Supes reject Alioto-Pier effort to stifle accountability

Written by Nicholas Olczak. Posted in Politics

Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

Published on March 12, 2008 with 3 Comments

Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier’s efforts to repeal a 2006 voter mandate
requiring the mayor of San Francisco attend Board of Supervisors meetings,
was effectively killed yesterday.
Photos by Luke Thomas

By Nicholas Olczak

March 12, 2008

The Board of Supervisors yesterday dismissed Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier’s proposal to withdraw a Board rule which allocates the Mayor a monthly appearance at Board of Supervisors meetings.

A ballot measure, supported by 56 percent of San Francisco voters in 2006, requires that the Board’s calendar for the third Tuesday of the month include an item for the Mayor to appear before the Board to “engage in formal policy discussions.”

Mayor Gavin Newsom has refused to attend the meetings stating his appearance would lead to “political theater.”

Yesterday’s ruling does not compel the Mayor to attend the Board meeting but will continue to highlight Newsom’s reluctance to be held accountable to his policies in open chambers.

Newsom ally Alioto-Pier has opposed the policy from the outset calling it a “political ploy that will create more divisive politics.”

Because Newsom has chosen not to attend any of the Board of Supervisors meetings during his term, whether or not the item appears on the agenda might appear arbitrary. However, observers point to the symbolic value of calling for Newsom to attend meetings as a reminder to voters that Newsom obfuscates his obligation to answer to the will of the electorate.

“Excessive tension”

His appearance would help to mend tensions between Newsom and the Board according to Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi.

An “excessive tension exists between the executive branch and the legislative branch of government,” Mirkarimi said.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi

Mirkarimi and Supervisor Chris Daly co-sponsored Proposition E in 2007, a charter amendment ballot measure which would have compelled the Mayor to attend Board meetings. The measure was defeated by a slim 1.4 percent margin after Newsom raised $258,000 to defeat the measure.

Daly said Newsom’s effort to defeat the measure was financed by corporations friendly to Newsom under the banner Let’s Really Work Together Coalition.

“Proposition E drew the ire, I think, of some special interests in San Francisco… to narrowly defeat Propostion E,” Daly said.

Daly listed PG&E, Committee on Jobs, Los Angeles-based Aecom Technology Corp, Warren Hellman, Bank of America, political consulting group Barnes Mosher and Whitehurst, and Bechtel Corporation as co-contributors for the campaign to defeat Proposition E.

“A measure that fails to pass on the ballot is not as significant as a measure that passes on the ballot,” Daly contended. “Far fewer people voted against the charter amendment than voted for the policy statement.”

Supervisor Chris Daly

Supervisor Alioto-Pier contested Daly’s conclusion.

“The move for a charter amendment was ultimately not supported by the people of San Francisco,” Alioto-Pier said, adding that politicians could not just discredit election results they do not like.

The voters have clearly shown they wish to preserve the separation of legislative and executive powers throughout American Government, she argued.

Alioto-Pier declined to respond to Fog City Journal inquiry when asked if her position would be different if Board President Aaron Peskin, with whom she has clashed over political differences, was Mayor.

Board President Aaron Peskin and Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier


Yesterday’s debate – inadvertently described as a ‘male storm’ by Alioto Pier – looked likely to spiral into a broader examination of Mayor and supervisor interaction until Supervisor Bevan Dufty proposed that the rule be left unchanged.

“This is a situation in which we could let sleeping dogs lie,” Dufty said.

Letting sleeping dogs lie, Supervisor Bevan Dufty.

Supervisor Tom Ammiano supported Dufty’s notion but made a more moderate bid for “opening up the dialogue” between the Newsom and the Supervisors, describing this as particularly important during the current budget crisis.

“It’s never too late,” Ammiano said.

Supervisor Tom Ammiano

Luke Thomas contributed to this report.

Nicholas Olczak

Bio Nicholas Olczak is a freelance writer who comes from (the original) Boston in England, but who normally chooses to travel the world. He has contributed to publications in Hong Kong and the USA and enjoys delving into anything political or cultural. He currently lives on one of San Francisco's many hills.

More Posts - Website


Comments for Supes reject Alioto-Pier effort to stifle accountability are now closed.

  1. What a joke. Daly really showed his true colors when he said that a measure that doesn’t pass is not as important as a measure that passes. It is pretty evident that “the will of the people” doesn’t amount to much in his eyes when his proposed legislation gets voted down. Instead, he argues that 125k voters voted for non mandatory question time while “only” 80k voters voted against mandatory question time, and because of this, the Board should keep setting time aside for Newsome. They should just call it what it is, not question time, but a “waste of time.”

  2. This is a colossal farce. A majority of voters voted against Daly’s Charter Amendment mandating the mayor’s appearance at the BOS. That should have been it and BOS President Aaron Peskin should have dutifully removed this matter from the agenda long ago but he’s in the middle of a feud. Pea brains.

  3. Michela sounds like George W. Bush when she attempts to allege that the “separation of powers” exists to prevent accountability. On the contrary, the different branches of government are designed to hold each other accountable.