Saturday, January 09, 2016

Mission Arson Complaint & SF Fire Dept's 1/13 Agenda

At the December 3rd meeting of the San Francisco fire commission, agenda item number 6 was listed as a report from the fire prevention and investigation unit which is responsible for arson issues.

Per SFFD custom, the item omitted crucial details including the fact that the arson deputy would discuss claims that the Mission is experiencing a large volume of arson fires.

I made a video of a portion of the arson investigator's report to the commission and it captured the attention of Mission Local, Capp Street Crap and Spike Kahn's Facebook page.

Fed up with unreasonably vague agendas, I lodged an open govt violation complaint against the fire commission with the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force, in the hope that it would force the fire department to get with a genuine transparency program that finally equals honest agendas.

It's my contention the fire officials knew the Mission arson controversy was on the December 3rd agenda and made no effort to publicize this so Mission residents would be in attendance to add their voices to the discussion.

The fire commission's president, Andrea Evans, replied to the SOTF complaint yesterday and her letter was forward to me. In it, Evans vaguely says "the agenda item relating to the Chief of Department's report was broadly worded." Yes, it was and so is this letter. 

Not once does the letter mention the words Mission arsons!

It goes on: "In the instance that gave rise to Mr. Petrelis' complaint, the intention was to have staff quickly provide information relating to the a public comment. The discussion stretched on longer than intended."

This isn't my recollection of how this item went down and I can't recall the commission in other matters reacting in such detail and at great length, to a public comment.

Something doesn't smell right when a San Francisco commission can't once clearly spell out what the complaint is about and I believe this is a subtle way of the fire department again diminishing Mission concerns about fires that may be arson.

As regular readers know, since October 2014 I've waged a sometimes lonely campaign to get the fire commission to move its meetings from SFFD headquarters at Second and Townsend Streets to City Hall and aired on SFGovTV.

To their credit, commissioners Ken Cleaveland and Francee Covington and president Evans, advocated on behalf of the City Hall move. I believe they join me, pleased that starting this Wednesday, January 13, at 9 am, fire commission meetings are at City Hall, vastly more accessible via public transit than headquarters, and on TV and the web.

My SOTF complaint about Mission arsons omitted from the commission's December 3rd agenda proves again how just filing complaints can bring about needed transparency changes to our City government.

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