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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Adachi Straps Brick to Accelerator in Game of Budget Chicken With Mayor

Posted By on Wed, Mar 11, 2009 at 8:59 AM

click to enlarge Jeff Adachi personally showed up for this photo, too
  • Jeff Adachi personally showed up for this photo, too
After last week grumbling to SF Weekly that Mayor Gavin Newsom had welshed on his promise to provide a "couple of attorneys" to staff the city's fledgling Community Justice Center, Public Defender Jeff Adachi has resorted to theatrically ridiculing the mayor's pet court. Adachi may have crossed the Rubicon in his relationship with the mayor's office -- or perhaps that die was cast long ago -- when he yesterday showed up to staff the CJC himself -- and act as bailiff.

As recounted in a literally jaw-dropping article -- my jaw dropped at least -- in this morning's Chronicle, Adachi showed up at the Polk Street court in person, proclaiming every other attorney on his staff was too busy to make the date. When -- once again -- none of the scheduled defendants deigned to show up at the court, Adachi offered to personally track one woman down. As noted in the article:

Dariush Kayhan, the mayor's homelessness policy director, was at the court and said the woman hangs out on Grove Street. He said he has offered her assistance more than 30 times, but she's turned him down.

Adachi asked the judge for permission to try himself. He found her and sat down on the sidewalk in his black suit and lavender silk tie to talk to her, prompting stares from passers-by. She agreed to head to the court with him, carrying all of her belongings.

If Adachi is out to make the mayor, his staff, and the court Newsom single-mindedly pursued (despite large-scale objections, budget defundings, and vetoes) appear ridiculous, well, put in the order for the "Mission Accomplished" banner right now (will Adachi next don a jumpsuit and mop up the CJC?). It's a reasonable bet that palms are slapping tables in City Hall Room 200 today.

In the past, SF Weekly has asked Adachi just what he's thinking engaging in an increasingly bitter and public feud with Newsom and his allies over funding for the public defender's office; while the mayor has mandated each department head hand in a budget slashed 25 percent from this year's, only Adachi refused. Each time we've asked, the public defender has kept to his script: He insists that only his office is "constitutionally mandated" to do what it does -- meaning that if his lawyers took fewer cases, he'd be required to farm out the leftovers to private lawyers, who charge more.

This latest move, however, is a master stroke of political theater; all Adachi neglected to do was tote a large puppet into the courtroom. Jeff, you know our number -- what are you thinking?

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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