Monday, July 26, 2010

Question time---again?


The "question time" issue has always been about Chris Daly's unhealthy obsession with Mayor Newsom, not about substantive dialogue on policy between the mayor and the Board of Supervisors. Daly's relationship with the mayor went sour when then-Supervisor Newsom gave up on the ineffectual Continuum of Care process dealing with the city's homeless crisis ten years ago. Daly and the city's left have never forgiven Newsom for striking off on his own with Care Not Cash, passed by city voters in 2002, and then using the homeless issue to get himself elected mayor in 2003. Newsom was not only not a progressive but he demonstrated with Care Not Cash and his successful campaign against Matt Gonzalez that Newsom and his supporters understood and cared more about homelessness than city progressives did. Even more galling to city progs, the Newsom administration has had some success in the last seven years in dealing with homelessness, although some progs are still in complete denial about that.

Last week it took four progressive supervisors who weren't on the board when the issue was first raised four years ago---along with Daly and Supervisor Mirkarimi---to put Daly's question time proposition on the ballot for the third time this November. The advisory version passed with 56% of the vote in 2006, but the mandatory version was rejected by 51% of city voters in 2007, much to the disappointment of city progressives, who were hoping to force the mayor to take part in their dog-and-pony show. Hard to believe that, in the middle of a recession, city voters will be any more inclined to indulge Chris Daly than they were three years ago, even though if passed the measure won't affect Newsom, who will apparently be elected lieutenant governor in November.

Mayoral 'question time' goes to voters
Rachel Gordon
Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Four years ago a majority of San Francisco voters said they wanted the mayor to appear regularly before the Board of Supervisors to field questions from the legislators, an idea mirroring "Question Time" in the United Kingdom where the prime minister must answer questions from members of Parliament.

But the San Francisco law is advisory and does not compel the mayor to be put on the spot, and Mayor Gavin Newsom is a perpetual no-show. It's not that he doesn't like to talk (don't forget his 7 1/2-hour "State of the City" on YouTube two years ago).

Backers of a local Question Time tried to turn the nonbinding law into a mandate in 2007, but voters narrowly rejected the idea. Now, city voters will be asked again.

The Board of Supervisors voted 6-5 Tuesday to place a measure on the November ballot to require the mayor "to engage in formal policy discussions with members of the board" at least once a month.

"I think it's an important piece of law" that helps add to a "level of engagement that quite frankly does not occur," said Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi.

He was joined by Supervisors Chris Daly (the chief sponsor), David Campos, David Chiu, Eric Mar and John Avalos. Opposed were Supervisors Carmen Chu, Bevan Dufty, Sean Elsbernd, Michela Alioto-Pier and Sophie Maxwell.

"If they want prime minister 'Question Time' they should run for a seat in the House of Commons," offered Newsom spokesman Tony Winnicker.

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