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Monday, November 5, 2007

All Your Base Are Belong to SF: It's GovernmentInAction – Nanny State Edition!

Posted By on Mon, Nov 5, 2007 at 9:37 AM


By Benjamin Wachs

It’s “Big Brother Week” here in San Francisco, and almost every government agency is getting in on the act.

This week they’ll be voting to:

-- forbid sleeping AND cooking in parks;

-- forbid check cashing services from opening in poor neighborhoods;

-- tighten zoning laws in the city’s eastern neighborhoods;

-- approve Chris Daly’s morality crusade … including the first San Francisco bill to restrict sex between consenting adults since, um, forever? ...;

-- deciding whether to allow grocery stores in poor neighborhoods to carry booze;

--a nd “urging” pot clubs to let poor people have a toke.

Why? They’re the Board of Supervisors! That’s why you elected them! To handle your booze, pot, and check-cashing decisions for you! If you could make decisions on your own, there’d be no need for Sean Elsbernd! He’d just be some jerk lawyer, instead of a man we must pretend to respect.


Could someone tell me when we became the Man? Because I must have blinked or something.

Monday, Nov. 5:

10:00 a.m. – Government Audit & Oversight Committee...

This committee meeting has only one purpose: to further screw homeless people.

Mayor Newsom has proposed an ordinance “amending San Francisco Park Code Section 3.12 to prohibit cooking, and to prohibit modification of park landscape to create a shelter; and amending Section 3.13 to prohibit sleeping in any park from 8:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m.”

So … no toasting marshmallows and looking up at the stars?

Geez: first Michela Alioto-Pier bans alcohol and now Newsom nixes cooking and camp-outs. What’s the point of even having parks?

Is it just me or is San Francisco getting sooooo middle class … except that there’s no middle class left?

1:00 p.m. – Land Use & Economic Development Committee

San Francisco has a fetish for highly moralistic zoning. I know that’s not as kinky as leather and furry cuffs, but it’s what our government does. Mostly, they do it to poor people.

They think that poor people are drinking too much, so they pass a zoning law forbidding new liquor stores to open. They think that too many poor people are living in small apartments, so they pass a zoning law forbidding mass occupancy. That’s business as usual. But surely even they can see that that zoning has gone mad when they find themselves creating “Fringe Financial Service Restricted Use Districts.”

Somebody’s drunk with power. I don’t even know what those are, but, they’re obviously crazy talk.

Actually, I do know what those are. “Fringe financial services” are check-cashing and loans-till-payday businesses, and “concerns have been raised” that too many of them are setting up shop in low-income neighborhoods and “displacing charter banks.”

What I don’t understand is how this works. Are you seriously telling me that if Bank of America wants to open up in the Tenderloin, it can’t because Slimy Steve’s Check-Cashing Emporium is too much competition? Seriously?

Tom Ammiano thinks so. He’s proposing legislation that would establish zones in poor neighborhoods forbidding new “fringe financial services” from opening.

The results … naturally! … will be that real banks will flock to disenfranchised areas and poor people, who goshdarnit just don’t know any better, will see that nonpredatory financial services have their best interests at heart, and they’ll start to put money into high-yield savings accounts, breaking the cycle of poverty and revitalizing the neighborhoods.

Also, something about unicorns.

Meanwhile the city's eastern neighborhoods are also being put under tighter zoning laws for 18 months as the city develops its Eastern Neighborhood Area Plans.

Not that I’d know, but it must really suck to own stuff in this city.

Tuesday, Nov. 6 (Election Day):

10:30 a.m. – Transportation Authority (Plans & Programs Committee)

Any meeting that includes the words “Escalator Rehabilitation and Upgrade Project” makes my eyes glaze over automatically.

1:30 p.m. – Rules Committee

This committee is meeting specifically to confirm the appointment of Richard Swig to head the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency. That’s a hell of a reason to get up in the morning.

2 p.m. – Board of Supervisors

On the day that San Franciscans decide just how confident they are in our movie star mayor, the Board of Supervisors takes some tricky votes of its own.

Chris Daly’s morality crusade comes out of the Rules Committee and up to the full board today, with measures that would force disclosure on a whole host of political activities; require political bodies to include the attendance records of their members on meeting agendas; and to forbid city managers from pursuing romantic or sexual relations with their employees.

I’m all in favor of these, but, man, do they fall under this week’s theme of “Big Brother” or what?

Interestingly, the Rules Committee has recommended all of them -– except the sexual relations measure, which it made no comment on.

That means Daly has at least some support. But does he have six votes? I doubt even he knows at this point.

Meanwhile the supes will discuss whether they want to allow grocery stores to sell liquor in designated “liquor-store-free” zones. This little farce runs as follows:

-- they thought poor people were drinking too much, so they forbid new liquor stores in poor neighborhoods;

-- but now they want grocery stores to open in poor neighborhoods, and can’t get them;

-- so as an inducement to grocery stores, they’ll promise to let them sell liquor. Which they think will appeal to potential grocery stores, because, man, do those poor people love to drink.

Goddamn, but Big Brother can be funny sometimes.

Wednesday, Nov. 7

1:00 p.m.: Budget and Finance Committee

The big news coming out of the Budget Committee this week is the Municipal Identity Card bill, which comes one step closer to fruition with a debate today. Sponsored by seven supervisors, it will certainly move forward.

Much as I’d like it to, this doesn’t fall under Big Brother Week since the identity cards will only be issued upon request.

The Budget Committee will be doing other stuff this week, but, honestly, you’ll be happier not knowing. Move along …

Thursday, Nov. 8

1:00 p.m.: City Operations & Neighborhood Services Committee

Ross Mirkarimi wants to build a skate park in the Golden Gate park horseshoe pits.

That’s really all you need to know.

Man, those horseshoe players will be pisssssssed …

Friday, Nov. 9

2:00 p.m.: LAFCo

No meeting agenda has yet been posted for LAFCo, the “Local Area Formation Commission” … and it never is a week out. Why? Because Big Brother doesn’t need to post no stinkin’ agenda! Who do you think you are, the public?

Finally, we come to our “Toothless Proclamation of the Week”:

This week’s top honor goes to Ross Mirkarimi for:

“Urging Medical Cannabis Dispensaries to implement compassionate care programs to serve low- and no-income patients.”

Pot for poor people – that’s not so much Big Brother as Brave New World, but it wins all the same. Thank you, Ross, for thinking of the Deltas.

Wow -– even I hate myself for saying that.

Happy election day, and remember … Bevan Dufty is watching you!

(SFGovernmentInAction covers upcoming San Francisco government meetings every Monday morning. Bookmark this link.)

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David Downs


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