Thursday, August 30, 2012

Win or lose, the City Attorney is on the clock



Good piece on the Mirkarimi fiasco by Steve Jones in last week's Bay Guardian. After a nice analysis of the laundry list of original charges against the Murk---all but one thrown out by the Ethics Commission---Jones notes the crucial role of the City Attorney's office:
 
Lee's decision to overcharge Mirkarimi could be a costly one. The City Attorney's Office won't release expenses associated with ongoing legal actions like this one, but most indications are that it will run into the millions of dollars, perhaps many millions depending on how Mirkarimi fares in the courts if he is removed and challenges the city's actions. According to the City Attorney's Office, the official misconduct proceedings against former Sup. Ed Jew in 2007 cost the city $381,505 in legal fees, but that was a relatively short and simple proceeding, with just one Ethics Commission hearing and couple of state court appearances before the case was settled. By contrast, the case against Mirkarimi has already entailed five months of detailed exchanges between the two sides' attorneys, covering a wide array of legal issues, and months-long investigations of matters only tangentially related to the core charge.
 
Just so. Two lawyers from the City Attorney's office worked full-time for months to destroy Mirkarimi before the Ethics Commission, which is not only expensive out-front, but it will be even more expensive if/when the city loses. It's not clear whether Mirkarimi's lawyers will get reimbursed for their hours if they succeed before the Board of Supervisors, but they will surely present the city with a large bill if/when they appeal a board decision to the courts if it goes against Mirkarimi.
 
The thing to keep in mind about the City Attorney and the army of lawyers in that office: Once the political decision is made to litigate, they don't have to worry about litigating a bad case, because they are on the clock. City taxpayers are the only losers, since they pay the salaries of city lawyers during the litigation and pay the petitioners when the city loses. 
 
They can overcharge, as in the Mirkarimi case, or they can simply pursue a political case even when they know they are going to lose, as in the Bicycle Plan litigation. The City Attorney knew in June, 2006, when Judge Warren issued the first injunction, that the city would eventually be ordered to do an environmental review of the 500-page Bicycle Plan. Instead of cutting its losses---that is, city taxpayers' losses---and settling the case early in the litigation, the city pushed it for purely political reasons: Dennis Herrera didn't want to alienate the Bicycle Coalition before his campaign for mayor.
 
Even after Judge Busch ordered the city to do an enviromental review of the Bicycle Plan---and the city was already doing the EIR---Herrera filed three motions to lift the injunction before the EIR was completed, citing a bogus safety emergency on city streets as justification. 

The city has already paid our lawyer for the first phase of the litigation, and it will have to pay her again for successfully defeating those politically-motivated efforts to lift the injunctionYour tax dollars at work. 

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Musto: Gay Repugs selling out gays


Gay Republicans Sell Us Down the River With Lies!
Michael Musto
The Village Voice


Just when you assumed gay self-loathing had been deposited in the dead-chicken bins, along comes a new wave of self-flagellation aimed to throw us under the hate truck. At a time when gays have made significant progress and other people are fully available to do all the hating, some gays crazily want to join in!

I'm talking about the wave of gay Republicans who grovel before the enemy, making lavish excuses for politically repellent candidates---you know, the Romney/Ryan ticket---who would gladly turn us into a subordinate class without any semblance of full equality. There's no one more self-loathing than the oxymoronic "grubs" (gay Repubs) who rally to the defense of power-crazed bigots, spinning them as champions of decency and fairness who happen to be grossly misunderstood. No, wait, that's nothing new. For 30 years, there have been Log Cabin Republicans, though they at least try to work within the system to change the party's attitudes and have managed some good deeds here and there. But the pip-squeaks over at the more conservative group GOProud—who spun off from the Log Cabins—have only been organized since 2009, so their pigheaded attempts to sell us down the river still have a rank newness.

This is the organization that decided Paul Ryan was "a bold and inspired pick," a guy who can lead us back on "the road to fiscal solvency." (Oh, good! He can get us out of the mess set up by the last Republican administration.) They also cite his vote in favor of ENDA five years ago (though right before that, he'd joined a movement to kill it), as well as a couple of other gestures, completely leaving out his votes against hate crime protection and same-sex adoption and in favor of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and Defense of Marriage. This intently selective representation of someone who could shatter lives is like a paint-by-numbers portrait that leaves out the swastika. "Paul Ryan opposes discrimination against gay Americans," lied GOProud, shamelessly...

Blogger Joe Jervis tells me: "There have always been people happy to sell out their own community in order to fill their pockets. The rise of GOProud, whose leaders are regularly trotted out by the media as circus curiosities ('antigay GAYS!'), was merely enabled by the Internet and by the unending content-starved 24/7 news cycle. GOProud and their ilk ghoulishly denounce the 'homo-fascist left' while enjoying the rights and privileges hard won by the literal blood and tears of their brothers."

Says Dan Avery from the gay site queerty.com, "I used to think it was noble for gays to try and work within the Republican party, but after more than a decade of GOP attacks on the LGBT community, I can't help but feel they're sadists." With an unhealthy dose of masochism thrown in, I'm sure...

Meanwhile, a lot of twinks hate bears who hate muscle queens who hate lesbians who hate twinks. The early days of AIDS activism were terrifying, but we were all united in the fight, a real community brought together in the face of possible extinction. Today's relative complacence has stirred up way too much niche-based condescension and divisive drama queenery...

A comment by danielmadridb to Musto's column:

Under President Obama, the Gay Community has made more advances than under all previous presidents combined. Yet I am devastated by our local "Gay" newspapers which used to inform, unite and awaken our political power. The San Francisco Bay Area Reporter no longer serves to politically empower gays---it may be owned by GRUBS[gay republicans]. President Obama is never praised for his pro gay policies---they never get a headline. If these stories are printed they are small and put in an insignificant spot. Neither the Bay Area Reporter nor the Bay Times have published articles condemning the overtly Anti-Gay Republican Platform nor their homophobic candidates Romney/Ryan who will reverse all gains made by the LGBT in the last 4 years and they will start by cutting all AIDS funding first. Our newspapers which once were the clarion call for gay power on the west coast have ceded that role...These papers nit-pick President Obama even when we get major advancements. They should be using their muscle to get out the LGBT vote to support President Obama and push readers to get involved with the campaign so we can help in swing states. I am elated that the Village Voice remains a Pro-LGBT political platform. Unfortunately I cannot say so for the San Francisco Bay Area Reporter or the Bay Times...

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