Board overrides Mayor's foot patrol veto

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By Sarah Phelan
It hasn’t exactly been a good couple of weeks for Mayor Gavin Newsom.
His picks for Board of Supervisors got thumped.
The 49ers said they’re running away with Santa Clara but keeping San Francisco’s name.
Newsom nix sayed the city’s Olympic bid
And then the Board of Supervisors overrode Newsom’s veto of police foot patrol legislation in a 9-2 vote that means the city will go ahead with a one-year citywide pilot project.
Worse, the nine sups that defied his veto got to explain their reasons, which included slamming the mayor and the police chief for lack of leadership..
Sup. Ross Mirkarimi talked about giving the mayor and Chief of Police plenty to time to take action. When they didn’t, and the Board took the lead, Mirkarimi says he was surprised by the mayor’s veto.
As for SFPD Chief Heather Fong’s hastily announced counter plan, which was made public on Monday, Mirkarimi said, “An acute difference between the two plans is that ours calls for accountability.”
Sup. Bevan Dufty, citing increased incidences of violent crime and inadequate response in the Castro, said “the visible presence of foot patrols is helpful."
“No one is higher than the chief of police but the chief needs to speak up and to speak clearly without regard for where the chips may fall,” said Dufty, alluding to a lack of morale in the SFPD. “This vote is not offered as a criticism of the Mayor or the Chief. This is the best we can do as a Board right now. Let us rise above that and recognize that we need leadership.”
Sup. Chris Daly couldn’t resist asking how the increased number of officers under the Chief’s plan (44 isntead of the 33 specified in the Board's plan) “isn’t playing politics.”
Sup. Tom Ammiano wondered what kind of cooperation will be forthcoming, and Sup. Fiona Ma noted that if there was a garbage problem or a flu epidemic, this board would propose a plan, which is why the board reacted to crime wave with foot patrols.
Sup. Michela Alioto-Pier, who along with Sup. Sean Elsbernd voted to uphold the mayor’s veto, said one of the problems was the way the ordinance was written.”
Elsbernd argued that the mayor and police chief should make policing decisions, not the Board of Supervisors.
But Sup. Gerardo Sandoval was upset that SFPD Chief Heather Fong had said that if the Board overrode the mayor’s veto, she didn’t want to disobey the Board’s legislation, but her captains might ignore it.
“We need to be very protective of our roles in this city,” Sandoval told his colleagues.
“To have a Chief of Police say something like that should not go unnoticed.”
Sup. Sophie Maxwell, noting that she probably has the highest incidence of gun violence in her district, recalled walking the precincts this fall and people telling her that they wanted to see the police,
"I have no choice. I have to do this," said Maxwell of supporting the legislation.
Board Chair Aaron Peskin, who previously voted against the Board’s legislation, but ultimately voted to support it found it ironic that the legislation embraced by the police and the mayor “supports the Board’s idea.”
Sup. Jake McGoldrick found the SFPD’s counter proposal, “a day late, a dollar short.”
“For 5 months, 7 months, 18 months , we were looking for tools, all we got was reaction, not action. But there’s something hopeful about this dialogue.”
After the historic vote, SFPD Chief Heather Fong told the assembled media that she would disagree about their being a morale problem in the department.
Acknowledging that the SFPD is currently 300 officers under its mandated staffing levels, Fong said, “ I believe the captains have to have flexibility.”
Noting that the SFPD’s plan would kick in Nov. 24 and involve 44 officers, Fong added,” I believe the deployment plan will be incompliance with the legislation.”
As for the mayor, it would have been interesting to be a fly on the proverbial wall of his office.