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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Ammiano Says There Was No 'Wink-Wink, Nod-Nod' Behind Ruling Giving Him 14 Years as Supe

Posted By on Thu, Mar 5, 2009 at 6:30 AM

click to enlarge Tom Ammiano says neither winking, nodding, nor a combination of both benefitted his political career
  • Tom Ammiano says neither winking, nodding, nor a combination of both benefitted his political career
Earlier this week, SF Weekly reported on how Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier is prepared to take the city to court if City Attorney Dennis Herrera doesn't reverse a 2008 ruling that deems her termed out next year. One of Alioto-Pier's main bones of contention was a 2004 Herrera ruling generously allowing former Supervisor Tom Ammiano a fourth term -- and 14 years -- on the Board.

Alioto-Pier pondered if the ruling had anything to do with Herrera and Ammiano's political compatability: "I asked [Herrera], 'Is this political?'" recalls Alioto-Pier, one of the board's moderate members. "He said, 'Of course not.'" (Herrera declined to speak with SF Weekly regarding his ruling, stating he'll let it "speak for itself.")

Ammano, however, is happy to talk -- and he says that he was not the recipient of any political favors. In fact, he claims the legal decision that benefitted him actually did not originate from Herrera but his predecessor Louise Rennie -- who was hardly a progressive by any stretch.

"When we switched from at-large to district elections, the clerk of the board, John Taylor, asked Louise whether or not people would be termed out. Louise actually wrote an opinion on it and shared it with some of us, but didn't make it public," says Ammiano, now a San Francisco Assemblyman after serving as a Supe from 1994-2008. "When Herrera took over and this question was asked again, he basically re-issued the Louise Rennie ruling. There was no collusion there -- believe me, there was no wink-wink, nod-nod; it was all above board. I wish Michela luck, but why she's trying to intimate collusion, I don't know. But, whatever, it's politics. I wish her luck."

Ammiano noted that the Rennie-Herrera ruling is what has allowed Chris Daly and Sophie Maxwell to still serve on the board -- "it wasn't just me."

The Assemblyman added that he supported Alioto-Pier's challenge of the City Attorney's ruling. And if the courts have to get involved, so be it.

"I do like Michela and think she has every right to pursue this to the max," he said. "I like her and I think Dennis is a pretty straight shooter. Let the courts decide, how about that?"

Photo   |   Steve Rhodes       

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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