Newsom concedes failures, work to be done 

Two years after Mayor Gavin Newsom said voters could recall him if homicides did not decrease, he conceded Thursday that he had failed in his efforts to reduce the wave of slayings on city streets.

The year before Newsom came into office, 2003, The City had 69 homicides. In 2004 there were 88, with 96 in 2005, 85 in 2006 and 16 to date this year.

"I’ve failed you. We’ve seen an increase in homicides since I’ve been mayor and I need to reconcile that," Newsom said. "Every mayor in every big city in America would say the same thing, save two. But that doesn’t make it right, and it’s not an excuse."

Newsom made the frank assessment during an address at City Hall before members of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, or SPUR, a local good governance think tank. In his hour-plus presentation, the mayor attempted to update the audience on 369 policy pledges he has publicly stated from his 2003 campaign until now.

The promises have been put into a computer database — available online at — that can list and track the pledges, showing which ones are still in progress, which have been fulfilled and which have been abandoned.

"There are a lot of things that I said I was going to do that haven’t been completed," Newsom said. "But we’re going to try and be forthright about that and we’re going to try and be transparent."

Newsom, who has been embroiled in media scrutiny since confessing both an affair with his campaign manager’s wife and problems with alcohol, also touted the progress his administration has made during the last three years.

This year, Newsom is campaigning for re-election, and although no serious challengers have officially filed papers to run against him, a candidate from The City’s progressive contingent is expected to surface in the coming months.

Newsom said that under his mayoralty, progress has been made getting The City’s homeless into housing and services, "cleaning and greening" San Francisco’s streets, boosting environmental policies citywide, building economic development, encouraging local growth of the biotech industry, improving government efficiency, creating new affordable and market-rate housing and supporting the arts and education in The City.

Challenges remain, however, Newsom said, in such areas as boosting the number of police officers on San Francisco’s streetsup to a voter-approved baseline, creating more work force development, providing help to a still-increasing number of poor and homeless persons, building more affordable housing, addressing remaining issues of government inefficiency and keeping families from leaving San Francisco.

"We’ve got a lot of work to do," Newsom said repeatedly during the address.

It’s difficult to know how to measure if the government is doing its job, SPUR Executive Director Gabriel Metcalf said.

"You see a lot of work that’s been done and a lot of work that remains to be done. I do give the mayor a lot of credit to be willing to be so transparent about his promises" Metcalf said. "The challenge is, it is one thing to be innovative and come up with new ideas, and it’s another to successfully follow through."

Each day until voters go to the polls Nov. 6, The Examiner lays odds on local figures beating Mayor Gavin Newsom. Check out our exclusive blog: San Francisco's Next Mayor?

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