Editorial: Board vs. the mayor, round umpteen 

The new year brings what apparently is a more assertive Board of Supervisors, whose majority — self-described as "progressive" — could easily heat up the rivalry with the Mayor’s Office — also self-described as "progressive." Months from now Mayor Gavin Newsom will be fighting for re-election, shielding himself from punches hurled not so much by his designated opponent, but by the board itself.

Last year’s antics showed the way. There was that kerfuffle over the board’s determination to nudge police officers out of their cars and onto the sidewalks. The mayor backed an alternative foot-patrol plan put forward by police Chief Heather Fong, on the sensible ground that the board should not micromanage the new anti-crime mobilization.

There were two vetos, and two overrides. At one point the chief sustained a public humiliation in a board meeting. Mayor Newsom, honorably enough, rallied to her side, only to find his own profile had been progressively diminishing.

Earlier in 2006 the rift could have been spotted. Though the mayor and the supes put up a united front on behalf of what both sides regarded as their revolutionary health care plan, they differed over details of their mandate that businesses provide it.

Both sides touted the plan as a model for the state, only it was not their soul mate Phil Angelides who took it to the Legislature, but a re-elected Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who this week incorporated its principles into his own statewide plan. What the governor’s grandiose blueprint does to The City’s trademarked scheme suddenly looms as an open question.

Not perhaps for Aaron Peskin, the board’s re-elected president, who yet, trying to save it, cites Mayor Newsom for failing to bring the business community on board. It remains to be seen whether Peskin can ingratiate himself any better with, say, the rebelling restaurateurs, to whom the hard costs can mean life or death.

Peskin’s unconcealed annoyance with Newsom just possibly tells us the mayor has been refining his sympathies for business, long since beleaguered by The City’s political class. Peskin himself offers an intriguing proposal — an unaccustomed race for business favors? — to replace the job-killing payroll tax with a gross receipts levy. This could get interesting.

We’ve not heard the last about the board’s demand for the mayor’s presence at its meetings, nor the final recriminatory fallout from the pending exit of the 49ers. One thing’s certain: the entertainment of watching "progressives" regress into internecine scuffles.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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