The resignation became public May 16 when the City Clerk’s Office posted a legal notice at City Hall announcing the panel now has an “unscheduled vacancy” in light of Zucchet’s resignation.
The Oversight Board serves as the successor agency to the defunct Redevelopment Agency, which was dissolved by the governor and state legislature Feb. 1 to help close the state budget gap. Zucchet and six others were appointed by the City Council in April.
His letter of resignation was also made public and he described the process the board will likely follow to be “fatally flawed and a lost cause.” Zucchet noted how City Attorney Jan Goldsmith repeatedly told the panel he could not represent them.
Zucchet also said other law firms declined to defend the board against lawsuits, citing legal conflicts because of other clients. He wrote that one law firm without conflicts declined to represent them at all. All board members volunteer their services without pay.
Zucchet said this means the Oversight Board “faces additional weeks, if not months, of meetings, deliberations and decision-making votes on the most convoluted and complicated issues without any legal guidance whatsoever.”
In 2005, Zucchet was convicted of federal corruption charges by a jury and resigned from the City Council, but the trial judge overturned the convictions. The U.S. Attorney’s Office decided years later not to seek a second trial for Zucchet, who now represents the Municipal Employees Association.
He noted in the letter that “perhaps my life experiences have made me too cynical or paranoid,” but he didn’t feel comfortable serving on a board that has no legal representation. Zucchet wrote he didn’t feel he should put himself and his family “on the line” with the potential risk of incurring legal costs.
He wrote that he volunteered because he wanted to return to public service, but that was before he realized the board’s work involved “endless uncertainty, unintended consequences, impossible deadlines, and conflicting fiduciary duties” without legal assistance.