Agencies help pay S.F. Mayor's staff

February 11, 2008 9:27:54 PM PST
A scathing report is expected to be released later this week that slams San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

At issue, how he's paying some of his staff member's salaries. the report indicates he's robbing peter to pay Paul by taking money from certain departments instead of his own office funds.

San Francisco faces a $233 million dollar budget deficit for the fiscal year beginning in July.

Mayor Gavin Newsom has ordered a hiring freeze and deep cuts, but at the same he's expanding his staff.

Now a budget analyst's preliminary report indicates eleven Newsom staffers are being paid by taking money away from other departments.

For example cash strapped Muni is being tapped for the biggest chunk, about $750 dollars, the city's controller told us that could pay for eight or nine bus operators.

The Department of Human Services, which helps the city's homeless, is forking over about $388,000 dollars enough to hire four or five outreach workers.

In all six departments are spending over a million out of their budgets to fund mayoral staff.

Supervisor Jake McGoldrick asked for the budget audit. He says it shows Enron-type accounting.

"I call it Enron because Enron was covering up stuff in their books and when these guys are trying to cover up some of the people they are hiring who are working directly as assistants to the mayor you ought to just say that," said McGoldrick.

According to the report, one person in the mayor's press office is being paid by the human services department.

Newsom insists that job and the others are collaborations with the departments that are picking up the tab.

"I've been incredibly transparent. I don't believe in waste or inefficiency. I can defend the character of everyone of these positions," said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

He also says it's been long standing practice at City Hall.

But former mayor Art Agnos told ABC7 News: "Newsom's gone way beyond anything I ever did in taking money from a department to fund totally unrelated positions in his office"

City controller Ed Harrington says with past administrations there has been varying levels of what he calls pushing the envelope.

"There's always going to be a concern of how much you're doing it, but some level has gone on forever,"

The budget analyst report also questions if Mayor Newsom has violated city law by paying more for one former staffer's salary than the charter allows.

By the way the draft report was leaked by the mayor, presumably as a way to get the first say. The numbers may change slightly in the final document which is expected to be released on Wednesday.