Supervisor Aaron Peskin wishes to widen the board’s investigatory powers’ scope after the arrest of former Public Works Director Mohammed Naru in October of this year. The latter got himself involved in a broadening corruption scandal that shook the San Francisco City Hall as a whole. In light of the previously mentioned event, the city’s Rule Committee would review Peskin’s proposition to enable the Government Audit and Oversight Committee to issue subpoenas and mandate individuals to take a vow to testify truthfully under the perjury violation. The said idea would be subject to further studies starting Monday.
According to Peskin, the issuance of subpoenas usually takes as long as five to six weeks, indicating that it takes up too much time and effort to do so. Despite the Board of Supervisor’s ability to grant command powers with six votes, the time it takes to process it tells otherwise.
To address such a predicament, Peskin further explained that two votes from the three-member audit committee would suffice for issuing subpoenas within his proposed ruling. The legislation includes shortening the granting procedure from between five and six weeks to only by a month.
Furthermore, Peskin stressed the mandatory need for the Board of Supervisors to employ its power of scrutiny to get straight to the point of citywide issues. Additionally, this capability applies to the FBI’s case investigations and the San Francisco attorney’s office to explore deeper and into the alleged violations done by Nuru and his accomplices.
During his speech, Peskin noted the confidentiality of case examinations conducted by the attorney or the FBI as of the present administration. The issuance of subpoena powers could help encourage superintendents to take part in the investigations. Additionally, the legislation could aid in providing the opportunity to ask questions concerning an ongoing case. According to Peskin, inspections would examine them more closely if the Board of Supervisors could play a role in participating in such duties.
This proposal of Peskin is the second time that he tried giving the board subpoena powers. In 2016, he attempted to issue it after encountering difficulties gathering information from surrounding the Millenium Tower investigation. He failed to secure enough votes from his confederates needed to alter the code.
Hillary Ronen was one of the supervisors to protest against the ruling. Ronen, who is currently a co-sponsor of the proposition, supports Peskin concerning the matter. According to Ronen, she initially thought that additional time and procedures would bring productive results but later realized that it is the opposite.
However, Ronen declared that the Board of Supervisors must take part in the investigations to “root out corruption,” specifically acknowledging the recent scandals surrounding San Francisco’s political situation.
For Ronen, people should stop normalizing political corruption in the city despite the FBI’s efforts to neutralize it with strong proofs and factual testimonies. Rooting out corruption within the city’s political scope should place first in government priorities, and issuing subpoena powers may help address that.
According to the regulation, it would permit the committee to mandate people to testify under oath except for government staff. Peskin noted that in 2016, representative government unions protested against the requirement to testify under oath before the board. However, he clarified that he is open to any possible alterations happening with the amenities.
Moreover, Ronen stated that they need sufficient “checks and balances in place” to prevent abuse of the subpoena powers. She mentioned this as a response to the question regarding potential consequences they might face with such authority’s issuance. Additionally, Ronen stressed that if a power abuse happens, they would immediately take back that capacity.
As of late, Peskin is part of the government audit board alongside Supervisors Matt Haney and Gordon Mar. Currently, Mar is also the audit committee’s chairman.