By Sarah Phelan
With the Board of Supervisors set to vote Tuesday on the mayor veto of Sup. Ross Mirkarimi's foot-patrol legislation, the mayor 's office has reportedly gone into overdrive to try to ensure his veto will hold .
The math is tough for Mayor Gavin Newsom: Supes Mirkarimi, Chris Daly, Tom Ammiano and Gerardo Sandoval are solidly behind the legislation. That’s four votes. Bevan Dufty, Sophie Maxwell and Fiona Ma all voted for it the first time around, when it passed 7-3, and all have spoken loudly in support of getting the cops out of their cars and into the neighborhoods. Jake McGoldrick was out of town for the vote, but he tells us he’ll side with the majority – which adds up to eight votes, enough to sustain a veto and deal the mayor an embarrassing political setback.
So Newsom is trying hard to get one of the eight to switch sides. Among the plays: Chief Heather Fong held a hastily arranged press conference Monday to announce her own, slightly watered-down foot-patrol plan, in a clear effort to undercut the supes. And we’re told that Senator Dianne Feinstein has been calling board members to lobby against the plan.
McGoldrick and Maxwell both told us that they were planning to vote to override the mayor’s veto, and chided Feinstein for getting involved. "If Feinstein wants to be mayor, she oughta run," he said.
As for the police's hastily announced foot patrol plan, Maxwell said, maybe it would be fine, but it was coming too late for her to backpedal.
"The mayor and Heather Fong had ample time. Why did we even get to this point? Because we've been asking and asking and finally we came up with legislation. The police have promised things before and didn't do anything, so this isn't the time for me to be backpedaling."
Reached Friday Nov. 10, Dufty told the Guardian that he's "always supported foot patrols" and has "no confidence" in Fong. But three days later, when Fong was promoting her alternative, all Dufty would say about his vote was, "no comment"
The wildest rumor had Newsom offering to fire Fong if some of the supes would back away from the veto override. The Mayor's spokesperson, Peter Ragone insisted to us that “There's no truth to that." Then his line mysteriously went dead.
So who else could be the swing vote the mayor needs to keep his vanity intact?
Well, on Oct. 24, when the bill was approved, Sean Elsbernd, Michela Alioto-Pier, along with BOS chair Aaron Peskin voted against it.
Elsbernd and Alioto-Pier are known to be solidly in the mayor's court. But what about Peskin?
Reached Monday night, Peskin wasn't about to give up his voting plans, but he did say that he found it disingenuous of the mayor to veto the measure on the grounds that the board shouldn't tell a paramilitary organization what to do, then turn around and say that he, the mayor, was planning to go ahead with foot patrols anyway.
Either way, Tuesday’s 2 pm board meeting will be worth watching.
As Sup. Mirkarimi told the Guardian, "People have told me that the police's press conference was surreal, strange and desperate. The only reason we're even in this position is because of an absence of leadership on the part of the chief of police and the mayor. And now they have the audacity to say that their plan is better than ours.
Public safety should never be compromised because of the Mayor's vanity and the chief's inaction. It's an unreal, practically juvenile situation."