Political tensions remained high at City Hall on Thursday as the Board of Supervisors enters crunch time to place measures on the November ballot.
At stake are policy choices that highlight San Francisco’s political divide between moderates and progressives and would reduce the mayor’s political power.
The political division prompted the progressive bloc to take an unusual legislative move Wednesday and call a special Board of Supervisors meeting at 5:15 p.m Friday, effectively bypassing the usual legislative process of having proposals considered by board committees and thus elevating its political leverage.
Supervisor Katy Tang, who chairs the board’s Rules Committee, has faced allegations of blocking ballot measures by progressive board members, something she denies. Among them is the public advocate charter amendment proposed by Supervisor David Campos.
That proposal has faced strong opposition from labor unions who traditionally don’t support progressive candidates, including the Building and Construction Trades Council.
“We do not see the necessity or even the utility of such an office,” Michael Theriault, building trades union secretary, wrote in a letter to the committee.
Tang and Supervisor Malia Cohen voted 2-1 Thursday to send the public advocate ballot measure to the full board for a vote, but only after making changes to the proposal that Campos opposes.
Friday’s special board meeting, however, along with another special board meeting progressives also scheduled for July 29 ensures Campos’ version can make the November ballot.
Tang, meanwhile, defended her actions Thursday. “It’s 98 percent his measure. Ninety-eight percent,” Tang told the San Francisco Examiner. “[Progressive supervisors] amend our stuff all the time. When that happens no one blinks an eye. But when we amend someone else’s item, because we believe it’s good policy, it’s corruption.”
The amendments were significant in that they eliminated the appointment power of the public advocate for the directors of Office of Labor Standards Enforcement and Office of Citizen Complaints — a power the mayor currently has — and prohibited anyone from serving in the post for four years after being in a local elected office, which would block Campos, for example, from running for the post.
Board President London Breed did not return calls for comment about the recent political developments, but wrote in a text message Thursday that the special board meeting maneuver was “politics at its worse [sic] and I’m not going to be a part of it.”
Supervisor Aaron Peskin deflected that criticism. “She was very cordial to me when I told her about it,” he said.
The progressive bloc has criticized Breed, who makes appointments to board committees, for creating moderate majorities on key legislative committees, like the Rules Committee, when the board itself has a progressive majority.
The Rules Committee also held a hearing Thursday on another politically-charged charter amendment introduced by Peskin that would create a commission overseeing the Mayor’s Office of Housing, and Economic and Workforce Development, which critics see as a power grab.
Peskin and the Mayor’s Office remain in discussions of a possible compromise. Both directors of those departments say the commission would impair their functions.
The Rules Committee did make amendments to Peskin’s liking and will hold a special committee hearing on the proposal Monday, but the special board meeting Friday will also vote to pull the measure from committee as well.
Meanwhile, there remains a debate on the board over whether to place on the ballot the mayor’s .75 percent sales tax hike, and progressives are trying to convince Supervisor Mark Farrell to pull his controversial homeless encampment measure from the November ballot.
The last day for the board to submit charter amendments for the November ballot is July 29.Aaron PeskinBoard of SupervisorsdivisivenessEric MarKaty TangMalia CohenmoderatesPoliticsprogressivesSan Francisco