Newsom suspends supervisor Ed Jew

Slapped with misconduct charges and suspended from office by Mayor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday, Ed Jew has yet to file legal action to block his removal after his attorney had threatened to do so days earlier.

The name “Ed Jew” on the District 4 supervisor’s City Hall office door was scratched off Tuesday morning as Newsom announced that he suspended the Sunset supervisor from office and filed charges against him that could result in his removal and named his interim replacement.

“I don’t think that the supervisor can govern in an effective manner and cannot represent the needs of his constituency in District 4 and the entire city and defend himself. I think he needs to focus on defending himself,” Newsom said.

The mayor had called on Jew to resign from his District 4 post, but when he rebuffed the mayor, Newsom on Tuesday morning invoked the power afforded only to him under the City Charter.

The official misconduct charges drafted by City Attorney Dennis Herrera allege Jew violated the City Charter by not residing in the district he represents as is required and makes reference to accusations by federal prosecutors that Jew demanded bribes from local business owners in exchange for making city-permit trouble disappear.

The misconduct charges will be heard by the Ethics Commission. Its recommendation will be forwarded to the full Board of Supervisors, where a three-fourths vote would be required to remove Jew from office.

“The case is overwhelming that there has been official misconduct by Supervisor Jew during his term in office,” Herrera said.

Jew was served with the suspension and misconduct papers Tuesday morning. His attorney Steven Gruel, who has threatened to file a temporary restraining order to block the suspension and stop the misconduct proceedings, said he will “huddle up” with Jew and consider “all options.” Gruel said he is considering “five to 10 different options,” including a request of the commission to stay the misconduct hearing. Jew maintains he is innocent of the charges.

Newsom’s decision to suspend Jew was supported by members of the Board of Supervisors, six of whom stood by the mayor when making the announcement.

“[Newsom’s] doing itby the numbers and that’s the best way,” Supervisor Tom Ammiano said. “It’s laid out in the charter.”

Jew has been the center of controversy since the FBI on May 18 raided his City Hall office, his Chinatown flower shop, a 28th Avenue house of which Jew has claimed to be a resident, and his home in Burlingame.

Thursday, federal prosecutors charged Jew with mail fraud in connection with an alleged scheme to demand $80,000 in cash from local business owners to make their permit problems disappear, after he had alerted the Planning Department that they were operating without proper permits. Jew, who was released on a $1 million bond, faces an Oct. 11 preliminary hearing in the federal case.

Jew has also been charged by the district attorney with nine felony counts, ranging from voter fraud to perjury, for allegedly lying about where he lived in order to run for office. Prosecutors say Jew was living in Burlingame and not at the Sunset district house at which he claimed to reside in election-related documents.

The state’s criminal case is scheduled to begin on Oct. 26.

Ethics Commission to hold hearing

The Ethics Commission is in the process of figuring out how it will conduct its first-ever official misconduct hearing, which could result in the removal from office of Ed Jew.

Jew was suspended from his board seat Tuesday morning by Mayor Gavin Newsom.

In the next week or two, the commission will hold an administrative hearing with the interested parties, including Jew and his attorney, to discuss the “parameters” of the hearing, according to Ethics Commission Executive Director John St. Croix.

Once the parameters are set, a misconduct hearing will be scheduled, he said.

Under a provision in the City Charter, the mayor can suspend an elected official for misconduct and file charges to sustain the suspension with the Ethics Commission.

The Ethics Commission will hold a misconduct hearing and recommend whether to remove Jew from the Board of Supervisors.

The commission is made up of five members. The mayor, the Board of Supervisors, the city attorney, the district attorney and the assessor-recorder each appoint one member.

It would take a three-fourths vote by the Board of Supervisors to remove Jew. Since Jew’s replacement will be recused, nine of 10 supervisors would have to vote in favor of his removal.

Jew’s attorney Steven Gruel has questioned whether members of the board could act as unbiased judges, given comments made about Jew’s legal troubles in the media.

“I am confident that the board can and will discharge its duties fairly, objectively and in accordance with the law.” Board of Supervisor President Aaron Peskin said.

Since the city attorney is an interested party in the misconduct charges, both the commission and the Board of Supervisors will have to employ outside legal council, which could come at a hefty cost to The City.

The misconduct charges drafted by the city attorney allege that Jew violated the City Charter by not living in the district he represents at least 30 days prior to declaring candidacy and when in office. Jew is charged with not residing at 2450 28th Ave. or any other address in District 4.

Official charges against Ed Jew

» Jew willfully failed to reside in District 4.

» Without being a resident, Jew repeatedly signed documents during his candidacy acknowledging he was required to reside in District 4.

» In May 2007, when media began to report he did not live in District 4, Jew “attempted to conceal the fact that he did not reside in District 4 and only then made efforts to establish residency.”

» By not living in District 4, Jew’s actions are a “failure, refusal or neglect of an officer to perform any duty enjoined on him or her by law.”

» By not living in District 4 Jew’s “conduct falls below the standard of decency, good faith and right action impliedly required of all public officers.”

» City may amend charges as evidence of federal case becomes available.

– Source: Written Charges of Official Misconduct

Fall from grace

May 18: FBI agents raid Supervisor Ed Jew’s City Hall office, Chinatown flower shop and other properties and find $20,000 in a safe that Jew says came from tapioca store owners.

May 23: City attorney and district attorney launch investigation into Jew’s residency, voter fraud and perjury, saying he does not live in the Sunset district he represents.

June 12: District Attorney Kamala Harris charges Jew with nine felonies, including perjury and voter fraud. Jew surrenders to Burlingame police and is released on $135,000 bail.

June 14: Jew returns to work at City Hall, saying he is “happy” to be an elected official and that his office is “open for business.”

June 18: After a four-week investigation revealed “overwhelming” evidence that Jew does not live in the Sunset district, City Attorney Dennis Herrera announces that he will seek approval from the state attorney general to sue Jew in order to oust him from office.

July 3: In a response filing to the state attorney general, Jew’s attorneys say he hasn’t broken any residency laws and uses his Sunset home “primarily for sleeping.”

July 16: Jew pleads not guilty to the district attorney’s nine felony charges.

Sept. 10: At a pretrial conference, prosecutors offer Jew a plea deal that would have required him to resign from office and plead guilty to one or more of the nine felony counts.

Sept. 11: Jew declines the plea deal after his attorneys counter with an offer that would have allowed Jew to remain on the Board of Supervisors. Prosecutors reject the offer.

Sept. 20: Jew is charged with a separate federal charge of mail fraud for allegedly soliciting a $40,000 bribe to help the tapioca-drink businesses obtain permits.

Sept. 21: Jew pleads not guilty to the federal mail fraud charge. Newsom meets with Jew at his Sunset home and requests that the supervisor resign. Jew refuses Newsom’s request.

Sept. 23: Jew’s attorney Steven Gruel says the supervisor will attempt to save his seat on the Board of Supervisors by requesting a restraining order if The City files “official misconduct charges” against him.

Sept. 25: Newsom suspends Jew and appoints Carmen Chu, deputy director of Newsom’s Office of Policy and Finance, to serve as interim District 4 supervisor.

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