Chronicle metro/state columnist Rick Casey wrote a column on Friday in favor of Proposition 3.
While Propositions 1 and 2 have been discussed quite a bit, Proposition 3 has received far less attention. Basically, as Casey explains, the proposition would grant the city controller authority to conduct performance audits of city offices and services.
In terms of providing another check on the Mayor and Council, the proposal makes sense institutionally. However, one potential drawback is, as Casey points out, that the authority might be used in a purely vindictive manner, as has been the case with state controller Carol Keeton Strayhorn, whose use of the power became so personal that the state legislature finally stripped her of it.
Even with the potential drawbacks, Casey’s conclusion seems compelling to me:
But in a city that gives its mayor more power than virtually any other mayor in the nation, we need an elected official with the authority to seek and present independent information.
When the mayor and the controller squabble, as they inevitably will, the public can choose whom to believe.
We might add that future squabbles between the mayor and city controller might also serve the purpose of forcing the city’s only newspaper to cover municipal politics more closely. The public would certainly benefit.