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San Francisco Board of Supervisors vote to end preemptive resignation letters

Critics said Mayor London Breed's practice of requiring appointees to submit undated letters of resignation before taking their positions gave her undue influence over their decision-making.

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — Although San Francisco Mayor London Breed had already agreed to end the practice, the Board of Supervisors had their say in a final vote Tuesday banning the requirement that appointees to the city’s various commissions sign a prewritten letter of resignation to the mayor when they take up their new positions.

The Board of Supervisors voted 8 to 2 to end the requirement, with supervisors Catherine Stafani and Rafael Mandelman voting against the measure. The measure had passed a first reading the previous week.

The issue blew up last year when a local newspaper found in an investigation of the San Francisco Police Department’s use of traffic stops to catch more serious offenses that Breed was demanding appointees submit signed, undated letters of resignation. She had done the same with Max Carter-Oberstone, the mayoral appointee to the city’s police commission who had accused Breed of pressuring him after he had proposed limits to the types of traffic stops the police could make.

In all, Breed had demanded letters from at least 48 appointees although none appear to have been acted upon. One of the appointees who submitted a preemptive resignation letter was Vice President Kamala Harris’ niece Meena Harris, who served on the Commission on the Status of Women in 2019.

Her letter reads much like those the mayor released to the public when the controversy broke. Innocuous and filled with gratitude for the opportunity to serve, Harris ended her letter with “If I can be of any assistance, please let me know.”

City Attorney David Chiu, a Breed appointee, advised the mayor to end the practice, calling it inconsistent with the city’s charter. Supervisor Dean Preston, a progressive who has long butted heads with Breed, called for legislation to outlaw the practice and said requiring the letters from appointees gave the mayor undue influence over their decision-making. He wrote Tuesday’s legislation, which included five other sponsors.

Mayor Breed will sign off on the ordinance, her deputy press secretary Noel Sanchez said in an email.

This past October, a similar issue came up in Hawaii’s Maui County when a ban on the practice was included among numerous proposed changes to the county’s charter. Aware of the controversy occurring in San Francisco at the same time, the Honolulu Civil Beat identified at least one official who had been required to sign such a letter. Maui voters approved a ban in the November 2022 election, 67% to 33%.

Categories: Government Politics Regional

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