Michela Alioto-Pier's $50,000 Legal Bill May Be Paid By City

Categories: Politics

Luke Thomas, Fog City Journal
Michela Alioto-Pier: This won't be cheap, Mr. Herrera...
After beating the city in court yesterday to win the right to run again as District 2 supervisor, Michela Alioto-Pier treated her staff and supporters to a nice lunch. The city isn't on the hook for that -- but it soon may have to pay Alioto-Pier a bundle.

The legal bill for the two-year Alioto-Pier odyssey to overturn a city attorney opinion that she was termed out is anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000, says the supervisor's husband, Tom Pier. Recovering attorney's fees was mentioned in Alioto-Pier's initial complaint last month. She'd have to file a separate petition to claim these fees, "and we will, in all likelihood, do that," says Pier.  

Prosecuting the case vs. Alioto-Pier wasn't free for the city attorney, either. Matt Dorsey, a spokesman for city attorney Dennis Herrera, said he couldn't tell us exactly how much money has been spent thus far: The costs of litigation are not public record until the conclusion of the case, and Herrera is still bandying about the idea of filing an appeal. But, if you assume that around 100 work hours were spent on this case, and the city attorneys involved earn around $200 an hour, then you're talking about $20,000.

Dennis Herrera by Jim Herd.jpg
Jim Herd
Dennis Herrera may still be appealing a suit Michela Alioto-Pier never found appealing

Alioto-Pier will be at the Department of Elections today at 10 a.m. to pull her nomination papers, which will allow her to, finally, place her name on the ballot. She must return them by Aug. 6 with 20 signatures from District 2 residents and $500. Let's say it's a safe bet she can pony up the money and the sigs.

What Alioto-Pier can't do, however, is make up for lost time. In the months she's been fighting the city over Herrera's term limits, her opponents Janet Reilly and Mark Farrell have been raising big bucks, garnering endorsements, and canvassing the district. The incumbent, meanwhile, had trouble raising funds -- being as the city declared she wasn't a candidate and all.

In fact, the money Alioto-Pier has paid to the Jim Sutton law firm is actually from her campaign account.

She plans on hitting up the city attorney -- and, therefore, the city -- to refund that cash.

"My supporters shouldn't have to pay for Dennis Herrera's mistake," she said. Of course, if the city picks up the tab, then everyone pays. "Yes," Alioto-Pier acknowledged. "Well, Dennis Herrera should think about these things before he files a faulty case."

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