GAVIN NEWSOM THE LONG DISTANCE MAYOR?

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BY PAT MURPHY
Sentinel Founder
Copyright © 2009

Opinion

Compare his trips out-of-town to Willie’s, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom framed fairness last week.

“Judge me on my work,” Newsom asked following an appearance before the Commonwealth Club of California.

“Judge me on my performance.”

Willie Brown did cap off his career as Mayor Newsom’s unabashed globetrotting predecessor.

Indeed, Brown rose in history as a California great and national player, before trotting the globe as San Francisco mayor.

And not even the exacting iron-grip Willie Brown managed to create three world stage issues from Room 200 as has Gavin Newsom.

Newsom delivered world platforms for improved approach to homelessness, universal health care, and same-sex marriage. And throw in another half-point for securing world stage lead on greening.

Some of it he delivered while out-of-town.

According to research undertaken by the San Francisco Chronicle, Newsom pursued mayoral performance some 20% of his time in office while out-of-state over the last two years.

Has the mayor short-changed the City one-fifth of his time in office by being out-of-state?

Newsom says no. Not hardly.

“I don’t think we get extra credit for the Sundays, and the Saturdays, and the late evenings, and the early mornings,” asserted Newsom.

“I think you need to look at the totality of where we are going.

“If the issue is Washington, D.C., and advocacy, and the issue is being invited to organizations that support our City, outside the state and give speeches, and advocate on behalf of the City in the World Economic Forum, as an example – a privilege that’s not extended to any other mayor in the United States – then I think you should look at it in that context.

“To go to Shanghai and put up an office, the first foreign office the City has ever opened, I think all these things are very much in line with my job descriptions.

“The Philippines, to celebrate all our Sister City relationships – I think every mayor, every single mayor, in fact I don’t think I’ve traveled as much as some of those previous mayors, Feinstein made maybe five or six Sister City trips when she was mayor.

“I think you have to look at the totality – where was I when I was out-of-town.”

Newsom maintained criticism of his out-of-town time does not come from on-the-street San Franciscans.

Instead, such criticism comes from inside San Francisco City Hall and from those people who don’t like him, he said.

“Seriously, it comes right out of City Hall but not out on the streets of San Francisco,” professed the 42nd Mayor of San Francisco.

“Not one person — no one’s ever brought it up.

“You haven’t heard it in any town halls, you haven’t heard it tonight.

“It permeates City Hall.

“And then if you don’t go to D.C. then they all get angry. Seriously, you just simply can’t win. It’s remarkable.

“Just be fair and compare and contrast.

“This is from 150 people inside City Hall – not from the 850,000 people outside City Hall.”

Does any perception of being short-changed impair Newsom’s campaign for governor of California?

“No, because I’m able to do my job on an airplane.

“Just because you leave doesn’t mean you’re not doing your job.

“We have phones, we have Blackberries, text messages, conference calls, (‘reading assignments,’ interjected Nate Ballard, director of the Mayor’s Office of Communications), reading assignments that I guess he’s giving me tonight.

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“The work continues no matter where you are, so I think that’s another myth that you can’t do your job unless you are physically at a desk.

<a href="http://www.fogcityjournal.com/wordpress/"><em><strong>Photo courtesy Luke Thomas, FogCityJournal.com</strong></em>
Photo courtesy Luke Thomas, FogCityJournal.com

“I think the question is how many hours I spend behind my desk – I think that should be the biggest criticism. People should want to see me outside of City Hall.

“City Hall is not a very oftentimes productive place. Most of the productivity happens outside of City Hall.”

At this time of San Francisco economic crisis — both for businesses and dire suffering for low-income San Franciscans from social program budget crisis — Newsom maintains he can be just as productive out-of-town.

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Photo courtesy Luke Thomas, FogCityJournal.com

“You know, for the last two months I feel we’ve had an extraordinarily productive two months.

“And that’s when I’ve been campaigning more for governor.

“I think it’s been extraordinary, so again the answer is yes, absolutely.

“I mean California-wide as a big state it’s not that big.

“I fly to LA and I’ll fly right back, and I have two hours of actual work on the plane that I’m able to accomplish.

“I can actually argue that I can get more work done sitting on Southwest Airlines than in my office with 22 people coming in and saying, ‘I need this, I need that’ on a lot of trivial matters.

“So I’m not concerned about that.

“I think just people that don’t like me are going to going to use this as an excuse.”

True enough, but just how does society balance today’s immediacy of communication with the reassurance of human presence?

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Photo courtesy Luke Thomas, FogCityJournal.com

Last week San Francisco Congregation Emanu-El Rabbi Sydney Mintz confronted that balance for congregants faced with faith intricacy and modern technology.

In that faith, a group of ten Jews must be formed before particularly significant prayers can be uttered.

With advent of instant online social networking through Facebook and Twitter, of which Newsom is fond, does the forming of ten Jews online constitute the ten-Jew requirement for praying significant prayers?

No, Rabbi Mintz answered.

Why?

Because that formation lacks warmth of human presence.

The Sentinel agrees warmth of human presence trumps cold productivity.

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Photo courtesy Luke Thomas, FogCityJournal.com

Mayor Newsom has made a different judgment call.

Possessed of high energy, indisputable world stage accomplishment, and 41-one-year-old youth, The Sentinel supports Gavin Newsom’s rise in elective office.

Nonetheless, real San Franciscans will suffer profoundly this year in emergency proportion.

Mayor Newsom should suspend his campaign for governor while San Franciscans suffer so deeply.

<a href="http://www.fogcityjournal.com/wordpress/"><em><strong>Photo courtesy Luke Thomas, FogCityJournal.com</strong></em>
Photo courtesy Luke Thomas, FogCityJournal.com

PAT MURPHY
Sentinel Editor & Publisher
In his youth, Pat Murphy worked as a General Assignment reporter for the Richmond Independent, the Berkeley Daily Gazette, and the San Francisco Chronicle. He served as Managing Editor of the St. Albans (Vermont) Daily Messenger at age 21. Murphy also launched ValPak couponing in San Francisco, as the company’s first San Francisco franchise owner. He walked the bricks, developing ad strategy for a broad range of restaurants and merchants. Pat knows what works and what doesn’t work. His writing skill has been employed by marketing agencies, including Don Solem & Associates. He has covered San Francisco governance for the past twelve years. Pat scribes an offbeat opinion column of the human family. Email Pat Murphy at SanFranciscoSentinel@yahoo.com.

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