Newsom’s Triple Play: Much Ado about Nothing

by Randy Shaw on August 7, 2004

Now that the dust is cleared, here’s where we are: Mayor Newsom has appointed Anne-Marie Conroy to head the Office of Emergency Services, a position for which she is not qualified. The Mayor undermined local ethics laws to steamroll the appointment of Tony Hall to a position at Treasure Island that even the mayor’s close allies believe he is not qualified. And the Mayor appointed Sean Elsbernd to Hall’s District 7 seat. All of this was set in motion by Newsom’s desire to replace Hall with Mike Farrah. It was not until Newsom offered the plum job to Hall that he learned that Farrah could not seek election in District 7 due to city residency rules. Since Newsom could not go back on his pledge to Hall, he was stuck replacing him with Elsbernd, whose appointment was never part of the mayor’s original plan.

The Mayor may have kept political insiders busy with the various rumors surrounding his planned appointment, but its impact on the lives of San Franciscans is nil.

Hall voted with the Mayor 96% of the time—Elsbernd’s loyalty percentage may be lower, as he is likely to cast some votes against the Mayor to prove his independence.

Even if the new Supervisor votes with the Mayor 100% of the time, the difference between he and Hall is politically irrelevant.

Left in shreds, however, is the credibility of the Ethics Commission and the meaning of our local ethic laws.

Newsom’s “I am above politics” image also took a small hit, but the Chronicle photos of him and his wife and their lack of serious editorial criticism told the Mayor that all is forgiven.

Newsom can freely urge the media to “hold me accountable,” knowing better than ever that they will not.

Filed under: Bay Area / California