Newsom holds meeting online
September 23, 2009 5:09 PM
San Francisco Mayor and candidate for California's next governor Gavin Newsom held his first online town hall meeting on Wednesday evening, fielding select questions submitted by over 300 UStream and Twitter users.
Newsom addressed questions ranging from California's budget crisis and education, to his views on immigration policy, the state's water problem and health care reform.
The most emotional and lively response from the mayor came when he was asked how he would address California's education problem and what he thought about Gov. Schwarzenegger's decision to raise tuition for higher education.
"It's outrageous. It's been our godsend and principle behind California's economic growth and prosperity," Newsom said.
The mayor scoffed at raising students' fees if he were elected, and suggested that investing in human capital would provide California with a greater investment return in the future.
"I would not increase [tuition] for community colleges, CSU's and the UC system," Newsom said. "We can't afford to continue to increase these costs."
As an alternative to higher fees, Newsom offered to raise taxes on tobacco companies and oil refineries, arguing these taxes would offset the need to raise costs for students.
Another popular question dealt with health care reform and more specifically, how successful his Healthy San Francisco Program, which makes health care services accessible and affordable for uninsured residents, was.
Newsom said the health care program has been able to insure over 70,000 people in the San Francisco so far. The Gubernatorial candidate also stressed that having universal health care across the state was vital to help compete with private insurance companies.
"A public option is essential to real reform because it holds down costs," Newsom said.
Of course, no public online forum involving Newsom and over 3,400 viewers would be complete without a question regarding the health and well-being of his newborn daughter Montana.
"It's four days into this... and the empathy I have for parents is immeasurable, especially mothers," he said.
The mayor failed to answer numerous countless questions about the potential legalization of marijuana and the overturning of Proposition 8, leaving many Ustream and Twitter users frustrated.
Daily Kos blog founder Raven Brooks, who moderated the online chat, said he picked the questions at random.
"Gavin Newsom's live town hall meeting was nothing but frustrating," Twitter user James Cargill commented on the message board. "A lot of questions left unanswered. Need to do this again soon with more time."
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