Photo credit: Kevin Hume/San Francisco Examiner

By Joel Engardio

Justice reform is necessary. To make it happen, residents must feel safe. But that requires transparent and accessible crime data residents can trust. San Francisco doesn’t have this because City Hall fumbled the creation of the Justice Tracking Information System. After two decades in the making and tens of millions of dollars, it still doesn’t properly function.

Good data would help residents understand what is really happening in our district attorney’s office, the police department, and the courts.

Lessons From Chicago: Good Data Matters
Transparent and accessible crime data that residents can trust is the key piece missing…

San Francisco school board recall

By Joel P. Engardio

Butterflies in the stomach are common when anticipating the start of any school year. But there’s high anxiety this year as parents and kids hope for a return to real, in-person learning.

Will the delta variant derail getting kids back in the classroom? So far, public health officials say being in school is the safest and best place for a child’s well-being.

Yet anxious parents don’t trust that San Francisco’s public school board will put children first — especially after it spent the past year more concerned about renaming schools than safely reopening them.

The issue…

By Joel P. Engardio

There are 52 superior court judges serving San Francisco. They are elected. Yet most voters have never heard of them. The judiciary shouldn’t be a mysterious Star Chamber. If you care about courtroom outcomes, it’s important to know who the judges are when they appear on the ballot. Join the Court Watch program at Stop Crime SF to get informed. I help lead the group.

Why should we care who the judges are? …

The victim, suspect, and judge.

By Joel P. Engardio

When a 94-year-old woman was stabbed on the sidewalk outside her Lower Nob Hill home, local media in San Francisco named the victim and the suspect — but curiously never named a central figure in the story: Superior Court Judge Richard Darwin. This is a disservice to the public.

Here’s the full story: Judge Darwin saw Daniel Cauich in his courtroom on burglary charges two weeks before Cauich allegedly stabbed Ahn Taylor. Judge Darwin put Cauich back on the street with an ankle monitor despite Cauich’s extensive criminal history, which included a previous murder charge.


Photo credit: Thomas Park/Unsplash

Two moms with graduating seniors are the guest writers of this blog post. They call out the politicians who played games with school reopening.

This blog post is dedicated to the kids who survived more than a year of learning loss along with physical and mental isolation in Zoom school. It’s also dedicated to the exhausted parents who had to organize and protest to become their own heroes in the fight to reopen schools.

Please read and share this essay by two moms who speak for many.

Joel Engardio

A Bad Lesson
By Christina Moragon and Kate Stoia


Pierce Smith, 81, and Ed Taylor, 27.

By Joel P. Engardio

Is it possible to create housing in San Francisco that isn’t controversial?

Pierce Smith and Ed Taylor discovered a way to quietly meet their housing needs while avoiding the city’s fierce political battles over where and what to build.

Their solution doesn’t change neighborhood character, pit landlords against tenants, or take a decade to get approved and built. They joined a nonprofit program called Home Match that pairs seniors who have an extra bedroom with people looking for an affordable place to live.

Seniors get additional income, help around the house, and someone to talk to…

Roberta Bechtel and Carol Dimmick at Triangle Park

By Joel P. Engardio

There’s a reason Christopher Guest mockumentaries and fictional TV shows like Schitt’s Creek and Parks and Recreation are so popular. They reveal the humor and pathos in the daily travails of a town’s residents trying to make their patch of life better.

And the little guy gets to win, or at least find purpose after enduring the indignity of living in a world where you can’t beat City Hall.

If neighborhood politics in San Francisco were a Netflix show, 77-year-old Carol Dimmick would be a central character. She raised two sons, became an investigative journalist in…

Welcome to my special newsletter about ways to change the San Francisco school board and how to get involved. This is update 13.

Find out below how an upcoming Supreme Court case could help Alison Collins win her $87 million lawsuit against the San Francisco school district and her fellow commissioners. The saga of our school board never ends.

This newsletter contains:

  • Supreme Court Takes Case That Could Help Alison Collins Lawsuit
  • What’s the Difference Between Recall and Reform?
  • Drive-Thru Recall Petition Signing (Sunday May 2)
  • The Case for Recalling the School Board
  • Recall Timeline
  • Action Items

Do you have…

By Joel P. Engardio

The security video that shows the violent attack of an 84-year-old grandfather on a San Francisco street is horrifying to watch. It went viral, documenting one of the many attacks on Asian American seniors since the pandemic started.

Rong Xin Liao survived the jump-kick to his face and the impact of being thrown to the concrete sidewalk from his walker seat as he waited for the bus. But he suffered a skull fracture and needed surgery to relieve brain swelling.

It took more than a year for Rong Xin Liao and his family to get their…

Welcome to my special newsletter about ways to change the San Francisco school board and how to get involved. This is update 11.

Our first drive-thru for signing the school board recall petition was a huge success. Nearly 500 people showed up! And 20 volunteers made everything run smoothly.

We’re going to do more drive-thrus to meet demand. Here are the next two dates:

Sunday April 18
11am to 1pm
Eucalyptus Drive in front of Lowell High School

Sunday April 25
11am to 1pm
Eucalyptus Drive in front of Lowell High School

Drive-thru traffic flow map

Joel Engardio

Forward-thinking + pragmatic Democrat, civil liberties advocate, award-winning journalist, Westside SF homeowner. My local views at

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