Commentary: Quentin L. Kopp

A Raft of Recalls

By: Quentin L. Kopp

In a 1958 book about Sir Winston Churchill, the author described a woman who gushed to Churchill: “Doesn’t it thrill you, Mr. Churchill, to know that every time you make a speech the hall is packed to overflowing?” 

“It is quite flattering,” Mr. Churchill replied, “but whenever I feel your way, I always remember that if instead of making a political speech I was being hanged, the crowd would be twice as big.”

District Attorney Chesa Boudin won’t be hanged, but the prospective recall of this criminal defense lawyer in sheep’s clothing continues to attract voters signing recall petitions. Approximately 57,000 signatures have been obtained by citizens. The deadline for 51,500 legally required ballot voter signatures is Oct. 25, 2021. Recall sponsors, San Franciscans for Public Safety, who also welcome campaign contributions at 393 Seventh Ave., Room 301, San Francisco 94118, plan to collect 70,000 voter signatures to ensure success. 

Meanwhile, the ineffective district attorney who wouldn’t prosecute the woman and her husband charged with battery, malicious mischief, vandalism to property and terrorist threat June 26, while a recall campaigner was securing voter signatures at West Portal Avenue near Vicente Street, haven’t been prosecuted in San Francisco Superior Court, shirking responsibility, he referred the citations to California Attorney General Rob Bonta. 

Most Californians don’t realize the attorney general’s office rarely prosecutes accused law breakers in Superior Court. The attorney general represents the People of California in appeals from Superior Court verdicts in criminal cases. Maybe that’s why we’ve heard nothing about Bonta filing a criminal action against the undemocratic perpetrators.

Another recall of three senseless Board of Education members also proceeds successfully. Nearly 70,000 signatures have been recorded for recalling Alison Collins, Gabriela Lopez and Faauuga Moliga. As with Boudin, about 51,500 valid voter petition signers are needed with a Sept. 7, 2021 (The other four Board of Education members can’t legally be recalled until next year). After resolving to change the names of 44 public schools for politically incorrect lives (Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and others) and suffering a Superior Court decision predicated on disobeying California’s 70-year old Open Meeting Act, the miscreants now face a court order for payment of attorneys’ fees and court costs plus an April suit by the Lowell Alumni Association to repeal another violation of the Open Meeting Act in which this Board abolished Lowell High School admission based upon middle school grades in favor of a lottery. That case will be heard this month.

Although the next municipal election isn’t until June 7, 2022, state election law provides for a special election for the San Francisco Assembly seat held by David Chiu who is slated for mayoral appointment as City Attorney after incumbent Dennis Herrera becomes general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to replace Harlan Kelly, now awaiting trial in U.S. District Court by the U.S. Attorney for City Hall corruption. That array of City Hall “musical chairs” will probably occur after the California Legislature adjourns on Sept. 10, 2021. 

Chiu, understandably, wants to finish this legislative session. Once Chiu resigns, state law requires a special election for his successor, meaning late November or early December 2021 for the primary and February 2022 for the general election. In that case, it makes taxpayers sense for the Boudin and Board of Education recalls to occur.  

Another example of Boudin’s imperviousness to City Hall corruption occurred Aug. 20, 2021 when the U.S. Attorney filed wire fraud charges against former San Francisco building inspector Bernie Curran and former City commissioner Rodrigo Santos who already had been indicted last July. Boudin’s current office budget is about $80 million, 8.6% over his prior budget with 278 full time positions representing 11 more than last year. The aforementioned Santos was a permit “expediter,” a City Hall “insider” to get developers permits and, naturally, was appointed by Mayor Willie Brown to the Building Inspection Commission in 2000 and to the City College Board of Trustees by the late Ed Lee in 2012. If not for the U.S. Attorney on Golden Gate Avenue, corruption would be even more contagious in Civic Center. 

At least one neighborhood semi-victory occurred last month with Mayor London Breed ordering the Great Highway reopened on weekdays to motorists after closure for almost 18 months which generated traffic congestion on adjacent avenues. Leave it to nonprofit organizations Walk San Francisco and San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, whose members logically don’t drive automobiles and, therefore, don’t pay gasoline taxes, revenue from which the Great Highway was built and is maintained, to claim “super” shock. But beware Great Highway users:  the San Francisco County Transportation Authority is evaluating five options, including permanent automobile prohibition, for presentation to the Board of Supervisors in November. Meanwhile, motoring gasoline taxpayers still can’t use the Great Highway on weekends.

Finally, be sure to vote by Sept. 14 on the gubernatorial recall election. This “fearless spectato,” to borrow the Chronicle’s late columnist Charles McCabe’s self-description, predicts the governor will prevail narrowly because of California political party imbalance. After that, look for a new California political party to arise. And urge state legislators to defeat Scott Weiner’s Senate Bills 9 and 10, which would destroy single family housing neighborhoods in San Francisco and elsewhere and abolish local control.  

A mugging victim who carried no money on him asked his mugger: “Can I give you a check?” The criminal replied: “Think I’m stupid?  I don’t even know you!”  Thanks to The New York Post Cindy Adams for that yuck. Remember Mark Twain who recounted: “So I became a newspaperman. I hated to do it but I couldn’t find honest employment.”

Quentin Kopp is a former San Francisco supervisor, state senator, member of the SF Ethics Commission and retired judge. Find an archive of Quentin L. Kopp’s columns at

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