Newsom's silly trick

Hmmm.... maybe that won't work ....

Gavin Newsom's got a plan: He's going to stop those damn district-elected progressives from appoining a new mayor even if it takes some wacky legal footwork. According to the Chron's Matier and Ross:

For the past two weeks, Newsom's political team has been combing the state Constitution to determine if the mayor, assuming he's elected statewide, could legally push back his Jan. 3 swearing-in for the new job until after Jan. 8.

If he can, the job of naming his successor would go to the newly elected Board of Supervisors, which is sworn in Jan. 8, instead of the current lineup.

I don't know where that team is looking in the state Constitution, but the language seems pretty clear to me. Article V, section 2, provides that the "Governor shall be elected every fourth year...and hold office from the Monday after January 1...." In 2011, that's Jan. 3. It also says (article V, section 11) that "The Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Controller, Secretary of State, and Treasurer shall be elected at the same time and places and for the same term as the Governor."

And since the mayor of San Francisco is, by Charter, a full-time job, Newsom can't be both mayor and lt. governor. Which means, I think, that he's got to start the new job Jan. 3, and the new Board of Supervisors doesn't take office until a week later.

There's another twist here: The City Charter discusses a "vacancy" in the office of mayor, and authorizes the Board of Supervisors to select someone to fill the remainder of a vacant term. If Newsom wins in November, it will be clear that a vacancy is looming -- and there's no reason why the supervisors can't pass a motion right away designating the person who they intend to have fill that vacancy. In other words, this current board could select the next mayor even before Newsom officially resigns.

Now, it's also true that the motion wouldn't become effective until the mayor actually left office, and could be rescinded at any time up until that moment. But if the supervisors find six votes for a candidate, and designate that person as Newsom's successor, it's unlikely the board would decide to change its mind and rescind in just a few weeks.

And even if all that doesn't fly, there's a very good chance that progressives will still control the next board. Four progressive supes will carry over -- Ross Mirkarimi, John Avalos, Eric Mar and David Campos. If progressive candidates win two of the three swing races -- in districts 6, 8 and 10 -- then the overall politics of the board won't change dramatically.

So there's actually a chance that a progressive mayor could take office next January. Whether Newsom likes it or not




Thanks for reminding me.


On October 22, 2003, during his one-day shift as Acting Mayor, while Mayor Willie Brown traveled to Tibet, Daly appointed two members to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission without Brown's consent, having consulted with the City Attorney who had advised him that as acting mayor he had the legal authority to make appointments in Mayor Brown's absence.[30] Brown, who had his own people in mind for the assignments, had a different opinion, stating that "[The appointments] were made by a person who was supposed to be operating in a ceremonial capacity... [It was] a conspiracy to... move away from the traditions, the rules, the customs and the conduct that has been the hallmark of this city, long before I became mayor of this city."[31] Brown also compared Daly to a stalker and suicide bomber, stating that, "When you conspire and calculate what you intend to do several days before you're designated as the acting mayor, you really are venal, you really are violative of all the protocols. It's like stalking. You knew exactly what you were intending to do. You concealed all your steps. You carefully plotted, then you did it behind closed doors, and then you laughed about it." Brown said he found out about Daly's actions when his chief of staff called him in Tibet. Brown was sleeping at the time but with the assistance of Chinese officials, was on a plane home within hours, cutting short his trade and promotion trip to China--reportedly explaining the matter to his hosts simply as a "coup."[32] Nonetheless, the City Attorney stood behind its legal opinion and environmentalist and former Sierra Club president Adam Werbach was later sworn in. The second appointee, architect Robin Chiang, was rescinded because Brown had already made one appointment, Andrew Lee, son of one of Brown's fund-raiser Julie Lee,[31] who was convicted of mail fraud and witness tampering on July 12, 2008.[33] Daly and his allies on the board said Andrew Lee represented political patronage at its worst. [34] According to John Rizzo, vice chairman of the Bay chapter of the Sierra Club, Daly's appointments would add "expertise to the SFPUC that was greatly lacking and is a great improvement"[31] Brown said that Daly's action went beyond betrayal and that he considers his relationship with Daly, who he had praised in recent months, over. The custom of assigning the acting mayor position to supervisors on a round-robin basis was discontinued as a result of Daly's appointments. Daly said by way of explanation for his actions, "I'm an activist. I had an opportunity, and I took it. I stand by what I did. It was the right thing." [35]

Posted by glen matlock on Mar. 08, 2010 @ 3:11 pm

Smug and arrogant Newsom---whom I've never voted for---has turned out to be one piece of work. I would say more, but it would likely not be printed here. Upon reflection, I think he used the same-gender marriage issue as bait to guarantee his support during this term in office.

Who's going to vote for him for another political position? I won't be. Tim Redmond wrote: "So there's actually a chance that a progressive mayor could take office next January. Whether Newsom likes it or not." Excellent. And I interpret that to mean that Newsom is not a progressive, which he isn't. Although he doesn't mind at all taking credit for the more progressive things (from the Board members) that this City has accomplished while he's been in office. He's an opportunist and he will do whatever he needs to do to promote HIM.

Posted by Sam on Mar. 08, 2010 @ 3:43 pm

Under the law, the Mayor is the Incident Commander in event of an earthquake or other emergency. This means that the office of Mayor can never be vacant.

Posted by Guest Charley_sf on Mar. 08, 2010 @ 3:46 pm

I would make an immediate move to institute special elections for vacancies ... if I were a more ethical progressive -- ha, ha! Downtown can eat Chris Daly's ass!

Posted by Matt Stewart on Mar. 08, 2010 @ 8:32 pm

Shouldn't a new mayor (if one is needed) be selected by special election? It would be the most democratic solution. The supervisors should put a charter amendment on the ballot to address this scenario.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2010 @ 9:11 pm

Jason Grant Garza here ... oh. come on folks ...this is a simple one ... Gavin will just call in sick for a week to the Mayor's Office and the Lt. Governor's. He's still in charge since he hasn't taken the oath and he will just be a week late ...
Folks there is always a way for them or they will just create ... remember enemy combandants, clean coal energy, or better yet ... they KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING.
Type my name into a google search engine and read how SF broke the law, lied in federal court and then years later signed a confession admitting fault and guilt yet leaving their VINDICATED VICTIM FOR DEAD!
I've been to the MAYOR for a full, accurate, complete investigation and still wait ...
Ask yourself why would the city sign a confession out of court only to have lied in it previously? Call Donald White at the Office of Inspector General 202-619-0088 and ask. Ask him if it was the city that came to him years after the court case, ask him what contrition the VICTIM got, ask him how this happened with the VICTIM constantly telling the truth.
The law ... what is that ... they didn't have to follow and after being BUSTED they didn't have to come clean nor have HUMANITY for their LEFT FOR DEAD VICTIM!
So I say to you ... he'll find a way ... by hook or by crook.

Posted by GuestJason Grant Gjarza on Mar. 09, 2010 @ 6:41 am

Politicians resent democracy. Publicly, they praise it, but privately, they scorn it. Eventually, they all become turf builders and perk packers, and view public office as a private entitlement.

That's the case here. The mayor wants to decide who the next mayor will be. The supes want to decide who the next mayor will be.

They are both a disgrace to democracy.

Whatever happened to "We the People"?

Posted by Arthur Evans on Mar. 09, 2010 @ 8:53 am

The City Charter, I suspect, was written with the idea in mind that the mayor's office might become vacant suddenly and unexpectedly (as we all know, that happened in 1978) and someone would need to quickly be named to manage civic affairs and respond to a crisis. In this situation, we'd all have plenty of advance notice that the mayor was leaving office.

And if there were more time left on Newsom's term, I think a special election would be entirely appropriate -- except that special elections tend to be very low-turnout events. So you'd want to set the special election at the next regularly scheduled election (in SF, we typically have two elections a year, so you wouldn't have to wait too long.)

In this case, there will be less than a year before the next mayoral election anyway, so it seems kind of silly. The person appointed by the board will have to face the voters in 11 months (or will have to serve as a caretaker who isn't running for re-election).

And if we're going the route of special elections, I'd add in vacancies on the Board of Supervisors; giving the chief executive the power to appoint members of the legislature is always a bad idea.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 09, 2010 @ 10:32 am

Are progressive scared that San Francisco may democratically elect some one they do not like instead of, allowing the board impose someone undemocratically?

Posted by Chris Pratt on Mar. 09, 2010 @ 12:59 pm

Just realistic. Low-turnout elections favor candidates with high name recognition and big money. I don't know who this board will pick for mayor if Newsom leaves, but I know that whoever it is will have to start running for re-election right away and will face the voters in November.

And I think I did say that I'm in favor of a special election to fill vacancies -- if it applies both to the mayor AND the supervisors, and if that election can be held at the next regularly scheduled election day to improve turnout.

Posted by tim on Mar. 09, 2010 @ 2:01 pm

appointed, Period. It's undemocratic and to Tim's credit at least he admits that in his comment. But the slathering at the mouth response of Sam-Troll speaks volumes about what "progressives" in the city want - it's not democracy or an even playing field - it's power and since they can't get it in citywide elections they'll happily use whatever levers they can to get it. It's shameful but entirely unsurprising - after all, that's the same position of the right-wing who's actions and methods "progressives" in this city have come more and more to admire in their lust for power and complete control.

Posted by Lucretia the Trollop on Mar. 09, 2010 @ 8:36 pm

The idea that electing a mayor -- or anyone else who needs a lot of money and has to get the votes of a lot of people -- by popular vote is democratic (i.e., representative) is a big lie. Not in this society, which is one dollar one vote. The elections for supervisors are far more democratic than that for mayor, so it's far more representative to have a mayor elected by the supervisors than by the public, the latter of which is just another crappy at large election.

Arthur Evans what has happened to democracy. The answer is it died a long time ago in this country. When the general population refuses to take the time to educate itself on the issues, it does not even know what it's voting on, let alone the real positions of the candidates. So the rich have been allowed to steal elections by paying for them, then bribing the politicians, also known as campaign contributions. Until we get 100% publicly funded elections and a populace that takes the time and effort to know what's going on, you can forget democracy. We live in a plutocracy, pure and simple, and have for decades.

Posted by Jeff Hoffman on Mar. 09, 2010 @ 9:23 pm

Jeff's response is shameful. What is says is that it's OK for progressive supervisors to substitute their will for that of the people because it's the only chance "progressives" in this city will have to get a mayor in office - no matter if it's for a short amount of time. It's this kind of rank hypocrisy that turns people off of politics and it's even more sickening coming from progressives who like to trumpet how much more "democratic" they are than their opponents. "Progressives" like to trumpet how elections are illegitimate because of money in elections (ignoring, of course, that Obama's money advantage was one reason he was able to run such a spectacular campaign) while conservatives question "uneducated" people voting at all - is there a difference?

We need a ballot measure in San Francisco to require than any appointee to the office of the mayor or a supervisors seat must face a special election within 60 days. There is absolutely no reason why this shouldn't happen and people like Jeff are terrified of it for one reason - because they know it will pass and remove their one chance of sticking into office someone like Aaron Peskin who could never get elected on his own.

Posted by Lucretia the Trollop on Mar. 09, 2010 @ 10:45 pm

Ross was elected in 2004 and re-elected in 2008. So he's termed out.

Posted by Guest Kim on Mar. 10, 2010 @ 3:33 am

Jeff I have no idea how you came to that logical conclution, it must take alot of time to try and twist the facts to your world view.

As for Tim, city wide elections are always more conservative, weather a large turn out or not. Just ask Matt G. And the Uber left would prefer the Mayor's race initially not go to the electorate, as you have impled in your article.


Posted by Chris Pratt on Mar. 10, 2010 @ 6:30 am

It's true that big money determines the outcome of many elections. One of the great failings of the American system of government is the role of money in corrupting democracy.

Skewed decisions by the Supreme Court, failures by presidents to enforce anti-trust laws, and the mendacity of legislators have all empowered this corruption. As a result, it has become pervasive and institutionalized as a norm of life.

However, the naivete and folly of the left have also contributed to undermining democracy. The left commonly confuses rhetoric with reality and puts its faith in politicians who are just as cheesy and thuggish as those manipulated by the big corporations.

The trick is to use the system to bring about reform, but without becoming co-opted by the system. The first step is to acknowledge the corrupting influence of money, as noted. The second is to realize that the phrase "progressive politician" is a contradiction in terms.

As my friend, the late Marty Robinson, used to say of politicians:

"Use 'em or abuse 'em."

Posted by Arthur Evans on Mar. 10, 2010 @ 7:22 am


This is not about left v. right, nor did I in any way imply that it was. You are so blinded by your right wing ideology that you must have imagined language I did not use. in fact, I fully supported district elections when I lived in Berkeley, and the result of those was a swing to the right on the city council Moreover, while I agree with the left on most issues, my priorities are different -- I am an Earth First!er, which means I support wildlife and wilderness above all, and do not favor humans over any other form of life -- and I am definitely not a leftist.

The issue is what is more representative. So for you and Chris, who I'll take at his word that he actually doesn't understand, here it is in simple progression:

A representative election must, by definition, elect the candidate that most closely aligns with the positions of the public. In smaller elections, candidates can meet people face-to-face and have actual conversations. In larger elections, this is not possible to any significant extent. so all people know is what they see on TV, or read in the paper or online. Add the totally corrupting influence of money, and large elections have nothing to do with electing candidates people agree with, they have to do with electing the candidate that spent the most money in order to buy the best PR campaign. Total public funding of elections would solve the last problem, but the first one exists regardless. Finally, add the fact that most people get their information from TV, which is pure corporate propaganda and outright lies, and the average voter has no idea what the real positions of the candidates are or what the issues actually are. The Rose Bird recall fiasco was a perfect example: people thought they were voting out justices who opposed the death penalty, when in reality they were voting out justices who were making decisions that the real estate and insurance industries didn't like.

So, because the Board of Supervisors elections are more representative than at large elections for mayor, the members of the board are more representative of the people. An election by the supervisors would thus produce a mayor that would be more representative. An alternative way to fix this problem is a weak mayor form of government like that of Berkeley, where the mayor has no veto power, just one vote in the city council, and the city manager appointed by the council runs the city departments.

It is clear to me that you people freaking out that we might actually get a mayor who is no beholden to big business interests and those of the conservative minority in this city don't care about democracy at all. What you want is to preserve the conservative elements of city government in the most liberal city in the country.

Posted by Jeff Hoffman on Mar. 10, 2010 @ 9:27 pm

I'm a supporter of deep ecology and consider myself a radical environmentalist. How that makes me a "right winger" is beyond my understanding.

Frankly I don't care what happens to city government. Institutions are resistant to change and that's as true for local government as it is for government at the federal level. New leaders make zero different in this country.

Posted by Lucretia the Trollop on Mar. 10, 2010 @ 11:18 pm

What makes you a right winger is your trashing of progressives. A left winger supports the lower classes against the upper ones. A right winger supports the upper classes against the lower ones. It's not quite that simple, but that's good enough for a nutshell definition. So if you trash progressives, you are generally supporting the right. There are exceptions, such as when unions tried to destroy the million solar homes project in California because the legislation did not require hiring union employees. I strongly supported this project and opposed the unions on this issue, even though I would have preferred the work to be done by union people. But the environment being more important than merely human concerns over money, the project needed to go forward, even if it was without union workers.

We might totally agree on deep ecology, but how do you think we could ever get a good outcome if we don't eliminate the gross overconsumption that is constantly pushed by big business and their tools like Chamber of Commerce? Overconsumption and overpopulation are the twin physical roots of all environmental harms, and if you don't fix them, you won't fix anything. The non-humans that we fight for as deep ecologists are being killed off by the actions of the right, and if you really want a world where humans live in relative harmony with nature instead of destroying it, you should be opposing the right on just about every issue.

Posted by Jeff Hoffman on Mar. 13, 2010 @ 10:24 am