Lee Heidhues 11.17.2021
If Pacific Heights Supervisor Catherine Stefani really cares about the state of Justice in San Francisco she would work constructively with District Attorney Chesa Boudin to make sure his office receives adequete funding.
Supervisor Stefani has been going after DA Chesa Boudin since the day he assumed office on January 8, 2020. As the blog post reprinted below clearly shows Stefani leaves no political stone unturned. A year ago she scolded the DA for not living within his budget, even though it is common knowledge in City Hall the DA is historically underfunded.
Most recently, Stefani is using television news reporting to push legislation to force the District Attorney’s office and the Police Department to provide the public with quarterly reports that include never before-released details about how the city prosecutes domestic violence offenders and how often.
“The requested statistics outlined in the ordinance overlook the wide array of victim services and advocacy that my office provides to survivors of domestic violence, irrespective of whether a criminal case is being pursued,” Boudin wrote. “These services include but are not limited to, assistance applying for civil protective orders, crisis support services and counseling, guidance to navigate the criminal justice system, referrals to local resources and services, support at court hearings, and a wide variety of both short term and ongoing support.”
During the hearing, Stefani brushed aside the the District Attorney’s remarks.
Just today Stefani got herself splashed all over page one of The San Francisco Chronicle with her proposed ballot measure to create The Office of Victim and Witness Rights, envisioned as a one-stop shop outside of law enforcement where survivors can go to navigate a currently complicated system.
When asked whether the ballot initiative was motivated by dissatisfaction with the district attorney’s victim services, Stefani told The Chronicle her criticism of Boudin was “no secret,” but pointed to a larger problem.
“Many victims of crime aren’t even served through the D.A.’s office, because either the crime isn’t reported or no arrest is made or no charge is filed,” Stefani said. “This will be a place where all victims of crimes can go … and to bring together a myriad of different victim services in the city.”
Stefani knows her proposed office will not be able to make arrests. Stefani knows this office will not be able to charge those arrested. Her entire proposal is just a crass political publicity stunt to squeeze the District Attorney as the June 7, 2022 recall approaches.
BLOG POST – ORIGINALLY POSTED NOVEMBER 13, 2020
San Francisco Supervisor Catherine Stefani representing the toney Pacific Heights neighborhood tells DA Chesa Boudin to deal with it.
His office, overwhelmed in its case load, particularly in a year of increasing domestic abuse during the pandemic is getting short shrift. Supervisor Stefani, herself a one time Assistant District Attorney in a neighboring county, told the DA to “budget within his means to deliver public safety for all San Franciscans.” Stefani knows, absent adequate funding, it’s an impossible task.
If DA Boudin does not prosecute crime he will be pilloried for neglecting the citizenry. It takes money and personnel to do the job. Stefani knows this all too well.
Stefani’s comments are just typical San Francisco political posturing.
San Francisco Chronicle 11.13.2020
San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin said his office is inadequately funded and unable to fully staff units that investigate homicides and domestic violence cases — a situation, he said, that has reached a “tipping point.”
In an Oct. 29 letter, Boudin told Mayor London Breed and the Board of Supervisors that his office is understaffed and overwhelmed by their caseloads. In the General Felonies Unit, for example, Boudin said his staff is handling between 185 and 229 cases a year, far more than the national standard of 150.
Boudin said the lack of adequate staffing impedes his office’s “ability to provide constitutionally required services.”
The letter came shortly after the city closed a massive, $1.5 billion budget deficit largely caused by the pandemic, and a few weeks before City Hall learned they had another $116 million deficit to contend with. As many departments faced budget cuts this year, the District Attorney’s Office received a slight increase in its budget from $73.59 million to $73.72 million.
Despite the slight increase, Boudin said his office has still been strained amid the pandemic as “COVID-19 has impacted staffing capacity due to illness, family leave and court closures” that have caused delays in processing court cases. He added that the department’s staffing issues existed long before he took over in January.
Additionally, he said, the short-staffed Domestic Violence Unit has seen a 60% increase in demand for services related to children witnessing domestic violence during the pandemic. The issues have also been “aggravated” by the need to investigate alleged misconduct of a forensic laboratory analyst from the Office of Chief Medical Examiner.
Supervisor Catherine Stefani, the most fiscally conservative member of the board, said Boudin should “be budgeting within his means to deliver public safety for all San Franciscans.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, Breed placed a hiring freeze on vacant city positions in an attempt to stave off layoffs and service cuts. Any department that wanted to fill a vacancy had to convince the mayor and board that such a position was essential. The District Attorney’s Office was allowed to hire four of the eight positions they requested, but David Campos, Boudin’s chief of staff, said that was not enough.
“People have to understand that this is serious and we all have obligations and responsibilities,” he said. “But we need the resources.”