Polyamorous politicos

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This week, we reported on Sup. Michela Alioto-Pier’s divided love between San Francisco and St. Helena in Napa County where she maintains an additional home. But she isn’t the only local official who’s heart is torn. Who else is sleeping around?

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A friend of Oakland City Council president Ignacio de la Fuente who sits on the Oakland Port Commission may be living primarily in the peninsula town of Hillsborough, one of the nation's wealthiest based on per capita income, rather than a tough East Oakland neighborhood he claimed to reside in. The Oakland City Charter requires that Tony Batarse live in city limits while serving on the port commission. But East Bay Express reporter Robert Gammon bore into his claims last month revealing that the commissioner, a successful auto dealer and also a donor to powerful state Sen. Don Perata, had been taking annual homeowner's exemptions on his opulent residence in Hillsborough since at least 1985. The tax benefit can only be used against a property that the homeowner predominantly lives in.

A member of the Berkeley rent board, Chris Kavanagh, was arrested for alleged elections fraud and perjury in September. Kavanagh signed a campaign disclosure form insisting that he lived in Berkeley. But while in office, he publicly became embroiled in an alleged eviction battle with the owners of an Oakland property on 63rd Street where he appeared to be actually living. While Kavanagh has proved he's willing to listen to the complaints Berkeley renters, he doesn't prefer living near them, if Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff’s charges are right.

Democratic state Sen. Carol Migden has been criticized for spending too much time in the East Bay rather than staying primarily in San Francisco, which she represents along with Marin County. Migden owns a condo in San Francisco, but her longtime partner, defense lawyer Cristina Arguedas, has a home in Berkeley. An attempt has been made in the past to determine Migden's San Francisco water usage, but a spokesperson for the Public Utilities Commission told us their efforts were foiled because consumption is often not divided per unit in apartment buildings. The same thing happened when the Guardian tried to learn Alioto-Pier's water usage in San Francisco.

San Francisco Sup. Ed Jew's questionable residency was exposed after the FBI searched his residences, work and City Hall office during a bribery investigation. Both the city attorney and district attorney quickly launched probes and unearthed a cascade of evidence that Jew didn't actually live at the district four home he listed in elections records as his primary domicile. According to court documents, he didn't order several different types of services there like phone and cable and his use of basic utilities was minimal. It appeared he was living in Burlingame with his wife and daughter and receiving much of his mail at a work address in Chinatown. The DA has accused him of committing criminal perjury and falsifying documents. Voters in San Francisco passed district elections in 1996 believing they would allow a wider pool of candidates to run and expand representation across the city.

*Photo courtesy Napalandtrust.org.

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