Byorn’s legacy

When the mayor’s former press secretary, Peter Ragone, got busted posting vindictive comments on local blogs under an assumed name (Byorn was one of them), Board of Supervisors president Aaron Peskin had a pretty reasonable take on the matter: spokespeople paid with city money and charged with informing the public about the mayor’s activities should probably not be launching political barbs at perceived detractors of Gavin Newsom (see "The Ethics of Flacks, 3/7/07).

So Peskin drafted a code of conduct for the city’s public information officers to follow. His resolution passed the Rules Committee on April 19 and is now on its way to the full board. Among other things, it asks flacks to "strive to disclose accurate information, not hide it from the public" and to "respond in a timely and professional manner to all inquiries by the press and public." It also directs them to adhere to the code of ethics maintained by the National Association of Government Communicators.

"Public Information Officers are the primary liaisons between the City, its citizens and the media," the resolution states.

Newsom ally Sup. Sean Elsbernd added even stronger language instructing flacks to "make every immediate effort to retract false and misleading statements made by other members of the Public Information Officer’s department," so there’s no confusion about how Byorn and anyone else with a duty to give the public reliable information is supposed to behave.

While addressing the item, Sup. Tom Ammiano couldn’t resist a jab at Byorn, who has since been removed from City Hall and works on the mayor’s reelection team.

"Is there any public comment on this matter? Mr. Ragone? Oh, I guess he’s not here." (Schulz)