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