by Sarah Phelan
Today was the first official Question Time at City Hall and, since Mayor Gavin Newsom was not in town, being tied up, among other things, at economic forums in Switzerland, Board Chair Aaron Peskin asked Sup. Sean Elsbernd, who Newsom has appointed as Acting Mayor in his absence. if he wanted to address the policy questions, instead.
“I’m not sure how hard I should laugh right now,” sputtered Elsbernd. “If we took this logically, I could stand up here and have a conversation with myself.”
“Most substitute mayors don’t exercise the full mayoral powers,” interjected Sup. Chris Daly. “Though there are some notable exceptions,” he added. Daly was of course referring to his own October 2003 surprise, in which he
appointed environmentalist Adam Werbach and architect Robin Chiang to the SFPUC, in his soon-to-be aborted role as Acting Mayor for then Mayor Willie Brown, who was off traveling etc. in Tibet.
The memory of that coup got Sup. Jake McGoldrick cracking up, while Sup. Ross Mirkarimi nostagically recalled how the custom used to be that mayors would rotate all the supervisors into the "Acting Mayor" role.
“That practice has been stopped by the current mayor," intoned Mirkarimi, in his mellifluous baritone. "Now it’s based in their good favor in the mayor’s eyes. It’s not something politics should play into.”
Sup. Michela Alioto-Pier then took a moment to complain that the mayor’s monthly appearance was a policy statement, not a charter amendment--a moment she used to mentally slap the wrists of the naughty scribes in the press box.
“We shouldn’t be trying to take something and pretend like it’s something else,” said Alioto-Pier, casting a meaningful glance at the press, who’ve been loudly clucking for weeks that Mayor Gavin Newsom is being chicken for refusing to respect the voters' request that he have monthly policy discussions with the Board (though not one media type dared to let off a "cock-a-doodle-doo" in this Gavinless meeting of the Board.)
“I’ve been on the Board for 13 years,” broke in Sup. Tom Ammiano, “and I’ve been Mayor, or should I say, Queen for a day, and it’s not very thrilling. I didn’t have the audacity to look at Commission appointments and see what was up… but I haven’t been asked to be acting mayor for a while. So, I’d like to volunteer my services. I’m suited up and already to go.”
As it happens, were Newsom to revert to the rotating supervisor model of appointing his acting mayors, he’d be able to make Ammiano and the rest of the Supes "Queen "for a day, in pretty short order, since the Gavsta won’t be returning to San Francisco for another seven days —a factoid that was revealed when the Board decided to continue the Mayor’s monthly appearance until next Tuesday, forcing a spokesperson for the mayor to admit that the mayor won’t be back at City Hall by the next Supes meeting, either. (Buck, buck, buck.)