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San Francisco Mayor Breed fined: Her three ethics violations, explained

San Francisco Mayor London Breed
San Francisco Mayor London Breed speaks in this 2020 photo.
(Associated Press )

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Wednesday, Aug. 4. I’m Justin Ray.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed has agreed to pay $22,792 in fines related to a series of ethics violations while in office.

The proposed agreement from the city’s Ethics Commission said Breed’s violations are significant, and indicate that she misused her title as mayor for personal gain, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

“While nothing stipulated here had any effect on my decision-making as mayor, it is important that as mayor that I lead by example and take responsibility for my actions,” Breed said in a statement to the Chronicle. “I’ve learned a lot over the last two years since the most recent of these events took place, and I’ve learned from this process.”

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Although candidates and supervisors have been fined by the Ethics Commission in the past, this appears to be the first time a sitting mayor in the city has settled such a case, the Chronicle reported, citing records.

There are three incidents that led to the fines:

  • In an Oct. 23, 2018, letter, Breed asked then-Gov. Jerry Brown to commute the prison sentence of her older brother, Napoleon Brown. Brown was handed a 44-year sentence for pushing Lenties White, 25, out of a robbery getaway car. After White was pushed, he was hit by an oncoming car and died of his injuries. Brown’s sentence stems from a manslaughter conviction.

    In the letter, Breed said that the punishment was excessive and that her brother turned his life around while incarcerated. The Ethics Commission said the mayor’s letter was a misuse of her city title. Breed was fined $2,500 for it. Brown did not pardon Breed’s brother.

  • Then, there’s the whole situation with the disgraced former head of the public works department, Mohammed Nuru. Breed has agreed to pay $8,292 for accepting a gift — about $5,600 in car repairs — from Nuru, whom she acknowledged dating “for a brief time, two decades ago” in an explosive February 2020 Medium post (more on Nuru later). In the post, she said she wasn’t required to disclose the repairs, citing a city law that said gifts provided “by an individual with whom the official has a long term, close personal friendship unrelated to the official’s position” don’t need to be reported under the Fair Political Practices Commission’s rules. The Ethics Commission didn’t agree.
  • Back in 2015, Breed was a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and running for reelection. She wanted to have a float for the city’s Pride parade and asked two restaurateurs to each pay $1,250 directly to the float manufacturer. These contributions were not properly recorded in campaign finance disclosures and exceeded the $500 limit per person set for city candidates. Breed was fined $7,500 for failing to disclose the contributions and $4,500 for accepting money over the legal limit.

Now here’s some important additional context: Nuru and a sports bar owner were arrested in January 2020, setting off a corruption scandal that has engulfed San Francisco City Hall. Prosecutors alleged that the two tried to bribe (unsuccessfully) an airport commissioner for prime restaurant space at San Francisco International Airport.

Nuru is also accused of receiving labor and construction equipment from city contractors to help him build a vacation home. Prosecutors also allege he accepted lavish gifts from people with city business. Nuru faces five corruption-related federal counts.

You can read more about the scandal in San Francisco here.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California.

Note: Some of the sites we link to may limit the number of stories you can access without subscribing.

L.A. STORIES

Night market becomes nightmare for residents, who beg city for help. The Lincoln Heights night market and food bazaar became a social media sensation early this year, drawing thousands of visitors. But the people who live and work in the neighborhood say it is now a nightmare. “Residents wake up to freshly dumped trash, puddles of urine and human feces,” Times columnist Steve Lopez writes. “But City Hall has done next to nothing, which has only added to the exasperation of residents.” Los Angeles Times

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‘I’m still hopeful. Broke but not hopeless.’ Benjamin Oreskes and Genaro Molina explain how about 200 people were removed from Venice Beach homeless camps: “The beach and the boardwalk, with its clothing stores, henna tattoo stalls and restaurants, among other attractions, had few tents left Friday after an intense six-week infusion of resources to help the unhoused sleeping there find new places to stay.” Los Angeles Times

A homeless encampment
City of Los Angeles sanitation workers clear a homeless encampment along Ocean Front Walk in Venice on July 30.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

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POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT

What happened to the Claremont Institute? Laura K. Field explains how a once-distinguished, four-decade-old conservative think tank has “plunged into Trumpism, illiberalism” and peddling false narratives about the election. “The Claremont crowd’s submission to Trump was the most predictable thing in the world — the simple culmination of a political theory rooted in jingoism and denial,” Field writes. The Bulwark

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Sign up early for our California Politics newsletter, coming in August, to get the best of The Times’ state politics reporting, including full coverage of the recall election and the latest action in Sacramento.

CRIME AND COURTS

The parents of Kristin Smart spoke during a preliminary hearing for the two men accused in the disappearance and presumed death of the Cal Poly student. “She always felt like a gift to our family,” Denise Smart said of her daughter. “She was so energetic and had a great smile. She was the best hugger.” The hearing for Paul and Ruben Flores is expected to last at least 12 full days, and include a series of witnesses. San Luis Obispo Tribune

A 25-year-old mother is dead after being shot in the head while inside a parked car with her daughter in Fresno. Jacqueline Flores was in a car at 10:45 p.m. on July 27 when someone opened fire with Flores’ daughter, 6, in the back seat. The girl was uninjured. “We are asking for the community’s help and encourage anyone who has information to please contact the Fresno Police Department,” police said in a statement. KTLA

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HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Vaccine breakthrough cases surge among San Francisco hospital staff. Two hospitals — UC San Francisco Medical Center and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital — have recorded at least 233 coronavirus infections among staff members. Of those infected, about 80% were fully inoculated. Importantly, just two vaccinated people were hospitalized in total. SFist

A man was killed after he was struck by lightning while hiking, according to the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office. Nicholas Torchia, 37, was hiking on the John Muir Trail near Muir Trail Ranch when thunderstorms rolled into the area. Deputies say Torchia tried to shelter from the storm by leaning against a tree. A lightning bolt hit the tree. He told other hikers he didn’t feel well before falling unconscious. A doctor and nurse on the trail performed CPR for three hours, but Torchia didn’t survive. Your Central Valley

CALIFORNIA CULTURE

The giant white elephants at tourist magnet Hollywood & Highland have been quietly removed. Crews dismantled the two fiberglass elephants, which were part of the complex’s tribute to the Babylon set of D.W. Griffith’s 1916 movie “Intolerance.” Griffith, the son of a Confederate army colonel, directed the blockbuster 1915 film “The Birth of a Nation,” which lionized the Ku Klux Klan and was condemned at the time as “three miles of filth” by the NAACP. Los Angeles Times

Author Anthony Veasna So’s debut short-story collection, “Afterparties,” has just been released. The rising literary star died last year at 28. As Dorany Pineda explains, the book follows Cambodian Americans living mostly in the Central Valley and deals with (among other subjects) reincarnation, the inherited trauma of the Khmer Rouge era, queerness and the intricacies of family. Los Angeles Times

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CALIFORNIA ALMANAC

Los Angeles: Drink a cool glass of lemonade! 85. San Diego: 77. San Francisco: Great coffee weather, cloudy, 65. San Jose: 77. Fresno: I’m addicted to Trader Joe’s chocolate-covered coffee beans. Take these away from me! 105. Sacramento: 84.

AND FINALLY

Today’s California memory is from Marcus Lou:

In 1979, I was 18 and visited San Francisco for the first time. I wandered down to the water and at the piers, I discovered the Greenpeace ship, the original Rainbow Warrior. Being a Greenpeace member, I was welcomed aboard. I shared wine and cheese with the crew in the cabin and when I went back outside it was dusk and all the lights of the city were on. I just stood there transfixed. As the lights were twinkling on the hills, I promised myself that someday I would live in San Francisco. It took 14 years, but I made it!

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If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments to essentialcalifornia@latimes.com.


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