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Ethics case seeking Ed Jew's removal from office
to continue

Defense attorney Steven Gruel and Deputy City Attorney Linda Ross agreed yesterday before the San Francisco Ethics Commission to meet and discuss legal issues about the city's residency case against suspended Supervisor Ed Jew. The panel earlier unanimously rejected Gruel's argument that the commission did not have the authority to rule on the case.
Photos by Luke Thomas

By Ari Burack

December 1, 2007

San Francisco's Ethics Commission will hear an official misconduct case against suspended Supervisor Ed Jew in January, paving the way for his possible removal from the board, unless attorneys for both sides agree to a delay, the commission decided Friday.

Mayor Gavin Newsom initiated the case before the five-member Ethics Commission in late September, one of three cases alleging Jew made false statements regarding his residency in the Sunset District in official nomination papers he submitted before his election in November 2006.

In doing so, Newsom temporarily suspended Jew and replaced him with Carmen Chu as interim District 4 supervisor.

Mayor Gavin Newsom appoints Carmen Chu (left) Interim District 4 Supervisor
following Newsom's suspension of Supervisor Ed Jew. File photo, 9/25/6

Jew, 47, a Chinatown flower shop owner, is alleged to have maintained his primary residence at his Burlingame home rather than a house he owned at 2450 28th Ave. in San Francisco.

Newsom is being represented by the City Attorney's Office in the official misconduct case.

The Ethics Commission is tasked with hearing the evidence against Jew and then issuing a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors, after which the Board will vote on whether Jew is to be permanently removed. A three-fourths majority of supervisors would be required to remove Jew.

The City Attorney's Office is currently pursuing a second civil case against Jew in San Francisco Superior Court on the same residency issue, one the San Francisco District Attorney's Office is also pursuing as a criminal matter.

Jew is facing a fourth case in federal court on federal criminal charges of mail fraud, bribery and extortion in connection with an alleged scheme to solicit $84,000 from two sets of businesses seeking city permits.

The City Attorney's two cases seek simply Jew's removal from office, while the two criminal cases could also bring prison time if Jew is convicted.

Additionally, the official misconduct case requires a higher standard to prove guilt - "willful" misconduct - than the City Attorney's court case, and if found true, would impose an additional five-year prohibition on Jew seeking other office, according to the City Attorney's Office.

None of the four cases has yet been resolved.

Jew's attorney Steven Gruel, who is representing Jew in all of the cases except the one brought by the District Attorney, brought a motion to dismiss the Ethics Commission case, alleging residency issues can only be addressed in state court, and that these removal proceedings are inherently unfair.

Defense Attorney Steven Gruel

Jew did not attend the hearing.

Gruel contended that Jew cannot receive a fair hearing because the members of the commission are variously appointed by the Mayor, the City Assessor, the Board of Supervisors, the City Attorney and the District Attorney. In addition, he said, members of the Board of Supervisors have already said publicly that Ed Jew should resign.

"You are the gatekeeper," Gruel told the commission members. Gruel added that he felt he already knew the decision the supervisors would make.

The Ethics Commission unanimously dismissed Gruel's motion this afternoon, after hearing Gruel's arguments and City Attorney's Office lawyer Linda Ross' arguments against, as well as public comment from several San Francisco residents who spoke out against the misconduct proceedings.

Deputy City Attorney Linda Ross

Many of the residents claimed the mayor's case against Jew was motivated by political reasons, and that the case should be heard only in court.

Newsom claimed at the time he suspended Jew on Sept. 25 that he didn't think Jew could govern and defend himself against his criminal charges at the same time.

Following the hearing, Gruel and Ross agreed to meet in the coming weeks to determine whether they would agree to stay the Ethics Commission case until the City Attorney's superior court case is resolved.

Should the case not be stayed, both attorneys will file briefs and will tentatively reappear before the Ethics Commission on Jan. 18.

"We're gratified by the outcome, but we're not particularly surprised," City Attorney spokesman Matt Dorsey said after the hearing.

City Attorney spokesperson Matt Dorsey

"It wasn't everything that we wanted," Gruel said. "I had hoped that they would see things our way."

Gruel said he was encouraged that the commission members indicated that this decision was "no determination on the merits of this case," he said.

Dorsey suggested that the public comment at the hearing was not representative of the feelings of the majority of San Francisco residents, and claimed that the City Attorney would not have pursued the case against Jew if it were only "a close call."


Copyright © 2007 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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