Board wants in on town hall

If Mayor Gavin Newsom wants to meet regularly with supervisors in the community instead of at City Hall, his office may end up paying for it.

Newsom announced last week that on Jan. 13 he would hold the first-ever “policy town hall meeting” in the Richmond district in response to the passage of Proposition I, a nonbinding policy statement that says the mayor should appear once a month at a Board of Supervisors meeting. The measure, which proponents say is modeled on the British House of Commons “question time” with the prime minister, received 56 percent voter approval on Nov. 7.

Supervisors, saying Newsom is skirting the will of the voters, say he should instead attend regularly scheduled board meetings at City Hall.

In the latest political salvo, Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin introduced legislation Tuesday that calls for a special meeting of the full Board of Supervisors at Newsom’s Jan. 13 town hall meeting. The legislation also says the Mayor’s Office would pay for all the costs associated with the off-site board meeting, which is estimated at $15,000.

“I’m trying to meet [Newsom] halfway,” Peskin said Tuesday. “I kind of have to do it because the voters said ‘Make it happen.’”

The political wrangling over the implementation of Prop. I will continue on Thursday, when the Board of Supervisors RulesCommittee meets to vote on a board policy requesting the mayor’s attendance every third Tuesday of the month to discuss policy with the board. The committee will also vote on holding the special meeting next month.

Newsom’s spokesman, Peter Ragone, said the town hall meetings maximize public participation while avoiding “political theater,” and said he was pleased that the board no longer stands in “opposition to public meetings and community involvement in government.”

Peskin said the town hall meetings “do not satisfy the requirements of the ballot initiative.” He added, “We like to do off-site meetings because we like to take the show to the communities, but it’s kind of expensive.”

IN OTHER ACTION

RECREATION: Recreational facilities of 15,000 square feet or more have received protection from development after legislation passed unanimously by the board requiring any project that would impact recreational facilities to undergo a public hearing before the Planning Commission. Advocates say recreational facilities are under siege by developments.

SICK DAYS: Supervisor Sean Elsbernd requested a hearing on the implementation of The City’s new paid sick leave ordinance, which voters approved Nov. 7. The law will go into effect Feb. 5 and will require employers to offer up to nine sick days a year per employee. “A lot of people have, frankly, no clue about what is going on and we need to do what we can to get the message out there,” Elsbernd said.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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