SF Gov InAction: Gavin Newsom Explains It All



Never one to be left out of a media shark attack, I scored my own interview with Gavin Newsom last week to talk about what's next for San Francisco. What follows is the unedited transcript.

BENJAMIN: "Hey, are you Gavin Newsom?"

NEWSOM: "Yeah. It's a pleasure to meet you."

BENJAMIN: "How ... how did you get into my apartment?"

NEWSOM: "It's not just your apartment. Since I ended my campaign for governor, I've made more than 69 surprise appearances all over San Francisco. I'm trying to prove that nobody's safe."

BENJAMIN: "Are those my pajamas?"

NEWSOM: "I like the way they have silk on the inside for comfort and flannel on the outside for warmth. That's really innovative thinking. I have a similar plan for homeless people."

BENJAMIN: "You look a little ... it's 3 a.m. Are you okay?"

NEWSOM: "I'd rather talk about the budget."

BENJAMIN: "Really? Great! Please! I love that stuff."


BENJAMIN: "Go ahead."


NEWSOM: "The anticipated deficit is going to be over $500 million."




NEWSOM: "It's going to be a challenge."



NEWSOM: "That's all I've got."


BENJAMIN: "Okay, well, thanks for stopping by."

NEWSOM: "Yeah ... yeah. I should go."

BENJAMIN: "Are you just going to wear my pajamas out the door or ... oh, I see, you're climbing out the window. Of course you are. What else would you do?"

NEWSOM: "I'm glad we could have this unfiltered conversation. A real frank exchange of ideas."

BENJAMIN: "Actually, while you're here ..."

NEWSOM: "Your fire escape can't possibly be up to code!"

BENJAMIN: "... I'd love to get your input for SF Gov InAction ..."


NEWSOM: "You mean that thing you write on Mondays where you make fun of everything people who are trying to improve the city do?"

BENJAMIN: "I prefer to think of it as new wave infotainment for the wired generation ..."

NEWSOM: "But you do it about the Supervisors, right?"

BENJAMIN: "Yeah. Yeah. I make fun of them."

NEWSOM: "I'm in."

BENJAMIN: "Great! I'm honored!"

NEWSOM: "I'll need a team of consultants, though. Top-notch guys."

BENJAMIN: "Oh. Um ... will this stuffed monkey do?"

NEWSOM: "I want the teddy bear."


NEWSOM: "And the fuzzy blue dog."


BENJAMIN: "Both of them?"

NEWSOM: "And I'll need that picture of your mom to serve as my spokesperson."

BENJAMIN: "How big a staff do you need?"

NEWSOM: "That's an excellent question for your mother. I'll just put her down here where she'll be accessible, next to the erotic sculpture."

BENJAMIN: "It's not 'erotic.' It's artistic."

NEWSOM: "Preaching to the converted! So let's get started. Who do we make fun of first? Is it Aaron Peskin?"

BENJAMIN: "He was termed out of the Board of Supervisors."

NEWSOM: "Uh huh. I went to Hawaii for a few days, but I'm still mayor."

BENJAMIN: "Touche. We'll take this in chronological order, as usual, beginning with:

Monday, Nov. 23

11 a.m. - City Operations & Neighborhood Services Committee


This is a classic three-item committee meeting with two of them -- accepting grants for urban trails and streetscape improvements -- not actually worth talking about. So I'm going to stop now.

NEWSOM: "A lot of people who say I'm disengaged from government don't actually know how boring it usually is."

BENJAMIN: "Preaching to the converted."

NEWSOM: "If you were mayor you'd be a compulsive thrill seeker too."

BENJAMIN: "The third item, however, is all talk: a hearing called by Bevan Dufty on the Bus inspection Program and the TransLink system."

NEWSOM: "Hey CBS News -- I've got a question for you: how is it that when I don't show up for a couple lousy photo ops, you act like I'm putting one over on democracy; but when Bevan Dufty holds a 'hearing' about something he has no control over or expertise in, you don't wonder: 'Why isn't this guy in Hawaii, where he wouldn't be wasting our time?'"

BENJAMIN: "Fair point."

NEWSOM: "If Bevan Dufty were taller, this would be grandstanding. Instead, it's comical. He can't order Muni to do anything, he can't order the police to do anything -- and even if he could there'd be no money to pay for it."

BENJAMIN: "I suppose that's right."

NEWSOM: "So this isn't really a government hearing, it's a campaign event for his mayoral run with all the fun and excitement of a government hearing."

BENJAMIN: "That hurts because it's true."

Bevan Dufty

NEWSOM: "If he really wanted to have an impact on Muni, he should have helped vote down their budget and then made demands -- the way he didn't back in May."

BENJAMIN: "So you don't think anything is going to come out of this?"

NEWSOM: "I think a Bevan Dufty campaign mailer is going to come out of this. But I'm going to keep running Muni."

BENJAMIN: "Well, then I guess nobody's going to come out of this meeting a winner. Let's move on. Incidentally, I don't suppose you want to actually say something about Muni policy? Anything?"


BENJAMIN: "Anything?"


NEWSOM: "I'm working very hard."


BENJAMIN: "Right. Hey, you look hungry. I have some cookies ..."

NEWSOM: "I only eat rich people cookies."

BENJAMIN: "Okay then. We'll move on to the next meeting, which is the ...

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