Mayor Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that he never used cocaine and called Supervisor Chris Daly’s accusation that he has dodged questions into allegations about his use of the drug “the cheapest of cheap shots.”
During a passionate speech Tuesday inside the Board of Supervisors chambers, Daly criticized Newsom for proposed funding cuts to substance abuse programs, while Newsom himself is seeking alcohol treatment and while he “artfully dodges every question about allegations in his own cocaine use.”
The Mayor’s Office quickly reacted by calling for a censure of Daly. When Newsom was asked Wednesday if he ever used cocaine, he said, “Absolutely not,” and then blasted Daly for employing “sleazy” politics.
“I have never seen an elected official during a legislative session take this kind of a cheap shot,” Newsom said. “He’s opposed to our free Wi-Fi, he’s opposed to our efforts on a justice center, he’s opposed to more community police officers. For whatever reason, he doesn’t want to come out from beyond the shadows and engage me directly … so now he is taking the cheapest of cheap shots.”
Newsom announced in February that he entered an outpatient program at the Delancey Street Foundation for alcohol abuse treatment, days after acknowledging he had a sexual affair with an employee of his office, who was also the wife of one of his former top political aides.
Newsom also sent a letter to Board of Supervisors president Aaron Peskin on Wednesday calling for Peskin to “take action to address Supervisor Daly’s conduct” and asserting that “San Francisco deserves better.”
Daly was unapologetic on Wednesday, although he said he never made any allegations that Newsom ever used cocaine, only that he “artfully dodged” allegations. Daly defended the comments by saying they were “germane” to the budget discussions.
Daly’s comments were the latest in a series of public battles with Newsom over Newsom’s proposed city budget for fiscal year 2007-08. Daly’s feuding with Newsom prompted Peskin to remove Daly on Friday from the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee, on which he had served as chairman.
Peskin publicly admonished Daly, calling his comments “inappropriate.”
Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier said Daly should apologize. “There is no question about the fact that the statement was completely out of line and outrageous,” Alioto-Pier said. “The question is, is this kind of behavior going to continue?”
In 2004, Alioto-Pier introduced a motion to censure Daly for using profanity during a public meeting, a move that would have handed Daly a strong public rebuke, but it died due to lack of support.
Supervisor Sean Elsbernd said he found Daly’s comments “repugnant” and disrespectful. “What can be done so this can’t happen again?” Elsbernd asked, adding that a motion to censure Daly might not achieve that aim.
Peskin said there is no need for further admonishment. “I don’t have time for a symbolic sideshow about a resolution proclaiming this or doing that. I’ve got a budget to put to bed,” he said.