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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Greg Suhr: Was the New Police Chief a Bargaining Chip?

Posted By on Wed, Apr 27, 2011 at 2:38 PM

click to enlarge Suhr was worth millions
  • Suhr was worth millions

Mayor Ed Lee has finally chosen Greg Suhr, a veteran cop long attached to the good ol' boy network, as San Francisco's next chief of police. And why wouldn't he pick Suhr? That's who the San Francisco police union wanted.

Not to say that Suhr is the wrong choice. On the contrary: Everyone seems to like him well enough, despite his rocky career, which includes an indictment in the Fajitagate scandal. And let's not forget the humiliating smackdown then-Chief Heather Fong gave him when she transferred Suhr to be head of security for the city's water supply.
But Lee has a city to run, and a big part of closing this year's $300 million budget gap is to get the cops to give back millions in raises and pensions.

And for Lee to accomplish that, well, he had to make the union happy -- or more specifically, make union president Gary Delagnes happy.

In off-the-record conversations, insiders at City Hall told SF Weekly that cops, much to their dismay, will probably end up giving back tens of millions of dollars in exchange for Suhr.

"Basically, the union held the city hostage and said, 'Here is the deal. You want us to play ball on givebacks and pensions, then you give us the chief we want,'" our source tells us. "It was shoved down Ed Lee's throat, and I know this for a fact."

Suhr was the union's top choice because not only is he a San Francisco native who attended St. Ignatius and USF, but he has a good relationship with the rank and file. And that will work in the city's favor.

Jim Ross, a local political consultant who is friends with Suhr, told SF Weekly that he doesn't see how the union could have cut any deal with the mayor, considering union leaders would have to get their members to sign off on salary givebacks. But yes, it is true that Suhr was clearly the win-win candidate, Ross says.

"I think it was more 'Give us the chief we want so that you will have a better chance" at getting salary and pension givebacks, he says.

So now the question is: Will Suhr be worth the tens of millions of dollars cops will have paid for him?

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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