16 Former Boudin Hires Fired in a Friday Afternoon Massacre by Brooke Jenkins

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By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

San Francisco, CA – Don’t call it a massacre, call it a reform prosecution genocide.  A week after being appointed and pledging to not fire employees until she met with them and discussed their roles, newly-appointed DA Brooke Jenkins scheduled 15-minute phone meetings with 16 Boudin hires and, one by one, fired them all.

Lest there be any question about the direction of the new DA—the 16 were all hires of Boudin.  The Boudin 16 as they are calling themselves were then replaced by some of the more draconian hires—Ana Gonzalez who previously headed the gang prosecution unit, Nancy Tung the reformer DA Candidate who finished third in 2019, Roni Singh who ran for judge in 2020 and is a former prosecutor, and Tiffany Sutton, who previously spent 12 years at the SF DA’s office hired by Kamala Harris.

According to the release from the DA’s office, Gonzalez will be chief assistant and the lead managing attorney in the office.  Tung “will lead and oversee special prosecutions and community partnerships.”  Sutton will “will lead and oversee alternative programs and initiatives and the juvenile division.”  And Singh will “lead and assist with the transition for District Attorney Jenkins.”

At the police department, Sutton oversees the “leadership and management of the crime analytics team and analyzing SFPD’s crime and community strategies.”

Among those fired, Rachel Marshall, who headed up the strategic communications for Boudin’s office, told the Vanguard the office “went from one of the most reform minded, progressive offices in the country too, in one day, dismantling many of those reforms and undoing a lot of the progress that has been made.”

Supervisor Dean Preston told the Vanguard, “Obviously I was not a fan of the recall and was disappointed with those results, but still had hoped that the mayor would appoint someone who was not going to disrupt some of the progress that has been made around reform and certainly one of the most important areas of that is the Innocence Commission.”

A day after she told the Chronicle she was inclined to keep that commission that looks into Wrongful Convictions, Jenkins reversed course, disbanding it and firing the attorney who was the liaison to it.

“It really is a devasting blow to have the sole liaison from the DA’s office get fired,” Preston said.  “It’s just, I think, the wrong message entirely about… it should be an independent commission here that we’re preserving no matter who’s in office.”

Preston said he had not had a conversation with the newly-appointed DA, which he said was “highly unusual that she did a PR tour of my district, the Tenderloin earlier this week and would not have reached out to either invite our office to participate or at least let us know what was happening.”

One of her main focuses has been doubling down on the “war on drugs rhetoric.”

Preston said he had the “same reaction when the mayor made her announcements in December, threatening to arrest drug users and addicts.”  He said, “It is not only harmful, but it doesn’t solve the issues that they claim they want to solve.”

He added, “We have had decades of this kind of tough talk.  It sometimes helps folks win elections.  It never really helps resolve underlying issues or alleviate the suffering that people are experiencing, particularly people who are addicted to drugs.”

Staffers described the process by which the DA one by one scheduled 16 of them into 15-minute blocks—over the phone.

Jenkins read off a script, giving an admonishment that she was not consenting to any sort of recording, thanked them for their service and said that their services were no longer needed.

“It was incredibly icy, incredibly impersonal,” one staffer explained.

No reason was provided and, when some asked, they were not providedone.

What the Vanguard has been told is that it is very clear that the mayor’s office is controlling everything—everything from communications to the campaign appearances.  The office made no attempt to communicate with senior staffers.

Last week, Jenkins at her first meeting captured in media accounts, suggested the process would be more humane, suggesting there would be discussions before people were fired—and then nothing.

In a statement on Twitter, Marshall said, “I joined @chesaboudin‘s leadership team to fight for criminal justice reform; that battle has never been more urgent. My passion for the mission to reform our legal system is stronger than ever. Our work continues and the fight goes on.”

Among those fired was Mikaela Rabinowitz, who led the transparency and accountability team.

“I am proud to have served the City of San Francisco and the @SFDAOffice. I worked extremely hard to improve the quality and availability of data in order to provide actionable information to the office and the public,” Rabinowitz tweeted.  “Under @chesaboudin, @SFDAOffice was committed to building upon @GeorgeGascon’s commitment to transparency and accountability.”

Arcelia Hurtado tweeted, “After over 2 years of tireless and devoted service to the City and City of SF, I was unceremoniously fired without cause via phone by the Mayor’s appointed DA. I am the highest ranking Latina/LGBTQ member of the management team at that office. I will continue the fight 4justice.”

Tal Klement tweeted, “I was just told on the telephone by interim DA Brooke Jenkins that I have been fired. I am one of many in the office let go who have dedicated their careers to doing justice. I am proud of all that I accomplished and vow to never stop fighting for real criminal justice reform.”

Kate Chatfield, chief of staff after David Campos ran for Supervisor, tweeted, “The resentencing/innocence commission unit: gone. Police accountability: gone. Data and transparency: gone. Political corruption investigation: gone. Champion for victims and children: demoted.”

She also noted, “Lateef Grey and Rebecca Young from our Independent Investigations Bureau have been fired.”

She added, “Champion for humane, hugely-popular and successful treatment programs: gone. Latino/a outreach: gone. Support for trafficked children: gone.”

Rachel Marshall summed it up in a phone conversation with the Vanguard: “Under DA Boudin’s leadership, criminal justice reform including some of the boldest policies in the nation, including eliminating bail, refusing to charge kids as adults and holding police accountable.”

She said, “It is disappointing that within one day, much of the work that so many of us have spent years building and implementing has been undone, but we all remain as committed as ever to criminal justice reform and to continuing to advance justice.”

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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15 thoughts on “16 Former Boudin Hires Fired in a Friday Afternoon Massacre by Brooke Jenkins”

  1. David Greenwald Post author

    Supervisor Preston: “This approach to running the District Attorneys office is unnecessary, ineffective, and counterproductive.”

  2. Bill Marshall

    Somewhat surprising that all 16 were “at will” employees… able to be ‘dismissed’ w/o ’cause’…

    Guess all were considered ‘executive mgt.’…

    Will have to check to see what their salaries/benefits are/were…

  3. Don Shor

    Unhappy as this makes supporters of prosecution reform, it makes perfect sense from a managerial standpoint. I see no way the new DA could work with the outgoing DA’s team.

    Interesting analysis from The San Francisco Standard:

    https://sfstandard.com/politics/mayor-breed-brooke-jenkins-district-attorney-chesa-boudin-election/

    July 7:

    “As the recall spokesperson, Jenkins repeatedly said the DA’s office needed to take a tougher-on-crime approach. How that will play out when Boudin’s people get new marching orders from an interim boss who slammed their work is anybody’s guess.”

    Evidently she and the mayor decided to mitigate the very likely conflict and institutional paralysis that would have resulted from this situation.

    Jenkins will be on the ballot in November. SF voters can decide if they like this change then.

    Will she likely get elected?

    “[Nancy] Tung, who ran against Boudin that year and seemed to be the frontrunner as his successor, has said she intends to run in November. The mayor received more than 100 letters in support of Tung, a Chinese American, and the rise in reported hate crimes and discrimination targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders played a major role in the recall…..

    One other scenario is Jenkins could offer Tung a high-ranking job in the office in lieu of running.”

    Yep.

    Also, just a note:

    “The city’s ranked-choice voting system installed him [Boudin] into office with just 36% of the vote in 2019.”

     

     

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      I think there are several key points here…

      I agree – she should be able to let go staffers that don’t align with her vision.

      That said:

      Last week she told staff not to worry, that she would meet with them and then decide what to do.  She didn’t meet with them.  She then set up 16 – 15 minute phone appoints and read from a script.  The people I talked to, expected to get fired, they were taken about by how it was done.

      Second, going into the Tenderloin and not communicating to the Supervisor there is bad form.

      Third, what possible reason is there to disband the Innocence Commission – I have a full story tomorrow on that.

      Finally, I guess I am surprised by just how far in the other direction she has actually moved things.  Apparently when the Mayor met with DA possibilities, she had a litmus test that they had to prioritize war on drugs type prosecutions and it apparently she went through quite a few more experienced candidates before settling on Jenkins who was more amenable and malleable to the Mayor’s agenda.

      1. Ron Oertel

        I don’t believe that the “average voter” in S.F. is as wrapped-up in the “minutiae of the drama” as you and other activists are. I can almost hear their collective yawns.

        You previously noted (complained about?) the fact that S.F. is full of wealthy white (and Asian) people, who (ultimately) are more concerned about crime, than they are about justice for criminals.

        And that places which experience a lot more crime (but aren’t full of these wealthy white/Asian people) are actually the places where “progressive prosecutors” have a better chance.  Perhaps that’s actually true.

        Ironically, though – both the S.F. mayor and new DA are “people of color”, as are some of the others who support them. These folks are not “progressives”, using your definition. And ultimately, neither is the population of S.F.

  4. Keith Olson

    So David, did you call this a massacre too?

    Newly elected San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin fired multiple prosecutors on Friday afternoon as he reshapes the office and begins implementing his progressive vision two days after being sworn in.
    At least six attorneys were fired, possibly more, including several managing attorneys in the office’s criminal division.
    https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/New-SF-District-Attorney-fires-multiple-14966620.php#:~:text=Newly%20elected%20San%20Francisco%20District%20Attorney%20Chesa%20Boudin,several%20managing%20attorneys%20in%20the%20office’s%20criminal%20division.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      I picked the title because several of the SF media outlets used the “massacre” term as a description of what Boudin did.

        1. Keith Olson

          You didn’t answer my question:

          Did you write an article about Boudin firing multiple prosecutors like you did today regarding Jenkins?

           

        2. Craig Ross

          Actually I think he answered your questions twice, the article was in response to the mainstream media picking the massacre narrative in 2020 but not this time.

  5. David Greenwald Post author

     

    The Chronicle described Chesa’s act in 2020 as a “Friday Night Massacre” referencing the Nixon White House move which seemed inappropriate given everything.  So Brooke fires twice as many and the media made no such reference, hence the title.

  6. Ron Oertel

    I’m guessing that this is the type of thing that the new DA is going to be less-tolerant of.  (Story in the Chronicle, as well.)

    James Spingola, executive director of the Ella Hill Hutch Community Center and a juvenile probation commissioner for the city, was reportedly beaten by two men after he asked them to move away from the center’s front doors, San Francisco NAACP President Rev. Amos Brown said in a press release.

    https://www.gofundme.com/f/in-support-of-james-spingola-aka-uncle-stank?utm_campaign=p_nacp+share-sheet&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_source=customer

    Also – need more security cameras – LOTS more of them, to be used by the police.

    1. Jean-Jacques Surbeck

      Absolutely. I understand the “progressives'” concern for the rights of law-breakers and circumstances that “explain” (sometimes) their misdeeds, but the premise that no matter the severity of the crime, there is always a “reason” that led the criminals (e.g. “out of desperation”) to do what they do is fundamentally flawed as it leaves out of the picture the fundamental factor of personal responsibility (mentally disturbed and drug-addicted are of course a different story requiring different measures). When society removes the burden of personal responsibility for one’s actions, what’s to stop criminals from doing what they do since they are certain there will be no consequences? I hope Jenkins reinstates bail and reduces the minimum value of stolen goods to what it was before to warrant an arrest (if not below: a theft is a theft, no matter what the value of the stolen item(s)). And yes, cameras are needed everywhere, followed by arrest and incarceration of the culprits. That’s what it will take to restore trust in the public and safety in the streets. The criminals must realize that their Boudin-induced free ride is over and the age of personal responsibility is back. You want to break the law, steal, assault, kill? OK, your choice. But you will henceforth face the consequences, i.e. jail time.

  7. Jean-Jacques Surbeck

    That is an outstanding start. Jenkins is no dummy. She knows full well that she would not have been able to do her job the way she wanted with a bunch of people still on staff dedicated to a radically different philosophy than hers. The issue has nothing to do with legal and professional competence and all with very different ideologies. First priority: get rid of all the political commissars brought in by Boudin and who would have sabotaged Jenkins’ marching orders every step of the way. Check. Now the DA’s office will at long last be able to return to its mission, which is to protect the citizens of San Francisco, rich and poor alike, rather than obsess about rationales constructed to excuse every crime in order to protect the perpetrators rather than their victims. That’s why Boudin was recalled, and that’s why his team had to go, too. Now Jenkins and HER team can get to work. Well done.

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