No taxpayer-funded lawyers for Ross Mirkarimi

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera today rejected embattled Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi’s request that taxpayers foot the bill for lawyers he hired to defend himself against an attempt to boot him from office for official misconduct – having bruised his wife in an argument.

Mirkarimi sent a letter to Herrera dated May 15 but received just this Tuesday citing a San Francisco Charter section dealing with elected officers’ and department heads’ right to engage outside counsel in instances when the city attorney’s office has a conflict of interests.

The city attorney’s office has erected a “screen” to separate lawyers representing Mayor Ed Lee from those advising the Ethics Commission or Board of Supervisors in Mirkarimi’s misconduct hearing, the sheriff wrote, but has not carved out anyone to represent him.

“Moreover, the actions of your office thus far in these proceedings demonstrate that neither you nor anyone in your office could ethically represent me,” Mirkarimi wrote. “Without cataloging every action you have taken, suffice it to say you chose to represent the Mayor in derogation of your equally compelling legal duty to represent me.”

Not so, Herrera responded today in a letter to Mirkarimi’s lawyers.

The charter section Mirkarimi cited doesn’t apply here, in that it doesn’t require the city to provide personal representation to suspended city officers, Herrera wrote; rather, it makes clear that the city attorney’s client is the city and county, not individual elected officials. “There is simply no basis for your client’s demand for City funded representation.”

“Contrary to your client’s implication, this proceeding is not a private dispute between the Mayor and the Sheriff,” he wrote, citing a Superior Court’s recent ruling. “As the court recognized, the City Attorney’s Office represents the Mayor’s Office in the pending official misconduct proceedings, just as we continue to represent and advise the Sheriff’s Office regarding City business. This office has no conflict of interest here.”

“(T)he City does not pay for private counsel to represent employees charged with misconduct,” he concluded. “Your client’s position as an elected official is no different and does not entitle him to that personal benefit at taxpayer expense.”

Mayor Ed Lee suspended Mirkarimi, 50, after he pleaded guilty to false imprisonment related to a New Year’s Eve altercation that left a bruise on the arm of his wife, Venezuelan former telenovela star Eliana Lopez. If the Ethics Commission upholds the charges, it would take a vote of nine of 11 city and county supervisors to toss him from office.


Primary post-mortems on CA15, AD20 and AD25

I spent yesterday starting to unpack what the new top-two system hath wrought upon California’s state legislative and House races – something we’ll be unpacking for years, I suspect – but today I’ve some time to dissect the still-unofficial results in few interesting Bay Area races.

15th Congressional District

Incumbent Pete Stark, D-Fremont, finished first with 41.8 percent of the vote, followed by Democrat Eric Swalwell, a Dublin councilman and Alameda County prosecutor, at 36 percent; eliminated was conservative independent Chris Pareja, a Hayward businessman, at 22.2 percent. Stark is in trouble – I can’t imagine a single, solitary Pareja voter switching to Stark, but I can imagine lots of them voting for anybody but Stark. Stark won the Alameda County sections of the district 42.9 percent to Swalwell’s 35.3 percent, but Swalwell prevailed in the smaller Contra Costa area, 40 percent to Stark’s 33.1 percent.

Stark’s best hopes are that elevated Democratic turnout and the coattails of President Obama (who endorsed him) will give him an edge in November, while the more moderate Swalwell will continue romancing not only Democrats but also independents and Republicans. The key to Stark’s strategy might be saying as little as possible in live public appearances, given his disastrous spring gaffes.

20th Assembly District

Hayward councilman Bill Quirk, a Democrat, finished first in the race for this open seat, with 30.2 percent of the vote, followed by fellow Democrat Jennifer Ong, an optometrist from Hayward, at 24.9 percent. Eliminated were Union City Mayor Mark Green, an independent, at 20.9 percent; Hayward school board member Luis Reynoso, a Republican, at 18.1 percent; and Union City school board member Sarabjit Cheema, a Democrat, at 5.8 percent.

This was somewhat surprising, as I thought Green – mayor for 19 years – would have the name recognition to finish second behind Quirk. But Green, a longtime Democrat, switched to no-party-preference in 2010 and probably had hoped he’d attract the district’s voters who wouldn’t vote for a Democrat; that was foiled by Reynoso’s relatively late entry into the race. Ong, meanwhile, staged a direct-mail blitz – my household got 13 pieces of mail from her (including my favorite of this season), compared to two from Quirk, two from Green and one from Cheema. Quirk has the party establishment’s support, and easily is the odds-on favorite for November.

25th Assembly District

Incumbent Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, finished with 41.4 percent of the vote, followed by Republican ArLyne Diamond, a management consultant from Santa Clara, at 30.7 percent; eliminated was Democrat Pete McHugh, at 27.9. This district was radically redrawn last year, splitting Wieckowski’s power base in Fremont (where he was a councilman) and extending much further down into Santa Clara County. That’s where McHugh, Milpitas’ vice mayor and a former county supervisor, hoped his name recognition would give him an edge.

But ultimately, Wieckowski ran neck-and-neck with McHugh in Santa Clara County – a difference of only 10 votes out of the almost 20,000 cast for the two of them – while beating McHugh 4-to-1 in Alameda County. The district is registered 45.3 percent Democrat, 19.7 percent Republican and 30.5 percent no-party-preference, so it’ll be tough (read as: nothing short of a miracle) for Diamond to carry it in November.


Lynn Woolsey endorses Jared Huffman in CA-2

Retiring Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, today endorsed Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, as her successor in the newly drawn 2nd Congressional District.

“I congratulate Jared Huffman on his impressive showing in Tuesday’s primary, and regardless of the final vote tally, I am proud to endorse him in the November election.

“Jared is that rare public servant with both the courage of his convictions and the ability to work constructively to get things done. He is both a principled progressive and an effective coalition-builder. His environmental expertise and credentials are second-to-none. He has proven time and time again that he will stand with working families, women, seniors and consumers. And I believe he will continue the ongoing struggle to bring our troops home from Afghanistan.

“Our nation faces major challenges, and we need leaders like Jared Huffman who can hit the ground running and start getting the job done immediately. Jared has everything you would want in a member of Congress, and I am confident that he will be as strong a legislator in Washington as he has been in Sacramento.

“His victory this fall would allow me to leave office knowing that the North Coast is in capable hands, with a representative that truly reflects our district’s values.”

Unofficial results show Huffman finished with 37.3 percent of the vote, followed by Republican Dan Roberts, an investment banker from Tiburon, with 15.3 percent. Roberts narrowly edged out Democrat Norman Solomon, a liberal activist and author from Inverness, who had 14.2 percent of the vote; nine other candidates trailed farther behind.

The newly redrawn district stretches from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border, spanning parts of Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino, Humboldt, Del Norte and Trinity counties.


‘Dog on the Roof!’ book pokes fun at Romney, SF

Dog on the RoofI received today a copy of “Dog on the Roof! On the Road with Mitt & The Mutt,” a political satire novelty picture book by Bruce Kluger and David Slavin.

The small book lampoons Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s now infamous family vacation, a cross-country road-trip for which they put their dog, Seamus, in a carrier on the roof of the car.

The book follows the Romneys through various American cities, with heavily doctored photo illustrations accompanied by verse. As we’re a Bay Area news organization, I thought I might share the San Francisco section:

(from Romney)

Now, boys, close your eyes,
for we’ve hit rock bottom –
a city that’s ruled
by Gomorrah and Sodom.

A village of sinners
who clamor for booty,
and bow at the altar
of Liza and Judy.

Don’t mean to be prissy,
don’t want to disparage –
they’re free to cut hair,
but they’ll never have marriage!

(and, from Seamus)

These people love Broadway,
so how ‘bout a spoof?
Instead of a fiddler –
a dog on the roof!

I’m am not anticipating that this will be a National Book Award recipient.


The pool reports from Obama’s SF fundraisers

The Chronicle’s Carla Marinucci was inside President Obama’s fundraising luncheon today in San Francisco. Here’s her report, verbatim:

The very elegant wood paneled Julia Morgan Ballroom, considered a neoclassic architectural gem in the historic Merchants Exchange building, was filled with 27 tables of 10 guests each.
The White House official count was 250, but we were told by organizers that the demand for the event — sold out — was big and they wanted to squeeze in a few more. The majority of those paid $5,000 each to attend, but tickets went up to $7,500 for photo to $50,000 for “table captain.”

Among those in attendance: prominent San Francisco real estate developer Clint Reilly – a former Democratic strategist who also owns the historic Merchant Exchange building where the fundraiser is taking place. His wife, Janet, who heads the board of directors for the Golden Gate Bridge, was also present.
Lloyd Dean, chair of Cytori Theraputics and Obama bundler and Silicon Valley insider Wade Randlett among other guests.

California Governor Jerry Brown is also here.

Outside the Merchant Exchange building, there was a variety of vocal protesters, what looked to be a few hundred. They included about 50 from the Bay Area Tea Party Patriots, and another group some protesting Obama’s crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries, and (no kidding) anti-circumcision protesters.
And there were another two dozen from the Center for Biological Diversity — some dressed as polar bears, protesting Shell Oil’s drilling in the Arctic.

(Lots more, after the jump…)
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Barr’s ‘RoMentum’ becomes ‘NoMentum”

Despite her Rose-y predictions the other day, Roseanne Barr’s “RoMentum” appears to have turned to “NoMentum” on Tuesday as her home state’s Green Party voters preferred Jill Stein of Massachusetts as their nominee.

With about 64 percent of precincts reporting, at about 12:35 a.m. Wednesday, Stein had 48.6 percent of the vote to Barr’s 39.7 percent; another Californian, Kent Mesplay of San Diego, had about 11.7 percent of the vote.

The actress/comedienne-turned-candidate had been looking to California, which has 65 Green delegates, to help her continue closing the gap with Stein, who’d come out on top in 22 primaries before this past weekend, when Barr finally won a few.