Newsom to small business: Drop dead!

Pub date March 18, 2008
SectionBruce Blog

By Bruce B. Brugmann

And so Mayor Newsom, who wants to run for governor when he still hasn’t learned to manage the city as mayor,
has bestowed the ultimate insult to small business in the City and County of San Francisco.

He has named a City Hall lobbyist for PG@E to the Small Business Commission.

Yes, you read correctly, Mayor Gavin Newsom has appointed Darlene Chiu, a PG@E lobbyst in City Hall, to the SBC.

How in the world does a company that has been screwing small business for decades inside and outside City Hall, stealing our cheap Hetch Hetchy public power for decades and forcing small business and residents to buy its expensive private power, yanking upwards of $650 million a year out of the city’s economy with its high rates, corrupting City Hall for decades with its lobbying muscle, qualify as a member of the Small Business Commission?

We put the issue in a diplomatic question and emailed it to the mayor. His press secretary, Nathan Ballard,
issued this statement this afternoon on Chiu’s glowing qualifications:

“Darlene Chiu was appointed to replace Florence Alberts after her term expired. Darlene has first hand knowledge of the challenges facing small businesses in San Francisco. She grew up working in her family’s these retail businesses in Chinatown, managing nine to l5 employees. She will also bring her knowledge of City government and communications to the Commission, which will be important to the successful operations and promotion of the assistance center.” (As one small business leader told me, “I don’t recall in the requirements of being on the commission that growing up as a child of small business owners quite meets the criteria.”)

No, no, no: PG@E is placing Chiu, via Newsom, on the SBC to help PG@E continue to facilitate the “successful operations and promotion” of further PG@E corruption in City Hall to protect its illegal private power utility in San Francisco. The supervisors can and should move quickly to reject the PG@E appointment.

More: Newsom to the Civil Service Commission: Drop dead. He appointed Mary Jung, a PG@E customer services manager, to the Civil Service Commission.

Meanwhile, as he further cemented PG@E power inside City Hall, he whacked three well qualified and conscientious commissioners: Debra Walker, an artist and activist, from heading the Building Iinspection Commission, Theresa Sparks, a transgender woman and community leader, from running the Police Commission, and Robert Haaland, a labor activist and one of the city’s most visible transgender leaders, from serving as vice president of the Board of Appeals.

Newsom is running for higher office and, as our editorial in tomorrow’s Guardian puts it, “almost everythihg he does at City Hall seems to be aimed not at improving San Francisco but at increasing his odds of moving up in the political world…Why would Newsom be doing this–if he didn’t need the support of PG@E and its allies for his next political step.

“Why would he be directing his appointees to keep out of leadership posts anyone with strong progressive credentials if he wasn’t trying to build new bridges to the developers, the big employers, the police unions and the more conservative interest groups he’ll need for a statewide campaign?” B3