Delaying SF Board of Supervisors president vote past next week unlikely 

click to enlarge David Chiu. - SF EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • SF Examiner file photo
  • David Chiu.

A vote on the interim Board of Supervisors president next week has become more likely, as it would be more difficult than originally thought for one supervisor to prevent the matter from taking place.

On Wednesday, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu submitted a motion to elect the interim president next week to serve out the remainder of his term as he vacates the post to be sworn in Dec. 1 as the District 17 representative in the California Assembly, a seat that covers most of San Francisco.

Those objecting to the vote next week said the motion could be referred to a board committee by one supervisor to prevent the decision from being made without all 11 board members present. David Campos is expected to be out of town Tuesday.

But that’s no longer the case, according to a memo sent to supervisors Thursday afternoon from board Clerk Angela Calvillo.

The person who gets to decide whether the motion is referred to committee if there is an objection is none other than Chiu, according to the memo.

“The president will make an initial decision as to whether the board’s rules allow a single supervisor to send the motion to committee,” the memo said.

Campos, who lost to Chiu in the heated District 17 race, will be away on vacation and will miss the meeting. A legislative aide, responding to the motion Wednesday, said the vote would not happen since a board member would likely refer it to committee. However, that appears unlikely now that the power rests with Chiu and he was initially pushing for a vote next week so he could have a say on the matter.

One other scenario for preventing a vote is an appeal – for instance, if Chiu refuses the request then a board member could appeal that decision and force a vote on the appeal. However, if that vote is a tie -- it will be a vote of 10 supervisors with Campos absent -- then the decision of the president stands.

The memo said the board’s rules explicitly state that “a single supervisor may object to resolutions … and any resolution which a single supervisor objects ‘shall be referred to committee unless withdrawn by the sponsor.’”

But the board rule “does not state whether a single supervisor may object to a motion and have it referred to committee.”

“Although the rule is silent in this regard, the board in the past has allowed a single supervisor to send motions to committee in at least two instances in 1998 and 2000,” the memo said.

Rumored front-runners for the interim president position are Mark Farrell, Jane Kim and London Breed.

Forcing the vote next week has ignited a flurry of political maneuvering at City Hall. Supervisors are in discussions about the vote and their futures. Some are fighting to become board president while others are also fighting to ensure they receive choice committee assignments, such as chair of the budget or land use committees. The board president makes such assignments.

“No one has a lock on the vote right now,” Supervisor John Avalos said of the interim president’s seat.

On Friday, Avalos, who has argued that the board should wait until Dec. 9 to vote on interim president, met with the board clerk to see if he could prevent the meeting from happening by simply not showing up. But quorum is six supervisors, he was told.

“I need the same number of people to boycott that part of the meeting as I would need to vote, so it’s a wash,” Avalos said.

While Breed is a rumored top contender, most say no one in the running has yet secured the six votes needed to become interim president.

“Maybe she’s got it, but I doubt it,” Avalos said of the possibility Breed has already “laced it up” for interim president. A key sixth vote for Breed would likely be Farrell, who is said to be vying for the post himself.

Breed declined to discuss the vote.

“I don’t have anything to say about it,” she said in a text message.

Avalos said it was a “possibility” he could vote for the more moderate Farrell. But that would be if the progressive members of the board end up in important committee positions.

Campos was unavailable for comment Friday. His legislative aide, Hillary Ronen, said that if Chiu didn’t “bum rush” the motion and instead was more transparent about his intentions of scheduling the vote then “ [Campos] may have had the opportunity to change his plans and be present.”

Chiu said Wednesday the board should decide on an interim president as early as possible. He declined to discuss the matter further Friday.

Supervisor Scott Wiener said he was all for voting on the interim president next week, pointing to the board clerk’s memo that recommended voting before there is a vacancy to have a seamless transition.

As for why the vote should be held when Campos is on vacation, Wiener said that should not “bring the work of the Board of Supervisors to a halt.”

But Avalos said that “if David Chiu were to force a vote on Tuesday, he would be betraying the collegiality he purported to bring to the Board of Supervisors.” He added that Chiu “wants to maintain the level of control and power. He’s about David Chiu. The vote should happen after David Chiu leaves. Ideally the members who will be serving on the board will be the ones who vote.”

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