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Monday, October 22, 2007

SF Supes Propose Less Coke-Snorting, Higher Rents to Pay for Parks: It's SFGovernmentInAction!

Posted By on Mon, Oct 22, 2007 at 9:19 AM


By Benjamin Wachs

Everything was shaping up to be such a beautiful week in San Francisco: we had a new fire code, a renewed effort to combat domestic violence, and more pointless proclamations than most cities see in a month. But then … WHAM! DALY’S REVENGE!

This week Chris Daly strikes back, and San Francisco government may never be the same. Also … and I don’t mean to alarm anybody … but there’s biosludge. Lots of it. Here’s your SF Government Dump for this week:

Monday, Oct. 22

10 a.m.: Public Safety

Ross Mirkarimi continues to grill some of the city’s top law enforcement officials about our city’s homicide rate. It’s a three-ring circus of accountability, with representatives from the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (ring 1), the SFPD (ring 2) and the D.A.’s office (ring 3) usually on hand to squirm beneath the supervisor’s crushing use of logic and sarcastic facial expressions.

Some day, I hope he’ll use bears.

This is always good stuff, and is my pick of the week to attend.

PLUS: what’s the best way to combat domestic ...

violence in San Francisco? That’s the other question up for grabs at this weeks’ Public Safety meeting. Honest-to-God I have no idea what they’re going to recommend, except that my proposed solution – more pot clubs – probably isn’t on the list.

If you’re wondering why this is coming up, it’s because the MOCJ is getting a $400,000 grant “for the purpose of supporting supervised visitation and safe exchange options for families with a history of violence or abuse.” Apparently now that we’ve got the money, we need to figure out what to do with it.

1 p.m.: Land Use & Development

The new fire code is here! The new fire code is here! YES! I’ve been waiting all year to upgrade from that crappy 2006 fire code and replace it with something more up to date, sexier: an “iFire-Code,” if you will.

Now they’ve gone and done it. And, in case you were wondering, no, you can NOT store combustible materials in elevator machine rooms. I checked.

But it’s BETTER than that: this week the Land Use & Development Committee is also updating our Building Code, our Electrical Code, our Housing Code, and our Plumbing Code. That’s FIVE codes, updated in their entirety.

The only way to adequately describe this meeting is to add “palooza” to the end of it.

Codepalooza rules!

The committee will also be making a lot … and I mean a lot … of piddley traffic decisions this week. Since studies show that establishing too many new stop signs at one meeting causes cancer in lab rats, the members of this committee should be extra careful – they’re on the verge.

Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2 p.m.: full Board of Supervisors

Forget whatever you think you know about city controversies: coming in February, the name on everybody’s lips will be the “Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks General Obligation Bond.”

Except they’ll probably call it something else. Like … CSNPGOB … or (if that doesn’t work out) the “clean and safe debacle bond.”

The idea, proposed by the Mayor and Supervisors Peskin, Elsbernd, and Dufty, is for the city to take out a $185 million bond. It will use that money to purchase, construct, improve ,and reconstruct city park and recreational facilities.

Now, most people are going to like this part: who doesn’t want to spend almost $200 million on parks? Fascists, that’s who. People who hate nature. The terrorists. In a city like this, it’s an easy sell.

But the fine print … the fine print’s killing us. The measure authorizes landlords whose property values go up as a result of this spending to pass on 50 percent of the resulting tax increase to their residential tenants.

This bond is, therefore, a giant city-sponsored rent increase, and the next big fight in the Great Gentrification War of San Francisco, which by now has more sequels than Rocky. Assuming anyone’s paying attention, the February ballot that this measure’s on should be very controversial indeed. Popcorn, anybody?

Speaking of empty calories, the Supes will be voting to declare the San Francisco Chronicle building a city landmark. Why? Because it’s been around since 1890 without losing its historic character. I think some of the original reporters are still there, too. According to the city’s proclamation, the Chronicle has been extremely careful to preserve the building’s original features and to keep significant architecture intact. I believe it: God knows they haven’t broken a story since at the 1920s.

Wednesday, Oct.24

1 p.m.: Budget and Finance Committee

This year it will cost San Francisco over $10 million to have someone haul away its “biosludge.”

Does this happen every time we celebrate the Summer of Love?

Thursday, Oct. 25

10 a.m.: Chris Daly’s Revenge

Technically this is a meeting of the Rules Committee, which Daly’s not a member of. But whether or not he shows up, Daly is dominating its agenda this week with a set of good ideas masquerading as revenge on his political enemies … or is it the other way around?

Of the 11 items on the Rules Committee agenda, Daly’s sponsored 7 of them. And the rest are boring.

Item 1: Daly’s proposing to consolidate the public financing programs available to mayoral and supervisorial candidates. Who it hurts: So far as I can tell, this is the only measure not try to get back at someone.

Item 2: Daly’s proposing that anyone who sends out mass mailings supporting or opposing candidates for San Francisco elective office need to file those mailings and itemize their costs with the Ethics Commission. Who it hurts: Gavin Newsom’s rich supporters who want to anonymously sink candidates they don’t like without making their boy look bad.

Item 3: Daly (along with Ammiano and Mirkarimi) are proposing legislation forcing anyone who conducts or pays for a telephone political poll that tries to influence a voter’s opinion (a “push poll”) to file with the Ethics Commission and disclose who they are. Who it hurts: who do you think it hurts? Gavin Newsom’s rich supporters who want to anonymously sink candidates they don’t like without making their boy look bad.

Item 4: Daly’s proposing that anyone circulating a petition for a ballot initiative display a badge disclosing whether they a volunteers or paid employee. Who it hurts: Business interests who hire people to circulate ballot petitions so odious that they can’t find well-meaning volunteers to support them.

Item 5: Daly’s proposing that every meeting agenda for a public “policy body” include the attendance records of its members. Who it hurts: Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, who has the worst attendance record of any supervisor. She’s been pushing a supervisor “code of conduct” to try and reign Daly in, so now he’s suggesting that if she wants to complain about what he says, maybe she should be there to hear it.

Item 6: Daly’s proposing a law barring city managers from doing naughty things with city workers. Who it hurts: Gavin Newsom, by calling attention to the very, very, bad thing he did.

Item 7: Daly’s proposing a law saying people can’t make decisions as part of city boards or commissions while they’re drunk or stoned. Who it hurts: I … don’t actually know. Is this another shot at Gavin? At Alioto-Pier? Or is there an imaginary cocaine-sniffing elf on the Planning Board that Daly has it out for? It’s really impossible to say at this point.

The weird thing about Daly’s revenge legislation? It’s all good ideas. Seriously: you should not do government work stoned. Who can argue? City managers should not have sex with city employees: I’m okay with that. And we DO, come to think of it, have a right to know what a Supervisor’s attendance record is.

If these measures are ultimately defeated … and they probably will be … it’s because too many people in running this city think that good ideas just don’t apply to them.

1 p.m.: City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee

No committee entitled “City Operations and Neighborhood Services” can possibly be as boring as it sounds. It’s a lesson that will get you far in life … as least as far as page 2 of the committee agenda, where you’ll find a hearing about the future of St. Luke’s Hospital at Cathedral Hill, and a request by Supervisor Sandoval “urging the San Francisco Police Department to temporarily cease the impoundment of vehicles for lack of a California Driver’s License, pending City Attorney review of current law.”

See? That’s a really interesting request.

Finally, we come to San Francisco’s “Toothless Proclamation of the Week” – and I have to tell you, the competition was so stiff that the winner’s still going to be aching next week.

It’s a head to head fight to the finish between Tom Ammiano and Bevan Dufty, those two never-say-die champions of pointlessness. Both really deserve the trophy, but, only one can claim the prize.

They start off strong with a joint resolution:

“Urging Wooden Windows and the Carpenters Union Local 2236 to work together to find resolution to labor disputes.”

May we recommend a joint defenestration?

Next up is Ammiano’s proclamation:

“Urging banks to work with the City to address the affects of sub-prime lending and calling on the Federal Reserve to take action at the national level to end predatory loan practices.”

Banks? Banks are for capitalists! SF doesn't work with capitalist pig-dogs!.

And man, is Ammiano on fire this week, as he also asks that October 27 be proclaimed:

“End The War in Iraq Day” in San Francisco.

How about a forward-thinking proclamation, like “End the War in Iran Day.”

But Dufty Strikes Back (that’s a movie title right there) with a proclamation:

“Commending Respiratory Care Workers for their Contributions to the Medical Community and Recognizing Respiratory Care Week 2007.”

Pretty harmless, if toothless. In the end, though, no one’s a match for Ammiano’s big finish:

“urging neighboring nations and major investors to defend peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations in Burma.”

I just got a call from Charles Schwab: brokers are lighting themselves on fire for this one. God I wish that Ammiano were mayor. Of Burma.

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David Downs


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