FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 21, 2019
Supervisors Blast Grassroots Anti-Crime Group for “Trump-like falsehoods”
Stop Crime SF tries to publicize potential foot patrol cuts in police budget that supervisors want to use to pay for more staff and other pet projects
SAN FRANCISCO – Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee accused Stop Crime SF of spreading “Trump-like falsehoods” and “fearmongering” when the advocacy group told its more than 500 members that supervisors were threatening to cut funding for more police foot patrols.
It's budget season and some supervisors are going through the budget looking for funds they can cut and move around to pay for their preferred projects and priorities, which include adding a fourth legislative aide for every supervisor. Each new aide would cost about $150,000 for a total of $1.6 million. The Board of Supervisors increased its staff of legislative aides from two to three in 2012; an increase to four legislative aides would represent a 100 percent increase in just seven years. The supervisors just received a 12 percent pay raise, three times as much as other city employees.
Stop Crime SF asked its members to send letters to the budget committee at City Hall demanding safer streets, not more bureaucrats. The letters mentioned in part:
“Public safety should be a priority when the FBI says San Francisco ranks #1 in property crime among large U.S. cities. Please do not cut the $2.8 million in the police department's budget slated for increased patrols on Market Street and foot beats throughout the city. We need these patrols — especially in areas like Market Street that are littered with heroin needles and have open drug dealing. Our local economy depends on the $10 billion that tourists spend annually in San Francisco. If they don't feel safe, they won't come back. Residents deserve to feel safe, too.”
The deluge of emails didn’t sit well with some supervisors.
Supervisor Yee responded by email personally to Stop Crime SF members, saying “I detest fearmongering and I really dislike the spread of, frankly, Trump-like falsehoods by any organization or individual.” Yee, however, agreed that he would oppose adding another legislative aide.
While speaking at the budget committee hearing on Thursday, June 20, Supervisor Sandra Fewer characterized Stop Crime SF’s focus on the potential elimination of $2.8 million for foot patrols and visibility patrols in Union Square from the budget as “lies” and “misinformation.”
What’s really going on? The Mayor and SFPD identified $2.8 million in savings and they want to spend it on an increase in foot patrols. Another pilot program affected by the proposed cuts would allow retired officers to come back and do visibility patrols in Union Square. Thefts and robberies in Union Square have reached epidemic proportions, while drug dealers face few consequences.
With more than 25,000 car break-ins and 50,000 property crimes annually, the SFPD implemented foot patrols to address robberies, burglaries and thefts — in part because of advocacy by Stop Crime SF. The program has succeeded in reducing these crimes in many neighborhoods, so the police chief suggested building on that success with more patrols.
“Now some supervisors are claiming that taking the $2.8 million savings SFPD identified is not a cut and that the savings should go back into the general fund for their pet projects,” said Stop Crime SF president Frank Noto. “I think anyone would agree that the act of subtracting money from the funding SFPD was planning to spend on foot patrols is indeed a cut of the proposed budget.”
“Stop Crime SF simply shined a light on a budget process the public doesn't get to see,” said Stop Crime SF vice president Joel Engardio. “It is appropriate for our members to send emails to the supervisors’ budget committee and ask them not to cut the funds for more police patrols.”
“It angers residents when supervisors try to take money that could be used for more police patrols and spend it on things like more legislative aides, especially when we have a $12 billion budget that has doubled the past decade and things seem to get worse,” said Engardio. “What an upside down world we have in San Francisco where the residents trying to hold elected officials accountable get blamed for ‘fearmongering’ when residents see and experience an epidemic of property crime on a daily basis.”
“It is disappointing that Supervisor Yee described the efforts of our grassroots citizens group with incendiary language like ‘fear mongering’ and ‘Trump-like falsehoods’,” said Noto. “The irony is not lost on us that the actual Trump playbook is to demonize people who point out things he doesn't like."
Noto is a Democratic activist who volunteers to organize voters to defeat Trump in swing states. Engardio is a former member of the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee. Engardio currently serves on the board of two Democratic clubs in San Francisco: the United Democratic Club and the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club.
Supervisor Yee's staff used similar language against Stop Crime SF before. The group was accused of spreading "rumor" and "fear" when Stop Crime SF pushed supervisors to amend a security camera law in May. Stop Crime SF wanted to ensure police would be able to continue using private security video provided by residents and businesses to solve crimes. Ultimately, supervisors added the amendment after much resistance. Hundreds of San Francisco residents wrote letters asking for the change.
About Stop Crime SF
Stop Crime SF is a grassroots anti-crime group with more than 500 members and eight neighborhood affiliates across San Francisco. Residents work together to reduce and prevent crime in their neighborhoods while holding public officials and the criminal justice system accountable. Stop Crime SF has advocated for policies to help victims and reduce crime. It also runs a Court Watch program.
Copies of Supervisor Yee’s response are available on request. Supervisor Fewer’s comments at the June 20 budget committee hearing are available on SFGovTV.
Contact for Stop Crime SF
Frank Noto, president