Home   Google ARCHIVE SEARCH: Date:

Newsom fears hurried bond measure
could give voters unreliable costs

Democratic mayor urges Democrats
to rise above political strategizing

Mayor Gavin Newsom
Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

By Pat Murphy

March 8, 2006

The Democratic mayor of San Francisco yesterday urged Democrats as well as the Republican governor to craft a State infrastructure bond measure with dollar amounts which have the novelty of being real.

State leaders should take the time needed to determine genuine dollar amount, Mayor Gavin Newsom said, even if the ballot measure is delayed from the June election until the November ballot.

Some Democratic strategists fear a November vote on the issue would benefit Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's re-election efforts, Newsom said. To qualify for the June election they may have to craft the measure too quickly for accurate cost evaluation, he stated.

"I don't want them to delay - I want them to do what's right and if it means delaying it, you delay it," the mayor urged in an 11:30 a.m. press conference held before San Francisco General Hospital's (SFGH) emergency room entrance.

Gene O'Connell, San Francisco General hospital chief executive officer (left).

" We're particularly concerned (with) the unfunded mandate in 1994... that requires seismic retrofit of structures like that which you see behind me," stated Newsom. Under the State mandate, SFGH must be rebuilt by 2013 to meet upgraded California seismic standards.

"We have committed some twenty-five million general fund source dollars to be invested in the next three years to redevelop, and redesign, and reconfigure this hospital in a way that, if indeed we have to go to the voters to do it, we can do it with real dollar figures attached to it - real numbers - for upwards of potentially $700 million for the retrofit of this hospital."

Newsom said dollar amounts submitted to voters on many past bond measures were neither real nor honest..

"Here's the symptom that I recognized - because here I share the same disease - we were going to put a bond on the ballot for SF General Hospital and I started polling it and I started making up numbers," recalled Newsom.

"But it was not real. It wasn't honest.

"It's exactly what we did wrong with Laguna Honda Hospital. It's exactly what we did wrong with the Bay Bridge. It's exactly what we did wrong with the Library Bond. It's exactly what we did wrong with the Parks Bond."

The City recently allocated $25 million for accurate determination of City bond figures, which Newsom suggested is a national first for bond development.

"I don't know if there's ever been a bond in the history of mankind in any city where we actually did it right," continued the mayor, noting the exaggeration was meant for emphasis.

"I can assure you in San Francisco we haven't done that.

"What we're trying to do is just be honest with folks. That's why we're putting our $25 million up so the next three years to have real numbers so that when we go to the ballot if it's $1,290,000,643 well that's $1,290,000,643 not $99,000,000,000 - because it polled 6% better.

"I think people will support something if they know we are being honest."

Newsom proposed this philosophy be extended to the State level free of political strategizing.

"I make the same claim with the State bonds," said Newsom.

"If the idea is just to dump everything in and make some deal behind the scenes, some deal just to get it on the ballot in next five or six days ... I'll see through that as a taxpayer right now. I'd rather do it right. I'm first and foremost a taxpayer.

"...I'm not arguing that they can't do it right in the next few days but if they don't include this (SFGH) for seismic retrofit, it's not just San Francisco it's all those other county hospitals on an unfunded mandate," which they mayor said he would public ally scorn.

"If you're not including housing - you're talking about transpiration but you don't include housing - I don't think we're doing it right," Newsom added.

The risk of losing an essential State infrastructure bond measure, which requires two-thirds approval for passage, outweighs political calculus, he stated.

"If it means we need a little more time, five months, let's do it ...

"And I think there is a political calculus. They (some State Democratic strategists) don't want Arnold Schwarzenegger running in November against the Democratic nominee with the bond thing because then he doesn't have to answer any other questions on any other topic.

"This is a great political win for him. They know that. They've polled it ... (Republicans) are not going to talk about things that divide people - they'll talk about building rather than dividing and that's why he's so popular the last two years. So I get that calculus.

"... I'm saying on behalf of my party do the right thing even if it means we have to do a little extra work.

"If you've got a seismic mandate where you've got all these hospitals across the State that are in peril of shutting down because of the mandate then we should connect the two (mandate with funding) in the infrastructure bond ...

"It would be great to have something in June but I think it would be a big mistake if we can't in good conscience look people in the face and say, 'This is the best we thing we came up with and it's in the best interests of all Californians.

SFGH chief of medical services describe scope of SFHG medical care.

"San Francisco General Hospital provides a full complement of health services and is the largest inpatient rehab for psych patients in San Francisco," explained Dr. Andre Campbell.

Andre R. Campbell, San Francisco General Hospital chief of medical services

"In addition, San Francisco General Hospital is a Level One Trauma Center.

"We take care of 1.5 million residents here in the City and County of San Francisco.

"What does a Trauma Center do? We are physicians, we are nurses, we are respiratory therapists, and we are professionals who are ready 24-7 to take care of you if any of you become injured in a car accident, if you fall at home, involved at a fire at home, anything like that including gunshot wounds.

"We are the City's primary safety net...basically eighty to eighty-five percent of the patients receive public ally funded or public health insurance...

"Annually we serve over 95,000 patients and on any give day 1,500 people are in this building behind you and all of the buildings around here that house the clinics that take care of patients.

"Annually this Emergency Department ... will take care of 52,000 patients, 7,000 psych emergency visits, and 2,800 trauma encounters.

"Ninety-five patients died from homicides in San Francisco last year.

"On Friday night I was here and at one time we had four gunshot victims come in at the same time ... I didn't see all of you report on that but I was here and we did what we had to do so it's important that we continue to do our service ... but we will not be able to continue without the bond issue," Campbell stressed.

Indeed, Newsom estimated, homicide rates would double without SFGH emergency services.

"We would minimum double the number of homicides in this city if it had not been for the miracle of the work these guys behind me do," stated the mayor.




The Hunger Site

Cooking Classes
in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires B&B

Calitri in southern Italy

L' Aquila in Abruzzo

Health Insurance Quotes


Bruce Brugmann's


Civic Center

Dan Noyes

Greg Dewar

Griper Blade


Malik Looper






MetroWize Urban Guide

Michael Moore

N Judah Chronicles


Robert Solis

SF Bay Guardian





SFWillie's Blog



Sweet Melissa