Lee Heidhues 9.23.2022
Now this is serious political reporting with an edge.
Something you don’t normally see in San Francisco where everyone tries to be nice while they are stabbing you in the back.
It’s must reading for all who are concerned about how Mayor London Breed expects total loyalty from her political appointees and the consequences for failure to toe the line.
Excerpted from San Francisco Standard 9.23.2022
The Fate of the Police Chief
Police Commissioner Max Carter-Oberstone said the mayor indicated to him on two occasions that she was considering making a leadership change at SFPD.
Carter-Oberstone said the mayor initially raised the issue in an April 19 meeting when he joined Breed to discuss his reappointment. He was in the process of finishing out the tail end of his predecessor’s term.
When the mayor first told him she needed his support to change leadership at the department, he interpreted that to mean that he should not back a vote by the Police Commission to fire the chief without checking in with her office.
But Carter-Oberstone said the mayor corrected him.
“No, no, that’s not what I’m saying,” Breed said, according to Carter-Oberstone. “I’m saying I might need to remove the chief—and if that happens, I’m going to need your help in doing that.”
The issue came up again last Wednesday when Carter-Oberstone called the Mayor’s Office to let them know he was supporting Cindy Elias as Police Commission president, he said.
First Sean Elsbernd, the mayor’s chief of staff, brought it up and said electing Elias would obstruct their plans, according to Carter-Oberstone.
Then the mayor herself called, he said.
“She was very upset,” Carter-Oberstone said. “The first thing she went to was that she had told me that she would need my help to change leadership at the department and how this would not be possible with Cindy in place.”
When Breed asked him to not support Elias, Carter-Oberstone says he declined.
That conversation apparently spurred Breed to blast Carter-Oberstone at a Chinese press event later in the week, where she also accused the commission of focusing on reform at the expense of public safety.
That message troubled Carter-Oberstone.
“The mayor is pushing this narrative: we can either protect the Asian community from hate-based crime or we can do police reform,” he told The Standard. “Those things are not in tension.”
Jeff Cretan, Breed’s spokesperson, confirmed that both Breed and Elsbernd raised the issue of SFPD leadership with Carter-Oberstone.
But Cretan said the mayor is not considering firing Scott.
“What they both said was that if they ever did need to make a leadership change, which of course can happen, they would need his help,” Cretan said. “But again, that’s not under consideration.”
Top photo – The Mayor with a smiling (for now) SFPD Chief Bill Scott.