Ball appears to be in wrong court for SF mayor pick

Leave it to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors — the clock is ticking, they have one final shot and they decide to give the ball to Andris Biedrins.


For those of you who did not have seven hours to sit through a hearing to see how the board would deal with the selection of an interim mayor this week, I salute you on having a real life. Sadly, for the remainder, it was hardly worth the wait.

City law leaves the decision to pick someone to fill out the remainder of Mayor Gavin Newsom’s term with the board, and the choice requires six votes. That is something of a key figure because none of the supervisors have the votes, even though several of them desperately want the job.

This will explain why the so-called progressive supervisors that make up the board’s majority are, to be kind, desperate to find a replacement that fits their value system while still giving the appearance that they are looking out for the best interests of San Francisco.

They were tying themselves in rhetorical knots for more than two hours talking about how “unprecedented” the whole scenario is (actually, it is not) and that they were rushing into judgment because “nature abhors a vacuum” (actually, it does not).

But ultimately, what they decided was that they would try to work out a “process” that would help them find an adequate replacement, although they could not quite determine if the rules that would guide them on their quest would require six or eight votes.

I am all for due process, but the board is not quite shooting straight on this issue. They said they wanted the whole thing to be vetted publicly, but then when they invited public testimony there were 25 or so of their progressive cronies there — half of them from Service Employees International Union Local 1021 — talking about how they supported a progressive mayor.

So much for transparency.

Yet before they go off on the next phase of their search, perhaps a few breaths of reality might give them pause.

There is no hurry to the matter on hand. The board cannot fill Newsom’s seat until there is a vacancy, and that will not happen before Jan. 3. Newsom has said he is “99 percent” certain he will resign on that date, but — and it is not a small catch — if he feels the board is going to use the pick as a partisan power grab, he will likely delay it.

More important, four new supervisors have been elected to the board and they will be saddled with whatever decision is made about Room 200 for the next year. It makes considerably more sense for the new supervisors to be involved in the decision, and, in fact, it’s the right thing to do.

All of Supervisor Chris Daly’s bluster about the great need for the current board’s “experience” to handle such weighty issues as the budget crisis is completely off-base. At least one of the new supervisors, venture capitalist Mark Farrell, has more financial experience than the current supervisors combined.

Certainly, public input should be part of the process, as long as it is real and not orchestrated like this week’s hearing. But it definitely should not involve actual candidates for the job showing up in the Legislative Chamber to answer questions about how they would govern. Anybody who agrees to that format should automatically be disqualified as a poser because no qualified, self-respecting candidate would agree to that.

This scenario was suggested by the lefty propaganda sheet the Bay Guardian, which included a series of questions for the candidates, a veritable progressive wish list with such winners as:

How much would you raise taxes?

How much would you raise fees on car owners to pay for Muni?

How quickly would you move to stop more tenancy-in-common and condo conversions?

This much we know: Anybody who would answer yes to those questions should not be mayor. The far-left agenda that guides the board majority and its followers was overwhelmingly rejected by voters in this month’s election. People are not looking to bail out a city government that is offering far fewer services at higher costs. They are asking for tough decisions and budget cuts.

In all, they want a much better shooting team.

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