San Francisco Standoff Over Mayor's Security Costs

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi gets answer on Newsom's personal security costs -- sort of

How much does it cost to protect the mayor of a major metropolitan city? In Los Angeles, about $450,000 a year. In Houston, about $339,00 a year. In San Francisco, anywhere between $1 and $72 million.

SF Appeal revealed today the budget for Newsom's personal police bodyguards comes out of the San Francisco Police Department's Investigations Detail, which boasts a $72.9 million budget.

The Mayor's security budget has been a point of contention with City Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi after it was reported a police escort accompanied Newsom's high-security Chevy Tahoe to Montana for his wedding. City cops also join Newsom on all his 2010 gubernatorial campaign stops.

The issue resurfaced last month during heated talks over police spending in Newsom's proposed $6.6 billion budget.

SFPD officials have pushed back, saying that publicizing the costs could jeopradize the Newsom's security. Assistant Chief Jim Lynch went as far as to allude to past City Hall security breaches, such as the assassinations of Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone in 1978, as reasons for the secrecy. Meantime, Newsom's office insists SFPD makes all the decisions on his security detail.

But Mirkarimi's burning questions could soon be answered. After repeated pressure during public budget talks, outgoing Police Chief Heather Fong and Deputy City Attorney Cheryl Adams both hinted at a closed-door meeting with the stonewalled supervisor.

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