San Francisco has recently gotten overdue censure for being the nation's biggest psych ward masquerading as a city, showing what happens when left-wing border anarchists are allowed to run a major metropolis.
The event which dismayed even the mainstream media: an expensive city program that protected illegal alien Honduran crack dealers claiming to be juveniles from federal authorities. Around the same time, a horrific triple murder caused a Supervisor to assess the city's gang violence as "out of control." The common thread of such wild lawlessness is immigration permissiveness and how San Francisco has taken it to new excess.
The news that the city had, as a matter of policy, hidden foreign drug-dealing criminals away from deportation by federal immigration authorities elicited anger and outrage locally and around the U.S. When eight of the convicted Honduran "youth" were ensconced at taxpayer expense in an open-door San Bernardino County group home, they simply walked out at will. What a surprise. San Bernardino County officials are furious that they were used without notice as a dumping ground and have demanded San Francisco turn over all records surrounding the case.
Just a couple weeks earlier, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom had been enjoying a wave of local popularity as same-sex marriage became legal in the state following a court decision on the issue that Newsom championed for years. He became a gay hero in 2004 when he ordered the city to begin issuing marriage licenses and opened City Hall for gay weddings with loud local fanfare and in defiance of California law of the time.
Then the wheels started coming off the liberal limousine that Newsom imagined would transport him to higher office. The crack dealer story broke just as the greasy-haired mayor launched his exploratory committee to run for governor—and soon after the brutal triple murder had shocked the city.
On June 22, a San Francisco father and his two sons were shot down in cold blood over a minor traffic altercation by a previously-arrested MS-13 gangster. Those murdered: Tony Bologna, 49, Michael, 20, and Matthew, 16.
Danielle Bologna, the grieving wife and mother pleaded for the death penalty for the killer with District Attorney Kamala Harris, [Send her mail] who was elected despite her pledge never to seek the death penalty. The bad news for the Bologna family: Harris did not pursue execution for a cop killer in 2004, so it's unlikely she will change now.
An apprehension was made several days later. The lawyer of the arrested shooter Edwin Ramos spun the tale that the accused was a legal immigrant. But authorities soon disproved that fiction. In fact, Ramos is an illegal Salvadoran, a known member of Mara Salvatrucha (AKA MS-13), who had been arrested in March:
"Ramos was also booked on felony weapons charges and as well as a separate count of being in a criminal street gang. Police cited 'numerous documented contacts' that officers had with Ramos and Lopez, and said both were 'active members of the MS-13 street gang.'" [Triple-killing suspect escaped prior S.F. prosecution, By Jaxon Van Derbeken, San Francisco Chronicle, June 27, 2008]
And since San Francisco is a sanctuary city, Ramos had not been deported, but was released to do more crime.
So when news came out a few days later that the city was actually squandering serious taxpayer funds (specifically $2.3 million for housing illegal alien youth since 2005) to shield unlawful foreign crack dealers from the feds, public outrage was intense.
The audacity of spending the people's money to engage in illegal protection of criminals went over the line for most in the city, and particularly when an illegal alien had just committed a terrible triple murder. (In addition, the mayor had threatened in June to lay off hundreds of city workers because of hundreds of millions of dollars in red ink.)
Gavin Newsom apparently thought he could slime through the latest scandal, as he had done so often before (e.g. his treatment for drinking after embarrassing episodes of drunkenness and bonking the wife of his deputy chief of staff). Can you say "Out of touch?"
At his weekly advisors meeting, some wanted continued "compassion" for the long-suffering crack dealers, but prudence prevailed, because of politics and polling. As one meeting attendee observed, "Not only for someone running for governor... even here in San Francisco, it was a 80-20 loser." [Matier & Ross column, San Francisco Chronicle, July 7, 2008
A local CBS poll released July 1 revealed 79 percent of respondents agreed that San Francisco should "turn over convicted illegal immigrants for deportation".
As a result of overwhelming public opposition to Newsom's extreme sanctuary policy, he reversed his passionately held beliefs of conscience from a day before:
On July 2, he blamed everyone but himself for being in a hole and claimed to be powerless in the situation: Illegals Called Court's Problem [By Jaxon Van Derbeken and Maria Lagos, San Francisco Chronicle]
"I don't have the authority here," Newsom said at a City Hall news conference as he stood beside his handpicked juvenile probation director, William Siffermann. "I have a bully pulpit. The courts have the authority here."
Interestingly, in 2007 he had used that same bully pulpit to reinforce the sanctuary city ordinance enacted in 1989: Newsom pledges to make SF a sanctuary for illegal immigrants [by Peter Fimrite, San Francisco Chronicle, June 22, 2007].
"I will not allow any of my department heads or anyone associated with this city to cooperate in any way shape or form with these raids," Newsom declared. "We are a sanctuary city, make no mistake about it."
But when he saw the tough poll numbers—and his plans for a brilliant political future quickly turning into dust—he dropped his identity as friend of foreign criminals like a salmonella jalapeno. Talk about a flip-flop! [S.F. mayor shifts policy on illegal offenders, By Jaxon Van Derbeken, San Francisco Chronicle, July 3, 2008]
"San Francisco will shift course and start turning over juvenile illegal immigrants convicted of felonies to federal authorities for possible deportation, Mayor Gavin Newsom said Wednesday as he took the blame for what he conceded was a costly and misguided effort to shield the youths…
"'All I can say is, I can't explain away the past,' Newsom said. 'I take responsibility, I take it. We are moving in a different direction.'"
The mishandling of dangerous criminals follows a series of minor embarrassments and policy gaffes that add to the picture of San Francisco as a hopelessly loony sort of place, where there is too much diversity ideology and not enough common sense:
In April, Mayor Newsom announced a publicity campaign costing $83,000 of the people's money to encourage illegal aliens to use taxpayer-funded city services, even as the budget deficit was projected to be $338 million.
Chief of Police Heather Fong admitted in June that she had not maintained her gun proficiency, a requirement of all police that they qualify at marksmanship every six months at the department's gun range. Apparently not enforcing immigration laws kept her too busy to fulfill a Chief's duties.
In an indication of San Francisco's hatred of all things even slightly military, the Board of Education voted in 2006 to ban the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) from local schools, despite the program's wide popularity with parents and students.
These aberrations are symptoms of a bad case of multicultural psychosis taken root in a once-great city.
Furthermore, there are many aspects to the crack dealer case that can cause a normal brain to throb in pain. One is how otherwise rational characters claim to be amazed that sanctuary statutes can be abused to such a degree. Former San Jose Police Chief of Police Joe McNamara remarked, "It's just incredible to think they were spending all that money to help criminals evade being deported." [Immigrant sanctuary laws seen as practical. By Tyche Hendricks, San Francisco Chronicle, July 6, 2008]
What does McNamara think has been going on in Los Angeles for these many years? LA does not hand out free airline tickets home, but Special Order 40, its own version of sanctuary, has been directly responsible for releasing dangerous criminals onto the street who have then committed an array of violent crimes, most recently the murder of young Jamiel Shaw.
Illegal alien gangsters are a protected class in the way that police are permitted to deal with them. And Los Angeles has wasted plenty of money on useless social programs meant to deter gang activity.
But Joseph Russoniello, United States Attorney for California's northern district, didn't accept Gavin Newsom's press conference excuses for a minute.
"Russoniello wasn't buying it Tuesday, calling Newsom's explanation 'all contrivance.'
"'They have said all along that it was the sanctuary policy that mandated they shield these people from ICE,' he said. 'It's only because it's so preposterous that the sanctuary law would shield drug dealers that they've now come up with this alibi.' [Young illegal immigrants lose their San Francisco sanctuary, By Maria L. LaGanga, David Kelly and Anna Gorman, LA Times, July 2, 2008]
In addition, the spectacular city by the bay is shooting itself in the foot by its self-destructive politics, which have made it a far more dangerous place to live in or visit.
San Francisco depends on tourism as its #1 industry: it employs over 72,000 people and brought more than $8 billion last year.
Yet San Francisco politicians routinely offend the traditional values of its American visitors, for example when the Board of Supervisors voted in 2005 against berthing the WWII battleship Iowa out of anti-military venom. While discussing the issue on the Hannity and Colmes show, Supervisor Geraldo Sandoval remarked: "The United States should not have a military". (Even liberal Alan Colmes was stunned at that idea.)
The city's smug elite believe they can insult patriotic Americans at will without affecting tourist dollars. And so far, that supposition has been true. Tourist spending in 2007 was an all-time high and an increase of 6.2 percent over the previous year.
But if potential tourists begin to worry about safety issues, the number of visitors might well fall precipitously.
A local news story reporting the Bologna triple murder included an enlightening quote from Supervisor Geraldo Sandoval:
"The gang problem right now in San Francisco in the Mission, in the outer Mission, is really out of control, they are shooting each other, they are armed to the teeth, they are ready at a split moment to start firing."
It's a clip the Chamber of Commerce would probably prefer the public not see—along with the city's dense homicide map and the FBI list of San Francisco Featured Fugitives, which was a diverse assemblage at last viewing.
San Francisco is holding a tiger by the tail. Its politics dictate continued leftist adherence to permissiveness regarding immigration enforcement, but the increased violent crime that follows foreign gangsters dealing drugs is getting more difficult to overlook and could easily damage the city's vital tourist industry.
Is San Francisco approaching that tipping point now?
Brenda Walker (email her) lives in Northern California and publishes two websites, LimitsToGrowth.org and ImmigrationsHumanCost.org. She regrets the passing of the old San Francisco as much as anyone, and thinks it has gone from genuinely eccentric in an interesting way to plain bad crazy.