City secures free counsel in event of mayor shake-up 

Attorneys from outside the borders of San Francisco will be giving the legal advice about selecting an interim mayor.

If Mayor Gavin Newsom wins his bid for lieutenant governor Nov. 2, San Francisco will lose its mayor. The Board of Supervisors will then be in the position to vote on who will serve as the interim mayor.

On Thursday, the Board of Supervisors Rules Committee meets to vote on legislation that would authorize the board to retain outside counsel — in this case Miguel Marquez, the counsel for Santa Clara County — for legal advice during the process.

Much of it is spelled out in the City Charter. City Attorney Dennis Herrera ordinarily provides legal advice to the board. But when he announced his run for mayor in 2011, he told the board in a memo that “to avoid even the appearance of any conflicts of interest” he would not be advising them on matters related to the interim mayor.

Outside counsel will not come at a cost to The City.

“My office has a standing reciprocal agreement with other local law offices to provide legal support at no cost in situations like this,” Herrera’s memo said.

A number of factors will shape the selection process.

The current board could end up voting on who will serve as interim mayor or the new board, made up of those members who win the five open board races Nov. 2.

It would take six votes by the board to make someone interim mayor.

No matter what happens this year, San Francisco voters will be selecting a new mayor in November 2011.

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