San Francisco Supervisors Violate Brown Act; SF Weekly Applauds

SF Weekly (Flickr / darwin Bell / CC / Cropped)
Flickr / darwin Bell / CC / Cropped

As San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos pushes to expand a controversial “sanctuary city” policy that restricts local law enforcement from communicating with federal immigration officials, the local alternative newspaper SF Weekly clearly has his back.

SF Weekly recently devoted two columns to taking Avalos’s side in his attacks on Breitbart lead investigative reporter Lee Stranahan.

As Breitbart news has reported last week, Stranahan was unlawfully removed from a San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting after members of a community organizing group called “Causa Justa :: Just Cause” violated the rules by standing, applauding, and cheering during Avalos’s speech on expanding the sanctuary city policy.

When Stranahan turned his camera on the activists, they began to shout him down and a woman wearing a Causa Justa shirt came over to block his camera. Later, at the activists’ behest, Stranahan was removed despite obeying all rules and protocols.

Recording public meetings is protected under California law by the Brown Act. But the SF Weekly’s ideological commitments apparently won out over free speech principles.

In the paper’s first column, released on Friday, May 13, the SF Weekly took Avalos’s side as he launched into a series of shallow attacks, falsely calling Stranahan a racist, rather than defending his policy:

It should come as no surprise that blindly conservative blog Breitbart News was in San Francisco this week to cover a Board of Supervisors hearing about the city’s sanctuary policy for undocumented immigrants. What was surprising was the successful goading of Supervisor John Avalos by Breitbart shill Lee Stranahan.

Then, on Tuesday, SF Weekly launched yet another attack on Stranahan, prior to the scheduled Board of Supervisors meeting. Once again, the paper completely avoided the illegality of removing someone recording a public meeting:

Despite the very real fact that Stranahan was allowed back into the meeting — where he was hoping to glean nuggets for his latest attack on undocumented immigrant residents of the U.S. — he and Breitbart News have been motoring along on the victim train ever since.

This obviously avoids the real point: Stranahan’s removal was unlawful in the first place. The fact that he was let back into the meeting is irrelevant, especially when, by the time he was let back into the meeting, the debate on the “sanctuary city” policy had already ended.

The SF Weekly is simply echoing Avalos, who complained in an email we posted that Stranahan was let back into the meeting.

He was allowed to reenter the meeting but for his story he did not mention that.

The SF Weekly also decided that Stranahan is a racist, uncaring person because he uses the term “illegal alien” to describe … illegal aliens:

He, like Donald Trump and everyone else who hates immigrants, brings up the death of Kate Steinle last year in which an undocumented immigrant named Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez is charged with her killing. … The sanctuary policy protects non-violent offenders, but mostly the legions of undocumented immigrants who just come here in hopes of bettering their lives. Stranahan doesn’t seem to give a shit about that, since of course Breitbart News refers to undocumented residents as “illegal aliens.”

The paper predicted that Stranahan would chide Avalos over his support for Causa Justa board member Michelle Foy, who is part of a group called the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) that clearly and openly campaigns for the right of Chicanos to secede from the Union and form their own nation of Aztlan in the states of California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.

FRSO’s bizarre view, which was documented in a 2000-word piece by Stranahan earlier this week, is clearly seditious, and it is odd, to say the least, that a person holding such a view would have been a member of Avalos’ staff.

However, it doesn’t seem to bother the SF Weekly at all:

Remember all those people who said President Barack Obama is a terrorist because he knows Bill Ayers? Yup, these folks all get invited to each other’s tea parties where they discuss how awful it is to be a white male American. Then they shoot guns and stuff.

In their progressive zeal to trash a “Breitbart blogger,” the SF Weekly forgets that the first attack on Obama’s connection to Bill Ayers came from the Clinton campaign, not Republicans.

However, Stranahan stymied the SF Weekly by delivering a two-minute speech to the Supervisors’ meeting on Tuesday that focused on a completely non-controversial issue: namely, that elitist politicians like John Avalos should not have one set of free speech rules that apply to their allies and friends like Causa Justa, and another set that applies to the public.

Good afternoon, supervisors. My father went to Oakland Tech, and I lived in San Leandro, so I have connections here.

Last week the chamber had a teachable moment about the important California law known as the Brown Act, which gives citizens the right to record public meetings.

It’s ironic that at the beginning of last week’s meeting the mayor, Ed Lee, referred to San Francisco as a First Amendment city, because later during that meeting I was removed unlawfully, but this isn’t about me: it’s about the rule of a law and about the dangers of supervisors selectively enforcing the rules.

The rule of law is a fundamental principle.

We can disagree about many things, but a look at the video that I’ve posted online shows that a woman who appears to be with the activist group Causa Justa came over to intentionally violate my right to record the public meeting, interfere with me, including up to physically covering the lens of my camera and touching me.

The Causa Justa activists created the problem and then after I was removed — with me not in the room — supervisors Avalos and Campos proceeded to insult and lie about me.

Now, why was I punished and kept from recording with no warning, when members of Causa Justa were allowed to violate the rules at least six times – standing, applauding, yelling, and intimidating me?

Well, a quick look at their webpage and social media explains why this double standard existed.

Causa Justa actively supports Campos, Avalos, and Eric Mar on their social media, and more significantly, two of these Supervisors have direct connections with Causa Justa.

John Avalos has hired one of their board members, and Gordon Mar, who’s on their board, is the twin brother of Erik Mar.

Supervisors are apparently confident they can let Causa Justa break the rules at will.

Now, you’re allowed to have political supporters and allies, but what you’re not allowed to do is to allow those allies to break the rules and punish people you don’t like.

This is a very dangerous precedent for everyone, and I thank you very much for your time.

None of this matters, apparently, to the self-satisfied SF Weekly, which has completely abdicated its journalistic responsibility. Both of the SF Weekly articles are remarkably thin gruel, amply demonstrating what even the progressive website Vox recently admitted was the “smug style in American liberalism.” As that article wrote:

There is a smug style in American liberalism. It has been growing these past decades. It is a way of conducting politics, predicated on the belief that American life is not divided by moral difference or policy divergence — not really — but by the failure of half the country to know what’s good for them.

Unfortunately, it’s not just the residents of San Francisco who suffer from smug politicians like John Avalos and his cheering section at the SF Weekly. The criminal illegal aliens who are protected by San Francisco’s “sanctuary city” policies don’t just remain in San Francisco. They are free to leave The City by the Bay and travel elsewhere, causing whatever mayhem they see fit after skirting the law in San Francisco.

That’s the big story behind the sanctuary city policy. Just don’t expect the SF Weekly to tell it.


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