Monday, June 18, 2007
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.