Supervisor Gordon Mar hoped to place a measure creating an elected public advocate on the November ballot. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Supes block anti-corruption proposal to create Public Advocate

Board votes to place street cleaning measure on the ballot

Supervisor Gordon Mar failed to secure the votes needed Tuesday to place a measure on the November ballot that would have asked voters whether to create an elected Public Advocate charged with rooting out wrongdoing in city government.

Mar proposed the measure in response to the ongoing public corruption scandal involving former Public Works head Mohammed Nuru.

He had the support of four other supervisors, Hillary Ronen, Matt Haney, Dean Preston and Shamann Walton, but he needed one more vote to place it on the ballot.

Opponents objected to the cost and said The City should use its existing functions and resources to root out corruption.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin opposed the measure along with board president Norman Yee and Supervisors Sandra Fewer, Catherine Stefani, Ahsha Safai and Rafael Mandelman.

“If the Ethics Commission is broken, then let’s fix it,” Peskin said. “But creating a new department when we have a $1.7 billion deficit and we are trying to take care of people who need to eat just seems nuts to me.”

Peskin added, “Our job is to root out corruption.”

Mar, however, argued that the existing system is not working.

“I don’t think you can look at the decades of misconduct and say that the system we have is working,” Mar said. “The choice before us is whether we want to defend a failed system and broken status quo or give the people of San Francisco a chance to vote for structural change.”

The measure would have required four positions that would have cost between $725,000 and $925,000 beginning in 2023.

The proposal was similar to a measure that voters rejected in 2016.

Also on Tuesday, the board voted 7-to-4 to place a measure on the Nov. 3 ballot to split up Public Works and create a Department of Sanitation and Streets, which would focus on keeping streets clean. The measure would also create commissions to oversee the two agencies.

Supervisor Matt Haney introduced the measure as a way to clean up the city streets and bring more oversight to a department embattled by the Nuru scandal. Critics objections largely centered on costs and the creation of more bureaucracy. Board president Yee opposed the measure along with Supervisors Fewer, Stefani and Mandelman.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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