Newsom sworn in for second mayoral term

After being sworn in for a second term, Mayor Gavin Newsom pledged to build on current city efforts in areas such as health care, the environment and education, but offered few landmark proposals during his inauguration speech Tuesday at City Hall.

The 40-year-old mayor did promise to set The City on a path toward a carbon-neutral footprint by 2020, create a $500 baby bond for every new resident born in The City, and give a tax break to companies employing military veterans.

While his fiancée Jennifer Siebel, his sister and his two nieces looked on, the newly elected Newsom was sworn in by his father, former appellate judge William Newsom, before a packed crowd that included such San Francisco dignitaries as former Mayor Willie Brown, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and former Secretary of State George Shultz.

The mayor — who made a notable political comeback after revelations in early 2007 that he had a drinking problem and slept with his secretary, the wife of his campaign manager — received numerous rounds of applause during the

45-minute speech, which mostly built upon several initiatives and ideas already announced in the run-up to the mayor’s second term.

Newsom highlighted initiatives such asa solar-energy incentive plan, an effort to have more private property owners install solar panels, and green building requirements for new development in The City. He also made a new pledge to make the entire city carbon neutral — when a balance is achieved between what polluting emissions are put into the air and what is taken out through environmental efforts — by 2020.

“I recognize that it’s a daring challenge,” Newsom said, “but we can make it a reality by doing things — by doing what we’ve been doing by pioneering initiatives like our carbon tax and our carbon offset plan, our 100 percent biodiesel fleet, our solar incentive plan, our green power tax credit, and our new green building requirements.”

The Civic Center would become The City’s first sustainable-resource district as part of a pledge to make all city buildings powered entirely by renewable energy, he added.

Additionally, Newsom said he would push for a community service requirement for all high school students in The City as well as a new $500 “Baby Savings Bond” invested for new residents born in The City. An individual could use the bond when they grew up, for college or a first home, but access to the fund would be contingent upon completing the mandatory community service.

After the speech, Supervisor Jake McGoldrick said Newsom laid out “some pretty lofty goals” but “the devil is always in the details.”

Newsom also pledged to add 40,000 more residents to his universal health care program, expand affordable housing, cut bureaucratic red tape in the planning process, reform The City’s retirement system, increase the payroll tax exemption, and create a “China desk” in his office to promote economic outreach to that nation.