July 13, 2008
The Chron on Bradford

The Chron has a curious article about former HPD Chief Clarence Bradford, who is now running for District Attorney as the Democratic candidate. I say "curious" because I can't tell if it's a special one-time-only story about one candidate, or if it's the first in a series. I don't think it's the latter, since there's no indicator of such, and since it's awfully early for the Chron to begin its notoriously meager coverage of local races, so one wonders what brought this story on. That's a question I can't answer.

The story focuses on Bradford's tenure as HPD Chief, and it's not particularly flattering, though Bradford does a decent job defending himself.

On the crime lab mess, with its flawed testing of DNA and other evidence leading to overturned convictions, Bradford accepts limited blame.

"What I should have done -- which I didn't see until this all blew up -- I should have at least annually gotten independent audits of the crime lab, as opposed to relying on, like the two previous chiefs had done, this particular supervisor ... stating the crime lab met all the federal standards," he said. "So, yes, that's when I dropped the ball. I relied too heavily on the people with the science and biology degrees."

Bradford, with degrees in criminal justice, public administration and law as well as training by the FBI National Academy and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, considers the lab failures a plus for him now: "I am able to learn from those and move forward. ... That makes me more prepared to go in and deal with organizational issues such as these."

The former chief, however, said he had no intention of reading all of the reports on the two-year, $5.3 million investigation of the crime lab by a team led by Michael Bromwich, a former U.S. Justice Department inspector.

Asked why, Bradford replied: "Because I was part of the process (of the investigation). I am familiar with the reports; I have read the summary of all of them."

The reports repeatedly fault HPD's "chain of command" for lax oversight. Bradford said he disagrees with some of the conclusions.

I'd like to know if we'll see as much ink spilled on what Bradford and his opponent Pat Lykos hope to do with the DA's office going forward as we've seen here on Bradford's past. For instance, Bradford now advocates removing the crime lab from the purview of HPD and the DA's office and making it completely independent; the story doesn't mention that, or what Lykos would do with it, at all. I realize that everyone's happy to see Chuck Rosenthal hit the road, but the issues in that office didn't magically solve themselves upon his departure, and as both Bradford and Lykos have different visions about where the District Attorney should go from here, it'd be nice to have some attention paid to that. And if we are going to spend time talking about the candidates' past experiences - certainly a reasonable and valid approach - then bring on the companion piece about Lykos, and every other candidate for countywide office. If that's what we're going to get, then let's get going. Election Day will be on us before you know it.

UPDATE: Alan Bernstein emails to remind me of this Lykos profile from the primaries. He also says we will indeed be seeing more like this, and more about campaign issues, which warms the cockles of my heart.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 13, 2008 to Election 2008
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