Newsom pitches idea of an open office

Mayor Gavin Newsom is literally restructuring his office, with plans to throw city staffers into one room on the second floor of City Hall, the latest confirmedchange being made for his upcoming second term in office.

An open office, otherwise known as a bullpen, will be created in Room 201, across the hall from Newsom’s office, around the time he is sworn in for his second term on Jan. 8, Newsom’s spokesman Nathan Ballard confirmed Friday.

“The mayor is reinvigorated and wants to shake things up in his new term. He’s going to be bringing in new department heads, changing his structure of his senior staff and this is part of that creative process,” Ballard said of the bullpen.

The bullpen in city government was made famous by New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg praised the bullpen concept during his 2002 State of the City address, saying that it was created to “improve efficiency” and foster creativity. The idea comes from the stock-market trading-floor layout in which everyone works together in one big room.

Ballard would not say specifically where Newsom got the idea for his new City Hall office structure, but said “the mayor’s always interested in best practices from other cities,” adding that a bullpen is meant to “reinvigorate policymaking.”

“[Newsom] wants to bring senior staff members from key policy areas he is focusing on and put them all close together and close to the mayor’s office so there can be a better exchange of ideas,” Ballard said.

As to how many cubicles will be put in Room 201 — which is currently used for occasional meetings — and who specifically will be inthe bullpen, Ballard would only say those “plans are being developed right now.”

The bullpen will include those policymakers focused on such issues as greening, the environment, transportation and education, he said.

Newsom’s proposal would then differ from Bloomberg’s in that New York City’s mayor himself and his staff actually conduct their business in the bullpen.

Borrowing ideas from other mayors is nothing new or unusual for Newsom. In the summer of 2005, Newsom toured Chicago with Mayor Richard Daley and touted that city’s use of surveillance cameras — which has now been initiated in San Francisco — to combat crime.

Additionally, the Mayor modeled The City’s SF Stat program — which tracks and reports how well city departments are performing — on Baltimore’s CitiStat.

Other changes could be just around the corner. In September, Newsom requested senior staff members and department heads to submit letters of resignation dated for when he is sworn in for his second term. At the time, Newsom said the letters would make it easier for him to make significant changes in his administration.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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