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Angry mayor terms KGO series 'specious'

NEWSCASTER Dan Noyes reacts to Mayor Newsom insistence
reckoning time has come for "foundationless" KGO reports aired
in the mayor's absence.
Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

By Pat Murphy

September 29, 2005

Mayor Gavin Newsom yesterday beat back allegations of corruption in his office, raised in a recent KGO-TV series.

The Mayor said he is deeply angered by his personal integrity being soiled while he was out of the country.

Returning late Tuesday from a Sister City visit to Ireland, Newsom Wednesday confronted KGO newscaster Dan Noyes, who authored the series, with assertion the reports were "specious and foundationless."

As early as today, representatives of the mayor hope to meet with KGO management delivering 13 errors of fact contained in the Noyes series, mayoral press secretary Peter Ragone told the Sentinel.

Press secretary Peter Ragone tells newscaster
proof is on the way of Noyes inaccuracies.

KGO reports, bannered under "Sweetheart Deals in The Mayor's Office?," cited "crisis" in the mayor's office following a Newsom appointee's dissatisfaction with direction of Treasure Island development.

That appointee, Treasure Island Development Authority (TIDA) executive director Tony Hall, bemoaned painstaking progress made by a development contractor, and claimed Hall holds authority to lead Treasure Island development under a job description held by Hall's predecessor.

Documents leaked to reporters, and aired by Noyes, drew a connection between past Newsom political supporters and the developer.

Hall described TIDA board of directors decision to extend developer contract as a "sweetheart deal."

In an exclusive interview with the Sentinel, Newsom noted that Hall raised that specter only after a whistle blower's complaint was leveled at Hall.

"There's been no assertion of that (Hall dissatisfaction with contractor) made in the last year," Newsom recalled.

"There was an assertion made only after a whistle blower's complaint was made (against Hall).

"It's curious to me in terms of the allegation. I think that unanimously the board agreed to extend the agreement. They did so for a seven month period, and the executive director initially wanted a one year period.

"Now he's suggesting that it shouldn't have been approved at all. I'm somewhat confused by that.

"There have been some flat out contradictory statements made, which somehow suggest that there's maybe a different agenda," Newsom said.

As a District 7 supervisor, Hall was angered by what Hall saw as Newsom co-opting of Hall's vision for city homelessness policy.

On September 14, Hall came under fire from City Controller Ed Harrington who discovered Hall had set up bank accounts not formatted for full city review.

Hall's subsequent charges of mayoral cronyism were spotlighted in a hearing before the Government Audit and Oversight Committee at request of District 6 Supervisor Chris Daly. "I hate him," Daly has told the Sentinel of Daly's feelings toward Newsom.

At present, Newsom is "in the fact finding stage" of sorting out what transpired in his absence, Newsom said, and stopped short of saying he lacked confidence in Hall's tenure.

"So I have a chance to see what every member of the TIDA board said through the minutes of the meeting, Supervisor Daly included, and I appreciate the deliberation and I think they made the right decision," Newsom told the Sentinel.

Newsom and Noyes spoke yesterday following Newsom's appearance before the Filipino Chamber of Commerce.

"Hall says that you are trying to get control of Treasure Island, and your letter saying that (Michael) Cohen's in charge conflicts with Tony Hall's job description (sic)", Noyes confronted Newsom.

Hall "knew that the day he got into that position," Newsom responded.

"I've got the best and the brightest in Michael Cohen…considered one of the best in the United States of America on base reuse areas.

"To me, this is almost a red herring to what you had suggested and maintained in your report which was specious," stated Newsom.

Noyes followed Newsom asking other questions.

"The neighbors are concerned you are bending the rules to allow the ski jump," asserted Noyes.

"This is another reporter's story," Noyes explained.

"I would be happy to sit down with the other reporter and talk about it greater detail," the mayor answered.

"The other question is 'are you concerned with (Office of Emergency Services director Annemarie) Conroy being out of town for school?' " posed Noyes.

Conroy is attending a master's program "where some of the best and the brightest are given the opportunity in order for her to maintain, her skills that are necessary in a changing environment for the future?" Newsom reflected.

"No, I'm not concerned. I think it's a great honor for San Francisco for someone in her position to be awarded this.

"When an emergency happens, I'm responsible, I'm accountable. I have a police department that's one of the best in the country. I have a fire department, despite some of the things you've consistently tried to do to suggest that it's not one of the best - it is.

"My police chief is going to be here. My fire chief is going to be here. Command staff. We've got a great emergency plan in the city," Newsom pointed out.

As a courtesy to KGO, the compiled 13 factual errors of Noyes reports will be offered to KGO management before being made public, Ragone noted.

"Is everything I'm doing on emergency response perfect? No. Have we done a good job? I believe we have. Can we do better? You'd better believe it," Newsom told the Sentinel.

"I say the same things about TIDA. Are there areas we can improve? Yes. Can we do better? Absolutely.

"But there seems to be some other agendas here at work. And that's getting in the way of all of us working together.

"That's unfortunately become a sideline with one reporter, and one station.

"And with those who want to take advantage of this, and of me.

"That's the nature of the job.

"We'll work through it.

"At the end of the day, it's just part of running government."




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