Guardian photo of Ed Jew by Charles Russo
By Sarah Phelan
Before leaving the country at 1am this morning for the home of his ancestors, beleagured Supervisor Ed Jew managed to find time--in between luggage packing and driving to the airport--to dash off a letter to City Attorney Dennis Herrera, requesting an inquiry into "the apparent willful disclosure of confidential personal information by an employee or employees of the Public Utilities Commission."
Wow. We knew that Jew wasn't a big fan of the PUC, as witnessed by his ultimately unsuccessful 2005 battle against sewer, water and garbage hikes. But who knew that the supervisor, who is being investigated by the FBI for demanding money from a tapioca bubble drink shop chain in exchange for mucho cash would end up accusing the SFPUC of releasing cherry picked information to the running dogs of the press to make him look bad. Hot diggitty!
"I would completely understand," writes Jew, "a disclosure of public information if a prior official determination had been made that it served the public interest. But, in this case, a Water Dept. employee violated my father's privacy for the sole purpose of attempting to cast doubt on my official place of residence. Additionally, the information given to the reporter(s) was partial information, i.e., selectively culled to influence the intended conclusion."
SFPUC spokesperson Tony Winnicker had no comment, when asked about these allegations, but under state and public records acts, it is legal to release records of people's water consumption.
According to the PUC, the average monthly water use for a family is 7 units of water, or 5,300 gallons.
Public records show little or no water use at Jew's alleged residence on 28th Avenue, which is listed as his address on campaign statements filed with the City, as part of the District 4 supervisor 's race last fall.
To add insult to injury, Jew implied that the PUC may have got its records wrong--and tried to make it look as if all that has happened, is that his father, who apparently pays the bills, simply forgot to pay for the water.
As Jew told the Chronicle, "Ask yourself this: When it comes down to government run operations, do they ever make mistakes?" Asked if he was suggesting the city utility agency had made a mistake, Jew replied, "It's a possibility."
But Jew appears to be dodging the question at the heart of his residency debate, namely how could he have been living in the Sunset, if he was using no or little water. Hmm. Unless, of course, he's the camel for District 4.
With so much defensiveness going on, speculation is growing as to what exactly the FBI found when they raided Jew's office safe, his flower shop on Waverly Street in Chinatown, and the two homes linked to his name. Was it just $20,000 in cash in his City Hall office safe, as the Examiner reported, or was there more? As for whether Jew should resign, Sup. Tom Ammiano put it best yesterday, when he said, on what would have been Harvey Milk's 77th birthday, "This is an important job, and if we can't handle it then we should leave."
But if Jew does go, who would District 4 get in his place? According to results of November 2006 election posted at City's Election Department website, Ed Jew placed first in the District 4 race with 5,125 votes ( 26.23%). Ron Dudum placed second with 5,072 votes ( 25.96%),. Jaynry Mak placed third with 4,504 votes (23.05%) and Doug Chan placed fourth with 3,192 votes (16.34%). All of which begs the question: if push comes to shove and Jew has to go, will the Mayor, who was backing Doug Chan in 2006, defy the will of the voters by appointing his original pick, who placed fourth last fall, or respect poor old D4 and appoint Ron Dudum?
Or, since the election was based on instant runoff voting, is it possible to work out who would have won, if Jew turns out never to have lived in D4 and therefore should not have appeared on the ballot?
Here is what the City Charter SEC. 13.101.5. says on the matter of a seat "on the Board of Supervisors becoming vacant, "because of death, resignation, recall, permanent disability, or the inability of the respective officer to otherwise carry out the responsibilities of the office, the Mayor shall appoint an individual qualified to fill the vacancy."
In other words, the ball would be in Newsom's court--shortly before he himself is up for reelection...stay tuned