Bill Whalen: Politi-Cal

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SF and the Lite Stuff

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Soon-to-be-former Mayor Newsom

If you have $5,000 burning a hole in your pocket, or a few thousand friends in or around the 94111 ZIP code and willing to sign their name on your behalf, then you might have what it takes to be the next mayor of San Francisco.

“Babylon by the Bay” has an opening in City Hall what with the incumbent mayor, Gavin Newsom, set to become California’s next lieutenant governor. As one might expect of San Francisco, what comes next for the city is anyone’s guess.

Scenario One: SF’s Board of Supervisors finds a successor from within its ranks (the next mayor needing 6 of the supes’ 11 votes). Incredible as it may seem, the city actually moves further to the left (Newsom being something of a centrist by SF standards);

Scenario Two: Unable to do a clean hand-off, the Supes become a hung jury and the job automatically goes to Board president David Chiu.

Scenario Three: The white knight. A popular figure like Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who ran for the job against Willie Brown, comes back and steps in on an acting basis. Speaking of things that sounds incredible, Ammiano says he’d rather be in Sacramento than San Francisco;

Scenario Four: Newsom postpones his Sacramento swearing-in for a week so that next year’s incoming Board (presumably, one a little more centered and centrist) chooses a more tame successor.

Scenario Five: San Francisco’s next mayoral election, in November 2011, becomes a free-for-all. State Sen. Leland Yee already has filed papers setting up an exploratory committee. Let’s see if it turns into the tradition battle between a die-hard liberal and an alternative who doesn’t gie the business community a heart attack.

As for that Sacramento job, Newsom says his focus will be solving the not-unrelated problems of homelessness and poverty. This makes sense in that the former allows ample opportunity for the lieutenant to stay at home in San Francisco. The latter allows him to burnish his reputation among his party’s black and Latino voters.

Unfortunately, the office isn’t on Jerry Brown’s hit list. But in a better world, with a streamlined California government, it would be a goner.  Let the attorney general replace the governor, if need. Turn the office space in a child-care center, or a yoga classroom, or a psychiatric clinic. Something far more productive for mind and soul.

In reality, what Newsom will be doing it what every “lite guv” does — monitoring the governor’s health, keeping an eye on future statewide offices, and figuring how to make news.

Come to think of it, homelessness and poverty suit the lite guv’s portfolio — it’s a drifting existence, and one that relies the kindness of others.

Written by Bill Whalen

November 18, 2010 at 8:11 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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