Ed Lee sheds more light on San Francisco mayoral activities 

Recent mayors have faced criticism for keeping much of their daily business a mystery, but Mayor Ed Lee appears to be doing the opposite.

Lee’s business calendar, provided to The San Francisco Examiner upon request, shows more meeting details and information than predecessor Gavin Newsom’s ever did — a secrecy that fueled criticism from open-government advocates.

“It’s a big improvement,” Kimo Crossman, a passionate sunshine advocate, said when asked to review Lee’s calendar covering the days of Jan. 12 through Feb. 8. “I hope this continues.”

Lee’s calendar shows numerous meetings with various supervisors, a phone call with Sen. Barbara Boxer, a Saturday visit with Board of Supervisors President David Chiu to the site of a building fire, a weekend appearance at a Sam Yup Benevolent Association event at the Far East Café in Chinatown and meetings about PG&E’s SmartMeters.

The requirement for public disclosure of the mayor’s meeting calendars went into effect with the November 1999 passage of Proposition G. Former Mayor Willie Brown “had this whole thing of verbal-only meetings and not keeping records of meetings,” said Crossman, who has long fought for more access to the mayor’s business.

“The citizens of San Francisco have the right to know what the mayor is doing in the conduct of the people’s business,” said Richard Knee, the chair of the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force. “Part of securing that right is requiring the mayor keep a calendar and it is publicly available.”

Knee said “the problem we’ve encountered in the past” with  Newsom and Brown is that they had two calendars, a so-called Prop. G calendar, which showed very little, and a detailed working calendar the public did not see.

Crossman said Lee’s calendar does have shortcomings.

“There are a few large hour blocks of time that are undefined and it doesn’t seem to document the contemporaneous meetings [phone calls, IMs, texts, e-mails, hallway discussions] that Prop. G requires,” he said.

Also, meetings listed lack sufficient descriptions of what was discussed, Crossman said, and it appears to fail to account for a well-known dinner Lee attended where Brown also was present.

But Christine Falvey, a spokeswoman for Lee, defended the level of disclosure in the calendar provided to The Examiner.

“Mayor Lee is committed to accountability and transparency. This is reflected in his willingness to make his calendar available.” Falvey said.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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