Bechtel and Newsom: a fine pair


What do Newsom and Bechtel have in common?

They both oppose Prop. E, which requires the next Mayor of San Francisco to appear before the Board of Supervisors for public policy discussions.

Up until now, Newsom has been framing Prop. E as work of Sup. Chris Daly that will only lead to “political theater.”

Then, boom, four days before the election, Bechtel goes and plonks down $5,000 to defeat Prop. E, on top of the last-0minute plonking down of $10,000 from Republican Warren Hellman, $20,000 from the San Franciscan Association of Realtors, $25,000 from the Committee on Jobs Government Reform Fund, and $1,000 from socialite Dede Wilsey.

Looking at all these “No on E” money bags, it’s hard not to conclude that what Newsom’s No on E “Let’s Really Work Together Coalition” is really working together on is avoiding having to publicly debate tough issues, like the lack of affordable housing, or the rising tide of violence, or mental health issues among the homeless--issues that folks who aren’t millionaires and realtors would like to see their elected representatives hash out with the Mayor, but that rich folks can chat privately with the Mayor over fund raising dinners.

What’s bizarre about all this is that when you actually get Newsom talking, he seems perfectly capable of carrying out a well-argued and coherent debate.

So why don’t his handlers want their boy to be drawn into public debates? Could it be that they understand that once you get drawn into an argument, and express your opinion, people will take sides? That’s it safer to maintain a remote, inaccessible position, while you prepare for the next big thing, like governor, senator, or President?

But this is San Francisco, where people thrive on debate. So here’s hoping that the next Mayor of San Francisco spares us the fake question time and does as voters requested last fall: show up before the Board and answer their gosh darn questions.