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Friday, April 17, 2009

Ross Mirkarimi Becomes What He Hates

Posted By on Fri, Apr 17, 2009 at 5:30 AM

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi

One of the characteristics of Mayor Gavin Newsom that most annoys his critics is the fact that, even outfitted with a small army of spokespeople, advisers, consultants, and other folks skilled in crafting press releases, the man disdains the media and won't return your calls. Got legitimate policy questions about Newsom's proposals? Don't expect his communications staff to, you know, communicate about it.

And yet, this is not simply a Gavin Newsom problem or a condition of the city's right-of-progressive politicians. San Francisco is chock full of elected officials who refuse to answer the tough policy questions from all but fawning media outlets. Chris Daly is the most obvious example -- woe to the reporter who writes anything less than supplicatory about Daly and dares call himself a "progressive" the day after.

Sadly, it's high time to add another name to the list of thin-skinned San Francisco progressive politicos who are unable to separate the personal from the political: Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi.

In January, SF Weekly published a piece (okay, I wrote it) arguing that Mirkarimi's famed plastic bag ban may not be having a positive environmental impact. Yesterday, an SF Weekly writer (okay, me again) dropped by Mirkarimi's office to ask a list of questions about his call for the city to jump into the marijuana dispensary business -- which we'd even called over in advance (more than once). But no answers were forthcoming: Mirkarimi's legislative aide Rick Galbreath informed me that "Ross is not speaking to the Weekly on this matter." He was happy to add that Mirkarimi will gladly answer the questions of other media outlets.

It's sad to see Mirkarimi is traveling along the same petty, vindictive trail blazed by Newsom and Daly. It's especially disappointing because Mirkarimi is the Supes' accountability maven -- and now he's refusing to answer straightforward policy questions about his controversial proposal. Incidentally, here's what we asked:

  • Vendors contracting with the city must meet a nightmarish series of requirements -- how will this affect potential growers supplying the city's dispensaries?
  • San Francisco's dispensary regulations are seen as the nation's finest. Dispensaries in the city are plentiful and some even give marijuana away to the indigent. What need would a a city-run dispensary be addressing that isn't already being met?
Shouldn't Mirkarimi be held accountable to answer those questions -- regardless of who is asking them? After years of loudly and repeatedly condemning Newsom for "governing by press release," Mirkarimi is now willing to -- wait for it -- govern by press release.

Furthermore, according to the supervisor's staff, it's persecution complex time in Mirkarimi land -- another unflattering trait he now has in common with Newsom and Daly. Mirkarimi's aide had previously informed us that Ross is convinced the Weekly is out to get him. This comes as news to me -- but then, I did take a day off last month.

Hey Ross? If you don't want a job where you have to answer basic questions in order to be accountable to the public, get out of politics. The old Ross Mirkarimi used to know that. We miss that guy.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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