Legal fight unfinished over supe term limits 

City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed an appeal Wednesday seeking to shoot down Superior Court Judge Peter Busch’s ruling seven days ago that Herrera was wrong in ruling that District 2 Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier is termed out of office and cannot seek re-election.

“It is impossible to serve more than two years without an intervening election, so under the Superior Court’s holding, the ‘rounding up’ rule has no meaning at all,” Herrera’s appeal said.

Busch’s ruling stuck down Herrera’s opinion that Alioto-Pier’s appointment for 10 months and subsequent election for a two-year term constitutes a four-year term under the city charter.

The City Charter says a person appointed to serve “in excess of two years of a four-year term” should be considered to have served a four-year term, but Busch’s ruling means the 10 months and subsequent two-year term she was elected for cannot be counted together.

“The judge clearly said [Herrera’s] wrong,” Alioto-Pier said. She had also issued a statement saying, “I thought he would be apologizing, not appealing.”

A ruling on the appeal is expected to occur before Aug. 16. The legal battle continues while candidates’ campaigns are in full swing as they compete to serve in the District 2 seat on the Board of Supervisors representing the Marina and Pacific Heights neighborhoods.

The ruling could have other consequences in short order.

“Five board members will begin new terms in January 2011. If one of them is immediately appointed to replace, say, Mayor Newsom or District Attorney Kamala Harris, both of whom are running for statewide office this year, that appointment would create a vacancy on the board. The person appointed to fill that board vacancy would be allowed to serve more than eleven years and eleven months if the Superior Court’s ruling is permitted to stand,” the appeal said.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com


Back and forth


The debate about whether Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier has served the two-term limit for city supervisors is ongoing.

January 2004: Appointed to District 2 seat by Mayor Gavin Newsom on Jan. 26
November 2004: Wins election for January 2005 to January 2007 term after being required by law to run
November 2006: Elected to current term, which runs from January 2007 to January 2011
November 2010: District 2 seat up for election
January 2011: Current term ends

Source: Board of Supervisors

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