SAN FRANCISCO — Mayor Gavin Newsom suspended Sup. Ed Jew on Tuesday on the grounds of official misconduct and named 29-year-old Deputy Budget Director Carmen Chu as Jew’s interim replacement.
According to Newsom, Jew was charged for misconduct as a result of allegedly lying about residing in District 4 in the Sunset. Newsom also noted that last week’s federal accusations, which stated that Jew sought money in exchange for influencing city permits, helped bring things to a decision-making point. Jew is now pending permanent removal from his position by the Ethics Commission and Board of Supervisors.
Jew was charged with one federal count of mail fraud on Sept. 20 after an FBI sting, in which federal agents gave $40,000 cash to a group of tapioca drink shop owners to give to Jew in exchange for permit consideration. Jew pleaded not guilty on Sept. 21 and was released on $1 million bail.
While Jew, 47, has acknowledged taking the money, he steadfastly claims he did so at the businessmen’s insistence and on behalf of a consultant he recommended they hire to help with their permit problem.
Chu, a fluent Cantonese speaker, is now the youngest member of the board. The daughter of Chinese immigrants, Chu was born and raised in Los Angeles, and worked in her parents’ Chinese restaurant. She graduated with a degree in public policy from Occidental College in 2000 and received a master’s degree from U.C. Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy in 2003. A resident of San Francisco for three years, she has lived in District 4 for approximately one and a half years, and outside of powerful players within the City Hall community, remains a relatively unknown figure to both the Asian American community and the community at large. Chu worked as an intern in the Board of Supervisors’ Office of the Legislative Analyst while at Cal and joined Newsom’s administration in 2004 as a budget analyst. She lives on Ulloa Street with firefighter Scott Hua.
A recent fund-raiser for Jew’s legal defense fund netted $30,000 from 60 attendees, according to David Lee of the Chinese American Voters Education Committee.
The Community Speaks Out
“Mayor Newsom is overstepping his authority. Because of Newsom’s re-election campaign, his actions will be viewed by many as political and not in the best interests of District 4 residents.”
— Eric Mar, San Francisco Board of Education commissioner
“The presumption of innocence means very little in the context of politics. Supervisor Jew’s situation is a tragic one — both for his constituents and his family. He started his career with incredible promise, but will be remembered for the unfortunate events that resulted in his removal from office.”
– Jeff Adachi, public defender
“He is being tried publicly, and the cultural aspect of how Asians do business is not being discussed.”
— Marily Mondejar, president of the Filipina Women’s Network
“He should be given a chance to defend himself while still in office. We [saw] that with [state Senator] Don Peralta and [San Jose Mayor] Ron Gonzales when he had his grand jury indictment. I’ve never seen anybody get removed.”
— Calvin Louie, president of the Chinese American Democratic Club, which has gathered thousands of signatures against removing Ed Jew.
“In these troubling times, the Asian American community must demand the highest level of ethics and accountability from our elected representatives and community leaders. … And most of all, we must remember to protect and promote the most vulnerable people in our community — monolingual immigrants.”
— Phil Ting, assessor-recorder and resident of District 4
“These concerns warrant Ed’s prompt resignation, so that Ed may focus on defending himself. The residents of Sunset-Parkside and the City demand the full time and attention of a supervisor who can fulfill the duties of a local lawmaker.”
— Doug Chan, Sunset resident, former police commissioner and District 4 candidate for supervisor
“He has to juggle what is right for him and what is right for his constituents. I don’t know if he is treating either fair by not resigning.”
— Hydra Mendoza, S.F. School Board member
“Unfortunately, in the case of Ed Jew, he allegedly has engaged in the very behaviors that immigrants have come to this country to escape from.”
— David Lee, executive director of the non-partisan Chinese American Voters Education Committee
“There is also a very visceral need for us to actually have our supervisors live in the district – versus ‘intend’ or ‘substantially reside’ in the district. … This gives us a sense of connection and accessibility to our district supervisor.”
— Allan E. Low, attorney
“Actually, Newsom has taken the most respectful route toward addressing the situation. He has long maintained that he would not jump to conclusions and make any sort of decision before all of the facts had been told and the court had made a ruling.”
— Michael Chan, resident of West Portal and the Sunset for 24 years, and graduate student of Asian American studies at SFSU.
“With respect to the residency issue, it’s the letter of the law vs. the spirit of the law. Technically, he may not have broken any laws, but he sure bent the heck out of them. ”
— David Kiyoshi Tom, actor/model and former resident of San Francisco