Editor's note: The Mayor's Office has acknowledged that letters from two appointees, Ike Kwon and Yakuh Askew, were erroneously included in its release of preemptively submitted resignation letters. Kwon did not submit a preemptive resignation letter. The letter from Askew was a real resignation letter he submitted to the Arts Commission. The publicly known number of appointees who submitted draft letters has increased since the publication of this story.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed appears to have directed 40 different appointees to sign preemptive letters of resignation before or while serving on city boards and commissions, according to a new disclosure.
The Mayor’s Office released copies of the resignation letters Tuesday—two days after Breed announced she would end the practice in response to reporting by The Standard.
Breed’s office also released a batch of emails sent to appointees Sunday to rescind their resignation letters. (Scroll down for the entire list of names, boards and commissions).
The records reveal the breadth of a practice that the City Attorney’s Office on Tuesday deemed “inconsistent” with the City Charter. The practice has also raised serious questions about the independence of the commissioners who signed the letters.
The 40 appointees spanned 23 city bodies ranging from the Planning Commission, a powerful board responsible for approving new construction projects, to the more niche Arts Commission, which promotes arts and culture in San Francisco.
Other appointees were members of the Board of Appeals, the Municipal Transportation Agency, the Police Commission and the Port Commission, among others.
Most of the letters were addressed to either Breed, the Mayor’s Office or Tyra Fennell, who’s in charge of mayoral commission appointments.
In several cases, the letters were addressed to the head of the commission, with Fennell copied in the communications. In all but four cases, the letters were signed.
In one case, a member of the Retirement Board submitted his response handwritten on what appears to be personal stationery.
The Mayor’s Office has argued that the practice of issuing preemptive resignation letters was necessary for Breed to hold her commissioners accountable.
The office said the letters were reserved for only the most extreme circumstances and were never invoked.
While the letters may have helped the mayor exert influence over her appointees, the City Attorney’s Office concluded that they would likely not hold up in court.
Michael Barba can be reached at [email protected]
Matthew Kupfer can be reached at [email protected]