Question, answer session with Lee still scripted

September 13, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The mayor of San Francisco came face-to-face on Tuesday with two of his challengers for the job. Not in a debate, but in a format called "question time" at City Hall.

This was the first question time for San Francisco's Interim Mayor Ed Lee since he changed his mind and announced he wants to keep the job. In this setting, he came face to face with two challengers Supervisor John Avalos and Board President David Chiu, but from the handshakes and smiles, there was no hint of the fierce competition.

You might think this would be the perfect opportunity for pointed jabs or scathing comments. Instead, the format set up earlier this year by the mayor and supervisors is scripted questions and scripted answers. Political consultant Alex Clemens calls the process a spontaneity killer.

"I think everybody expected it to be a no holds brawl between the minds that run our city, but instead we have a carefully choreographed kabuki dance," said Clemens.

Avalos wants to change the steps.

"I'm wondering if you would consider a more dynamic interchange?" asked Avalos.

The mayor suggested a different kind of back and forth.

Lee: Supervisor, if this is not enough, I'm going to invite you this Sunday to play ping pong in Chinatown.
Avalos: How's your game?
Lee: It'll be diplomatic and friendship first supervisor.

There will be one more question and answer session before the November election, but even in the heat of the race, if today is any indication, don't expect fireworks.

Avalos responded, "Game on everybody." And he was talking about ping pong not the mayoral campaign.

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