City Attorney nominated for new role / Event set to honor literary legend

It's Monday, April 26th.

Good evening, San Francisco.

Over the weekend, the Chronicle’s Heather Knight published a story that has a lot of people talking. It was about the death of a 7-month-old baby last week and the San Francisco man arrested in connection to that terrible tragedy. 

There’s also a Chesa Boudin angle since the police had arrested the man (26-year-old Joseph Williams) twice this year on suspicion of domestic violence and both times, the District Attorney’s office decided not to press charges. 

For his part, Boudin told the Chronicle that the office had not changed any policies for how it handles domestic violence cases under his watch (which started in early 2020). And in a press release today, Boudin’s office emphasized that it “charges cases even when a complaining witness does not cooperate, so long as the case can be proven otherwise.” 

The numbers are also worth looking into. Knight said that the DA’s office had filed charges in 15% of “felony domestic violence cases” in 2020 and so far in 2021, a rate that had dropped from 20-27% between 2016 and 2019. That’s true. For misdemeanors, though, the DA filed at a slightly higher rate than the year before he took office (38% in 2021 and 36% in 2020 compared to 35% in 2019). 

It’s probably also important to look at the overall filing rate for domestic violence cases (misdemeanors + felonies). Here’s are those numbers for the past four years, provided by the DA’s spokesperson: 

  • 2020 - 22.58% filed (1373 arrests, 310 cases filed) 

  • 2019 - 30.08% filed (1822 arrests, 548 cases filed)

  • 2018 - 32.43% filed (1690 arrests, 548 cases filed)

  • 2017 - 22.44% filed (1738 arrests, 390 cases filed)

Of course, in these debates, we can’t forget the sadness of the person lost—or in this case, the infant. 

“We are so deeply sorry for the family, whose enormous grief we can only imagine,” Boudin said on Monday. “My office has filed murder charges and we will put every resource at our disposal into prosecuting this case.” 

And with that, onto some news… 

On Monday, Mayor London Breed tapped longtime City Attorney Dennis Herrera to become San Francisco's next Public Utilities Commissioner. The job was previously held by Harlan Kelly, who resigned in November after the FBI accused him of accepting bribes. 

What’s most intriguing about the nomination is who takes Herrera’s current role should he become the new utilities chief. That’s because, as Mission Local’s Joe Eskenazi plainly puts it, “The city attorney’s office is engaged in an ongoing probe of city corruption. The next leader of that office will be a mayoral appointee.” 

We’ll be watching this one closely. 

Quick bits: 

  • 💊 The New York Times did a good interview with San Francisco resident Thomas Wolf, who once sold drugs in the Tenderloin and was an addict himself. “What I’m pushing for is an urgency for the city to expand and promote drug treatment for people,” Wolf said. “It’s not enough to just hand out clean needles. We need to take it a step further and get you off the street.” (New York Times

  • 🐻 The man dressed in a bear suit, known as Bearsun, completed his two-week walk from Los Angeles to San Francisco on Saturday. Now, he’s planning a 3-month walk to New York. (SFist / Insider)

  • 🎻 The San Francisco Symphony will resume in-person shows at Davies Hall on May 6. To start, the symphony will only include string instruments because of “more complex” protocols for woodwind and brass players. (Datebook

  • 🥘 A colorful and eclectic-looking Spanish tapas bar named Red Hat has opened in North Beach with pintxos and low-proof cocktails. (Eater

And finally…. 

The Chronicle will commemorate the late Lawrence Ferlinghetti in a one-hour tribute this Wednesday, April 28. The event will include recordings from the legendary San Francisco poet and book store owner, as well as readings from San Francisco’s current poet laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin and several musical performances. Some of Ferlinghetti’s paintings will also be featured, Chronicle reporter Tony Bravo, who will host the event, told me on Monday. 

“Be a part of this event if you want to say the appropriate goodbye to this literary giant and icon of our city,” Bravo said. “It will be a good time that we hope he would have wanted.” 

You can register here for free. It looks like you can stream the event for free on YouTube starting at 5:30 pm on Wednesday. 

That’s all for today! Thanks for reading and we’ll see you here tomorrow.

- Nick B.

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