The voter-mandated monthly appearance of San Francisco’s mayor in front of the city’s Board of Supervisors went off-script for the first time today for a question about the potential loss of City College of San Francisco’s accreditation.
Mayor Ed Lee comes in front of the board every month to answer questions posed by supervisors about a variety of issues in the city.
The appearances are required by a measure passed by city voters in November 2010 in response to contentious relations between the former board and then-Mayor Gavin Newsom.
The rules for the appearances call for supervisors to submit questions by the Wednesday before a Tuesday meeting, and the mayor has five minutes at the meeting to respond to each question.
However, additional questions can be added at the time of the meeting if a pressing matter comes up after the deadline and the mayor agrees to answer them.
Supervisor Jane Kim was the first board member to take advantage of that rule, asking the mayor how he was responding to the decision by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges last week to terminate City College’s accreditation, effective next year.
City College, which serves about 85,000 students, is requesting a review of the commission’s decision and the school remains accredited until at least July 31, 2014.
Lee said he is lending the expertise of the city controller and other city staff to California Community Colleges chancellor Brice Harris to assist the state’s efforts to revamp the school so it is financially stable.
The state agency has taken over control of the school’s administration during the appeal process.
Lee said, “There’s no question more work needs to be done before City College can again stand on its own.”
Lee said after the meeting that he was fine with fielding an additional question beyond what was on the agenda, saying Kim’s office let him know it was coming in advance.
“They gave me adequate notice … and it was an important question,” he said.
Some supervisors have criticized the format of “question time,” noting that the scripted answers and no chances for follow-up questions make the appearances not very productive.
Lee has said he does not wish to change the format of the appearances.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News