Some questions for the mayor

A few things we'd like to ask ...

EDITORIAL Gavin Newsom doesn't want to take direct questions from the supervisors. He rarely gets asked tough questions from the press and almost never from the public. Instead, as Steven T. Jones and Sarah Phelan report ("Mayor Chicken," page 13), all of his appearances are scripted, and he does a mighty job of ducking the hard questions.

But if he is indeed going to be holding a series of town hall meetings over the next few months, there's a chance for the voters to pin him down. Here are a few things you might want to ask the mayor:

Your own staff admits that the universal health care plan works only if employers are required to provide health benefits. Yet the Golden Gate Restaurant Association — your political ally — has sued to block this. Do you support the employer mandate? Will you call on the GGRA to drop the suit? Will you decline political contributions from the members of a group that is suing the city with the aim of destroying one of your key initiatives? Where will money come from if the suit succeeds?

When you ignored the will of the voters and decided to hold these town hall meetings instead of appearing before the supervisors, you said the supes were invited to attend. But you knew it would be illegal for them to participate under the Brown Act without some expensive preparations. Why did you do that?

Why isn't your full appointments calendar posted on the Web? The only information the public gets is a listing of your public events. Where is the rest of the calendar?

You say you support public power, but the city's efforts are so far limited to Treasure Island and Hunters Point. If there were a ballot measure this fall calling for the city to buy out Pacific Gas and Electric Co.'s system and set up a full-scale public power effort — similar to Sup. Tom Ammiano's measure in 2000 — would you pledge to endorse it?

The city's general plan states that 64 percent of all new housing should be available for below-market rates. Sup. Sophie Maxwell has a proposal to make that city law. Do you support her legislation? If not, how will the city meet its affordable housing needs?

The Planning Department acknowledges that the level of new market-rate housing being discussed for the eastern neighborhoods would inevitably destroy thousands of blue-collar jobs. Is that an acceptable trade-off?

Broadband Internet service is arguably the most important public infrastructure American cities will build in the next 50 years. Why are you prepared to turn ours over to private industry? Would it not be worth $10 million — the estimated cost put out by Google and EarthLink — to build our own system?

You asked for the City Attorney's Office opinion that invalidated the successful referendum drive on the Bayview–Hunters Point Redevelopment Plan. Why aren't you willing to submit this far-reaching plan to a vote? And if you believe in the plan's community oversight provisions and deference to the Redevelopment Agency, why did you unilaterally offer the 49ers a new stadium at the old shipyard, which is within the plan's area?

Why haven't you followed up on the promise you made a year ago, after expressing outrage over the racist and homophobic videos made by police officers, to form a commission charged with "changing the culture" of the Police Department? And after your office blocked a citizen-based community policing plan, why didn't you offer some alternative? Are you content with the way the department is being run?

Eight months ago, after vetoing a six-month trial period for closing JFK Drive to cars on Saturdays, you promised to study Sunday closures for six months and offer a compromise plan for Saturday closures.