Former supervisor Michael Yaki
City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed suit yesterday against former Supervisor Michael Yaki, alleging that he violated the city's lobbyist ordinance. Yaki had unsuccessfully advocated for the extension of a city policy that would have benefited his client, Rescue Air Systems, which makes a firefighter safety system. Yaki faces over 70 charges, each of which carry a minimum $5,000 fine. The full text of the complaint is available here. But if you aren't ready for the full 470 pages of the complaint, we've compiled a Cliff's Notes version for you, hitting all the smoky backroom high lights.
(For his part, Yaki today told us that, "There is an exception within the ordinance allowing attorney representation, and as an attorney I worked within the parameters." According to Yaki, who is not a registered lobbyist, Rescue Air Systems had retained several separate lobbying firms on the matter. "I look forward to positively resolving this matter with the City Attorney," he said.)
Yaki played big: "Despite making more than 70 lobbying contacts, Yaki flouted the lobbyist ordinance in every way: he failed to register as a lobbyist, failed to disclose who was paying him to lobby and how much he was paid, and failed to disclose any of his lobbying contacts."
He was persistent: "Yaki focused his efforts on Fire Commission President Michael Hardeman, whom Yaki texted, emailed, and called between 50 and 100 times on behalf of Rescue Air Systems."
So persistent, that Yaki could be, well, a little annoying: "After the January 23, 2013 meeting, the intensity and frequency of Yaki's lobbying efforts increased to the point that President Hardeman stopped answering his phone when he saw that Yaki was calling."
Yaki allegedly concealed that he was working for the only company that made the fire safety devices: "Yaki sent emails to Supervisors Jane Kim and John Avalos on November 12, 2012 asking to set up meetings with them. Yaki claimed that he was 'working with constituents concerned about Fire Dep't changes in fire safety [...]' Supervisor Kim responded the next day and asked Yaki 'which constituents you are working with?' Yaki wrote, 'One of the constituents is me. :-) Others include firemen, and people I've worked to organize on this.'"
Fire chief Joanne Hayes-White wasn't so impressed: "Although the FARS requirement has been part of the Fire Code since 2004, I have learned that firefighters do not use this system, and in fact, I am unaware of a single instance where it has been used to fight a fire anywhere in the United States."
Fire Commission President Michael Hardeman was even less impressed: "In the nearly twenty years that I have served as a commissioner in San Francisco, no one has ever lobbied me as relentlessly and aggressively as Yaki."
Yaki wasn't much of a smooth talker: He emailed Supervisor David Chiu to say, “Would love 15 min if you can spare. Fire Commission is pretty worthless on this. Nice people, but captives.'"
He wasn't afraid to cross the streams: In several emails to David Chiu and his aide, Yaki offers his help on other controversial city issues, like 8 Washington and the Central Subway expansion. (There's no indication they responded to those.)
He even played the 9/11 card: In one attempt, Yaki stated "The fires of 9/11 and the hazards that high-rise smoke poses to First Responders is proven."