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Politics & Policy

Walgreens shooting, 5-day power outage draw pointed questions from San Francisco supervisors

A memorial for 24-year-old Banko Brown was set up outside of a Downtown San Francisco Walgreens where a vigil was held for him on Monday. | Morgan Ellis/The Standard

Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting was brief but contentious and emotionally charged as Board President Aaron Peskin asked that the charging decision in the shooting death of a man by a Walgreens security guard be reconsidered. Meanwhile, other members called for hearings on the cause of a lengthy power outage and the state of homelessness and behavioral programs.

Attendees and organizers decorate a memorial for Banko Brown outside of a Downtown San Francisco Walgreens, where a vigil was held for him on Monday. | Morgan Ellis/The Standard

Banko Brown Outcry

The lawmakers listened to two hours of passionate testimony on the case of Banko Brown, who was shot and killed on April 27 by a security guard at a Downtown Walgreens.

District Attorney Brooke Jenkins announced Monday she would not pursue charges against the guard, Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony, citing a review of evidence that indicated he acted in self-defense.

Speakers repeatedly expressed anger about Brown’s death over an incident involving alleged petty theft and how they said it exemplified continuing inequality and maltreatment of people of color.

After public comment, Peskin said that he was disturbed by Jenkins’s decision not to press “at least manslaughter charges” against Anthony and called on the board to ask for a reconsideration of the charges.

San Francisco Fire Department ambulances sit outside of Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital on Aug. 22, 2022. | Justin Katigbak for The Standard

Overtime Pains, Again

Supervisors approved $65 million in funding for the Department of Public Health, fire department and other city service providers for ambulance service staff overtime, but not without some pointed questions.

Those questions recalled the grilling supervisors gave to the police department over its $25 million overtime funding request, which passed on March 21 after weeks of arguments.

Like with the police, it appeared that the health department failed to give adequate notice anticipating it would exhaust its overtime funds sooner than usual, technically violating the city code.

Controller Ben Rosenfield said that in normal years anomalies in overtime spending would be highlighted in the six-month budget report, but that “the six-month report, which we use as a sort of trigger, was too late this year.” 

The Controller’s Office is in talks about notifying city agencies of overspending sooner going forward, Rosenfield added.

Pacific Gas & Electric crews set up to repair a power line along Foresthill Road near Foresthill on Aug. 8, 2019. | Michael Macor/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Inquiry Into Power Outage

Peskin also requested a hearing on Pacific Gas & Electric’s response to the March 26 fire caused by a sidewalk electrical vault in Jackson Square.

“The good news was the San Francisco Fire Department responded [to the fire] in under four minutes,” Peskin said. 

The bad news: A 20-minute-plus wait for PG&E to provide required assistance extinguishing the blaze allowed it to spread, triggering a power outage that affected almost 10,000 customers in the northeast part of the city over a five-day period, which Peskin called “unconscionable.”

“There have been numerous vault failures and with other PG&E equipment over many years,” Peskin said. “This particular incident is marked by the fact that […] the last buildings and individuals had their power restored 123 hours later.”

Pier 94 houses homeless people in roughly 100 trailers and RVs. | Paul Kuroda for The Standard | Source: Paul Kuroda for The Standard

More on Homelessness

Supervisor Shamann Walton introduced a resolution urging the Port of San Francisco and the homelessness agency to keep the Pier 94 RV shelter open.

The shelter, which houses people in 100 RVs and trailers, was until recently managed by the United Council of Human Services, a nonprofit that was barred from receiving public funds after revelations of mismanagement and corruption.

Supervisor Hillary Ronen also requested hearings on the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing’s strategic plan and whether it will address street conditions and issues with coordinated entry—the system by which new clients are matched with programs—as well as the role of board-approved contacts in the Department of Public Health’s Behavioral Health System of Care.

“We often talk about wonderful programs serving our residents, but we never really understand where they fit into a whole,” Ronen said. “And what we see is people falling out of the system of care or not being helped by it. […] It’s unclear if there is a system.”