By Tamara Barak Karli Bulnes
Bay City News
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera denied late Wednesday requests by San Francisco Supervisor Ed Jew’s attorneys to suspend further investigation until the criminal matters are resolved and to postpone the Friday deadline to provide an interview and information proving his Sunset District residency.
In an e-mail sent to Herrera at 12:41 p.m., Bill Fazio, Jew’s attorney, asked the city attorney to “hold off and abstain from further action until the criminal matter is resolved,” city attorney press secretary Matt Dorsey reported.
In addition to Fazio’s request, Jew’s other attorneys, Steven Gruel and James R. Sutton, asked the city attorney to extend by one week the time within which Jew may respond to requests for an interview and to provide any information that would help establish his residency at the 28th Avenue, Sunset District address.
Dorsey reported the city attorney “is not willing to grant either of (the requests),” explaining a delay would only further compromise the interest of San Francisco citizens.
“We will not delay out investigation any further than we already have, much less do so for the indefinite period it may take to resolve the various criminal proceedings pending against your client,” Herrera told Jew’s attorneys.
Herrera added, “What is at stake here is the integrity of San Francisco’s form of representative democracy. The voters of this city adopted a system of government in which the citizens of each district would be represented by an individual who resides in their district … Until this issue is resolved, the cloud of uncertainty over whether District Four has a
legitimate representative on the Board of Supervisors will hang over the deliberations and decisions of that body.”
Despite facing felony charges, an investigation by both local and federal authorities and with his colleagues publicly calling for his resignation, Ed Jew still has no plans to resign from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Fazio said today.
Fazio said his client is maintaining his innocence in the face of nine counts of felony criminal charges including perjury and election fraud.
Accompanied by family members and a bail bondsman, Jew surrendered himself to Burlingame police Tuesday night after San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris issued a warrant for his arrest several hours earlier. He was released after posting bail.
His arraignment is scheduled in San Francisco Superior Court for July 16 at 9 a.m.
According to Harris’ complaint filed in San Francisco Superior Court Tuesday, Jew lied under oath and falsified documents regarding his residency in order to obtain a seat representing the Sunset District on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
Yesterday, Fazio said that before his client’s arrest, he had been working to resolve the case with the district attorney’s office when the warrant was suddenly and unexpectedly issued.
“I just don’t understand why they did things that way. I had been involved in discussions with them about the case and I thought we could reach some agreeable conclusion and all of a sudden this springs on us,” he said.
Fazio said based on the discussions, he believed there was “the possibility of a plea agreement, or the possibility they didn’t have a case.”
Jew’s arrest was premature, he said.
“I don’t think (prosecutors) were at the level where they were going to file criminal charges. I think there was still a lot to talk about,” Fazio said.
Gruel has said that the investigation into his client’s residence is politically motivated. Today, Fazio shied away from echoing his colleague’s claim but said he didn’t know what motivated the filing of criminal charges.
“That’s the biggest question I have, frankly,” he said.
Meanwhile, some of Jew’s fellow supervisors are calling for his resignation.
President of the Board of Supervisors Aaron Peskin this afternoon said he has spoken with Mayor Gavin Newsom and asked him to suspend Jew for official misconduct. If Newsom suspends Jew, the city’s Ethics Commission would then hold a hearing and issue a recommendation as to whether or not Jew should be unseated. The Board of Supervisors would then vote on the
recommendation. A ‘yes’ vote from eight of the 11 members could remove Jew from office.
Newsom had not moved to suspend Jew as of this afternoon, and issued a statement Tuesday night saying he is reviewing all the facts in the case.
“I think that given the fact that the district attorney has filed serious criminal charges against Ed Jew, the mayor understands it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when (to suspend Jew for official misconduct),” Peskin said.
Jew’s ability to serve has been compromised, San Franciscans’ faith in their government has been shaken and stepping down would be the honorable thing for Jew to do, Peskin said.
Supervisor Tom Ammiano said it’s unlikely the freshman supervisor can fight the charges against him and adequately deal with budget negotiations and other pressing issues facing the board.
“I think he needs to consider — for the public good and for the sake of his family — resigning,” Ammiano said. “It’s very difficult, given his five or six months on the board, to think he’s going to contribute
anything of merit during his time of travail for him.”
Ammiano said that while he believes in the presumption of innocence, “I think that when you’re an elected official it’s a different standard and currently what he is guilty of is being elusive and evasive, not dealing with this in a forthright matter, and I think there’s questions of judgment here.”
Supervisor Chris Daly, who has been calling for Jew’s resignation for several weeks, speculated that Jew might be holding onto his seat on the advice of his lawyers in order to use his resignation as a bargaining chip in a plea deal.
Whatever the conclusion “the work of the board carries on and Ed Jew will go down as a footnote in San Francisco history,” Daly said.
Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval today stopped short of suggesting his fellow supervisor resign, saying it seems to be a complicated case and it’s difficult to predict its outcome without knowing all the facts.
“Ultimately, only Supervisor Jew knows what really happened and he needs to make the best decision for him and his family,” Sandoval said.
While he noted that the scandal is a distraction for the board, “we’re in the business of distractions. We live with them all the time and I think we’ve gotten quite good at getting our work done in spite of them,” he said.
In addition to the criminal charges over his residency, Jew still faces an FBI probe into his alleged acceptance of $40,000 in cash from a group of businessmen having permit problems. Jew denies wrongdoing.
FBI spokeswoman Patty Hansen today said that investigation is continuing.