Pushing boundaries pushes buttons 

click to enlarge Mayor Gavin Newsom can make some waves before he leaves office by appointing three members to the elections task force. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Mayor Gavin Newsom can make some waves before he leaves office by appointing three members to the elections task force.

Mistermayor is determined to have some fun in his final days as our chief executive. He’s been toying with us about whether he’ll delay his swearing-in as lieutenant governor to allow the incoming Board of Supervisors to choose an interim mayor. Of course, Swearing-In-Gate isn’t the only way for Newsom to scandalously punctuate his tenure.

Allow me to suggest another: appointing three people to the elections task force before he leaves office.

Details about that task force can be found in the “boring but important” files because the task force gets to redraw supervisorial district lines using new census data. The current lines were drawn using census data from 2000. The U.S. Census Bureau has until Dec. 31 to present the most recent census results to President Barack Obama and the rest of us.

According to our City Charter, within 60 days of that release of information, the Director of Elections has to report to City Hall on whether each supervisorial district is still equal in population, give or take a percentage point. If the districts are no longer equally populated — a scenario that is basically guaranteed — the lines will have to be redrawn.

According to the City Charter, creating the new elections map is a job for a redistricting “elections task force” that is made up of nine members who are appointed thusly: three by the Board of Supervisors, three by the Mayor and three by the Elections Commission. The decisions of the task force are final.

Here’s the catch: the Charter just says “three members shall be appointed by the Mayor.” There’s nothing to prevent Mayor Gavin Newsom from appointing three people to the task force before he leaves office. Granted, in the unlikely event that new census data shows the population is still pretty much evenly distributed among supervisorial districts, no task force needs to be convened, but that’s no obstacle to an appointment just in case.

The power to draw new supervisorial district boundaries is extraordinary and will shape the next 10 years of politics in our fair city. Mistermayor may not want to pass up the opportunity to influence the membership of the elections task force. Just remember that the Board of Supervisors gets to appoint three people, too, and the current supes may also decide to pre-appoint task force members.

After all, at City Hall, they love to play with boundaries.  

Whither District 3 if Chiu moves on up?

I live in District 3 here in San Francisco, which means Board of Supervisors President David Chiu is my representative.  But now that he’s a frontrunner for two other positions — interim mayor when Gavin Newsom leaves to be lieutenant governor, and district attorney when Kamala Harris leaves to be the State Attorney General — it’s highly possible that Chiu may not be my supervisor much longer.

In which case, who would take Chiu’s seat? He’s being mute about the whole affair of the coming transition, leaving us sitting as close as we can to the leg of his dinner table in the hopes of catching crumbs of information. In the meantime, let us examine the possibilities:

Aaron Peskin
Former Board President and District 3 supervisor Peskin championed Chiu as his successor when Chiu ran in 2008, and thus might seem like a natural replacement for Chiu. However, the City Charter prevents former supervisors from serving on the board unless they have been out of office for four years, meaning Peskin can’t be a supe again until January 2013.

Rose Pak
This Chinatown power broker has generously supported Chiu and according to one friend, “she’s been the real supervisor for D3 for years. Might as well make it official.” Frankly though, I’m sure if she wanted to spend her Tuesdays at City Hall listening to navel-gazing noise, she would have run already.

Joe Alioto
Having come in second place to Chiu by about 4,000 votes in the 2008 District 3 election, Alioto might seem like the man for the job. The only problem is that Alioto is a moderate whose last name is “Alioto” and if Chiu allowed him to take over, progressives would officially break up with him and probably engage in a concerted
effort to unseat him as mayor or district attorney.

So who would take over the District 3 seat? That’s a question Chiu will have to answer if he wants to move up in the world.

If you’ve got a problem, Yee will solve it

State Sen. Leland Yee wants to be mayor of San Francisco, and he’s clearly in it to win it. He recently announced that people who need a new driver’s license and are frustrated with delays at the Department of Motor Vehicles should contact his office for assistance.

Using his current office to suck up to voters isn’t illegal, but it sure sounds exhausting. What’s next? Call Yee if your bus is late. Call Yee if your waiter is inattentive. Call Yee if your mother won’t stop asking when you’re going to “settle down.”

Bless Yee’s heart for trying so hard.

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Melissa Griffin

Melissa Griffin

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