First question-and-answer session with Mayor Ed Lee devoid of controversial talk 

Scripted and devoid of political excitement, the first-ever question-and-answer session between the mayor and supervisors Tuesday was about 30 minutes of straight policy talk.

No one raised their voices, no one made any attacks and there was no criticism. It was nothing like the “gotcha” moment critics of the ballot initiative had warned about when it was first proposed during the era of former Supervisor Chris Daly and ex-Mayor Gavin Newsom.

The dynamic between the mayor and the board has fortunately entered a “more amicable era,” Board of Supervisors President David Chiu said before kicking off the Q&A with Mayor Ed Lee.

Supervisors then asked Lee their innocuous questions, which were submitted and made public Thursday. Lee took five minutes to answer each one, seemingly reading prepared answers.



When asked if he watched the proceeding, Daly said, “Nope. Did anybody actually watch it?”

The format, which was adopted by the board, led to the mayor reading staff reports to supervisors, Daly said. What would Daly have asked?

“I probably would have asked about possible ethics violations Lee committed as city administrator by not reporting travel to China paid for by [Chinatown powerhouse] Rose Pak,” Daly said, living up to his reputation of not to shying away from controversy.

Lee did touch on some controversial subjects, such as the mid-Market Street payroll tax break for Twitter and a $7 charge on out-of-towners to enter the Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park. But the mayor did so in an uncontroversial way, avoiding any political barbs or announcing any new proposals.

At one point, Lee joked that his best question came from Supervisor David Campos, who inadvertently missed the submission deadline.

“I just want to acknowledge that I also appreciate the question that Supervisor Campos submitted as well. That was the best question,” Lee said.

A common theme through much of the proceeding was The City’s bleak budget outlook.

“We have a structural problem where costs are growing faster than our revenue,” Lee said. “And this will remain the case even after the economy begins to recover. Much of this cost growth is driven by employee benefits.”

Lee said he plans to introduce a November measure to rein in pension costs by the May 24 deadline.  

The Q&A sessions take place every month. Make sure to set your TiVos so you don’t miss any of the excitement.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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