Supervisor vows to reform question time

File photoDavid Campos

New life could be injected into the monthly snooze-fests at which the Board of Supervisors can ask the mayor questions.

In November 2010, voters approved Proposition C, which required The City to hold a monthly question time session but left the rules up to the board and the mayor. While most observers apparently viewed these monthly exercises as boring and scripted, it took until Tuesday to prompt serious calls for change.

That’s because the mayor was asked just one question at Tuesday’s board meeting. It was time for supervisors from even-numbered districts to submit questions, but only District 4 Supervisor Carmen Chu submitted one. Other supervisors said they either had no question to ask or were questioning the very purpose of the practice.

“I want to specially acknowledge and thank the other supervisors for their questions as well,” Mayor Ed Lee joked at the end of question time, which ran just over six minutes, well under its ordinary 20-minute length.

And the jokes continued. Addressing a media scrum gathered outside the meeting, Lee joked that he’d only take one question from reporters.

But Supervisor David Campos pledged later to take on the challenge of attempting to change the rules to ensure that some “meaningful discussion” occurs. He vowed to solicit the opinions of his colleagues before introducing a proposal for a vote.

Campos said question time is not working in its current form and that he wants to devise new rules to make it “interactive and not as scripted.”

Currently, Lee receives questions days in advance and then simply reads his answers aloud during board meetings.

Progressive supervisors fought hard for a forced exchange between the executive and legislative branches of government during Mayor Gavin Newsom’s term. The Q&A sessions were modeled after the prime minister’s weekly question time in the British Parliament.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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