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Friday, August 26, 2011

Vu Trinh to D.A. Candidates: "I'm Coming. You Better Watch Out"

Posted By on Fri, Aug 26, 2011 at 9:00 AM

click to enlarge vu_trinh.jpg

D.A. candidate Vu Trinh shocked audiences earlier this month at a candidates debate with his blunt responses and confession that he's been arrested twice (both cases were dismissed). So who is this newcomer with an interesting past?

SF Weekly sat down with Trinh yesterday to find out more about why he wants to be the District Attorney and his arrest record. Trinh talked to us about his brush with the law and his hatred for political pettiness.

At the last debate, you said your experiences being arrested was what made you decide to practice law. Why is that?
The first time I was arrested, during my second year in college, was for a theft I didn't commit. It affected me in so many ways because my family has always been poor. I've always been poor and hungry and I stole. I was a thief. As a kid I wanted a lot of things. But I corrected myself, and by the time I got to college I'd succeeded in that, I've overcome the ... just seeing what you want and taking it without actually foreseeing the repercussions of things, not just in a greedy sense toward myself, but seeing it in a big picture.

When I was arrested it was an arrest by association. That hurt me not so much because I was accused of it, but just seeing the pain that occurred to my family. That changed me. That was what really forced me to focus in specifically into criminal law and to be a public defender.

Explain your apparent disdain for the political system.
I believe that a handshake is a handshake, that's what I dislike about government - is that they're always breaking their word. We've broken every treaty we sign as a country.

How do you feel about Ed Lee breaking his word?
I don't know a whole lot about Ed. He's kinda like me, I think, he never had politics in mind. People have the right to change their mind, and if he's a good candidate then he's good for us. So it's funny that he didn't want to be mayor, and who knows who talked him into it. But once you get into things, and the present hits you, you can't say that the past holds you to anything.

The other D.A. candidates have criticized Gascón's decision not to investigate the Run, Ed, Run campaign. What do you think?
I think he should look into it a little bit and see what was their mission. Was their mission to get people to come on board to convince the Mayor to run? Or was it a conspiracy with the mayor to raise money without having to declare his intent to run? But I would just ask Ed if he had anything to do with it. If he doesn't have anything to do with it, then why are we wasting our time talking about it?

You see the other three candidates, the D.A. candidates, why don't they focus on their D.A. race? They get together and they all write a letter together to go after Gascón. It's so pathetic. It's the pettiness that I don't like. Get over it and concentrate on your race. You better watch out. You're worried about George -- you'd better worry about me.

You aren't seeking endorsements for your campaign. Why not?
They can raise a million dollars, but I can be just as effective as any of them on my own. I'll get my message out just like they will, via the web.

You know, not everything's about money. They say, look at the candidates, look how much money they've made. So what? What are they doing to it? They took a hundred thousand and gave it to this (Jim) Stearns guy. What's he going to be able to advise me on? Nothing. No political consultant out there can advise Vu on anything in the criminal justice system because they don't know anything about the criminal justice system.

One of your plans is to set up a video surveillance program. That sounds a little Big Brother to us.
Well I don't think it's Big Brother, that's for sure. Big Brother is the way the Brits do it. They camera-up and they monitor it. They're looking at people. I don't need any law enforcement guy looking at anybody.

My program would be passive surveillance and a voluntary program. So what does that mean? If you go around to every government building in the city right now, they're all camera-ed up. Protect your building, I don't mind, but what I'm saying is that this program will give the people a voluntary way -- if you want a camera, we'll provide you a camera. It's not Big Brother looking in. It's you looking in, but we'll provide the camera for you. So it's a strategic collaborative effort between the San Francisco District Attorney's investigators and the people. So once something occurs, like a serious violent crime and someone calls, we will figure out what happened.

They said, "Oh, the former mayor Gavin Newsom tried this in 2006, but the video was all blurry." Well, how much money did you bleed there, Gavin, for blurry video? If I'm going to do it it's going to be crystal-clear high definition videos. I'll get the job done and I'll find the funds. And if we don't have the funds today, I'll put it on credit.

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Caroline Chen

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