But the ban has a positive side, Woo added. "It's a great excuse to get out of going to certain dinners," he said.
The original ethics package proposed by Woo and others would have allowed "gifts" worth less than $50, a provision that would have covered the lunches and free tickets that have been a way of life at City Hall.
However, the total ban was inserted at the urging of Wachs, who backed it in exchange for an amendment that permits gifts from those who do not do business with the city. Wachs, an art collector, receives thousands of dollars worth of paintings each year as gifts from friends in New York and elsewhere.
Perhaps few in the city find themselves in the uncharted legal waters now confronted by lobbyist Ring, a lawyer who is also on the city's Library Commission and is married to Cindy Miscikowski, deputy to Councilman Marvin Braude. Both he and his wife are subject to a range of restrictions contained in the ethics law.
"If this ordinance was in place two years ago, I would not be married," said Ring, who married Miscikowski in June, 1989. "I would not have dated her," he said. "How do you start a dating relationship?"
The new law, Ring said, raises "very interesting life style questions" such as whether he and his wife may go out to dinner with one of his clients. "We've discussed the fact that we're going to have to get a separate check for Cindy," he said. "It puts a strain on social situations."
And at home, Ring added, things are no less complicated. The couple also has puzzled over what to do if an appreciative client sends a case of wine to their home. "Is that a gift to me or a gift to us? And if it's a gift to me, can Cindy drink the wine?"