Ethics Commission outlines steps
in Newsom bid to oust Jew
The San Francisco Ethics Commission convenved a special meeting
today to consider legal procedures in Mayor Gavin Newsom's bid
to oust suspended Supervisor Ed Jew.
Photos by Luke
By Julia Cheever
October 19, 2007
A San Francisco commission charged with considering Mayor Gavin
Newsom's bid to remove embattled Supervisor Ed Jew from office
took its first step today in proceeding with the case.
The city Ethics Commission voted to start out by receiving briefs
on a claim by Jew's lawyer, Steven Gruel, that the ethics probe
should be dismissed because it is allegedly unfair and duplicates
other proceedings against the supervisor.
"I feel an obligation to preserve Supervisor Jew's rights,"
Gruel told the five members of commission during a City Hall meeting.
Newsom filed misconduct charges against Jew with the commission
on Sept. 25 and suspended him from office until the case is resolved
Attorney Steven Gruel
The mayor contends Jew should be ousted because he allegedly
lived in Burlingame rather than San Francisco before and after
he was elected to represent the city's Sunset District last November.
Jew, 47, the owner of a Chinatown flower shop, has said that
while he spent time in Burlingame, he intended a house on 28th
Avenue in San Francisco to be his primary residence.
The removal proceeding is one of four cases currently pending
The others are a forthcoming civil lawsuit by City Attorney Dennis
Herrera, also seeking Jew's removal from office; state criminal
charges of lying about his residence; and a federal criminal charge
of mail fraud related to alleged extortion.
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera
The misconduct case is governed by the city charter, which provides
that the Ethics Commission must hold a hearing on the mayor's
request and make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.
The board will then vote on whether to expel Jew, which can be
done only by agreement of nine of 11 supervisors.
But because Jew's case is the first time the commission has considered
removal of an elected official since it was established by city
voters in 1993, procedures are somewhat unclear.
"There is very little precedent," commission chairperson
Susan Harriman said at the start of the hour-long meeting.
Ethics Commission Chair Susan Harriman
The commission ordered lawyers for Jew and the mayor to file
briefs at various dates next month on the motion for dismissal
The commissioners decided the next steps after that will be another
round of briefs on procedures to be followed and then a third
set of briefs and a hearing on the substance of the mayor's charge
that Jew didn't live in San Francisco.
Procedural questions include which side has the burden of proof
and how evidence should be gathered.
Deputy City Attorney Linda Ross, representing Newsom, proposed
to the commission that evidence gathering in the misconduct proceeding
and in Herrera's forthcoming civil lawsuit should be combined.
Deputy City Attorney Linda Ross
But Gruel said he will oppose that. He told commissioners that
mixing the administrative proceeding with a court case "appears
to be a violation of separation of powers."
Future commission hearing dates and briefing deadlines will be
set after the first round of briefs is completed. Jew did not
attend the commission meeting this afternoon.
After the meeting, city attorney spokesman Matt Dorsey disputed
Gruel's claim that the commission probe should be dismissed. He
said, "The city charter contemplates this procedure."
City Attorney spokesperson Matt Dorsey
There were also developments today in each of the three other
proceedings against Jew.
In the state criminal case, Jew appeared in San Francisco Superior
Court this morning with his new defense attorney, Stuart
Hanlon, and was ordered to return on Nov. 5 for setting of
a trial date.
Jew faces nine state felony counts of perjury, election code
violations, voter fraud and providing false documents related
to his residence.
Also this morning, Herrera announced he will go ahead with the
civil lawsuit seeking Jew's ouster and said he will do so "as
expeditiously as possible." The city attorney received permission
from California Attorney General Jerry Brown on Thursday to file
Finally, in the federal criminal case, prosecution and defense
attorneys filed a stipulation today agreeing to delay Jew's next
appearance in U.S. District Court in San Francisco from Oct. 24
to Nov. 7.
The hearing will be either a preliminary hearing on a federal
criminal complaint or an arraignment on an indictment if one is
issued by then.
Jew is federally accused of mail fraud in connection with an
alleged scheme to extort a $80,000 bribe from tapioca drink store
operators seeking city permits.
The stipulation said the delay is needed to provide more time
for defense preparation "in light of the multiple legal proceedings"
against Jew and also for discussion of a possible "pre-indictment
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