San Francisco politics is like ancient Roman politics without the blood.

San Francisco occupies the tip of a peninsula the west side of which faces the open Pacific Ocean; the northern tip faces the straits of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge; while the east side faces the Bay. Without a doubt it is America’s most beautiful city, and like some of the misbehaving young starlets who have graced the news this year, its narcissism infects its higher nerve centers – City Hall.

The tall buildings of San Francisco’s financial district cluster like a small corner of Manhattan. Yet this is a city of less than.8 m people (a smaller population, for example, than San Jose to the South or San Diego to the far South). Its political leaders cherish the illusion that they inhabit an ancient city-state that owes only nominal allegiance to the governments of California and the USA. This is political narcissism.

There are unspoken rules in this town. Political leaders are absolutely required to follow just two of them. When they do, all else is forgiven. When they don’t, there is hell to pay:

(1) Be loyal to the City State and (2) Stay glamorous.

Ed Jew, a Chinese American member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, a flower shop owner, is paying hell right now. No, he has not – like the current mayor — cuckolded his best friend, gone on a drinking binge, or flouted state law by the grandiose gesture of conducting a mass marriage ceremony on the steps of city for gay couples (thus decisively contributing to John Kerry’s defeat in the 2004 election). No, Mr. Jew’s offense was against the city-state itself. He apparently lives in Burlingame (Silicon Valley) while just pretending to live in his San Francisco Sunset District home.

Oy vey.

On August 1, Mr. Jew was held to answer for felony perjury because:

“…. Mr. Jew allegedly filed and signed with the City and County in connection with his candidacy for the office of Supervisor in 2006, including:

· Declaration of Intent to Solicit Campaign Contributions on February 28, 2006

· Nomination Paper filed on August 11, 2006

· Declaration of Candidacy filed on August 11, 2006

“Also, he has been charged with perjury in connection with using the 2450 28th Avenue address to register to vote in March 2003 and in connection with a DMV application in February 2006.

In addition, the District Attorney’s office has charged Mr. Jew with voter fraud, as he allegedly voted in the November 2006 election using the same false address at 2450 28th Avenue.

“This case goes to the heart of the integrity of the electoral process in our city,” said District Attorney Kamala D. Harris.”

[From the DA’s press release]

Even if Mr. Jew beats the felony rap, the City Attorney seeks his exile:

“In seeking Supervisor Jew’s removal from office, I am acting to remedy a crisis in governmental legitimacy that is unprecedented in San Francisco’s modern history,” said [City Attorney] Herrera. “This is clearly not an action I undertake lightly. But neither can I shrink from the serious duty I owe to the citizens of San Francisco with the integrity of their representative democracy hanging in the balance. The evidence from my office’s investigation is overwhelming and clear: Mr. Jew violated the residency requirements of the City Charter and state law.”

Truth be told, the mere act of violating one’s oath is not that important for San Francisco officials, as long as one remains loyal to the City State herself.

Ms. Harris, an able mid-level prosecutor from Alameda County ran for and won the top DA position in San Francisco on a general “get tougher and smarter” on crime campaign. She amply qualifies for membership in the City’s Glamour Club. Harris, an African American woman, is drop dead beautiful.

She is also implacably opposed to the death penalty (an issue that somehow was never prominent in her first campaign). Not to put too fine a point on it, the death penalty is well established California law, having been affirmed by the State’s High Court, and every judge in the state is required to faithfully and impartially administer it.

The oath of office taken by San Francisco District Attorney, Kamela Harris, is essentially indistinguishable from that taken by every California Judge. Those California attorneys aspiring to be appointed to the office of Judge of the Superior Court who conscientiously refuse to impose the death penalty under any circumstances are not selected because they cannot serve. Those California judges, once in office, who similarly refuse, are subject to recusal — even removal from office.

The oath of office requires each judge and prosecutor to faithfully follow the law of the land. In this state (with the overwhelming support of the voters) the law favors the death penalty for the crime of the first degree murder of a police officer acting in the line of duty.

Here is the oath (or very close to it) that Ms. Harris took.

…all public officers and employees, executive, legislative, and judicial, except such inferior officers and employees as may be by law exempted, shall, before they enter upon the duties of their respective offices, take and subscribe the following oath or affirmation:

“I, Kamela Harris, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties upon which I am about to enter.

“And I do further swear that I do not advocate, nor am I a member of any party or organization, political or other- wise, that now advocates the overthrow of the Government of the United States or of the State of California by force or violence or other unlawful means; that within the five years immediately preceding the taking of this oath (or affirmation) I have not been a member of any party or organization, political or other-wise, that advocated the overthrow of the Government of the United States or of the State of California by force or violence or other unlawful means and that during such time as I hold the office of District Attorney I will not advocate nor become a member of any party or organization, political or otherwise, that advocates the overthrow of the Government of the United States or of the State of California by force or violence or other unlawful means.”

And no other oath, declaration, or test, shall be required as a qualification for any public office or employment.

“Public officer and employee” includes every officer and employee of the State, including the University of California, every county, city, city and county, district, and authority, including any department, division, bureau, board, commission, agency, or instrumentality of any of the foregoing.’

[ ]

I cast my vote across the Bay, not in San Francisco, but I would have voted for Ms. Harris over her opponent in the last election because I knew her reputation as a competent, professional prosecutor when she was an Alameda County DA. That said, Ms. Harris was not in the DA’s office long enough to have tried a death penalty case. When I learned her stance on the death penalty, I was surprised Ms. Harris felt she could take the oath of office in good faith.

My friend, the late Judge Richard Iglehart, former Alameda Chief Assistant DA (who also served as the Chief Assistant San Francisco DA), opposed the death penalty on practical grounds. Richard felt its administration consumed too many scarce resources. But Richard Iglehart had no difficulty enforcing the law, neither as a judge nor as a DA, because his practical objections to the death penalty would never prevent him from doing justice in any individual case. He took the oath of office in good faith and lived it.

This is not the place to debate the morality of the death penalty, especially since, within the City Sate of San Francisco, a large plurality of its citizens probably applaud Ms. Harris’s stance, much as they applauded Mayor Newsome’s gay marriage demonstration and excuse his confessed romantic betrayals.

Glamour and allegiance to the City State tend to trump a sea of troubles.

Mr. Jew is being prosecuted for non-residence because of disloyalty, not to the State of California (seen in San Francisco as a co-equal sovereign), but to the City State herself. He was also fair game because he was never welcomed as a member of the Glamour Club.

Oh. I am constrained to mention one other peccadillo. The FBI is annoyed with Mr. Jew because he apparently mishandled $40,000 collected from business interests. That matter is still pending. But mayor Newsome’s comments are revealing. As reported by Cecilia M. Vega, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer on July 20:

While there are local, state and federal laws governing campaign contributions for elected officials, San Francisco does not have any law that forbids officials from accepting large sums of cash.

“It is wrong to accept cash. To me, there is no defense,” said Newsom, who is running for re-election in November. “This is not appropriate. You don’t take cash. Period. He’s acknowledged taking cash. Does that mean he’s broken the law? That’s a different question.”

Members of the Glamour Club are less clumsy. No cash indeed. Not in the City State by the Bay…


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