The process begins - Page 2

After battling over procedures, the Board of Supervisors is ready to select a new mayor

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The door to the mayor's office is flanked by busts of assassinated Mayor George Moscone and his successor, Dianne Feinstein

Although some of his progressive colleagues privately grumbled about a ruling that ultimately hurt the progressives' preferred system, Chiu later told the Guardian, "I gotta play umpire as I see the rules ... We need to ensure the process and how we arrive at a process is fair and transparent."

Nonetheless, Chiu voted with the progressives on the rule change, which failed on a 6-5 vote. But Daly noted that supervisors may still refuse nominations and remain voting until they are ready to be considered themselves, which could practically have the same effect as the rejected rule change. "If we think that's a better way to do it, we can do it. But we don't need to fall into the trap and subterfuge of our opponents," Daly told his colleagues.

Elsbernd then moved to approve the process as developed by Calvillo, but Daly instead made a motion to amend the process by incorporating some elements on his plan that don't require a supermajority. After a short recess to clarify the motion, the next battleground was over the question of how nominees would be voted on.

Calvillo and Elsbernd preferred a system whereby supervisors would vote on the group of nominees all at once, but Daly argued that would dilute the vote and make it difficult to discern which of the nominees could get to six votes (and conversely, which nominees couldn't and could thereby withdraw their nominations and participate in the process).

"It is not the only way to put together a process that relies on Robert's Rules and board rules," Daly noted, a point that was also confirmed at the meeting by Assistant Santa Clara County Counsel Orry Korb under questioning from Campos. "There are different ways to configure the nomination process," Korb said. "Legally, there is no prohibition against taking single nominations at a time."

So Daly made a motion to have each nominee in turn voted up or down by the voting board members, which required only a majority vote because it doesn't contradict Robert's Rules of Order. That motion was approved by the progressive supervisors on a 6-5 vote.

After the divisive procedural votes played out, Chiu stepped down from the podium and appealed for unity around the final set of procedures. He said that San Franciscans need to have confidence that the process is fair and accepted by all. So, he said, "It would be great if we have more than a 6-5 vote on this."

As the role call was taken, Sup. Carmen Chu was the first moderate to vote yes, and her colleagues followed suit on a 11-0 vote to approve the process.

That unity isn't likely to last long as supervisors fill an office that wields far more power than any other in city government. But both sides voiced an appreciation for what a monumental task they're undertaking. "This is without a question the most important vote that any of us will take as a member of the Board of Supervisors and one that everyone is watching," Elsbernd said of choosing a new mayor.

Daly called for supervisors to open the Dec. 7 meeting with a discussion about what qualities they all want to see in a mayor. "We owe it to the public, we owe it to the city, to discuss it and have it out in the open," he said, going on to criticize the idea of a nonpolitical "caretaker mayor" and say, "I would like to see a mayor that works with the Board of Supervisors."

But as the parliamentary jousting between Daly and Elsbernd en route to a bare-bones set of procedures shows, such high-minded ideals are likely to be mixed with some tough political brawls, back room deals, and power plays using arcane rules that guide the deliberations of legislative bodies.

In fact, when Korb was asked whether the adopted process precludes new amendments or procedural gambits, he noted that the Nov. 23 vote was probably just the beginning "given the parliamentary skills of this board."