San Fran group spends millions to give mayor more power, abandons effort over reelection fears

A political advocacy group has stopped collecting signatures to get a measure on the November ballot that would grant San Francisco Mayor London Breed more power.

TogetherSF Action spent millions on getting two measures on the ballot, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

One, the We Need SF to Work Initiative, “would have given the mayor the sole authority to appoint and remove members of most of the city’s commissions and delegate responsibilities to deputy mayors,” the outlet reports.

There’s only one problem: There is a “lack of clarity in voters’ minds” about whether Breed will manage to get reelected, according to TogetherSF Action founder Kanishka Cheng. Should she fail, voters fear the new powers will fall into their opposition’s hands.

And there is every chance she will fail.

There is a “crowded field” of moderate candidates challenging Breed for her jobs, according to the Chronicle, including Supervisor Aaron Peskin — “one of the city’s most prominent progressive politicians” — who entered the race less than a month ago.

A February poll commissioned by the Chronicle found that, among voters, “the vast majority — 71% — disapprove of Breed’s job performance.”

“Voters reported broad displeasure with how the mayor was handling public safety, homelessness, drug overdoses and housing affordability,” the poll revealed.

Last month, Breed was blasted for her weeklong trip to China “in pursuit” of giant pandas for the San Francisco Zoo.

It was an endeavor California Senate Minority Leader Brian Jones called a “disgraceful” disregard for the desperate city’s needs.

“Mayor London Breed’s decision to jet off to China in pursuit of pandas while her city grapples with escalating crime and homelessness is a disgraceful evasion of her responsibilities to ensure the safety of San Francisco residents,” he said. “Her misguided focus on photo ops abroad only highlights her utter disregard for the urgent needs of those suffering in her own backyard.”

Cheng told the Chronicle that TogetherSF Action is still collecting signatures for another initiative, the Cut the Dysfunctional Bureaucracy Initiative, that would also gift the mayor with more powers.

“That one would cut the number of city commissions in half and cap the number at 65,” the Chronicle reports. “That measure also gives the mayor the power to appoint and remove two-thirds of the members of city commissions and to appoint and remove most department heads.”

“Fundraising is going well and we are continuing to pick up the support for this measure and look forward to doing everything in our power to ensure its victory this November,” Cheng said.

Supervisor Peskin accused TogetherSF Action on Wednesday of putting politics ahead of public policy.

“Nobody talked about needing a stronger mayor when Ed Lee, Gavin Newsom or Willie Brown was mayor. And apparently they won’t be saying that if I’m elected mayor either,” he stated.

“I’m surprised they just pulled one (proposal),” Peskin added. “They should pull both of their backroom, venture-capitalist-funded train wrecks of a Charter amendment off the ballot before they do real damage to the city we love.”

Melissa Fine


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