San Francisco mayoral race gets rowdy over health care law 

The major players in the San Francisco mayor’s race got a little feisty on the steps of City Hall Wednesday morning, as Supervisor David Campos and the campaign rivals of Mayor Ed Lee came out to discourage his likely veto of local health care legislation passed by the Board of Supervisors Tuesday.

The amendment to the Healthy SF law — requiring employers to contribute to a medical account for employees — attempts to close a loophole that technically allows businesses to pocket unused money in the accounts at the end of the year.

Although Lee agrees that there is a problem, he says Tuesday’s legislation is not the solution, and he wants time to get more information on the problem. The veto would be the mayor’s first since being appointed in January.

Asked if the mayor is dragging his feet on the issue to avoid controversy and tainting his highly touted functional relationship with the board, Campos was elusive.

“I think you’ll have to ask him that,” Campos said. “I hope his record of no vetoes remains.”

Although Campos said Tuesday’s event was about health care, not politics, Lee’s campaign manager Bill Barnes thought otherwise as he watched the speakers take the podium.

“It’s like a mayoral road show,” Barnes said of the slate of speakers, including City Attorney Dennis Herrera, state Sen. Leland Yee and Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, who voted against the amendment Tuesday, seemed less amused.

“All you’re seeing here is David Campos and [Labor Council Executive Director] Tim Paulson as they try to make mayoral race fodder out of this,” Elsbernd said. “And it’s a pathetic show.”

Steve Falk, president of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce said only a “small minority” of restaurants are to blame for exploiting the law, which has been lauded nationally by public health care advocates.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who stewarded the law as a supervisor in 2006, said closing the loophole is a “morality issue,” not a political one, although he acknowledged the clearly political scene.

“I like to call it a loopy hole, because everyone gets loopy about this stuff,” Ammiano said.

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Dan Schreiber

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