Mayoral Succession -- Questionable Legality, Unquestionable Hypocrisy

city hall exterior.jpg
Get ready for some sausage-making...
The next week or so at City Hall will be the sort that makes political junkies convulse -- and induces the predictable reaction in the population at-large upon being forced to watch junkies convulse.

The Board of Supervisors' punt-a-thon regarding the mayoral succession may finally come to an end -- right as "current" Mayor Gavin Newsom refuses to come to an end. Also in play is the pending appointment to District Attorney Kamala Harris' still-warm chair.

It all involves some moves of questionable legality -- and unquestionable hypocrisy.

As has received much ink, Newsom has opted to delay his swearing-in as lieutenant governor so as to ostensibly push the job of replacing him to the "more moderate" incoming board.

As we've noted before, the notion the next board is "more moderate" than the current one appears to be hokum -- if you look at who's leaving and who's coming in, it just doesn't equate; it's hard to see what successor mayor would be acceptable on Jan. 4 that would be unacceptable one week later (Unless this is simply an effort to stick it to Newsom's enemies on the current board. That makes more sense).

Also, it remains questionable whether Newsom can legally remain mayor after today, regardless of whether he takes the oath of office for lieutenant governor. As SF Weekly wrote before regarding Newsom's legal backing for sticking around:

In order for Newsom to claim he has the right and ability to alter the course of mayoral selection by not resigning, he'd have to claim a distinction between his term as mayor being automatically "vacated" when his state office begins on Jan. 3 and the "resignation" from office demanded by San Francisco's city charter prior to a successor mayor being named. San Francisco rules forbid Newsom from holding two jobs simultaneously, so he's finished as mayor as soon as his lieutenant governor term commences. Does Newsom really want to parse the distinction between his position being "vacated" and "resigning" -- and claim he's doing it for the greater good? At the very best, this is a duplicitous thing to do. At worst, it's actionable.

Board President David Chiu -- who stands to be come acting mayor if the supes can't agree on a successor -- has acknowledged that it's no dead certainty that Newsom can call himself mayor after today. Should the supes agree on a successor tomorrow, a legal crisis could be induced.

But even if Newsom can prolong his tenure as mayor, it's uncertain why he's doing so. As noted above, it's difficult to imagine the current board making a vastly different mayoral selection than the future board. More fundamentally, however, one also wonders why a mayor with one foot out the door is more entitled to weigh in on city politics than a board with one foot out the door. Newsom, who ran incessantly for higher office throughout 2010 and has faced longstanding accusations of absenteeism, is only now apparently unable to cut the cord.

If Gavin Newsom wanted to dictate who occupies City Hall Room 200 -- then he shouldn't have chosen to leave it.

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Gavvy Newsom vs. Chris Daly should be the article headline.


That said the likely scenarios are:

1)Newsom stays in office until the 10th and ultimately a caretaker, or perhaps Dennis Herrera, is appointed by the new Board. Lots of hue and cry over Newsom's extended stay but in the wake of David Campos' wholesale shut out of Newsom's final appointments, nothing is done.

2) A Progressive is waiting with a writ to file after today and the old Board goes ahead and unites on an interim appointment, probably Aaron Peskin. All Hell Breaks Loose. This is unlikely if for no other reason than that David Chiu will block it with another continuance motion.

3) Newsom is injuncted and Chiu becomes Acting Mayor until the new Board appoints an Interim Mayor, likely a caretaker such as Sheriff Hennessey.

A couple of things should be noted: The biggest issue is who gets to be the new DA. If Newsom gets to extend his term with no problems, then Kamala Harris' recommendation to Newsom will likely get the job, and that will likely be George Henderson. He will run for election in his own right in November against Jim Hammer and possibly Katharine Feinstein. Henderson will end up becoming a referendum on Harris' tenure as DA. Finally, only a Progressive can benefit from serving as Interim Mayor with regard to getting elected in November, as they can continue to keep their support by giving away the City's fiscal store. A fiscally conscious Interim Mayor faces a much more difficult scenario, since the service cuts and revenue increases necessary to save the City's credit rating will not make any fast friends before November. This is why anyone sane wants a caretaker to serve until November with no interest in running to keep the job. The upshot of all of this is that David Chiu is actually probably doing more than Gavin Newsom to prevent a Commu- oops, sorry Progressive putsch at City Hall. Newsom again proves how useless he is.

In other news, you can vote for ME to become Interim Mayor - if you have a Twitter account - at If I win, we can storm City Hall and lock them all in straitjackets! Time is of the essence!


Gavin the Good has, it seems, realized that he is entering into a long period of real irrelevance in Sacramento, where no one is under any obligation to listen to a thing he says, put him in the paper, interview him live on TV, or otherwise notice his existence, its no wonder he is clinging to Room 200 as long as he can.

richmond district person
richmond district person

Get out, Gavin! You are not the king of the universe, you egotistical POS! Go to Sacramento, you are not wanted in SF anymore. Ahhhhh!!!! Kamala Harris has already vacated her DA position in San Francisco to become CA state's Attorney General; she has made her transfer with dignity. You, Gavin, apparently have no dignity left. Get the hell out.

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