Mayor’s appointees held up by supervisors

Just weeks into 2008 and politics are already heating up City Hall, with members of the Board of Supervisors holding up three of Mayor Gavin Newsom’s appointees to The City’s transportation board.

As part of Newsom’s promised shake-up at City Hall, he replaced three members on the seven-member Municipal Transportation Agency board of directors, which oversees all things Muni, long criticized for being slow and unreliable. Among those Newsom disposed of was Leah Shahum, who is also executive director of the politically influential San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

MTA board members are all appointed by the mayor, but require approval by the Board of Supervisors. On Thursday, the Board of Supervisor’s Rules Committee postponed taking action on the appointments, at the request of Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin.

The District 3 representative said he wanted a presentation “by the mayor or one of the deputy mayors” about Newsom’s “vision” for the transportation agency, before making any appointment decisions.

Newsom’s spokesman Nathan Ballard called Peskin’s request “absurd.”

“Mayor Newsom made his vision for Muni a cornerstone of his campaign for re-election, and his vision was affirmed by 74 percent of the voters,” he said, adding that the confirmations “must not be held up by petty vendettas.”

Newsom’s appointees to the MTA board are Bruce Oka, a disabled rights advocate, Malcolm Heinicke, an attorney who has sat on the Taxi Commission, and Jerry Lee, who sits on the regional Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s citizens’ advisory council. The board committee is expected to hold a follow-up hearing on the appointments next week.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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