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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Chris Daly Runs Afoul of Sunshine Ordinance Task Force -- Without Any Profanity Being Involved

Posted By on Tue, Sep 15, 2009 at 7:30 AM

This time, nobody's complaining about Chris Daly's language.
  • This time, nobody's complaining about Chris Daly's language.
You may love Chris Daly or hate him -- and there seem to be very few city denizens who are indifferent to the District 6 supervisor. But you can't deny that he has occasionally directed language toward the public during government meetings more akin to Raiders and Niners fans shouting it out in the parking lot.

In 2004, Daly famously waded into the audience at a public hearing and told a landlord advocate to "fuck off." Fast-forwarding through four years of various expletives directed at members of the general public, he belittled a teenage girl into tears at a rules committee meeting last summer.

So it seems a bit odd that when the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force earlier this month finally chided Daly after receiving a complaint accusing the supervisor of making the public's effort to attend and participate in government meetings an onerous and unpleasant affair, it was regarding a highly technical matter. No, no one told anyone to fuck off.

In a Sept. 2 letter to the Board of Supervisors, the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force noted that it found Daly had trampled the rights of one David Schneider during a rules committee meeting over the summer. "We do feel [Daly] violated the spirit if not the letter of the law," task force chair Richard Knee told SF Weekly.

Here's the situation in as truncated a manner as we can muster:

Schneider, a cab-driver, attended the meeting so as to comment on a taxi reform measure. Yet Daly, the acting chair for the committee, tabled that motion -- and forbade Schneider from commenting on the matter (or commenting on Daly's decision to withdraw the motion). Knee and his colleagues feel this was presumptuous and needlessly made life difficult for the cabbie; there was no guarantee the man could come at a later date. That being said, the problem may be less with Daly than the system: While public speakers can (and do) yammer on about anything they wish during "general comments" during Board of Supervisors meetings, during committee meetings there is no such time period. Knee hopes the board will allow a general comment section during committee meetings in the future.

If you're feeling conflicted here -- that's natural. While it'd be tempting for Daly's detractors to chalk him up as a bully who believes in openness and good government until it doesn't suit him -- this is a highly technical violation (and if he was anything less than a gentleman during the whole meeting in question, it isn't apparent via Schneider's complaint). And, quite honestly, the result of allowing people to discuss anything they wish during the Board's general comment period is that people really do discuss anything they wish. Basically, imagine the peanut gallery in a crosstown bus grabbing the microphone and telling our elected officials about the real problems in this city -- if only they'd open their goddamn eyes! Is this really necessary at the committee level as well?

Finally, once again, it was a surprise that of all Daly's problematic interactions with the public, this was the instance that triggered the first Sunshine Ordinance complaint Knee could recall. But if Daly was less than Solomonic in his Sunshine-related judgment -- he's got company.

"There are a number of supervisors who are, on the whole, very Sunshine-friendly," Knee said. "But, at the same time, there have been instances where perhaps their own actions are not in the spirit or maybe even the letter of Sunshine."

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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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