Budget 'smackdown' on City Hall steps today

The budget battle between Mayor Gavin Newsom and his archrival, Supervisor Chris Daly, is expected to escalate from dueling press statements to a face-to-face showdown Wednesday on the steps of City Hall.

“The big smackdown is coming on Wednesday,” said Daly, chairman of the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee.

At noon, one hour before the committee is scheduled to meet and vote on a proposal to cut money from Newsom’s budget to fund programs supported by Daly, both politicians are slated to hold news conferences to rally support for their opposing budget priorities.

“Chris Daly has forced us to have a fight for the things that San Franciscans care about,” said Nathan Ballard, Newsom’s spokesman.

The latest round of political sparing between the two city leaders was sparked in May, after the Board of Supervisors approved a $28 million affordable housing spending measure authored by Daly. Newsom sent the bill back unsigned and said The City could not afford to spend the allocated funds.

A few weeks later, the mayor unveiled a $6.1 billion budget for the 2007-08 fiscal year that includes millions of dollars of new funding for more police, homeless workers and Muni operators, as well as for several projects he has championed, including a new Tenderloin court program and a 311 hotline to get information about city services.

In response, Daly introduced a resolution last Tuesday that would cut $37 million in line items from the mayor’s budget to put money back into the board-approved affordable housing priorities, along with funding to backfill $4 million in federal cuts for AIDS/HIV services and $1 million to reinstate psychiatric beds at San Francisco General Hospital.

Throughout each round, both men have dismissed the spending priorities of the other as nothing more than political posturing at the expense of more urgent budget needs. Daly put out a statement last week calling Newsom’s budget “unconscionable.” Newsom, who is running for re-election this year, called Daly’s amendment proposal “the worst kind of election-year politics and terrible public policy.”

Daly’s proposal, co-sponsored by Supervisor Tom Ammiano, will be voted on Wednesday by the Budget and Finance Committee. If passed, it would be forwarded to the full board for approval.

Last week, the Mayor’s Office held dozens of meetings with business groups, neighborhood associations, nonprofits and other organizations to explain his budget and to encourage attendance at Wednesday’s rally to show support for his spending priorities.

Daly, who said he had already scheduled his news conference on the steps of City Hall when the Mayor’s Office announced an event at the same time and place, accused those in charge of scheduling City Hall events of bumping his event for the mayor’s.

“We’re still coming,” Daly said.

beslinger@examiner.com


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