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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Supervisor Says Her Measure Would *Not* Lead to S.F. Loons Droning On, Endlessly, During Committee Meetings

Posted By on Thu, Sep 17, 2009 at 7:30 AM

click to enlarge Your rantings about the world at large are not welcome during Rules Committee, Mr. Beale...
  • Your rantings about the world at large are not welcome during Rules Committee, Mr. Beale...
Earlier this week, we reported on how the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force chided Supervisor Chris Daly for forbidding a man to speak at a Rules Committee meeting. Not long thereafter, Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, at the behest of the task force, introduced a proposed change to the Board of Supervisors' rules, that would create "general comments" periods during committee meetings, so people like the gent silenced by Daly would have an opportunity to speak -- even about legislation that wasn't pending.

At first blush, this appears ominous. Public comment during full Board of Supervisors meetings has no topical limitations; folks can wander up to the microphone and ramble on about anything they wish. The introduction of general public commentary during committee meetings conjures up horrifying mental imagery of men with sandals and socks, six newspapers shoved into their pockets, and bags full of other bags opining on any and all matters they see fit, late into the night.

"Well, the board meetings are difficult because people can talk about anything under the sun -- anything they want," admits Alioto-Pier. "Sometimes, it's pretty tough to sit through." She insists, however, that her proposal will not deliver a dose of the same to committee meetings. 

The important difference, she says, is that comments during committee meetings will have to be specific to the jurisdiction of that meeting -- land-use, rules, public safety, budget matters, etc.

So if a speaker goes off on "sunbathing at the beach" (Alioto-Pier's example of inanity during public comment), the committee chair will have the ability to politely cut him or her off. Of course, a creative waster of the city's time could somehow connect his or her tale of alien abduction, masonic conspiracies, or other such flights of fancy to San Francisco land-use or budgetary matters -- but Alioto-Pier thinks the benefits of her proposal outweigh the detriments.

Her proposed amendment will get its hearing during Rules Committee in the first week of October before passing on to the full board. Amendments to Board rules require a supermajority of eight votes to pass -- though Alioto-Pier told SF Weekly "I don't know why anyone wouldn't support this."

If, however, four of her colleagues do not deign to support the proposal, she could re-submit essentially the same legislation as an ordinance, which would require only six votes to pass. Or she could piggyback this material onto a Sunshine Ordinance Task Force ballot measure during a forthcoming election.

In the meantime, the city's rambling class is advised to find good ways to connect its inane drivel to the specific functions of the Board's committees -- or just rant during full Board meetings like everyone else.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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