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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Newsom [Hearts] Jew: An SF Weekly Analysis

Posted By on Wed, Jul 25, 2007 at 8:30 AM

Gavin Newsom’s inaction on the Ed Jew prosecution deserves at least a little shock

By Benjamin Wachs

Ever since hizzoner the mayor announced last week that he doesn’t intend to throw Ed Jew off the Board of Supervisors because the law is “ambiguous,” I’ve been waiting for somebody … anybody … to get outraged.

I mean … seriously now … does anyone believe that? Even for a minute?

Quantum physics is “ambiguous.” The ending to The Sopranos is “ambiguous.” San Francisco’s air quality is “ambiguous.”

This? A little more straightforward.

To review (in 30 words or less): Ed Jew obviously doesn’t live in his district and was caught with $40,000 in cash he swears was given to him by local businesses for “park improvements.”

Election committees in Syria have laws that would kick this guy out.

Ed Jew’s family lives in Burlingame -- not San Francisco; neighbors to his SF property say he’s never there, and he listed his address as Burlingame on documents even after he was elected.

The District Attorney doesn’t think the law is so ambiguous that a man who doesn’t live in his district can be said to live in his district. But Mayor Gavin? He says it could go either way.

If only there some evidence! A smoking gun of some kind, instead meaningless facts like the almost total absence of garbage service and water usage in Jew’s SF property. Damn the ambiguity!

The mayor has a duty to leap to his city’s defense. Instead, he’s milking the scandal.

Gavin Newsom’s decision not to initiate expulsion proceedings against Jew looks to me like politics at its most cynical: right now Jew’s more useful to Newsom in office than out of it. Jew’s never been a thorn in his side, and since the scandal erupted he’s voted pretty damn closely with the mayor’s team. Case in point: he supported the mayor’s budget while voting against a ballot measure that would force Gavin to show up at Board of Supervisors meetings. He’s quite the good team player now that the mayor can initiate expulsion proceedings against him any time he wants.

For Newsom, this is a three-way win:

• He gets (at least for a little while) to have complete control over a supervisor. Even if he hand-picks a successor (which he gets to) he’ll never have this much leverage.

• He wins points with Jew’s supporters – the “some people will fall for anything” brigade – by standing by their man.

• He woos Chinese voters by defending their representation on the board and promising to replace Jew with another Chinese politico ( someone else force Jew off.

It’s a great set-up for the Mayor. All it takes is no conscience.

I get that. But what I don’t get is why the media and the public are giving him a free pass. I’ve spent days leafing through the Chronicle, the Examiner, the Guardian, waiting for somebody to call him to the carpet. There have been no angry editorials, no protests, nobody shouting at meetings … what gives? Do we really like our mayor that much.

I mean, I get why nobody cared when we found out he was an adulterer: let he who is without sin cast the first moan. I understand why the fact that he stabbed his best friend in the back didn’t make us mad: we love that stuff. I think there’s even a club in the Castro called “I Stabbed My Best Friend in the Back.” I understand why we weren’t upset when we found out that he was an alcoholic for most of his time in office: you’d have to be to work with the Board of Supervisors.

We’re willing to give him a blue-state “get out of jail free card” on all that stuff, because having a philanderer alcoholic mayor just makes us look hipper. I bet Indiana is totally shocked by us right now. Take that neoconservatives!

But blatantly cynical disregard for the law in order to pursue political gain? I could have sworn that was the kind of stuff we cared about.

Where’s the outrage?

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David Downs


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