Thursday, April 22, 2021
News + Politics Elections The Chron wants limits on executive power -- in Sacramento

The Chron wants limits on executive power — in Sacramento

But what about limiting the power of the mayor of SF? The paper has always opposed that.

-

I’m glad the Chron has decided that the governor of California has too much power to fill vacancies in statewide elected offices:

Bonta also marks the governor’s third effectively unilateral elevation to an elected statewide post in as many months. That amounts to a remarkable string of setbacks for California democracy.

The appointments, subject to virtually assured confirmation by lawmakers, are a strange way to fill powerful and prominent elective offices in a state that asks voters to decide such minutiae as how to regulate dialysis clinics every few years.

More:

The jockeying to succeed Bonta in the Assembly has already begun, but that contest will be decided the right way: by a special election. California’s top officeholders would have a more meaningful mandate — and be more likely to serve out their terms — if the governor and the Legislature returned the power to choose them to the people.

I wonder if the paper would apply the same logic to San Francisco – because in the past it never has.

The local paper wants to stop Newsom from appointing (mostly progressive) officials — but won’t take that message back home.

In San Francisco, if any elected office becomes vacant, the mayor makes an appointment. Our City Charter goes much further than the state Constitution: In San Francisco, the chief executive can appoint members of the legislature. At one point, thanks to a series of political moves, a majority of the Board of Supervisors had been appointed by Mayor Willie Brown.

The mayor can appoint members of the School Board and Community College Board (which are not under the purview of the Mayor’s Office), as well as a city attorney, district attorney, public defender, sheriff, treasurer, and assessor-recorder.

This has often led to mischief, as mayors have used these powers to juggle offices around (appointing, say, a supervisor as city attorney or assessor-recorder to allow themselves another appointment to the board).

Then-Sup. John Avalos tried in 2014 to get a Charter Amendment on the ballot to force special elections for supervisor and other citywide offices – just as the Chron now says we need to do with statewide offices. The Chron, Avalos told me, didn’t support the idea.

“Nope, never,” he said. “The don’t like how progressive the Democratic base has moved so that Newsom has to make more anti-corporate appointments.”

So I wonder: If someone on the board brings this back – maybe as part of a more comprehensive City Charter reform – will the paper that has never sought to limit the power of the city’s mayor finally come around?

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.

2 COMMENTS

  1. The prog supes will get around to comprehensive charter reform on the same political time frame as finishing BRTs or the Central Subway or building affordable housing. Nothing to worry your pretty little head about, there is no rush, it will all work out eventually, it is all good.

  2. The Mayor also appoints the Recreation and Park Commission, as well as the General Manager of RPD. And — 4 members of the 7 person Planning Commission, as well as all of the Historic Preservation Commission. Yes, the BOS has veto power on some of these, but the BOS rarely holds those commission members accountable.
    What could go wrong? Well, the Ferris Wheel – left for four more years in a city landmark in the middle of a national historic site and with bright night lighting in the middle of our major, landscape park – is just one example.

Comments are closed.

More by this author

Money for ‘safe sleeping’ sites — or permanent supportive housing?

Legislation by Sup. Rafael Mandelman aims to get people off the streets -- but homeless advocates are not supporting it. That's The Agenda for April 18-25

Radical right group is trying to attack public-sector labor in SF

Anti-union mailers are going to workers home addresses -- but really, this group is looking pretty desperate.

Breed won’t promise to spend real-estate tax money on rent relief

The voters approved Prop. I last fall to support tenants and affordable housing, but the mayor says she will use the money for her own priorities.

Reese Erlich, foreign correspondent and radical reporter, is dead at 73

After a life of progressive politics, ground-breaking journalism, and social activism, a legendary writer loses battle with cancer.

There’s a lot more to the GG Park debate than cars v. bikes

This is part of a huge discussion the city needs to have about transportation -- and equity -- in a post-COVID world.

Most read

I finally paid off my student loans at 40. No one should go through this

Not even winning on 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire' helped me outrun Navient and condescending bootstrapper-types

Reservoir Dogs: Coyotes find a home amid Sunset solar panels

A pair of animals settles in, offering lessons on our contemporary relationship to nature

Good Taste: Secrets to scoring crazy croissants, SF gets a Korean food court

Plus: Bitchin' Baklava, and Gay4U feeds trans POC for free

Mayor Schaaf needs to stop resisting the movement to defund the Oakland PD

A bloated police budget has not made the streets any safer; it's time for real alternatives.

The best albums of 2021 (so far)

All that time stuck indoors last year is paying off—2021 has been bountiful when it comes to new sounds, from Madlib's post-DOOM triumph to Brijean's tropicalia expansiveness.

You might also likeRELATED