By Alex Jimenez
SAN FRANCISCO, CA- Under Proposition H, San Francisco voters will have the chance to remove District Attorney Chesa Boudin, thanks to the efforts of a recall campaign accused of relying on anecdote, emotion and accusations that usually prove untrue, according to the San Francisco Examiner this week.
An article by the editorial board for the San Francisco Examiner details the deceptive messaging employed by the recall campaign and the issues that city faces, issues often blamed on Boudin but which are unlikely to improve if he is removed from office.
An example the Examiner provides is an ad where a former deputy DA implied that Boudin disbanded a unit dedicated to solving auto burglaries. But the Examiner notes the unit, however, still operates and just recently busted a major distributor of stolen goods which operated at a boba shop in the Tenderloin.
Another ad from just a few weeks ago has former business owner Max Young telling viewers he had to close down his cocktail lounge due to constant drug dealing nearby. But, the Examiner notes, Young established that he closed down his business months before Boudin was elected into office in 2019 and assumed his position in January 2020.
In a campaign full of “half-truths,” and easily disprovable claims, the court of public option will prevail in lieu of the facts, the Examiner said.
Despite Boudin carrying a perception of being soft on crime his record has largely resembled those of previous DAs, said the Examiner, noting San Francisco has also seen a smaller crime spike than Sacramento—with a district attorney that is supposedly “tough on crime.” “But he gets blamed for nearly every individual act of crime even though his own critics admit that’s illogical,” states the editorial team.
“The DA obviously doesn’t have a direct effect on the increase in crime, right?” said Don du Bain, a former deputy DA now supporting the recall campaign, in an interview with The Examiner. “The DA, however, does set the tone in the community for how crime is going to be addressed once people are arrested.”
Boudin’s tone in particular is what much of the criticism has been hinged on, but Boudin ultimately ran on criminal justice reform—his election, once seen as a victory for the progressive movement, is now coming with criticism.
The Examiner notes that while Boudin’s removal won’t solve voters’ frustration with “crime and disorder,” it will send a message to mayor London Breed and the board of supervisors that voter frustration has hit a new level.
It should be recognized that Boudin does not control the police department, which ends up rarely arresting “quality of life” crime—and the open drug market has flourished as a result. The mayor in this respect and in dealing with homelessness and poverty does have more control than a DA.
“Boudin has flaws, but any honest analysis reveals he’s being held responsible for the failures of other politicians,” says the Examiner.
Boudin during his campaign has said that he would be an “evidence-based prosecutor” working to ensure public safety without an overreliance on the jail system.
In 2011, the Examiner board explained, the U.S. Supreme Court found that conditions in overcrowded California prisons violated the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The ruling led to reform efforts by former governor Jerry Brown and Governor Newsom, in turn leading to historic lows in crime rates. During the pandemic, crime rates spiked along with homelessness and drug addiction, amplifying public safety concerns.
Coincidentally, Boudin was elected right around the start of the pandemic and became a scapegoat for rising public anxiety in the city.
During an interview with The Examiner, Boudin defended his record in painstaking detail.
“The notion that any one person, district attorney or otherwise, could single-handedly in a one- or two-year period bend the arc of crime trends goes in the face of everything every serious academic policymaker and criminologist tells us,” said Boudin.
He added, “We have to look at the big picture. Unfortunately, what the recall is doing — and the millions of dollars they’re spending on it — is distracting all of us as San Franciscans from the nuanced, complex conversations we ought to be having about the Tenderloin, about how we can support our small businesses, about how we can make sure we’re preserving the kind of character that makes San Francisco so unique.”
The Examiner contends proponents for the recall fail to articulate a convincing argument for the recall and offers a parting note.
“In light of these facts, The Examiner Editorial Board cannot endorse Proposition H. We do, however, recognize the legitimate public distress animating the recall movement and we urge the leaders actually responsible for managing this city to pay close attention to Boudin’s fate. He will serve the sentence, but the voters’ judgment of Boudin will also deliver a verdict on the failed leadership at City Hall.”