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Overheard in Fog City

Luke Thomas
FCJ Publisher and Editor-in-Chief
Photo by Adam Aufdencamp

By Luke Thomas


May 12, 2007

Daly whips up progressives

With less than six months before San Franciscans return to the polls to elect a new mayor, incumbent Mayor Gavin Newsom remains unchallenged from any viable candidates from the left. As I wrote in my last column, this could soon change.

Yesterday, Supervisor Chris Daly sent an email inviting progressives to attend a progressive convention. The 2007 Progressive Convention will be held June 2nd at the Tenderloin Community School from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The purpose of the convention, as stated in Daly's email, is "to set the stage for our progressive campaigning this summer and fall, to consolidate our platform, train in the nuts and bolts of electioneering, launch our candidate(s) for Mayor of San Francisco, and have lots of fun."

Reached by phone, Daly explained San Francisco progressives will have a progressive mayoral candidate nominated by the end of the convention.

"I am one hundred per cent committed to a progressive campaign," Daly said.

The short list of nominees presently includes Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, Board President Aaron Peskin, former Board President Matt Gonzalez, and Daly, himself.

Although Senator Carole Migden has confirmed her attendance at the convention, her name is not expected to be added to the list of possible mayoral candidate nominees.

Newsom returns unsigned affordable housing supplemental

Mayor Gavin Newsom sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors yesterday explaining why he refused to sign legislation passed by the board, appropriating $28 million of $127 million in surplus budget funds to affordable housing.

The letter, released after the close of business Friday, states in part, "Today I return unsigned an ordinance approving $28.05 million in supplemental spending at the end of the current fiscal year. This last minute spending measure doubles the City's budget deficit in the coming fiscal year, and therefore my administration will not spend funds which we do not have.

"All of us share affordable housing, the subject of this supplemental spending, as a key budget priority. However, I believe that spending available funds now which we will need in a matter of weeks to balance our budget is akin to spending available cash from a monthly paycheck before next month's bills are paid."

Commenting on the letter and Newsom's action, legislation sponsor Supervisor Chris Daly said Newsom will be "forced" to spend the money as required.

"San Franciscans need more affordable housing. While Newsom can choose not to spend these monies while in office, San Francisco's newly inaugurated progressive Mayor will answer the call and utilize these monies to aggressively build affordable housing next year," Daly added.

Sparks makes history, Renne "outfoxed"

At Wednesday's police commission meeting, the seven-member panel voted to elect a new commission president. The commission voted 4-3 to replace anti-reformist Louise Renne with pro-reformist Theresa Sparks. Sparks' elevation marks the first time in U.S. history a transgender person has been elevated to head a big city police commission.

Following the vote, Renne stormed out of the meeting and resigned from the commission Thursday morning.

According to Sparks, Renne left the meeting once she realized she had been outfoxed.

"That's why she threw her book down. She got outfoxed at her own game, in public," Sparks told Fog City.

Newly affirmed Police Commission President Theresa Sparks
with former Commission President Louise Renne.

The game started four weeks before Wednesday's vote, when Sparks announced, in open session, her intention to run for president of the commission.

Following that meeting, Campos indicated his support for Sparks, but Commissioner Joe Veronese told Sparks he wasn't sure how he would vote. Veronese mentioned to Sparks that he expected Mayor Gavin Newsom to pressure him to vote for Newsom's preferred candidate, Commissioner Joe Marshall.

Despite the conflict, Veronese assured Sparks he would "do what's right."

At the meeting, Wednesday, Commissioner Petra De Jesus called for the vote item to be called out of order, and in the same breath nominated Sparks for president of the commission. Renne "panicked" and said she needed to make a statement. But to make her statement, Renne had to temporarily give up the chair to Commission Vice President David Campos.

Renne lauded Marshall for his leadership and then nominated him for president over Sparks. De Jesus objected to Renne's nomination on the basis Renne had asked only to make a statement, not to make a nomination. Veronese voiced his agreement with De Jesus' objection.

Called to rule upon the objection, the city attorney affirmed Campos was now acting chair.

With the door wide open, and Campos in full control of the meeting, Campos called on the commission to vote for Sparks or Marshall for commission president.

At that point, Sparks said, "Louise was fuming because she lost control of it."

The vote went down. Commissioners Renne, Marshall, and Yvonee Lee voted for Marshall. Commissioners Campos, De Jesus, Sparks, and Veronese voted for Sparks. History had been made.

Prior to casting his vote, Veronese read from a pre-written statement explaining his decision.

"My vote marks an historical moment for San Francisco. I know you can appreciate it as I do," Veronese said.

"The people of this great city, through the vision of Supervisor Tom Amianno and Prop H have mandated that we, as a family of commissioners, department heads and members, be more responsive to the people that we serve: a peoples’ department that accelerates on its promise to be the best, the friendliest, the most advanced and efficient department, for all large cities to emulate.

"I have also come to know Commissioner Sparks and her tireless work on this commission to increase our budget and pass meaningful resolutions... More importantly, however, Commissioner Sparks is known, to me, to ask the right questions and challenging stale mentalities, which is the essence of our mandate.

"Commissioner Sparks has my vote and confidence. Congratulations Madam President," Veronese concluded.

After the vote, Sparks leaned over to Veronese to thank him for casting the deciding vote. Veronese responded saying, "Theresa, I only did what was right for San Francisco. Believe me, I'm going to catch hell for it."

Commissioner Joe Veronese cast the deciding vote
for San Francisco Police Commission President Theresa Sparks.




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