Former Richmond District Supervisor Sued By City Over Alleged Political Impropriety

A former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors was sued today by the city for allegedly violating its laws regarding lobbyists when he contacted city officials on behalf of a company.

Michael Yaki, who also currently serves on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, was sued by City Attorney Dennis Herrera today for more than 70 alleged violations of the city’s lobbying ordinance earlier this year.

According to the city attorney’s office, Yaki was representing the company Rescue Air Systems Inc. during the legislative process to revise the city’s fire code but failed to register as a lobbyist, failed to disclose amounts and sources of payments for his lobbying and failed to report lobbying contacts.

“Yaki flouted the lobbyist ordinance in every way,” the city attorney said in the complaint filed today in San Francisco Superior Court.

Herrera noted that Yaki himself voted to support the ordinance in 2000 when he was on the Board of Supervisors.

“The evidence is overwhelming that Mr. Yaki brazenly flouted a law with which he had no excuse to be unfamiliar,” Herrera said in a statement.

Yaki was appointed to the board’s District 1 seat by then-Mayor Willie Brown in 1996 and was elected a year later, then lost his re-election bid in 2001. District 1 covers the Richmond District and other neighborhoods on the western end of the city.

Yaki denied wrongdoing in the case in an email.

“There is an exception within the ordinance allowing attorney representation, and as an attorney I worked within the parameters of the ordinance,” he wrote. “I look forward to positively resolving this matter with the City Attorney.”
The lobbyist ordinance allows for civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation.

The complaint against Yaki includes 15 declarations from current members of the Board of Supervisors, legislative aides, fire commissioners and Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, according to the city attorney’s office.

The San Carlos-based company he represented manufactured a “firefighter air replenishment system” that was required by the city’s fire codes for new buildings 75 feet tall or higher.

Yaki sought to extend the requirement, but was opposed by Hayes-White and other fire officials who said the department had never used or trained on it because they did not have confidence the air in the replenishment system was breathable, according to the city attorney.

The board eventually voted to alter the requirement to offer developers the option of installing the system or a firefighter service elevator that would facilitate oxygen delivery.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

Please make sure your comment adheres to our comment policy. If it doesn't, it may be deleted. Repeat violations may cause us to revoke your commenting privileges. No one wants that!