More than a year ago, the Ethics Commission recommended Mayor Ed Lee consider removing the head of the Library Commission for behavior that was deemed inappropriate conduct for a public official.
But Lee took no action – Jewelle Gomez remains the Library Commission chair – and ethics commissioners are now looking for answers.
“The Commission voted to recommend that you consider taking steps to remove Ms. Gomez from her appointed office for her conduct,” a draft Sept. 24 letter to Lee from Ethics Commission Chairman Ben Hur said. “The Ethics Commission has not received a response from your office as to any action you may have taken regarding Ms. Gomez. Thus, I am writing to request that you advise the Commission as to what action you have taken, or will take, if any, in connection with this matter.”
Lee received a July 18, 2011, from the commission recommending he “consider taking steps to remove Ms. Gomez from her appointed office in light of her actions.” Gomez was found to have violated The City’s Sunshine Ordinance when “she shouted down a member of the public” preventing the person from addressing the Library Commission.
In reviewing the case, the Ethics Commission found “that Ms. Gomez’s actions fell below the standards appropriate for a public official.”
The letter noted that the commission itself did not have the authority to penalize Gomez and therefore referred the matter to the appointing authority, which in this case is the mayor, for action.
The weight The City gives to Ethics Commission decisions is perhaps more relevant now than ever. The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote Oct. 9 on whether suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi committed official misconduct and will rely on the commission’s opinion that he did.
On Monday, Lee’s spokeswoman Christine Falvey said Lee was advised on the Gomez incident but “was not required to act in this matter.”
As for comparing the Gomez case to Mirkarimi’s, Falvey said, “Ms. Gomez is not one of The City’s top public safety officials, nor was she arrested and convicted of a domestic violence-related crime. In that case, after considering all of the facts, the mayor filed official misconduct charges against the sheriff as was his duty under the City Charter.”
The Ethic Commission’s scheduled Monday vote on whether to approve sending the letter to Lee was not available by press time.