Former City Councilman Michael Zucchet could be a contender to take the top job at the Municipal Employees Association when General Manager Judie Italiano leaves the post next year.

Italiano told me that rumors that Zucchet has been hired as the new general manager are untrue, but said she has encouraged Zucchet to apply for the job when the search process begins, probably in the spring.

“I hope we could be lucky enough to entice him to take the job,” Italiano said, “but that would be the board’s decision, not mine.”

Zucchet was convicted in 2005 of conspiracy, fraud and extortion in the Strippergate case. A federal judge later threw out seven of the nine convictions and ordered a new trial on two others.

Italiano said Zucchet’s convictions would not be a problem, saying she believes the judge’s ruling made clear the case was a misuse of prosecutorial power.

“As far as we’re concerned, it’s in the past,” she said.

Italiano added that employees can sympathize with Zucchet because they have “really been put through the ringer” because of outgoing City Attorney Mike Aguirre’s lawsuit claiming certain pension benefits were illegal.

“They know what it’s like to be in the shoes of someone like Mike (Zucchet),” Italiano said of city employees. “They’re going to ask their own questions of Mike and not listen to the media and trumped-up charges.”

Italiano said the association is currently contracting with Zucchet to perform research related to negotiations with the city.

As for the general manager job, Italiano said Zucchet would be well-qualified because of his experience working the firefighters union and on the council. Italiano said she has talked to other council members about the job, though she declined to name names.

Zucchet, who currently works for developer J. Peter Block Cos., didn’t return a call today for comment.


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