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NOT A LOT OF JUICE IN LATEST CIRCUIT-BREAKER BILL The latest attempt to break up the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals goes before the House Judiciary Committee today, but don’t expect this dog to hunt. Sponsored by Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson, a Republican, the bill isn’t exactly a magnet of support. So far, no co-sponsors have signed on. The bill would split the Ninth Circuit in two, keeping California, Nevada and Arizona in the original Ninth Circuit and moving the rest of the court (Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska) into a new Twelfth Circuit. Today’s testimony will feature an all-star cast of witnesses. In addition to the usual appearances by Chief Judge Mary Schroeder (opposed) and Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain (for), Judge Alex Kozinski and University of Pittsburgh School of Law professor Arthur Hellman will be there. Hellman has written extensively about the court. The bill is a rewriting of a previous proposal by Simpson. The new bill would add judgeships to the two circuits to help deal with the workload. At a speech to the Santa Clara County Bar Association last week, Schroeder seemed unconcerned about the latest split threat. She testified against Simpson’s earlier bill, which was introduced not long after the Ninth Circuit’s Pledge of Allegiance decision. That hearing, Schroeder later said she was told, was Congress’ way of showing its displeasure with the ruling. “No one has any reason to believe that the bill will go anywhere,” Schroeder said. — Jason Hoppin SIGN LANGUAGE A new political group supporting District Attorney Terence Hallinan and Proposition H has ruffled Assemblyman Mark Leno’s feathers, plus those of the Gavin Newsom and Susan Leal mayoral campaigns. San Franciscans for Fair & Honest Government has hung about 750 signs urging voters to vote for Hallinan and Proposition H, according to two organizers. (Hallinan is running against challengers Kamala Harris and Bill Fazio. All three endorse Prop H, which would change the structure of the Police Commission.) The group also lists Leno, Leal and Newsom among 20 sponsors on a recent fund-raiser invitation. The Leal and Newsom campaigns, and Leno, said they agreed to lend their names because they thought the event was to raise money for medical marijuana efforts. They’re not happy to be associated with a group so prominently endorsing Hallinan and Prop H. Leal isn’t endorsing a DA candidate, spokesman Tony Winnicker said, and he’s concerned voters will think she’s endorsed Hallinan. “The most significant part of those signs is Terence’s name.” Newsom isn’t endorsing anyone in the DA’s race, either — and he outright opposes Prop H, said spokesman John Shanley. Leno, noting that he’s endorsed Harris, said he wasn’t told the group would be putting up signs for Hallinan. “You can’t use people’s names for a purpose other than what you’ve asked them for.” Medical marijuana advocate Wayne Justmann said when he asked Leno to lend his name, the group didn’t know it would be hanging the signs. “That’s no one’s fault. There was no intention to deceive.” The group’s fund-raiser invitation said it promotes “those dedicated to open and accountable government, protection of the environment, quality education, LGBT equality, safe access to medical marijuana and an improved quality of life.” “We’ll be supporting other causes and endorsing other candidates,” said spokesperson Lisa Beyer, adding that the group is separate from Hallinan’s campaign. Hundreds of people helped hang signs, but core organizers number less than 20, Beyer said. Justmann estimated the group has raised about $13,000. — Pam Smith PALO ALTO POLITICS As a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge, LaDoris Hazzard Cordell was known for directing some candid criticisms at her bench colleagues. Now she wants to take her reform message to the Palo Alto City Council. Cordell, who retired in 2001 to become a vice provost at Stanford University, is stumping for a seat on the nine-member council. She’s one of 10 candidates, including four incumbents, on the Nov. 4 ballot. Cordell, who has lived in Palo Alto for 20 years, said she’s running a grassroots campaign — meaning no fund-raising or flashy advertising. Instead, Cordell enlisted children with East Palo Alto’s mural project to paint campaign lawn signs. She is accepting no campaign contributions. Cordell is getting her message out by participating in candidate forums. “I am being outspent 20-to-1,” Cordell said. “But we can do this. We can get democracy back, as opposed to buying the election.” Cordell said she wants to be a peacemaker on the council and help streamline some of the city’s operations. “Palo Alto got bogged down in a whole lot of process, and not progress,” Cordell said. “I have a lot of respect for due process, but one can overdo it.” San Mateo real estate attorney Harold “Skip” Justman is also challenging the incumbents. He said he is focusing his campaign on the budget and the need to eliminate wasteful spending. The incumbent candidates include attorney Judy Kleinberg, whose husband, James Kleinberg, was appointed to the Santa Clara Superior Court bench in 2002. — Shannon Lafferty ADACHI’S DO-IT-YOURSELFERS The Home Depot and Public Defender Jeff Adachi don’t seem likely bedfellows. But when the PD started talking up plans to expand one of his programs in the retailing giant’s new neighborhood, it was all ears. Home Depot plans to look for about 300 new local employees in 2005 for its store in San Francisco’s Bayview district. But the store can’t hire anyone with a felony conviction, Adachi said, so it was among those welcoming his “Operation Clean Slate” program to the Bayview. The program offers walk-in legal services to ex-offenders who want to wipe felony and misdemeanor convictions from their rap sheets. The new office, at the Southeast Community Facility Commission, will be open Thursday mornings. The same services are available Tuesday mornings at the PD’s main office on Seventh Street. — Pam Smith

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