There will be no special Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday to vote on an interim mayor, throwing into doubt the supervisors’ intentions to replace acting Mayor London Breed.
Although Breed appeared willing to schedule the meeting, using her power as president of the board, she missed the 11 a.m. Friday deadline. Six other supervisors could have set the meeting themselves by submitting a letter to board clerk Angela Calvillo, but she did not receive such a request by deadline.
At this point the board seems deadlocked on the issue. Supervisor Aaron Peskin made a motion on Tuesday to schedule a vote at the next board meeting, although so far no date has been set. The next regularly scheduled meeting is on Jan. 23, but if one member of the board wants to delay the vote, he or she may kick the motion back to the board’s Rules Committee.
That committee is chaired by Supervisor Ahsha Safai, a friend of Breed. He could postpone debate on the motion for another 30 days.
While Peskin and other progressive supervisors have raised concerns about Breed sitting in the executive and legislative branch simultaneously, the moderates seem to be in no hurry to remove an ally.
And after weeks of discussion, it’s unclear whether anyone can muster the six votes required to be interim mayor. Two supervisors — Breed and Jane Kim, a progressive — are competing in the June race, and no one can vote for him or herself.
“Of course we’ll have the meeting,” said Supervisor Malia Cohen, who is viewed as a moderate. She said that all of the supervisors would welcome an “open and thoughtful discussion where people can air out their fears and grievances.”
Yet “the reality remains the same that no one has six votes,” Cohen said.
Peskin grudgingly agreed.
“The irony of all this is that the conventional wisdom is we’ll deadlock five-five,” he said. “Or one of the progressives will say, ‘Enough!’ and just vote for London (Breed).”
Progressive activists are lobbying for a vote on an interim mayor, saying that Breed would carry the power of an incumbent if she remains acting mayor until the June election to serve out the term of late Mayor Ed Lee, who died of a heart attack in December. The role would also allow her to retain her district seat, should she lose the election.
Breed would have to give up that seat if she were appointed interim mayor, though she would draw former Mayor Ed Lee’s $297,387 annual salary and also appoint her replacement in District Five.
— Rachel Swan
Money move: San Francisco mayoral candidate Angela Alioto filed a lawsuit on Thursday seeking to block one of her rivals in the mayor’s race, Mark Leno, from accessing potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in public financing money.
According to the suit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, Alioto claims San Francisco’s campaign finance laws prohibit Leno from using much of the money he’s raised since entering the mayor’s race last May to obtain public money, which is meant to help candidates offset the costs of their campaigns.
Leno’s attorneys fired back in a memo filed in court Friday morning, calling the suit a “frivolous action in an effort to undermine the mayoral campaign of Mark Leno … and to gain a competitive advantage in the race.”
Judge Richard Ulmer issued no ruling on the case Friday, opting instead to give both sides more time to file additional briefings.
“I want to get more information before I rule in any way,” Ulmer said.
Ulmer also invited the five other mayoral candidates who have indicated their intent to apply for public financing to “state their interest” in the case. Ulmer will take up the case again Friday.
In San Francisco, candidates must raise specific thresholds of funds from individual donors in the city before they can apply for public financing, in addition to other requirements.
San Francisco voters were originally to decide the city’s next mayor in November 2019. But the unexpected death of Ed Lee has triggered a special election, substantially compressing the time for candidates to organize and enter the race.
Alito’s suit contends that Leno should not be able to use the money he raised for what was previously his 2019 bid for mayor to apply for public campaign funds, claiming that the letter and spirit of the city’s campaign finance ordinance prevents candidates from obtaining matching public financing contributions “if the funds were contributed to support the candidate’s election to the same office, but in a different election year.”
“It’s a different term, which makes it a different race, so he should not be able to apply those funds to the 2018 race,” Alioto said. “It’s an unfair playing field.” Notably, Alioto, a Democrat, is being represented in the case by Harmeet Dhillon, a prominent conservative attorney and Republican party official.
Leno’s attorneys argued that Alioto’s camp was “mischarterizing the applicable law in the case,” and accused Alioto’s lawyers of omitting portions of the city’s campaign finance ordinance that “undermines their position.”
Mayoral candidates who raise enough money from individual San Francisco residents and meet other requirements can receive contributions and matching funds of up to $975,000 in public financing from the city for their campaigns.
— Dominic Fracassa