Emergency directives draw criticism

Mayor Gavin Newsom came under fire Friday after his office issued a set of emergency preparedness directives Wednesday that appeared to answer criticisms made in a yet-to-be released audit of The City’s Office of Emergency Services.

The audit report has attracted buzz because early drafts of the report have been critical of the office’s director, Annemarie Conroy, and suggest that her position cease to exist when her tenure ends. It also concludes that the office has not produced an overall emergency plan for The City.

The Board Of Supervisors’ budget analyst, Harvey Rose, who completed the report, chided Newsom in a memo released Friday. “Curiously, on May 10, 2006, five days before the public issuance [of this audit] … the Mayor issued Executive Directive 06-01. This Directive identifies 19 action items for the Office of Emergency Services and city departments to focus their efforts in order to ensure that emergency preparedness receives the highest priority in this administration,” the memo reads.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who sits on the mayor’s disaster committee, said Friday he and his fellow board members felt uneasy about what he called “political triage” surrounding the report. He laid responsibility with Newsom, saying, “Everything starts with Room 200 [the mayor’s office in City Hall]. That’s where leadership starts.”

Newsom said Friday he did not know the report was critical of Conroy.

“I just received a copy of the audit, and I don’t know what people are referring to,” he said. The mayor said he did not expect political fallout when the audit is released. “I’m actually looking forward to moving forward with the recommendations that are in the audit,” he said.

Newsom appointed Conroy to head the Office of Emergency Services in 2004. She had been at the helm of the Treasure Island Development Authority, to which Newsom appointed then-supervisor Tony Hall. Newsom filled the gap on the board by appointing Sean Elsbernd to replace Hall, giving himself a solid ally on the board. Elsbernd won re-election later in 2004.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin called for the audit last September after Hurricane Katrina wrought destruction along the Gulf Coast of the U.S. The OES and Mayor’s Office welcomed the move at the time.

amartin@examiner.com

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