Sunday, October 07, 2007

CIRCUS COMING TO TOWN

Mayor Newsom’s decision to employ the City Charter to oust criminally accused, but not yet convicted, Supervisor Ed Jew could set the stage for some entertaining political theater.

Here’s the process:

1. Mayor suspends Supervisor Jew and names his own employee, Carmen Chu, as “interim” replacement.

2. San Francisco Ethics Commission holds a hearing and otherwise investigates Newsom’s allegations against Jew.

3. The Ethics Commission concludes either that Jew should be permanently removed or not, and communicates their opinion to the Board of Supervisors.

4. The Board of Supervisors considers the recommendation of the Ethics Commission (and conducts its own hearings and investigations?).

5. The Board of Supervisors votes on permanently removing Ed Jew.

NOTE: There are eleven supervisors, one of whom, Jew’s replacement Carmen Chu, will not be allowed to vote. The City Charter requires nine votes for Jew to be removed. So Ed Jew needs the votes of only two supervisors to keep his seat.

Also NOTE: This City Charter provision has never before been utilized. Procedures are ill defined—nobody knows what they’re doing. Surprise? Newsom?

Ed Jew is fighting the mayor. Ed has a smart lawyer, Steveen Gruel, who’s going to make things tough for the Mayor.
(Photo from SF Sentinel.)


This could get interesting.

Steven Gruel has issued two requests that Newsom can’t possible like:

First: Gruel demanded that the members of the Ethics Commission to immediately cease any ex parte communications regarding this case with the Mayor’s Office and its reps and likewise cease any ex parte communication with the Board of Supervisors and its reps. (
Fog City Journal story here.)

As Gruel explains:

A basic precept of due process, of course, is that adverse parties and fact finders do not communicate about an active case in the absence of all interested parties. I see no reason why this simple rule ensuring fundamental fairness should not be followed here.


At least some of the Mayor’s critics see an unwholesome relationship between the mayor and the Ethics Commission.

The second Gruel letters really pissed off the City Attorney’s office (
FCJ story here).


Gruel requests copies of all documents and communications used by or in possession of the City Attorney that were used as basis for his (actually the Mayor’s) charges against Jew.

Gruel’s letter might have sounded kind of hardass, quote:

Finally, I expect that your response will be complete, truthful and in full accordance with the law. Not only will your response, or the lack thereof, possibly serve as an exhibit in any future federal or state lawsuit, but anything less than strict adherence to your lawful obligations and duties could provide clear grounds for removal proceedings under San Francisco Charter Section 15.105.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera was so pissed he had his press secretary issue a statement that is simply nasty (forwarded by h. brown).

In it Matt Dorsey says:

Apart from running up his client's legal bill, I don't understand the rationale for Mr. Gruel's continued theatrics.
and:
At this point, I think Mr. Gruel would better serve his client to focus on Mr. Jew's numerous legal problems than to engage in this ongoing publicity campaign.

These statements sound political rather than truth-seeking. Our tax dollars pay Mr Dorsey to fire off this crap. The pretense of concern for the accused is cheap rhetoric. I think Ed Jew and Steven Gruel is beyond taking advice from Dennis Herrera or Matt Dorsey.

The Ethics Commission, isn’t quite ready to proceed. They have scheduled a meeting later in October, not to hear the case, but to discuss how to go about hearing the case.

I hope the hearings are on TV (Comcast cable channel 26).

Now Gruel wants certain supervisors to recuse themselves from voting on Jew’s ouster, if and when the case reaches the Board (
SFGate story). Gruel says some supervisors have made public statements that show prejudice against Jew. Gruel threatens a federal lawsuit. SFGate story here.

Gruel’s strategy is to treat the Ethics Commission/Board of Supervisors proceedings like any other legal case in which all of the defendant’s civil and procedural rights are protected. This seems an impossibly high standard for the Ethics Commission.

There's no telling what will happen next.

I guess Mayor Newsom thought it was a good idea at the time.


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1 comment:

sfmike said...

A good idea at the time, when he was probably drunk or stoned? Jeez, this is getting crazier with every step. Thanks for the great roundup.