Cold Hard Cash to Comfort Lame Duck Newsom

San Francisco mayor selects new spokesperson as city literally falls apart

By Jackson West
|  Monday, Dec 14, 2009  |  Updated 4:30 PM PDT
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Cold Hard Cash to Comfort Lame Duck Newsom

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Gavin Newsom will have plenty of time to pontificate, but thanks to his opposition to new taxes, no new money to fix anything.

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The good news for San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is that he'll be making more money sticking around as mayor than he would have had his abandoned campaign for governor been successful.

Newsom earns $246,464 as mayor, or $72,477 more than Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger after recent pay cuts for state officials were approved -- though Schwarzenegger does not take his salary.

Hard to believe that Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner wants to make $173,987 a year so badly that he's spending $15 million of his own money to get the job!

For Newsom, it's that much more to spend at the Castro Safeway, where on Saturday the mayor was standing in the checkout line with a basket of groceries, oddly unaccompanied by his usual security detail (his hair, however, did not take the day off).

Those numbers come on the same day of news that Newsom has selected San Francisco Public Utilities Commission spokesperson Tony Winnicker to head up the Mayor's Office of Communications come January.

Winnicker will take over from current acting communications chief Joe Arellano after former mayoral spokesperson Nathan Ballard announced his resignation -- though Ballard will likely continue to receive on of those fat city paychecks in the meantime.

The bad news is that Newsom will likely spend the next couple of years having to deal with infrastructure problems which date from long before his administration, even from before he was born.

The recent busted water main that sent millions of gallons water gushing in SOMA, creating a massive sinkhole on Division Street, may just be the tip of the iceberg.

San Francisco's water and sewer facilities haven't been significantly upgraded, in most places, since the earthquake of 1906, and with the city, state and country facing staggering deficits, the billions or even trillions of dollars to fix the problems won't be available any time soon.

At least Newsom will have a few extra thousand to wipe away the tears and a new spokesperson to put a smile on the bad news as his mayoral term comes to its sad conclusion.

Jackson West wonders if maybe Newsom's new approach to solving the city's budget deficit is to take advantage of Safeway's great club card discounts.

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