Mayor London Breed’s practice of demanding secret, undated letters of resignation from her appointees created a three-week mini-scandal this past autumn, and SF supervisors voted Tuesday to ban the practice for good.
It created a political headache for SF Mayor London Breed in late September when a public records request revealed she was demanding secret, undated resignation letters from her appointees to City Hall commissions and other positions. And it was a headache because it was a drip-drip-drip scandal with more revelations every day, including that Breed even demanded a secret resignation letter from beloved former KQED This Week in Northern California host Belva Davis. The nerve! Needless to say, the SF Board of Supervisors piled on and made political hay of this for a few weeks.
And on Tuesday, they made the practice illegal in San Francisco. KRON4 reports that supervisors banned such secret resignation letters for City Hall appointees by an 8-2 vote, with only Supervisors Rafael Mandelman and Catherine Stefani dissenting.
Our resignation-gate Ordinance passed 8-2 today. This is common sense, good government legislation, and I hope it restores some of the public trust that the Mayor squandered through the unethical, backroom practices that made this Ordinance necessary.https://t.co/ufW5xIztkx— Dean Preston (@DeanPreston) February 8, 2023
“The decision to resign is the commissioner’s, and cannot be delegated to the appointing authority,” Supervisor Dean Preston, who authored the measure, said prior to Tuesday’s vote.
While the supes are clearly singling out the mayor here, the new rule technically applies to anyone appointed by anyone, not just the mayor. The Board of Supervisors also appoints people to commissions or other bodies, as do the city controller, public defender, district attorney, and other officials. None can demand advance, undated resignation letters anymore.
Preston’s measure had its opponents. “This ordinance is absolutely unnecessary. The letters were deemed by the city attorney to be ineffective,” Supervisor Rafael Mandelman argued before the vote. “I don’t think it was a terrible thing that the mayor sought these letters.”
“It’s a slap to the mayor, and I don't think she was all that wrong in the first place,” Mandelman added.
But the revelation of the letters was uniquely problematic to Breed. She got to make an unusually large number of appointments after the recall-mania of 2022, plus add to that an opening for city attorney as well as Matt Haney vacating his District 6 supervisor seat. It’s one thing to have a “strong mayor” system, it’s a whole other thing to have a strong-arming mayor dangling so many officials’ secret resignation letters over them like the sword of Damocles.
Image: @LondonBreed via Twitter