Embattled SF District Attorney, who would like not to be embattled much longer, once again defended himself in the national press, more or less stoically, in a new interview with the New York Times.
This time it isn't a profile, or a hit piece, but a Q&A with established celebrity interviewer and NYT Magazine columnist David Marchese. And Marchese tries to ask tough questions about Boudin's philosophies and about the media maelstrom of the last two years regarding crime in San Francisco without seeming to know a whole lot about San Francisco.
A few key takeaways:
- Boudin immediately points the finger at police, whom he characterizes as not holding up their end of the crime-fighting bargain and pointing the finger back at him in their own defense. "If you are someone who believes in a tough-on-crime deterrence model of the justice system or public safety, then that model must begin with the police making arrests in a high percentage of cases," Boudin says. "With theft in San Francisco, people believe they can get away with it because only 2 percent of reported thefts result in arrest. We can hang people in the town square, but the most effective thing at deterring crime is certainty of arrest. But the police make arrests in less than 3 percent of reported auto burglaries." But, Boudin diplomatically adds, "Not blaming the police: These are crimes that are hard to make an arrest in."
- He blames the recall campaign largely on Republican-leaning elites (and we've talked before about who's funding this thing). Boudin alleges that he had a meeting early on, when he was still just a candidate for District Attorney, with key recall funder William Oberndorf, and that Oberndorf said he would support his candidacy if Boudin would oppose the city's sanctuary city policy. Boudin says he said he couldn't do that, and now Oberndorf has given at least $600,000 to the San Rafael-based PAC Neighbors for a Better San Francisco, which is helping fund the recall campaign. Oberndorf denies this to the New York Times, saying he never gave such a quid pro quo to Boudin.
- Boudin says there's also some blame for the support of the recall campaign against him to be placed on Mayor London Breed. "There’s a structural flaw in the way that San Francisco’s recalls are designed, which is that the mayor appoints the replacement after a successful recall vote," Boudin says. "It creates an incentive for the mayor to always support a recall, because who wouldn’t want to appoint a citywide elected official? Why would she ever oppose a recall?" When pressed by Marchese on this point, suggesting a mayor should support anyone "doing the best job," Boudin shoots back, "You haven’t spent much time in San Francisco politics, David," and suggests that mayors in this city are in control of huge sums of money and this motivates them to blame others for big problems, like the Tenderloin.
- There's another bit where Boudin catches the interviewer not being aware that holiday-season smash-and-grab robberies were going on in multiple other cities besides San Francisco. Like organized on social media, flash-mob crimes were happening last year in Palo Alto, and around the holiday season in Walnut Creek, Oakland, Los Angeles, and Chicago as well. "Sorry, David, you’re saying you didn’t see videos of flash-mob burglaries in other cities?" Boudin asks. "I haven’t, no," Marchese says. "Chicago. Walnut Creek. The notion that this is a San Francisco problem is demonstrably false," Boudin says.
- Boudin doesn't think the recall campaign's signature total is valid. When asked how the campaign got 83,000 signatures if support for it isn't strong, Boudin says, "It’s a self-reported number of signatures. That number has never been audited or validated... What any political consultant in California politics will tell you is that you can qualify anything you want for the ballot if you spend enough money to hire professional signature gatherers. They incentivize them by paying them per signature they gather."
- And Boudin insists that he can be in favor of criminal justice reform and in strong support of public safety at the same time. "The people who work closest with me, the people who know me, the people who have seen the way I approach the problems we face in this office understand that I’m deeply committed to justice and public safety and that I believe that criminal-justice reform can make us safer," he says.