The question is no longer whether Ed Jew will remain a supervisor in San Francisco, since the evidence overwhelmingly suggests he resided in another city while running for public office. Now it’s just a matter of who will get him first — the civil courts, the district attorney or the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
And while we’re pondering such intricacies, all thoughts lead to the same conclusion: Did he believe he could do it out of arrogance or stupidity?
From what I can gather after talking with those involved in the various investigations, it is both. He not only flouted the residency requirements, he didn’t even bother to try to cover his tracks.
The announcement Monday by City Attorney Dennis Herrera that he was requesting state approval to file a lawsuit to oust Jew from his supervisor’s seat was the obvious result of a case that showed just how little the rookie politician even attempted to prove he lived in the district he was elected to represent. San Francisco has a rich tradition of politicians being accused of doubling as carpetbaggers — John Burton, Carole Migden and Amos Brown come to mind — but most people at least give some effort to produce evidence that they at one point lived somewhere within The City’s boundaries.
Not Ed Jew. A few days after the district attorney filed nine felony chargesagainst the supervisor for allegedly lying about his residence and filing false documents to run for office, the city attorney reached the same inevitable conclusion. “Records and declarations from the City Attorney’s Office document either a complete absence or scant degree of water, garbage, telephone, postal, gas and electric usage at the address, while interviews with nearly three dozen neighbors uniformly attest that the house was entirely vacant during the relevant time period,’’ Herrera’s announcement read.
The news for Jew is so bad right now that he probably wishes he were as alone as his house on 28th Avenue has been for the last several years. Instead, his attorneys are now working overtime to figure out which investigation to deal with first. It’s the case of a no-name supervisor grabbing headlines for all the wrong reasons.
What really strikes me when looking back on Jew’s actions after he arrived on the scene was how nobody could figure him, and no one could understand why. His votes and positions on issues were all over the map and he made little or no attempt to build a consensus among his colleagues, apparently reveling in his rebellious, independent image. Yet now the only word that could accurately be used to describe his past actions is slippery.
Which leads, of course, to the best rumor surrounding the latest Jew mystery: Was he using his alleged Sunset district home as a place to grow marijuana for his dad’s pot club property? And why do you think people are calling him a dope?
But, entertaining rumors aside, It usually takes investigators months to put together enough evidence to bring criminal or civil charges — in Jew’s case, it took just a scant few weeks. His neighbors never saw him, his “homeownership’’ records all list a downtown business address or his house in Burlingame. And, of course, there’s the lack of utility usage that Jew apparently didn’t have the energy to even try to fake.
Although investigators have compiled more documentation than they will probably ever need, they’ve apparently just scratched the surface. One Peninsula businesswoman who contacted me said Jew had called her earlier this year to get a new furnace installed at his Sunset district home. When she went out there to provide an estimate, she said he made no bones about the fact he didn’t live there. In fact, she said, it was painfully obvious that no one did.
“He kept saying he wanted a better deal, so we met to talk about it in Burlingame because he told me that’s where he lived,’’ said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous. “I never thought anything about it except he had a weird name — until I read about him in the newspaper.’’
Jew isn’t even trying to deny that he defied The City’s residency requirement to hold public office — for the simple reason that he can’t. His attorneys at one point were trying to make a deal on the criminal charges, but those talks have ended. And it’s unclear when federal investigators will complete their case concerning Jew’s acceptance of $40,000 from some local businessmen.
Herrera called Jew’s case a “crisis in governmental legitimacy.” I’ll just be kind and say the soon-to-be-ex-supervisor’s been awfully busy.
Ken Garcia’s column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and weekends in The Examiner. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at (415) 359-2663.