing the merits of the legislation (a battle he would clearly lose), has taken the remarkable step of leaking to the San Francisco Chronicle a confidential opinion from City Attorney Dennis Herrera that warned of the potential legal downside of the Campos measure. The Chron quickly turned the memo into a front-page story, proclaiming that the legislation "would violate federal law and could doom [the city's] entire sanctuary city policy." Newsom was quick to chime in: "The supervisors are putting at risk the entire Sanctuary City Ordinance, which we've worked hard to protect," the Chron quoted the mayor as saying.
For starters, that's blowing the situation way, way out of proportion. Herrera's office writes these memos all the time. Any piece of legislation that might have legal ramifications gets this sort of review — and in many, many cases, the supervisors and the mayor simply go ahead anyway. Two of Newsom's biggest initiatives — same-sex marriage and the city's health care law — involved serious legal issues, and it's almost certain that Herrera formally warned the supervisors and the mayor that going ahead could lead to lawsuits. Newsom, properly, proceeded with the legally risky moves.
And while we haven't seen Herrera's memo, people familiar with it agree that it never said that the existing sanctuary law is at any real risk. Yes, some anti-immigrant group could sue the city over Campos's bill. And yes, some court could conceivable invalidate not only this law but a lot of other city immigration policies. But nobody has ever successfully sued to overturn the current law, which has been in effect for almost 20 years.
Of course, there are, and will be, legal issues with the Campos bill. But now that the mayor has leaked the confidential memo laying out those concerns, any right-wing nut who does want to sue will have the ammunition prepared. And Newsom's action makes the prospect of a suit — one that will cost the city a lot of money — far more likely.
In other words, the mayor has put his own city's treasury at risk, possibly violating city law in the process, in order to undermine a piece of legislation that he doesn't support. This has all the hallmarks of the mayor's new gubernatorial campaign team, led by consultant Garry South, who is known for his vicious, scorched-earth battles. South, we suspect, advised Newsom that appearing soft on illegal immigrants would play poorly in the more conservative parts of the state — and that a tactic that puts his own city at risk was an appropriate way to respond.
And Newsom, to his immense discredit, went along.
This is a big deal, a sign that the mayor is putting his higher ambitions far ahead of his duty to San Francisco. "In my eight years in office, I saw hundreds of these memos," former Board President Aaron Peskin told us. "I saw plenty of material that I could have leaked that would have been useful to me politically. But all of us on the board, across the political spectrum, understood that you just don't do that. Because if you do, it tears the government apart."
We're journalists here, and we never support government secrecy. We have consistently defended reporters who publish leaked documents (and would do so here, too, despite our criticism of the way the Chron played this story). And there are times, many times, when it's best for city attorneys and the officials who get their advice to let the public know what those memos say. We support whistleblowers and principled city employees and officials who defy the rules of secrecy and tell the public what's really going on.
But Newsom was serving no grand public interest purpose here. He was simply using confidential legal advice to attempt to thwart a political opponent, for the purpose of promoting his own ambitions. That's alarming. If Newsom wants to be taken seriously as a candidate for governor, he needs to demonstrate that he can stand up to his political advisors — and so far, he's failing, miserably.
P.S.: Sup. John Avalos has asked the Ethics Commission and the city attorney to investigate the leak, which is fine — but this shouldn't become an attack on the right of the press to publish confidential documents. None of the investigators should try to question the Chron reporters to seek the source of the leak — particularly since Newsom has as much as admitted, to the Guardian's Sarah Phelan, that he was the one who authorized his staff to hand out the memo. *

Comments

Jason Grant Garza here ... the law, whose law, what law, and who interprets and defines the law and while we are on the subject (who is protected by the law - city and government workers) type my name into a google search engine and it will lead to an article here in the Bay Guardian regarding how the city broke the law. It will state how the city stated in federal court they had complied with the law and had my case thrown out. Now there is a signed settlement agreement in which there is an admission of guilt and liability; however, I have never been remedied, made whole, compensated, etc. If you follow the article it will state how I went to the sunshine commission ... where the city stated it had complied with the law ... when I went back to the sunshine commission with new evidence that the city had lied ... they CLOSED the case. This was after years and stating how useless their commission was. Call Donald White at the Office of Inspector General in Washington DC (202-619-0088) and ask how many years ... how many different agencies ... and why I still have an arrest record ... never having been arrested before ... ask what happened to the officials that did not perform ... it would probably be the same as what happened to the Sunshine officials when I stated and proved to them that their game was just that since the other side didn't have to follow the law or be found guilty of "willful misconduct" as was apparent in my case. You could call Susan Mizner at the Mayors Office of Disability who told me I was wrong, you could call Chris Iglesias at the Human Rights Commission who closed my case, you could call the city attorneys office and ask about what was stated to drop my case, you could call the mayors office since they had me investigated by Special Invesigation Unit (Jeff Lindberg) in order to get a meeting with the Mayor that was cancelled and never rescheduled, you could call the Public Health Department and ask who my doctor at the time (could it have been the Director?)... so as you can tell ... I left NO STONE unturned ... where are my rights?

So as you can tell ... requirements, laws, decensy, accountablity have NOTHING to do with reality or how things will work ... so here I sit dead right, still awaiting answers, still given the "runaround" when I specifically ask for answers, and still going on and telling the truth. This is all a planned illusion and when shove comes to push (holding their feet to the fire) ... my case perfectly illustrates the illusion and farce that rethoric is! Call Newsom, call DPH, call the Office of Inspector General ... call any of the above listed and find out. The game continues, the deliberate irresponsibility and unaccountablity and the BAND PLAYS ON!!!!! And this is how they treat a disabled individual who has the proof. I can even provide the papers that I wrote the Ethics Commission regarding my determination from the sunshine commission for "Wilful Official Misconduct" (see article [Ratched Response]). The Ethics Commision wrote and told me no wilful misconduct ... I wrote back with the city defintion per the city attorney's handbook and ask for clarification. I BET YOU CAN GUESS ... I GOT NO RESPONSE AND A CLOSE CASE.

I went to a meeting in May 2009 and in NO UNCERTAIN terms told the panel (Ethic Commission and Sunshine Commission) just how useless and how unethical it was to provide FALSE HOPE and a rigged system as my case proved. Ah, the game continues ... it's 2009 and I complained in 2002 and had the proof with my RN Ratched (Nurse Ratched) response from the Sheriff's department. Read and learn ... it is a game, illusion and carefully crafted plan ... spread false hope, be not accountable and then to add insult to injury hold a meeting saying we care and not explain nor remedy for their prior failures, incompetence, and most of inhumanity with false hope. Let's see if SFBG deletes this post since it accurate, truthful and most of all continuing .... let's see if the city decides to sue me for telling the truth ... let's see if any supervisor will investigate ... let's see if the sunshine commission gets power to enforce or just to continue to offer false hope ... let's see if the Ethic's Commission will ever respond and point out where I was wrong ... or will things just continue ... a leaked memo ... against a signed confession ... IF I CAN NOT GET ACCOUNTABILITY and NO HUMANITY ... do you really believe that an internal investigation will reveal much ... why don't we ask the Inspector General who gave the CIA report (just coming out in the news regarding the CIA "EIT" methods) to the JUSTICE department years ago and they failed (to take action) .... ah, JUSTICE nice concept. Do you really think they (THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT) will face prosecution for their inaction?

Ah, the audacity of FALSE HOPE and inhumanity.

Now, I will go BACK YET AGAIN (I can provide a list of them that stuck their heads in the sand rather than investigate) to the Supervisors and possibly the Budget Committee and point out the lies, deception and hypocrisy ... since they seem more interested in a leaked memo which has NOT been ruled illegal yet; however, with a signed confession ... there is MO ACTION ... why? Could it be that they know an internal investigation regarding the leaked memo will produce they want (fixing the intelligence, misspeaking, etc) while ignoring the smoking gun ... A SIGNED CONFESSION. This is the oldest game in a Magician's handbook ... slieght of hand ... look over here but not over here. It is also inhumane by stating that they care ... the actions in my case prove otherwise ... type my name into a google search engine. Where's the Ethics or morals and mind you if you note above ... where haven't I gone? Intergrity is as intergrity does and lack of it ... resonates.

Posted by Jason Grant Garza on Aug. 26, 2009 @ 5:24 am

I pray to God that some fine day I can see Gavin Newsom in person (in the flesh) and address to him the question which is in the back of all his constituents minds: Gavin, will you fuck us the way you fucked your BEST FRIEND'S WIFE? We know that while you were fucking her, you never intended to marry her, cuz she was already married-- to your best friend! So that means she was like a prostitute but, of course, she might become upset if you paid her out of your own pocket, so you used the City's money by paying her as a staff! I think anyone who elects this "miscarriage of justice" needs to have their head examined... by a cannibal.

Posted by windowpane on Aug. 26, 2009 @ 11:17 am