San Francisco Confirmation Required of Mayoral Appointments to the Public Utilities Commission, Proposition E (June 2008)

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San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Measure E appeared on the June 3, 2008 ballot in San Francisco, California, where it won by a narrow margin. It requires confirmation by the Board of Supervisors of the mayor's appointments to the Public Utilities Commission.

Proposition E was placed on the ballot after a protracted battle between the Board of Supervisors and Mayor Gavin Newsom. The fight was over two of the mayor's appointments to the five-member San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which oversees the city's water and power system as well as its sewer and water treatment operations.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, "The supervisors held up one appointment and rejected another, largely because of Newsom's controversial decision to fire PUC General Manager Susan Leal. Some supervisors also consider Newsom, and by extension, the commission, unfriendly toward public power initiatives that would allow the agency to develop sources of energy and deliver electricity. With this ballot measure, some supervisors are seeking to flex their muscle in guiding PUC appointments, and presumably policy."

The measure changes the process for appointing board members. It requires a majority of the supervisors to vote in favor of an appointment; whereas, under the previous law, supervisors were not required to approve an appointment but they could reject an appointee if they so chose by a two-thirds vote.

Proposition E also requires that each seat is held by someone with particular experience or expertise in areas including environmental policy, consumer advocacy, project finance and power, or public utility management.

Proposition E was opposed by Newsom, Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier and the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods.

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