Four charter amendments proposed for June ballot

On the last day to submit possible charter amendments for the June 2008 ballot came measures to address the city’s ballooning retiree health care costs and one to increase the Board of Supervisors influence on The City’s Public Utilities Commission.

In total, four charter amendments for the summer ballot were introduced Tuesday at the Board of Supervisors, joining four that were previously submitted. Charter amendments proposed bythe Board of Supervisors require a vote of support from at least six of the city legislators.

Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, with the support of five other board members, introduced a charter amendment that would allow the board to appoint two of the five members of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. Currently, all members are appointed by the mayor. The charter amendment follows reports that Mayor Gavin Newsom is seeking the resignation of Susan Leal, the PUC’s general manager, and as San Francisco is moving toward city-owned “public power” sources.

Maxwell said that given the important projects facing the PUC, such as public power and a $4 billion plan to overhaul the water system, “it is time that the board takes more responsibility.”

Another charter amendment, submitted by Supervisor Sean Elsbernd and cosponsored by the mayor, would make changes to retiree health care to address the city’s burgeoning retiree health benefits, estimated to cost San Francisco $4 billion in the next 30 years.

A separate charter amendment to address the retiree health benefits was submitted Tuesday by Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, with the support of supervisors Ross Mirkarimi, Tom Ammiano and Gerardo Sandoval. Peskin’s proposal increases city workers’ pensions.

Elsbernd also introduced a charter amendment that would prohibit retired employees who are convicted of crimes against the city from receiving pension benefits.

The four previously introduced charter amendments would result in elected, instead of appointed, members of the agency that oversees Muni; require The City to hold only even-year elections; make it city policy to consider minority and female candidates as appointees on city boards; and restrict who can sit on the Ethics Commission.

Daly’s housing measure gains board backing

Supervisor Chris Daly picked up the votes Tuesday to place a spending measure on the November ballot that would require The City to spend approximately $2.7 billion for affordable housing needs during the next 15 years.

Daly needed the support of six city legislators to place the charter amendment on the ballot; as of last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting had four. On Tuesday, four more supervisors — Gerardo Sandoval, Sophie Maxwell, Bevan Dufty and Jake McGoldrick — signaled they would support the charter amendment, which is up for a vote on Jan. 8.

The measure would require The City to spend a baseline amount on housing in addition to setting aside 2.5 cents for every property tax dollar to create affordable housing during the next 15 years.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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