‘Question time’ still on board’s schedule

Although voters defeated a measure that would have required San Francisco’s mayor to come before the Board of Supervisors for a monthly “question time,” the legislative leaders decided Tuesday to keep the standing appointment on the agenda.

The idea for “question time” with the Mayor had become one of the most divisive issues at City Hall in recent years. It was the focus of two ballot measures and was adopted bythe Board of Supervisors as a rule in January 2007.

Mayor Gavin Newsom, who has criticized the proposal as being nothing more than “political theater,” has yet to show for one of the board’s monthly scheduled question times.

Initially, the idea was approved by 126,023 voters, or 56 percent, who supported a nonbinding measure to have the mayor show up for question time.

Last November, however, a measure that would have legally forced the mayor to show up for the monthly policy discussion with the Board of Supervisors was defeated by 74,253 voters, or 51 percent, with an active political campaign by Newsom and others against it.

In the wake of the November decision, Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier introduced a motion repealing the rule.

The idea was originally proposed by Supervisor Chris Daly, Newsom’s chief rival on the board, and based on the rollicking British House of Commons practice with the prime minister.

At the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, Supervisor Bevan Dufty successfully urged his colleagues to table the motion, saying he supported the board rule and believed it would be an issue facing future mayoral candidates.

Several supervisors spoke of the need for Newsom to engage more with the district representatives, particularly as the city is facing a shortfall next fiscal year nearing $300 million.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi said that “excessive tension” exists between the board and the mayor, creating a need to compel Newsom to show up for question time.

Question time, said Newsom spokesman Nathan Ballard, was one of Daly’s “most pointless stunts ever.”

“If any supervisor ever wants to talk to the mayor, they can march right down to Room 200. His door is always open,” said Ballard.

Newsom shrugged off questions about question time Tuesday.

“No comment,” he said.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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