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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mayor's Question Time: Ed Lee Bores Supes to Death, Just as He Planned

Posted By on Tue, Sep 11, 2012 at 1:36 PM

click to enlarge You're damn right... - JON PETZ, USED WITH PERMISSION

Several years back, erstwhile Mayor Gavin Newsom made defeating a proposition that he be made to answer questions publicly before the Board of Supervisors his No. 1 election priority -- helping raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to quash it.

San Francisco's a funny town. Until recently, the mayor wasn't required to answer the board's questions. But he can choose to not fund programs approved by even a supermajority of the supervisors.

With both Supervisor Chris Daly and Newsom out of the picture, voters subsequently approved a "mayor's question time" measure. But, as the Examiner notes today, and we've noted in the past, the process is neither the political "gotcha" fest its detractors claimed it'd be nor the British Parliament-style display of wit and intellect pushed by its backers.

In fact, the only question answered by mayor's question time is, "how can Board of Supervisors meetings be rendered even more tedious and insufferable?"

click to enlarge It's Mr. Excitement himself...
  • It's Mr. Excitement himself...

The heart of the problem is that there's utterly no spontaneity in question time -- which is the heart of what makes watching British prime ministers' impromptu defenses of their policies and actions so scintillating. (Also entertaining: hearing the assembled members of Parliament cheer uproariously.)

In San Francisco, the supes are required to submit their questions in the week leading up to the meeting, giving the mayor's handlers ample time to come up with an answer. Mayor Ed Lee then reads the canned responses from a script.

Watching Lee read PR-worthy copy is neither educating nor stimulating. It sounds like some form of punishment, akin to being locked in solitary confinement with an insurance salesman, as was the protagonist in Woody Allen's Take the Money and Run.

By tinkering with the rules, Lee doesn't really have to answer to the board. But he's certainly answering to the bored.

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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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