By G.W. Schulz

Remember how when Nancy Pelosi ascended to the speakership of the House, you were all proud because it happened in your lifetime? “A woman has come mightily close to the presidency,” you told yourself. “Slowly but surely, we’ll get over this whole ‘women in positions of power scare the living shit out of us, but we’re afraid to admit it’ thing.’”

But remember, too, how that cynical voice inside of you also said “Yeah, sure, it happened in my lifetime, but Pelosi is as cold and calculating as every other creep inside the beltway. How much of this should I be proud of?”

You have something else to be proud of now with a little less cynicism, and Washington is a long way from achieving what your city has.

A transgendered woman with a strong head for reform has taken over the top seat at the San Francisco Police Commission. Her name is Theresa Sparks. You may know her as CEO of Good Vibrations, the sex shop. Hell yeah.

We know her even better as the police commissioner who had some tough questions for the department’s top brass after officers shot and killed an unarmed man last year named Asa Sullivan. Remember that guy? Probably not. That’s partly why we have a police commission. To remember this sort of stuff. Asa’s family struggled afterward to get some reasonably good answers from the department about what happened, and Sparks was none-too-happy when she found out the department was dragging its feet. The department claimed Sullivan wanted to commit “suicide-by-cop.” Officers shot him 16 times, by the way.

We also know Sparks as the police commissioner who asks for regular reports from the department on officer-involved shootings. Because the reports are public record, her requests have been one of the few ways we’ve managed to keep track of how officers use their firearms in the line of duty, and it ain’t always pleasant. You probably forgot that an officer accidentally shot one of his brethren with a sniper rifle at the mayor’s inauguration, huh? We were reminded of it by one of the reports.

Well, now we know Sparks as president of the police commission. As it happens, her vote was so controversial among the other commissioners last night that colleague Louise Renne angrily resigned this morning. She didn't even stick around for the remainder of the meeting last night after the vote, according to our sources.

See, Renne wanted another commissioner to be president: Joe Marshall. Our sources say that’s who the mayor wanted, too, ‘cause Sparks is generally regarded as a progressive along with commissioners Petra DeJesus, David Campos, and sometimes, Joe Veronese, who’s running for the state Senate.

Veronese was the swing vote last night, and after rambling for several minutes, he finally went with Sparks, and that caused Renne to storm out of commission chambers. Gosh, and she comes off as so sweet, folding her hands underneath her chin and listening politely as residents one after the other during public comment berate the law-enforcement community for losing control of the city’s homicide and nonfatal shooting injury rates, both sky-high these days.

Why might it have been stupid for Renne to resign so hastily? Because if she was trying to preserve power for the mayor on the commission and keep it away from the lefties, she’s now simply opened up another vacant seat, and the progressives on the Board of Supervisors won’t confirm a hack to take her place. Hopefully, at least. And Joe Marshall, an African-American, was voted as vice president of the commission. That means two profoundly disenfranchised groups of people will still get some good representation on the police commission. But apparently, that wasn't enough for Louise Renne.

UPDATE: A source of the Guardian's just called to point out that Renne resigned a month before her tenure as commission president was even complete, which means the progressives will get that much more time in a top post. Geez, what's Renne so afraid of anyway?

*Photo credit goes to the
Chron's Michael Macor

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