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Saturday, January 7, 2012

A big thank you to Sheriff Michael Hennessey - great man and thanks for your 32 years of service to the City and County of San Francisco.

We in San Francisco have been blessed these many years to have a great Sheriff in Michael Hennessey who lives in District 9 in San Francisco.

Some years ago - I wrote a letter to Sheriff Hennessey never expecting a reply - but he did reply. I thanked him for providing extra help on weekends to clean the streets on San Bruno Avenue.

Those were the days when we had more Maltese, more French, and more Italian Americans. Armanino's long gone was always busy and you could get a very good sandwich.

There was the Italian pizza place - La Bella Pizza - the flour was fresh and the toppings tasted excellent.

We had a Danish furniture place - and Zuppos that sold high quality carpets.

Ace Hardware was on San Bruno and now gone. Vick and Betty had the best BBQ - and many still remember the pastry store - Lido's.

The Avenue Theater showed films - complete with some one playing the organ. No more.

The Ayoob family had several stores and of course the San Bruno Market was the best - it had fresh produce and one of kind meat cuts. It was all good.

We had a bustling community and we always kept San Bruno Avenue clean. And the man that make that happen on the weekends was Sheriff Michael Hennessey.

In my later years I got involved with issues linked to violence, truancy, gang injunctions, education, land use, planning, environmental issues, transportation, policing - and so on. The name Michael Hennessey always came up.

The Community Response Network and other models were created here, there and everywhere. When it came to incarceration and the release of prisoners - we always heard the name Michael Hennessey.

Some of us called 850 Bryant the Hotel - other called San Bruno Jail the motel - families needed to visit those incarcerated - and sometimes you needed help.

Not everything is A OK - and so I made some calls and mentioned to those working on the lower totem pole - that I knew Michael Hennessey - and they would always comply. Thank you guys.

On occasion I emailed Sheriff Michael Hennessey - explained to him the situation - and each and every time he got back to me - and solved the problem.

I never introduce the topic that I had a connection with Michael Hennessy to anyone. However, the few that I helped were surprised how I did it. Well, Michael Hennessey is a good man - and he watches everyone  like a hawk. He know when some one ask for help - and if he adjudicates well - you will get it if you deserve it.

There is no doubt he watches me - and all my testimony and representation at City Hall.

Often times when I met him at City Hall - he would comment about my representation. Some one has to do it - some one has to represent the people at large.

Our great City needs the best - and we must not permit on San Francisco - Board of Supervisors and our Mayor of San Francisco - to be in a state of - doldrums. 

Thirty two years is a long, long time doing the type of work Sheriff Michael Hennessey has accomplished.

He brought learning into the jail system. Encouraged gardens and many of us - have tasted the fruits of those gardens and appreciated the labor of our inmates.

Inmates left with some skills and many learned to become better fathers and contribute to society.

Many inmates - after learning about gardening - loved gardening.

Many did it for the first time in their lives. When they were set free - many continued gardening in the community and this was good.

But, what is important to note - many spiritually healed themselves.  There is something that changes you when you are close to the dirt, plant, nurture the plants, in the open with the fresh air hitting your face - one sees first hand so many benefits - from the toil and sweat of one's labor of love.

After 9/11 we had all sorts of security problems. I have a brace and every time I go to City Hall - I get a special "wand" - some to the Sheriffs are nice and on occasion you will get a nasty one - making you lift you pants and trying to act important - wanting to know exactly what is hidden underneath your pants.

It is nice when the other Sheriffs intercede and the nasty one slows down - gets to know me - and learns to do a profession job and be diplomatic - in the long run.

I learned much when I worked for the United States Park Police. The good ones and the bad ones - having a gun does not mean nothing - it matters if you are a decent person and respect others.

More at City Hall - where most people come - to get their work done - professionally. There is no reason to act as if one is at the Airport.

I must say the Sheriffs at City Hall are mostly professional and those that have been there for a longer period - are good friends with me. But, no one tops Sheriff Michael Hennessey.

It is a shame that in this Nation we incarcerate so many people for non-violent crimes. I visit the jails be it San Quentin - Chowchilla for the women - other facilities for some qualified purpose.

Nationwide - Michael Hennessey has been instrumental to think outside the box.

Work with those entities that believe in progress and take a holistic approach.

Michael Hennessey has worked closely with Public Defender - Jeff Adachi, Chief Gregory Suhr, District Attorneys in the past and present, and City Attorneys in the past and present - and others to bring about change and look at the individual as a human being.

I have never heard anyone bad mouth Sheriff Michael Hennessey - and even when you complement this well rounded, always smiling, and with a sound disposition, gentleman - he will say little and smile.

Sheriff Michael Hennessey has done a lot for our diverse San Francisco community - be they Black, Latino, Samoan, Native American, White, Asian - he has got to know communities and has treated most everyone fairly.

That is not to say that everything is fine in the jails when  it comes to some Sheriff that take matters into their hands.

We have evidence of some Sheriffs beating inmates, handling them roughly, and keeping them in seclusion.

Sheriff Michael Hennessey would not tolerate this - but the matter of fact is that - we know this is happening on occasion and should not happen.

Inmates come from Society and so it is we the Society that produce the various types of inmates who commit various types of crimes - they are  products from the Society - and all of us must acknowledge that - first.

One single decent person who can garner strength, have the guts to address from the heart, and is strong mentally, spiritually, and physically can make a difference.

We must learn to prevent crimes and we must have a way - to stop anyone and everyone to jail - shirking our responsibilities - in Society - will not help.

Restorative Justice is one way - but human as we are - dealing with various cultures, bringing so much diversity, we all can help be it at the Juvenile stage, the Adult Jail System, providing jobs in the Private and Government.

Involving Community Based Organizations, the Faith Based Organization, Law Enforcement, Private Industry, Foundations - we all must pool our resources. We can do this in San Francisco.

There is a deep connection with our Juvenile System and what happens with our adult population in our Adult System and jails.

Mr. William Sifferman will tell you - all you want to know about the Juvenile System. So will his assistant Allen Nance.

I met Mr. Sifferman early on and have kept in touch with him. Mr. Sifferman is a good man, as is Sheriff Michael Hennessey, as is Police Chief Gregory Suhr, and Public Defender Jeff Adachi. These men are one of a kind - I have been around and know what I speak of.

All of them are available - in the sense they can be reached and you can offer solutions - they have no time to waste - and so it is pointless to bother them to vent.

We have a small group of ardent men and women and we do what we have to do - to address crime and bring about solutions.

There is no point wasting time and not addressing the issue at hand - since most of those that commit crimes are just a few "bad apples" - that we in our community can do something about it.

We have some models that work and should be funded - like the Community Response Network.

One has to gauge the caliber of the work and their impact on the general community. They work well with all Law Enforcement and are respected by the public at large.

The Ambassador Program where a team walks the streets - you see them more on San Bruno Avenue where crime is less and less walking - on Third Street where crime is more. Most of time you can catch them taking a break visiting the many cafes on San Bruno Avenue.

Recently they were introduced to Mid and Central Market - same thing - they can only do so much - because they really do not have the knack to handle crime and the few criminals - that can be nipped in the bud.

We must have programs to stop truancy - and Sheriff Michael Hennessey, Public Defender Jeff Adachi, Mr. William Sifferman, and Police Chief Gregory Suhr know about this serious issue.

They cannot do much - without the Public's help. We have over 10,000 truants and our population is about 816,000. Why so many truants?

Our jails get full and our social services clogged when we do not offer our constituents affordable housing and opportunities. Why?

It is a shame when hundreds of families have no place to go and have to sleep in shelters - noisy, dirty, full of bed bugs, and characters that prey on the innocent.

It is much more dangerous when single mothers - have to deal with such conditions.

It is a crime to permit innocent children to suffer. Our compassionate City and County of San Francisco must not permit that. Never - ever.

When the youth are forced to endure hardship, fend for themselves, forced to commit crimes, prostitute and so on - than in the end someone has to deal with them.

The journey is all the more difficult - when you deal with youth and adults that are traumatized. 

The tax payers has to pay for the services - while Sheriff Michael Hennessey, Chief Gregory Suhr, Public Defender Jeff Adachi, and Juvenile Director William Sifferman - have to sweat and figure out a way - to maintain stability and being about rehabilitation.

I mention the names and the persons above because for a long time they all have worked for the betterment of our community. San Francisco acknowledges that - and respect them all for their good work.

I know this and have observed the various components of Law Enforcement - in San Francisco - participating for many years at the Safety Meetings - that now have turned drab and shallow.

With the departure of Sheriff Michael Hennessey for a long time a void will be created.

True, Ross Mirkarimi can do some - the work is difficult  and arduous - Ross Mirkarimi will do it - and it will take - time and we wish him the best.

I mention the others because I know each of them will step up, help and contribute.

Some one - who is an advocate and know these issues - must put it in writing so that these department heads - fully comprehend that some of us know what it entails to service our community in a holistic manner.

Each of the Department heads play a role and to each to them we owe our gratitude. Our sincere - gratitude.

Michael Hennessy you were a good friend to me.

I will miss you and hope that on your journey in life - what ever do do - God will Bless You and your Family - I thank you - so very much.