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San Francisco's Annals of Incompetence 

Wednesday, Dec 16 2009

• Between 2002 and late 2006, the Committee on Information Technology — responsible for coordinating all city departments' hardware and software purchases — didn't meet at all. Hardware and software purchases, meanwhile, continued — to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, much of it wasteful.

• In a similar vein, the Department of Technology has been trying since 1997 to update the criminal justice department's system of tracking court cases. Originally scheduled to be implemented by 2001 for $15.5 million, the upgrade isn't expected to be in place until 2011 — and will cost at least $22 million. The budget analyst claims this fiasco came about because the project "lacked a single person or entity that [was] accountable." Sound familiar?

• San Francisco installed crime cameras in dangerous areas, which are proven to reduce crime if someone is watching them. The city, however, forbids anyone from watching them until after a crime is committed, out of privacy concerns.

• San Francisco's Entertainment Commission is stocked with industry insiders who own some of the businesses they regulate.

• The city has defunded one program (Asian Neighborhood Designs) to train high-risk youth and find them jobs in order to spend more money on another program (CityBuild) with a worse record of success. 

• The city spent millions to fund a Community Justice Center that would refer those who commit quality-of-life crimes directly to social services — and then slashed those social services.

• San Francisco police didn't receive e-mail and voicemail accounts until 2009. Police stations had only single phone lines, and the best way to reach an individual officer was by sending a letter. 

• The city raised nearly $5 million in private funds for an antipoverty program, Communities of Opportunity, then spent more than half the money on administration and marketing to "raise awareness" of the program among poor people. There wasn't enough money left to offer substantive assistance, and, after five years, an audit found no discernible results for the money spent.

About The Authors

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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