State of the City slides into view

Mayor Gavin Newsom channeled his inner Al Gore on Monday during his annual State of The City speech, presenting a multitude of facts — via PowerPoint — to support his belief that “The City is better off now than it was four years ago.”

Within the 80-minute speech, Newsom clicked his way through a dizzying 120 slides, highlighting everything from the signs of economic progress in San Francisco to the number of public art pieces — 33 — on The City’s horizon.

In the past, Newsom has given the annual address from behind a podium, with no visual aids. This year, he called his new format “a little bit unorthodox.”

The PowerPoint presentation gained worldwide recognition when Al Gore was shown throughout his movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” using the computer-generated slide program to outline facts about global warming.

More than 300 invited guests attended the speech, including Newsom’s senior staff, department heads, school board members, several city supervisors, and state and local elected officials including Assemblymember Mark Leno, and state Sen. Carole Migden.

In his speech, the mayor highlighted how The City has rebounded in the years that followed the dot-com bust and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Charts were presented showing increases in capital funding and housing development. Other topics touched on as slides whizzed by at a rate of about two per minute included homelessness, violence-prevention efforts and The City’s investment in public education.

After the speech — which ended with a slide showing a gay couple getting married — Newsom played along with the Gore comparison, saying that “for some of my critics, some of these stats are certainly inconvenient truths.”

Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin gave the speech mixed reviews, noting that while many of Newsom’s facts were accurate, others were not, some lacked context, and some less favorable facts were conveniently omitted.

“Obviously, when you get to control the narrative, you speak to those issues where there have been successes,” Peskin said.

No mention was made of Newsom’s failed promise to bring The City free citywide Wi-Fi, for example. When Newsom boasted that San Francisco is investing as much in its public-housing rebuilding program as the federal government, his comparison was not apples-to-apples. When touting San Francisco’s expansion of afterschool programs, he didn’t mention that a new state law provided a large portion of the new funding. And when promoting The City’s new universal health care program, no mention was made that Supervisor Tom Ammiano initiated the program.

Newsom years

Among San Francisco statistics touted by Mayor Gavin Newsom at his State of The City speech Monday:

Unemployment rate: Down from 6.7% in 2003 to 4.2% in 2006

Hotel occupancy rate: Up from 68.1% in2003 to 76.4% in 2006

SFO passengers: Up from 29 million passengers in 2003 to 34 million in 2006

Retail sales growth: Up from $9.9 billion in 2003 to $11.9 billion in 2006

Muni's on-time performance: Up from 65.5% in FY 2001-02 to 71.9% in FY 2006-07

Evictions: Down from 2,732 in FY 98-99 to 1,475 in FY 2006-07

Homeless people housed: Up from 1,736 in FY 2004-05 to 4,392 in FY 2007-08

Serious crime: 10 percent reduction overall from 2003 to 2007, including rape, aggravated assault, larceny/theft, burglary, auto theft and arson

beslinger@examiner.com

Each day until voters go to the polls Nov. 6, The Examiner lays odds on local figures beating Mayor Gavin Newsom. Check out our exclusive blog: San Francisco's Next Mayor?

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