Payout to cover ANSWER’s legal fees in four-year handbill brouhaha

money.jpgThe A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition — known also as Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, if you’re not into the whole acronym thing — is nothing if not ambitious. In addition to marching, waving signs, and jailing racist killer cops, the lefty protest group is also going to hit up San Francisco taxpayers. But not for a rally: for $90,000, some four years after the city’s Department of Public Works had the temerity to ask ANSWER for $6,000.

How does a $6,000 bill become a $90,000 windfall, even in a recession? Let’s ask ANSWER (or rather let’s just look at court documents).

In 2006, ANSWER filed suit against the city’s Department of Public Works, alleging that DPW had no right to bill the group for cost recovery for cleaning up bills, placards and other postings plastered onto city property, and that the public works code under which ANSWER was fined is in fact a violation of the First Amendment.

A Superior Court judge pish-poshed ANSWER’s antics and ruled in favor of the city, but ANSWER was not to be stopped: they appealed the ruling to the state Circuit Court of Appeals. That court ruled in ANSWER’s favor, and also ruled that ANSWER could recover legal fees from their nemesis… the people of the City and County of San Francisco.

Perhaps weary of haggling, wrangling and otherwise occupying his office’s time over four-year old handbills, City Attorney Dennis Herrera chose not to go any further and relented, offering ANSWER $90,000 if they would only go away.

This settlement is scheduled to be finalized as early as today, when the Board of Supervisors’ Rules Committee will ponder this and other pressing matters at its 10 a.m. meeting.

The Appeal understands very much how expensive lawyers can be, and would, if we could, recover all sorts of stuff from anyone. But taxpayer-funded free speech is something of a new one. Lesson learned, don’t litigate with lefties.

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