The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved Tuesday a $75,000 settlement payment to the city from a former supervisor for an alleged violation of the city’s lobbying law.
Michael Yaki, who served on the board from 1996 to 2001 representing the Richmond District, reached an agreement with the City Attorney’s Office in February after City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed a lawsuit against him in December.
The lawsuit alleged that Yaki, now a lawyer and political consultant, had contacted city officials on behalf of a firefighting equipment company while the city was revising the fire code in 2012 and 2013.
By not disclosing himself as a lobbyist, Yaki allegedly abused a lobbyist ordinance that he himself passed while on the board in 2000.
As part of the settlement, which was approved by the city’s Ethics Commission before coming before the board, Yaki will pay the restitution over a nine-year period, register as a lobbyist, file required monthly disclosures from July 2012 to August 2013 and complete an Ethics Commission lobbyist training session.
Under the agreement, Yaki will not admit to any liability for the allegations in the lawsuit.
The issue under contention involved San Carlos-based Rescue Air Systems Inc., which makes a “firefighter air replenishment system” to provide pressurized air for firefighters to refill oxygen tanks when working in high-rise buildings.
Yaki was allegedly representing the company, which was trying to make a fire code requirement mandating installation of the system in new buildings 75 feet or taller. Fire officials had concerns about adequate firefighter training with the system and about its maintenance, and were recommending revising the code to include an alternative, according to the lawsuit.
The Board of Supervisors eventually voted to amend the requirement to offer developers the option of installing either the replenishment system or a firefighter service elevator that would facilitate oxygen delivery.
When the suit was filed, Yaki said he thought his work for the company was part of an exception in the lobbyist ordinance that allows for attorney representation.
Herrera contended in the lawsuit that under the law, a lawyer who attempts to influence local legislative action is subject to the lobbyist disclosure requirements unless the lawyer is “performing a duty or service that can be performed only by an attorney.”
Yaki’s attorney, Stuart Gasner, was not immediately available to comment on the settlement today.
Sasha Lekach/Julie Cheever, Bay City News