Police chief: SFPD dignitary security costs were a mystery even to him

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By Rebecca Bowe

San Francisco Police Chief George Gascon offered an explanation yesterday for why it took so long for the San Francisco Police Department to provide any figures whatsoever on how much it spends on security detail for elected officials: Apparently, no one really had any idea what the costs actually were.

“Quite frankly, when I first came here I asked multiple times, how much are we spending in dignitary protection? And I could not get the answer within my department,” Gascon told the Board of Supervisors yesterday.

Sup. Ross Mirkarimi first began asking for this information back in July. “When we got the first cut of information approximately two weeks ago, I looked at it and I said, this information does not seem right,” Gascon recounted. “Go back and work on this.”

When his staff finally produced a figure of around $2 million for all dignitary security costs for the budget year ending in June 2009, Gascon says he immediately shared that figure with the media and members of the Board. This past weekend, the San Francisco Chronicle ran a front-page story about the cost, which includes protection for the mayor, politicians visiting from outside San Francisco, and others.

“I don’t believe it is copasetic to allow a black ops budget to exist” within the SFPD, Sup. Ross Mirkarimi said at yesterday’s Board meeting, during a discussion about legislation he introduced to require elected officials to reimburse the city for the cost of bodyguards on the SFPD payroll when they’re out on the campaign trail.

Mirkarimi scaled back his legislation with amendments that the rule would only apply when officials campaign outside the state of California, and stretched out the reporting timeline to make it easier on SFPD staff.

While the proposed legislation requires the police to submit a detailed breakdown of security costs for each official, Mirkarimi said he’d left it open so that the information could be shared in closed session only. So it won’t necessarily become public information.

Despite these amendments, Gascon told the Supervisors yesterday that while he is committed to transparency, he still opposes the legislation. “I would hate to think that one of you, the future Diane Feinsteins of the San Francisco area, would have to pay for dignitary security,” Gascon told the Supes. “I dare say that if some of you had to pay for your own security because you were running for office … more than likely you will not pay for the security and you will place yourself at risk.”

Mirkarimi told the Guardian later that the legislation revolves around sunshine and fiscal accountability. “I think we have prompted and instigated significant inroads, for example they’ve published … what that aggregate cost is -- they’ve never done that,” he said. "It’s been amazing that for all these decades there has been no disclosure on this item."

Because the amendments required it to go through the approval process again, the legislation was referred back to committee.

Comments

boys and girls,

The cops are like the Mongols. They are an occupying force and their primary mission is extortion of treasure from those occupied. The Chinese built a wall against the Mongols but that didn't work so they hired them outright to guard them. Thus began the Mongol dynasties of Kublai and Han and Hakan and on and on.

The cops not only are handsomely paid but they get unlimited overtime serving in extra-curricular security forces paid for by the City or City spawned organizations like the CBD's ('Community Benefit Districts').

These districts are fascinating. Essentially the largest businesses in a neighborhood get 'weighted' votes to require the smaller mom and pops to pay for a private army (usually off duty SFPD officers) who work directly for the director of the CBD who suddenly like a medieval lord have their own army. In my neighborhood the CBD director is a Downtown Right-Wing paragon named Elaine Zamora. She get's $128,000 a year to supervise not only her own police force but also her own DPW (street cleaners). She has more power than our District supe (Daly) who couldn't get a cop to listen to him no matter what.

And? Ms. Zamora has recently re-located from Noe Valley to our D-6 so that she can replace Daly as the district supe. If she wins, it will be a demotion and a pay cut.

h.

Posted by h. brown on Dec. 17, 2009 @ 7:40 am

I am 100% for the cities elected idiots paying for their security while campaigning for higher uselessness, as in the case of Newsom and Kamala Harris.

No accountant, bookkeeper, excel spread sheet or quickbooks entry scheme can take into account the intelectual gyrations of the post hoc self righteous Bay Guardian liberal.

Most accounting is designed for paying taxes, if for instance there is some spending that someone wants to account for in another area, the bookkeeper or accountant needs to puzzle it out and that takes time.

The Bay Guardian I assume uses an accountant of some sort. I would suggest that Rebecca Bowe (or any other Bay Guardian "reporter") call him or her up and ask how much in 1995 the Bay Guardian received in pizza business advertising versus lost payroll check's sent to ex-employees who moved out of state, in pie chart form. I would also be interested in the number of vacation days used by people who's last names started with D who worked in 2002... I need that by Tuesday.

The after the fact information that the SFPD doesn't have at hand is normal, no normal person can guess the future needs of Bay Guardian screamers.

Its not a "black ops" conspiracy, not reading the mind of SF's screaming idiots who have no idea what makes up basic accounting, while bitching about how fucked they are isn't cause for alarm, it's cause for Bay Guardian reporters to start touching base with the reality we all live in.

Accounting is not magic, although when schooled in liberal subjects it must seem that way.

Posted by glen matlock on Dec. 17, 2009 @ 1:38 am