The message below was sent to Mayor London Breed, Board of Supervisors and Rec&Park Commissioners on 19JAN2022
Dear Mayor Breed,
The Open the Great Highway Alliance and Concerned Residents of the Sunset hereby demand the immediate removal of Phillip Ginsburg as General Manager of the Recreation and Parks Department based on the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force's unanimous conclusion that he committed willful violations of law constituting official misconduct. Three separate agenda items heard by the SOTF on January 5, 2022, involved allegations by different petitioners against Mr. Ginsburg and RPD for violating legal obligations under the California Public Records Act and/or the city's Sunshine Ordinance. In all three instances, the SOTF unanimously found that Mr. Ginsburg and his department violated the law. Significantly, as to agenda item 7 (which in fact became the 8th item called when a later matter was moved up), file No. 21084 (Complaint filed by Charles Perkins and Concerned Residents of the Sunset against Phil Ginsburg and the Recreation and Parks Department), the Task Force, after a full hearing and by a 9-0 vote, found, under Administrative Code section 67.34, that Mr. Ginsburg personally committed willful violations of the law as codified in both the CPRA and the city's Administrative Code. Section 67.34 of that latter code provides that a willful violation of the law is official misconduct, and per section 15.105(e) of the San Francisco Charter, this finding means that Mr. Ginsburg's conduct "falls below the standard of decency, good faith and right action implied required of all public officers," and subjects him to discipline, including removal from office.
The final minutes from the January 5, 2022, meeting not yet available, but an audio recording of the hearing is, beginning at the 4 hour, 11 minute, 50 second mark of this link: https://sanfrancisco.granicus.com/player/clip/40231?view_id=95&redirect=true. It is important to note that while the SOTF referred the matter to the Ethics Commission per Administrative Code section 67.34 for its own consideration of "willfulness," the Task Force went out of its way to make clear that it was itself unanimously making a finding of willfulness. The SOTF's discussion, available at the link above, is quite illuminating.
The SOTF is appointed by the Board of Supervisors to advise and make findings on Sunshine Ordinance and CPRA compliance issues, among other things. San Francisco cannot allow persons who have been found to have engaged in wrongdoing constituting official misconduct by unanimous vote of its own body charged with administering the law in question to continue holding office, and we demand that Mr. Ginsburg immediately be removed.
The findings by the SOTF that Mr. Ginsburg has willfully violated the law are not the slightest bit surprising. The matter at issue involved efforts to gain transparency into what has otherwise been a behind-closed-doors endeavor by Mr. Ginsburg, his department, and other city agencies and grant recipients to keep San Francisco's Upper Great Highway forever closed to drivers of automobiles. Public records and other information we have obtained demonstrate conclusively that Mr. Ginsburg and his department have invested massive public resources to advance, promote, and lobby for their desired result, and not in a fair and neutral way, but through a biased, one-sided effort that intentionally has used misleading and even false information. To the extent you have not already seen it, we would be happy to share additional information establishing these facts.
Under no model of good government should unelected public officials be able to channel the powerful machinery and resources of government to advocate for one side only on a highly partisan political question, and not only that, operate in secrecy and be less-than-forthright with other government officials and the public in advancing the agenda. There is no question that Mr. Ginsburg and his department have intentionally eschewed transparency in their efforts--you may be aware that in a May 29, 2021, letter, for example, Supervisors Chan, Melgar, and Mar chided Mr. Ginsburg and SFMTA Director Jeff Tumlin for their lack of transparency in connection with certain efforts to keep the Upper Great Highway closed--and the three January 5, 2022, SOTF agenda items for which Mr. Ginsburg and his department were found to have acted illegally are just a small drop in the bucket.
As Mayor of San Francisco, it is your duty to preserve the public trust and ensure that non-elected city leaders act legally and ethically, and are held to the highest standard of integrity. San Francisco's SOTF has unanimously concluded that Mr. Ginsburg has committed legal violations that constitute official misconduct under the San Francisco Charter, and the public trust and confidence demands that he be removed from office immediately.
Open the Great Highway Alliance
Concerned Residents of the Sunset