Mirkarimi: Mayor's Departing Spokesman Shouldn't Be Replaced

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There's an allegory here, somewhere...
Older politicians and older political reporters pine for the days when dueling politicos could check out at the end of the day like Ralph and Sam the coyote and sheep dog in old Looney Tunes shorts ("Morning Frank." "Morning Sam."). There was a glimmer of this form of old-fashioned camaraderie yesterday when Gavin Newsom's spokesman, Nathan Ballard, quit -- and everyone SF Weekly talked to, even folks with axes to grind, refused to kick Ballard on his way out the door.

Yet it was a mirage. What good does it do to dump on Ballard when you can pick him up and toss him at your real target -- Gavin Newsom? (See: Daly, Chris

Still, others think Ballard is irreplaceable -- or at least hope he is. They're encouraging Newsom to do the ailing city budget a favor by not hiring anyone to take Ballard's place (the mayor is down to his last three or four spokesmen with Ballard on the way out).

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi told SF Weekly he will encourage the mayor's office to go with one fewer spokesman. And, if he gets the backing, he may be doing more than just asking.

"It's a question of excess," he said, noting the city is in such dire financial straits that, as SF Weekly broke Monday, the controller's office has rescinded its certification of any spending that hasn't already been budgeted (in a nutshell, the city can't spend any money without cutting the budget or adding revenue).

The Board of Supervisors can't tell other departments how to spend their money or who to hire and fire -- as illustrated when the supes overstepped their bounds by stripping funds from ACT and the opera this summer. But they could, theoretically, cut the amount of Ballard's salary from the mayor's press office and send the message that way.

It remains to be seen how the mayor's office would handle such a move, if it came to pass. But, in the interest of perspective, the city is facing a $53.1 million shortfall. And cutting Ballard's job after he leaves would neatly account for that $0.1 million.

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