Among the reasons local newspapers are failing is they are managed and staffed by persons with no ties or historical knowledge of the communities they cover. Tal Kopan, the Washington bureau chief for the San Francisco Chronicle, is a case in point. There’s nothing in her bio to suggest she’s spent much time in San Francisco or even visited the Bay area.
Like many Beltway reporters, Kopan compensates for her ignorance by making stuff up and manufacturing narratives that align with her bias. Kopan this week spun a folksy feature about Kamala Harris and reinforced the media’s mistaken notion that Harris has a history of progressivism, particularly with regards to law enforcement. In fact, Harris was responsible for one of the obscenest prosecutions in the history of the republic. Harris is reportedly a leading candidate for Joe Biden’s running mate.
CalMatters, a deserving nonprofit focused on California politics and policy, last September reported that when Harris was district attorney she prosecuted a schizophrenic Japanese-American woman named Teresa Sheehan who was severely injured when two female police officers shot her for coming after them with a knife. A jury deadlocked on the assault charges and found her not guilty of threatening to kill a social worker who had called the police to help get Sheehan into a psychiatric hospital.
Sheehan was subsequently awarded a $1 million settlement and her civil suit resulted in a landmark appellate court ruling requiring the police to take more care when interacting with people they know have a mental illness. According to a 2014 report, more than half of those killed by San Francisco police are mentally ill.
Asked by CalMatters in September about Harris’ prosecution of Sheehan, her spokeswoman replied: “It was the responsibility of the District Attorney’s office to pursue accountability for individuals who may have committed assault against police officers.”
Here’s what Laurie Levenson, a criminal law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles specializing in ethical advocacy, told CalMatters: “Somebody used very poor judgement in deciding to bring these charges. If (Harris) actually looked at it and said, ‘This is a righteous case, I want to go after a mentally ill woman who was shot,’ then you question that decision. If she didn’t know about it, they you question her management skills.”
Charging a mentally ill woman isn’t the only blight on Harris’ supposedly progressive record. Here in California we have a notoriously corrupt utility called PG&E whose litany of misdeeds and mob-like tactics I’ve previously written about.
PG&E’s decades of wrongdoing was made possible by California politicians who have benefitted from the utility’s generous campaign contributions, including current governor Gavin Newsom. A prominent PG&E lobbyist is Harris’ former boyfriend Willie Brown, San Francisco’s former controversial mayor who launched Harris’ career with an appointment widely criticized as “political patronage.”
PG&E would literally have gotten away with murder if Harris had her way. A 2010 deadly explosion in a Bay area neighborhood due to PG&E’s negligence killed eight people and ravaged a residential neighborhood. Despite pleas from local officials to charge the company, Harris looked the other way. Federal prosecutors stepped in and secured the utility’s conviction on six criminal charges, plus a maximum $3 million fine. The judge also ordered court supervision of PG&E’s natural gas operations, a major rebuke of PG&E’s politically appointed regulators.
There have also been allegations that when Harris was attorney general she spiked an investigation of PG&E’s regulator to protect her Democratic cronies. The National Review compiled 20 other details about Harris’ controversial career you won’t be reading about in the corporate media if she becomes Biden’s running mate.
There have been reports the Biden campaign also is considering Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms for the VP nominee spot because they’ve been impressed with Bottoms’ recent television appearances during her city’s unrest. I’m guessing 77-year-old Biden didn’t appreciate Harris’ “slow jam” act on The Tonight Show.
The majority of Americans believe Biden is in the early stages of dementia and chances are overwhelming that his vice-presidential pick will ultimately become president. There is nothing in Harris’ background or accomplishments that remotely qualifies her to become commander in chief. Anti-Trumpers would be wise to oppose her VP nomination if they don’t want to leave Biden’s election to chance.
There were good reasons why Californians didn’t support Harris when she sought the nomination for president. And Ricky Jones, chair of Pan-African studies at the University of Louisville, says that blacks have good reason not to trust her as well.