Daly needs bigger forum than Q&A for issues with Newsom

erhaps Mayor Gavin Newsomshouldn’t resist the idea of subjecting himself to a question-and-answer session with the Board of Supervisors once a month. After all, when he stands next to some of his screeching counterparts, Newsom looks eminently more sane and dignified.

But I certainly understand why he appears to be balking, being that the plan is the brainchild of Supervisor Chris Daly, the board’s resident man-child, who is given to temper tantrums, gamesmanship and legislative flights of fancy.

And it does seem odd that some supervisors would want to change the City Charter just to have a chat with the mayor when they could walk less than 100 feet down to his office. But that would require a certain sense of reasonableness and decorum — two things we’ve come not to expect from several members of the board.

Daly’s proposal is surprising on many fronts, especially since it’s patterned after a parliamentary procedure in Great Britain.

Who would have thought that the supervisor would be studying and marveling at Prime Minister Tony Blair’s whip-quick retorts when almost everybody who’s watched him over the years thought Daly’s main political inspiration came from Che Guevara?

Daly’s legislative ruse to come up with a way to create a public forum for his political agenda is far too transparent to have any chance of working. If Daly really wants to set himself up as the head of what he once called the “opposition party,’’ then he needs to take off his love beads, stop hiding behind his blog and tell the world why Newsom doesn’t deserve to have such wide public support.

And there’s only one way to do that. Daly needs to run for mayor.

I’ve urged Daly to run in the past, but the suggestion clearly scared him in part because it contains so much common sense, the one thing that he goes to great lengths to avoid. The so-called progressives need to find somebody to run against Newsom, particularly someone who isn’t afraid to come out swinging. And as we know from his track record, Daly would be positively punch-drunk by the end of the campaign, accusing Newsom of everything from being a lapdog for big business to occasionally shopping at Neiman Marcus.

If Daly really is intent on holding Newsom’s feet to the fire, he’s got to hogtie him on the stump and show the kind of feistiness he usually saves for spectators at the board’s chambers. He could be the anti-Newsom, a lovable lug who goes around town telling people why he’s against business, homeownership, good government — even against hosting the Olympic Games.

As we can tell from his past stunts, Daly loves a circus, and what better chance to make San Francisco a great stage for his grand stands? The City loves a feisty mayor — Willie Brown and Daly nearly traded blows at one point a few years back — and who could be more combustible than Daly, our own political powder keg?

Daly once had a meltdown at a board meeting because he said he “wasn’t feeling the love.’’ Just think of the opportunities for warm embrace once he gets out of his tiny district environment.

Sure it would cost a lot in police overtime to provide security for the public during his campaign appearances, but that just brings more intrigue into the race — the same type of mystique that carried Matt Gonzalez in his mayoral run. After all, Daly can’t remain a supervisor forever, and he has no chance at statewide office. But the mayor’s office has to hold some appeal for him — even if he refuses to visit it — since he seems fixated on the current occupant.

Rather than just issue one of the meaningless resolutions that the supervisors do each week, like calling for the impeachment of President Bush, Daly could use the full power of the executive office to declare San Francisco a Republican-free zone. Of course, that would likely meet the same fate as his attempt to ban handguns, but politics is about perception, and Daly would look mighty good when conservative commentators like Bill O’Reilly suggest that The City should be bombed for its impertinence.

Daly has tons of issues, some of which would make for great fodder on the campaign trail. He hates capitalism, loves taxes and never met a developer he didn’t want to shake down. He likes to assemble protests and stir up crowds — a natural for any would-be civic leader.

Daly could be dynamite in so many ways. So forget the chat group. This is his chance shout from the biggest bully-pulpit in town.

Ken Garcia’s column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and weekends in The Examiner. E-mail him at kgarcia@examiner.com or call him at (415) 359-2663.Bay Area NewsLocalNews Columnists

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