By John Geluardi
The ongoing political battle between Mayor Gavin Newsom and Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin claimed another casualty Tuesday when the Board of Supervisors voted to oust Public Utilities Commissioner Ryan Brooks, who was close to Mayor Gavin Newsom. But another Newsom ally, Dick Sklar, was able to just keep his PUC seat thanks to an unlikely guardian angel.
After a spirited debate, the board reappointed Sklar by a seven-to-four vote, one short of the eight votes needed to remove him. Sklar’s seat was saved by Supervisor Chris Daly, perhaps Newsom's most outspoken critic, who broke ranks with the board’s anti–Newsom faction.
Prior to the vote, Sklar said that his ouster would make him “collateral damage in a war that’s not mine.”
Continuing with the military theme, he made frequent references to his service as an ambassador in war-torn Bosnia, which he joked prepared him for San Francisco politics.
Supervisor Bevan Dufty chastised Sklar for browbeating and talking down to city staff and other commissioners. “This is not a war-torn country, what separates us is so small but yet so ugly,” Dufty said.
Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier rose to Sklar’s defense by talking up his experience. “We need someone who understands the numbers,” she said. “We are looking at someone with 32 years of contributions, which he has done with grace, but he’s tough. We shouldn’t be playing politics with this.”
Last month Newsom, without ceremony or explanation, replaced PUC general manager Susan Leal with controller Ed Harrington. Newsom's move was considered another salvo in the war between Newsom and Peskin and many board watchers considered the attempt to remove Brooks and Sklar as payback.