A car bomb threat was reported at about 1:15 PM on Friday by the San Francisco Police Department at City Hall, but the only person evacuated from the building was Mayor Ed Lee.
The timing of the announcement was more than a little suspicious since Mayor Lee was ten minutes into a grilling under oath by lawyer Shepard Kopp at an Ethics Commission hearing on the fourth floor. It concerned the mayor's precipitous suspension of Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi from his newly elected post on account of Mirkarimi's unbecoming conduct during a fight with his wife, Eliana Lopez.
There were also perjury allegations leveled at the Mayor's testimony according to a well-done article at Fog City Journal by Luke Thomas (click here):
“Mayor Lee, before you decided to file written charges of misconduct here, did you talk to any Board of Supervisors about whether or not you should do so?” Mirkarimi defense counsel Shepard Kopp asked Lee.
“I did not,” Lee responded.
But according Building Inspection Commissioner Debra Walker, an ally of Mirkarimi and friend of Lee-appointed District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague, Lee sought Olague’s opinion in March as to what she thought he should do about Mirkarimi before moving to suspend him.
It is not even certain that Mayor Lee actually left the building since he was seen going directly to his second floor City Hall office and locking the door, and did not appear in public for at least another ninety minutes. Just outside the mayor's office doorway, on the second floor rotunda balcony, a fairly large wedding ceremony was taking place, though none of the participants were told there was a bomb threat at their nuptials.
I had wandered into City Hall at about 2:30 PM to take a few photos of spectators watching the hearing on TV monitors in one of the overflow rooms, but as you can see in the photos at top, the North Light Court was empty except for a few European tourists, who also knew nothing about a bomb threat.
Neither did any of the spectators in the half-full, fourth-floor hearing room where the Ethics Commission hearing had been taking place before the supposed bomb threat. I asked an intern from the Mayor's Office what had happened, and he said that Lee's testimony had been taking place for about ten minutes, when suddenly Commission President Benjamin Hur announced an emergency adjournment. "Was there any explanation?" I asked, and everyone around me shook their heads. Almost on cue, the doors burst open, and the lawyers along with Mayor Lee and his bodyguards came marching through. Hur announced that there had been a "security threat," and the hearing continued with Mayor Ed Lee being questioned by Kopp.
Mayor Lee's answers to every question, which tended to be not much longer than "Yes" or "No" or his favorite "I don't recall," were usually preceded by about thirty seconds of uncomfortable silence as Lee worked out something in his brain. He came across as ashen and halting, even when his own lawyer Sherri Kaiser fed him a host of leading questions.
San Francisco Chronicle political attack dog and gossip columnist Phil Matier (above right) poked his head into the hearing room for about 15 minutes, then left. Since he's been distributing the official and unofficial public smears against Mirkarimi since day one in his newspaper columns, it seemed doubtful that he'd be writing about this episode in his Sunday Matier and Ross column, and he did not.
There was an article on SFGate on Saturday by Rachel Gordon and John Cote (click here) where the bomb threat is buried in the article with this paragraph:
"Adding to the drama of the unprecedented hearing, it was abruptly halted in the middle of pointed questioning of the mayor by Shepard Kopp, one of the sheriff's attorneys. Police later said there had been a bomb threat, which proved unsubstantiated, and the hearing restarted after a roughly hour-and-a-half delay."I particularly love the use of the word "unsubstantiated" which covers a world of possible meanings. On Monday morning, incidentally, there was no follow-up of any sort on SFGate, maybe because the hearing didn't follow the accepted official narrative of Noble Lee vs. Evil Mirkarimi.
Lee's testimony was followed by one of Lee's "expert witnesses," San Diego Chief of Police William Landsdowne (above), who has proclaimed Mirkarimi unfit for office in a public declaration. His recital of how the Chief of Police and the Sheriff of any county need to be held to an impossibly high ethical standard every moment of their waking lives eventually became comical.
San Francisco is the county that has featured such recent scandals as the police drug lab mishandling and stealing evidence, undercover officers breaking into SROs and stealing from drug dealers on video, and a DNA lab which is completely tainted. Nobody in charge was fired or disciplined for these offences, but were instead promoted to keep a lid on all the messes. In contrast, the Sheriff's Department under Mike Hennessey was for decades one of the few law enforcement departments in the area where there wasn't any hint of a scandal.
Landsdowne (above, conferring with Deputy City Attorney Peter Keith) stressed how important it was for all the various law enforcement bureaucracies to work well together, "since we have to stand shoulder to shoulder at Occupy protests." At that point, many in the audience gave each other a "what the hell?" look, since no matter how one might feel about the Occupy protests, their out-of-control violence was certainly never an issue. It was law enforcement personnel around the country who were repeatedly being captured as violently out of control, including those in San Diego (click here).
None of this much matters, though, since this entire process has nothing to do with legalities and everything to do with raw politics. As commenter Greg put it on the screaming match comments board at the San Francisco Bay Guardian:
"The penalty for perjury is whatever those in power decide it should be. Who's going to charge Ed Lee if he commits a felony? [DA] Gascon? Be serious.
We need to get out of this mindset that this is a legal process.
This is a political coup backed by the theater of a kangaroo court."
It is interesting to watch how polarizing this political theater is for women. You have the three female commissioners (including Beverly Hayon and Jamienne Studley above in their colorful necklaces) who have in their rulings and remarks made it abundantly clear that their minds are made up that Mirkarimi is a satanic abuser of women. The vast majority of Mirkarimi's supporters at the public hearings are also female, and they seem to be furious that the real, serious issue of domestic violence is being cynically used against someone who bruised his wife's arm during an argument, simply because the San Francisco Police Department hates the guy.
The ramifications of these hearings are still in the air, but the public glimpse into institutional City Hall corruption has been eye opening for many San Francisco citizens. George Wooding at the Westside Observer (click here) suggests abolishing the very expensive Ethics Commission altogether, because the commissioners are all appointed by political cronies who are then supposed to be the subjects of any ethics investigations themselves. The results have been a complete perversion of the 1993 legislation's intent when creating the commission in the first place, and probably the only way to reform it is to kill the thing. It may also be the only way to get rid of the notorious Deputy Director Mabel Ng above.