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HERRERA TAKES HEAT FOR DALY ADVICE Facing heat from the mayor and a supervisor, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera on Wednesday defended his office’s handling of the continuing saga over Supervisor Chris Daly’s appointments to the city Public Utilities Commission. Daly, acting mayor for a day while Mayor Willie Brown was in Asia, held a surprise swearing-in Oct. 22 for two of his picks for the PUC. Herrera’s office has since opined that one of the appointments was legally valid, another was not. Eight votes from the 11-member Board of Supervisors would be enough to reject the remaining Daly appointment, and Supervisors Tony Hall and Matt Gonzalez met Wednesday as the Rules Committee to discuss a recommendation. Hall sharply questioned Herrera about his reasons for not telling Brown in advance that Daly was asking for legal advice, presumably about the powers of an acting mayor. “Do you feel that you had the responsibility, or your department did, to notify the mayor’s office [of something] of this import?” Hall asked. But Herrera said his office as a matter of practice does not disclose requests for advice to other city officials. Otherwise, there would be no confidence in their attorney-client privilege, he said. Gonzalez, a former deputy public defender, defended Herrera’s rationale. But Hall said the city attorney should let the mayor know if someone’s trying to subvert his powers — even if the office can’t offer details. Hall added he wasn’t blaming the city’s lawyers, but wanted to avoid similar situations in the future. Brown also appeared at the hearing and said he disagreed with the city attorney’s legal opinion on the appointments. The mayor called for more review. Brown said he believes that “when real legal scholars walk through the process,” they’ll conclude an acting mayor does not have all the powers of a mayor, he said. Herrera said the legal opinion from his office “is black letter law,” and invited anyone to review the case law. “We call and interpret the law as we see it.” — Pam Smith

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