adachi.jpgI have no idea why I went to the San Francisco Young Democrats May Meeting last night. I guess I was hoping featured Speaker Jeff Adachi, Public Defender and recent star of Willie Brown’s flawless Sunday column might say or do something scandalous. Either that or wear a form fitting t-shirt.

I attended with my beloved Brock Keeling, the editor of SFist and frequent patron of the meeting’s location, Mr. Smith’s.

“Remind me. How do I get to this place?” I asked.

“It’s on the corner of Piss and Heroin.”

Before heading down to Mr. Smith’s dungeon, we chatted with glowing Supervisor Elsbernd aide and DCCC candidate, Alex Volberding, who informed us that he would be speaking about Muni and the Public Defender would be speaking about pensions.

Pensions? I was hoping for a tirade on shady drug labs and Kamala Harris and how the jails and prisons must be ripped open because the DA’s office is “unethical” and “inexcusable!” Jeff Adachi’s been all over the news lately, and not for his stern stance on pensions. This was going to be a long meeting.

First we had to hear all about the evils of PG&E and its unclean energy. I couldn’t help but stare at the soiled brick walls of Mr. Smith’s basement and think of the pioneering work of Erin Brockovich.

Next up was Democratic candidate for Governor, Peter Schurman, the founding Executive Director of Who doesn’t love I was excited to hear him speak, until he actually started doing so, at which point I started mentally creating personal to-do lists and wondering if anyone was breaking into my car. I’m all for having brilliant, young wonks running everything. But if you’re going to be run for Governor of California, put on a suit and practice a speech.

Mr. MoveOn seemed really ticked off that Jerry Brown’s website was one big bulletin board. is apparently janky, old-fashioned, broken.

I was jolted back to reality when someone asked, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Since there’s no way in hell you will ever beat Jerry Brown, why don’t you go and work on his campaign?”

This is why I love the Young Democrats so much. They truly care and actively listen and are socially awkward enough to have no problem bluntly asking some longshot a pointed, challenging question in front of (two dozen) people.

After Mr. MoveOn made us all give him our email addresses (enjoy,!), Volberding took the floor to “Fix Muni Now.” Brock had discovered the Costco croissandwiches by this point, and was distracting me with his culinary reviews while the rest of the room bitched about buses. If you want to get a room of casual dressed San Franciscans riled up, bring up Muni. You’d think they were trains to hell. One woman, who we came to refer to as Squeaky Fromme, hollered, “Isn’t this called union busting?”

To which the whole room broke into British Parliament-style stomping and grumbling and banging their gold-handled canes on the floor.

Jeff Adachi had arrived by this point, and we stood around waiting for Supervisorial Candidate in District 10, Chris Jackson to show up. It finally occurred to me that we all had to wait for Jackson to show up because he’d be debating Adachi on this whole pension issue.

Oh, a debate! It might not be cocaine and criminals, but it’s something.

Chris Jackson finally rolled in, and the Public Defender went first, with his pitch to cut the enormous burden of employee pensions. The budget is ridiculous, the economy sucks and if we keep going at the current rate, there’ll be no pension fund left anyway.

Chris Jackson was up next, pointing out that the economy sucks because of Lehman Brothers and Citibank and by the way, his mom has a pension.

I give Chris Jackson a hard time, but God bless him, he was up there going toe to toe with seasoned veteran Jeff Adachi. And it was fun to watch, these two gentlemen making their cases. It just went on. And on. And on for fucking ever. Brock had given up and left, and I was standing next to ubiquitous commenter and blogger Generic, who started preemptive applause to just to get us the hell out of there.

I always wonder why I show up at these events, and in fact, a few people asked how I dared to show my face at what I’ve called “nerd conventions” while the rest of you apparently spend your Wednesdays serving organic food at hobo shelters.

While kinda boring and stuffy and inevitably involving someone wearing a weathered, gathered-waist bomber jacket, I secretly love these meetings. There’s something very endearing about folks who care very, very deeply about very specific issues, be them model trains or Magic cards or pensions.

Thanks Young Dems!

Photo of Jeff Adachi: Brock Keeling

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  • Greg Dewar

    I love that you write about these events, I’ve always found them quite entertaining and informed. I once got to speak there and it was great.

    MoveOn by the very nature of its name is old hat. It was started during the Clinton impeachment process.

    nowadays they send out a billion emails begging for money to put on these lame ads they come up with, and they only air them in small markets so no one sees them.

    Shout out to the person who said “why don’t you work for Jerry Brown” – whomever you are you are awesome.

  • generic

    I blame the people who run these meetings more than the speakers. You gotta keep these hacks on a strict time limit.

    You know that little voice inside our heads that says, “Wow, I’m really losing my audience here. Maybe I oughta wrap this up?” Political junkies don’t have that. They’ll go on & on without any regard for attention span (or decency, really).

    That’s right Max Szabo, I’m calling you out. On an Internet comment thread. Where change is made.

  • Paul Currier

    Does anyone know what’s up with the radio silence on Fajitagate II? What’s going on with the whispers that all of the DUI cases, which Kamala Harris DA’s Office prosecuted will have to be tossed? Channel 7 already reported that over 2,000 drug cases were tossed, not the 600 number, which was originally mentioned when first reported.

    What’s up with the SF Appeal NOT asking Jeff Adachi about the status of all the Prison Convictions out of San Francisco County, which by law are now required to be re-opened for new trials? What is the scope of the legal wrongdoing by our City Officials? How great is the monetary legal liability to San Francisco taxpayers in tight times? How will that problem affect pensions?

    Is it true, what the Washington Post or LA Times reported, that Newsom and Harris are both blaming Jerry Brown for not telling Kamala who all the dirty cops are in San Francisco? Why is it Jerry Brown’s problem who’s criminal backgrounds were not divulged to Harris by the SFPD? Does Jeff Adachi think that Gavin is NOT responsible for his oversight of his SFPD? I know Willy Brown’s team came down hard on Terrance Hallinan because Hallinan wanted the background records on all the Cops in Fajitagate I. Terrance indicted a sitting Chief of Police for obstruction of justice. At least Terrance had the balls to try to clean up the problem of criminal conduct over at the SFPD. That was clear, from the full court press Willy Brown did for Kamala in her race against Hallinan. Willy’s hands appear dirty on this one as well. We don’t really know how long this has been going on, but I wager the problem pre-existed Willy Brown’s Administration and he did nothing about it. But, here is the same issue again now in 2010 in Fajitagate II: Cops covering up police records of Police misconduct and police crime from the DA. What makes this stink is the DA’s failure to due her job and disclose her witnesses backgrounds to the Defense Bar (Private and Public) as required by Law. This whole Fajitagate II, just fell off the map. What’s up with that?

    I read that Chief Gascon informed Harris of her and San Francisco County’s liability on this whole mess and what the possible consequences would be, back in September of 2009. Did the Chief also report the problem to Mayor Newsom, as Newsom was the Chief’s boss in the chain of command? The new Chief’s apparent delivery of fresh air in a politically stagnant environment was apparently met with a quiet official closure of the windows. I also read that Assistant District Attorney Sharon Woo had also complained to DA Harris, or some other “Superior” in Harris’s Administration, about this problem in the District Attorney’s Office (non-compliance with the law) back in November of 2009. I also read that Kamala stated recently, that she was not aware of the problem until just this last March of 2010. Kamala Harris’s public statement to the press does not square with the dates provided by the Chief of Police and the top Assistant DA, as reported in the media. All this information is in the articles I found on Google. Maybe the reporters from the press lied?

    How long have cops been stealing drug evidence in San Francisco? Is the Pope Catholic? This is part of the color of the town. San Francisco has a reputation, that some people have been keeping up well! Yet, for our District Attorney not to know? Really? We live in a place where well over half our Judges have inhaled, and still issue the criminal sentences to those less fortunate for having been caught. To quote Barack Obama “I thought that was the whole point”. Me? I did too. So? The point to me is not about the Drug Scandal. My call is to End the Prohibition. I do not support Nixon’s War on Drugs. The failed War on Drugs has bankrupted California. But that is not the topic here. The point here is that the San Francisco Officials did not deliver due process of law to the people they charged with crimes. Police arrest and charge people with violations of law. Then those alleged criminals were Prosecuted by the DA in San Francisco. Normal. Failure of the SFPD to disclose and deliver their criminal backgrounds of the arresting officers or police witnesses to the DA is not legal. That too, is breaking the law. The failure of the DA to disclose to Defense Counsel in legal discovery, any criminal backgrounds of arresting officers or police witnesses is a breach of legal ethics, and grounds for serious sanctions or worse from the California State Bar. No one is being irresponsible with this or playing politics with public safety. I want to know what happened. How many Cops with criminal records did testify at criminal trials against others? At how many trials? In how many cases? For how may years under Harris’s Administration? How many cases are really involved where the Defense Bar was denied legal discovery? What is the scope of this Fajitagate II? Since one dirty cop cost the City and County the dismissal of 2,000 drug cases, and now thousands more Drunk Driving convictions, what is the effect of the other 80 cops who’s backgrounds were with held from the DA and Defense Counsel? How many thousands of people are there now, who sit in State Prison now, who have a right to a fair trial and have a right, right now, to bail hearings and release pending a new and real fair trial? Wrongful Conviction and wholesale violation of peoples civil rights matters to me. It should matter to everyone. Is it that people do not care? Do people not care because they are not the individuals who now sit in prison, who were denied their day in court?

    I hold Gavin Newsom responsible at the heart of this matter, whether he like’s it or not. The SFPD was his responsibility. His personal problems, which I hope he has success with, do not mean that he did not have a duty to San Francisco to make sure his Police Department operated within the boundaries of required police and prosecutorial relationship ordered back in 1963. It was Gavin’s police who knowingly secreted their criminal backgrounds from DA Kamala Harris. It was Kamala Harris’s District Attorney’s Office who then failed to deliver legal discovery to the San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, as required by law. Who knows how many Private Defense Counsel were also denied legal discovery by the San Francisco District Attorney. No one in the medial has mentioned all the Private Criminal Defense Counsel who were also denied legal discovery by the DA. That would have been a good question for Jeff Adachi by the SF Appeal. My understanding of Legal Ethics is that each member of the Defense Bar owes duty to all their clients to deliver competent legal representation before the bench. Incompetent Defense Counsel is a violation of 6th Amendment Rights, and is a cause of action for relief in any criminal prosecution. The DA either knew of her legal liability and her job to deliver legal discovery or Jeff Adachi was correct in claiming gross malfeasance and incompetence by District Attorney Harris.

    I just find it so typical, that when real people are in real prison, when they have real rights to bail, pending new real trials, that the town goes silent. In San Francisco being for social, economic, and legal justice used to be popular. Is the sound of silence because the Mayor wants to be the Lieutenant Governor of California? Is the sound of silence because the District Attorney wants to be the California Attorney General? What about the guy who was supposed to have done the background checks on the SFPD, who is now over at the California State Department of Justice as our Attorney General? Is the sound of silence because Jerry Brown wants to be Governor? I find this situation highly irresponsible and genuinely playing serious politics with real public safety and real civil rights. Or is this all supposed to be kept quiet while the party goes on with the President up at the Getty Mansion? I ask these questions now to everyone. What is in the best interests of the People of California, our State Democratic Party, and those of us who are citizens of the City and County of San Francisco. I am running for a seat on the San Francisco DCCC in AD13 because I remember when integrity was not negotiable in the Democratic Party. When FDR was President, people like Elliot Ness charged people for this kind of conduct. Hoover charged Prescott Bush (the Bush family patrarch) for trading with Hitler. I remember JP Getty being charged also, for operating hotels that were bee hives of Nazi spies. But FDR was a real Democrat. I remember JFK and his Attorney General Bobby Kennedy. RFK prosecuted civil rights violations against County and State Officials who neglected peoples rights.

    This Fajitagate II Scandal may float past the sleepy eyes of the voters in San Francisco, but I doubt this is going to sell the “integrity of the Democratic Party” to the California Voters in the Bay Area, the Central Valley, and all of the Southland. This is not some “I did not have sex with that woman” type of scandal. This is about the wholesale denial of due process of law and the gross civil rights violations of thousands of people who were each denied their right to a fair trial. We have a problem Houston. Tick tock tick tock.

  • generic

    Like I said, political junkies: no regard for attention span.

  • be_devine

    Isn’t there some rule that a comment can’t be longer than the article. Or at least that it has to be somewhat related thereto?

  • Brock Keeling

    Interesting points, sir.

    Also, do you chop or smoke it?