EDITORIAL: No PG&E caretaker


We've made it clear in several editorials that the Board of Supervisors would be wasting a great opportunity and making a political mistake by choosing a mayor who vows to serve only as a "caretaker" and not run in the fall. A caretaker would lack the authority to make the significant changes that are needed at City Hall — and a vow not to run again would deprive the voters of the right to choose the next chief executive of the city. What would happen if the interim mayor did a great job? What if the so-called caretaker turns out to be the perfect person to continue on in the role?

But the real danger is that the board might choose a caretaker who not only continues the dangerous and divisive policies of Mayor Gavin Newsom, but sends the city in the wrong direction on the key decisions that will come up in the next 12 months.

The budget crisis is going to be the central concern of both the mayor and the supervisors, but there's plenty more on the agenda. For example, the city will be moving next year to implement community choice aggregation — and since Pacific Gas and Electric Co. fought bitterly (and apparently illegally) to block Marin County from implementing a similar program, the next mayor needs to be prepared to fight PG&E vigorously. So anyone who lacks a record of taking on PG&E, or is weak on CCA, should be disqualified.

There will be a significant number of commission appointments coming up — and since the members of some panels serve at the mayor's pleasure, and other commissioners often resign to give a new mayor the chance to put his or her own people in charge, the next mayor can remake city government on a larger level. We just saw, in the atrocious vote to evict the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council's recycling center, how badly the Recreation and Park Commission functions. The Public Utilities Commission has dragged its feet on CCA. The Port and Airports Commission need new blood. And quite a few department heads should be replaced. Anyone serving in the Mayor's Office next year needs to be willing to make those moves.

A bad caretaker could do real, lasting damage to the city; allowing PG&E to torpedo CCA would set progressive energy policy back a decade. Let's remember, the progressives have six votes on the board; if they're unable to agree on a longer-term replacement and want a caretaker, that person needs to have strong progressive, anti-PG&E credentials. Otherwise San Franciscans will be regretting the decision for a long time to come

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