Newsom and his wife with Francois Lacote, “the Father of the TGV.” Photo courtesy of the Mayor’s Office of Communications.
By Steven T. Jones
While the San Francisco Board of Supervisors today wrestles with deep budget cuts and the uphill battle for calling a June special election for new revenue measures, Mayor Gavin Newsom will be wrapping up a five-day trip to Paris and packing up to once again jet over to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum.
And all this international jet-setting during this time of crisis follows weeks of gallivanting all over California to build support for his long-shot run for governor. This is the same mayor who rejects the June special election because, as press secretary Nate Ballard told us a couple weeks ago, “It’s not fully baked. It will take a citywide coalition (a la Prop A) to win something like this and the coalition just hasn’t been built yet.”
Might I humbly suggest that the reason that coalition (which would require buy-in from the business community, a key Newsom constituency) hasn’t been built yet is that our mayor is more concerned with taking free trips to Europe and moving past San Francisco than he is on running this troubled city.
To be fair, yesterday he did take a ride on France’s high-speed rail, the TGV, and released a statement calling for federal money to help bring California’s version of high-speed rail into the Transbay Terminal, saying, “Including the rail box as part of the terminal construction is necessary for this grand vision to be realized.”
Today, he met with representatives of Velib, Paris’s rent-a-bike program that has 20,000 bikes, as well as some environmental ministers. And he used the occasion to remotely announce plans to start a bike-sharing service here in San Francisco…with a whopping 50 bikes, at a cost of almost $1 million (up to $500,000 to start and $450,000 annually to operate), all going to Clear Channel. And that’s assuming this administration actually follows through on this promise, and finds the money to do so.
“Bike sharing will help connect thousands of residents and commuters to their workplaces and shopping destinations by providing bikes that they can easily borrow,” Newsom said. “This bike sharing pilot project will allow us to test and perfect the bikes and technology that will be used in our citywide network.”
So, while San Francisco may have to shut down environmental programs and social services and anything else that Newsom isn’t using to campaign for governor, at least our celebrity mayor is still out there, somewhere, representing this city.