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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

DA Candidates Not Playing Well With Others

Posted By on Wed, Aug 24, 2011 at 2:30 PM

David Onek's ballot designation challenged by two fellow DA candidates

Is the world growing more like a reality gameshow or are reality gameshows merely reflecting the state of the world today? The answer, of course, is yes.

Ranked-choice voting, for whatever benefits it delivers, also enables candidates to form alliances not unlike those on, say Survivor. So, following District Attorney George Gascón's hasty decision not to investigate his associates Rose Pak and Willie Brown's alleged ethical compromises in the Run, Ed, Run saga, the DA's political opponents banded together to denounce his action. This had all the makings of an Anybody-But-George alliance. But reality TV teaches us that alliances can be tricky.

While candidate Sharmin Bock was happy to join with David Onek to denounce Gascón's purported favoritism, she was setting her sights on Onek as well. Bock's lawyers on Monday wrote the department of elections to complain that Onek's ballot designation -- "criminal justice attorney" -- is "profoundly misleading." Tag-teaming with Bock, Gascón's attorney made similar complaints.

click to enlarge David Onek
  • David Onek

Onek's own website lists his bona fides as a "criminal justice expert and former Police Commissioner" as well as "Senior Fellow and founding Executive Director at the Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice."

The term "criminal justice attorney," claims Bock's attorney, Margaret Prinzing, is ill-fitting for "someone who is not employed as an attorney. According to his ballot designation worksheet, Mr. Onek is currently employed by the University of California Berkeley School of Law to host a criminal justice podcast."

Adds Gascón's lawyer, Jim Sutton -- the representative of choice for San Francisco's moderate establishment -- "criminal justice" is not one of the "11 areas of legal specialization recognized by the state bar," making the designation meaningless.

The Department of Elections has declined to force Onek to change his designation. Should his opponents wish to continue this effort, they'll have to file suit.

Finally, Bock was keeping her lawyers busy. In addition to objecting to Onek's designation, she also found fault with Gascón's. Rather than listing himself as "District Attorney, appointed," she felt he should be "appointed District Attorney."

The Department of Elections, astoundingly, has also passed on forcing that momentous change.

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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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