Matt Gonzalez always was a better lawyer than he was a politician. And while that sounds like a backhanded compliment -- it's really not. The former supervisor, mayoral candidate, fringe vice presidential aspirant, and onetime fair-haired boy of the city's progressive movement has long been a courtroom ace.
You can think of many reasons why Jeff Adachi today named Gonzalez his right-hand man. But you don't really need to get beyond the fact Gonzalez is a really good lawyer for it to make sense.
But we'll go beyond it, just for you.
Adachi tells SF Weekly that, while he initially discussed the post with Gonzalez "a long time ago," it was only "within the last month" Gonzalez agreed to fill the position vacated by Teresa Caffese at the end of January. Among other perks of private practice, Adachi noted that Gonzalez would be taking a cut in pay. That's saying something -- about both Gonzalez and Caffese. She earned $203,571 in fiscal 2009-10 -- around $8,000 more than her boss, incidentally.
Adachi and Gonzalez have been political allies since 1990, when they both were young(er) public defenders. Unlike all of Adachi's other political allies, however, Gonzalez was an enthusiastic supporter of Proposition B, Adachi's ill-fated pension and health care reform measure. This, Adachi says, did not factor into his decision.
Adachi also noted that Gonzalez had the "political skills" necessary to
cope with San Francisco's criminal justice system. "Sometimes you have
cases where the DA is going to pursue them for reasons other than the
merits. Sometimes the police are focused for arresting for a particular
type of crime."
As Adachi's top lieutenant, Gonzalez is now perfectly situated to take on the top job -- if Adachi sees fit to move on to higher office. Right? "That's pretty Machiavellian," says Adachi of any ulterior motives behind Gonzalez' return to public employ. "Matt really is the best person to serve as the office's chief attorney. That's why I chose him."
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