People Outside San Francisco Care More About the Boudin Recall Than Residents

A bunch of media outlets are blabbering about the Chesa Boudin recall and what it means for San Francisco. I run into references in online interactions with people from outside the city… sigh.

San Francisco residents care so much about Boudin that we had a lower-than-normal voter turnout. Despite a governor race AND a US Senator race on the ballot (to be fair, everyone knew who was going to win those elections). The election we had earlier this year, which was basically just the recall for three school board members, had a higher turnout, lol.

For what it’s worth, I voted no on the recall, not because I support Boudin (I didn’t vote for him in the first place, and I’m not sorry to see him go) but because I dislike the recall campaign. The claims that this will drastically lower crime rates in San Francisco are bogus. Property crime was common in San Francisco before Boudin came into office, and the causes for our high property crime rate aren’t going away when he leaves office. He’s a scapegoat.

So much of this—especially for people who don’t live in city limits—is about image. Visible homelessness disturbs people, not because of compassion, but because they don’t want to see it. If the homeless people were invisible, they wouldn’t mind. Personally, I’m more concerned about home break-ins than homeless people being conspicuous.

The recall effort had a big, well-funded media campaign, and a certain political faction in San Francisco mounted a visible response in defense of Boudin. However, for most residents it’s far from the most interesting political issue. We care more about the school board since it has a more direct impact on everyday life.

Another political issue which I, at least, care more about than Boudin is the redistricting. That will affect San Francisco politics far more in the long run. But nobody outside the city cares about that, nor should they.

I hope the new proposition to reform the Department of Building Inspection reduces corruption (it won’t eliminate corruption, I can’t imagine San Francisco having a non-corrupt DBI). Getting permits in San Francisco is ridiculous. Investigative journalists in the past year or so have dug up evidence that the DBI allows developers with deep pockets to violate earthquake safety rules. But it doesn’t make for sensational headlines for people outside earthquake zones. Heck, even people in earthquake country don’t argue about whether it’s okay for building inspectors to accept bribes to let developer endanger people during a future earthquake. (There’s nothing to argue about: if you’re not making money from it, you’re opposed). The conversation around the Boudin recall presses far more hot buttons. But, despite the lack of chatter, many San Francisco residents care about not dying in earthquakes. If this reform of the Department of Building Inspection reduces corruption, it will save lives.

Perhaps certain people hyped up the Boudin recall campaign because they want to divert the public’s attention from… other things.

A long time ago, my mother said ‘if San Francisco were to have only one government department, it should be the fire department. The fire department does far more to protect us than the police.’ I agree, even today. The San Francisco Police Department isn’t effective at stopping crime (partially for reasons beyond their control, but ineffective nonetheless). Though homeless people camping in the street inspire more fear, improperly managed buildings have historically been more deadly.

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