It was way past the appropriate time for suspended Supervisor Ed Jew to finally recognize the inevitable, and resign from his seat. Even during the months prior to September when Mayor Gavin Newsom officially charged him with misconduct, Jew was obviously unable to give his Sunset district constituents effective representation at City Hall while also countering the federal, state and city charges pending against him.
The besieged first-term supervisor finally resigned from the board Friday, ending his ugly, unnecessary and costly distraction from the real business of city government. In exchange for going quietly, if belatedly, Jew obtained a deal from The City to drop the civil lawsuit and Ethics Commission misconduct proceedings against him.
He needed this result in order to focus his resources on the expensive fight against criminal charges. Following an FBI sting, a federal grand jury indicted him on charges of bribery, extortion and mail fraud for allegedly demanding $84,000 from a tapioca-drink franchise to help expedite Planning Department approvals.
And District Attorney Kamala Harris previously charged Jew with nine felonies ranging from voter fraud to perjury, alleging that he lied about living in a family-owned house in District 4 and actually resided in Burlingame with his wife and daughter.
The Examiner finds little reason to feel sorry for Jew personally. Even if the courts ultimately rule he merely had the appearance of guilt, he all too obviously brought his troubles upon himself. His fatal weakness seemingly was thinking he was clever enough to get away with anything, no matter how bad his actions might look if discovered.
Yet Ed Jew’s downfall is undeniably saddening. Because he had earned wide respect in the Sunset district as an energetic activist, he won a hotly contested campaign for District4. His voting record generally reflected a concern for the interests of city taxpayers. He appeared to have a future in San Francisco politics — which he will no longer pursue, according to his latest attorney.
Jew’s exit statement cited the “overwhelming” burden of his attorney’s fees and gave a new explanation of why he had seemed to be spending so much time in his Burlingame house. He said his wife wanted to be closer to family members after surgery for breast cancer.
Setting aside Jew’s financial and family travails, though, residents of the Sunset are entitled to a supervisor representing their interests who is unencumbered by a passel of legal challenges. It’s unfortunate that Ed Jew took so long to acknowledge that basic right.