Newsom spends big amid $229M deficit

Mayor Gavin Newsom is bolstering his internal staff while asking other city departments to reduce spending.

Newsom recently made sweeping changes in his inner circle and increased the salaries of several positions. Additionally, Newsom is funding one position with money from the cash-strapped Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees Muni.

Newsom announced in November a projected $229 million deficit for next fiscal year and subsequently instituted a hiring freeze. He directed departments to reduce spending and also told department heads to submit budgets for the next fiscal year identifying cuts of up to 13 percent.

Newsom announced the personnel changes on Jan. 4, but it was not until late Wednesday evening that the budget impact was made available.

Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin criticized Newsom after reviewing the budgetary information.

“Leadership is leading by example” Peskin said, adding that it was hypocritical to tell departments to cut spending while “at the same time you’re gold-plating the Mayor’s Office.”

The personnel changes included moving Wade Crowfoot, previously Newsom’s director of Government Affairs, into director of Climate Protection Initiatives with a salary of $130,112. The salary is paid for by funds from the MTA, the Public Utilities Commission and the Department of Environment, Newsom’s spokesman Nathan Ballard said.

Peskin said that taking money away from Muni only hurts the ailing transit agency and he also called into question the need for such a position in the first place.

Ballard said Crowfoot’s salary is coming from the departments who “are the source of the carbon that Wade will be eliminating. So it all makes sense.”

Ballard said that almost all of the staff changes are “filling existing positions and maybe getting tiny raises. The impact on the general fund is only $77,512.” Ballard added, “The mayor will come in under budget as he does every year.”

Newsom’s changes to his internal staff included the high-profile choice of former chief federal prosecutor Kevin Ryan to take over the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, earning $21,424 more than his predecessor, at $160,862. Other notable choices include Catherine Dodd, from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s district office, who will be earning more than $2,000 than her predecessor with a salary of $143,123 as a deputy chief of staff.

Nancy Rodriguez, who worked at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, will be earning $9,604 more than her predecessor with a salary of $143,123, as director of Government Affairs.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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