Monday, June 18, 2007

Quo Warranto

Though it sounds like the title to a 1960s Spaghetti Western, "quo warranto" is from the medieval Latin for "by what warrant?" and dates from the 13th century in England when King Edward I was trying to recover his father King Henry III's lost land and belongings.

According to wikipedia, "Quo Warranto functioned as a court order (or "writ") to show proof of authority; for example, demanding that someone acting as the sheriff prove that the king had actually appointed him to that office (literally, "By whose warrant are you the sheriff?")."

San Francisco's City Attorney, Dennis Herrera, was asking California's Attorney General Jerry Brown "to grant permission for the City Attorney to sue in state Superior Court to remove Jew as a supervisor from San Francisco's District Four."

So he called a formal press conference to announce the fact, possibly because he had been upstaged last Tuesday by San Francisco's District Attorney, Kamala Harris, who announced she was filing perjury charges against Supervisor Jew for his statements about where he officially resided.

The City Attorney and the District Attorney were supposedly working together on the investigation, which must have cost a small fortune in man-hours (click here to get to the City Attorney's website where you can download the small bushel of legal statements paid for by San Francisco taxpayers). However, they seem to be working at total cross-purposes for the moment, in an attempt to have their pictures plastered in the media as Defenders of Democracy. Plus, I'm sure the FBI isn't all that thrilled to have their bribery case against Supervisor Jew trampled on by the local grandstanders.

In the press release and in the filing to Jerry Brown, Herrera writes about the "over-riding public interest in seeking the removal of an illegitimate office-holder: The uncertainty erodes San Francisco voters' confidence in their elected representatives and undermines their faith in City and County government. It breeds cynicism about the integrity of San Francisco's electoral process."

Actually, what "breeds cynicism" are whitewashing reports by the City Attorney on "City Payments to Ruby Rippey-Tourck" or the truly dreadful ruling Herrera made not long ago when he threw out thousands of petition signatures by residents of Bayview-Hunters Point who wanted to be able to vote on having their neighborhood destroyed by the Redevelopment Agency. He rejected them on a technicality, that the signature gatherers hadn't presented hundreds of pages of legal material to the signers, which somehow made the entire process invalid.

One of the reporters asked Herrera if he had been meeting with Mayor Newsom, and Herrera responded that he had a weekly meeting with the mayor. "And do you have records of those meetings?" asked Kimo Crossman, the Sunshine advocate. "No, they're confidential because of attorney-client privilege," he responded, which according to Crossman isn't true, but it's the City Attorney who gets to say what's legal and what's not, so there you have it.


Kimo C said...

From the San Francisco Sunshine Ordinance:

Information that must be disclosed

67.24 (b) (iii) Advice on compliance with, analysis of, an opinion concerning liability under, or any communication otherwise concerning the California Public Records Act, the Ralph M. Brown Act, the Political Reform Act, any San Francisco governmental ethics code, or this Ordinance.

sfwillie said...

The tone is perfect, like, let's not waste time looking for any good guys here. (Except Kimo, of course.)

Anonymous said...

i have to tangle with your take on the redevelopment referendum.

i was asked to sign that petition a bunch of times - and the requests were full of 'stop eminent domain from taking away our homes,' next to a poster showing a bulldozer wiping out homes.

the redevelopment ordinance says, very clearly, that eminent domain can not be used to take people's homes.

but i couldn't tell the sig-gatherers that, not that they would listen anyway - because they didn't have the redev ordinance with them.

they lied about the ordinance, stratight up. and they didn't have it with them, so no one could check their lies. too bad for them that their petitions didn't get in because of their lies.

sfmike said...

My friend Jack Murray, a noted retired Proust scholar in Santa Barbara had this to say about the local antics:

"And you expect me to accept the fact that someone political in SFO is actually named Ed Jew? Has he thought of changing it? And how do I tell the bad guys from the bad guys in all this? I'm with that lady with all the bags. Compared with those we consider sane, however evil, she's doing no more harm than taking up the entire front of a city bus with her lifetime accumulations. As for me, I somehow still carry them up in my head, which beats computer folders any day of the week. Until, of course, I'm hit by the bus carrying that lady with all the bags. Guess who'll have the last laugh (if she's capable of it)?"

sfmike said...

Dear anonymous: You may be the last anoymous poster allowed on this blog because frankly you sound like somebody who's being paid, either as a "public spokesman" or as a "regular person" created by a public relations agency. In a way I'm flattered that you people are finally noticing me, but you really are doing evil.

I run into people being paid to get signatures on petitions all the time and many of the initiatives are insanely misleading, and so are the people trying to get signatures. I've never seen ANY of them invalidated for that reason by the City Attorney, so this particular case sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb.

I also ran into a number of people with the Bayview-Hunters Point petition over the two or three months they were being passed around and the people collecting signatures were all volunteers, for christ's sake, not paid, and were passionate about what they were doing, as in trying to save their neighborhood from the Lennar Corporation jerks who are trying to take it over.

If you ever post here again, please do so under a traceable alias or don't post at all because I'll delete it immediately.

Erika said...

I think there is growing suspicion that the Mayor and City Attorney are in this together. Yes, it appears Jew was dishonest about his primary residence, and in doing so likely violated the law. But, Jew's lack of residency in the district was brought up during the campaign and city officials ignored the charge. What the local press needs to find out is if anyone filed papers with the Ethics Commission during the D4 campaign stating concerns about Jew's residency. If someone did file a complaint with Ethics, then the city is complicit.
I also heard Alioto-Pier does not have a primary residence in D2. Anyone looking into that one?

Tony said...

jeez, mike, what the hell??

i'm not paid for posting here, for crying out loud, wouldn't that be kind of a waste?

i'm also not paid for any kind of public advocacy anywhere. and i am certainly not 'doing evil.'

i would email you in an attempt to have a civil e-conversation with you and try to calm your hysteria about me ... but there doesn't seem to be an email link at this blog. so here i am posting. give me an address somewhere and i will be glad to email you.

now, can we ditch the stereotypes and get back to the subject?
you AGREE with me about 'insanely misleading' initiatives and sig-gatherers. ... ... in the middle of your insults.

mike, one huge reason this one got shot down by the CA was that it relied on an existing act of legislation, they DIDN'T have it, and they LIED about it. most initiatives have their own legislative language, and aren't relying on a repeal or referendum on something else. this one needed its own AND the source, because it was trying to overturn the source. doesn't that make some sense?, since that is what they were lying about

and by the way, i am also not a fan of Lennar or the redevelopment agency. ( i really wish someone, somewhere, would have a better idea about developing BVHP that didn't rely on african american homeowners selling their land.) but there aren't many good choices out there, and getting painted as some kind of Lennar zombie just because i have an opinion about the screwed-up referendum is really another disgusting part of the mess, IMO.

like i said, let me know if you require me to email you proof of - well, whatever - so i can be truly entitled to my own opinions.

Tony said...

also, mike, the RBA (not residents of BVHP, but competing developers) did pay sig-gathererers for that petition. maybe not the ones you met. bus still.

sfmike said...

Dear Tony: I've been having some problems with anonymous commenters lately, so I'm sorry if I tarred you with an incorrect brush. You're welcome to post here anytime as "tony." I'm curious, though, how you know so much about the issue.

If I remember correctly, the petition was calling for a city/countywide vote repealing the jurisdiction of the Redevelopment Agency that had just been handed over by the Mayor and the Board of Supevisors. If you're neither a Redevelopment Agency nor Lennar supporter, why would you object to that referendum coming to a vote?

Again, from the sound of it, you know more actual details about this than me, so please fill us in.

As for "i'm not paid for posting here, for crying out loud, wouldn't that be kind of a waste?" my response is that every city department in San Francisco seems to have a six-figure "public spokesman" and I think they're ALL a waste of money, but please accept my sincere apology. As far as "i'm also not paid for any kind of public advocacy anywhere, and i am certainly not 'doing evil," let me just say that I've been creating propaganda for corporations for decades so I'm not exactly mister spotless about "doing evil" myself.

All the best.

tony said...

i live on potrero hill, and i do a lot of volunteer work here and some in bayview.

over this decade i had kind of a front row seat for 2.5 supervisor recall attempts and this redevelopment petition drive.

the hallmark of all of them was this:
loud noisemaking at the front by the sf bay view (which is ok, i think newspapers should be louder these days) ... ... and money funneling in at the back (from SFSOS for at least one of the recalls, and the RBA for the referendum.)

here's the backstory on the referendum as i know it: brian o flynn, an RBA member who has a gripe against aaron peskin using eminent domain against a small patch of land in north beach, was the main funder of the effort, using RBA money. he paid for the posters of bulldozers taking out homes, he paid for signature gatherers across the city, he was the main speaker at the rallies.

the referendum was an RBA campaign, cloaked in eminent domain hysteria and big talk about 'residents defending the bayview' (against bulldozers that were clearly prohibited from going near their homes) ... ... when in fact the real issue was: which developers will profit from the gentrification and displacement of the bayview? lennar and big city-connected developers, or the RBA and small city-connected developers?

that is a VERY different issue than how you framed it in your post, and one where it is much harder to choose a side - especially in a neighborhood that is still burdened with a couple thousand badly built, overpriced studio apartments masquerading as 'live-work lofts' thanks to previous RBA scams.

i believe there is more of a chance of holding Redevelopment accountable at this time, with this particular plan (that has strong limits on eminent domain), than private developers who have already made a fortune out of scamming the system. i don't trust Redev or Lennar, but i trust the RBA even less. so like i said, i had to tangle with you on the subject.

you are correct about what the petition was calling for. what i mostly object to is that it was a rigged and, as you put it, 'insanely misleading' campaign that was using the residents of the bayview as dupes for a development scheme that would not help anyone but the RBA. i also object to forcing a citywide vote - how is that 'letting the bayview decide'? if anything, it's letting the sunset and st. francis wood decide for us, and no thanks, we've seen the results of that before.

true, other initiatives lie their way onto the ballot. but this time, the CA could do something about it, because the nature of this lie also broke a particular election law. so in the end, justice was served.

now it is up to all of us to make this particular redevelopment effort better and more accountable than previous ones.

let's hope that i toggle the correct radio button this time...

sfmike said...

Dear tony: You toggled the right button, and that's a fascinating amplification on the whole referendum. I believe you on every detail, unfortunately.

I'm still having problems with the City Attorney's very selective rulings, however. So many of the initiatives over the last thirty years have been so ridiculously deceptive, yet I can't remember a single one before this being thrown out by the City Attorney on those grounds. The same is true of Ed Jew, who I believe is guilty of all kinds of things, but the selective enforcement of "residency" is absurd after so many public officials have openly lived everywhere from Petaluma (Hallinan) to the Oakland Hills (Migden) over the years. Neither ruling by Herrera passes the smell test.

Now, enough Politics. I need Culture.

Anonymous said...

It's nice to know the District Attorney is willing to prosecute SOMEONE. When my car was stolen last December, and I recovered it at the City's impound lot (after paying the $188.25 impound fee, plus $30 for "storage" because the 4 hour grace period to waive the storage fee had expired 15 minutes earlier), the policeman who took my stolen car report almost laughed at me when I suggested they might dust my car for prints. He said that if I wanted them to do that, I'd have to pay them, it would take months to get the results, and then the DA's office wouldn't prosecute the thief even if they could identify him. So, why rent a car in San Francisco when you can steal one for free?

sfmike said...

Dear Alexandra: Thanks for the depressing and all-too-common story concerning our lazy, overpaid police force. Somebody recently broke into our building at the corner of Franklin and McAllister and after trying to get into a neighbor's apartment, he threatened the building manager who tried to stop him. They called 911 and after four hours the police finally arrived. "Where is he?" they asked. "Probably gone. It was four hours ago," the manager replied.

"We have videotapes in the lobby that have a picture of the guy," the manager told the police, who replied, "We could care less. Go back to your apartment and get out of our way." There's something seriously wrong with that department right now and it only seems to be getting worse.

marc said...


What: Hearing on SF Police Officers' Association Memorandum of Understanding (POA MOU)

Where: Public Safety Committee, City Hall, Room 263

When: Tuesday, June 26, 10AM

Why: Mayor Newsom has offered the SFPD an election year 24.5% raise with no concessions, the Board of Supervisors must SEND IT BACK!

Who: YOU, your friends and allies standing up against budget busting giveaways to the unaccountable SFPD

Eight Reasons to SEND IT BACK to the Mayor for renegotiation:

1. No 24.5% raise without performance guarantees and no raises for rogue cops

2. Civilian governance by the Police Commission, not POA, is made difficult

3. Housing down payment assistance should be loans, not gifts

4. No 4 year Agreement timed for mayoral election years, take politics out of SFPD compensation

5. Does not prohibit enforcement of pot and immigration laws

6. Does not address morale, rogue cops and internal turmoil as recruitment barriers

7. Does not discourage commuter cops

8. No analysis of increased retirement liability

(for further analysis of the MOU, please see below)

Please make time to attend this critical hearing. As the Mayor cuts the budgets of services upon which countless San Franciscans depend, he is offering up an unprecedented $80,000,000 (eighty million dollar) raise to the SFPD. The Mayor and POA claim that they need to compete in the market for recruits. But San Franciscans pay cops well already and are not receiving anything approaching market competitive police services.

The violent crime rate is skyrocketing and the SFPD does not seem poised to do much about it. Violent drug dealing and gang activity have migrated to San Francisco from other jurisdictions where the cops give a damn. Criminals from the Central Valley have been noted to come to San Francisco to commit crimes of violence because they know the chances of getting caught are nil.

Officers are free to run wild and prosecute cyclists and pedestrians while rogue motorists continue to endanger, maim and kill us. The cops continue to bust people for small amounts of pot and treat people who might be immigrants like dirt. What does it mean that most San Franciscans receive better services from MUNI operators than from SFPD officers? At least the bus comes. Eventually. The POA also complains that the Board approved large raises for nurses. This was noncontroversial because nurses do their jobs well while the SFPD, not so well.

The time for police accountability is now. The time to realize the promise of Proposition H is now. The best way we can do this is for all of you and your friends to take time on Tuesday morning to attend the committee hearing and make your voice heard by the Board of Supervisors so that they can do their job and SEND IT BACK to the Mayor:


Marc Salomon
Co-coordinator of Propostion H, 2003 Police Reform campaign.

If you cannot attend Tuesday's hearing, please take some time to email committee members with "SEND IT BACK!" as the subject line to express your concerns:

Ross Mirkarimi (chair)
Sophie Maxwell
Bevan Dufty

Please distribute widely.


1. The MOU includes a 24.5% raise over 4 years based on performance. There
are no objective standards for performance nor are there prohibitions on
giving officers with past records of discipline and legal settlements big
raises. This rewards bad cops as well as good cops.

2. The MOU carries forth language from the previous agreement which allows
the POA to call for contract renegotiation whenever the Police Commission
changes the departmental general orders. That language should be restricted
to only requiring "meet and confer" in the cases mandated by state law, no more.

3. The MOU offers up $20,000 gifts to officers for down payments on homes
in San Francisco. We all want cops to live in the City, but no other down
payment assistance programs in the City offer up grants rather loans to be repaid
upon sale of the dwelling. The MOU should offer loans of twice as much, $40,000
to facilitate officers to move to the City. Let's save the gifts for the City's lowest
paid workers, not the highest.

4. The MOU current runs for four years, being renegotiated during mayoral
election season. The current MOU was one of Willie Brown's last acts as mayor.
The MOU should be slated to be renegotiated during a year when the Mayor and
Supervisors are not on the ballot. This MOU should run for 2 years and for
four years subsequently after that.

5. The MOU needs to include language which requires the officers to seek and
receive affirmative civilian permission to cooperate with the state and federal
government law enforcement agencies such as the Interagency Task
Force in prosecuting federal and state marijuana and immigration laws.

6. The MOU claims that the reason why the SFPD cannot recruit cops is because
of low pay but this ignores the fact that the department is in turmoil,
its reputation precedes it, and that is a reason as much as money for poor
recruitment and retention.

7. The MOU needs to include language which creates two career paths based on
where the officer lives. While resident in San Francisco, advancement would
be faster, while living outside the city, advancement would be slower.

8. There has not been budget analysis on the impacts of a 24.5% raise on the
liability of the City retirement fund in the out years. Officers retire making 90% of their
last salary. How does this impact revenues and expenditures in the "out