3:45 PM: The Appeal asked longtime Newsom — and by extension, Ballard — nemesis Supervisor Chris Daly for his take. Daly, who lately referred to Ballard as a “smooth operator,” did not take any swipes at Ballard, taking the position that there’s something rotten in Room 200, and Ballard’s exit is merely a symptom of the overall malaise.
“I have no problem with Nathan Ballard — he was hired to do a job and he did it,” Daly said. “I’m part of the opposition to the Mayor; It’s no surprise that I’d butt heads with the Mayor’s spokesman.”
Daly said Ballard’s exit is emblematic of the internal workings of Newsom’s administration, “which is imploding,” he added.
3:13 PM: The man
the media the San Francisco Bay Guardian loved to hate is no longer at City Hall, after somewhat-longtime Mayoral spokesman Nathan Ballard announced his resignation on Monday afternoon.
The resignation was effective immediately, other members of the Mayor’s Communications team said. Ballard’s office was empty, and The Appeal was told he was not at City Hall.
In a letter addressed to the Mayor, dated Monday, (you can read the entire letter here) Ballard took time to plug his personal political communications firm and said he would leave “city hall” and the administration in February 2010, though it is unclear what role he will play in the interim. Neither Newsom nor a member of his senior staff was available for further comment, reception staff at Room 200 told us.
Ballard and the media have often enjoyed a less-than-stellar relationship in the past, and of late, the bond between man and mayor seems to have been strained as well. Recently, the mayor jetted off to a Hawaiian vacation without informing his chief spokesman until an hour before the flight.
Ballard praised the mayor’s tech-savy ways, using the letter to tell Newsom he “never hesitated to embrace creative new ways of communicating with your constituents.” And indeed, under Ballard’s tenure the Mayor has amassed over 1,200,000 followers on Twitter, achieved a Facebook presence to rival that of anyone you ever knew in college, and delivered a State of the City address on YouTube. Breaking with this tradition, Ballard’s resignation was not delivered via text message.
2:18 PM (Eve Batey): Nate Ballard, the Mayor’s spokesperson, is leaving Gavin’s office for parts unknown. In a release sent out by another of Newsom’s press team (
it’s not online yet, we’ll link to it when it is, screw it, we’ll just link to SFist, which published it in full), the mayor and Ballard look like they need to get a room:
“Nathan Ballard is unflappable, smart and a fierce advocate,” said Newsom. “He is a talented communicator and a consummate professional, and we will miss him.”
Ballard praised Newsom for his leadership.
“Mayor Newsom is a gifted leader who fearlessly tackles significant issues such as health care, the environment, education, and equal rights,” said Ballard. “It has been a privilege to serve this administration.”
We’ll leave the rumor mongering to folks more in the know than we are (the comments are there for just that, folks), but will say that we hope once Ballard is free of his day job (the release neither specified his next move nor his departure date) he’ll take some time for himself. Perhaps an impromptu trip to Hawaii?