Retired Judge Quentin Kopp on his way to becoming Ethics commissioner

Retired Judge Quentin Kopp is expected to become San Francisco’s newest Ethics commissioner after receiving a positive recommendation for his appointment at a board committee hearing Thursday.

The Board of Supervisors Rules Committee hearing highlighted Kopp’s widespread support, ranging from the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce’s Jim Lazarus to former publisher and editor of the Bay Guardian, Bruce Brugmann.

SEE RELATED: Retired Judge Quentin Kopp ready to return to City Hall as Ethics commissioner

“It’s nice to see that you still want to continue in public service today after all you have done already,” Supervisor Katy Tang, committee chair, told the 87-year-old Kopp.

The committee voted unanimously to recommend Kopp’s appointment by the full board. That vote is expected to occur Sept. 6, after the board returns from summer recess following its Aug. 2 meeting.

“I think you will be a breath of fresh air on the Ethics Commission,” Supervisor Eric Mar said.
Kopp served on the Board of Supervisors from 1972 until 1986, and then for 12 years in the state Senate. After serving as a senator he became a San Mateo County superior court judge between 1999 and 2010.

Peter Keane, who serves as vice chair of the Ethics Commission, had asked Kopp, a longtime friend, to apply for the vacancy over a recent lunch. Kopp will “exalt” the commission, Keane said.

He said the Ethics Commission has only started to live up to its mission since the hiring of LeeAnn Pelham, who previously worked for 19 years with the Los Angeles Ethics Commission and replaced John St. Croix as its head in January.

“LeeAnn Pelham has brought an enormous amount of energy and drive and focus to the commission and to the staff,” Keane said. “For the first time really in the commission’s history it’s doing its job and it’s doing it well.”

The commission enforces laws regulating political activity of elected officials, candidates for office, lobbyists, gifts and contractors.

Kopp told the committee his reason for applying included “good citizenship” and to continue his work on government transparency.

Brugmann praised Kopp in a letter for being the “go-to man in Sacramento” for the California Newspaper Publishers Association’s “endless battles on behalf of open government and against the Secrecy Lobby” as well as for Kopp’s efforts to reform the California Public Records Act.

Patricia Vaughey, head of the Marina Cow Hollow Neighbors and Merchants group, said, “Over the 40 years I’ve been involved with this legislative entity Quentin was the one that you couldn’t buy. No matter how hard there was political pressure, if there was something that needed to be ferreted out, he did it. And the Ethics Commission needs this.”

Other board actions

Also Thursday, three charter amendments advanced closer to being placed on the Nov. 8 ballot at a special Board of Supervisors meeting.

Those measures include a requirement San Francisco takes back the responsibility of tree maintenance, the creation of an elected public advocate position and the renaming of the Office of Citizen Complaints to the Department of Police Accountability as well as improve its functions.

Another special board meeting is being held Friday morning to vote to place them on the ballot, which is the deadline to do so.

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