State Supreme Court jus­tices snub Adachi

San Francisco Chronicle - - BAY AREA - MATIER & ROSS

What had been an an­nual tra­di­tion in San Fran­cisco for the past 68 years — a big lawyers lun­cheon hon­or­ing mem­bers of the Cal­i­for­nia Supreme Court — was abruptly can­celed this year af­ter the state’s six sit­ting jus­tices sent no­tice that they were too busy to show up.

It’s a bit of a head-scratcher, given that the Lawyers Club of San Fran­cisco’s in­vi­ta­tion to the March 29 event trum­peted the fact that “with few ex­cep­tions, all of the jus­tices have been in at­ten­dance each year.” But then this year’s can­cel­la­tion may have spared every­one a bit of in­di­ges­tion.

It turns out that San Fran­cisco Pub­lic De­fender Jeff Adachi was sched­uled to be the key­note speaker. And he is not ex­actly the le­gal es­tab­lish­ment’s golden boy right now — not with four lawyers in his of­fice hav­ing launched cam­paigns to un­seat San Fran­cisco Su­pe­rior Court judges in this year’s elec­tions be­cause they were ap­pointed by Repub­li­can gov­er­nors.

“Con­ser­va­tive judges are out of touch,” Deputy Pub­lic De­fender Maria Evan­ge­lista said in an­nounc­ing her chal­lenge to one of the judges.

Any­one in San Fran­cisco pol­i­tics with Repub­li­can con­nec­tions is go­ing to be about as pop­u­lar as cholera. All

four of the tar­geted judges, how­ever, hap­pen to be reg­is­tered Democrats.

And the cam­paigns by Adachi’s pub­lic de­fend­ers have been de­nounced by sev­eral San Fran­cisco Democrats, in­clud­ing state Sen. Scott Wiener, Assem­bly­men David Chiu and Phil Ting, and state Board of Equal­iza­tion mem­ber Fiona Ma.

Adachi tells us that even be­fore the event at the In­ter­Con­ti­nen­tal Mark Hop­kins Ho­tel atop Nob Hill was can­celed, an or­ga­nizer told him “not to men­tion any­thing about the ju­di­cial races” dur­ing his re­marks.

He doesn’t have to worry about that now. Sta­cie Ei­ras, a spokes­woman for the lawyers group spon­sor­ing the event, said the Supreme Court’s clerk sent no­tice Thurs­day that none of the six sit­ting jus­tices would be able to at­tend be­cause of “late-ar­riv­ing obli­ga­tions.”

When we asked if his bosses were boy­cotting Adachi, court ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Jorge Navar­rete told us, “I have no in­for­ma­tion about that.”

There are no plans to resched­ule the lunch.

Name game: Just weeks af­ter scrub­bing Colum­bus Day from the cal­en­dar, the San Fran­cisco Board of Su­per­vi­sors will con­sider des­ig­nat­ing a new Ital­ian Amer­i­can Her­itage Day.

The pro­posal, which will be in­tro­duced Tues­day, is be­ing spon­sored by newly sworn-in Dis­trict Two Su­per­vi­sor Cather­ine Ste­fani, who counts her­self as a proud Ital­ian Amer­i­can. “I hope this will ease the ten­sion for a lot of peo­ple,” she said.

Among the co-spon­sors is Su­per­vi­sor Malia Co­hen, who wrote the ear­lier mea­sure re­plac­ing Christo­pher Colum­bus’ day with Indige­nous Peo­ples Day, an­ger­ing many Ital­ian Amer­i­cans in the process.

The lat­est mea­sure would have the city cel­e­brate both Indige­nous Peo­ples Day and Ital­ian Amer­i­can Her­itage Day on the sec­ond Mon­day in Oc­to­ber. “It makes sense that the date should be shared,” Co­hen said.

Not to some Ital­ian Amer­i­cans. They’re gath­er­ing sig­na­tures for a Novem­ber ini­tia­tive that would get rid of Indige­nous Peo­ples Day and bring back Colum­bus Day.

The board’s vote “was just rail­roaded through for po­lit­i­cal pur­poses,” said Michael

An­tonini, a den­tist and for­mer mem­ber of the San Fran­cisco Plan­ning Com­mis­sion who is lead­ing the ini­tia­tive pe­ti­tion drive.

“I think Ital­ian Amer­i­cans are look­ing for a fight when there re­ally isn’t one,” Co­hen said.

“Yeah, there is a fight,” An­tonini coun­tered. “We are the ones they picked on when they got rid of Colum­bus Day, which we have been cel­e­brat­ing in San Fran­cisco for 150 years.”

An­tonini sus­pects the tim­ing of the name change had some­thing to do with Co­hen’s at­tempt to curry fa­vor with Na­tive Amer­i­can groups — and more specif­i­cally, the big-money gam­ing in­dus­try they con­trol — for her run for the State Board of Equal­iza­tion.

“That’s just a shal­low ar­gu­ment,” said Co­hen, who called Indige­nous Peo­ples Day “long over­due.”

We may be hear­ing the same ar­gu­ments dur­ing elec­tion sea­son — per­haps. An­tonini’s Coali­tion of Ital­ian Amer­i­can Or­ga­ni­za­tions — CIAO — has less than two weeks un­til the March 9 dead­line to sub­mit 20,000 valid sig­na­tures of reg­is­tered vot­ers to qual­ify the mea­sure. By late last week, it had col­lected 6,500.

Still, An­tonini is op­ti­mistic. He ven­tured west of Twin Peaks on a re­cent Sun­day, he said, and “got 80 sig­na­tures in front of St. Bren­dan’s Church.”

On the money: For all the claw­ing over en­dorse­ments at the state Demo­cratic Party con­ven­tion in San Diego over the week­end, what re­ally counts is what goes with those en­dorse­ments — party money for slate cards and win­dow signs and get-out­the-vote drives.

Which is why some Demo­cratic in­sid­ers were alarmed to see that the state party raised just $13.7 mil­lion in 2017 — barely half the to­tal from the year be­fore.

Why the sud­den cash slump?

Demo­cratic in­sid­ers point to last year’s re­tire­ment of state party Chair­man John Bur­ton — a fix­ture in Cal­i­for­nia pol­i­tics for five decades who was known for be­ing a prodi­gious fundraiser. Bur­ton’s exit led to an ugly fight be­tween es­tab­lish­ment can­di­date Eric Bau­man and Kim­berly Ellis ,a pro­gres­sive or­ga­nizer backed by the Bernie San­ders-friendly Cal­i­for­nia Nurses As­so­ci­a­tion.

Bau­man won, in a tight con­test that Ellis bit­terly dis­puted for months. He’s been play­ing fi­nan­cial catchup ever since.

Paul Kuroda / Spe­cial to The Chron­i­cle

S.F. Pub­lic De­fender Jeff Adachi was to speak at a lun­cheon for Cal­i­for­nia’s Supreme Court Jus­tices.

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