Garcia: Board games could backfire 

It will surprise no one that the attempts by the Board of Supervisors to require the mayor to make appearances at its meetings were designed to stick a rhetorical finger in the eye of the majority’s nemesis Gavin Newsom.

But now that the board has once again put that measure before voters on the November ballot, it looks like supervisors could be sticking it to themselves.

In the land of unexpected consequences, the desire of supervisors to play board games with the mayor could end up with one of them losing their jail-free pass. There’s a high possibility one of them could be interim mayor if Newsom ascends to the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, and would that ever be a clever arrangement.

Whoever can get six votes in that scenario could be acting mayor. One can only imagine current board President David Chiu proposing legislation that Acting Mayor David Chiu could veto — just to show that there still remains a distinction between the executive and legislative branches.

The board has long played politics on a slippery slope, but this potential succession setup where supervisors pick the next mayor — ostensibly for up to a year — is so ripe with conflict it should require couples counseling. Imagine having one of your own running the Mayor’s Office after plotting ways to seize it, and then actually have to look as if all those famous checks and balances we like to think of as good governance are in place.

It is true that the board could go outside its membership and select an outsider to sit in Room 200, but that offers its own levels of difficulty. Let’s say that some of the mentioned candidates — former Mayor Art Agnos and former Supervisor Aaron Peskin — could win the board’s vote to fill in for Newsom. That would immediately give them an incumbent’s favorable jump in the mayor’s race — even if Agnos and Peskin swore on a stack of Bibles that they would not run for the job if selected as the interim mayor (like anyone would believe them).

We’d still have all the jockeying on the board, with four new members by the beginning of the year. And we know that the jockeys on the current board are prone to falling off their mounts. But it looks like they’ll be spending plenty of quality time together, like it or not.

Harris’ history backfires, costs her support of law enforcement


If Kamala Harris can somehow beat the odds and take the race for attorney general, don’t expect a big police procession accompanying her swearing-in ceremony.

The San Francisco district attorney is proving that what works for elected officials in our small liberal enclave doesn’t necessarily translate into the politics of California. Most of the large peace officer associations in the state — even those that have traditionally backed Democrats — have endorsed Republican candidate Steve Cooley.

And it is not just because Cooley, the longtime district attorney in Los Angeles, is considered a typical law-and-order candidate. For most of the law enforcement groups, it goes back to Harris’ decision not to seek the death penalty against the convicted killer of San Francisco police Officer Isaac Espinoza.

That “was just something our members couldn’t get over,” Alan Barcelona, president of the California State Law Enforcement Association told Capitol Weekly.

Harris has the backing of some individual police chiefs, including San Francisco’s own, George Gascón, but when it comes to the large associations, she’s shooting blanks. The CSLEA also declined to endorse Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown, citing his “erratic” stance on law enforcement issues.

But it’s Harris who finds herself on the almost empty side of the thin blue line. Cooley has won the official backing of the California State Sheriffs’ Association, the California Police Chiefs Association and the endorsements of police officer associations in cities and counties big and small.

If Harris came to regret the Espinoza decision way back when, she’s really regretting it now. And the worst part may still be coming. The trial of suspected San Francisco triple-murderer Edwin Ramos may start during the campaign, and Harris’ office has taken much of the blame for the fact that he was on the streets at the time of the killings.


Transit union steers itself over a cliff


If ever an organization has set itself up for a crash, it would be San Francisco’s Transit Workers Union Local 250-A, which this week hopped on a rail line to the absurd.

The Muni union workers, arguably already the most unpopular employee group in The City, appears determined to give voters a chance to take away their considerable perks. The latest attempt at gaining disfavor came this week when the union tried to stop service restorations from going forward.

Transit workers working hard to stop service improvements to public transportation — now there’s some campaign fodder.

This isn’t a group that needs work reduction. This is an organization in need of public relations intervention.

Members of Local 250-A are the ones who infamously refused to accept any salary concessions when other unions were lining up to help the San Francisco budget deficit.

They are also pointedly the focus of a ballot measure that would change the way their salaries are set and would change work rules that allow drivers to not let managers know how long they will be absent from work.

As a fearless prognosticator, I can predict that they’ll be wishing they had seen the train coming down the tracks in November.

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Ken Garcia

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