Double Whammy: Not Only Did Supes Pull Money Away From Mayor's Pet Community Justice Center -- They Also Gave Some to Public Defender

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Audrey Fukuman
The supes came for Newsom's pet court -- will they defund his whale next?
By now, ardent followers of San Francisco politics may know that the Board of Supervisors' Budget and Finance Committee yesterday moved to financially starve -- and thus kill -- Mayor Gavin Newsom's pet Community Justice Center.

The left-leaning supes could probably offer 1,001 rationales as to why this was a good idea: This is yet another program the mayor saw in another city and felt he had to graft onto San Francisco (God help us if Newsom visits Venice; he'll open the water mains downtown and we'll all row to work), the mayor funded the CJC over the wishes of the board and city voters, and if you compare the court's caseload (around nine a day) to its projected caseload (five times that) you could argue the CJC is about as efficient as a single-stroke motor.

And yet, let's not overlook the political aspects here. As mentioned above, Newsom pushed ahead with his baby despite supes' loud objections and a drubbing from San Francisco voters on election day. Also opening eyes was a $600,000 transfer from the Indigent Defense Fund -- the private lawyers who take cases the Public Defender can't handle -- right to Public Defender Jeff Adachi, a man who has bumped (slicked-back) heads with the mayor for months. Adachi has drawn the ire of Newsom and his allies by loudly protesting cuts to the public defender's office while personally staffing the CJC (this Chronicle story recounting Adachi coaxing a vagrant defendant to show up for her court date underscored the Kafka-esque inefficiencies of the CJC better than any paid opposition researcher could, by the way). 

In not only voting to defund the CJC but also diverting money to one of Newsom's most strident critics, the supes have, as my mother would put it, shat upon the mayor's head and told him to wear it like a hat.

So it comes as no surprise that Adachi shouldn't be counting his $600,000 yet. With a 4-1 vote from the Budget and Finance Committee, it's a good bet that the full board of supervisors will pass this cut through, and the Budget and Finance Committee will make its final maneuvers in a June 30 meeting that will likely last late into the night -- we predict an armload of pizzas being delivered to City Hall. Yet this is just the kind of item for which an irked Newsom will pull out his line-item veto pen. You don't stand between a Mama Mayor and his baby court.

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