Commonwealth Club Cancels Proposition H Debate
Between Sierra Club and Gavin Newsom

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in News, Politics

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Published on October 07, 2008 with No Comments

By Luke Thomas

October 7, 2008

A prospective forum to debate Proposition H, the San Francisco Clean Energy Act, between the Sierra Club and Mayor Gavin Newsom, has been canceled, Fog City Journal has learned.

“It is my understanding that the Commonwealth Club has canceled the debate,” Newsom spokesperson Nathan Ballard said earlier today.  Ballard said he learned of the cancellation at approximately 11 am.  Yesterday evening Ballard said Newsom was “considering” participating in the debate.

Newsom has previously stated his opposition to Proposition H calling the measure a “public power initiative to take over PG&E.” Newsom, however, maintains close ties with PG&E and benefits financially from the relationship via campaign contributions and indirectly through independent expenditures.

Ballard referred Fog City Journal to the Commonwealth Club for the official reason for the cancellation.

In its response, the Commonwealth Club released the following statement to Fog City Journal:

“The Commonwealth Club is a non-partisan forum that often hosts discussions of controversial issues.  Last week the Sierra Club approached the Commonwealth Club about a possible public forum on San Francisco Proposition H, including both supporters of Prop. H and Mayor Newsom.  The Commonwealth Club responded that it would be willing to host such an event if Mayor Newsom was able to participate, as well as a representative endorsing Prop. H.  Prior to any indication that the Mayor would participate, and without the Club having any contact with the Mayor’s office about such a forum, we were surprised to see a press release from the Sierra Club about the prospective event.

“The Commonwealth Club relies on the confidentiality of the process for setting up public forums on controversial issues, until the point it can ensure that the speakers and format for such an event will fairly represent various viewpoints on the issue being discussed.  The Club expects to coordinate the announcement of public forums with the participants or other organizations involved.  That process was not followed in this case.

“The Club therefore withdraws its offer to host this discussion and expresses its regret to the Mayor that this lapse from our normal scheduling procedures created inappropriate pressure on his decision to participate in this public forum and clouded the free and open atmosphere that the Club maintains for its public discussions.”

John Rizzo of the Sierra Club, who was working with the Commonwealth Club to help schedule the debate, said he was “surprised” to discover the debate has been canceled.

“I am extremely surprised to learn of the cancellation,” Rizzo said, “and even more surprised to hear that the Mayor’s Office knew about the cancellation before we did.”

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas is a former software developer and computer consultant who proudly hails from London, England. In 2001, Thomas took a yearlong sabbatical to travel and develop a photographic portfolio. Upon his return to the US, Thomas studied photojournalism to pursue a career in journalism. In 2004, Thomas worked for several neighborhood newspapers in San Francisco before accepting a partnership agreement with the, a news website formerly covering local, state and national politics. In September 2006, Thomas launched The BBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, New York Times, Der Spiegel, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, 7x7, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Weekly, among other publications and news outlets, have published his work. Thomas is a member of the Freelance Unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521 and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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Between Sierra Club and Gavin Newsom
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