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Monday, July 13, 2009

Friday Evening News Black Hole Sucks Up Newsom's Veto of Tenant-Friendly Laws

Posted By on Mon, Jul 13, 2009 at 12:01 AM

click to enlarge Friday, 5 p.m. ... whoosh!
  • Friday, 5 p.m. ... whoosh!

If Mayor Gavin Newsom harbors a desire to, say, tear the copper wiring out of the walls of City Hall and sell it on the black market -- he could do worse than trashing the building on Friday afternoon shortly before 5 p.m. You wouldn't be reading about it until Monday -- if ever.

That's how it went with his long-promised veto of a package of tenant-friendly laws that won Board of Supervisors approval last month. On Friday at around 4:50 p.m., Newsom fired up his veto pen; in order to beat the 5 p.m. deadline, we're told that his aide actually had to break into a run to make the clerk's office.

The practice of waiting until late Friday to pull off something you'd rather not expose to major news scrutiny over dates back to Oliver Cromwell's opting to execute King Charles I at the same time everyone was watching the Jack Benny Program. But, even in today's world, in which we've developed the technology to send one another humorous photos of cats from phones that need not be plugged into the wall, the Friday evening news dump continues to be an effective way of sidestepping the media. Unless we're greatly mistaken, neither of the city's dailies (or anyone else) reported on Newsom vetoing tenant-friendly measures in a town predominantly made up of tenants. Meanwhile, renters' advocates have vowed to fight this. But if you were a betting person -- and you bet on this sort of thing -- you'd put your money on the folks with the money.

Ted Gullicksen of the San Francisco Tenants Union told SF Weekly that he and other tenant advocates will push the supes to overturn the mayor's veto -- which, incidentally, is something the board has only managed to do only twice in both of Newsom's terms. Failing that -- and failing is a healthy possibility -- they'll try to get some of these measures on the ballot for a November election. Gullicksen, however, admits that this wouldn't be an election in which tenants showed up en masse -- kind of like if they held it on Friday at 4:50 p.m., really.

Here's where this gets a little confusing, politically. Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, who owns some city properties, took the city attorney's advice to recuse herself from voting on any of these landlord-tenant measures. Sans Sophie, the supes will not find the eight votes necessary to override a mayoral veto. A state Fair Political Practices Committee ruling on whether Maxwell's casting a vote would constitute a conflict of interest was due on the 8th; if it hasn't arrived by tomorrow's full Board meeting, Gullicksen suspects they'll postpone the vote.

Here's the $64,000 question, however -- if Maxwell could cast a vote, which way would she be inclined to go? She didn't return our calls and Gullicksen says he has no idea, either. All he knows is that without her support, these measures have "no chance whatsoever."

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Bio:
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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