That Awkward Time Supervisor Campos Crashed a Community Crime Safety Meeting to Give a Campaign Speech


Opinion Disclosure Warning: The post that follows describes a recent unpleasant encounter with our District 9 Supervisor. It is strongly opinionated. If that’s a turn-off, I apologize, and I recommend you skip this post. Thanks for your understanding. — Todd Lappin


Now that the notes from last week’s Northeast Bernal Community Meeting have been posted, I also wanted to describe an incident that happened during the meeting, involving David Campos, our D9 Supervisor.

Supervisor Campos was not involved in the planning and organization of last Thursday’s community meeting. (More on that below.) Refreshingly, however, he showed up at the meeting along with his aide (and D9 Supervisor candidate), Hilary Ronen. That was a good thing, because the crime problem in northeast Bernal is such that residents there need all the official attention they can get. But halfway through the meeting, Supervisor Campos kind of went off the rails.

During a Q&A period, Campos raised his hand. The moderator called on him to speak, and Campos stood up. He started in with a pronouncement that there was “an elephant in the room.” He repeated this a few times. It left people scratching their heads, because until that moment the meeting had generally been constructive and elephant-free.

After a pause, Supervisor Campos pivoted to a speech about how the reason a representative from the Mayor’s office (Jason Elliott) was standing in the front of the room was because of his friendship with Joshua Arce (the 2016 D9 Supervisor candidate who had helped facilitate the meeting). Campos began building up a head of steam around the idea that the Mayor sent his deputy chief of staff to the meeting only because the mayor something something something something something and then…

Then I stood up, and told Supervisor Campos he was way out of line.

Actually, I said a bit more than that, and in a much more emphatic way. Basically I urged Supervisor Campos to discontinue the theatrics, in no small part because the very community meeting he was attending had been necessitated by the fact that Supervisor Campos’s office has done a poor job of responding to Bernal constituents concerns about crime problems in Bernal Heights.

Here’s some backstory: The Northeast Bernal Neighbors Alliance was formed in no small part because many Bernal neighbors in that section of our neighborhood have been unable to get a response from Supervisor Campos’s office about their crime problems. Many emails to his office have gone unanswered. Many many. I know this because when Campos’s office ignores emails about crime problems from Bernal neighbors, many of those neighbors write to me instead. I receive a lot of these emails. Many many.  Bottom line: Last week’s community meeting happened because  a neighborhood that had been neglected by David Campos’s office organized a new neighborhood group to get some help without having to rely on David Campos.

Hilary Ronen was sitting next to her boss as things got heated, and she looked stricken. I felt bad for her, because it was mortifying.

It was mortifying because Campos showed everyone in the room that he was looking at the meeting through the cheap lens of political gamesmanship, instead of listening to what Bernal residents were telling him about the crime problem in their community.

Fortunately, just before things got too hot, Buck Bagot intervened to redirect the conversation. (Note to History: Buck is a Bernal treasure.) Then the meeting resumed. There was no further speechifying from Supervisor Campos, although he did often try to politicize the issues discussed in the room by blaming others for this or that.

Look, it’s great that Campos’s office has finally decided to engage with his northeast Bernal constituents. But his effort to turn a grassroots community meeting into political spectacle was inappropriate. The most important take-away from last week’s meeting was that our Bernal neighbors need all the help they can get. It’ll take a lot of on-the-ground organization, and a lot of interagency coordination, and a lot of hard work to make northeast Bernal a safer community.

Last week, David Campos signaled that he’s more interested in scoring political points than he is in doing the real work required to be part of the solution. Yet hope springs eternal: There’s another community meeting about crime and public safety this Thursday, Jan. 28, 6 pm, at the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center, and David Campos helped organize this one. Bernalwood will provide full details about that meeting tomorrow.

GRAPHIC: Northeast Bernal  Crime Incident Map, May 2015 to January 2016, via SFOpenData. David Campos photo via Wikipedia.

54 thoughts on “That Awkward Time Supervisor Campos Crashed a Community Crime Safety Meeting to Give a Campaign Speech

  1. Thanks for shutting Campos down Todd. That was a bewildering expression of free speech by our Supervisor. I had never seen the Supervisor speak in person, but as Trump might say, he is not a good public speaker.
    What Todd left out is Campos said he had never seen Jason at any community events before and all of a sudden he shows up concerned to this meeting. Basically calling Mr. Arce a fraud.
    In case Hilary Ronan is reading this blog, I’d like to see her distance herself from Campos and rebuke his comments.

  2. Let’s not kid ourselves that your intentions are 100% about safety and being neighborly. Bernalwood has an agenda, too.

    • Yes, and so do Josh Arce (supervisor candidate), Hillary Ronen (supervisor candidate) and David Campos. Interesting that this meeting was scheduled a week before a similar one scheduled at the Bernal Heights Community Center. The first meeting was organized by Arce, who brought in a rep from Ed Lee’s office (Arce endorsed Ed Lee in the last election). Also interesting that neither Campos nor Ronen were invited.

      According to Mr. Lappin, the meeting was held because Campos has been non-responsive to crime concerns by NE Bernal residents and also because there is no organization to deal with these issues. I can’t comment on whether Campos has been non-responsive and the topic is fair game. But saying there is no organization in NE Bernal is not true. I am a NE Bernal resident and a member of a local SAFE committee, and I’ve attended presentations by Capt. McFadden at the Bernal Community Center. I’ll be there Thursday too.

      I agree that Campos was out-of-line with his comments, but I don’t think the situation was helped when Mr. Lappin started shouting at him.

      I think community building to fight crime is good. I think political campaigning in the guise of community building to fight crime is suspect.

      • Hey John, I’m one of the neighbors behind the Northeast Bernal Neighbors Alliance, and among those who helped assemble the meeting.

        A couple things that may add color here. Prior to last week, over the last eight months, I’ve sent Supervisor Campos’s office numerous emails, which went completely ignored. No response.

        It was increasingly clear that he was not paying close attention to what was happening in Bernal, or responding in kind. This, in part, prompted my involvement in helping to set up a neighborhood organization.

        We were vaguely aware Hillary Ronen was setting up a meeting this month, but its focus and participants were unclear, and there was little to no community outreach in channels I’m aware of. This meeting was only officially announced on Supervisor Campos’s Facebook page the day after our meeting on the 21st. (Hillary has since asked me to spread the word on Nextdoor on their behalf, which I’ve been happy to do.)

        At the same time, Josh Arce stepped forward to help our little group round up some folks for the Northeast Bernal crime and safety we wanted to hold. This included Capt. McFadden and Mr. Elliott from the Mayor’s office. Not bad!

        Personally, my preference would have been to consolidate meetings, but unfortunately Capt. McFadden was only available to us a single night during those couple of weeks: the 21st. Hence this meeting being held when it was.

        Does Josh benefit in some way from being associated with our meeting? Stands to reason, yes. But the neighbors present weren’t there to learn about him, and Josh did not in any way attempt to take credit for the meeting’s participants, nor did he speak.

        As was clear by the tone and agenda, we were all present to hear from Capt. McFadden and Mr. Elliott discuss how they’re going to improve the situation in NE Bernal. Election politics were completely outside the scope of the conversation. This is all part of what made Supervisor Campos’s outburst so seem so completely inappropriate and tone-deaf.

        Hope that adds some context!

        Related, we’d love to chat more about your SAFE committee though, can you reach out (or sign up for our list)?

      • Campos should be shouted at on a regular basis. He is almost useless unless it is some meaningless legislation he is pushing.
        He strives for higher office but fortunately his days are almost done.

    • Todd
      I will help you when you ask.
      Thanks for reporting on this meeting. I have noted the 3 police phone numbers in one of your recent blogs . You are invaluable!

  3. What a shame – I was traveling and couldn’t make the meeting but am very interested in the upcoming D9 race (obviously). Sup Campos’ office has been relatively indifferent to my emails and I’m very curious about how Ronan versus Arce will play out (is it true that Ronan just moved here a few months ago? I thought I had read that in an article/comments/MissionLocal….)

  4. Way to go Todd! Campos has been a terrible supervisor who seemingly never responds to constituents. It’s high time he moved on, and whoever he endorses is going to have an uphill battle getting my vote.

  5. Todd, that’s a really nice graphic, I like the overlay of the map and how you blended the headshot. I was very supportive of Campos in 2008, thought he was the best candidate for the job. By 2012, I realized the emperor had no clothes. For the last few years he has fiddled while the District burned (literally burned…..) Most ineffective Supervisor since……(I don’t want to offend anyone)

  6. Look: I am really out of it on this subject so I hold absolutely no position. But I am bummed when you use this forum as a political launchpad. Todd, this platform is well-earned. You have created something your Bernal neighbors love to read, and created a virtual community in the process. Thank you so much for it. You can obviously use it for whatever you want, including advancing your own political agenda, but I don’t have to like it.

    • “But I am bummed when you use this forum as a political launchpad.”

      As it happens, that’s exactly what some folks at the meeting would’ve liked to say to Campos.

  7. I live in the Mission, not Bernal, and I continually email Supervisor Campos and his staff. Once in a while, I get a response, but mostly I feel like I’m just creating a record of unanswered complaints about crime, needles, liquor store violations, passed out homeless people and calls to the Mission Police station that also continually go unanswered. Continually. Good for North Bernal for organizing a meeting on their own. I was somewhat amazed to see that Campos had decided to attend, and wondered how something like that could happen here. You’ll also notice that Mission Local repeatedly reports on crime and never is there a statement about any of it from the Supervisor. Not about that gambling house takeover of the Fizzary and inattention by police, not about Supervisor Wiener being mugged in D9. In addition, there was no notice given by the Supervisor to the so-called community meeting about housing bond funds. I follow him on FB and it wasn’t posted there and it wasn’t in Mission Local till after the meeting happened. Talk about politicking. And, yes, I thought he would be a good supervisor, and I donated to his election campaign.

    • AF, this sounds like a response I could have written – nearly spot on. In my stretch of D9, we lobbied the redistricting committee to get out of David Campos’ District, and won. Come on over to D8; the constituent services are timely, effective and respectful. Alrernatively, pick wisely for D9 Supervisor.

  8. I’ve admired how you’ve navigated the complexity the Bernal community interests and desires. While I don’t dispute anything you’ve reported from the meeting, I think this post degrades your role as somewhat of a journalist to more of a online crank. This looks like its heading toward a grudge match. Out of respect for your own immense talent and efforts in the past I think you should take this post down and let issue play out through others in the community and perhaps limit yourself to directly addressing Campos or his office as and individual.

  9. But campos gets riot control police on kids skateboarding on the hill. And he is a bernal local. Cowards running our government.

  10. This post seems a bit too self-congratulatory and long winded

    Can we have the details of what Campos said? Strange you should have a whole post about the inappropriateness of Campos’ remarks, and then edit out those remarks so that we have nothing to go on….

  11. Ok, here’s what I can gather from this post and from other news about these meetings:
    1) There were two meetings organized to address crime in Bernal Heights.
    2) Meeting #1 was organized at least partly by the mayor’s people and Campos was not invited but attended anyway.
    3) Meeting #2 was organized at least partly by Campos’ people and I don’t know if the mayor was invited or not and don’t know if he will attend or not.
    4) A candidate for D9 supervisor, Joshua Arce, helped organize Meeting #1 and he is friends with the mayor’s aide Jason Elliott, who was officially involved in the meeting (standing in the front of the room).
    5) A different candidate for D9 supervisor, Hilary Ronen, is an aide to Campos and was at Meeting #1, too. Presumably she’s involved in organizing Meeting #2, but I don’t know that for sure.
    6) Campos was not a designated speaker at Meeting #1, even though he is the elected supervisor for the area. Instead, he spoke by raising his hand and being called on during the Q&A. He spouted off on the politicization of the meeting, saying that the only reason the mayor’s office was invited to speak was because of the friendship between the mayor’s aide and the D9 supervisor candidate Joshua Arce who helped organize the meeting.
    7) Todd interrupted Campos, telling him that he was way out of line for politicizing the meeting himself by talking about the politics behind it, and that the meeting was scheduled specifically because Campos has a bad track record on responding to constituents about crime issues in Bernal Heights.
    8) The group primarily responsible for organizing the meeting, Northeast Bernal Neighbors Alliance, was formed specifically because Campos’s office has been so unresponsive on issues related to crime. What the relationship is between the Northeast Bernal Neighbors Alliance and D9 supervisor candidate Joshua Arce we do not know, but he was the facilitator of the meeting so there appears to be a connection.
    9) Meeting #1 was organized specifically because NBNA is unhappy with Campos. While it ostensibly was about crime in northeast Bernal Heights, its main purpose was to highlight a problem some people have with their elected official.

    So here’s my take: everybody is playing politics here, including our fearless scribe Todd, who wants so badly to believe that he is a simple neighborhood advocate reporting it like it is but has unfortunately fallen victim to the same SF political game where everybody uses every chance they can to get an edge on their political opponent like they’re all living on Survivor Island.

    Both meetings are political beasts designed to score political points (and score political injury to political opponents). Meeting #1 was organized, in part, to make D9 supervisor candidate Joshua Arce look good on crime issues and responsive to Bernal constituents’ concerns, and also in part to make Campos (and by extension, his aide and D9 supervisor candidate Hilary Ronen) look bad on crime issues in Bernal Heights. Meeting #2 was most likely organized for the opposite effect: to make Campos (and by extension Ronen) look good on crime and responsive to the neighborhood, and presumably to make the mayor’s office (and by extension Joshua Arce, although the connection is a little weaker here) look bad and unresponsive.

    And Todd’s missive here about Campos’s performance? A political stunt, not fully reporting the real context of all of this, designed to make Campos (and by extension Ronen) look bad on crime and unresponsive to neighborhood concerned.

    Great work, everybody! Let’s have some more meetings where folks can get angry at specific elected officials about a problem that has plagued this neighborhood forever, and that plagues our neighbors (the Mission, the Bayview, and even Excelsior and Glen Park) to even greater degrees. And let’s have more “reporting” which calls out one of those political beasts for the horrible crime of acting like the politician on Survivor Island that they all are.

    • “So here’s my take: everybody is playing politics here, including our fearless scribe Todd”

      Except that, as you say earlier:

      “The group primarily responsible for organizing the meeting, Northeast Bernal Neighbors Alliance, was formed specifically because Campos’s office has been so unresponsive on issues related to crime.”

      If Bernal residents are responding to sustained neglect on the D9 supervisor’s part, that’s not game-playing. I’ve personally heard multiple complaints about people contacting Campos’s office about issues related to this and getting little-to-no response, as it happens, so … sorry, I don’t buy the claim by the Campos crew that this is all just political posturing.

      • You don’t think that the mayor’s office wasn’t playing politics by speaking at a community meeting in a supervisor’s district without inviting the supervisor? And when the supervisor attended anyway, without asking the supervisor to sit up front and formally address the audience? Is it surprising at all that this was organized by somebody running for that supervisor’s seat, against that supervisor’s aide? The reality is that Todd’s post and Meeting #1 have almost nothing to do with crime.

      • “You don’t think that the mayor’s office wasn’t playing politics by speaking at a community meeting in a supervisor’s district without inviting the supervisor? ”

        I can’t speak for the mayor’s office; I’m talking about the residents of Bernal. I don’t want to worry about whether I’ll come back to a pile of glass shards when I park my car on the street. Politicians gonna politick, sure, but most supervisors at least go through the pretense of caring about constituents’ quality of life concerns too.

        So why was Campos’s office AWOL until this meeting got scheduled? Why did it seem to take the scheduling of this forum for him to suddenly say anything?

    • Hey, Adam, this is far less political than you may think. As with many things in life, it’s a lot more simple than it looks. First, please see my comment above:

      * 2 is incorrect (I live in NE Bernal, and some neighbors and I set up the meeting).
      * 5 is correct, afaik Hillary is organizing the next meeting, and it was announced by the Supervisor’s office the day after our meeting last week.
      * 8 is totally spot on, and we have no affiliation with any Supervisorial candidate (but we certainly appreciate any and all attention from current and future Supervisors; I have follow-up meetings scheduled with both Josh and Hillary).
      * 9 is incorrect, but it is certainly fair to say the meeting certainly came about partly as a result of Supervisor Campos’s negligence towards his constituents.

      Hope that helps!

      • Greetings! One minor further correction: the meeting on 10/28 seems to have been in the works for a while, and was organized (I believe) at the behest of another neighbor in NE Bernal, who contacted Campos’s office and the BHNC. Someone had posted the details on Nextdoor, but they were buried in the comments on another post instead of appearing as its own post.

      • Ryan – While we’re using numbers, here are 2 reactions I had to reading your response, either:

        1. This guy is so fake
        2. Poor guy is unaware he’s a pawn being used for political posturing

      • Ryan, Thank you for adding your context to my comments. Let me add a few points:

        1. I heard about the Jan. 28 meeting well before I heard about the Arce meeting. I thought it was one of Capt. McFadden’s monthly meetings with residents of the Ingleside Police District (he was last there in November, I believe).

        2. Campos should have been invited. He is the sitting supervisor, and will be until a replacement is sworn in. If people are unhappy, they should have been allowed to say why, politely. Because he wasn’t the meeting took a political tinge.

        3. You say Arce did not speak. That is not true. He described where he lived in the Mission (25th and Harrison, I believe) and offered to work with the group on crime prevention strategies. Presumably this would help his election bid. Certainly Mr. Lappin knows this.

        4. There is a lot riding on this election. In 2015 Lee lost his conservative majority on the board. Arce could help him get it back.

        As I said before, the outbursts by both Campos and Lappin were unfortunate, but I think this whole situation could have been handled much better.

  12. Sorry to see… getting ugly on the North Slope. (and obviously it’s been ugly for quite some time now)
    But yup, Bernalwood has over-extended.
    Just the news, please.
    Advocacy should come on another blog of your creation..

  13. I also attended the meeting and felt that, apparently naively, that politics was not the topic until Campos made it so. I was there out of concern for safety in the neighborhood. I came away with a few tips- go with yor gut, if someone is acting suspicious call it in, the more reports the cops get, including car breakins, the more likely they’ll be in our neighborhood even if it is not immediately, the focus of their attention goes to the highest areas of problems. Get as many of your neighbors on the same awareness level as you can. As to who set up the meeting, other than acknowledging and thanking those that did, for the most part, the focus was on what I came to hear.

  14. If the mayor’s office can serve you better than the district supervisor, of course you work with the mayor’s office. There’s nothing conspiratorial or undemocratic about it. At this point, there’s nothing to be gained by engaging with Campos and his core constituents, only insults and delays come out it.

  15. One thing we haven’t seen. What steps, if any, is the city going to take in response to this uptick in crime?

    • This would involve:

      – residents voting for elected officials who are robust on crime
      – juries (made up of residents) being willing to convict
      – prosecutors being willing to pursue charges on property and ‘quality of life’ crime
      – judges willing to punish offenders rather than ‘divert’ (back to the street)

      I don’t anticipate any of these things happening. Without them, there is absolutely no point attending ‘community meetings’ on crime.

      Hopefully, the ultimate outcome of Peruta v San Diego County will mean a lot more concealed firearms being borne by citizens in the city. Might make perps think twice about committing crimes in SF (which, given the above, seems an attractive prospect).

  16. To beat a dead horse here in case folks are not reading all the sub-comments:

    This meeting was organized by NE bernal residents frustrated with Campos’s response to their concerns. The meeting was scheduled even though the organizers were aware of another neighborhood crime meeting being scheduled by Campos’s office (and even though that meeting had, in fact, already been scheduled). Campos was not invited to this meeting.

    A candidate for D9 supervisor, Joshua Arce, who is an ally of the mayor and is running against Campos’s aide Hilary Ronen, helped with the organization of this meeting, “rounding up” Capt. McFadden and a rep from the mayor’s office. He did not round up anybody from Campos’s office. He formally introduced himself to the group and said he was available to help.

    Campos attended the meeting with his aide (and D9 supervisor candidate) and raised his hand during q&a, spouting off about the political stunt that was taking place — what he described as the elephant in the room.

    Todd interrupted Campos and told him he was out of line for politicking at this meeting.

    I seriously do not mean to defend Campos here, and in general it does seem like he politicizes everything and he plays the same cutthroat style of politics that every other politician in SF does (especially, it should be noted, the mayor). But this whole meeting and this blog post is turning out to be a bit of an embarrassment for NBNA and Todd, who have been sucked into this sordid political game while apparently believing that they really just care about neighborhood crime issues.

    NBNA is clearly a mayor and Arce front group (until proven otherwise) while Todd is leaning that way, too (or at least, an anti-Campos crusader). Fine with me — but own it, and don’t be so sanctimonious about Campos fighting fire with fire, and don’t be so shocked when you get burned.

  17. Todd – en masse you’ve done good work for the neighborhood with this blog, and I wish I had commented before letting you know that instead of leading off with a criticism…..

    But this post, this personal feud with Campos, all the machismo is a low point. I know people are cheering you on, but that doesn’t mean it’s right.

    There are times in a man’s life where he needs to stand up for what’s right in public (whether it’s right or not) and that’s what you thought you were doing at that meeting, but this post, celebrating some sort of “activism” on your part, is only written to embarrass Campos, with that silly graphic on the top you took the trouble of making. Is that your platform, to make fun of Campos, without ever really addressing any other political issue on Bernalwood? Sure, you’re focused on property crime, but you’re also ignoring so much, and that’s part of what makes this so small-minded and petty. Let’s be honest – this post, the way it was written, serves really no purpose besides bullying.

    You already said what you needed to say in the meeting, and the message was obviously heard by Campos and Bernal neighbors frustrated with him, so what are you writing here? Well, I hate to say it, but you’re writing nothing except “Look at me! I felt manly the other day,” and at length. What would have happened if Campos finished his thought? Well, the only repercussions would’ve been personal, you regretting not shouting him down. So why celebrate this in this way?

    You’ve devolved from neighborhood spokesman to manchild. SF already has a reputation for adult techies running around acting like children, no need to perpetuate the stereotype.

    Keep up the good work – but enough with this already.

    • Nice victim blaming and kudos for throwing in some stereotyping. Campos interrupts a meeting held specifically because his office refuses to deal with the white adult techies (but somehow has time to propose a Latin Neighborhood) and it’s Todd’s fault for (a) stopping Campos’ self serving speech and (b) reporting on it. If you want to deal with YOUR Political issues start your own blog instead of whining about Todd not being able to read your mind.

      • I see – so The aggressor is now the victim and Campos is racist against white people?

        Since you are worried about the white racism epidemic will you be voting for Trump?

  18. There are a lot of Campos apologists out there, but I don’t buy it. My observations and experience is that he responds when there’s a political cost to be paid or earned. Thanks, Todd. However, I’m not holding that against Hilary Ronen. I’ll look fairly at all of the candidates and hope for an improvement in our supervisorial representation.

    • Totally agree. We’ve all had ineffective bosses — the question is whether we emulate those traits, or use them as a tool to avoid such antipatterns in the future.

  19. it’s a shame that it has taken this long to showcase campos’ complete & longstanding disinterest in his district and the issues that really matter to those of us who have to live in S.F. 2.0

  20. Keep up the good work Todd!

    I for one am baffled at all the people complaining about this post. Aside from clearly not understanding the difference between a blog and other journalistic sources, these folks seem way too invested in some sort of political conspiracy theory. What would Todd have to gain from being a mouthpiece for any side of this? Is Bernalwood running for office?

    I wasn’t at this meeting myself and if it weren’t for the post wouldn’t have been aware of campos’ douchebaggery. This definitely further colors my opinion of him, but totally supports previous accounts, and I’m glad this account is out here. Rock on, bernalwood.

    • I think it’s more about how lame it is that Todd spends so much time here patting himself on the back when even he admits he didn’t clearly understand the context of Campos’ objections.

      Todd has better ways to serve the neighborhood and only does harm to the blog with this kind of self-serving crap.

  21. You’re not alone, Campos doesn’t care about crime in the Mission either. He’s become calle 24’s lapdog and can’t be termed out soon enough.

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