Herrera's right to appeal the Alioto-Pier decision


I'm not exactly sure what Ken Garcia was trying to say here -- his argument is rambling and makes no sense -- but Dennis Herrera really had no choice: He had to appeal the Alioto-Pier decision.

The Superior Court ruling in the case screws up the city's term-limits law. It's not clear now, for example, when Sup. Carmen Chu will be termed out. It's not clear whether the mayor can appoint someone midway into a vacant term and essentially give that person an extra two years on the board. And one ruling from one Superior Court judge doesn't clarify the law (which the judge acknowledged was at the very least ambiguous) or set a binding precedent.

When the voters approved district elections, they also approved term limits; everyone gets two four-year terms. But under Judge Peter Busch's decision, that's no longer true.

Suppose, for example (and this is a wild scenario, but such things happen in local politics) that Gavin Newsom gets elected lieutenant governor (entirely possible) and in January, the newly elected supervisors choose the next mayor. Here's what happens: The board president becomes interim mayor until somebody lines up six votes.

So let's say (and this just happened with David Chiu) that one of the newly-elected, first-time supervisors -- Debra Walker, or Rafael Mandelman, or Scott Weiner, or Jane Kim, or someone else -- lines up six votes and becomes board president, and thus mayor. Then he or she immediately appoints a successor as supervisor. That person gets a free four-year term that doesn't count against term limits at all.

So the city needs clarity, and the only way to get it is to ask the Appeals Court to weigh in. And if it turns out that the current law does, indeed, set a double standard, and that appointed supervisors get special treatment, then the board needs to be a Charter amendment on the ballot fixing the problem.

If Sup. Alioto-Pier wants to claim this is just politics, let's remember: She's already run for Congress, for secretary of state, and was planning to run for insurance commissioner until she fell ill this spring. Now that nothing else has worked out, she wants another term on the board. She has every right to challenge Herrera's opinion, but asking him to apologize is wrong; he's just doing his job.

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