Garcia’s Appointment Goes to Full Board

by Eric Schaefer on March 10, 2005

On Wednesday the Rules Committee of the Board of Supervisors easily approved Mayor Newsom’s nomination of Michael Garcia to the city’s Board of Appeals. Garcia, who was appointed to the Ethics commission by the board, was not re-nominated for that position when his term expired. Mayoral appointments to some “hot-button” commissions, like the Board of Appeals and Ethics, must be heard and approved by the Board of Supervisors.

In August of last year, Mayor Newsom picked then-Supervisor Tony Hall to join the Treasure Island Development Authority before his term was up, leaving the district seven seat open. An elected city official must typically wait a year before he can take certain new jobs, but in Hall’s case the Ethics Commission, then chaired by Garcia, waived the standard “cooling-off” period. The Ethics Commission also “fast-tracked” the decision, holding its hearing before the deadline to file for running for the district seven seat. That timing allowed Mayor Newsom to appoint current Supervisor Sean Elsbernd as the official incumbent.

At the time the Chronicle worried that waiving the cooling-off period would set a bad precedent, allowing a Mayor to repeat the maneuver used in this case, possibly using a new appointment to move one supervisor and ally off the board and replace him directly with another ally.

The timing of that move is also the subject of a Sunshine Task Force inquiry looking into an anonymous complaint that the meeting was scheduled without proper notice.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin said that he had been concerned in the past about the Board of Appeals over-stepping its authority and asked Garcia if he would “strictly administer” his decisions according city law. Garcia responded that although he feels there is “some latitude” he would always “look first to the law.”
Supervisors Ross Mirkarimi and Michaela Alioto-Pier had no questions for Garcia, and there was no public comment. “I’m kind of biting my tongue” said Mirkarimi after the meeting, “Since I had just put him through the grill on Ethics, I didn’t see much point in doing the same again.” Mirkarimi said he had strongly opposed Michael Garcia’s proposed re-appointment to chair the Ethics Commission, which went to Eileen Hansen instead, and did not want to waste political capital when he could not see the eight votes that would be required to reject the Garcia’s appointment to the Board of Appeals. He also said that he had no knowledge of the Sunshine complaint, but would have brought it up had he known.

Both Garcia’s appointment and the sunshine complaint will go before the full Board of Supervisors soon.

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