BY PAT MURPHY
Sentinel Editor & Publisher
Copyright © 2008
911 already had been called, bystanders waved off.
Waved off passersby yesterday from a Leavenwoth Street attempted robbery turned fist fight, as combatants wrestled into onlookers.
The spectacle occurred two hours before San Francisco Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval drew Excelsior District leaders and media contingent to a neighborhood shoe store with a fresh bullet hole in its streetside window.
A spike in Excelsior murders had frightened Sandoval constituents.
“We’re jumping out of our skins every time we hear a car backfire,” Mary Harris said, president of the Excelsior’s District 11 Council.
“Gunfire has become commonplace in the Excelsior, in our neighborhoods.”
A local businessman echoed consternation.
Jeff Rocca, a longtime resident whose business office was recently robbed at gunpoint, said he wishes there were more foot patrols.
“I like all our police up and down here, but we don’t seem to be getting a response from the brass,” said Jeff Rocca.
The ‘brass’ meant Police Chief Heather Fong, who was supposed to attend this event but arrived 30 minutes after the press conference to pass out fliers.
“Obviously, she must have something more important to do than listen to our community,” said Rocca.
Fong reportedly found it more important to attend the funeral of a retired police lieutenant.
Her decision points up parochial interests — and political self-interest — eclipsing San Francisco public safety.
Chief Fong bristled at the criticism that she wasn’t doing enough for the Excelsior.
“I am committed to this community just as all the officers in our department are,” said Chief Fong.
And Police Captain Denis O’Leary had announced at Sandoval’s side an increase in beat officers patrolling Mission Street and gang task force presence in the area.
Even so, rank and file police officers shy from pro-active arrests for fear of lawsuits, the San Francisco Police Officers Association has made it clear.
Hours after Fong reiterated her commitment another murder occurred two blocks from San Francisco City Hall.
Fong’s priority for a retired officer’s funeral above solidarity with San Franciscan fear and reality of taking stray hot lead in the belly exemplifies parochial disservice to the City.
Crowning disservice to San Francisco came from Mayor Gavin Newsom’s press office chieftain Nathan Ballard.
“No sooner did Sandoval schedule his news conference than the mayor’s media office began to chip away at Sandoval for, among other things, making statements on crime issues while he’s running for Superior Court judge,” reported the Chronicle’s C.W. Nevius.
“That’s a violation of the judges’ canon of ethics, the mayor’s spokesman said.”
Despite Ballard’s bush league deflection attempt, Sandoval is not now a judge but rather the elected Excelsior District representative.
Ballard reacted to Fong’s press conference absence.
“She never agreed to attend,” Ballard blurted to the Sentinel.
Sandoval responds that Fong and Sandoval met in person three times last week and that Fong face-to-face told Sandoval she would attend the news conference.
Ballard quickly pomped it that Fong’s independent agenda included Fong leafleting the Excelsior that afternoon.
Perhaps Fong’s allegiance to her troops took her to an unforeseen funeral — or perhaps Newsom ancillaries prevailed on Fong to sidestep indelicate reality.
The streets of San Francisco are vile and murderous.
See Related: CRIME
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